Almost every blogger’s advice to new bloggers includes “choose a niche.”
Other than “engage with other bloggers”, “choose a niche” is the point which is doled out the most. The number of bloggers saying this have actually increased in the past few years at a large rate.
But why is that? There has to be a reason why this is a very popular tip. Why is having a niche so important, and is it actually that important? Today, I want to break down this advice, dig through it, and dissect it.
Considering that this topic has given me pain for most of my blogging life (which is almost 5 years), and have been slowly building my thoughts around it for all this time, I have a LOT to say.
What is a “blogging niche”?
It’s basically a content category.
A blogger who talks mostly or always about books is a book blogger, or their blogging niche is books. Similarly, there are beauty bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, college bloggers, and more. Content categories are endless.
These niches are wide enough to allow a lot of content creation and narrow enough that the target audience will be interested in everything under that umbrella.
How does having a blogging niche help?
There are many reasons for this, and all of them converge into one main reason: popularity. Here’s how:
- You target a specific audience.
If you only blog about beauty, it is easier to capture your audience because your target is consistent and you have the time to completely get to know them. When people do visit your blog because of 1 post, they are more likely to stay and read other posts because your they are also about beauty. You’re basically giving them a ton of content that they will be interested in.
Blogging in multiple niches, or without a niche, doesn’t work the same way. Some readers would be interested in your content about books, but not the rest. Other readers might like lifestyle posts and read only those. Hence, while in theory it might seem like hitting all targets might be helpful, it is not so easy to keep people interested in all of your content.
In technical terms, customer (or reader) retention is easier with a niche and harder without one.
- It helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Domain Authority (DA).
If you stick to a niche, your blog will become a sort of database overtime with many posts in the niche and a sizeable readership who are interested in all the content you post.
Once your blog is established as a valuable source of information in the niche, your ranking is higher in search engines and your blog posts are shown first.
This helps with organically gaining readers and followers because they visit through search results (where you don’t do anything) and not through marketing (where you push your content in front of them).
I’ve written a whole blog post specifically on pros and cons if you’d like to know more, but you get the idea.
It’s (technically) easier to grow your blog if you have a niche. This doesn’t mean that your content can be half-assed and you’ll still do better than bloggers without a niche. It means that your efforts are more likely to pay off if you stick to a niche. And I say pay off literally.
If you are monetizing your blog, it is a safer bet to have a blogging niche than go without. It will help with strategizing, keeping your readers hooked and growing your reader base. All of that, in turn, help in more product sales and more affective advertisements and sponsorships.
Why is “choose a niche” popular advice?
Obviously because it helps monetize your blog! This is popular advice because it works.
The blogging scenario today is also very different than a few years back. There are more professional bloggers in this space, and slowly most of the blogging advice and tips posts have taken a professional turn. Terms like SEO, DA, and Google analytics are thrown around often.
The blogging space started with hobby bloggers and few professional bloggers (who earn through blogging) and it is STILL in that ratio but there is far more concentration on tips geared towards professional bloggers.
Most blogging tips posts that are popular are by professional bloggers giving advice to people who also want to monetize blogs and because of that, niche is given a LOT of importance.
The influence has made it’s way well into the hobby blogger space as well. Even though they don’t earn through blogging, hobby bloggers also give the same advice which is focused on monetization strategies.
This is also a numbers game, in the end. Growing a follower base is prioritized more than cultivating a readership truly interested in the content people WANT to post.
Does “choose a niche” actually apply to everyone?
People start blogs for various reasons. A blog is so easy to start and used to be the first place people made their own corner of the internet. Bloggers start out of boredom, out of bursting thoughts, with simple content to share which can help people across the world, and more.
Blogging with the intention of turning it into an income source is one of the rarer reasons. Even today, the number of bloggers who start out of simple interest is way more than bloggers who are here to turn blogging into a side hustle.
Not everyone who wants to blog better does it with the intention of monetizing or quickly growing a readership. Most of the advice is related to followers, statistics, comments, etc. all of which are external forces. Why are the actual tips, which help someone improve things under their control, rarely given?
