Today, I caught a tweet (one that was actually useful) leading me back to the Make Money Blogging article by BlogBuildingServices.com – GREAT read! It got me thinking: do you REALLY need to have a “niche” to be successful as a blogger (or heck, even a writer)? The short answer is NO.. But it certainly makes life easier.
If I compare my two main blogs, Yogizilla’s Blankity Blank-Blank (An NoF Portal) and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass Online (DPO), DPO is certainly the winner in terms of performance and visibility. On a slow day, DPO gets 80-100 visitors and that’s regardless of whether or not there have been recent updates. Yu-Gi-Oh! is the main focus of the site but I discuss anime, manga, and video games on DPO too! Certainly, those topics are all things that have avid fans. Anime, manga, and Yu-Gi-Oh! are certainly niches too.
It would seem that having a more diversified blog is not worth the trouble, right? Not at all. When I get hits on this blog, they are more quality hits. Less spam, more real visitors, more returning traffic.. This is great for SMO purposes.. SEO, not so much.
Really, that’s where the magic happens with blogs: optimizing for social media and search engines (SMO and SEO, respectively). Razor-sharp focus on a single niche can help but, if your focus is TOO small, you can over-optimize your content. What I like about having two different blogs is that I get to use different writing styles; better yet, my Yogizilla-branded primary blog allows me to go off on tangents and somehow connect everything with often-subtle underlying themes.As such, I can write a video game article on DPO and on Y3B, even use the same subject matter, but my tone and style will switch things up a bit. This presents a great opportunity to cross-promote and really experiment with different online promotion techniques, effectively tweaking my SMO and SEO alike. YOU can too!
The trick to blogging, no matter what your focus, is to stick to the things you are truly interested in (the same goes with any business venture or freelance endeavor, really). Sure, you can jump on hot topics of the moment and follow trends but, eventually, you’ll grow bored with your subject matter. BlogBuildingServices.com touches upon this reality: you don’t have to be a great writer, but you DO have to believe in what you’re doing. Without the passion behind your content, you can’t possibly pursue the research necessary to become more knowledgeable in your concentrations.
As I often say, beware the fallacy of expertise. We all have to start somewhere but, even when you learn and experience a lot, there is still tons more to learn. If you want to succeed in blogging, don’t ever stop learning and make sure you engage your audience. Doing these things helps builds your very own community and, who knows, maybe your very own network too (that’s the fundamental principle behind Social Media Optimization, after all).
BlogBuildingServices.com recommends finding affiliate programs (a’la Click Bank) to plug into. This is very good advice but I say look at the greater picture: don’t just affiliate yourself – make friends! When you make friends, you develop warmer, longer-lasting collections. The mutual interest you show with your friends can translate into collaborative projects, referrals, and/or motivation. Every good writer, blogger, or freelancer should have such a buddy system in place!
Sure, it’s great to use Google AdWords, Click Bank, and all that sort of stuff but you stand to make more money when you take the time out to make warm connections. This is where affiliate marketing works: build strong relationships and get real results. Relying on programs and bulk communications only takes you so far and should only compliment more effective online promotion efforts. This is where things like Squidoo, Twitter, Yahoo! Updates, StumbleUpon, and Facebook come into play: share your content with the world.. Better yet: start conversations, polls, and truly engage your audience!
With the pervasiveness of social media and social networking alike, not taking the extra steps to meet people, share your content, and just get out there sells you short. You could have an excellent niche but you need to have the right behaviors surrounding the subject matter for your blog to really take off. As such, you don’t just start a web log (or web site, at that) – you LAUNCH it!
What’s really quite interesting because the most successful sites (those not owned by mega-corporations, at least) tend to have the friendliest owners and staff members. They know how to engage their audience and show genuine appreciation. Often, when I contact high-ranking web sites in smaller niches, I have better luck than when contacting high-ranking web sites covering the most popular subject matter. The difference is that the mega sites got to the top because they got to a topic first and essentially “coined it” (just like Apple made the iPod and somehow made it so that many folks call every MP3 player an “iPod”. The smaller, more humble sites grow because they realize the power of warm marketing and social networking.
A great example is my buddy, Steve of AllThingsCheese.com – WHAT an inspiration this guy is! As part of some recent SEO/SMO project work, I was trying to target web sites ranking highly on more specific, less-competitive search terms (long-tailed keywords FTW). I figured the lower-ranking web sites would be more than happy to expand their content for free (while providing us with one-way links) or, heck, even selling me some quality backlinks. Ironically, while the middle-of-the-lot mostly replied with “not a good fit” (or didn’t reply at all), it was Steve who responded the most positively and his site pretty much dominated all the other sites in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). I guess some people see the value in social/affiliate networking and some don’t!
As a result, Steve and I have developed a great rapport. We’ll be working on some projects together, cross-promoting, spreading the word about each other’s sites, and keeping in touch. That’s the power of warm connections – the real power of business, online and offline! The way I see it: I rather have people ask me if they could link to me than have to beg for links.. That can only happen when you love what you do and make your passion absolutely, positively contagious (SEE Seth Godin’s ideavirus concept).
In short, having a niche is great and being focused never hurts.. But don’t think you’re at a disadvantage just because you have lots of things that excite you. You should write first because you love what you have to talk about. Profitability will come naturally if you remain authentic and passionate. Of course, if making money online is your main concern, I’m sure I can arrange for some tips on that in the near future (heck, I may even sell out and put up some ads myself LOL)!
My call to action: bloggers worldwide UNITE! Link, comment, and share away to encourage others to do the same. It really is THAT easy! Remember: your work is a big part of your life so why not approach it as such? Make friends and forge alliances everywhere you go.