School #1: Pick What You Love
The premise behind this reasoning is that you’ll be writing a lot about your topic. It’s impossible to pour hours work into a topic you hate. This makes sense. If you are a hobby blogger then selecting your passion topic is definitely the right path to take.
However, this line of reasoning is tripped up when a blog is used as a marketing tool. In this case your blog’s goal is to attract hungry readers with specific challenges. What you love may not be what your reader’s want. Making the wrong topic choice here can consign you to working your tail off for minimal return.
School #2: Pick What Your Audience Needs
Supporters of the audience-focused approach are backed by mountains of common sense, anecdotal support, and cold-hard revenue. Delivering what your audience wants is a sure-fire way to turning visitors into readers, readers into subscribers, subscribers into sales. Until recently, I’ve been in this camp too. But, let’s just say that my point of view has “evolved.”
The pitfall here is a lack of vision and motivation. The Audience-Focused crowd is in danger of turning their blog into a data-driven monstrosity that lacks soul. Since powerful brands are built on soul, vision, and irrational focus on the customer and the culture, taking the audience knows best approach can rip the heart out of your blogging effort.
Both points of view have merit and both have real and troubling blind spots. That’s why I’m proposing a third alternative –
The Obsessed Few
During my recent “EZ Blog Post Writing Mastery” webinar, I encouraged my audience to use a blog-template called that Pop-Culture Mashup. This template uses a celebrity or event as a way to grab reader’s attention. It’s worked incredibly well for me and I was eager to share it.
One of the listeners fired off a question that poked me into outlining my Obsessed Few perspective. The listener wanted to know if using a celebrity as the foundation of the blog post would alienate a person’s audience. The thought being that if I wrote a post using Adam Levine as a prop, I would upset or alienate people who don’t know or like the Maroon 5 lead singer.
“Yes”, I answered, “you run that risk but you are writing for the obsessed few understand your point of view in their bones. You can’t cater to the many. You need to serve the few.”
Serving the Obsessed Few navigates a narrow path between the passion-focused and audience-focused perspectives. The benefit is that this strategy appeals to the best in both camps.
The passionate blogger can create a blog for a sub-niche that they are passionate and obsessed about. In turn, an obsessed minority of readers will discover, hang-out, and ultimately support the blogger because they finally found someone “who gets it”.
How to Pick Your Obsessed Few Topic
Every topic has sub-culture of fanatical supporters. Dieting has Paleo. Fitness has “Insanity” and Iron Tribe Fitness, Apple has “MacRumors”, Open Source has node.js, you get the picture. Your job is to examine your topic’s community and find the small neighborhood that caters to the most vocal supporters.
It’s easy to find the Obsessed Few:
- They create (a lot) of content
- They self-organize. They are already frequenting forums, moderating Google+ Hangouts, and/or curating a Facebook page.
- They buy. The Obsessed Few live and breathe their topic. Spending money for unique content isn’t an issue,
- They share. The Obsessed Few often have obsessed audiences of their own. They are taking good care of this audience by supplying a fresh, ongoing source, of tips, resources, products, etc. They are happy to share your content. But only if you are as obsessed as they are.
These folks gravitate to social tools that offer them a quick, easy, high-touch access to fellow community members.
- Google+: Do a search on Google+ for your sub-niche. Find the people who have set-up group pages and feeding their audience with a steady torrent of information. Write for them.
- Facebook: Facebook is a treasure-trove of information about the truly obsessed. You can zero in on your reader’s hot-buttons through their timeline, albums, and newsfeed.
- Check Your Email List: Find the people who have signed up for multiple Expert Products and bought your services. The Obsessed Few will be hanging out there.
If you don’t have a list, create one right away. Create an Expert Product focused on the Obsessed Few. Give it away in exchange for an email address. Watch who signs up and follow-up with a phone call, email, or Google hangout to learn more about their obsession.
It’s Not About Numbers
You can build a business on a few hundred obsessed supporters. I’ve done it. You can too. You are looking for quality readers who take action and recognize great content when they see it. Don’t be afraid to “alienate” the crowd to focus on this core group of supporters. It will pay off.
What Are Your Obsessed Few Interested In?
Tell me what the Obsessed Few in your community love to hear about. It’s fascinating to hear about the diversity of interests out there. Talk to me in the comments below.