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8 Tips for Rocking a Crowded Blog Niche

Posted By Lara Kulpa 18th of January 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Deb Ng is a freelance writer, professional blogger, social media consultant and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs. Follow Deb on Twitter @debng.

When I began my freelance writing blog almost five years ago, there weren’t many others in my niche. As web writing and blogging became more popular and more writers began using blogs as a marketing tool, the field became more crowded. That’s not a bad thing, there are many wonderful freelance writing bloggers in the space. However, five years ago, it didn’t take a full time effort to stay at the top of this niche. In 2010, I’m working hard every day to continue to bring in readers and provide stimulating discussions for my community.

Make no mistake. There are darn good bloggers in my genre. I’m not worried that the folks in my community will read them, because I feel they should. My worry is that my readers won’t want to return to me afterwards. Therefore it’s a daily challenge for me to keep things interesting and keep them coming back for more.

How do I do it?

1. I ask Questions

I reach out to my community by asking questions. I want to know why they visit my blogs. I want to know what I’m doing right, and what I’m doing wrong. I want to know which areas of our niche are the most confusing and which topics we need to lay to rest. My blog is my business and any business owner must ask questions to be a success.

2. I monitor Community Discussions

What are writers talking about in the forums or on Twitter? I take some time every day to do some research around the social networks and writing forums. Having discussions with my fellow freelancers offers inspiration. It also allows me to see trends, learn about new concerns, see who is hiring, and, in general, keep my finger on the pulse of the community. I never run out of things I like to talk about. The challenge is making sure it’s stuff everyone else is interested in as well.

3. I don’t look at other Bloggers as Competition

There are so many freelance writing bloggers but I don’t consider them competition. Instead, I treat them as colleagues and people to with whom to bounce ideas around. I visit their communities and participate in the discussions and invite them to do the same. I direct my community to interesting topics and debates and encourage them to get involved. The way I see it, there’s room for anyone. No one has to be married to one particular blogger. We should all visit as many as we like and work together to provide the best information possible. There’s nothing wrong with cross pollination.

4. I monitor the response to my blog posts – and other bloggers’ posts

What makes one blog post receive one hundred comments and lots of link love, while others will slip by with nary a mention? To find out I monitor the response to my discussion topics, and also, the topics up for discussion on other blogs. If I see a blog post with hundreds of comments, I’ll explore why. Perhaps this is something I can expand upon or discuss further? How would my community respond to a counter discussion?

5. I Commiserate

I don’t only share tips and Ideas, I also commiserate. I know what it’s like to work at home all by my lonesome. I know what it’s like to receive rejection as a writer or to have to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. I let my community know I’ve been there too, preferably with humor. They respond well after learning I’m a regular person and not a guru.

6. I don’t claim to be an expert

When describing myself, I don’t use words like “expert,” “guru,” “rockstar,” or “extraordinaire,” because I’m not. I’m a freelance writer who likes to talk about my methods for success. Instead of pontificating, I share. I learn from my community and they learn from me. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

7.I keep close Eye on Stats

I analyze my stats every single day and take advantage of traffic boosters. If a certain piece does well, I’ll turn it into a series. If a certain day or time gets the most traffic, I’ll post my best work then. If I’m noticing trends with keywords, I’ll write around these topics. I’ll also note which content receives a poor response and what went viral. It’s important for any blogger to monitor trends, especially if that blogger wants to stay at the top.

8. I Consider all Feedback

I always consider feedback to be an opportunity, whether it’s positive or negative. Every single email, Tweet or comment directed my way is read and considered. Feedback is the most important gift I can receive from my community, even if they don’t like something I said. Without my community, my blog network wouldn,t be a success. Listening to them—and acting on their concerns — is the least I can do.

Certain blog niches are saturated. Every day a new and terrific blog launches and new blog stars are made. How does an old schooler like me stay on top of the game? By listening, observing, sharing and showing appreciation to my community.

What’s your niche – and what sets you apart from the rest?

Comments
  1. Great article. I think that getting your blog noticed in a crowded niche is something that a lot of bloggers (myself included) struggle with, but I suppose it just comes down to knowing what your readers want and giving it to them! :D

  2. Yes, nice tips. Tips 1 (ask questions), 3 (don’t look other bloggers as competition) and 6 (don’t claim to be an expert) are the more valuable ones in my opinion.

