Yes, you may not have realized it but if you have a blog, you may even have a niche already.
I am pretty sure you are surprised.
I certainly was surprised when this is exactly what I was told by a dear friend Karen Zara of abaminds the other day. I had mentioned to Karen that I was a bit in a dilemma as to what topics I should be writing about since I had no particular niche. But Karen came back with a surprising answer.
Karen’s email was filled with some great advice but here is the gist of what she thought my niche was:
“Dear Pearl, I spent some time studying Interesting Observations. I noticed your posts tend to vary among “personal development,” “meta-blogging” and “social media,” with some exceptions. In my opinion, you already have a niche. You just don’t see it as such. ;-)”
That one statement made me take a re-look at my blog a bit more closely. And sometime ago, I read mention of this blog in a post by another blogging friend Tad Chef, and in introducing it to his readers, he also mentioned what I blog about here, which was actually the first time I seriously started thinking about my niche.
This is what Tad said:
“Pearl who is the woman behind Interesting Observations who just hit the front page of Digg, del.icio.us and became popular on StumbleUpon at the same time. What more can I say? she writes about blogging, social media, the web, also 2.0 and self improvement among others. She’s a Jane of all trades in e positive sense.”
You see? I had no idea what my niche was and that I was writing about blogging, social media and/or web 2.0. I thought I was mainly writing about self improvement. I blogged about things that interested me and didn’t really worry about a ‘niche’ but I am a firm believer that its not what YOU think about your blog, it is what your READERS think about it, is what is most important. And today I was so glad that whatever I was writing was actually making sense to my readers.
Now, lets assume someone out there is as lost as I was and despite having a blog. What advice would you give her in finding her niche? Here are some of the things that I would suggest
1. Review your past posts
What have you been writing about? Try to categorize these posts to get a better picture of your interests. I confess I have not been paying much attention to my categories on this blog but I soon plan to sit and divvy up the categories that make sense and have fewer and fewer categories.
2. Scan your book/magazine collection
What kind of subjects and topics interest you and you have been reading or intend to read. If you are not into reading books, you might be reading newspapers and magazines. What kind of articles attract you?
3. Take a look at your browser favorites and bookmarks
I have hundreds if not thousands of bookmarks, to sites, to individual articles, in different places – on different computers and in the online bookmarking services like Delicious – and also under various accounts! How many people go through their bookmarks regularly? I realized I had not been through some of my bookmarks that I had saved some years ago. You’ll be amazed looking at some of the links you might have saved months if not years ago. With internet being so vast, I feel I am finding new sites every single day and keep adding them to my favorites and life is so fast, we sometimes forget what we saved to come back to it later someday.
4. Review the articles you voted for on social network sites
Look at the pictures that inspired you, articles that you voted up in the last few months will reveal what has interested you (this is of course only possible if you are not getting influenced by all the requests you are bombarded with every day on all of these sites and you are using some of your own discretion). I have seen some of the top stumblers using a script to go back to their archives, but I have not seen ANY of the bloggers do that. Do you ever go to your pages that you thumbed up months ago? Similarly, on Digg, do you refer to the articles you dugg some months ago?
5. Draw up a list of your interests and hobbies
What do you like to do off line, when you are not in front of the computer. Places you like to visit – restaurants, vacation spots, malls etc. Things you are interested in may not be the things you are very good at, but if your heart is in it, you are likely to put more effort in improving yourself in that area and become good at it, leading to success.
6. Draw up another list of things you are good at
More often than not, things we are good at and can do in our sleep, we may not find very interesting. Listing these things will also give you an idea if you really want to talk about them in your blog, because even if you are not interested in them, you are so good at them, someone else might find them very useful. And because we are all looking for a good reader base around our blogs, more and more people liking your blog may even motivate you to keep doing it and make you more interested in it.
7. Ask your readers
This is one of the most important tips I can give you. Besides going through all of the above points, do ask your readers what they think of your blog.
What has been useful to them from your blog, why do they come to read you?
So, here is my question to you.
What is it that you learn from this blog and what do you expect to read when you come here?
Your answers will help me solidify this blog’s content and help me concentrate on topics you would like to read here. If you have not commented here before, please don’t hesitate to do so now because your ideas will be looked at and reviewed as this blog grows.