If I had a dollar every time we’ve been asked this loaded question, we’d be set for life.
“How can I best grow my blog?”
Sounds like a simple question, right? I mean, it’s not long. It doesn’t seem overly complicated. But it’s a lot harder to accomplish than it sounds.
Our first obvious answer would be “Pinterest.” (You can find an article on growing your blog with Pinterest right over here.)
But the second, less obvious, however, even more powerful answer?
Narrowing your niche.
Right–I know what you’re thinking. “But I want to write about everything I’m passionate about! I love my cat and I love gluten free cooking and I love fashion!”
Of course you do! We all have lot’s of different interests. However…
That might be what’s holding you back.
The biggest mistake we see over and over again, is bloggers not having a focus. This is so easy to do with a lifestyle blog, and we both still have this problem from time to time. You want to write about so many things, and appeal to a lot of different people! Isn’t that a good thing?
Well, no. Actually. The more topics you cover and the more varied your content, the harder it is to grow.
Think of it this way. Would you rather be a tiny fish in a giant pond, or a big fish in a tiny pond? (No brainer, right?)
Let’s run through some different scenarios:
Example A: Imagine you’re a lifestyle blogger and you cover food, style, travel, parenting (congrats on your new babe!), career tips, and you also blog about blogging sometimes. There are lot’s of really successful blogs and websites that cover that and do it well, right?
Well, imagine someone clicks through to a travel post you wrote through google or Pinterest, maybe. You spent hours on this post, it’s amazing, so helpful, and has lot’s of beautiful photography.
They read the post, and love what they read, and want more. So they click to your home page, and they find two fashion posts–one featuring a black tie gown from a gala you just attended and one featuring a casual outfit you wore to brunch on Saturday, one parenting post on best baby bottles, and a post on organic beauty products.
NONE of this content is what they’re looking for, right? So they leave.
(Think they’re ever coming back?)
Example B: Think of what they would’ve done if they clicked through, read that travel post, and then went to your home page to find: 2 style posts–one packing post on wardrobe staples you bring on every trip, and one on what you wore on your wine country tour in Napa (including several tips that people would need to know when doing a wine country tour for the first time)–one post on tips for keeping kids entertained on an airplane, and one post on best 2-in-1 beauty products that can fit in your carry-on bag.
HELLO–same things, different approaches. In scenario one, your niche is wide–it’s ALL over the place. In niche two, you’re still covering the same TOPICS, but through a TRAVEL lens. What would be even better would be to narrow it even further–Parenting travel, or travel on a budget.
This is ESPECIALLY important if you’re serious about monetizing your blog, or blogging to promote your business. Are you a graphic designer looking to get more clients through blogging? Stop writing about beauty products, or sharing photos of your personal life on your blog. That’s nice, but that isn’t serving a purpose. You need to be ruthless when deciding what is “on brand” and stick to it like nobody’s business.
So, you get it–right? This isn’t 2008. There are a TON of blogs out there now, and it’s much harder to stand out and start gaining traction with your traffic. Narrowing your niche is the EASIEST way to do this, because it ensures that everyone who comes to your site will turn into a huge fangirl.
Our personal experience
Don’t think you’re alone in this. Being in the “lifestyle” niche is hard. It’s tough to please everyone when you’re writing about so many different subjects.
We went through this too. We both cover similar content and we looked each other one day, not that long ago, and a lightbulb went off. Our content was all over the place. Admittedly, this is partially why we started Blogging For Keeps, because we knew we had to narrow our niches, and covering subjects like blogging on our personal sites was no longer part of our personal brands.
We conducted reader surveys to figure out what topics were most popular and which weren’t. The topic of style won the overwhelming majority, which shifted our focus, and now we use style as the common thread for everything else we cover, but in different ways.
For example, we might still blog about the topic of food or entertaining or even a recipe from time to time, but instead of just sharing food photos, you’ll see photos of us in the kitchen wearing a cute (yet approachable and budget-friendly) outfit, and linking to what we’re wearing in addition to sharing the details about the recipe.
So–what does that mean for you exactly?
First, you need to determine what the purpose of your blog is. Is it just for fun? Then great! If fun comes first and growth comes second, girl, write whatever your heart desires! A blog is the best way to get all your creativity out!
However, if your priority right now is growth, then you need to ask yourself what people come to your blog for, and ONLY give them that.
Are you primarily a food blogger? Don’t post about the Nordstrom sale. Are you an interior design blogger? Don’t post photos of your kids and talk about parenting. Why? Because your primary target audience isn’t interested in those things! Start small, you can always expand your reach later. Big fish, little pond–remember?
Okay! So–how are you going to narrow your niche?
We’d recommend doing a reader survey. (We did a whole post on how to do that right here.) Ask your readers to rank your different topics–what they’d like to see more of, what they’d like to see less of. This will give you an idea of what your “common thread” could be. Eliminate the less popular topics or post about them less often, through the lens of your “common thread.”
(Also, tip: if you cover anything to do with shopping or products, make sure to ask what price point people are most comfortable spending on certain items. Because price has a lot to do with your niche, too!)
At the end of the day though, it’s important to keep in mind that whatever you’re writing about should be always be fun and feel 100% authentic to you!