Last 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.