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How To Blog About What You Don't Know

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Earlier today, I wrote about how the advice “write what you know” isn’t always the best advice. That doesn’t mean that you should use your blog as an outlet for uneducated outbursts about every topic under the sun. When creating content, you can use the following tips to keep the standard of your blog high, even if you have no practical experience in the topic:

  • Create a resource list.

Don’t know much about a certain topic within your niche? I bet you that some bloggers out there do. For example, on After Graduation, I wanted to write a post that would be helpful for readers interested in publishing books. I’m an expert novel-starter, but a novice novel-finisher, so I’m not really qualified to give advice in this area. Instead, I create a list of 18 people who are qualified to give advice about publishing.

  • Interview an expert.

Again, even though you don’t know much about a specific topic within your niche, there are people out there who do. There are also experts in your field who are more than willing to share what they know about the topic. Most people are happy to answer an email questionnaire or spend 10 minutes on the phone with you, especially since you’ll be promoting their company, products, or services by doing an interview where they’re named as an expert. When interviewing someone (whether or not it is a celebrity), make sure you use these interview tips.

  • Trade guest posts.

You shouldn’t necessarily contact bloggers you don’t know and ask if they’ll write a post on your blog, but if you have friends who blog in your niche, or can cover a specific topic related to your niche, propose a partnership. What value can you bring to their blog? When you trade guest posts and work together to promote them, everyone wins.

  • Get out there and learn some new skills.

This is the most time-consuming tip, but it definitely pays off in the end. Let’s say that you write a blog about cooking, but have no idea how to decorate a cake. Does your community center offer classes? Or, say you write a blog about home improvement, but have never built a deck. If your neighbor is planning to do just that, offering to lend a hand will give you the experience you need to blog about the topic later. You’re probably passionate about your blog niche (I hope so, anyway), so spending some time and money learning new skills is often worth it.

Of course, there’s always the option to do traditional research when you don’t know much about a specific topic. Don’t just regurgitate what Wikipedia says. Do comprehensive research about the topic, and make sure your sources are valid. You can use Wikipedia as a jumping off point, but find some experts on the topic and even hit the library to find print resources on your topic of choice.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She spends way too much time reading about random topics on Wikipedia.

Image credit: sxc.hu

How to Make the Most of a Saturated Niche

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A saturated niche can put a real damper on the best-laid blog or podcast plans. If you know a lot about a particular topic, it’s really cool if that topic is popular. You can find hundreds of thousands of people from different nations who are all excited about about the same thing. Sing with me; it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all…

It’s a blogosphere of laughter, a blogosphere of tears…

The problem? If the niche is so popular offline, you likely aren’t the first person to write about it online. Popular topics like celebrity news, video games, making money online, and parenting are covered by hundreds of bloggers, and each site has worked hard to build up a following. As someone new in a niche that’s already more crowded than this train in India, how can you attract readers?

It isn’t Us vs. Them

Number one, this isn’t a gosh darn cage fight. The fact that there are other bloggers in your niche is a good thing, because you can share readers. No two bloggers will ever say the same thing or have the same blog content, even if you’re running extremely similar websites. So put away your nunchucks. You don’t have to take out other bloggers in order to be successful.When MMO* bloggers talk about “ninja” tactics, this is not what they mean.

Show your appreciation for their work. Become a member of their community by leaving productive comments and link back to relevant posts on their blog when you’re writing about similar topics on your own site. If you’re a podcaster, call in to others’ shows or mention them on your own podcast. Attend conferences to meet others in your niche. Guest post. You get the idea.

Be a Personality

Yesterday, I wrote about building your blogging brand. This is especially important if you’re coming into a niche that is extremely saturated. You want to be memorable, so that when people come to your site, they get a good sense of who you are. Be consistent, letting your personality shine through as much as possible. Remember, people aren’t loyal to blogs and podcasts because they like the information. People are loyal to blogs/podcasts because they like the information from you.

Put a Spin on Your Topic

Most successful content creators out there have one of two things going for them: they’re the “first” in their niche or they put a really different kind of spin on the same old topic. If you’re coming into a niche that’s already filled with bloggers and podcasters, you can’t be a first…but you can be original.

A great example of this? Men with Pens. It seems like every writer in the world has his/her own blog about writing, so the Men with Pens dudes (I say “dudes” liberally here) did something different. And they’re pretty successful where others have failed.

Try to think about your topic in a new way. What can readers/listeners get from you that they can’t get other places? It could you your writing style. It could be the way you approach a topic. Ideally, it’s both. Your branding definitely comes into play, but it goes beyond your personality. Focus not just on your niche, but the unique “oomph” that you bring to that niche.

Keep on Truckin’

The last piece of advice I want to dish out is this: no matter how full or empty your niche is, you can’t expect overnight success. Even popular content creators who are just starting out know that numbers are going to be down for the first few months. Keep on truckin’. I know one blogger who gave up after less than a month because she was frustrated with low traffic numbers. Building an audience takes time. Even if your niche is as saturated as Steve Ballmer’s shirt, you can build a following if you’re a consistently good at what you do – just give it some time. If people are interested in your niche, they’ll find you. After all, it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.

*MMO = Make Money Online, but every time I see it, I still think “massively multiplayer online” in relationship to video games like World of Warcraft and Everquest. Yes, that is how big of a geek I am.

Image Credit: Kirsten5400

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