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8 Tips for Rocking a Crowded Blog Niche

Deb Ng is a freelance writer, professional blogger, social media consultant and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs. Follow Deb on Twitter @debng.

When I began my freelance writing blog almost five years ago, there weren’t many others in my niche. As web writing and blogging became more popular and more writers began using blogs as a marketing tool, the field became more crowded. That’s not a bad thing, there are many wonderful freelance writing bloggers in the space. However, five years ago, it didn’t take a full time effort to stay at the top of this niche. In 2010, I’m working hard every day to continue to bring in readers and provide stimulating discussions for my community.

Make no mistake. There are darn good bloggers in my genre. I’m not worried that the folks in my community will read them, because I feel they should. My worry is that my readers won’t want to return to me afterwards. Therefore it’s a daily challenge for me to keep things interesting and keep them coming back for more.

How do I do it?

1. I ask Questions

I reach out to my community by asking questions. I want to know why they visit my blogs. I want to know what I’m doing right, and what I’m doing wrong. I want to know which areas of our niche are the most confusing and which topics we need to lay to rest. My blog is my business and any business owner must ask questions to be a success.

2. I monitor Community Discussions

What are writers talking about in the forums or on Twitter? I take some time every day to do some research around the social networks and writing forums. Having discussions with my fellow freelancers offers inspiration. It also allows me to see trends, learn about new concerns, see who is hiring, and, in general, keep my finger on the pulse of the community. I never run out of things I like to talk about. The challenge is making sure it’s stuff everyone else is interested in as well.

3. I don’t look at other Bloggers as Competition

There are so many freelance writing bloggers but I don’t consider them competition. Instead, I treat them as colleagues and people to with whom to bounce ideas around. I visit their communities and participate in the discussions and invite them to do the same. I direct my community to interesting topics and debates and encourage them to get involved. The way I see it, there’s room for anyone. No one has to be married to one particular blogger. We should all visit as many as we like and work together to provide the best information possible. There’s nothing wrong with cross pollination.

4. I monitor the response to my blog posts – and other bloggers’ posts

What makes one blog post receive one hundred comments and lots of link love, while others will slip by with nary a mention? To find out I monitor the response to my discussion topics, and also, the topics up for discussion on other blogs. If I see a blog post with hundreds of comments, I’ll explore why. Perhaps this is something I can expand upon or discuss further? How would my community respond to a counter discussion?

5. I Commiserate

I don’t only share tips and Ideas, I also commiserate. I know what it’s like to work at home all by my lonesome. I know what it’s like to receive rejection as a writer or to have to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. I let my community know I’ve been there too, preferably with humor. They respond well after learning I’m a regular person and not a guru.

6. I don’t claim to be an expert

When describing myself, I don’t use words like “expert,” “guru,” “rockstar,” or “extraordinaire,” because I’m not. I’m a freelance writer who likes to talk about my methods for success. Instead of pontificating, I share. I learn from my community and they learn from me. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

7.I keep close Eye on Stats

I analyze my stats every single day and take advantage of traffic boosters. If a certain piece does well, I’ll turn it into a series. If a certain day or time gets the most traffic, I’ll post my best work then. If I’m noticing trends with keywords, I’ll write around these topics. I’ll also note which content receives a poor response and what went viral. It’s important for any blogger to monitor trends, especially if that blogger wants to stay at the top.

8. I Consider all Feedback

I always consider feedback to be an opportunity, whether it’s positive or negative. Every single email, Tweet or comment directed my way is read and considered. Feedback is the most important gift I can receive from my community, even if they don’t like something I said. Without my community, my blog network wouldn,t be a success. Listening to them—and acting on their concerns — is the least I can do.

Certain blog niches are saturated. Every day a new and terrific blog launches and new blog stars are made. How does an old schooler like me stay on top of the game? By listening, observing, sharing and showing appreciation to my community.

What’s your niche – and what sets you apart from the rest?

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Comments

  1. BlogTech says:

    I am struggling right now,anyway wonderfull tips for bloggers.

  2. Certainly these are the vital tips. I like your design as well, well organised and placed everything at the right place like your own home.

  3. I don’t know about the competition part that is where my fight/drive comes from. I enjoy battling for the top spot in Google and when I get it I usually stop working for a while until my competitors decide to take it back. I see your point though working together you will achieve more and will probably have to work less to get the same result. I really like your ideas and will take them into consideration with my blogs. I usually don’t research social sites, but perhaps I can generate some good buzz by answering the questions in my niche. Thanks for the post.

    Kris,

  4. Deb Ng says:

    Thanks all, for the kind comments. I’m so pleased you found my post useful and I’m also visiting some of your blogs.

    @Carrie – If I didn’t respond personally to your comments or you felt slighted in any way, I apologize. I hope you’ll give me a chance to make things right.

