What is Niche Blogging?Before we talk about niche blogging, we should start by deﬁning what nicheblogging is. We had a bit of a discussion about this on Facebook. Wikipediadeﬁnes niche blogging as “the act of creating a blog with the intent of using itto market to a particular niche market”. Going by that deﬁnition, we couldargue that every blog is, in some form, a niche blog aimed at a speciﬁcaudience, whether its a design, food or travel blog. So we need anothercriteria.Some blog genres are unarguably more popular than others, both in terms ofpeople who write and people who like to read them. For our purposes, then,we decided that a niche blog was aimed at a speciﬁc audience AND only hadfew competitors, i.e. there werent that many other people blogging about thesame topic. And then of course you can have a niche within a more populartopic, e.g. a general travel blog may not be considered niche by our deﬁnition,but a travel blog aimed just at women or just focused on Africa would be.So then someone asked, where do we draw the line? Lets take the exampleof museums. You might have a travel blog that covers all kinds of things youcan see and do worldwide on your travels, including visiting museums. Butwe wouldnt really consider that a niche. Then you might have a blog thatcovers things you can see and do worldwide, but it only focuses onmuseums. Thats a niche, right? But what about a blog that focuses onmuseums, but only museums in London. Which one is the niche blog now?
http://101londonmuseums.com/I will leave to you draw your own conclusions, but if you feel like you are aniche blogger, then you probably are!
The Challenges of Niche BloggingI was asked to talk a bit about the challenges of niche blogging. Obviously Ican only speak from my own experience as a Museum Blogger, so these mayvary depending on what topic you speciﬁcally blog about.PreconceptionsOne of the biggest challenges are the preconceptions people have.Would you ask a fashion blogger if they ever get bored of fashion andclothes? How about a food blogger, would you ask them if they ever getbored of food and recipes. Probably not. But if someone blogs aboutmuseums it somehow seems okay to ask that question.I guess it stems from the assumption that museums are boring to visit, and soby extension they must be boring to blog about. Obviously, I disagree. I lovemuseums. I wouldnt waste my time visiting them and writing about them if Ididnt. One of the best pieces of advice youll be given over and over again asa blogger, is to write what you are passionate about. If you dont feel it, dontblog it! Vice versa, dont let yourself be put off blogging about your passion bypeople who think your topic is boring and feel the need to comment about it.
So no, Im not bored of them yet – you can see why if you look at theselection of topics Ive blogged about:And besides visiting lots of really cool museums, I also get to eat lots of cakeand watch lots of movies. But more on that in a moment.Growing your readershipOf course, its not people thinking your topic is boring to write about thats theproblem, its people thinking your topic is boring to read about or just notrelevant to them. Because how are you then going to grow your readership?Obviously, your main readership is going to be the niche market you share aninterest with, so for me that would be museum lovers. Someone who hatesmuseums is never going to read my blog. But what about all those people inthe middle? Those who may not classify themselves as museum lovers butare generally interested in art or culture, or enjoy visiting museums on theirholidays.
You have to accept that your blog is never going to appeal to everyone, butwouldnt it be nice if some of those semi-interested people could be swayedto read your blog? Which takes us back to relevance and preconceptions.One of my biggest problems initially was peopleʼs preconceptions that myblog was aimed at peers, i.e. other museums professionals. Sure, they arepart of my main readership because they love museums, but its not a blogthat deals with topical museums issues. Itʼs aimed at a more generalaudience interested in culture and travel. Since Museum Diary started Iveblogged about museums in 16 different countries!Created with http://www.ammap.com/visited_countries/
But how to get that message out there if people arent even giving it a ﬁrstlook? Here are some of the strategies that have worked for me:* Blog Directories – list your blog in a popular directory like Bloglovin. Theremay not be a category that ﬁts your niche topic, but try to avoid sticking it inother and see which category comes closest, e.g. Ive listed Museum Diaryin Bloglovin under Travel.* Social Media Proﬁles – ﬁnd the social media channels that work for you.My main channel is Twitter. Because its an open platform I ﬁnd it mucheasier to connect with people interested in my niche, e.g. through hashtagsor if a museum Ive blogged about is on Twitter Ill mention it in my tweet andtheyll often re-tweet it to their followers.* Twitter Chats – on the subject of Twitter, I also regularly try to take part inTwitter chats that relate to blogging (e.g. #blogst), museums (e.g.#whyilovemuseums) or travel (e.g. the German travel talk #RN8).* Special Interest Networks – if you blog about a niche subject, its likelytheres a special interest network to go with it where you can put word outabout your blog. Some have their own websites, others are organisedthrough Facebook groups. Just do a little bit of research.* Photography – Iʼd say over 90% of the images I use on my site are takenby myself, so I like to make them work double time for me. I pin them toPinterest and post them to Flickr, and always include a link to the relevantblog posts under each photograph.
