Close
Close

Are You Defining Your Niche Properly?

This guest post is by Charles Manfre of CodeConquest.com.

When I started my blog, I made the mistake of not defining my niche well enough.

In fact, I defined it with one word: “coding.”

Defining the niche my blog targeted with one word was never going to be enough. Perhaps for the pioneers of the internet it was okay, but in this day and age, with millions of websites in the competition, you need more than a one-word topic name for a niche.

I can’t emphasize how important it is to define your niche. You need to be able to know the focus of your blog inside out, what makes it so great and how it’s different from every other blog. A one word simply isn’t enough.

I didn’t know this when starting my blog. But when it did dawn on me, I knew I needed to change. I overhauled my About page, I changed my tagline, and I generally wasted a lot of time deciding on what the heck my site was about.

Luckily for me, the site was still new and unknown, and I doubt a single person noticed my change of focus, but this was time I could have spent building great content and promoting my blog.

I hope that you can learn from my mistakes. So here are the main things you need to think about when defining your niche.

Choose an audience, not a topic

This was the first mistake I made. When you decided what your blog was going to be about, did you choose a topic like business, blogging, or photography? Or in my case, coding?

I did. And it wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t going to work. Coding is a hugely broad topic, and I had no idea who I was writing for. Beginners? Experienced coders? What kind of coding were they interested in? What needs did they have that I could address?

I didn’t even know my own blog! My blog posts were lacking purpose. They weren’t targeting anyone, they weren’t addressing any needs. No wonder no one was reading them!

Think of all the successful blogs you know. ProBlogger, Digital Photography School, Zen Habits. They don’t just blog about a topic, they’re aimed at a specific audience.

Coding was a weak topic. But those who are learning to write code and want to apply their skills to real projects—now that’s a very clearly defined audience.

Lessons

  • Don’t write about something, write for someone.
  • Know the focus of your blog, inside out.
  • With every blog post you write, ask yourself: what’s the purpose of this blog post and how does it address my audience’s needs?

Differentiate your blog from every other

When I was deciding on my clearly defined audience, there was one big thing I had in mind. How was my blog going to be different from all the rest?

If you’re blogging about blogging, you’re competing with ProBlogger. If you’re blogging about photography, you’re competing with Digital Photography School. If you’re blogging about coding like I am, you’re competing with Tuts+ and SitePoint.

How do you expect to stand out from the pack? You simply don’t stand a chance. Unless you differentiate your blog.

Here’s a little exercise Derek Halpern taught me. Identify the top ten blogs in your niche and for each one, explain how it is unique from all the others. Now decide how your blog can fit in amongst that top ten, with its own unique spin.

In my case, I decided that my blog was going to be focused on coding in the “real world”—guiding people along their learn to code journey, while also helping them apply their skills to real projects.

Lessons

  • Identify how your blog is different from all the others in your niche and how it can compete.
  • Ideally, choose a unique spin that no other blog shares.

Where do you want your blog to be in a year?

Knowing how you want your blog to grow is something that’s extremely helpful for defining your niche. It’s not as important as the previous two points, but it really does help.

Think about what kind of things you’ll be selling, what components there will be on your website, even how you want your site to look and be designed.

For me, I decided that in a year’s time I wanted to be selling WordPress themes and plugins on my website. So, to prepare for this, I now have a WordPress category in my blog which I add to regularly.

I also know that I want my website to be known as a supportive community for coders. Just knowing this gives me a better idea of what kind of content to add to my blog today.

Lessons

  • Have an idea in your head of what your blog will be when it’s fully mature.
  • Think about how it will make money, what it will be known for, and how it will look.
  • Use this insight to gain a better idea of what to focus your blog on today.

Strengthen your blog’s foundation

It doesn’t matter whether your blog is already established or not. Websites are dynamic—you can change them at any time. So take this advice: laser define your niche and strengthen your blog’s foundation.

What niche does your blog focus on? Tell us in the comments—and no one-word answers please!

Charles Manfre is the owner of CodeConquest.com, a website and blog that helps beginners learn to write code and apply their web coding skills in the real world. Visit the website or subscribe to the blog.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. daniel says:

    Wow!

    Interesting post we have here.

    I was particularly touched by your story.

    More grease to your elbow!

