Common Blogging Advice: "Find a niche & stick to it." "Niche blogs are more successful." "Narrowly focus your topic."
Several big-kahuna blogs come to mind in that category. Mashable is one example. You go there and know exactly what you will find: tech + social media news. (I like Mashable a lot, by the way).
The truth, however, is that my very favorite blogs - the blogs that make my heart pound and move my feet to action - are NOT niche blogs. The blogs I read daily are the ones that are written by "ordinary" people that share their interests, hobbies, thoughts, and advice. They write about what they had for breakfast, what books they've been reading, how they feel about parenting and politics, and the dreams that are consuming them. They talk about their 2-year-old's tantrum, share their favorite way to make lemonade, and discuss ways to help the helpless in our country and beyond.
I like blogs that are HUMAN, splashed with color and energy, sadness and sweetness. I like blogs where I feel like I know the bloggers behind them - so much that I am confident we could meet up at a coffee shop and talk for hours.
And - yes - I like the element of "surprise" when a new post pops in my reader.
Every once in awhile, I feel pressured to do something in a niche. Am I too scattered? Will I lose readers if I talk about babywearing on Monday and business on Tuesday, hiking on Wednesday and haiti on Thursday? Perhaps, some. But...not many.
After all, why shouldn't our blogs be reflections of who we are? I am a wife, a mom, a business owner, a traveler, a writer, a breastfeeder, a reader, a debater, an extrovert, an introvert, a runner, a hiker, a picture-taker, an art appreciater, a graduate degree holder, a baby-on-the-hip carrier, a Christ follower, a twitterer, a thinker, a New York Times reader, a soon-to-be RV dweller.
What will you find on Metropolitan Mama? You'll find ME here. I'll [try to] respond to your comments. I'll visit your blog as often as I can. I'll say hi to you on Twitter. I might even send you a present on your birthday. One of the best things about blogging is relationships - real, nitty gritty, close friendships. Being inspired by the extraordinary ordinary.
In my opinion, it's totally okay if you color outside the lines on your blog. I think your picture is pretty spectacular.
What are your favorite blogs to read (and why)? Are they niche or personality blogs?
I was just thinking about this yesterday looking through google reader --i skip so many that are just plain boring. I want to hear what you REALLY think of something in your life. I want honesty. I want to "peek" into your world and snoop even though I don't know you. I want to see your human - ness. Not your expertise-ness. I want to see failure, joys, anger, loser -ness all in one. Then I am happy and I will read. and I will come back. every single day. I prefer a daily posting or at least 3 times a week - but anymore breaks than that and I am disinterested.
I used to post daily, but lately I've been posting 3-4 times a week. There has been so much on mind as we prepare for life-on-the-road. (I know you understand). :)
okay story: when I started blogging, I was just meandering along, writing this and that. sometimes not writing at all. I kept getting advice that "you gotta find your niche" and "what's your Unique Selling Point"? to which I thought gee, I don't know! It all left me feeling totally UN-unique and un-special as a blogger. I started to feel boring if I didn't have the latest cutting edge thoughts on a slendar segment of a very narrowed topic! So much pressure! I mean, great for those who CAN do that - they are phenomenal... but I have lots of interests (writing, cloth diapers, cooking, reading, parenting, etc). and I have LOTS of ways to express those interests (rambles, poems, essays, photos, video). I think it's okay to say "don't fence me in" when it comes to blogging. After all, one of the reasons I started blogging is so I could write WHAT I want to write WHEN I want to write it HOW I want to say it. I guess if it never leads to major companies wanting to advertise or sponsor a review with my blog... I am okay with that b/c I will still be doing what I love! :) So... I'm trying to let it go and just BE ME (which, after all is a niche only I can fill!) :)
What perfect photos to go with this post! =)
I read some nitch blogs -- some blogs on about pregnancy/VBAC, some craft blogs, a few on Waldorf education/lifestyle -- I realized early on that I don't have a nitch of my own. Well, in a way, I do. My life is my nitch. I guess if my goal was to attract a massive amount of readers, having a nitch would be beneficial, but I started blogging as as a creative outlet and a way to record the little moments of my life. And I'm still flabbergasted that there's even anyone else out there who are interested in reading what I have to say!