* Workshops & Courses – taking part in blogging workshops and courses isa great way to tap in to the wider blogging community, perhaps youll evenmeet some other people blogging about the same niche topic. Ive actuallytaught social media and blogging workshops myself, as part of my day job,but Ive still found it worthwhile taking part in others because its a valuablenetworking opportunity for me and Ive gained new and loyal readersthrough it.* Guest Contributor – as someone who blogs about a special interest topicyou can stand out from the crowd, which is often what people are looking forin a guest contributor, so seek out opportunities to collaborate and drawattention to your niche. Im not recommending you work for free, which Iknow is a controversial topic, but as a niche blogger the exposure Ivereceived e.g. for taking part in The Hive has been more valuable to me thanany speakers fee could have been. Ive also contributed to sisterMagseveral times.The Double Edged SwordAt the end of the day, despite your best efforts in trying to grow yourreadership, if youre blogging about a niche subject for a niche audience, yourpotential number of readers may always be quite limited. But dont be
disheartened by comparing yourself to others, because it cuts both ways. Asa niche blogger you may have fewer readers, but because the content of yourblog is so much more speciﬁc – you may even be the only person bloggingabout it – your readers may be more loyal and its easier to build a longlasting relationship with your audience than if you are one of many otherblogs writing about the same subject.In our discussion on Facebook, Juliane, who blogs about her work as a dollmaker, made an interesting observation: “...as a blogger with a special topicyou do not only ﬁll a niche, you can also create a niche...the majority of myfollowers usually is not into dolls...but there seems to be something thatappeals to them. Sometimes I think that the fact that we blog about a specialtopic in itself might be the reason for people to read what we write because aniche blog requires qualities such as a good portion of staying power andendurance.”The Onus is on YOUAnother challenge of being a niche blogger, is continuously ﬁnding newcontent. Of course, all bloggers are faced with that challenge, but the smalleryour niche, the more likely that there is no other content out there to draw onor inspire you, or fellow bloggers to bounce ideas off or create link partieswith. Often YOU are the go to blog for your subject. So there is much moreonus on producing original content. And what do you do if, for example, youblog about museums and there just arent any near you? (though thatʼsunlikely to happen as long as I am in Berlin). You have to start thinkingoutside the box.
Creating Original ContentSo, I wanted to ﬁnish by sharing how I go about creating my original content.Most of it isnt new, a lot of it is fairly common sense, but we all like a goodcheck list, right? And whatever topic it is you blog about, I hope it will inspireyou to go away and create lots of good, original content of your own.First, some practical tips:Always carry a notebook! Whether its a notebook app on your smartphone,or the old fashioned paper and pen variety, as a creator of original content thenotebook is your constant companion! Sometimes Im not speciﬁcally on acontent hunting mission, but I might see or hear or think of something thatrelates to museums and Ill write it down. Perhaps it will become a blog postat a later point. I always have a notebook in my bag. Or next to me when Imreading a book or watching television, just in case museums get a mention.Always carry a camera! Again, this can be a swanky DSRL, a good oldpoint-and-shoot, or simply your smartphone. But as a creator of originalcontent, original photographs are key. For me, I have the issue that manymuseums dont allow photography, so Ill photograph exhibition posters, or the
architecture of the buildings, or get creative in other ways. But I always havesome kind of camera with me and Ill take photos of anything that seemsrelevant, whether I have a speciﬁc blog post in mind or not.Remember theres audio too. Last year I was in Armenia and a choir gave asurprise short concert for us in the ruins of an historic cathedral I was visiting.So I recorded a clip of them singing with my smartphone, and added that tothe blog post I later wrote (Note: check with whoever youʼre recording that itʼsokay to do so, so that youʼre not breaking any copyright!)Use an editorial calendar. It doesnt have to be anything fancy. I just use apaper based diary and some post-it notes so I can move things around. As aniche blogger, I ﬁnd I have to be a lot more organised in thinking ahead. I alsohave another personal blog, where I post whatever comes to mind as its notgot such a speciﬁc subject, but for Museum Diary I ﬁnd that planning is key.Keep to your schedule. For example, if Ive just been on holiday and visitedlots of museums in a short space of time, theres the temptation to get all thenew content out there quickly. But instead Ill stick to my schedule, postanything time sensitive ﬁrst (e.g. I wouldnt want to be posting aboutsomething Easter related in July), and keep the rest for later. Then if my kidgets sick, or work takes over, or I just cant get to another museum any timesoon, Im glad to have some reserves to fall back on.And ﬁnally, tune in to your niche. Once you stop actively going out to lookfor your topic but instead let it become second nature, youll automaticallystart viewing everything through the lens of your particular obsession. Youllstart seeing everything as it relates to your niche.
