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Why you should choose a niche for your Second Life blog (or even carve a new one)

Nearly 87% of the 1,308 blogs listed on the Blogging Second Life website are about fashion. That’s probably not a huge surprise to most Second Life bloggers, but it’s still a huge number (1,136) of blogs writing about generally one thing.

As part of our project aimed at updating the site’s backend, I streamlined the sub-categories of these fashion blogs, the segments of which you can see in the pie chart here.

Sub-niches of Second Life Fashion Blogs

As I’m sure is also no surprise at all, 2/3rd of the fashion blogs listed are focused on women’s fashion. Sorry guys, only 8% serve your fashion community, unless you consider the unisex blogs, which bring this number up a little – but these tend to lean towards women’s fashion as well.

All of this got me thinking, with so many fashion blogs out there, how does a fashion blogger get noticed? So many fashion blogs often writing about many of the same things – how do you stand out?

I think the way to do it, is choosing a niche, and if a niche doesn’t yet exist, carving it out.

Why would you want to appeal to appeal to a smaller segment of blog readers? Isn’t the name of the game for many to get more views, not less?

Before I continue here, I’m going to make a few assumptions. I’m going to assume that you want some people to look at your blog posts. I’m going to further assume that if you have some people looking at your blog posts, you might want more people looking at your blog posts. Lastly, I’m assuming that if you were only blogging for yourself, then you’d be writing a personal, private journal, not a public blog. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll continue.

Most bloggers find choosing a niche scary. Most generally don’t want to shoot for a smaller, edge market, as is shown by the huge number of women’s fashion bloggers in Second Life. Nearly 9/10 of bloggers out there are shooting for the middle of the road – the biggest market for Second Life blogs – those interested in women’s fashion.

Maybe these bloggers haven’t considered the option to niche, or perhaps they don’t niche because they fear they won’t be able to attract enough viewers by blogging one niche segment in their chosen market. Maybe they have eclectic tastes, and might find it boring to focus on a niche area. The problem with this approach, is that it ignores that there are already plenty of competitors fighting over existing market positions within the core of the market.

By niching, you can expand your existing viewer base because you can “own” an identifiable market position. While this niche may seem on the fringe of the market, there is a much greater chance that you’ll be able to attract people who are interested in mainly that niche. As long as your niche is aligned with creators that are producing quality work in their niche, you’ll have a much better chance of succeeding in your niche, than you might in the overall blogger universe.

Here are some reasons you might want to focus:

You can still be first

Every month, bloggers flood Second Life fashion events. These events can be so busy, that it’s typical for many to not bother trying to visit these events until many days after the event opens.

Why? Because so many bloggers want to be the first to find the goodies, and blog them. No one wants to blog the same stuff that 100 other bloggers have already blogged.

In a niche, you can side-step the race to blog the more obvious items. While everyone chases the latest and greatest, you can run the other way and bring more obscure things to the light. Remember that scarcity is a virtue – this is one reason why people covet the rare over the common. Blog about unique finds, and you’ll get on more follow lists, get more engagement, and probably more referrals.

You’re more likely to keep blogging

The toughest time for a new blogger is at the start of their blogging journey. Many will give up after a few posts are received with little more than silence. For some, the silence doesn’t quench their first enthusiasm, and these stubborn souls continue to regularly post until they eventually get a following.

I’d suggest that any new blogger commit to regularly posting about a specific niche for 3-6 months before expecting to get anything but the feedback of their close friends. Of all the bloggers out there, the aspiring fashion blogger has the biggest hill to climb – it’s not only probably the most expensive category, but also the most competitive.

You’ll have a bigger impact

In most markets, there are very few market leaders. You know the Second Life bloggers I’m talking about. These are the bloggers that have the most followers, the most engagement on their posts, and the most pull with creators. These are the bloggers that lead the way, and might even set the agenda as to what to write about, and when. Some of these bloggers are highly talented, and all have been around a long time. Due to this mix of circumstance, it’s going to be very, very hard for most bloggers to have a blog about Second Life fashion that will be as big as theirs.