Though I do read some niche blogs for information (namely homeschooling, same curriculum users as us), I find that I crave and miss reading blogs more whose writers share their everyday lives with their readers. I can't explain the draw I have to certain folks and certain blogs -- it may be likeness of personality, or just a respect or awe. I'd say my blog reader is 50/50.
I think it depends on the season of life. when i was planning a wedding i was all about wedding blogs, but now, i'm definitely more into reading about ordinary people living life. Love reading YOUR blog. :)
I have my favorites in both niche and personal blogs...but I do think I enjoy personal blogs more ( :
I would consider mine a niche blog however it's my personal weight loss/fitness journey. On that blog I would not share about home remodeling that hubby and I are doing or our quest to move to Jamaica, etc. That would be a better fit for a truly personal blog that we are going to be starting. If I think about it in a business sort of way, it's best to have a niche blog if you are looking at monetizing your blog. It's very hard to monetize a personal type blog well and make a living from it.
I do follow more niche blogs than I do personal overall.
That being said...there are many "personality bloggers" who are bringing in significant income - Dooce, Pioneer Woman, 5 Minutes for Mom, etc.
I would say that both types of blogs have potential for monetization.
I read both niche and personality blogs. When I'm interested in creating a craft or looking for a recipe, or in need of an activity to do with my 3 year old, I know just the blogs in those niches to refer to. My own blog used to be a food blog, but I felt like there was so much more of ME to share and switched to more of a personality blog about a year ago. This past year of blogging has been the most fun of all for me and my readership has grown enormously too.
I like both!! I love having niche blogs on my blog roll, because if I want to read about real food, or homeschooling, or organizing, or new recipes to try, I like being able to find blogs that talk specifically about those things. But I also like blogs that talk about a little bit of everything. I tend to lean toward the "personality" blog camp---although mine is in the (very broad) "niche" of homemaking. I write about anything relating to homemaking--recipes, kitchen tips, nutrition, organization, babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, natural birth, marriage.... and my recent post was about homeschooling.
I love blogs that share and have beautiful pictures. I find that blogs that are too wordy don't keep my attention. Or blogs that use really long paragraphs are too hard for me to focus on. Like all of us, my time is limited. I want to be able to quickly take a look and decide if i have time to read it now, or if I want to come back to it.
There are certain ones that I always read and take the time to come back to. They are yours, Make it Work Mom, Angry Julie Monday, Formerly Phread, Better in Bulk, Bern This, Mothering Mayhem, Mama Kat is Losin it, Parenting by Dummies, Pulsipher Predilections and Natalie Norton Photography.
I am the same way! My favorite bloggers tend to publish artistic/beautiful/crisp photos alongside the text in their posts. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? :)
I really enjoy personality blogs because I read because I want to get to know you (or someone else). I try and write the same way, but sometimes, I want to do the opposite and one of these days I might become more niche and scheduled, but for now I'm just me and I'm enjoying it! :)
I read some of both. There are a few couponing blogs I read that are just to the point and post deals, deals, deals and I don't know a lot about the blogger. Those are very useful blogs to me. But, I really enjoy blogs like yours that share the details of their life. There is one blog - http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/ That I recently found and it is nice to know that my brain works the same as hers in a lot of ways. So it is nice to know that I am not alone. That is also true for mommy blogs, I like to hear about real life and how they deal with things, even if it is the wrong way, so that I can learn from their successes and failures.
I am definitely a personality blog reader. I love that I can come to your blog(& others) & feel like I know you. What you are going to post is a surprise, but you always share who you are openly. Personality blogs are the ones I come to as often as I can to catch up with the writer. Niche blogs have their place & are great when I am looking for something specific like a fun craft for Jake. But I always gravitate toward the blogs that make me feel like I know the person!
So with you on this one! :) That was my goal with out blog. To keep friends and family who live far away, updated in a very personal way. :)
this is a fantastic post. Being an interior designer, I've felt the internal pull to become a "niche" blogger, but I just cannot do it. I am so much more! (just like you).
