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Does Your Blog Focus Upon a Niche Topic or a Niche Demographic? – a Mini Case Study with Gala Darling

Gala-DarlingLast week I had a coffee with Melbourne blogger Gala Darling (pictured) to talk blogging. Gala blogs at iCiNG).

We had a great chat that covered a lot of topics – from how to make money from blogs, to adding features to blogs to take them to new levels, to where we should hold the next Melbourne Blogger Meetup.

While we covered a lot of ground in the conversation there is one topic that I’ve been pondering since our chat:

focusing upon a niche topic vs focusing upon a niche demographic

I thought her blog might make an interesting case study of sorts (since that’s one of the main things readers asked me for this week in the reader feedback post).

Gala started out blogging with a niche topic – fashion. She gave fashion tips, documented her own fashion decisions and covered fashion news. A few months ago when we first met, Gala described her blog to me as a ‘fashion blog’.

Last week over coffee as Gala described her blog to me I noticed that she’d made a subtle shift in the way in which she described it.

Instead of describing it as a ‘fashion blog’ she spoke about it as a ‘blog for youthful alternative (unconventional, individual, eccentric) women‘.

The way she talked about her blog changed from being one that revolved around a single topic to one that revolved around a certain type of reader or audience.

When I asked Gala about this she told me that she’d intentionally broadened her topic in this way – but that it had been a reasonably organic sort of shift that had been the result of interactions with her audience.

Fashion still made up a significant proportion of her posts but so did other aspects of the life of her loyal readership. In a sense Gala is moving towards providing a one stop shop for her readers rather than just a smaller destination that focuses upon one aspect of life.

Making a shift from being a niche topic blog to a niche demographic blog is not something that would be advisable for every blogger but is definitely an option for some. Here are a few observations that I make about this shift – speaking as an outsider to Gala’s blog (ie I’m far from being part of her target audience – although in my younger years I was a Goth…. but that’s a whole other story):

1. Establish Niche Demographic Traffic First - one of the reasons that Gala has been able to make this gentle transition from niche topic blog to niche demographic blog is that she already had built up a strong loyal readership around her niche topic (fashion). In doing so she developed credibility, trust and a voice that connects with her audience. As a result when she started to expand she was able to take her audience with her. I suspect that if Gala had started up her blog with a wider focus that it would have been more difficult to establish an audience. Doing a small thing well first and then growing into other areas seems like a smart way to do this.

2. Let Readers Lead the Way – as mentioned above, the transition was largely a response to where readers seemed to be taking the blog. Gala didn’t force her non fashion posts on anyone – but as a result of her readers questions and comments she was able to provide content for their needs that was good for them and her.

3. Warning, don’t Spread Yourself too Thin – one of the possible dangers of moving to a demographic based blog is that the temptation could be to focus upon a range of topics that spread the blogger (and their audience too thinly). Don’t dilute your focus too much too quickly or you may end up burning yourself out and frustrating readers. Gala’s done this pretty well but keeping her ‘fashion’ oriented posts at around the 40% mark and making the transition reasonably slowly.

4. Trapped by Brand - one of the reasons that many bloggers would not be advised to make this transition is that their branding, blog name etc ‘trap’ them to some extent. Gala’s lucky in this regard that she started her blog around her own name (galadarling.com) rather than a name with a topic focus (something like fashionblogger.com). A more generic or personal name would be better suited to a demographic focussed blog.

Tomorrow we’ll hear from Gala herself

As I’ve been writing this post I thought that rather than just having me talk about Gala’s blog as an outsider that it might be a worthwhile thing to get her in for a guest post – so tomorrow I’ll hand ProBlogger over to Gala to share a few of the lessons that she’s been learning about blogging. Gala’s got a lot of worthwhile things to say about blogging – I think you’ll enjoy her post.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Fascinating topic. It seems to me that the shift from niche topic to niche demographic would, as it did in Gala Darling’s case, happen organically for many bloggers. In fact, for some it might not even be that big of a shift. We all seem to start out interested in writing about a particular topic of our interest or experience. As we build readership and get to know our readers by way of their comments, the drift of interest just happens naturally, if you’re paying attention. Of course, I suppose there’s a lot you can do to accelerate the process. I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Darling, herself!

  2. Rhys says:

    Another interesting post :)

    I would say I try and target a niche demographic, the majority of my readers are between 18-35, and are interested in technology, sports and Wales and Welsh interests. Of course, not all of my readers are into all of them, but most cover two or three catagories, and when I do a general post, they all seem to be popular.

    It did kind of arose because of my readers, as you suggested. When I left university, my daft uni prank posts that were popular couldn’t be posted (I was no longer in university), so I started to blog about a wide range of topics, just seeing what’d stick. At first the blogging topics stuck, and then I moved onto more personal posts about Wales which attracted interest from Welsh people in Arizona, finally I moved onto technology and sports (my two main interests).