    About checking stats, you have to be careful so you don’t get obsessed with that ;)

  3. Number 3 is very important for new bloggers.

    You need to network with others in your group. Its easy to fall into a trap of constantly monitoring competition. Readers are typically going to read their stuff and buy their stuff too, so why not do a joint project and make it a win-win.

  4. Totally agree with your tips, Darren. #6 is most important i think.

  5. Nice list of tips on how to achieve success in a saturated niche. Most topics or niches on the Internet are saturated these days and it is understandable for someone to go into a niche with “cut throat competition”. I would like to add one more and that is to be consistent with your blogging routine and plans.

    So many bloggers give up on blogging without putting in enough effort. A lot of them will claim that they have done all of the tips that you have listed above but they just didn’t do them for long enough before giving up. In fact, a blogger who is able to crank out quality content on a consistent basis will be able to overtake most competitors in a niche easily.

    Good post. :)

  6. This is a nice article since I”m in a crowded niche (fitness). Keeping an eye on stats has been very helpful for me.

  7. Agree on every point here. I’ve learnt just this month how important point #7 is to the success of any blog. You’ll notice I have focused on the one subject that gets me more traffic than anything else: Camera straps. I figure – when you’re onto a good thing, ride it for all it’s worth!

  8. I empathize with new entrants in the Internet marketing space having recently been one myself. They look to people like you to offer good solid advice. In a crowded niche, that can be a daunting task.

    Monitoring the buzz in social media, blogs, forums etc. is a great way to keep up with this incredibly fast changing environment.

  9. I believe blogging on a crowded niche is not that much bad as far as the demand for information is high in the market. That’s business de facto, “high demand pulls high supply”.

    But to survey & to stand out of the crowded niche, we need a lot more especially “quality” & “uniqueness” in our blog. Its a good idea to listen & observe your niche by staying up-to-date.

    I am facing more crowd on the “make money” niche, lets see how i am growing….

    Deb, i mostly don’t agree that word “saturated niche” because Internet is dynamic & it always needs fresh information !

    Thanks,
    Mr. Ven

  10. This is an absolutely fantastic post Deb.

    I think many of us neglect to ask questions, especially in an over crowded blogging niche where beating the competition naturally becomes more of an objective than focusing on your readers. This ironically, disconnects us from what our audience really wants to read and is absolutely detrimental.

    Point 8 is also something I find works wonders. Many people become defensive when confronted with negative feedback and really fail to make the most of it. Any negative can be turned into a positive!

  11. mary e. ulrich says: 01/18/2010 at 12:26 am

    Lots of good ideas.

    ie. Who would think I would be reading this at 8AM on a Sunday morning?

    I came here because I saw your Tweet.

    You do lead by example–Social media works.

  12. Great stuff, Deb! I especially agree with you on not seeing other bloggers as competition. When people are interested in a topic, they subscribe to many blogs on that same topic. Many of Darren’s readers would appreciate my blog or Copyblogger or Chris Garrett, and anybody who reads my blog should also be reading Darren’s. Nobody’s going to subscribe to one blog and then unsubscribe from another.

    Another way to work a crowded niche is to find an angle within that niche that you can own. For example, I differentiate in the blogging advice niche by focusing on blog marketing for business owners instead of problogging in the usual sense.

    Freelancing is rich with sub-niches. You could break it down by field, such as graphic designers or copywriters. You could break it down by role, such as freelance project management or freelancer bookkeeping. Anyone can find a way to go deeper.

  13. This is a really great post. The information here is relevant and useful for everyone who is considering starting a blog to people who’ve been blogging since 94.

    One thing you hint at throughout your post is that you are constantly learning and evolving with your audience and your industry… I feel this is the most important aspect of success in anything.

  14. I’m a newbie blogger whose target audience is microbusiness owners. I love to write and read all kinds of blogs (my feed list is about to overflow onto my desk!). Freelance Writing Jobs is one of my favs because you always offer sound advice and interesting topics, just as you did in this piece. Thanks!