Again, niching will give you a much more plausible opportunity to make an impact. The big reason for this is because niche blogs save people time. For example, when I want to find something elegant to wear, I don’t want to trawl through all the blogs on my reading list in the hopes that someone just happened to post about something elegant to wear among all the other things they typically post. Instead, I will go to a blog that focuses on elegant fashions as a niche. In this way, I have way more chance of finding something I like from a set of good options, instead of hoping to find my needle in a haystack of blog posts.

You’ll have more power with creators

The relatively few long-term and popular Second Life content creators get inundated with notecards and messages from bloggers seeking to get on their blogger lists. For these content creators, it’s a buyer’s market. They can afford to ignore most bloggers, or make them jump through hoops like regular posting schedules, categorical exclusivity, or maintaining a minimum number of views or engagement tokens. They don’t do this because they’re evil by the way, they do this because they are human. Many of these content creators have their pick of who to go with, and among all the other things they have to do (like create), they’ll take the path of least resistance. Dealing with fewer, more popular bloggers cut the effort needed to work with bloggers.

By niching, you’ll naturally gravitate to lesser well-known, newer, and potentially more hungry content creators. These content creators will be over-the-moon to have you blog their creations. And, as long as you choose wisely, you have considerably more equal footing when it comes to negotiating your terms for blogging – whatever they might be.

You’re more likely to be able to defend your position and stay visible

Should your niching strategy prove successful, you’ll have a much smaller patch to defend against anyone writing about the stuff you now know a lot about. Sure, we all want to work together, but wouldn’t you prefer being the go-to-blog for your niche?

You’ll not only attract more dedicated and loyal supporters of your niche, you’ll draw more engagement from them, and you might even be approached by content creators that focus on your niche. Your followers will be less fickle, they will understand you, and will be less prone to churn if you happen to have a dry spell or do something else for a while.

Future bloggers who might want to write about what you write about might be less enthusiastic to enter your territory, because very few people want to be called just another me-too who writes about what so-and-so writes about.

You can organically grow your niche over time.

Some might argue that the biggest bloggers out there don’t niche, so why would niching work for you? Well, way back when most of these big bloggers got their blogs started, Second Life blogging was a very small pond. Just having a blog about Second Life was a niche in itself, proposing an entirely new way to relate with residents, stores and creators. Like in most areas of life, those who got in early, reaped the low hanging fruit.

One of the main reasons that the top Second Life bloggers are on top today, is because they’ve had the support of a loyal readership that essentially has done their marketing for them for years. These bloggers generate a lot of word of mouth and referral links, even from bloggers that fall outside of their niche.

If you niche, your strong and defined market position can help you build a blog in other segments over time, enabling you to grow beyond your current niche position. Niching will allow you to stay on track with what you post about, grow a reliable and loyal audience, expand your knowledge and connections with a defined and own-able space, and even, potentially, allow you to monetise your blog one day, as some big Second Life bloggers have.

Do I follow my own advice?

Yes, I do. First off, I don’t write about fashion. Obviously, if you love fashion, then I urge you to write about it. I like the practical aspects of fashion, how it looks on me, the buzz in finding something new, the compliments I might get, but I’m not, and will likely never be, a fashionista.

Without even doing the math as I did above, I guessed that about nine out of every ten Second Life blogs were about fashion – and thank goodness, how would I have the faintest idea about how to get dressed in the morning if it wasn’t for their advice?

My blog, however, isn’t one of those blogs. With my first post, I asked myself:

“What can I write about that someone else isn’t already writing about? What can I say that’s different? How can I give something that isn’t already there?”

Three years, and nearly 400 posts later, I think I’m starting to really settle into my niche.

I like to write long-form editorial posts about the social science aspects of Second Life. I like to put on different lenses to see the world from different perspectives. In one post, I might wear a psychological lens to understand how we think about things emotionally and intellectually. In others, I might put on anthropological glasses to explore why we might behave the way we do.

Because I write experientially (using my experiences to inspire my ideas and question thoughts and emotions openly), many of the things I write record my own development as a person in Second Life – intellectually and creatively.

In everything I write, I strive for interestingness. I write about things that engage me, things that excite me, things that hold my unfocused attention and my insatiable curiosity.