    Does anyone else have niche tips to share?

  5. Aleksandra says:

    Great tips. What caught my attention was: “They respond well after learning I’m a regular person and not a guru”. I find that interesting and see how it can help build a stronger relationship with the audience. Being on the same level with them. Quite different from what majority is doing – as successful sites always do =)

  6. Great post Deb. Very valid points. I have checked out your blog, and I have sent you an email to discuss a few opportunities. Looking forward to hearing from you. Cheers.

  7. Teasastips says:

    One reason why you are successful Deb is that you have humbled yourself and understand the purpose behind your skill. Awesome glimpse into the life of a freelance writer.

  8. some good tips indeed :)

  9. Chris Monty says:

    Excellent points. I, too, analyze my stats often (probably too often).

    If it looks like a certain post is taking off, why not capitalize on it.

    Great stuff.

  10. Johnny says:

    Yep, learning to be humble is something you learn pretty quickly in blogging. There is always someone who knows more than you and your readers let you know about it quick if you claim to be an expert on anything.

    You also have to stay humble in the face of those snarky spell-checkers too!

  11. These were all wonderful tips! It definitely becomes difficult after a while to distinguish yourself from others in certain niche’s and these are all wonderful ways to stand out a bit.

    Great Work Deb!

  12. carrie says:

    Thanks, Deb! I have an idea and will contact you shortly about it.

  13. Miller Cards says:

    Nice read. I’m just starting out in the blogging world, and the tip on not looking at others as competition is great.

    I’ll be doing more networking now.

    I’m still torn on the expert tip though… don’t I want to try to become an expert in my field? Or are you just saying to stay humble and wait for others to call one that?

  14. turisuna says:

    Nice advice, to survive and become winner in a crowded niche is not easy, it needs hard works and stay unique. I also don’t consider the other bloggers as competitor, I do believe even though we have the same niche but we will have different way to deliver it, even sometimes they give new idea for me to make a new and fresh post. just let the visitors who give a valuation, I believe each post has its own readers.

  15. Just launched a new blog this week – welivesimply.info trying to work through the idea of living simply and what it really means — and how it can benefit us and others.
    Amazed at how many other bloggers there are focusing on living the simple life. Hope to connect with them all and hopefully take part in the community that others have already begun.

  16. Got an error last time ;-( Hope this doesnt duplicate…

    Just launched a new blog this week – http://www.welivesimply.info trying to work through the idea of living simply and what it really means — and how it can benefit us and others.
    Amazed at how many other bloggers there are focusing on living the simple life. Hope to connect with them all and hopefully take part in the community that others have already begun.

  17. Deb Ng says:

    @Miller – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with establishing yourself as an expert, if that’s what you are. I’m not an expert and won’t betray my community’s trust by pretending I am.

  18. Being in the crowded blogging/MMO niche, I find myself gravitating to topics more related to the business side of the house in the last few months.

    With over a decade’s experience managing sites for Fortune 500 companies, I thought I’d be posting many tech articles. As it turns out, the evolution has me tapping my business expertise more than I expected.

  19. Anne says:

    Thank you so much for this post- its really been very helpful! I am just getting starting in a very saturated yet very friendly niche and its great to find a few good tips to really differentiate yourself from the pack. I always appreciate your insider tips.

  20. Pat Campbell says:

    I really like the personable approach you take to your business as a writer. The world is big enough for all of us and that is clear in your 8 points.

    I like how you collaborate and encourage others to do the same, learning from each other.

    I like the way you use data to monitor your best results and build on that.

    I like how you remind us that every response we get to our writing is an invitation to a relationship which is what this is all about. Responsiveness to these invitations is what builds a meaningful business.

    Thanks for the great tips.

  21. Nash says:

    In a crowded blog niche, it’s really hard to get to the top 5 of the search result page (SERP) unless you have written a lot of articles regarding that keyword and you have applied some SEO techniques.

    One tip to get to the top 5 faster is to optimise on your domain name. The domain name must closely match the keyword that you’re targetting. For example, if your blog is about make money, try to get http://www.makemoney.com or http://www.makemoney.net.

    One problem though, those domain names would normally be taken already, or, it will be expensive to buy.

    Nash
    Adwords Keyword Tool Explained!

  22. Great post Deb, research is a major factor in getting on step ahead of your competitors. Thanks.

  23. General overall snarkiness that keeps my readers entertained. If that doesn’t work, well, then they didn’t get it….

  24. Thanks for this, it’s a great post, we have just been setting up a blog and your advice is valuable.

  25. beverly hunt says:

    great ideas. i like that we share instead of looking at each other as competition.

  26. webdesigner says:

    I will follow this tips and hope my adsense earnings will improve in the future. I will report back and tell you what happend to them.