    Why are they all not niche blogs? Well, purely and simply I can’t write enough for each of them, but I combine them and my readers seem to like it. :)

  3. Jason says:

    “The way she talked about her blog changed from being one that revolved around a single topic to one that revolved around a certain type of reader or audience.”

    That’s really interesting. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know there was a term coined “niche demographic.”

    While I don’t totally expand on my blog’s topics, I do try to “feed my readers” right. For instance, if I get an edgier crowd, my content will have a little more of that side of me. If conservative… I’ll shift my demographics in that way. At another angle, I’ll try and publish content that’s new to most of my readers. I’m scared to ever write anything totally basic, but I actually don’t even want to because there’s so many pages out there like that. I can just post a link.

    Thanks for the post. This gets me thinking.

  4. It’s very encouraging to read that one can make a good amount of adsense money from just one blog. You hear so much about people that have so many sites under one adsense account.

    I have 2 blogs and I have made them so that they are related to one certain theme/niche – although one is more general than the other.

    I’m always glad to find out about other blogs because – of course – not all blogs are the same and its interesting to see what niche/theme they have.

    But I think that is what a lot of people advise anyway – having a theme/niche in mind

    We all have a theme/niche inside of us!

  5. One Man says:

    Being an ambitious man, I try to target ambitious men. I don’t know if that’s a niche, since it seems everyone wants to make a buck online these days, but it’s important to write about something you’re passionate about.

    One Man. One Year. $100,000 online. Because a buck only goes so far.
    http://www.oneyeargoal.com

  6. Jason says:

    What?

  7. Darren Rowse says:

    Jason – “I didn’t know there was a term coined “niche demographic.”” – maybe I just made something up!? :-)

  8. Bachelorium says:

    I think the proper phrase would likely be “target demographic”, not “niche demographic”.

    Niche is usually interchangeable with target market, so I think it would be an acceptable Darren.

  9. Kelvin says:

    Interesting topic. I think, like one of the posts I read previously said, your blog should grow with your audience. When you have a loyal group of audience that’s been reading a good amount of your posts for a while, things can start to get a little repetitive, and I think that’d be a good time to branch out to other topics. Naturally you’d be writing about more related topics to a ‘niche demographic’ that’s already established to be your main audience.

  10. I am the niche …

    a redhead. ;-)

    Catherine, the redhead

  11. ZechAryW says:

    Jason – “I didn’t know there was a term coined “niche demographic.

    So do I. And the description of Gala’s blog, “blog for youthful alternative (unconventional, individual, eccentric) women” is attractive to me.

    I’m looking forward to reading more from Gala, too

  12. Mallory says:

    Aww, I’m so glad to see her mentioned here, she’s one of my favorites. I was actually just over at her blog a few minutes ago before reading this post! Can’t wait to read her post her.

  13. marquis says:

    Very interesting. This is exactly what I’m trying to do with my blog.

    http://alltalksports.wordpress.com/

  14. Jason says:

    “And the description of Gala’s blog, “blog for youthful alternative (unconventional, individual, eccentric) women” is attractive to me.”

    Yeah. It sounds way more appealing than “Fashion Blog.” Think “Fashion Blog” and you think… What type of fashion? Will this lady’s fashion taste fit me? I’m a knockout, why would I need fashion advice? But if you read what she wrote, it’s almost like, okay I might fit in here. This is going to be an experience. I guess…

    Niche Demographic TM (Sorry Darren, just stole it.)

  15. Deb says:

    I feel I am better suited for a demographic than a solo topic; but…I haven’t found the clothesline that it all hangs together on. It is definitely not fashion.

  16. Anne says:

    Love both of your blogs. Have both of you guys bookmarked.

  17. David Mackey says:

    Interesting differentiation. I like it.

  18. Jeremy says:

    It’s an interesting point about having your name as a domain name instead of something specific. In the niche I am in (and forced to largely remain in thanks to domain name selection) websites with names that have nothing to do with the topic of the blog tend to do better.

    Pure chance? Probably not…

  19. 40Hourstogo says:

    Interesting topic. In the scheme of things, I guess you should be giving your readers what they want. And if they want to direct your blog in a certain direction, but still under the same general topic, then go for it. Give your readers what they want and what is interesting to them. With my blog, my “niche demographic” is quite large…..those that want to vent about their job or boss. And I feel that my domain name fits well with the topic.

    Thanks for the interesting post. Looking forward to hearing from Gala tomorrow.

  20. Deepak says:

    Would a total targetable audience of a 100,000 science geeks be a niche demographic :)?

  21. Dave Starr says:

    Fantastic thought-provoker, Darren (and Gala). And, as you yourself mentioned just a couple days ago, a blogger would find it well worth his/her time to get a decent picture or two, rather than the usual “cropped from a family photo” image that is on most blogs … those who bother with a picture.

    The picture of Gala is a whole mini-exercise in marketing … hard to tell if the eyes or the rings are more memorable, (those rings look like a good product to sell, to me), but memorable they are. What was that old saw about a picture being worth 10,000 words?

