One of the most common pieces of advice for starting a blog you’re likely to come across is to find your niche (pronounced ‘neesh’ or ‘nich’? you decide). What this means is that you’re to refine the scope of your blog to having a certain angle, in that it becomes about a certain thing. The alternative to this however is to write what most people would call a lifestyle blog. What this means is that your blog isn’t about a super specific topic (like long-distance running, raw diets, or breeding guinea pigs, say) but is instead indicative of a certain type of lifestyle. This could be something like the stay-at-home mum, being a travel writer, or off-grid living. Both approaches have their merits, and I reckon with a little work you can work out which would lend itself better to your particular needs.
My personal path to defining my niche (I say ‘neesh’) has been a long and winding one. Initially all the writing I published was quite abstract: a sort of personal/observational diary, where I would occasionally dip more in to one subject then another, but for the most part it was just an account of what was going on in my head, and in my life. Over time I began to see a sort of thread emerging, as I talked more and more about mental health and psychology. So, I thought, maybe this was a good direction to hunker down in and I planned to take my blog more specifically in that way. Then, the more I wrote about mental health and psychology, I noticed there was another ‘thread’ emerging – I talked a lot about personal development, and later, spirituality.
Now, I’m fairly streamlining all of this. What I’ve summed up quite tastefully within the confines of a paragraph took me a good while of hemming and hawing my way around various approaches to this smorgasbord of interests, trying out various angles to write about all of this stuff in a coherent manner. I tried just sticking with one, but it never worked. What I’ve eventually come to realise is that all these threads that were emerging were connected to the same sweater, if you’ll let me run with the metaphor a little while. More importantly, it was the ‘sweater’ that I was wearing, in that these were all my interests, and couldn’t easily be teased apart without diminishing any single one of them. The common denominator, as I came to find, was my lifestyle. I approach life in a creative way, and as much as possible I try to sculpt and walk my own path, and that was what all these topics were getting at. The focus on mental health (and psychology in general), self-development, spirituality, and creativity (as I’ve come to write more and more about) all have the common application of creating the life I want to live, and how anyone can go about creating the life they want to live.
So when it comes to choosing how you want to approach the topic of your blog, and the practicalities of niche vs lifestyle, in all honesty I would say that the proof is in the pudding. Get started, and if you’re attentive to your process, you’ll discover what you’re supposed to be writing about, and how you want to go about it. Maybe you do have a solid idea in mind – maybe you’re really in to dirt bikes, or Tae-Kwon-do – in which case I would totally say do that! Maybe you have a rough idea of something you want to write about, but you’re not totally convinced. My advice? Do that! We all have something we could talk the leg off a chair over. Your blog is going to develop and grow along with you, and your ideas are not immune to change. Play around a bit, and see where things go organically. I would say my best piece of advice right now would be to find your common denominator. If dirt bikes are really at the heart of everything you do, and a big part of your life, totally write a blog about dirt bikes! Reviews of bikes, tips on maintenance and customization, your favourite tracks – anything and everything dirt bike, that’s you. Follow your passion, and let your intuition guide you a little. To give your desired topic a test-run, try coming up with a bunch of potential blog posts. If it’s something you’re really in to, thinking up ten or fifteen ideas for articles shouldn’t be too hard (and if you really struggle then maybe it’s an indicator you need to rethink things, or you just haven’t found that common denominator).
The great thing about defining what exactly it is you’re going to be blogging about, is that it takes you a step closer to knowing who it is you’re blogging to. Who exactly is your expected audience? Who do you expect to be Googling, Facebooking or Pinteresting their way to your content? The great thing about blogging about your passion, is that you’re likely to be communicating to people much like yourself. This is great when it comes to writing content, and choosing the sort of questions you want to answer for people, because you can draw so much from personal experience. What sort of questions did you have when you were looking in to this field for the first time? What are some of the things you’re working out right now? What sort of things do you wish people had written about, that you’ve discovered by yourself? Your personal experience can add immense value to the lives of others.
So, hopefully this has given you some insight in to where you want to take your blog. I find the generic and often formulaic advice you find about blogging to be a little simplistic for what is in reality often an organic, evolving process. You don’t just start a blog, you create one – and creation is a process, one which often takes you in unexpected directions. Being open to that unknown variable is something that will take you to some of the greatest challenges, and greatest accomplishments you could imagine – or rather couldn’timagine – and leaves you open to experiencing all that the world, and all that you, have to offer.