Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Problem With Niche Blogging (And Why I Won't Be "Going Niche" Anytime Soon)


If you're reading this right now, then I'll bet you're either:

a) a friend
b) a fellow blogger
c) a combination of the above
d) none of the above

or, finally:

(e) my mom.

And, I'll also bet that my blog is one of five, ten, or fifteen other blogs you'll visit on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Right? (Unless you're my mom, who only reads mine, duh.)

You might regularly visit a beauty blog that you love, a food blog you're obsessed with, a travel blog for inspiration, a fashion blog that's just fun, or a lifestyle blog that's pretty.

I do.

But what this blog doesn't have is a niche. Food, travel, shoes, expat stories, whining (and wining!), Bach ... I'll write about whatever comes to mind (specifically, whatever comes to mind while shaving my legs in the shower because - I'll tell ya - that's prime time for inspiration).

I can't write a blog about The Best Spots for Truffle Scrambled Eggs in London. I can't write a blog about Pointy-Toed T-Strap Shoes (they are very in right now, Instagram tells me). I can't dedicate an entire blog to perfume or art or tiny aluminum sculptures of geese (I'm staring at one right now).

It's just not me. It's not my voice.

Five years ago, I started writing this blog to help me figure out whether I wanted to live in the US or the UK. I thought it'd help me make up my mind (it didn't). I called it "Angloyankophile", because I wanted to highlight the best of both worlds. I wrote about cakes and nice Irish tube drivers and books.

Fast forward five years later, I've amassed a few more followers (other than my mom), gained recognition in the Travel category at the UK Blog Awards, worked with some incredible brands and companies, and - most importantly - made some very special friends.

But still, I attend blogging workshops and events - Muji pen poised above the pages of my Moleskine journal, ready to absorb, ready to learn - and I'm crushed when the first words out of the organizers' mouths are, "Get a niche. Stop whatever you're doing and get a niche. You'll never be successful otherwise."

And, you know, I'm not writing this blog to be successful. But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want anyone to read my words either. 

I try to post 3-4 times a week. If I wrote that blog on tiny aluminum sculptures of geese, I'd probably post once a month. "Drop the sarcasm," I hear you say. Okay, I will. But even if I wrote a blog about vegan beauty products, for example, just how many posts could I realistically write about vegan beauty products per week? In an online arena that is saturated - I mean, dripping like the french fry fat at the bottom of your McDonald's cardboard french fry holder (sorry for the gross analogy) - with beauty blogs?

And that brings me to my next point: the sheer volume of bloggers that exist.

Sometimes, I become so disheartened about blogging. I'm a teeny, tiny drop in what feels like an infinite ocean. According to this 2012 survey, there were an estimated 31 million bloggers in the US alone. Now, just think about that number and imagine how it would be multiplied worldwide - and we're now in 2015.

But then I have to remember my audience - and I was thinking about this for a while. My mom might read anything that I write (even if it's about tiny aluminum sculptures of geese), but you probably wouldn't, unless it was interesting, right?

And I don't want to alienate any readers. I try to make my posts as widely appealing as possible: regardless of age, gender, geography, ethnicity, or where you're at in life. Sometimes I fail at that. I know, and I'm sorry.

But I read these lovely comments below, and the emails I get - from Brussels to Arizona to Seattle to San Diego to Hong Kong; from 20-something students to 60-something women (HI MOM! SORRY I REVEALED YOUR AGE! SORT OF!) and I think, no. I don't want to "go niche".

Goodbye, success; hello, my small group of lovely readers.

I'm so glad to have you here.

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61 comments

  1. Oh this is exactly how I've been feeling lately. I wonder whether I should focus my blog more, whether it should be more topic specific, but the problem is that I'm not. My interests are varied and I would hate to limit myself so much that I lost the enjoyment. Even if I'm not super successful. I enjoy it and to be fair, I have my day job to be super successful at - and that pays!

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    1. Nah, I love your blog, Lisa! Keep on keeping on ... and, yes, I think a lot of readers forget that some of us (me included!) have full time jobs as well!

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  2. I'm totally with you on this one! I've faced this dilemma many times and it has made me feel like it's taking the fun out of blogging. So good on you for sticking to blogging about whatever you want! :)

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    1. Thanks, Sheepa! I think it's all about sticking with what makes you happy - I happen to be a person with a bazillion random interests and thoughts, so I find that I have to put those down on paper (or rather, online), otherwise I'll go crazy, ha!

