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Redefining Niche Marketing for your site

One of the hot topics in todays blogging world is the word “Niche Marketing”. If you haven’t heard that buzz word yet, you will as it is a growing trend in the blogosphere of how to make money online and building a focused site audience. So what exactly is niche marketing and how does it affect your blog or site?

A niche market is defined by Wikipedia as:

A niche market also known as a target market is a focused, targetable portion (subset) of a market sector.

By definition, then, a business that focuses on a niche market is addressing a need for a product or service that is not being addressed by mainstream providers. A niche market may be thought of as a narrowly defined group of potential customers.

So, how does this relate to blogging? In an article about how to grow your blog in 3 months posted by Skellie on her site, skelliewag.org, I posed the question to Skellie about should your site be focused on one specific area, or niche, to increase traffic. My question stems from the debate that seems to be going on around various blogs that in order to be a successful blogger, you should be focused on one niche per blog. I tend to disagree with this to some degree, and here is why.

If you are focused on a topic, lets say how to make money online, then your niche market is other people that are looking for ways to make money online. This is good as it will increase the readership of your site, promote your site through search engines, and allow you the opportunity to promote methods and programs that will help others make money online. This in turn helps you make money. But let’s say that you have various, closely related interests. What do you do at that point?

Well, you could go out and create a blog for each interest that you have. This would be a good idea if your interest are in a broad range of topics, such as cooking, automotive repair and plumbing. These topics are not closely tied together, so to have them in one blog would draw a wide range of visitors, but it isn’t focused at that point to one particular niche, or target group.

By having an individual blog about each topic, you would then increase your readership for each blog, thereby allowing for seperation of income opportunities to each site. Now the bad news is that you have to keep up with each blog by writing good content for each one. Lots of work here would need to be done, so unless you have a super talent for writing good content for a wide variety of topics, you could really suffer some burnout.

One of the reasons that I don’t want numerous blogs dealing with the topics I like is because I feel that most of my interests that I write about here are closely related. I enjoy blogging about search engine optimization, accessible web design and development and tips for WordPress and the firefox browser. I feel that each of these are strongly related, maybe not like brother and sister, but cousins would be a good analogy.

So, I sent out a few emails about how to define your niche market, and if having one blog with “cousin” topics is good, or if they should be seperated into several blogs. I must say that some of the responses I received back went from good advice to some pretty pathetic answers. I guess once you reach a certain “status” online, you can’t be bothered by someone who is wanting to learn. Oh well, to each their own.

Here are a couple of the responses that I received about this topic of should your niche be so tightly focused or is writing about closely related topics on one blog a good idea.

From Skellie at skelliewag.org:

My feeling is that you can blog on multiple topics as long as they’re likely to be of interest to your target audience. For example, writing about Firefox, the environment, cooking and blogging probably isn’t a good idea — few of your readers will be interested in all of those things. Whereas blogging about Firefox, coding, WordPress and so on are probably fine topic choices because there is a large swathe of web users who’re likely to be interested in all or most of those things.

From Mike Cherim at green-beast.com:

Speaking for myself, supported by what I write in my blog, I suggest writing what your audience likes and wants to read, but to make that a secondary concern. I feel the most important thing to write about is what you *want* to write about. That’s why my tag line is “Mike Cherim’s Professional and Personal Web Log” as this opens the door for me to write about whatever it is that floats my boat, so to speak, while still being honest to my visitors.

That said, if the object is to write about stuff that drives traffic, then focus solely on a topic or small range of like topics, and write with reader interaction in mind. I do think that can be anything. If the topic is there and the writing is quality, the audience will find it and react accordingly.

From Michael Martin of problogdesign.com:

I think it’s best to focus on a certain niche, at least in the start. Working on one topic makes it easier for you to build up an audience, because readers know what to expect (eg. If you’re writing on 4 different topics, and doing a post every day, then you may have readers who are only interested in 2 posts a week from you. The other 5 might put them off subscribing).

