Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Post About, Um, Posting: Do You Need a Niche?

I seem to have inadvertently started an irregular regular series on blogging; you can read more here and here and here if you're having trouble sleeping.

I figure I can safely ramble here about the business of blogging since nobody reads these things during the Christmas-NYE doldrums, right? *taps microphone*

It's a dirty, dirty blogging secret of mine that, though I try to pay no heed to things like the numbers of comments I get on a post or followers I have, on some level I pay attention. After all, if I didn't care about having you unusually good-looking readers I'd just write in the half-dozen half-completed journals strewn about Pretty HQ.

To that end, I admit that I occasionally click on those obnoxious looking "HOW TO BRAND YOURSELF!!!" sort of posts about blogging, with all the nervousness of an adolescent boy looking up, uh, that stuff adolescent boys look up on the internet. With a similar sense of shame, I quickly skim the article and close out of my browser, upset with myself for giving in to the forces of the "blogger branding" thing - which never seems to emphasize quality of writing, strangely enough.

I've also made some cosmetic changes here - new layout, an ongoing attempt to improve my photography - though I like to think that's more motivated by my enjoying having a Pretty slice of the internet to call my own versus reader ensnarement enjoyment. (*Note the naughty absence of photos with this post, by the way; definitely a secret blog article no-no.*)

Here's the thing: most of us aren't here to become the next Dooce, though I'm guessing if someone came to us respectively with a book deal or QVC merchandise empire, we wouldn't turn our noses up at it either. Given that, if we want to put out something that we enjoy writing and (hopefully) others enjoy reading, does it help to categorize your writing as one thing or another, as so many articles out there encourage us to do?

The great irony is, of course, that the Big Damn Deal sort of bloggers are just that because they defy categorization. They manage to be compelling, relatable writers *and* photographers *and* able to dole both of those out in regular, easy-to-read doses (as they have done for years and years, well before most of us knew what a "blog" was) without resorting to a "THIS IS A MOMMY BLOG!" title or description. My blog roll - click over on that tab to the left for my super-duper favorite reads - is full of reads that similarly aren't tidily pegged.

Of course, some blogs lend themselves to a niche - my friend over at the uber-fabulous What Kate Wore is a terrific example of the type. I can click over there and reliably expect to read something about Princess Shinylocks, aka the Duchess of Do-No-Wrong, and what she's been seen in lately, and I enjoy that consistency there.

At the risk of being too Holden Caufield-y about it, this space is a different, non-nicheable one - though of course I'd devote it all to Princess Shinylocks if I could just figure out how to get that damned hair. Until then, you can click here and expect to see: Grace Kelly; Pretty shoes & bags; too many photos of my child; travel ideas; examples of how not to keep a home; Pretty paper; bad puns; books I like; books I hate; stories about that time I told a room of nuns about my sex life. You know, er, just as an example.

I stand for excellence in husbands, children, friendship, and accessories, usually in that order. How's that for a niche?

Until that qualifies as a blog category, I'm saying no to the niche - am I missing something by doing so? Or is pigeonholing your site, for lack of a better term, only relevant if you're trying to drum up sponsorships?

How about you - do you tailor your writing and your blog design for a particular audience, or are you more in my "Let the random, freak flag (does Hermes make these yet?) fly" camp?

12 comments:

loveyoumuches.com said...

One reason I love your blog is because you are so honest and your posts are so varied.

My blog definitely doesn't have a niche. I tend to just write about whatever random thing is on my mind. I tried creating categories, but a lot of things just wind up going in the "Life" category.

Keep up the good work :)

Belle on Heels said...

oh sweet lord, i basically just post whatever occurs to me at that very moment. i'm always a bit in awe of the Big Damn Bloggers and I am totally guilty of being sadface when some posts aren't very popular, but in the end, if you enjoy writing it and you know there are a few readers who enjoy...reading it, then who cares?

The Shabby Princess said...

I'm a random let me Hermes freak flag fly type o' blogger, as you know. One minute I'm talking show tunes and shopping, the next, beagles and boxers. For the most part, our blogs (unless other noted a la Shinylocks) are about our lives, and most of the time, our lives--our thoughts--are a mish mash of whatever. Which, I like.

Although, am with you, there's a solid change my blog would be nothing but Shinylocks if given the opportunity.

WHY WON'T MY HAIR DO THAT PERFECT SEMI CURL THAT IS SO EFFORTLESS YET YOU KNOW TOOK THREE HOURS?! WHYYYYYY?!?!

Danielle said...

I'm with you. I can't get my mind to focus on the same topic for longer than 2.5 seconds, so I certainly wouldn't be able to keep my narrations on one particular topic on my blog either.

Mrs. Lovely said...

I guess it depends on why you blog. I blog just for the heck of it so I don't have a niche- well maybe my niche is just Life. I think I blog because I don't talk to my girlfriends everyday for hours on end anymore and so the thoughts in my head have to go somewhere. My husband and his 10 guy friends have an email discussion that goes on every day, all day mostly on sports topics. I think if my girlfriends and I did this I wouldn't blog because I'd be telling them this stuff. But as it is we talk maybe once a week and schedule girls nights to get it all out there.

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

I think about this alot--I started off as kind of a mommy blog, mostly about keeping in touch with my sisters and telling the family what my kids were doing. But I really enjoy reading decor blogs, and I find that what I enjoy writing about most is decor, so over time I've slowly morphed into a 80% decor/20% my life blog. (Or thereabouts. I definitely write more about decor when I have time, but when life is crazy I write more about the kids and my life.)

I definitely write with audience in mind. (I am a former legal writing professor, I can't help it.) The readers I've picked up along the way have mostly come from other decor blogs, so I think that they may be mildly interested in my life, but are probably more interested in my decor posts. Secondly, most of my family reads my blog, and that definitely affects what I write. I can't really use my blog as a true diary. I've thought of starting a completely anonymous blog, but I'm not exactly super-stealthy and it probably would end in disaster.

Whitney said...

I let the freak flag fly. It stresses me out to even think about catering to one specific audience.

Wendy said...

Always adore your writing. Good question - I try not to niche myself, but I seem to get a lot more interest when I post about home decor, etc. Bad thing is, I just don't have time to do that much DIY right now, so I just post on the everyday stuff...which I think is interesting...

Toad said...

I'm so ashamed, I didn't know I needed a niche. I'm certain my reader would discern few niche writers on my list. I presumed I was writing to/ reading about friends.

What's a boy doing reading a mommy blog for anyway? Could it be because this one has great style, and a point of view.

Melissa at Tall Blonde said...

Random freak flag here :) Seriously, my space is solely for me and I really don't have a purpose besides having a space to write. Writing is therapeutic to me on so many levels.

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

I'd love to pretend I was organized enough to even think about creating a niche for my blog, but realistically it's really just a catch all for all those things I'd love to tell someone if I actually had someone to talk to during the day. I subscribe to a variety, but find that I really like the ones that are most like mine the best, obviously.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

My blog has changed so much over the years. I used to blog about dogs and my domestic disasters. Now? Mainly my kid and how I don't have a freaking clue what I'm doing. I don't think I fit into a niche. Unless there's a word vomit niche. I might fit into that one.

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