I like niche blogs for learning and personality just for the fun of it. :)
I am so glad you posted this! I have actually been thinking about it a lot as well. Perhaps because you have posted a few links to blogs that discussed this topic...but I did find myself wondering where you stood on it! :-) I prefer personality blogs as well. I enjoy 'getting to know' the bloggers, some are friends, some are blogosphere friends. I love having people to relate to, to learn from, to glean from, and hopefully encourage through my own blog. I initially set up my blog for friends and family that are all over the world, but over time, I have come to want to add to it. That is why I started Thursday's Recipe Rodeo...and while it didn't quite take off the way I would have hoped (to get more recipes :-), I still do it because it is a good discipline for me, and I know people look forward to it. It also serves as a great way to document the things that are going on in my life...real life. All of this to say...I appreciate personal blogs...where you get a peek into the lives of others that are like-minded, or not so like-minded. I so appreciate your blog and all that you choose to share on it...I look forward to new posts each day!
I completely agree! I try to be relaxed about what goes into my blog because in truth my favorite blogs are relaxed. I'd rather know the blogger than the subject itself. You can write all day long about the benefits of breastfeeding or baby-wearing or co-sleeping...but what do YOU do? That's what I really want to hear about. I may not do the exact same thing but it expands my horizons and makes me more aware.
Yes! I agree (so much). I like blogs w/ real living people that challenge, inspire, and amuse me - even if I don't always agree w/ their perspective. That's how we grow + learn, right?
I understand niche blogs, but they're usually just not for me.
My favorite blogs?
Yours, Life with 4 boys (coffee, please), Such the Spot, Vicarious Chelsea, Adventures in Babywearing, and Angry Julie Monday are some of my favorites :)
I like personality blogs, too. If it is a niche blog, in something of interest to me, I will look at it, on occasion. But, I won't read it regularly. But, I will read the blogs, where you really get to know that blogger, as often as I am able. Some of them are, perhaps a bit "niche", but they have personality, too.
I like MM, Sorta Crunchy, Rage Against the Minivan, & Emerging Mummy.
Oh. A new favorite for me is also Moments with Love
That's one of my new favorites too! Love's style of writing is entrancing (and her photos are magical).
I agree with you totally. I have a much easier time staying interested in "personality" blogs. They seem like the real people. The ones most like me. I like reading about someone's everyday life and feeling like I can totally relate. My 2 favorite right now are you and Sarah at Emerging Mummy. I just started my own blog today. Published my first post about 5 minutes ago. It's a new and fascinating world to me. :)
I agree with you - I do find niche blogs extremely valuable, but my favorites are the personality ones. And I think you do a fabulous job :)
I like both, but I definitely read personality blogs more regularly. I look to niche blogs when I have something specific I'm looking for (looking for a sewing pattern for something, etc). I think personality blogs allow you to build a connection and feel like you know the person on the other side of the screen.
I do follow both types of blogs, however, my favorites tend to be personality blogs. My fear when starting my own blog was that I was too "all over the place"...but I couldn't narrow down myself into one favorite category to blog about. I feel like there is so much more to me than just cooking or being a homemaker, etc. My blog is an extension of all my likes and I definitely enjoy following other bloggers who do the same. It is much more fun to read a dynamic, hodge podge bunch of posts with some personality in the writing than seeing the same thing over and over. Sometimes I think you can beat a dead horse with a niche blog, especially when the content is perfectly predictable.
I don't have a blog but the only blogs I read are personality-driven. My faves are yours, Emerging Mummy, Adventures in Babywearing, I Should Be Folding Laundry, and Grasping for Objectivity. They are all moms but they do blog about other things, which is what I like, because none of us are just moms.
I'm surprised to hear that niche blogs do better than personality blogs. I would think it would be harder to find enough readers interested in your niche.
Emerging Mummy and Adventures in Babywearing are two of my all-time favorites!
I thought about my blog for a year before I actually started it. It's been a lot harder than I expected, and taken directions that I couldn't have planned. It seems like all the blogging advice says only well-defined niche blogs are going to be successful, so I've felt a lot of pressure to choose one area of interest and focus there. But I've come to the conclusion that I'm writing in the wife-of-a-student-and-SAHM niche. I'm just the only one in here! (That I've seen so far.) :)
My favorite blogs seem to blend elements of niche and personality. I enjoy reading the most when I feel like I know who's talking to me.
You make a good point, Joanna. Most personality blogs do have a few specialties (or "niches") that they consistently write about.
Example: Jo-Lynne of Musings Of A Housewife is clearly a "personality blogger," but she is known for candid conversations about real food, humorous & helpful posts about fashion, and delicious recipes that feature all non-processed ingredients.
I definitely relate to the topics she writes about, but the reason I come back again & again is because SHE is the one writing about them.