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  3. This is also how I feel and I'm happy to read more and more bloggers tackling this subject! I blog because a) I like to write and take photos and record my adventures, b) I think it's fun, c) I love meeting and discussing with fellow bloggers. I'm happy with my small group of readers too and I'm not looking for money or worldwide success when it comes to my blog. We already have to fit in so many boxes in life. I don't want to feel limited when I blog too. :)

    Charlotte | The Midnight Blog

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    1. Your photography is amazing, Charlotte, and I love the topics you cover, which is why I read your blog! I love your comment about having to fit into so many boxes in life ... you're absolutely right about that!

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  4. I absolutely loved reading this. I too don't really have a niche, I just write about whatever tickles my fancy and what I feel passionate about at that moment in time. Those are my favourite types of blogs to read.
    Sophie
    x

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    1. Thank you, Sophie! I definitely think that writing about whatever tickles your fancy is the way to go! Btw, your blog is gorgeous! x

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  5. This is exactly what I needed to read after the post I wrote the other day. You and the others who commented really made me feel better about everything. I've realised it's not a niche I need to find, but something else. I'll be thinking on it for a while and writing more about it when I'm back to blogging in a few weeks.

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    1. Oh, Amy! And I meant it all ... your writing sustains your blog ... that's why we don't care what you write about, because it is just always so beautifully articulated! Looking forward to your return ...

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  6. Hurrrrah! I am super glad that you've decided to stick with you, because that's what draws us it!! I love me some diversity in a blog and I feel it connects you to your readers as your share various sides of you interests and therefore personality I suppose.

    I have a tiny blog and have had similar thoughts of 'but I like too many things to get specific!', so I am well and truly with you! It's our blog so let's do it our way!

    Can't wait for the next posts, particularly that one on silver geese sculptures... ; D

    Gemma
    Faded Windmills

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    1. *as YOU share various sides of YOUR interests.

      (Doing well today!!)

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    2. Bahahaha ... I know what you meant! And I'm definitely having one of *those* days today too. :) I think your blog is great, Gemma, so definitely keep going! Thanks for your lovely comments. x

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  7. Very well said, Jaime. I've seen how blogs have evolved from being 'too personal' to 'personal' to 'commercial'. You don't have to worry about your pool of readers and your blog content because I think yours is a good mix of putting your interests in a voice most people can relate to. As long as it's fun, I doubt you need to change anything. x

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

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    1. Thank you, Honey! I totally agree ... some of the blogs I used to love have become far too commercial now. And there aren't enough hours in a day to keep up with all of them! Love yours, and we must get together soon for lunch (I know the ball's in my court ... will DM you soon!). xo

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  8. YES YES YES! I will always read your blog because you don't write niche. Here's my thing. I might be a blogger. But I want choice both in what I write about but alsoin what I read about. I want to read some blogs that are niche (where you immediately know what you are going to get) but I also want to read other blogs that are varied and insightful. Blogs which make me think and laugh and discover things and which speak to a unique personality. And you have that in spades. Its one of my favorites blogs hands down. Please don't change a thing. xx

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    1. And I feel the same way about YOUR writing and your blog, Jess! Thank you so, so much for this sweet comment - you've made my day. xx

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  9. I love reading your blog! Keep doing what you're doing, there's no need for you to change anything :)

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  10. I think the fact that you don't have a niche makes your blog more personal as it's more like your random musings and recommendations. I'm *sooooo* bored of review / PR blogs they have no personality whereas your shines through and you're a very talented writer. Yours is one of my favourite blogs :)
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

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  11. I think the fact that you don't have a niche makes your blog more personal as it's more like your random musings and recommendations. I'm *sooooo* bored of review / PR blogs they have no personality whereas your shines through and you're a very talented writer. Yours is one of my favourite blogs :)
    Lots of love,
    Angie
    SilverSpoon London

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    1. Thank you, Angie - that means a lot coming from you! xoxo

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  12. I'm your friend and I love your blog regardless of the fact that you are my friend! your blog is so much fun to read and tugs at my heart strings (ok, maybe that's because you are my friend).