It’s also good because it forces you to really delve into the topic thoroughly (Especially when looking for new post ideas), and lastly because you’re more likely to become an authority blog if you’re blogging on just one topic (You “specialise” in that topic).

Of course, there’s no reason that you must always stay with just the one topic. If the site grows to a point where it could expand to include a second, similar, topic, without annoying the current readers, then go for it! You might still end up blogging about all the topics you originally wanted to, but you’ll have taken a different path.

Darren Rowse of problogger.net has written a couple of great articles discussing the decisions and options for this topic. One of his insights from an article entitled One blog many categories or many blogs was that when he first started blogging, he had one blog with many categories and it became to much to manage. He offers this insight as for his decision:

In the end it all got a little too much for me to bare and I decided to splinter off my blogs into niche topics. Not only did this solve my problem of disillusioned readers and a confused and guilty me (it was quite a relief) it made good business sense to focus upon niches or specialty blogs rather than a big general meta-blog.

Darren also has a great article on How to choose a Niche Topic that is worthy of reading as well.

In conclusion, I guess I could offer the advice of, well, it depends on what you want to do! As for me, I plan on keeping this single blog for now as it is the easiest for me to manage. Maybe some day I would consider splintering off a category into its own blog. One of the main things to consider in this discussion, and I think Mike Cherim offered the wonderful advice of you really need to write about what you want to write about. Don’t focus so much on pleasing other people as there are too many to try and please. You need to be passionate about your topics, willing to learn more about them, and share your knowledge and experience with others.

What do you think about niche marketing for your blog and what is working for you?

6 Responses to “Redefining Niche Marketing for your site”

  1. Mike Cherim says:

    Nicely written article Elliott. Sorry to hear some of the responses you got were less than satisfactory. There are some pretty arrogant people out there. As soon as they regularly get a dozen or more comments on each post some become elitists. Gods in their own mind. In the big scheme of things, though, a lot of these people are piss ants. Having a popular blog is one thing, but thinking that if one is popular in a particular niche market (nothing new in that by the way) that they are well-known and somehow famous is another — an illusion in their own mind. Popularity is gauged not by those within the niche market, it’s once you get known across many markets. And once that does happen, there’s still no place for arrogance. I noted a lot of that when I first got into this industry and I still do see too much of it. Write someone an email and they can’t be bothered. That’s a shame.

  2. elliott says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for the comment! We have talked before about this topic, and I agree that some people think they are above associating with “the little guy”. It is a shame, as they were once just starting out.

    Maybe a good topic for another article!?

  3. Keely H. says:

    I like how you pulled in so many different sources for your article. You don’t see a lot of opinion roundups on this topic, you mostly see only the author’s own opinion. I enjoyed reading something different. Good job.

  4. elliott says:

    @ Keely,

    Thanks! I asked quite a few people for their opinions on the topic and did some research for it too. I think having a variety of opinions helps you to formulate your own opinion and gain insight into the trends of the internet and blogging in general.

  5. pablopabla says:

    The topics I blog about are far too varied – from cooking recipes to financial & legal matters to enjoying the most out of blogging to politics, life and religion. There is no way I could fit all of them into one blog. As a result, I’ve given birth to a bunch of blogs.

    Do I get burned out? Not really. I blog when I want to blog simply because it remains a hobby and not something which I would want to control over my life.

    What I discovered is that some of my loyal readers are subscribers to all of the above blogs. I guess after a period of time where relationship has been formed, the reader identifies the blogger as a unique individual behind the whole list of blogs he authors.

  6. elliott says:

    @ pablopabla,

    Great insights! I think you hit on a couple of issues. One, unless you have no life outside of blogging, don’t let it consume you like a disease.

    Secondly, I completely agree with you about loyal readership. Just because someone creates a blog on a popular topic doesn’t mean that you will have loyal followers. Your content is what will really draw people into your site as loyal followers and promote interesting conversations.

    Thanks for your comments and stop back again!

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