I really don't know which is my favorite, niche vs personality. The only blog I've ever read with regularity is yours. I have read many off and on. Those tend to be lactivist type.
Wait, I read my DIL's blog...hers is personality. My son's is a photo blog..no reading there.
sometimes i fl that personality blogging is pointless. who cares what we did over the weekend? who cares what i think about first grade spelling lists or the guest stars on yo gabba gabba? i feel like my blog should have a point and a pattern. that's what i think, but it's never what i do. now that i've started, i can't seem to stop writing about everyday life. it's a lot of fun doing it.
I like both. I began blogging as a way to share my families transition to homeschooling. I search out bloggers in similar situations but much of what I blog about is our life: our high points, low points, lessons, field trips, diet changes, new friends, etc. When I have specific homeschooling questions, pertaining to curriculum or philosophy, I seek out nice blogs. My experience has been that I have learned more from the parents who blog and homeschool. They have inspired me, supported me, and guided me on my family's journey.
My blog could be described as "all Elizabeth, all the time", although I've been told that a number of local people like to read it to find out about places to go and things to do in Ottawa. But I decided that the reason I'm writing is a) in lieu of a baby book and b) to keep my out of country parents in the loop so that I don't ever have to be in the position of giving a six-month update on what I've been doing. So anyone else who reads is welcome but their opinions don't matter that much!
Over the months of blogging...I have realized how bad I want to share my story and personality, but that is totally off in the niche blog I have carved for myself which was a wonderful idea because it did attract a lot people and businesses. However, I felt like I was missing something. So I am taking a break to find out what I realy want to focus on. I am a career woman and I love my job as a mom, and those are things that I might be talking about soon.
I personally like both, and as I struggle to turn my new blog into a business, I find myself trying to focus my content a little more....because the REAL me, is ALL over the place, and unpredictable. So, I picked the things I'm passionate about, and I'm focusing my writing on those things. I've actually found it easier to write then when I could write about "anything". I agree with the other commenter (and you), that I have favorite niche blogs, and I also have favorite personal blogs.
I love reading your opinion on this stuff... great post!
The only blogs still in my Reader from when I began following blogs are yours, This Week for Dinner, and Design Mom. I love that both you, Jane, and Gabby all share your opinions, ideas, and expertise. I guess the other two are a little more "niche" than Metropolitan Mama. But I find that the posts of theirs that I enjoy most are the ones where they share about themselves, their families, etc. I agree with you that I enjoy reading blogs of writers that I feel like I'd hang out with if they lived in my neighborhood.
And by the way, you absolutely are the best at responding to comments, commenting on my blog, etc. It's definitely appreciated!
I like Design Mom too - so many fun finds and stunning photographs, plus I enjoy reading about big families.
I'm totally a personality blogger! I don't have an agenda, well, other than my kids I guess! Just whatever comes to mind! And for the most part those are the blogs I read too. Favorites... Moosh in Indy, Ministry So Fabulous!, Bring the Rain, you! ;)
I think there's a place for both. I do like to get to know the writer of a blog, but I think you have to have the personality to carry it. I follow hundreds of blogs, and most of them have some kind of niche. Even among those, I can't always keep them straight. The writer has to have a particular voice and some kind of frankness or veracity to keep my interest, whether the blog is a niche blog or not.
Thanks for commenting, Hannah. I agree that "there's a place for both."
I'm certainly not arguing *against* niche blogs (they can be very fun + informative). I just think it's important for bloggers to know that they can have a successful, professional, wonderful, thought-provoking, useful, etc. blog...even if they don't "specialize."
I completely 100% agree with you. As time goes by and my Reader becomes simpler and simpler, i find I stick with the ones that feel like friends - even if I haven't met them. The ones where I know their kids names and feel like we have coffee a couple times a week. I like real life. It's messy and unpredictable but in a way, I'd rather have friends online than a big Google world. And you, of course, are one of the dearest. xo
I only have 24 blogs in my reader (a record low)...and they are all bloggers who are near + dear to my heart (you are one of them).
I read more blogs than that, of course - clicking on links on Twitter and Facebook, exploring my readers' blogs, etc.
But I just don't have the time for a hefty reader - in part because of my "straight A student" personality. I feel like I have to read and leave a comment on every post in my RSS. Crazy? Yes, I know it is. ;)