Has it worked? Well, in 2012, my first full of year blogging, I had 339 unique visitors and 10,809 views. The next year, 2013, I got 6,545 unique visitors to read my posts, and 14,837 views. In 2014, I got 13,040 uniques, and 26,555 views. So far this year, not even a third into it, I’m grateful to have received 4,960 unique visitors and 9,148 views.

Views and Visitors of www.canarybeck.com

I certainly don’t have the most popular blog out there. There are many, much bigger blogs. But I’m convinced that the reason I get the views I do, isn’t so much because I’m an amazing writer or a visionary photographer. Not writing about the most popular topic in Second Life (i.e fashion) doesn’t help my numbers much either. Instead, I think the reason my blog audience grows year after year is in large part because I’ve been a pretty steady publisher for over three years, and there are still very few other bloggers that write about the stuff I write about. I niched.

I hope that you too can find your niche. Sometimes it happens by design, and sometimes it happens organically. I can assure you that however you do it, you’ll become a stronger, better, and yes, even more popular blogger than you are today.

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30 Comments on “Why you should choose a niche for your Second Life blog (or even carve a new one)

    • Thanks Kate! Your blog is definitely in a niche category and is therefore on my “read first” list. I know that if I want to find information about art in Second Life – you’re one of my go-to blogs. That’s a great example of why niching works.

  1. I’ve been thinking the same thing. In my last post I stated that I seem to get more faves/likes and views when I post about decor. I love fashion and I love decor. It might be time to pick just one.

    • Yes, it’s good to choose. Be careful however when reading into likes and comments. As I wrote in my last post for this blog (https://slbloggersupport.com/2015/02/14/on-tokens-of-engagement-and-not-taking-things-personally/), sometimes this data point leads us astray. But, if you realy feel like writing about decor floats your boat, if it really is something that makes you feel you have something unique to contribute, then I urge you to go for it! I love to see bloggers focus on a niche category, and home & garden is a very fun place to be! There is so much going on in that space and it really deserves more good quality bloggers!

    • Thanks a lot Imogen. And what a great blog you have! I can see you’re in the 3% of bloggers that write about fashion role play, and wow do you every do an amazing job. Your pictures too, are excellent! This is yet another example of what I’m talking about, if I want to find the kinds of items you blog about, I now know to go to your blog to find them! Well done.

  2. Reblogged this on Canary Beck and commented:

    As part of my monthly post series for SL Blogger Support, here is my most recent post about why I think niching is better than being a generalist, when it comes to blogging. Of course, I blog about what seems to be all and sundry, but I assure you there is a method to my madness. If you’re interested in blogging, and what you might want to blog about, have a look at this post:

  3. Excellent support info!! I do like to find the “unusual” extra items myself when I am reviewing sets that seem to be highlights of current events so that my photo offers more than just the focal piece(s). And I have seen some of those items being blogged after I did, so it must have worked and hopefully brought Linden$ to those Designers, too! After all, we are reviewing for the Creators in SL in hopes to promote their business! 🙂

    • I just love it when I see bloggers sharing stuff that I’m not already seeing at the events. As you say, bloggers provide a fantastic marketing conduit for creators / designers, and I think that the smaller and newer content creators can really benefit from this exposure. As a content creator myself (immersive theatre and sims), I love it when I get bloggers sharing my location or events. I don’t have the marketing muscle that the big content creators have, so every mention helps!

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  5. https://theslnaturist.wordpress.com

    Our blog page is about the SL Naturist (i.e. Nudist) community. Not for everyone, I recognise that, but there’s a healthy readership of those who wish to keep up with events/sims etc within that niche lifestyle. Due to the nature of the blog, skin reviews (uncensored/pastied), genitalia reviews, beach accessories and so on occasionally come into our remit, and some of our blog posts will reflect on RL news involving skin, if I can put it like that, i.e. Kim ‘breaking the internet’, subsequently re-enacted within SL.

    Note: blog contains photos of unclad avatars, and scenes from RL naturist locations, so consider it to be NSFW and unsuitable for minors prior to clicking through.

    I believe that a welcome addition to the SL blogosphere would be an aggregator of SL lifestyle, home and garden, role-play, etc, blogs. Each and every one of us, I suspect, is always on the hunt for new, photogenic sims where we can frame the models featuring in our respective blogs.