  2. Great reminder of a critical issue for any blog that I should be thinking about more often. I would even go farther and focus on the most typical ideal reader and try to respond to her/his needs.

  3. moneymaker says:

    I totally agree, and it bothers search engines and searchers, because there is so many false topics.

  4. Mick says:

    I kind of think you should choose both a topic and an audience, not either exclusively. The audience relates to the topic and visa versa, but then refine both down to niche level.

  5. Jenny says:

    Thanks for this great advice. I’m relieved to see you recommend focussing on an audience rather than a topic (I provide training for communication agency account managers). I need to look at the top 10 competitors and ensure I’m differentiated enough now!

  6. Great post! And smart too.
    I would have liked to read some sort of this stuff some months ago whrn I decided to start my personal blog. After publishing some ‘irrelevant’ posts (yes, I admit it), I realized the need to find my own voice for a singular audience. I think I’m in the way to, but my last posts have been a cornerstone in my ‘blogging adventure’.
    Thanks again.

  7. Great article, Charles

    I can related to a lot of what you have to say and have spent the weekend tracking down Black Friday deals that will help me improve my site. The part that stands out is ‘choose your audience, not your topic’ – that explains why certain posts reach more people than others.

    It’ll be interesting finding the Top 10 pet blogs and researching what makes each unique. This is a task that I’ve been putting off for a while.

    Thanks

    Kimberly

  8. Good post. I think you’ve brought up a good point. Finding your audience instead of finding a one-word topic. I think it’s okay for a website to have a blog that sometimes goes outside of the “One” topic. Seems like people like variety and humor and a bit of surprise.

  9. Iain Robson says:

    To answer your question. My site is directed at new young Canadian farmers. I go through things that you experience as a new farmer because I am experiencing them as well.

    Great job. It really helped me think about who I am writing for.

    Write for your audience not so much for keywords.

    Thanks.

  10. Another intriguing guest post. I enjoyed reading the point about writing ‘for your audience’.

  11. Dale says:

    Wonderful advice, and for someone JUST starting the journey of establishing a presence in the blogosphere, very timely.

    I think I’ve always thought about the audience and not the topic, i.e., what do people who have suffered from heart disease really need and want to know. My challenge is dialing in the right focus: prevention, dealing with recovering, the caregivers, or all of them

  12. My niche is other women like me who cant find a magazine that doesnt patronise or pigeon-hole them. Women who are interested in other things instead of the usual same old body-image bashing, desperate housewives bullshit you find on the racks.

    I only just really solidified this niche this week, so I am doing a lot of work to stand up to what I say my blog is about.

    I try to interview and feature people who are outside of the status quo and making a life following their passions. I myself am a straight talking, no-shit taking woman who inspires and encourages others by my example alone.

    Im really excited to make a place where women who are interested in the unusual and are out of the ordinary can be included and inspired.

    • At age 68 I discovered a hidden talent & passion & created my business. As I got into social media marketing @73 & networking, I saw a need to encourage women that it is NEVER too late to start again, so I started my personal blog. I share my journey into beading as THE AGELESS EXPLORER OVER 72. I am outside the status quo as very few of my friends in my age group are on Facebook or understand why I have a business & work hard at it.
      I’ve only written about 10 posts & my past story is just about done. I know my niche for my blog is to focus on talking to people who have a desire to sell their craft product. I can guide them along in their journey thru my personal one & create support & encouragement.

  13. New coaches have such a hard time narrowing down niche and their own coaching topics, and I like this explanation of how to find both, and combine both.

    I’m going to be sharing this with my clients and audience too.

  14. My big mistake has been to simply write about what I wanted to discuss with no real concern with the audience or differentiating myself. To be honest, I didn’t start the site with the pure goal of making money through affiliate marketing. I was thinking of interesting ebook writers in my editing and marketing skills (I’m still learning the later!). I really need to investigate other sides and refine my purpose/interests. Thanks for the detailed advice.

  15. I’m in the tea niche, and l decided to write about Japanese green tea.
    Thanks for the post, I’m sure if I had chosen just “tea” the scope would me too vast for me.

    • Hi, Ricardo. Still ‘japanese green tea’ is a topic, not an audience. Have you thought about who you’re writing for, as well as what you’re writing about?