  22. Heraldo says:

    My niche is geographic. Because the local population is small, there’s a ceiling to my audience. But I’m curious about other geographical blogs. Readers clearly prefer news and views regarding our home location.

  23. Rvi says:

    You misspelled focusing twice in the post. Near the beginning, its in bold. Should only be one ‘s.’

  24. Darren Rowse says:

    Dave – you’re right about the picture. Gala uses images very well on her blog – as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post!

  25. Thejesh GN says:

    My niche is geographic. More on a city events. Mostly about events at home city.

  26. Kelvin says:

    This is probably one of the quirkier responses here, but I can’t help but wonder…

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your name is Bob Fisherman, your niche is fishing, and you got bobfisherman.com as your domain? Then it’s a description for your niche and/or just your name! It can go both ways!

    That’d be awesome, but I don’t think it happens often.

    Any Fishers, Millers, Bakers out there? ;-)

  27. I like the way Gala promotes herself with that nice picture of herself with that GALA bling bling

    It’s fantastic!

  28. My blog focuses on both a niche topic and a niche group of people. I write about judo in norwegian. If all judopeople in Norway were online and reading my blog I’d have aprox. 3000 readers. I have about 200 daily visits and that makes my judosite the most read judosite i Norway:-)

  29. Johnbjr says:

    I just started my creativie / art / life blog but I’m not to sure I have narrowd down the niche enough. I think it may do ok but I can see how targeting a smaller niche would be better.

  30. Francesco says:

    I just started my italian blog and tried to narrow it, I found it is really hard and needs a lot work!

    I will do my best!

    Francesco,
    Guadagnare on line Nuovibusiness

  31. Miracle says:

    This was a pretty eye-opening post for me.

    My blog that I have linked to in my name has always been subversively more tied to demographic than topic. I actually am relieved about the success of someone realizing the truth in marketing towards a demographic rather than a topic. It has been itching me for awhile now, but I couldn’t find the spot to scratch so thank you.

    I think the marketing and income streams from niche demographics will be much different than topics and needs to be addressed. One can talk about music, hobbies, beliefs, responsibilities and other topical influences of the demographic, but I don’t think everyone is capable of writing to a group of people. Some individuals just write better topic blogs.

    The last thing I have to say is we need to be weary how we define demographics. It shouldn’t be the static way that the government collect statistics, but a more dynamic route developed through the posts on the blog.

  32. Nice points. I think my site is focused more on a Niche Demographic since I share tips and tricks on just about anything related to technology.

  33. Sara says:

    Excellent post. In my opinion a broad niche blog rather than a tighter niche topic makes it much harder to grow in the beginning as you test different types of content and build an identity. I would think it is appealing and tempting in the short term to have a specific topic especially if the topic is trendy or can generate buzz. In the long run a general niche blog, once established, offers a lot more flexibility and freedom – easier to produce consistently varied and enjoyable content, welcome guest bloggers, etc. But it’s definitely harder to develop an identity initially. If you can grow and transition organically as Gala has, that is terrific. (Or try both approaches at once!)

  34. Rachel says:

    FYI:
    “Niche demographic” is not some invented term. “Niche” and “demographic” are both real terms, and “niche” describes “demographic” here. I study marketing, and we refer to demographics all the time when describing to whom things are marketed, and “niche” is a good way to describe whether a target group is broad or narrow. He’s saying that there is a niche market, delineated by a demographic. It’s a good pairing of terms, Darren (but certainly not one to trademark, Jason!).

  35. Well blogs are just like most other websites in that there are a few major components that help them to become successful. The first one being SEO. You got to do your homework on how to successfully target keywords and get a good SERP in them. You have to know what keywords are important for you. Also important is content. You need to get good content on your site daily. I think it would be a good idea to enter into a team with some of your friends to put content on the site. Otherwise, there’s a lot of pressure on you to put content on your site every single day and most of us do have other things to do besides putting content on our site everyday.

    -roger

  36. Hi! Darren. Very interesting post on niche blogs. I would fit into that category and having fun doing it. Not for money but to target a specific group for a specific purpose. I try to stay focused on that idea, but it is becoming increasing harder to stay on that line. It is not a problem, as the more I go on with it, the more I find that it is more of a personal journey. Inviting others to read and express themselves and visa versa. I imagine that would be how most bloggers start off.

  37. Julie M says:

    I guess my blog is generally about my freelance writing experiences (the niche), but every now and again I like to write about off-topic subjects, especially when I feel I am in the writing zone.

    My blog is my central hub to promote my other writing. However, I like to think of it as my creative home and outlet for writing. By doing that, I sometimes get off subject. I don’t use SEO here and I would like to keep it that way.

    Is it still possible to get readers even if the blog can sometimes, while still introspective writing, be slightly off focus?? The Mental Floss site comes to mind.