  15. Really great tips!

    When I first started my blog (about vegetable gardening) I did not realize how many other blogs were in my niche. I actually had a difficult time finding similar blogs. Then after spending some time actually researching my niche, I found out that they were a gazillion of them.

    Trying to separate myself from the pack (but also be a part of the pack) is difficult, and something I try to do with each post.

    I find monitoring community discussions to be a challenge as well, just because of the time factor. Finding the time to maintain the blog, write new posts, keep up with social media outlets, answer reader questions via email, post on a few message boards (yada, yada) can be overwhelming and draining. I am not a full time blogger, so I am up until 2 am sometimes trying to stay on top of it all.

    By the way, you forgot the word “ninja” in number 6. I stole that word from Jordan Cooper from NotAProBlog.com ;)

  16. Silly Tee, a “ninja” is just someone that happens to be everywhere, laying wait lurking in the shadows at times or springing to bold action at other times. It has nothing to do with what you know or claim to know.

    I’ve leave that to the super awesome rockstar guru experts! :-)

  17. I am new to blogging, but one of the things I love so far is the sense of community and working toward common goals that you find in the blogosphere. I have noticed this both among bloggers in the same niche, and among the commenters that read our blogs.

    I ‘m not competitive by nature, so I love the collaborate feeling I get from other bloggers and from the readers. Thanks for the great post!

  18. great points. Although keeping a close eye on stats can be quite depressing. But that me commiserating, I understand how frustrating it can be dispite the effort and the time invested.

  19. Cool. Very nice tips.

  20. There are sites and blog’s in my area that I follow are just being a great reference for me, but your site is a kind of manual, I might say that risking a dictionary to the path of success. You give us a lot of times things chewed, even those that you took a long time to achieve.

    Your site is very valuable, even here in Brazil. Very Obigado and keep up the good work.

    Hugs

  21. You surely a great writer because i fell belive in you when read this article. You write it great.

    Anyway, It seems you really do hard work — especially for research — which is a must do if blogger want in top of blogosphere.

  22. Thanks for the feedback, all.

    @Kevin – Your stats are one of the most important tools in any blogger’s arsenal. I use a combination of Performancing Metrics and Google Analytics.

    @Justin – All feedback is good feedback. I sort of roll with the theory that there are no haters, only opportunities. We can’t take it personally when folks don’t agree with us or not like what we do.

    @Michael – As a fan of you and your blog, your comments mean so much. Totally agree with you on the angle issue. In fact, that’s why I grew my blog into a network with niches within the niche. It’s sort of a one stop freelance writing shopping mall now.

    @Tee – I imagine gardening to be a very crowded niche – just as food blogging is (I have a food blog too). I know someone who found success as a tomato blogger, is there an area of vegetable gardening you can totally exploit?

    @2cents – The community vibe is why I love blogging so much.

  23. Great post.

    What I try to do is be honest, but it doesn’t work out always. I do want to earn a little bit of money by my blog, but I don’t think my readers will like it if I put it in that way.

    Standing out is pretty hard, I try to keep delevering quality content and I hope my readers see that.

  24. These are all wonderful tips for those of us with blogs in a crowded niche. I have one blog in particular that’s in a very crowded niche – mommy blogging.

    It’s relatively new, but I’ve really tried to differentiate myself by just being myself and focusing on topics I’m passionate about. It seems to be working.

    I agree that you can’t look at other blogs as competition. There is a great community within the mommy blogging niche…

    And I’m glad to hear that there is within the freelance writing niche as well. I started freelance writing after becoming a mom and deciding to stay home with my daughter, and I was actually thinking about joining that community myself :-)

  25. Thanks for the tips and sharing what has worked for you Deb.

    I have a social media tutorials blog that also does a lot with video tech but I’m not ready to call it a “video only” blog yet.

    What are some of the considerations between staying in the more crowded field vs. zooming in further on a niche? [email protected]

  26. Deb –

    Great article. I am in the genealogy niche, which is rather crowded these days. But the genealogy blogging (or geneablogging as us genealogists call it) has a community feel to it. It’s all about what you can share with the community and how the community can better your research.

