Niche Blogging: the Key to Success?

The storefront of Niche in 2008Image via Wikipedia
Niche blogging has become the name of the blogging game.

It used to concern only a handful of bloggers who tried to provide "useful content" so that their readers were enticed to buy specific products (see Wikipedia on this). This was a very commercial approach, with blogs full of advertising (or linked to a commercial site). There are even robot systems that automatically write niche posts for you! But of course, these are perfect scams (see article below).

The trouble is: the concept has expanded to all bloggers, including non-commercial ones. Not only is it conventional wisdom to fit into a "niche" but also good marketing: know your audience, belong to a community. Pitch your posts at your community. Twitter about it. Find your Twitter or Google+ circle and stick to it. Be a niche expert because that's what people like: experts!

Grow your blog with niche blogging, dammit! Listen to the marketing gurus, niche and learn!

So if you're into writing, write about publishing. If you're an artist, write about art. If you're politically involved, write about politics, if you love music, etc etc You get the idea.

And what if you're interested in all sorts of things, from writing to politics and art (like me)? 

Ah, then you're in BIG, BIG TROUBLE! Don't mix issues, don't mix genres, don't mix audiences: remember, when you write for one, you lose the other. Right?

I can accept that this makes marketing sense. But I do think it's a great pity. As a writer, you are tendentially interested in just about anything that happens around you, aren't you?

Isn't a pathological interest in others, in the world, in the human condition a fundamental trait of all writers and would-be writers? 

Historically, this was certainly the case for writers in Europe and Latin America. They have always been fascinated with and sometimes gotten themselves deep into politics and art. For example, Tolstoy, Zola, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, just to name a few. It's just in the US that I've noticed many of my fellow writers shy away from discussing politics, I don't quite know why. 

You see author blog after author blog strictly devoted to publishing and writing.

Why? Is it the result of believing in the rules of good marketing? Probably. 

They are  perfectly right if the objective is to have maximum traffic on their blog. 

I've noticed that whenever I stray too much, and swing from politics to art to publishing, I lose readers. I have astonishing peaks of readership whenever I cover publishing issues - makes me think there must be thousands upon thousands of writers out there keen to know what's going on in publishing. And small wonder, given the way the digital revolution has rocked the boat of all publishers, threatening to sink the weaker ones... 

But do you really think that straying out of your "niche" will make you lose readers? As a writer, are other writers your main readers? What's wrong with talking about all sorts of things, that have nothing to do with writing? Aren't readers broadly interested in the world around them? Is politics a bad mix with publishing and writing issues? Of course, there are some American writers who aren't afraid of going political, like Barry Eisler.  But it is a fact that writers' blogs tend to be focused on publishing: what makes a book sell, why, how to deal with agents and publishers, how to write a smashing query letter, how to edit your book into a masterpiece etc etc 

And if you're not a writer and you don't care about this sort of thing? Tough luck, look for another blog!

Of course, I realize that I'm not pleasing half (or more) of my readers. I should stick to one thing. Makes business sense.


There, I said it.

I can't do it, sorry. I want to be me, I enjoy writing about all sorts of unrelated things, and I hope you can forgive me. I even dare hope you might enjoy the variety. Why not? What do you have for breakfast every morning, tea or coffee? Whatever it is, isn't it nice to break the routine? If you're a habitual tea-drinker, doesn't coffee taste wonderful and new? Okay, not all the time, but sometimes...And that's the point, isn't it?

I'd like to be your morning cup of coffee...or is it tea?

Do you mind not knowing what's coming up?

Tell me how you feel about niche blogging? Do you go to a blog because you expect a specific content or do you tell yourself, wonder what Claude Nougat (or whoever else you like) wrote today?

Okay, tell me I have to stop dreaming...

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