Finding Your Niche When You Blog About Yourself/ June 20, 2016
How do you create valuable, readable content when the central idea of your website is to blog about yourself?
We all know that focusing on a single, specialized topic is vital for your blog’s success.
But can that single topic be, generally, you?
Focusing on the right topic is challenging for marketers, authors, real estate professionals, and pretty much every entrepreneur who’s building a brand around their name.
Clearly, it can be done…
But if you’re going to blog about yourself, you’re going to need a few smart strategies:
How To Correctly Blog About Yourself
Whether you’re just starting your blog, or you’re trying to rework your website so that it can finally start making money, it’s time to answer these 3 questions:
- Who’s your audience?
- What’s your product?
- What’s your brand?
They’re simple questions…
But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to answer.
Starting any business is a messy process, and blogging for profit is no exception to that rule.
To run a successful blog, you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy thinking about the answers to those 3 questions, and the answers will probably change over time.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Your Audience and Your Product
We’re tackling these 2 together because there are 2 ways to handle them:
Either you know your audience and you’re developing some kind of product to solve a problem for them…
Or you have a product already and you need to do market research to find out who the audience is.
The order isn’t important.
What matters is that you have a firm grasp on both answers.
Where your audience and your product intersect will largely determine your marketing strategy.
Of course, other factors come into play, and your marketing strategy (and everything else) should be consistent with your brand identity, but at its core, your marketing is a matter of connecting you product with the right audience.
But what if you don’t have a product?
You don’t have to sell physical products or turn your blog into an online store in order to make money.
However, your monetization strategy should NOT rely solely on dependent income streams like ad space, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts. For more on smart monetization strategies, here’s a full post.
Basically, here’s the deal:
Your product can be intangible.
It can be a community, a subscription, or a service…
Or it can be tee shirts and stickers.
But thinking you can run a successful business without some kind of “product” is pure insanity. Yes, this is the information age, but even information is a product.
Free information, the value of your blog, is what brings people back to see your marketing message again.
If you’re still thinking you’re going to develop a full time income selling ad space and sending out Amazon affiliate links…good luck with your hobby blog.
You might pull it off.
But do you really want to make a miniscule percentage of someone else’s profits by selling them your audience?
That’s not how business owners think.
Your Promise and Your Brand
Branding is a broad topic, and there’s a lot of confusion over what a brand actually is.
Think about this:
In literal terms, a brand is a that burned-in mark that gets put on cattle in old Western movies.
The reason farmers used to brand their livestock (they usually tag them now, FYI) is so that those cattle could be identified as belonging to a specific cattleman (AKA cowboy) while it roamed free on the range.
In modern business, a brand is kind of the same thing.
It’s an identifying characteristic.
When you see certain names and logos on a product, you instantly know something about where it came from, who it was created for, and what kind of problem it should solve.
Good branding conveys a specific message – and when you blog about yourself, your name is your brand.
So what message does your name convey?
That’s where your promise comes in.
Humans are complex.
We have our own unique sets of likes and dislikes, habits, beliefs, and mannerisms.
If you were to download a person’s personality, your computer probably wouldn’t have the storage space to contain it.
So don’t expect to pack your entire personality into your brand.
By determining your promise – the reason you started blogging in the first place – you’re a lot closer to developing a brand.
Your overall promise, your mission statement, should be at the core of your brand.
And that means that you are not at the core of your brand, even though your name is on it.
Branding takes time to learn and develop, so if your head is spinning right now trying to figure it out, focus first on your mission. For the rest of this post, when we refer to your brand, substitute that promise, and you’ll have time to refine further later.
What To Do With Your Answers
Your life is, hopefully, broad and complex.
You have passions, interests, and pet peeves.
You have talents, and you have skills.
Out of all the little bits and pieces that make you a unique, interesting person, which are the most relevant and interesting to your audience?
From those areas that have the most promise, which ones also relate to your brand and your product?
The place where your audience, products, and brand overlap is the sweet spot for blogging.
