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Of all the overwhelming and frustrating things that people struggle with when starting a blog, the subject of choosing a blogging niche & niching down is probably the area that I personally struggled with the most.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this, because I just got this email from a reader (and it inspired this post):
Hi Carly! I am currently an English major and will graduate in a year. I am a stay at home mommy and have 4 crazy kiddos. My son is disabled so I was unable to keep my full time job. Currently I am looking for a way to break into the world of blogging. I understand this is not a get rich quick sort of thing, but I have hit my fill of swagbucks and really want to break into the writing world as this is my major. I have read probably 99% of your posts on this topic but I am having trouble with one thing and I hope you can help. I want to write about everything! I love DIY and I also love just talking about my kiddos. I would also like to incorporate parenting a disabled child into the mix. Is it possible to write about all things? Is it okay to sometimes just discuss everyday life to let the audience know they may not be alone with some difficult things? Any advice you have would be so appreciated! Thank you in advance!
You will be told over and over and over again when trying to choose a blogging niche – NICHE DOWN.
Narrow your focus, narrow your audience, you are aiming for ONE oh-so-specific reader. And you MUST appear be an expert in that area, if you want to be successful.
You’ll also be told to choose a topic you are passionate about, one that you can write about forever. (Ummm, am I the only one who thinks it’s freaking hard to write about ONE topic FOREVER?! Borrrrrring.)
There is a very loud voice telling us that multiple topic blogs will undoubtedly fail and we absolutely can not expect success writing about many things.
Related: How to Start a Blog and Make Money
I understand why this is popular advice.
There are things about blogging in general that will be easier if you are writing, say, only about stamp collecting for women over 40. If this is something that you are naturally very passionate about, maybe you’ll have no problem coming up with topics for your posts. You’ll have no problem engaging with your audience and relating to them and figuring out exactly what they want.
Growing your email list will be a slow process, because you just won’t have a massive reader volume, but you will come up with some wildly engaged fans – women who are nuts about stamps and can’t wait to hear from you every week. They’ll probably buy the things you’re selling.
I sort of wonder how many things you’ll really be selling, tho, because by nature single specific niches have fewer options for products to sell. (You might sell a book on stamp collecting, whereas a blog that has three topics might have the option of selling… THREE books. See what I mean?)
I also have a sneaky suspicion that your audience will be SMALL (for awhile at least), your page views will not grow quickly and you will be blogging more for love of blogging than for a paycheck for a very long time. (Which is just fine. But it’s not what I want for me.)
If, on the other hand, you write about anything and everything, I can certainly see where you’ll struggle also.
Readers who land on your blog to see what you have to say about Harry Potter books aren’t gonna stick around when they find out all your other posts are about cats and classic cars and muffin recipes. They certainly won’t subscribe to your blog, fearing you might inundate them with cat emails and they won’t be your raving fans because, frankly, they don’t have a clue what you’re about.
So I’m not going to say I don’t see any wisdom in niching down.
But here’s what I will say: If your heart just isn’t into a single topic blog, that is FINE and you do NOT have to fail just because you want to write about gardening & cooking & crafts.
If you WANT to blog about one topic – do it! And some topics, like, photography or graphic design could make awesome single topic blogs.
BUT if you WANT to blog about many things – THAT’S FINE TOO! You don’t have to choose just one topic. Just close your ears to the cries of “niche down!”
(And maybe consider the following advice.)
There is one specific question in the email I want to address before we go on.
Is it okay to sometimes just discuss everyday life to let the audience know they may not be alone with some difficult things?
This is really two questions, with two answers:
Is it okay to sometimes just discuss everyday life? NOT REALLY. (Is it okay to) let the audience know they may not be alone with some difficult things? YES.
As long as the things you are writing about are HELPING with those difficult things you can do this. No matter what you write about, no matter how many topics you have, if you are blogging for a profit then you need to write profitable content.
