Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How Niche Can You Get? Or: How Niche Is Too Niche?

Interesting report from an AlwaysOn panel over on Between the Lines with regard to "Power Blogging" (I guess not even blogging is immune from becoming hyperbolically super or powerful!).

I particularly fixated, as I am wont to do, on Peter Rojas' (of Engadet fame) comment that bloggers should choose "a niche or area you want to focus on. Find the smallest area you can find and own that niche."

This discussion always makes me wonder if bloggers who want to be successful – which we can define as gathering a reasonably sized audience around some type of content – are "allowed" to post outside of whatever niche they happen to choose. For instance, in 2007 I've focused (nearly) exclusively on discussing "web 2.0" topics, blogging, social news, and how the mainstream media is adapting to the online environment. Does that mean that I can't or shouldn't post about my favorite campus comedies of all time, or the 2008 presidential election? Would that alienate whatever small audience I had just won over by focusing on some notion of a niche?

Or should bloggers drill down further than that. I could in theory write exclusively about strange MySpace blogs (an absolutely killer idea for a standalone site, by the way, in my view) to the exclusion of everything else. Unfortunately my restless nature prevents me from doing that, but that's a free one for all of you niche-seekers out there.

Lots of questions on a late Tuesday's eve. For a final shot of good times, Elizabeth Spiers of Dead Horse Media recommends that power bloggers post somewhere between eight and twelve times per day.

So much for sleep, and power on, bloggers!


Peter Rojas said...

Hey, I guess I should clarify what I meant. Obviously you can (and should) blog about whatever you want, but if your goal is to establish yourself as an authority on a particular subject or to establish your blog as definitive news source then it helps to focus on just one specific niche.

Sprague Dawley said...

It's similar to the demise of "general audience" magazines, that covered many topics in a digest format. Nowadays, it's all niche all the time -- people pick and choose from sites that specialize in particular topics and, so, use their RSS readers to create their own digest tailored to their interests. On the up side you get just what you want, on the downside you rarely get presented with anything you didn't expect.

And for writers with a broad sensibility who want to cover lots of different topics... you probably sacrifice audience because you don't fit a niche.

Eric Berlin said...

That's right, Peter, I think a lot of bloggers feel that tension i.e. "should I think about my blog as work or a business to go after the absolute maximum number of readers and ad revenue or should I kick back and write about whatever strikes my fancy of a fluffy-slippered morning?"

In essence I believe you to be correct but it's up to each blogger to think about what they want to get out of the blogging experience and then how best to achieve those goals.

As for myself, I'm *starting* to think of my personal blog in the same way that Jason Calacanis does: as a "business card." I'm a web producer who works on multiple projects, so this is a way for me to write about what I care about, experiment in the blogging space, and to generally get "me the brand" "out there."

So that's the ruthless business-y side. It's also a lot of fun to share what I know (or don't, more often!) and interact with whoever happens to drop by.

Thanks very much for stopping by and dropping a comment!

Eric Berlin said...

Sprague, you bring up a few excellent points. Blogcritics (where I'm exec producer) has the challenge of being a great general interest online magazine of 1,700 writers (fully edited and produced, the sinister cabal of superior writers is!) that has an absolutely terrible time fitting into the new micro-world of niches. BC is actively moving to decentralize to spin off standalone sites, which we hope will have the benefit of doing a better job of hitting niche markets (and add up to a grander total in the end!).

Thanks very much for the comment!