On Blogging – Blog Niches & Identity Crises

by Valerie on August 6, 2009 · 8 comments

You may remember the post I wrote a few weeks ago on my thoughts on blogging. Kiki of Yogademia asked me the following question, and I have been mulling it since:

Our blogging concepts are always a work in progress, evolving as our blogs evolve, but I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on that. Besides your tips #7, 8, and 9, what other ideas do you have on solidifying one’s blogging concept? Is the ideal more niche, or broader than that?

{7, 8, 9 were the following pieces of advice “Your blogging should reflect your interests,” “Pick a broader blog topic at first and experiment,” and “It’s ok to make changes on your blog.”}

I think about niche versus broader a lot – especially now because my blogging feels all over the place and too broad these days. On one hand I am posting pearls of wisdom, on the other I am telling you about my experience with an elimination diet to isolate food allergies. I barely post about restaurant meals anymore since I, well, don’t go out that much {working with food allergy regimens will do that}. And I miss trying new desserts and putting fun pictures on the blog.

Simply put, my blog is having an identity crisis. I feel like my sort-of-niche (if you could even call it that) of fun little things to do and yummy things to eat while living in a big city is disappearing.
I worry about having blog posts that don’t speak at all to some of your readers, but really resonate with others {I worry about this dissonance a lot when writing about my elimination diet}
Fortunately, this is identity crisis #4 in 2+ years of blogging by the way. So this is not totally new to me. This post is getting unbearably long, so let’s just recap with a quick summary:

Identity Crisis #1 – I get sick of writing about green beauty so I expand my beauty blogging focus and give myself license to write about whatever I want.

Identity Crisis #2 – Writing about whatever I want sort of helps, but the name of the blog still makes me feel stuck in beauty products. About the same time I get very very sick of beauty products, green, not green, beauty-related things. All of it. That’s when I change the blog name completely.

Identity Crisis #3 – I am just starting to feel comfortable in my new blog niche when I move from New York to Washington, DC – and many of the blogging ideas I wanted to explore were more New York based. Worse, I move so quickly and have so much NYC content squirrelled away that I am posting about NYC for weeks and weeks after I move. Still, I don’t shut down the blog {though I am tempted}.

Identity Crisis #4 – my sort-of-niche is disappearing because of life, what now?

Moments like this I am thankful I have my super amazing online writing group and wish they had been around for crises 1-3.

And then I am really thankful for blogger-extraordinaire Stephanie Quilao. Stephanie used used to write Back in Skinny Jeans and now writes Noshtopia and the Everyday Blogger and is a fabulous fabulous resource for bloggers.

Stephanie is like the big sister of blogging for me – reading her various blogs has had a significant impact on my growth as a blogger. In fact, she sounds like the older sister I always wanted to have – wise and has been through so much and can impart wisdom. Whenever I get stuck, I invariably start reading through her archives. Currently, I am working with this concept, which was the title of a fairly recent post on Everyday Blogger: Sometimes Life is Like One Big Blog Post – and that captures it perfectly. So for a few months, I am going to go with that – at the end of the day, I blog because I want to write, every day, for pleasure. Blogging gives me that accountability and all of you, a wonderful supportive audience. Eventually, I suspect I will find a new niche, but I am not going to stress myself out trying to find it just this minute.

Ok, so, great, I found some sort of answer for my predicament, for now at least, but what about you, Kiki and all of my other dear readers.

Here is one thing, as I am on my 4th blogging identity crisis, that I am unequivocally sure of: niche is only the ideal if you don’t feel constrained. I had a very niche topic {green beauty} and I got very sick of it. For a long while, I thought it was because I picked the wrong-for-me niche topic but I suspect it’s not. Why? Because when I started writing CGL, I thought I would turn it into more of a food blog, but I got sick of that niche as well. And that’s one broad niche.

I specifically did not pick a food-specific blog name when I went from Beauty Musings to City Girl Lifestyle because I had a feeling that might happen, and I wanted to find a blog name that gave me a lot of latitude to find my niche. {Update – in 2010 I changed my blog name again to City|Life|Eats}

Niche, however, has many benefits – for one, it tends to attract an audience interested in the topic. You don’t run the risk of dissonance, namely the problem where some of your posts speak to only some of your audience. Niche is also a comfort zone for your writing.

I have laid out my biases above, so you likely know where my answer is going to go: write within a niche, but pick a blog title and broad theme that allows recalibrating of your niche. Because life can get in the way of blogging {imagine if I had a blog called City Indulgences and Desserts, as I had considered at one point?} and you don’t want that. And the ideal is what keeps you writing and blogging and happy to be doing so.

I promise to do a “How to Pick Your Niche?” post soon – as I was writing this post, I had several questions and ideas that may be useful in picking a niche.

Image credit cheezburger. {Thank you Lauren of Everyday Revelry for reminding me lolcats are great for any occasion}

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren August 6, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Thanks for posting this. As you know, I've been struggling with it too. I thought about doing a weight loss blog, or a whole living blog or a yoga blog. Every time I try to think of content for one of those things I find myself wondering how on earth I could write about those things only. It's frustrating!


2 Kiki August 6, 2009 at 8:02 pm

This is so insightful: "niche is only the ideal if you don't feel constrained." That is so true – whatever niche you choose, you should feel like you have all the freedom of content in the world.

But isn't it just as important to stretch your niche to make your own mark on it?


3 Melita August 6, 2009 at 8:12 pm

excellent post chocked full of great information. i agree that it is important to grow with your blog and through your blog.


4 Melita August 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm

oh, forgot to mention – lolcats are awesome. the one you used is hilarious. :)


5 Carolyn August 6, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Hmm I think my blog's niche is… "Carolyn's life"? HAHA. I guess I'm lucky I have some loyal readers!!


6 Jen of A2eatwrite August 7, 2009 at 12:26 am

You know what? I've had a similar crisis from the beginning – now I'm more focused on food given my new writing gig, but I'm actually working towards bringing the blog back to its more eclectic beginnings.

I'll be interested to hear what you finally come up with. I do know that when you have a couple of different foci, you tend to have some readers who only come in for one thing or another, but they still all become your "friends" in their own ways.


7 bess August 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm

i think in life, we have to have perpetual identity crisis-ese (sm?) because our purpose here on earth is not to find out who we are and stay that way, but to expand our concept of self, letting go of what we once were in order to embrace the new that is forming out of what we experienced before. i think in our society, sameness and solidity were once perceived as highly desirable traits because it was believed it served the whole, but people grow old, get sick, lose their joie de vivre very quickly that way. self differentiation is the thing all of our arts and media are striving to get a grip on. it's a natural evolution of the human species, just as we learned to survive in so many other ways, we are learning transformation and adaptation to our own ever changing viewpoints of what matters to us is the key to a long happy healthy FUN life.
the purpose is the ride, you know what i mean? and so, not knowing who you are for a period and rediscovering yourself is how the wheels turn and the motion happens. to have wheels in motion, not knowing must be for a little while… then you suddenly know and you are riding that awesome feeling for awhile…till it slows down and you do it all over again. (just my take on what i see happening in so many of us.)
vive la identity crisis…may you enjoy every last drop of it.


8 renaissancetrophywife August 10, 2009 at 1:33 am

Great post! I've been going through somewhat of a life re-evaluation and therefore may revamp the blog as well… this is super timely. I'm avidly catching up on your older posts and will be back soon!


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