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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.