This post by Scott H Young got me thinking again about the whole idea of focusing on a niche when it comes to blogging. There’s only so much you can read about personal development and productivity until you don’t need to anymore. It’s a sad realization, but it’s an inevitable outcome. That is, of course, if you’re transforming that information into knowledge.
This inevitable outcome doesn’t only happen with the productivity niche, but with every niche for that matter. Scott H Young writes:
The point of any source of information, whether it’s a writer like me, a mentor or a teacher is to eventually outgrow what you’re reading. Get injected with new ideas, internalize the ideas you like, discard the ones you don’t like and then move on. You move on, not because the ideas weren’t great, but because you’ve absorbed them fully enough that there isn’t anything left.
If you’re starting a blog to make money, then it makes sense to find and focus on a niche topic. Even though it’s getting more and more difficult to make money just from blogging, it’s a safer bet to be topical. A sharp focus on a narrow topic will give you greater traffic because you’re more likely to appear in search results, but that is also getting more and more difficult.
Wikipedia, Wikis, Forums, Bookmarking and Phone Directories
The people that use search engines are looking for solutions to a problem. They’re looking for something specific. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for search engines to index you, so people can find you. This is where the SEO thing comes into action with people driving themselves crazy trying to beat a Wikipedia entry in search ranks.
But I’m betting that a great number of people want to be more than just a section in a phone directory. I don’t think that’s why people start blogging initially; to just be cleverly indexed in the P section so people can find that your in the business of Plumbing.
Most of the no brainer niches, the “holy-shit-why-didn’t-I-start-with-that-earlier” niches, are taken and saturated. If you don’t believe me, start a blog about cars and see how close you get in search results to Cars.com. What’s left in the Tail is just too bizarre or to much of a novelty to be a worthwhile thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love sites like Stuff White People Like, Garfield Minus Garfield, and my latest favorite, Upside Down Dogs, but if topics such as productivity have an expiration date in terms of readers and writers getting over them, imagine how long these last?
I’m not saying that focusing on a topic is unholy and blasphemous, or that they aren’t worthwhile -if you start that “Lesbians Who Love Croquet Startup” blog, I will, without hesitation, subscribe to it- but you shouldn’t beat yourself about it either if you want to have a “successful” blog. Chances are that I’m reading about that one topic you’re thinking starting a blog about, in a Wikipedia entry or at HowStuffWorks.