      • You’re right Charles, I should have thought about the audience back when I chose to narrow my niche. Fortunately, I’m getting readers interested in Japanese culture, which is great because I’m into all things Japanese too.
        I haven’t started yet, but I see an opportunity to guest post into Japan-related blogs. All of this would have been impossible with the broad tea niche.

  16. Lillian Leon says:

    Great post Charles!

    People always ask me why I’ve branded myself as the Online Marketing Rookie and why I’m not touting myself as an expert… And you’ve hit the nail on the head!

    Everyone in the online marketing/social media space claims to be an expert, but nobody admits to being a rookie. I think I’ve got differentiation and found my audience – people just like me: rookies! That’s my niche!

    Thanks for re-enforcing my decision to be me! Awesome…

    Lil :)

  17. This is definitely one of those tips that a blogger can regret not learning early enough.

    Glad to hear that defining your audience isn’t necessarily about choosing a particular demographic but more about deciding on an interest, application, and skill level.

    For me, I’m still figuring out my niche. I don’t even really have a one-worder yet. So far, I know I’m interested in exploring the point where creativity and analysis meet. I’ve got some work to do to narrow that down, but I agree that doing so will let so many other things fall better into place.

  18. I actually just learned to write NICHE on Value Blogging, and certainly many shortcomings because I often rewrite the articles of others.

  19. Great post. I am in the process of developing a new travel site aimed firmly at the 25-40 demographic who are tired of the same old things being highlighted and discussed out there. They are looking for things to do that are edgy and outside the box. But even more than focusing on a product and a niche, with the plethora of, for example travel sites, it is imporatnt that the site have a truly distinct voice that stands out from the increasingly conformist crowd. That’s the plan and research continues apace….

  20. I would like to write about affordable commercial rental spaces.

  21. Trudy says:

    Great post. I have had bloggers block for some time now because I have been focusing only on finding topics to write about instead of thinking of who I am writing for, and what their needs are. Some homework to do to narrow down my niche, my uniqueness and what I am trying to sell, but this makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

  22. christelle says:

    Great post Charles, I totally resonate with it since I keep wondering who my blog is targeting again and again. I read a post on Pushing Social not long ago that was saying something similar, and I went through the exercise of defining my audience, but I am still confused.
    If anyone is willing to help me on this, I’ll jump on the opportunity! I’m sick of writing for no one in particular but I struggle too much to know who’s interested in what I have to share :)

  23. great ideas but if you dont really know your niche how do you know what blogs to review for the pros/cons exercise. Im an artist that blogs about my art and my world. so would that be more lifestyle?
    Im confused

    • Hi Stephanie.

      There’s no ‘pros/cons’ exercise. You identify how each is unique from every other one.

      You don’t do this after you’ve defined your niche, because the idea is that no other blog shares your niche, so ideally you wouldn’t be able to come up with any blogs anyway. Instead, you do the exercise with a broad niche (so art or lifestyle), and then use it to narrow your niche down.

      • okay yeah sorry thats what I meant when I said the pro/con exercise, but thanks for clearing it up that was helpful!I will research art and lifestyle blogs and see what I can come up with. Thanks for the post and being fab!!

        Steph

  24. Great insight. The site I’m currently building is in a large field, but what got me interested was noticing how cluttered everything was. Being a librarian by training it became apparent to me that most of the competition is not in tune to their audience or even has a certain target audience in mind. Your article has given me further motivation to pursue my goal!

    Thanks!

  25. Thanks for the fresh perspective, and fantastic advice. I especially like the “write for someone” rather than “write about something” approach. This will be incredibly helpful as I revamp my young blog, whipping it into much better shape, before I inadvertently turn off readers.

    What niche does my blog focus on? Until today, I would have said that creative types, such as writers and artists, could benefit from the advice I share on my blog about how to cut out excuses and MAKE the time/space to do their creative work. I frame this advice within personal experiences that I share with readers. However, after reading this post, I see how my blog does not entirely deliver on this promise, mostly because I tie other subject matter in to my posts that isn’t necessarily applicable to my readers’ experiences. I also think it’s time for me to reevaluate this focus anyway, because I don’t want my other work, which I hope to sell at some point, to be too closely related to the subject matter I’m writing about on my blog.

    I obviously have a lot to think about. Thank you again for this post. It’s going to be my jumping off point to achieving a better blog!