Saturday, November 24, 2018

Finding You Niche: Experiments in Blogging

image from by Firkin

In my adult life, I’ve tried niche blogging often.  What’s a niche?  It’s an area of expertise, research or experience a person is passionate about.  Here, it’s a topic someone believes they can write with experience on.  For fun, I thought I’d review all the areas I tried to blog with authority on.  

  I have a now deleted beauty blog.  As I researched monetizing blogging, I realized “lifestyle” was the most profitable category.  For me I thought “Yeah I can post on the hottest lipstick/mascara/eyeliner colors this season.”  I was wrong.  While makeup is fun, it‘ not something I have an ongoing interest in.  The constant change in the industry is expensive and often left me wonder “why” instead of feeling excited.  

I have an old passion project blog called “Southern Pagan Muses”.  Here I explored my faith and how I thought a respectful multi faith society would look.  This blog does NOTHING right in blogging.  The posts are long and meandering, they lack graphics, and I didn’t bother to proofread them so they’re littered with grammar/spelling errors.  The worst sin: there is no market for a pagan blog.  I dreamed of having a large following and of making a splash in the pagan bloggers’ world, but most “successful” pagan bloggers make extreme statements and mine were like “let’s listen to each other and have open conversations about what might lead to unhealthy lifestyles.”  I think about reviving this blog at least once a month, even though I know nothing can come from it, I love my faith and I love hitting the latest topics from a religious experience.  

Next I created “Barista to Boss”, a now abandoned blog where I try to make my creative writing a career (spoiler alert, I failed).  Working on this blog taught me a lot about blogging and gaining metrics.  This blog was only active for three months, it has 18 posts, and I got 4,209 views total.  There were a few problems with the blog that led to its demise.  First, I think my topic was too broad.  I discussed both my current day job and generic writing (blogging, poetry, other forms of creative writing).  It was too much for one blog to handle, and I’m sure I alienated audiences with too broad a topic list.  Second, I posted too often.  Since I was following blogging advice, my goal was to post once each day.  Striving for this goal, created burnout   Third, the pictures, the links, and the socializing required to make the blog appealing where draining.  It was a case of too much too fast.  Last, I realized I wanted to write creatively and freelance blogging/blogging took away from my creative writing.  RIP “Barista to Boss” you taught me so much.

 “Aquagarden: Diary in Small Scale Aquapoinics” followed “Barista to Boss”.  This blog was a TON of fun because it was like recording a science experiment for the 3 months I worked on it.  It was perfect for me because: 1. The content had a limited scope.  I expanded in the series to discuss other gardening projects and transforming grocery scraps into a second harvest but overall the focus was on the fish tank. 2. I created a picture centric blog.  Every day I’d snap some shots, edit, post, and write a few lines caption.  Much faster than planning out content for previous blogs. The results of my Aquapoinic experiment interested others without social media presence.  It has 2,800 lifetime views.  What happened to this blog?  Work picked up and I couldn‘t keep recording the tank, I was too tired.  Napoleon, my betta fish, passed in Dec and I‘ve retired the tank.  While I thought of starting the experiment again, the research I did raised questions whether a 3 gallon tank is a large enough container to ethically keep a betta fish, not to mention to whole betta procurement market seems cruel.  I’d like to run a 5-10 gallon tank with guppies one day, but I can’t finance or house such a large experiment right now.

I created this blog in 2016 when I finished my first draft of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils”.  I was sooooo excited, and I wanted to share that along with a few blogging insights I had.  It didn‘t last long as I didn’t have the right level of insight or motivation to keep working.  I’ve revived this blog instead of creating a new one.  The focus still surrounds my personal progress and personal insights (as these reflections on niches shows).  

There were three start up and deleted blogs in between this.  One was a book review blog, another was a book group blog, and the last was a blog about me picking back up my French Horn and re-learning how to play.  All three would be fun if I was a more known blogger, but as it stands, I don‘t have the brand to expect conversation out of a blog which was the goals in these three blogs.  If I gain a more interactive audience: I’d love to host a read along blog, comment below if there's interest and tell me what our first book should be.

I recorded a “let’s play” of both “Stardew Valley” and “No Man’s Sky”.  I never posted the videos online and long since purged from my computer. My “Stardew Valley” let’s play was a “no farming” challenge with in the game, and later I did a “pure luck challenge” where I could only plant whatever seeds I found or could buy from the traveling merchant.  I love “No Man’s Sky” but I have a ton of self-imposed rules I play by to keep things interesting.  I can say the same for my Pokemon runs.  While not traditional “blogging” the daily updates that come with “let’s play” series along with the conversational tone most take on, speak in the same way.  Plus the metrics/promotion technique the same.  

I somehow encouraged my Writers’ group to create a blog with me. The NAWG blog is active. It’s “niche” is in creative writing with a focus on novels and short stories in the scifi, fantasy, and horror sub genres.  My group and I offer our experiences, what we enjoy about the writing process, and our experiences as a writers’ group.  We‘re a team blog because I thought we’d have a better time keeping a consistent schedule as a group than as individuals.  This experiment drives home how hard it is to “lead” writers or to pin anyone down for a solid commitment. 

In June I considered launching a Ketogenic/Paleo/Vegetarian nutrition based blog.  I‘ve read and follow a lot of healthy lifestyle information, love discussing diet and nutrition, and feel like this is a topic that can help others.  I didn‘t end up creating the blog because I think health and nutrition are personalized and I only want to give one-on-one advice to people once I get to know their lifestyle and current eating habits.  

And those are my preferred niches: religions, nutrition/healthy/green living, gaming, reading, and writing.  What niches would you like to write in/ have you written in?  Were you ever surprised by the level of interest in your writing?  Were you disappointed by the response?  How many blogs have you abandoned?  How many do you currently run?  Do these blogs provide income and if so how?  Do these blogs link back to your creative writing?  Talk to me!

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