Actual helpful advice for hobby bloggers:
Blog about whatever you want!
If it is only in one content category like talking about your life, or sharing recipes, do that! If you want to branch out and blog about everything that you’re interested in, do that!
You’re NOT earning from this. You’re only pouring energy and time into this. Even money, in many cases. Why should you stick to a niche and grow a following perfect for monetization if that is not your goal? Why worry about having a perfect blog brand if it doesn’t actually help?
Blog about what makes you happy and gives you satisfaction, or relief. Whatever you want from blogging, make sure you get it. Don’t hold yourself back because of popular advice.
They say stick to a niche, but are you happy with that? Does it keep you motivated to blog, or does it make you feel restricted? Advice also says to look at SEO and marketing but does that actually help you and give what you want from your blog?
Always follow advice only after careful consideration on whether it will help YOU.*
It helped 20 bloggers out there, yes, but will it help you specifically? All of us are in different situations with different responsibilities and goals. Just because something worked for someone else does not mean it will work for you. In some cases, it’s not even meant for you.
*This applies to any kind of advice, even real life. Not just blogging.
Talk to other bloggers personally
Almost all bloggers are incredibly kind and welcoming. The blogging community is the one place where I reach out to people without hesitation because I know that there is maybe ONE rude person out of a thousand bloggers.
The blogosphere is the one place where people are kind to newcomers and don’t worry about losing their space or hold in the area. We always have more space. This is why it is really easy to reach out to bloggers to ask questions or to ask for help. So do it!
Talking to bloggers personally lets you get to know them more and understand aspects of blogging in detail.
Bloggers don’t post about everything because there is way too much to talk about. And those who don’t post about blogging itself will barely talk about it. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to say.
Also look for posts that talk about what bloggers learnt in their time as a blogger. Those posts often have the more abstract points which don’t fit into typical advice posts.
One day, I might write an advice post specifically for hobby bloggers, but the above are points that I wish were told more often.
My personal opinion
I am writing this post purely out of FRUSTRATION. You have no idea how hard it was for me to stay neutral until now, but I did it because I like my discussion posts to have at least some bits of neutrality in them. It allows you to form an opinion without pushing mine on you immediately, and I think a true discussion is one where the basic facts are laid out for everyone to know.
And now, we are past that point of neutrality. So allow me to fully elaborate my thoughts on this topic.
I feel alienated.
Everywhere I see, I’m constantly being told to choose a niche. Some people are kind enough to add that “in the end, it’s your choice but sticking to a niche helps grow faster”. But a lot of times, this advice is given out bluntly as if it is universal truth.
“You want some blogging tips? Choose a niche.” “Starting a new blog? Choose a niche first.”
I can take it from professional bloggers pitching ideas to others who want to monetize. it makes sense for them. And it helps, so that’s perfectly fine.
But when I see fellow hobby bloggers give this exact piece of advice? I become angry.
Not only are you asking people to RESTRICT THEIR CONTENT even though they only blog for fun, you’re also subtly saying that blogging without a niche is detrimental to their blogging. You don’t earn from your blog as well! And (as far as I can see), you don’t plan on it either! So WHY are you giving growth strategies as tips??
If you want to follow those tips even though they involve a TON of work and only result in more stats, which is not guaranteed, great. You do you. But do you have to push it on other people without mentioning WHY they should follow it? Without mentioning that it doesn’t actually help someone become a better blogger, it can just help more people find their blog.
Do you know how hard I work on my blog? I’m constantly writing posts and interacting with other blogs. I’m always thinking of new things to share. Blogging is almost a second job for me because of how much time and effort I pour into it.
And one of the things that I like about my blog is that it has something for everyone. I want anyone to come to my blog and be able to find something to enjoy. I’m not going to target a specific market to increase my follower base. I want to post what I want to post and not have external factors influence my content. And yes, followers, likes and comments are EXTERNAL FACTORS.
I started blogging because I had thoughts in my head and things to share and wanted to put them somewhere without inconveniencing my friends. I needed a place to dump those thoughts. And I know that many others started blogs for similar reasons.