    I also like seeing the familiar names of people who comment on your blog. makes for a nice, happy, supportive circle!

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  13. As they say, 'you do you'. I accidentally found a niche (living in Malta) and it worked for me as it meant it was easy to rank for good search terms and without even trying I became one of the most popular guides to life and holiday here. But if you can't find a small niche you're passionate enough about to make into a whole blog then it's best to keep on as you are. Do what makes you happy, never mind how many are reading :)

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    1. Hey, Rhi - thanks for reading! And *totally* - if you you've found the right niche for you, then that's amazing! It just didn't/doesn't work for me. I think I originally went for the whole "American expat in London" spin, and we're a dime a dozen. Well done with your beautiful site!

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  14. Well played. 😎

    - one of your happy readers

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  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I started my blog mainly focusing on it being a travel blog but because I work full time and don't travel constantly it's quite hard to keep talking about travel when I don't travel all the time. Plus I simply like to talk about other stuff too - food, my life, things at home, books, etc. I definitely don't have a niche and I love that I'm not the only one. At the end of the day we write about things we're passionate about and who says that just has to be one thing?!

    Great post :)

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Ayla! LOVE your blog. I used to feel panicked/insecure about not having a niche, but I'm learning to accept that it's okay now!

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  16. Well said!!! (claps hands emoji) It's your space to write about whatever you want, enjoy it :) Lots of love, Andrea xxxx
    www.andreaspassions.com

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    1. BAHAHAHA, love the *claps hands emoji* insertion there, Andrea! Thanks so much for stopping by to read xoxo

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  17. I agree with all of this. Having a niche would make things much harder, especially if a day comes when you decide, "Hey, I think I'll take a break from the geese and write about that restaurant I went to the other night" -- then you've got a whole angry audience who were expecting geese to contend with. Niche-lessness gives you freedom. So you won't be getting any peer pressure to go niche from me -- I dig your blog as is :)

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    1. I think I laugh until the point of tears at nearly every comment you post, Gianni.

      THANK YOU. xo

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    1. Thought you'd might appreciate this post! :)

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  19. Great post. I call my blog an "everything blog" because I never wanted it to be one thing, as if people are one thing themselves, ugh! I mean, it's cool if people like to go full force in one direction, but that's not my thing!

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    1. Thank you, Ashley! I love the notion of an "everything blog". :) Thanks so much for stopping by to read xo

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  20. oh, I have always struggled with that as well, mainly because I have an opinion about everything, and love so much stuff that I would do a disservice to some of my passions if I would not include them somewhere in there. Thanks for encouraging me to not worry so much about niche, but great content. Love your blog!

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    1. Thank you, Claudia! So glad that this post gave you a bit of encouragement - definitely stay true to what feels right to you! :) xo

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  21. I found you via a guest post you wrote for Shimelle Laine (I think it was about Americans in London) and I thought, "Ooh, maybe there'll be pretty pictures, paper and glue, just like Shimelle ..." You have the pretty pictures in spades and even though there isn't any scrapbooking, I still return every time you post. Why? Because you write well about all sorts of topics, you take great photos and your London life is so different from my London life. Please don't change a thing!

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    1. Oh, and after 7 years of blogging, I'm only now learning that I am supposed to have a niche ....? Do details of my everyday life coupled with tales of living with a child with autism count as a niche? No? That's me stuffed, then!

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    2. Thank you so much, Ruth - and I am so grateful that you *do* keep stopping by to read and to comment. I was particularly touched by your comment that you read because my London life is so different than your London life - I love that two people living in the same city can share such different but equally interesting experiences! :)

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  22. Jamie, I have to agree with your decision to keep your blog about your personal musings, rather than finding a niche. Honestly, even the argument that you need to find a niche to be successful is not true. One of the first blogs I ever read (ten years ago now!), pamie.com, was and still is a personal journal that has served as a launching platform for the author to publish novels and to sell TV pilots and movies.. Although she wrote about anything and everything in her life, it still created a platform for her. So if you want your blog to help you launch onto bigger things, it can still do that without having to change anything. I read your blog to a) keep up with you (and Kara!!) and b) to hear YOUR voice. You could write about rocks and I'd still eagerly read your blog. So whatever blogger conference you went to, they clearly are not omniscient and you should take their advice with a huge grain of salt. x

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    1. Thanks so much for that encouragement and for your kind words, Ashleigh - and thank you for keeping up with my cah-razy adventures! xx

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  23. I agree, it's a shame that blogging has become so specialized and monetized over the years. I grew up in the days of LiveJournal, so I still have that longing to read personal musings instead of PR-approved blurbs.

