I can’t count the amount of times I’ve read blogging advice posts. Free downloads of ‘how to build your blog’, filled with audience targets, email capture, guest posting and most of all, defining your niche.
A niche is a focus, a subject that your blog will be based around. Sports, for example. Fashion. Cooking. Er, Minimalism. They say the more ‘niche’ you make your niche, the more successful your blog will be.
I have definitely spent countless hours attempting to set up an email list before figuring out it’s pretty much beyond me and I don’t want to sell anyone anything right now anyway. I have stared at Google analytics for hours trying to figure out my ‘target audience’, before getting distracted by the world map and excited that someone in Australia is reading my blog. And yes, I’ve tried and tried to whittle down my ‘niche’, from the overly broad category of ‘Minimalism’ to a more focused topic. Minimalism for people who are over 30 and have left their job. Minimalism for people who like to go on long walks and quite like cake, but not just any cake, only chocolate cake. Minimalism for people who don’t really like the term minimalism but who just have a lot of stuff and want to get rid of some of it. And so on.
Defining your niche should be easy. Something that not many people write about. Something a little different. But I felt the more I tried to define and re-define, the less I was enjoying the actual blogging part.
In the end, I felt like I was writing things because that’s what a small, well-defined section of society would want to hear. And it wasn’t what I felt inside any more. I started to lose my authenticity, and with it, my inspiration. Instead of writing for myself, I was writing for ‘people like me’, leaving out big chunks of personality and interests to streamline content. Everything became a struggle. I should be analysing demographics. I should have adsense on my page. I should be a Amazon affiliate. Everything became forced. I even wrote a free course, because that’s what every advice article I read said I should do. (I never published it!) Working on the blog became a struggle. I didn’t want to write about just one thing any more.
Having a niche and knowing that niche well can be a brilliant thing. Appealing to people that truly identify with you and with your message can take blogs to new heights, if that’s where you want to go.
However, I think not having a niche is fine too. My blog is a bit ‘here and there’. It’s to write down strange thoughts, have fun with secondhand things, walk in the rain, talk a little about slow living, and share whatever is on my mind. I feel I bend and change too much to try and cram everything into a narrow category. When I wrote about Minimalism, I found myself wanting to share other things, but ultimately didn’t as they didn’t fit into my ‘message’. And I found that by letting that self-imposed rigidity go, I finally had the freedom to write about whatever I wanted.
I’m not a solid type of person. My mind wanders and my interests wax and wane as frequently as the tide turns. I thought that to have a blog then you had to want it to grow and become massive, to use it as a place to sell courses you wrote, products you like. I tried that because I thought that’s what a blogger should be. It was a big decision to leave all that behind and become true to what I wanted out of One Empty Shelf. A leap to change from a solely minimalist-focused blog to something a bit more true to my life now. Minimalism helped me become who I am, but it isn’t all that I am any more. I’m a person who is all over the place and I quite like that.
And I suppose, if you’re all over the place too, then you may just be my niche.