Over time, I learnt more about blogging and wanted to improve my blog so that if people do come, it’s not a mess for them to see and read. I wanted my blog to be enjoyable for other people the same way how it is to me.
Quickly, I noticed how I was being told to choose a niche, over and over again. In fact, I was being told that without the term “niche” even being used. I actually don’t even remember that. I realized it when I was going through my old blog posts and found some where I spoke freely about it.
17 year old Sumedha clearly wrote about receiving criticism on not having a niche (I took all the advice posts as criticism because I was a blogging baby and everyone kept pushing the niche agenda on me!!!) and being constantly worried about posts because they don’t stick to one category (because I was being told that people won’t enjoy all my content, and I didn’t want that).
I WANT TO GO BACK AND GIVE 17YO SUMEDHA A HUG. I was here because I had no one to talk to about random things and needed a place to vent or ramble. Within a month, I was unsure about blogging and had to specifically evaluate why I blog in order to shut out some advice.
You’re telling me that one of the ways I can blog better is to RESTRICT MYSELF? To entirely change my content? To discard the reason I started a blog in the first place?
Do you know how discouraging it would be if some wanted to start a blog as a hobby and looked up tips only to be told to choose a niche? That being their entire authentic self would be BAD? I know that no one says it’s bad but it’s INSINUATED.
The beauty of having a blog is that its your content first. It is your space. You do what you want here. There’s no algorithm. There is no influencer culture. It’s the same playing field.
And I don’t see how “having a niche” is a BLOGGING TIP to hobby bloggers. It’s a growth strategy. If you’re going to advise something, at least classify it right and have this tip under “how to grow your blog faster” and not “blogging tips”/”how to blog better”. I’ve even seen some people add it in posts for “how to start a blog”. CHOOSING A NICHE IS NOT A REQUIREMENT.
“Choose a niche” should not come under blogging tips.
In NO WAY does it help someone actually blog better. It just tells them how to make their blog such that it is easier to GROW and MARKET, and NOT how to improve their skills. “Choose a niche” belongs under growth strategies but it has made its way into mainstream blogging like the comment-for-comment culture.
If you search “how to blog better” anywhere, I guarantee you that you will only find advice that is geared towards growth and marketing.
If you search “how to blog better as a hobby” too, you won’t get actual advice. When I searched right now, one result was actually is hobby blogging still relevant? Well, eff you too*.
*I am trying so hard to keep my blog posts free of cursing. Please appreciate the effort that has gone into keeping this specific post free of curses.
The worst part is that I’ve seen this from people I followed!* People casually say choose a niche on Twitter and Instagram as if they’re imparting great blogging wisdom and it pisses me off.
I also KNOW that these advice posts that stay stick to a niche discourage bloggers from branching out. I’ve personally seen book bloggers struggle with posting content other than bookish because of the “niche.” And it’s partly because everyone says stick to a niche (unsaid: or your blog will tank).
Well, to heck with that. If your blog is not earning you money and only gives you happiness, don’t compromise anything. Don’t let your blog become a sector of yourself unless that’s your intention. Blog about whatever you want.
If you never want to stick to a niche, good for you! If you want to change your content or branch out after years of blogging, DO IT. Sure, you may have to change your brand and name but that is ALRIGHT. Unless it is for monetary gain, due to which followers and DA etc. is important, having a niche is NOT IMPORTANT.
Thanks for coming to my Ted talk**.
*whom I quickly unfollowed because I did not want that energy around me.
**side note: I’d actually love to give a Ted talk once. Maybe about blogging or bullet journalling. Or identity on the internet. But something. I really want to give a Ted talk one day because that’s one of the things that, according to me, says I’ve “made it”. That I’ve done enough of something to teach and impart wisdom. So if anyone’s looking for a Tedx speaker… hello 🙂 I promise I’m not always raging like this.
What do you think?
Is “choose a niche” good blogging advice and does it come under blogging tips? Do you have any thoughts on hobby bloggers pushing the niche agenda? Have you struggled with your blog because of this advice?