It’s (more or less) 6 months now that I started Manporium, in an effort to combat the post-wedding-and-honeymoon slump, and I thought I would talk a little about my reflections and discoveries in this period.
First up is the subject of the niche. It’s something that has pretty much been done to death in one form or another on various blogging advice sites. I’m not going to add too much to that, but merely offer my take on what it has meant to me and what it will mean going forwards.
I set out to brand Manporium as a luxury blog aimed at men, in the belief that there wasn’t a whole lot focussing in this area, and it was something I felt passionate about. This remains true. However, there’s a whole lot more I want to write about. As such, I’m quickly coming to the realisation that I want to subtly shift Manporium to be a little less niche and move to a more generalised ‘space’.
Why? Well, while I do believe it’s important to have a brand and stay true to that, I ultimately started blogging to write, and there’s little point being so niche that the frequency that I feel I have something useful to write is compromised. There have been a number of times when I’ve thought there was something I have something to say on and have stopped myself because it seemed off-brand.
So how does one maintain a consistent brand while generalising his subject matter? It may sound contrived, but I’ve come to realise that I am my brand. Axiomatic it may be, and potentially pretentious, but my ‘voice’, opinions, writing style and tastes can be the brand.
Manporium will still include all the usual good stuff, luxury, food, drinks, style and the like, but there will start to be some additional bits of ‘me’ in there too. Now don’t worry, I’m not about to write about the very minutia of my humdrum life, so you’ll be spared my breakfast muesli; I’m just going to start diversifying a bit.
Finding Your Niche
Are you thinking of starting a blog? Choosing your niche is important, don’t get me wrong, but actually it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. Rather than focussing on a niche, focus instead on what your unique selling point (USP) is. What makes what you do unique?
It’s Not for Everyone
It depends how seriously you want to take it, of course. If you’re looking for the more traditional blog to just record your thoughts and such, and you’re not necessarily interested in creating a brand or any sort of strategy or intentional growth (which is absolutely fine, by the way); then it’s not that critical. However, if you want to treat your blog as a potential business and opportunity, I suggest you spend a bit of time before you start really writing and designing your site that you grab a notepad and map out some key things – a ‘business plan’ of sorts, if you will.
Trust me when I say that if you want to take it seriously, doing this stuff up front is really handy and will make it much easier going forwards. Equally, it’ll greatly improve your chances of growth and will set you apart from the rest. Think about your USPs, do some research of other bloggers in your sphere (your competitors of sorts – or comparators to use a slightly less negative-sounding phrase).
Try to picture your target reader, too. If you’re really serious you can come up with a target customer ‘avatar’: a short, crunchy description of who you’re writing for. How old are they? Where do they live? Are they male or female? What do they like doing?
Build It and They Will Come?
If you don’t do this sort of activity up front, you run the risk of falling into the (very common) ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. Remember, the Internet is a very big place. The blogging community is also huge – and grows day by day. So, in a market as saturated as this, you need to avoid being a needle in a haystack and give people a reason to keep coming back.
This may all sound rather too involved and daunting if you’re just starting out, and a lot of you may sneer at my slightly clinical take on it. None the less, be under no illusion that ultimately I would like Manporium to blossom into my full time job. In much the same way that if I were starting a business, I wouldn’t set out without a business plan, a clear understanding of how much investment I required, sales targets, product research et cetera. So if I’d do that with a business, why wouldn’t I do the same with my blog if I wanted it to eventually become one?
The more perceptive of you may be asking yourselves, “If Nathan has gone and done all of this planning and strategising, why on earth does he feel the need to change the niche of his blog and diversify?” I did do research before I started, and genuinely did choose my niche and subject matter based on this. The truth is, however, things change and it’s important to be flexible enough to change with them. I doubt there are many bloggers out there who’s blog hasn’t shifted in some way from how it started.
So in summary, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for years, if you didn’t start with a plan, depending on your intentions for your little corner of the Internet, it may be a good time to sit down and work on one. If you already have (well done you!), be sure to review it from time to time to make sure if it’s still relevant and if it needs tweaking.
Remember to be flexible and reactive. Be prepared to detour from your master plan if it suits you, meander a little, as long as you’re headed in the right general direction.