Guess which one has never made me a penny (or, really, had any page views at all) and which post makes Amazon sales every single month plus has THOUSANDS of page views per month. (Hint, it is not the emotional mom post about my life.)
Anyhow, what we’re really talking about here is the multiple topics thing. Back to that.
How to blog (successfully) on multiple topics:
If this is you, hating the idea of total confinement, I would suggest that you choose a demographic instead of a niche, and then choose topics that will appeal to that demographic.
We can be less confined (yet still operate within a healthy-sized box) if we think of our niche as one demographic, and just leave it at that.
My niche is moms. The narrowest I’d be willing to go would be to say my niche is new-er moms who want to make an effort at life.
The demographic I write for will likely be interested in any number of the things I want to write about – pregnancy, mom-hood, home-making + decluttering, family finance, family fun & travel, healthy living, and earning an income from home. I do not need to zero in on one of those topics to have a healthy, successful blog. (And it’s ok if some of my readers are only interested in half my topics. I’ll let them hang around and read anyway!)
There are people who say that I need to niche down to make a living, but I just ignore these people, because I make 5-10,000 dollars a month writing about all these things.
What really helped me to finally embrace all my topics was the realization that OTHER bloggers were also doing this! Other SUCCESSFUL bloggers! Lena, from whatmommydoes.com has a (very affordable) book on the subject – How to Successfully Organize a Blog With Multiple Topics, and as far as I am concerned, this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to blog about more than one thing.
It’ll help you to understand which topics would be good ones to tackle, and how to tie everything together naturally so your blog doesn’t feel crazy and random. (Say no to the Harry Potter / Cats / Muffins blog!)
There are actually great benefits to writing about multiple topics:
- More content for you to tackle. I never get “tired” of one subject.
- More possible readers / a larger reader base to appeal to.
- More than one email list to grow – should you choose. (THAT is where you want to niche down.)
- More affiliates for you to promote.
- More possibilities for streams of income. If one of your topics isn’t particularly profitable but brings in great page views, you can grab the ad income from those views and the affiliate income from your more profitable topics. (Which, FYI happens on this blog ALL THE TIME. I have HUGE page views on decluttering… and not much affiliate income there at all. But that’s fine, because my affiliate income for mommy stuff is GREAT – even tho page views there are lesser. It’s a balance.)
But please, consider a segmented email list.
The one and only time that I have run into issues with having a broad topic blog is when I first tried email marketing. People had come to my blog via posts on anxiety, posts on making money, posts on pregnancy… and I didn’t have anything I could say to everyone across the board.
I didn’t want to email my bloggers about my new baby sleep tips post, because I didn’t want all the bloggers to unsubscribe. But I didn’t want to NOT email about my new posts, because I wanted it out there! Dilemma.
This isn’t 1999 anymore, and we can segment our lists.
As people subscribe to your blog, tag them in your email service provider as to what list they’ll be on. (This is sort of an advanced practice, but I’ll be doing a post very soon on how to do this for beginners.)
I can send blogging only emails to bloggers, mommy only emails to mommies, and anxiety only emails to those who suffer from anxiety.
And I can still write about all those things on my blog.
It’s like having the best of both worlds!
Related: Why You Need An Email List
Next time someone tells you that your blog will fail because it’s too broad, point them in the direction of one of these blogs.
Hilary @ pullingcurls.com – blogging about pregnancy, budgeting, travel and homemaking.
Becca @ mycrazygoodlife.com – blogging about food, technology and parenting.
Sarah @ sarahtitus.com – blogging about faith, home organization, and making money.
Lena @ whatmommydoes.com – family life, making money from home, and blogging.
Oh, and me! (Shameless plug!) I have posts here on pregnancy, money, health, travel, living with anxiety, and blogging.
These blogs are not just scraping by. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that some of these ladies are making more than a few of those itty-bitty niche sites out there.
I’m also willing to bet none of them are just writing and posting without a plan (like the one Lena details in How to Successfully Organize a Blog With Multiple Topics), but my point is that none of them are in a niche-box, and you don’t have to be either.