Is Your Blog Smarter than a Fifth-grader?

My fifth-grade year was a memorable one. It was the year we moved from Los Angeles to a small town (population 364) in Arkansas. My mother escorted me to my classroom. I stood in the doorway and glanced around, the proverbial fish out of water. The room itself wasn’t much different than other classrooms I’d been in — an alphabet bordered the wall above the chalkboard; a row of windows offered a view of the swings, slide, and merry-go-round; and neat files of student-filled desks faced the teacher, a stern-looking woman who had obviously opted out of early retirement.

The teacher removed her thick-framed glasses, letting them dangle from a cord around her neck and walked over to greet me. I tightened my grip on my mother’s hand. She gently patted my shoulder.

“Class,” the teacher addressed the group with a kinder voice than the one my imagination had ascribed to her. “This is the new girl. The one from California.” More than twenty pairs of eyes focused on me. Needless to say, I learned a lot that year.

And so do most fifth-graders, as we’ve learned from the popular television game show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. In fact, most fifth-graders know how to apply distilling-down principles used to determine the least common denominator of a set of fractions and dissecting a sentence into its most fundamental parts of speech. Today, we’re going to learn how to apply those same principles to marketing. After all, we are smarter than fifth-graders, right?

A popular type of blogging is called niche blogging — a highly specialized, thin slice of big blogging pie. In other words, once you’ve determined your blog’s topic and purpose, you distill it down as far as possible, just like you did with fractions and sentences in the fifth-grade.

The top characteristics of a successful niche blog are:

  • Laser-focused content — developed through an exclusive and ever-deepening focus on one topic
  • A small scope — become an authority in your selected topic and slant your blog from a specific angle
  • Unique material — this will produce more referrals and will eventually the blog require less of the blogger’s time to maintain
  • A passionate audience — one that is willing to spend money on relevant products and/or services

Is niche blogging for you?

The answer goes back to your purpose for blogging. Some bloggers prefer a broader scope on their topic, which is fine. You can slant your point of view to make your blog unique, even on broad topics. However, as more and more bloggers enter the arena, more and more bloggers are tightening their focus within their topics of expertise in order to write for a specific target audience. This tight focus is especially important to bloggers who market goods and services. Most marketing bloggers have learned it’s best to have 10 passionate customers than 100 who are vaguely interested.

What are the advantages of discovering my blog topic’s “least common denominator”?

If you’re blog is broad, you may spread yourself too thin. This can be tiring and frustrating. The old saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time but you can please some of the people most of the time” pretty much sums up the concept behind niche blogging. The more narrow your niche, the more referrals you’ll get as you become the “go-to guy” (or girl) in your chosen field. It takes some time to determine your niche, but once you take these preliminary steps, you’ll wind up using less time to maintain your blog as far as research, marketing campaigns, etc., because much of that work will have been done during your niche-narrowing process.

How to narrow your niche

Forget all the negative talk about age-, racial-, geographic-, and economic-profiling. We humans profile one another. Period. And businesses certainly do (under the auspices of “market research”). More and more in today’s society, we’re encouraged to soften the edges of our uniqueness and blend into one big glob of humanity. Yet even though we work, play, and mingle together in society, specific groups within humanity as a whole have specific interests and needs. The “birds of a feather flock together” adage has much truth, and in focusing your blog to your unique audience, it is vital.

What to do with the information you’ve collected.

  • Once you’ve determined the unique profile of your audience research their dreams, dreads, and desires.
  • Make a list of specific needs that aren’t being filled and gaps that need bridged within the niche.
  • Come up with at least 10 narrow topics.
  • Next, analyze your own talents, passions, and expertise.
  • List 10 topics you are best suited to blog about.
  • Now, imagine two circles on a page, or, better yet, draw them. Inside one, put your 10 topic ideas from your market research. In the next one, put your list of 10 personal topic choices. Look for the area(s) where the two lists match. If you have more than one match, consider which you are most excited, knowledgeable, able to write about. That is your niche topic.

Now what?

Do some keyword research to help you promote your blog and for SEO use. Become an authority in your chosen topic through continued study and research on the topic. Build preeminence within the blogging community on this topic by building relationships and with your blog readers. As their trust level in you grows, so will your audience (due to referrals). Get feedback from your audience about their needs and wants through comments, emails, forums, and surveys. Once you’ve built up your readership and reputation, you can market products and services to this loyal “tribe” of followers. Many marketing bloggers use this pattern to build successful, lucrative blogs.

Examples of top niche blogs:

Click this link to view a list of the top 50 niche blogs of 2009.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 nathaniel on 01.18.10 at 7:17 pm

Great article! I will bookmark this and use it when setting up my new blog in the future. Good content and a great niche you have here! Keep up the good work.

Regards, Nat.

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