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Why the Crowded Niche can be a Good Thing

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Gurus who teach others to make money blogging talk a lot about niche selection (and rightfully so). It doesn’t matter how passionate your are or how well you write about any topic if there’s no audience and if your audience is too general, you’ll have trouble pleasing anybody in attempts to please everybody. Niche is important, without a doubt.

But one of the pieces of advice that I hear often isn’t one that I necessarily agree is true. So many people avoid starting a blog about a certain topic because the niche is already crowded with bloggers. With so many bloggers writing about the same topic, new bloggers in that niche fail at an incredible rate, leaving many experts recommending that you don’t choose that direction. To that advice, I say, “Fiddlesicks!” An overcrowded niche can be a good thing, if you know what you’re doing.

Passion and Money

Few people get into blogging solely because they see it as a lucrative income stream. The sad fact is that blogging is hard and most blogs out there don’t make a livable income for their owners. Many bloggers start blogs with the intent to make money, but I think it’s pretty apparent that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

So why do we do it? Passion. Most bloggers start blogging because they enjoy writing or because they want to share what they know about a specific topic. If income follows, that’s awesome, but passion is the driving force.

Which leads me to ask you this: if your passion involves a niche that is already super crowded, why should you be the one that has to walk away, looking for another way to make money blogging? Why does the top earner in your niche get to pursue his/her passion, while you’re stuck blogging about a lesser interest? Because he/she got there first? That doesn’t seem fair.

You should blog about the topic that inspires you. Period. If that means you’re competing with ten other bloggers, fine. If that means you’re competing with ten thousand other blogs, that’s also fine. You don’t have to give up your passion just because it doesn’t happen to be unique or weird.

Crowding = Demand

If there are a lot of Italian restaurants in a certain neighbor, chances are that it is because Italian food is in high demand. Sure, you can do something different and open a Chinese buffet, but you run the risk of not giving the people what they want if you do that. If you open another run-of-the-mill Italian place, it may get lost in a sea of restaurants, but if you run the best Italian restaurant place, you’ll be swimming in customers.

Essentially, crowding implies want. So it’s ok to be another person giving the people what they want!

In the blogging world, a crowded market also means that you have tons of networking opportunities. It’s easier to find places to guest post. You’re more likely to be linked on other blogs. You can build your social networks more easily. There are likely more professional conventions in your niche for you to attend. Companies related to this niche are likely already working with bloggers. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that having competition is a good thing!

You Don’t Have to Be the Best

If you can be the best blog in your niche, bar none, that’s awesome. But you don’t have to be the top dog to make money. You just have to be best at what you do.

For example, let’s say you want to blog about cooking. There are already tons of cooking blogs out there, and the top blogs are run by people who have tons of education and experience. If you’re a 23-year-old amateur chef, being the top blogging in this niche is probably pretty impossible. But what about being the top food blogger who focuses on organic cooking? Or what about being the top food blogger who focuses on chocolate? Or who focuses on cooking for a single person? Or cooking with cheap ingredients? Or using a microwave? Or writing funny posts about cooking blunders? Or…

You need a “spin” to be successful in a crowded niche. You’re passionate about cooking. Awesome. But what makes you different? Narrow your passion a bit to find what really makes your heart sing – and grow your brand around that. You should be able to describe you blog in one or two sentences, and that description shouldn’t apply to any other blogs out there. If you can do that, it doesn’t matter how many other bloggers are also talking about your topic. You have a chance to succeed too.

Overheard on #Blogchat: “Nichify” (@CatsEyeWriter)

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With all the BlogWorld Expo work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had time for Overheard on #Blogchat for a few weeks. Glad to be back this week!

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Generating interest in your NEW blog

One of the most interesting #blogchat quotes I’ve read this week was from @CatsEye Writer about the topic of your blog, which plays a big part in building your online community.

CatsEyeWriter: New blog? Don’t be afraid to “nichify.” Your right people will find you.

I love this tweet in part because I make up words all the time and in part because it’s really solid advice that I feel like most bloggers get wrong.

A few months ago, I offered free freelance writing consulting on my blog, After Graduation. Of the people who signed up, 90% of them wanted to talk about their blog ideas, either for existing blogs or blogs they were thinking about creating. I found myself saying one thing more than anything else:

FOCUS!

Let’s say you start out with a personal blog where you just talk about whatever topic pops into your head. It’s about as far from “nichified” as possible. Unless you’re a celebrity or there’s some other force bringing your readers together to like you, how can you market that blog? You don’t have an average reader. You aren’t solving a problem. Chances are that you aren’t even being entertaining – at least not to every reader with every post. Reader A might like Post #1 but not Post #2. Reader B might like Post #2 but not Post #1. Because only the occasional post is relevant, no one subscribes or makes an effort to support your blog in any way.

So let’s say you “nichify” a bit by deciding that you’re going to write about parenting. That’s a huge niche. Again, you don’t really have an average reader. Because you’re so general, your posts are going to initially attract all kinds of parents. But Reader A is a young, new mother from the Midwest who is interested in your budget tips for parents, while Reader B is an experienced father from New York City who wants tips on helping his child choose a college and Reader C is a couple dealing with a child with autism. If you’re trying to write to all of them, your posts are going to be watered down and not convert. You can’t build a community if there’s nothing to bring them together.

Don’t be afraid to really find your niche. While there are more general parents than parents with children who have autism, if you write for Reader C specifically, your people will find you – and they’ll stick around.

So, as @CatsEyeWriter says, don’t be afraid to “nichify.” It’s better to have a small, dedicated readership than it is to have a million hits a day with no community. A dedicated readership that becomes a community is the key to building traffic and making sales, and that starts with defining your niche.

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