  27. Great Article Deb!

    I really like point number 3. The market space is too crowed it is not worth worrying about competition. Instead of looking at competition as a threat, view it as an opportunity.

    Great article
    Aaron

  28. To be honest, I sometimes bookmark a blog just because the design is cool or eye catching.

  29. I noticed that 4 of the 8 points are about finding out what is needed and wanted so that you can deliver that.

    I fail when I don’t do exactly that.

    Sheila

  30. I love the article.

    I really like the fact that you are so honest, you do not claim to be a guru or expert in the field, yet a freelance writer. I take the same approach with my blog and encourage visitors to leave comments especially if they have extra information about a particular topic that will be useful to other readers.

    I agree with you on point 8. It is important to look at all feedback, good and bad. More people should do this, accept negative feedback and respond to it.

    I will continue to read your posts, great tips!!

  31. Fantastic post Deb & so important in today’s blogosphere where blogs seem to be exploding! I’m just now trying to figure out how to do this.

    Both Travel and Lifestyle design have become super saturated in the last year and they are our key niches. Lots of cool peeps!

    We started both blogging and our open ended world tour as a family in 2006. Being the only family doing an open ended world trip, blogging and doing it on just 25K a year is what has set us apart…our story, quality content & social media helped.

    Also our first Youtube went viral (over a million) and National Geographic gave us a great plug just a few months into our trip.

    Those were lucky accidents as was our being included in 4HWW as a case study and being a featured interview in the NYT’s. I haven’t yet had time to even write 1 press release!

    SEO and stats are all Greek to me & we’re too busy traveling to add learning that plus our budget is too low to pay someone to do it. Am I the only non-geek blogger whose mind goes numb trying to decipher this stuff? ;)

    I know you are so right about watching the stats, so I think it’s time to learn more this year.

    The first few years we had a glitch that did not allow any comments, so I’m very grateful to have them, but I have noticed that they also take up a lot more of my time. I can’t imagine getting a hundred or more comments while we are on the move as often we enjoy going unplugged.

    This year I hope to discover how to continue to grow in our very trendy, competitive niche while also allowing more freedom! I’m finishing a book that will be published this year so must add that to the constantly traveling juggle. Is that an unrealistic dream?

  32. Excellent post, Deb. Thank you.

    I am in the ‘make money online’ niche; as crowded a niche as one can get, and find it’s really not about being better than someone else but about being myself and giving the best of me that brings readers back to my blog.

    I find tip #3 one we should all follow, that of not looking at other bloggers as competition. Doing so only wastes our time in fruitless pursuits and affects our work/blog as we end up more concerned with what someone else is doing than with what our readers want.

  33. Deb,

    This was a great post. I think it is so important to follow all the tips that you mentioned. I also think it is really important to be yourself and just let your blog shine through. When I first started blogging I struggled with my blogging voice. I wasn’t sure if I should be professional, silly, serious, etc.. But instead of over thinking I decided to just go with it, not to think so much, and just write. Whatever I am feeling that is what I write about. And I have found it to work for me. I really love it. Yes most blogging are crowded but the ones that stick out to me are unique and real. And I think you can tell that the first time you read a blog. Thanks for this great post!

  34. I appreciate the concise advice. I’m a new blogger in a hugely crowded niche (skin care). As a dermatologist I have a unique take on skin care, but thus far, my blog is invisible. Your points 1 and 2 (asking questions and monitoring community discussion) are a good next steps for me. Thanks

  35. I think it’s interesting that every commenter here thinks their niche is crowded. Yet they are writing on very diverse topics from the “making money on line” to “travel” to “food” to “skin care! The reality is that these days there are a lot of bloggers out there, in every field. The tips above are useful for finding out who is coming to your post, and producing more of what they want to follow, so that your blog becomes a true niche, even though your specific genre may be crowded. Thanks for posting.

  36. @ Helly… You’re comment is right on.

    The reality is; right now, only 57% of the US population has access to the Internet while the average US household has 2 1/2 televisions… That’s not counting the rest of the world…

    Right now; blogging, websites, social media and everything else that has anything to do with the Internet are still in their infancy… There’s a lot of room for growth in every topic… To dominate that topic, it’s just about doing it and growing with the industry.