    That said, I think there are some arguments for niche blogs. I decided to start a beauty blog, not a more general blog, for a number of reasons. I have lots of interests, but since almost no one I know is as geeky about makeup as I am, I'd long been craving an outlet for that particular geekiness. I also like beauty blogging because it means the focus isn't on me 100% of the time. I don't feel comfortable revealing too much of my life online, for both personal and professional reasons, and writing about beauty allows me to express my ideas and opinions without getting too personal. As for the oversaturation of the market, I don't really care. The blogosphere is oversaturated in every conceivable area, and I'm not trying to gain a huge readership, so I might as well write the sort of thing that makes me happy--which seems to be your point, as well!

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    1. Totally agree! Oh, LiveJournal ... I remember those days too!

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  24. Ohhhh hell yes! Yes yes yes! Don't change a thing about the way you blog - the best thing about it is that it is authentically you through and through. That's what keeps everyone returning again and again. High five to non-niche ramblings.

    Polly xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Polly! High fives all around :) xx

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  25. You're right to stay true to your voice - and it's great that you started blogging to work out where you wanted to live! I like to cover a bit of everything and certainly wouldn't want to limit myself either. Liberty London Girl said when I met her with a group of bloggers, that she doesn't think you necessarily need a niche.

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

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    1. If Liberty London Girl says it's OK, it's most definitely OK!!

      Polly xx

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  26. I think people sometimes get hung up on what a niche actually is, and think their blog has to be about one thing and one thing only. Well, some blogs can do that. If you are passionate about make up then it makes sense to blog about that, and it will only annoy readers if you spam them with random pancake posts. However, not everyone has the one singular obsession. Unless, of course, your niche is you. That's what I figure my "niche" is. Stuff that makes Frankie tick. It's very specific and I'm the world's foremost authority on the subject. Win! x

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    1. Totally agree, Frankie! I love this. x

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  27. Yes yes yes! I completely agree. My blog is still in it's baby stages, but one thing I told myself when I started, is that (as much as I love and appreciate people enjoying/reading my blog) it has to be true to me and what I enjoy. I won't succumb to others idea of what a successful blog is. If you enjoying writing and posting on your blog, then I guess it's already a success! Couldn't have said it better than themayfairy - your niche is you :)

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    1. Love this sentiment, thank you! And baby stage or not, your blog is beautiful :) x

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  28. This is an inspiring post. I, too, have not succumbed to the pressure of finding and sticking with a niche. I think it's too limiting. I share what feels right, when it feels right. Of course I like to have some balance, a little of this and a little of that, but for the most part I just write what I know. I am confident that readers will come and if they don't, mom will. Plus, I know I will feel good about my content because I've shared what is important to me and not just what everyone else posts to get more followers.

    Dee | www.daundra.com/blog

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    1. Thanks so much, Dee! So glad that it resonated with you. I definitely agree that maintaining your personal integrity is more valuable than simply gaining more followers. You've got such an amazing blog - love the format and look! xo

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  29. This post just came up on your sidebar (because obviously 10 million people have read it) but it clicked with me instantly. I couldn't agree more. I'm interested in EVERYTHING and I wish there were more blogs out there that write about more than just one subject. I actually find it incredibly hard to find blogs that I want to read because it's all a bit same-y and they put themselves out there as 'lifestyle bloggers' even though they're blatantly not (one pic of a a Starbucks red cup amidst all the beauty products post does not variety make). And knowing how brands work with bloggers, I think those in their niche can sometimes fall foul of just writing for the sake of it and I cannot stand that.
    Cx
    charliedistracted.com 

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    1. Haha, thanks for clicking and reading! Oh man, you hit the nail on the head with your Starbucks cup comment. So, so true. I feel sad about blogs I used to love that have now become a huge marketing/advertising tool ... I get anxious about my own blog when I feel like I have one too many sponsored or product review posts. It's about balance, but it's also about keeping a sense of integrity/authenticity! x

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