The ContentSo ﬁnally, what do I post about? Well, of course there are reviews of themuseums I visit, which form the majority of my content. But I like to mix it up abit by blogging about other things that are relevant to the topic of museums. Igenerally tend to keep these additional posts to no more than one per weekand the individual features themselves to no more than once a month,because I dont want to loose sight of my main content. Obviously its up toyou how you want to schedule it, if you want to go down that route at all. Ihope these ideas will inspire you to think up posts for your own blogs.Seasonal DatesLets start with something easy: Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween,Christmas...most niche blogs will ﬁnd at least some seasonal dates they canrelate to their topic. For example, a gardening blog I read posts aboutseasonal ﬂower arrangements, and one of my favourite niche blogs aboutnames had some special posts about Christmas inspired names. Here aresome seasonal examples from Museum Diary:Annual EventsAnother good source are events that take place over the year, whether theyare recurring events such as the Olympic Games, Fashion Week or
Movember, or one off events such as a Royal Wedding. Seek out whatshappening locally, nationally and internationally and see if you can in any wayrelate it to your niche topic. (Though obviously, you dont want it to seem likeyouve shoe horned it in.)Popular CultureIf you blog about a niche subject, then popular culture is your friend. Peoplelove special interest lists relating to music, ﬁlm, literature, whether its songsabout historical events, famous dogs from TV and cinema, or a list of ﬁctionalautomobiles. This has actually led to two regular features on Museum Diaryrelating to music and ﬁlm.The ﬁrst started when I blogged about songs featuring museums, with an“Ultimate Museum Playlist” to listen to on Spotify. A spin off from this hasbeen “Music To Visit Museums By”, which are shorter playlists inspired bymuseums. I use the site http://8tracks.com to create them, which also lets youembed them in to your blog. If you want to give it a try yourself, the musicblog of the British Guardian newspaper has a great resource called “ReadersRecommend”, with lists of songs about almost any topic. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog+series/readersrecommend
My other recurring popular culture feature is called “Museums and theMovies”, where I introduce movies that feature museums, both as aprominent part of the storyline – such as Audrey Hepburns “How to Steal aMillion”, the Sesame Street classic “Please Dont Eat the Pictures”, and ofcourse “Night at the Museum”, as well as movies that feature a museum injust one or two key scenes, such as Alfred Hitchcocks “Blackmail” or theHollywood classic “Bringing Up Baby”. If youre thinking of doing somethinglike this for your special topic, then the Internet Movie Database is a goodstarting point, or searching on Amazon e.g. for “ﬁlms about dogs”.
InterviewsInterviews are another thing that work really well for niche blogs, becausespecial subjects usually mean theres some kind of specialist you caninterview, whether its the author of a book about your topic, or someone whois somehow related to your topic either through their work or through theirhobby. So, Ive just started a new feature where I interview people aboutthings they collect, because I ﬁnd private collections fascinating and itsrelated to my topic of museums. By the way, if anyone here collectssomething interesting or unusual or unique, please come and see me ;)Gift GuidesGift Guides are really fun to do. I just do them at Christmas, because its not amain part of my blog, but once in a while its fun to sit down and basicallycreate a great big wish list of gifts for museum lovers. You could do the samefor doll or car or cat lovers, depending what you blog about.
How-TosHow to guides are also really fun to do, though they dont work with everytopic. If you have a niche blog about knitting or gardening, youre more likelyto have a chance to include them than if you e.g. blog about history ornames. But Ive included How Tos once or twice:Recipes & Craft IdeasRecipes and craft ideas are really tempting to do because they are sopopular, and I think you have to be careful not to include them in your blogjust for the sake of it. Again, it wont work with all topics, but if you can make itﬁt naturally, why not make it an occasional feature.
Last year there was a day-long Twitter chat dedicated to Museum Cafes, andas a spin off from that I started a feature on my blog called “My MuseumCafe” where I introduce cake recipes that you might ﬁnd at a museum cafe.My regular “Museum Craft Corner” feature evolved from introducing craftideas I had come across in museums I had visited and reviewed. After that itseemed like a natural progression to actively seek them out. Last year therewas a travelling national exhibition about DIY in Germany and they did a DIYAdvent Calendar at Christmas and asked me to contribute a post from myblog, which was a great opportunity to get word about my blog out there andattract new readers.
App ReviewsDepending on what you blog about, there may be some apps out thererelating to your topic that you could review, e.g. lots of museums have appsand Ive written about a couple. Or if you produce most of your ownphotographs, you could blog about your favourite photography apps.
VideosAnd ﬁnally, consider including videos in your blog. I recently took part in KatContes video portrait workshop, and made a video about my favouritemuseum which Ive now integrated in to my blog. It was a really great way toget my passion for my niche topic across. Id like to ﬁnish by sharing the videowith you: http://youtu.be/HKCr1unrY78Jenni Fuchsmuseumdiary.comMay 2013Further Reading: My Top 3 Favourite Museum BlogsIf you enjoy Museum Diary, you may also enjoy these other museum blogs:This Belongs in a Museum - http://thisbelongsinamuseum.com/ - “dedicatedto the small, random museums and weird attractions of the world”Jacks Adventures in Museumland - http://jacksadventuresinmuseumland.wordpress.com/ - Jack chronicles his visits tomuseums, galleries and other cultural places and, like me, has a “particularsoft spot for the odder kinds of museums”The Exhibition List - http://www.theexhibitionlist.com/ - a collaborative blogwhere anyone can “share [their] experiences of museums, galleries andhistoric places with the world”