    Ella.

    • Yep, I know your blog well and it’s most definitely niche! I’m intrigued by your idea of an aggregator of SL lifestyle. So, like a magazine of sorts, that brings for the best of the best blog posts over a given week? Kind of like: “This week in SL?” Interesting…

      • Something like that, Becky. ‘SL Style Daily Wire’ does one for many fashion type blogs, and I do use that a lot, 1. for locations and 2. I’ll get news of skins, accessories etc from it. http://slstyledailywire.blogspot.co.uk

        I feel that some sort of rolling list of non-fashion blogs would be equally interesting, and a blog that does a ‘coming up in SL’ listing series…well, that’s a successful niche blog waiting to happen, through my eyes.

      • I really like that idea. So much that I’m going to look around to see if anyone’s done it yet. As you say, a curated “digest” of blog posts that go beyond fashion sounds worth investigating…

      • http://advitamternam.blogspot.co.uk do a blog for ‘photogenic sims’, essentially. I know that I try to blog the photos with interesting backdrops, and I regard that blog as essential reading.

        I would imagine slstylewire doesn’t need an enormous amount of work either, just a case of checking that applicants adhere to certain criteria. After that it writes/scrolls itself.

        A tabbed blog divided into various headings could perform a similar function: role-play, home & garden, lifestyle, events…whatever. Part of the greater ‘SL Naturist’ plan was to have a similarly styled blog on ‘The Arts’, highlighting Music, RL Arts imported into SL, dance, poetry readings, poetry books imported into (and sold from within) SL, theatre, whatever.

        Unfortunately there’s only so many SL hours in the day, and this SL Arts blog (we have long had a blogsite -SLAP, Second Life Arts Production- sitting in ‘ghost’ form), planned to run parallel with SLN, has never materialised. 🙂

        Ella

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  7. An interesting piece, and niching-in is certainly what I recommend to other people who want to blog. One thing that occurred to me is that niching-in might be happening more often than you think because your data collection process is not equipped to notice it. The Blogger Support site asks people to categorize their blogs according to their topic, but not their audience. My own blog, Playing with the Big Boys (slrustyredfield.blogspot.ca), contains material about fashion, photography, events, interviews, and even the occasional philosophical piece — all addressed to gay male Residents of Second Life. I had no way of identifying that focus and had to settle for “Personal Journal”. You’d probably call me a generalist … but I’ve been niched-in from my very first post, just not in a way that your system seems equipped to recognize.
    So you may want to mention to your readers that it’s possible to gain a loyal and constant readership, and decent traffic numbers, simply by deciding exactly to whom you’re talking and sticking to it, rather than — or as well as — limiting what you’re talking about to a small area.

    • The data is definitely “best fit”, in the sense that the categories could be more numerous and discrete. Your blog, if categorised as “personal journal” would in fact be in the 13% of blogs not included in the above pie graph (fashion blogs with a sub-genre as indicated by the chart segments). So, I actually would consider yours a niche blog, not a generalist.

      Also, if you’d read to the end of the post, you will see that I have included my own blog in the 13% (non-fashion), and therefore niche on arrival, and that I indeed claim just what you say in your comment about my own and other blogs like it: “that it’s possible to gain a loyal and constant readership, and decent traffic numbers, simply by deciding exactly to whom you’re talking and sticking to it, rather than — or as well as — limiting what you’re talking about to a small area.”

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  10. Becky, your post here – and this entirety of this awesome site – has been instrumental in inspiring me to start my own SL blog, and I really credit you with pointing out how beneficial (and exciting) it can be to carve out a niche of your own. There’s so much room for diversity and individual expression in Second Life blogging, and I’ve been thrilled to discover bloggers and Flickr photographers who go off the beaten path with their creativity and unique voice. Thanks to you and to all the contributors here at SL Blogger Support for all that you do! ♥

    • Hey 🙂 This was one of the first messages I read this morning and what a great start to my day 🙂 I had a very quick look at your blog and it looks very unique and interesting! I’ll spend a little time later (over my first cuppa coffee) and read more. Thank you very much for your kind words, I’m glad that you’ve stepped into the world of blogging in this way – I think you’ll really enjoy it!

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