    The television was invented in 1926… the first color broadcast happened in 1951… In comparison, we’re still about 10 years behind the the first color broadcast…

    If you are consistent; in 10 years from now there’s no way your blog won’t be dominating your niche…

  37. Definitely interesting tips that should be taken into mind. Although they don’t really apply to me, as my niche (action/adventure writing tips and action/adventure book reviews) has no direct competition. This is very rare, though, and almost everyone struggles with this a lot. I do not agree, however, with your tip that we should not portray ourselves with experts. Since I consider myself to be an expert, I talk of myself as such, without directly saying the words that you put. I write confidentially and do believe that I am better at writing than my readers, but I don’t consider myself an expert on book reviews, as there are so many books, and see level with my readers on that. I think that in some niches it’s important to show that you are the expert (if you’re teaching), or not many people will listen to you. This should be done subtly, though. In general, great tips!

  38. Enjoyed your post, Deb, and finding your site. I like your first and last points – asking questions and taking all feedback – indicates an open-mindedness is key to success. I am a sponge for info on blogging, because I see it as a vehicle for sharing my experience. I want to help those who are working their way out of self-hatred and toward self-love. It’s a necessary step to really pursuing one’s passion and dreams. I’m loving the process and will take your suggestions to heart. Thank you!

  39. This was a great post. I think it is so important to follow all the tips that you mentioned. I also think number 6 is really important in this moment where are many many “Guru” & Co. on internet.

  40. Nice post. Keeping a close eye on stats is an important one.

  41. Another amazing post that I related to. I’ve been around the block for a long time now as a humour/daily life blogger and love the friendships and connections I’ve made along the way.

    I agree with the group that blogging shouldn’t be about competition, but more about support. The problem I run into is that I also have a full time job so I can’t put the same kind of time into reading and commenting on blogs as some of my fellow niche bloggers and therefore don’t bring the same volume of readers over to me. On the flip side, though, my core readers are faithful and amazing and I ADORE every last one of them.

    I’ve given up trying to be more, and am instead focussing on being the best blgger I can be for the people who really enjoy what I’m all about.

    Thanks for a great post!

  42. I completely agree with treating others in your niche as colleagues. I have gotten some excellent advice from others in the video game and technology niche area and it’s been very helpful to my website. Anyone that thinks of other bloggers as an enemy is destine to fail. You need friends in the blogging community, you need feedback and ideas from other people doing the same thing you are doing.

  43. Wow! I see real emotion from this post. I mean, it shows your side as a real person and no only like the master of money tips blogging. Is always good to see this kind of post because every blogger needs this positive motivation.

    But, be a famous blogger is a “sword of doble edge,” because it pushs you to give the best posts that you can every moment, and that is not easy.

    But your audience is very loyal, don’t worry. WE can learn something valuable from you everyday.

    HANIDA (Have a nice day)!!!

  44. I’m agree with you, Darren, especially with the point 1 (ask questions), and 7(I keep close Eye on Stats), in my view, are the more valuable.

  45. My favorite out of all the tips you offered here is not viewing other bloggers as competition. I view all bloggers as potential partners and people to collaborate on projects with. One thing I l’ve learned from many other bloggers is that it is all about providing a community around your efforts.

  46. This is a great list. I’ll try it for my business.Thanks for sharing .

  47. Well i am doing that at the moment…lets see if I have better luck!

  48. When I started reading this I thought to myself, ho hum another list of banal tips everybody’s seen before

    BUT

    when my hit “COMMISERATE” I realized this post had something more to offer.

    I really liked all the points you made about showing empathy. Internalize the understanding that the web is a community, reach out to people, befriend folk and care about them. Do it well, often, and with your heart, and the world is your oyster.

    Cheers,
    Mike
    @treepodia
    http://blog.treepodia.com

  49. These are very nice and tactical tips; thank you very much for sharing.

    Thanks.

  50. Very good points, and particularly regarding monitoring comments and discussions. As a subscriber to Deb’s blog for nearly a year, and having posted at least half a dozen comments without any acknowledgment or return comment, I am looking forward to perhaps some changes there…

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