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.
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.
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.