Niche Blogging? All I Want To Know Is What To Write About!

Posted at 01:13am on 24th April 2010

In this instalment of my mini series on article writing and blogging, I’m going to look at an issue that plagues many of us. How do you decide what to write?

Perhaps you blog daily? Or possibly only once or twice a week? But what is it that gives you the conviction to know what you are going to write?

This was the problem for Lucy Cripps, whose correspondence with me has been the basis of the last three posts I’ve written on the subject of article writing. (Lucy was a teacher, who was involved in an innovative method of educating young people about teen drug abuse, and she wrote a guest blog for me on the subject in support of my book, A Painful Post Mortem). She asked me to let her know how I choose the subject matter of my blog articles.

THE DRIVING FORCE

I’d like to suggest that there should be four elements that help any of us to settle on our subject matter, and that these are evident from the body of Lucy’s letter which, with her permission, I shall reproduce next time.

  1. Niche blogging: where are you writing from?
  2. Reading and responding to other blogs.
  3. Writing for pleasure, with your own angle on the topic.
  4. Writing what comes naturally to your personality

In this post I’m going to deal only with the first point, under the following sub-headings:

  • NICHE – a place in the market
  • BLOG - a shop window for your product
  • THEME – the use of appropriate window dressing
  • STYLE – how you present your article content

Here’s a greatly expanded version of how I responded to Lucy:

NICHE BLOGGING: WHERE IS YOUR PLACE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE?

Dear Lucy,

All that I've read in the years I’ve been blogging, says that you should be a 'niche' blogger. That means that everything, but everything, that you write must be written from your niche, to support and promote your niche, using the keywords and keyphrases you've selected for your niche! (I hope the Search Engines won't penalise me for that emphasis!)

WHAT EXACTLY IS NICHE?

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that a niche may be described as a place, a position, or a slot. Remember I wrote of a focused strategy in my last article? Part of that focus should be on your slot – your place in the blogosphere.

If you were a shopkeeper, your choice of place would depend, to some extent, on your product. You’re unlikely to be selling fish in the next block to Harrods. (Please don’t write in and tell me there is a fish shop adjacent to the famous firm because all I would say is that fish prices are too high if they can afford the rent and rates!) Your niche has to be appropriate for your product. Product and place go hand in hand.

Place, in the sense of blogging, however, is more than a physical dimension. A shop window may be in the High Street or in a back lane – but there is only one internet. Nevertheless, it is helpful to think in physical terms. If your shop window were in Knightsbridge, for example, you would expect to attract an affluent clientele. If it were in Pimlico, your clientele might be younger, rather less affluent, perhaps even slightly hippyish. Ask yourself who are your potential customers?

Who is likely to be interested in what you have to offer? Can you narrow it down? You can’t appeal to everyone who’s looking for what you can give them. If you were trying to sell refrigerators, there wouldn’t be much point in targeting them at Eskimos. Think smaller; more focused. If, for instance, your refrigerators ran on non-polluting sugared water, you could promote them to the growers of tropical fruit and to environmentalists.

The same is true of blogging. As far as the subject matter of your next article is concerned, ask yourself: Who are the readers of my blog? What are their demographics? Age? Gender? Education? Occupation? Marital status? Parenthood? Family background? Culture? Buying power? Likes and dislikes? Recreational pursuits? Aspirations? These are the questions any author has to ask before writing and publishing a book. It’s no different for a blogger!

Your niche, your place in the market, in the blogosphere, is the narrow slot you have now defined!

A BLOG ARTICLE IS THE SHOP WINDOW FOR YOUR PRODUCT

Having defined your clientele, think of each blog post as your shop window. The place where you will display your wares.

So if you're a plumber who’s blogging, the subject matter of all your articles would centre on the superb range of bathroom suites you have on offer, and your friendly, speedy service. A garage might be promoting the latest model soft-top sports car and its green credentials via a family-friendly electric people-mover. A grocer, on the other hand, might focus on his range of locally sourced meat products and the fact that he will deliver to your door. Everything that each of these bloggers writes will have the specific purpose of promoting their product, their service.

