Picking the right subject is the most important decision to get right when launching (or relaunching) a blog.
The temptation is to pick a popular topic with lots of readers. This strategy seems to make sense, more readers means more subscribers, leads, social buzz and customers.
Depends. This is a great strategy for a big publisher with a full roster of talented writers with a fat budget for advertising. If that’s you, go make it happen.
Don’t have a fat budget, Pulitzer prize-winning writers, and a hot reality show to drive hordes of new readers to your new blog? No worries.
Actually you are in a great position to make an impact but first you need to find a little pond.
How to Find Your Little Pond
What is your topic?
If your answer is 3-words or less then you probably a little fish in a big pond.
When I ask this question, I often hear:
3. Time management
As you would expect, these one-word subjects are massive. Each of the example topics listed above are multi-billion dollar niches with massive corporate publishers. These niches aren’t just big ponds, they are world-spanning oceans.
Let’s see what happens when we refine our answer:
- Nutrition for kids
- Fitness for nerds
- Time management for dads
- Marketing for veterinarians
- Entrepreneurship for teens
That last list looks pretty good right?
The subjects are focused and interesting. The problem is that other folks have caught on to the power of specialization. As good as these new niches are – It’s likely that they are filling up fast with aggressive bloggers.
One more step…
Add another word to each niche and you uncover some fascinating little ponds
Nutrition for Developmentally Challenged Kids
Fitness for nerds in high-stress jobs
Time management for single dads
Marketing for horse veterinarians
Entrepreneurship for teen girls in developing countries
Now we are cooking with kerosene. Each of these niches are small enough for you to dominate why being large and interesting enough to attract a passionate group of people hungry for new information and tools.
Try this exercise with your niche. Look for opportunities to narrow your blogging niche by:
- Targeting a gender. Most people are afraid to speak to one gender but it’s a great way to focus your topic and boost the impact of your message.
- Focusing on a skill level. Anything worth doing usually has three skill levels: 1) Beginners, Novices, and Experts. Interestingly, many experts hate focusing on one level thinking that offering editorial that helps everyone expands their options. It does but it also makes it extremely tough to compete with everyone who has the same idea!
- Finding Unique Situations. “Fitness for software developers in high-stress jobs” is an example of seeking out and catering to a specific situation. Look for frequent situations that play a big role in the reader’s life. When the situation happens, it will trigger your reader to look for a solution.
Now, It’s Time to Crowd The Pond
Once you’ve selected your niche go all-out to boost your frequency and push as much quality content as possible into the space.
The goal is to scare off competitors. Remember that your reader has a limited amount of time. They will not read every blog in the niche, they will pick one or two. You need to make that list.
Anyone hoping to pounce on your niche will have to contend with your fresh focus and prolific publishing. It’s a little pond so you need to act like a big fish (even if you don’t feel like one). Charge into the arena with a mix of content that announces that a new player has arrived. You won’t need to hold off competition forever just long enough to establish a foothold and a leadership position.
Push the Edge and Plant Your Flag
Now that you have found a small niche, show your leadership by staking out clear-cut positions on key topics.
Avoid the echo chamber and the popular topics and seek out the controversial topics that grab you reader’s attention. The safe topics are already worked to death by the weak-knee, kumbaya, suck-ups. Instead, you should push the conversation and LEAD.
The moment you play it safe is the moment you open an opportunity for a nimble competitor to steal your audience.
A Whole New Blogging Strategy
I’ve watched blogging become the hub of content strategy and even marketing strategy for many companies. I love it and encourage this movement.
However, this also means that the happy-go-lucky days of simply publishing and getting a rush of new readers are over. While it’s business as usual for Personal bloggers, business blogging requires a strategy that competes for every reader. Finding a little pond and moving fast to capture new readers is the best way to compete.