Yes, you’re blogging about you, but you’re not blogging about all of you.
We’ll talk more about how to correctly use the rest of your personality shortly, but for now, let’s take an example.
Imagine You’re a Fiction Author
Most authors and writers choose to start blogs with their name, since that’s what appears on the cover of all their books.
It makes sense.
An author’s name is his/her brand, too.
In this example, let’s say you’re an author of science fiction. Your stories are packed with adventure, aliens, and threats to humanity.
(We’re also going to assume that you’re a good author. Just saying.)
You know that your readers tend to be teenagers and young adults. They’re a little nerdy, mostly male, and they especially like to imagine advanced technology and space travel.
Your products are, of course, books.
And your brand is centered around the core ideals in your books – triumph over adversity, embracing new technologies, and being open to new adventures.
Where’s the overlap?
Technology is the most obvious.
A smart blog for you in this situation would focus on emerging technologies that mirror science fiction, or perhaps even fictional technologies in books (both yours and other people’s) that might eventually be developed in reality.
Another possibility is the concept of adventure.
Your audience is excited about space travel, your books talk about space travel, and your brand involves adventure like space travel…
So you can also blog about real adventures.
Write about real astronauts, or people doing really cool adventurous things.
You could even blog about how your real-life adventures inspired certain things within your books.
Go ahead and try stuff. You can always change directions later if your approach isn’t working.
Not Every Post Is About You
You probably noticed in the example above that those topics aren’t really about you.
Some individual posts might be very focused on your life: for example, if you installed smart home technology and wanted to write about similarities between your fictional world and your personal life.
But remember this:
Your audience doesn’t really care about you.
It sounds harsh, but it’s true.
Just think about your social media accounts. How often do you see someone posting about the dinner they just cooked and think “Wow, I’m so glad they shared that picture of mac & cheese from a box!”
Your audience cares about themselves, and you care about them, too, so give them stuff they like to read.
And if you want to share pictures of your cheesey mac…
Social Media is for Sharing
Your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are where you let other areas of your personality shine.
Do you love classic cars?
Are you a gourmet cook?
Can you dance Bachata and Salsa?
Those things might not belong on your blog, but go ahead and Tweet about your latest trip to Canada, and Instagram your perfectly drawn eyebrows.
Be careful not to stray too far from your brand, especially while you’re still building a following.
Just 1 post about politics, 1 tweet criticising a popular artist, or 1 meme reposted on Instagram can wreck your reputation…
So keep it pretty brand consistent.
If it helps, think about it this way:
Celebrities can’t leave the house without looking their best, or else they’re going to end up in a tabloid.
They can’t look fat at the beach, get salad dressing on their tie, or have a bad hair day without someone pouncing on the opportunity to make them look bad.
Imagine you’re a high-profile celeb, and use social media accordingly.
Someone is always looking.
Snapchat Is Your Own Personal Reality Show
All eyes are on Snapchat right now, and since most of the people reading this article:
1) haven’t used it yet, and
2) don’t have huge audiences on Snapchat yet…
It’s time to get with the program.
If you don’t have Snapchat yet, download it now.
Unless your audience is pretty young, most of your potential followers don’t have Snapchat yet.
Because you can learn how to use it without tons of people watching.
They will have Snapchat soon, so get in there and learn the features, gain some followers, and start playing with your social strategy today.
When your brand is your name, Snapchat is the place where your brand really gets to be you.
It’s a chance for your readers to get a real peek and what you’re doing throughout the day.
Snap an inspirational quote when you wake up.
Share a goofy selfie from the gym.
Introduce your followers to your pets.
You have the power to control the “window” your followers get into your life, so brand consistency is still a thing, but since your snaps disappear in 24 hours and you have to take pictures and video through the app, it’s a little messier and a bit more organic.
We’ll discuss how to use Snapchat for branding in future posts…
But for now, your homework is to take a selfie with a filter.
Add me with this Snapcode, and I’ll add you back.
Your homework today is super simple.
If you don’t have Snapchat, download it now!