But even this doesn’t entirely explain the concept of niche. If your shop window were on the High Street, you might be in competition with several other plumbers, garages or grocers. On the World Wide Web that competition is infinitely magnified. So a better definition of niche, in respect of marketing yourself and your product, might be to think in terms of:

How do I make my shop window stand out from all the others?

THE THEME OF EACH ARTICLE IS YOUR WINDOW DRESSING

If you were the plumber, above, simply churning out articles about how wonderful your pressed steel baths are is not going to win you many readers. You need to learn to entice and entertain your potential readers: to weave a story around what you have to offer them.

You might therefore, conceivably, write a story of a celebrity launching a new range of toiletries - but you'd have to tie it in with the fact that you're marketing a service installing bathroom suites because they, not the toiletries, would be the product you’re marketing. You might mention the qualities of the toiletries in terms of luxury, and promote the fact that this particular bathroom suite has gold taps, or a bidet. Or it may be that the special non-slip qualities of the bath make it perfectly safe to enjoy the bath oils in this range of celebrity soaps and gels.

Your next article might be on the power shower, and you might link it to a particular sportsman or woman. Perhaps this athlete finds the massaging effect of the shower helps to ease aching muscles, or perhaps that long-distance swimmer extols the circulation-boosting properties of the shower.

Still on the same theme, subsequent articles could show how useful these showers would be to boarding schools, football clubs, executive suites. Remember always to narrow down your area of focus; to look for the niche in the market.

Of course, you must make your window dressing appropriate. If you were a garage, or a grocer, the product that you had to promote would be either a car, or tins of baked beans, and bagged potatoes. The celebrity story wouldn’t really do the business.

The term ‘the main thing is the main thing’ will be known to many of you. In relation to blogging, it’s important always to remember that the Main Thing is whatever product is being marketed. Keep in mind that the plumber’s bathroom suite is central, as is the garage’s car, and the grocer’s beans.

What window dressing will you use? Choose wisely. It should enhance, not detract from the Main Thing. The plumber, as we’ve seen, might happily use toiletries as accessories for his bathroom suites, but they would not be the main item of focus. On the other hand, a display of toiletries might be the main window dressing for a grocer, but is most unlikely to be for a garage.

What window dressing, what slant or theme, would enable you to write more compelling content?

BLOG STYLE

Your blog, that is every article that you write, should have a consistent style. Idiomatic English is the norm these days, rather than the formal prose of previous generations. Some blogs may survive or thrive on slovenly, text driven grammar and spelling; even slang. But clarity is paramount. Each will have its own style – but if it’s to be successful, that style should be aimed at the clientele you are trying to attract. It should be niche-oriented!

In your situation, Lucy, as a freelance digital proof reader and copy-editor, every article you write will be subliminally promoting the services you have to offer your readers. Because, in a sense, anything and everything that you write is a window dressing for your skills. Every blog you pen portrays – through your use of words, sentences, grammar and language – your abilities to hone and edit the writing submitted to you by your clients.

Similarly, my writing style tells my readers something about me and my ‘product’ (my books). So can we say that the way in which you write has as much to do with ‘niche’ as content – i.e. what you write? I’m not sure! I’ll take a look at that in a day or two.

If any reader has any views or comments to leave, I'd welcome them.

NEXT TIME: Is Niche Blogging The Only Way?

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All Royalties from Mel’s latest novel, A Painful Post Mortem, are for charities benefiting children worldwide. Buy a copy here and help raise cash for children like Rachel, who, at 13 is mother to 6 kids orphaned by AIDS, or this project, drug-proofing teenagers in the UK

Your Comments:

26th April 2010
at 11:44pm

You are a marvel Mel. I can't thank you enough for this
valuable advice and guidance. Thanks to you I can feel a blog
coming on.



I will be back :D

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