As per usual, I spent much of this season's IFBcon running around, upstairs and downstairs, from check in to the greenroom and back again — so I missed a lot of the highlights of our panels. Luckily though, that's why we have social media and live bloggers!
After catching up on what I missed, I came away feeling more sure than ever of something we talk about pretty frequently on IFB: Carving out a niche for yourself and your site. This is, to be sure, easier said than done, so let's look at some of the best thoughts on niche blogging from our speakers at IFBcon.
“There seems to be a blogging blue print …and all new bloggers are following one blue print. It has come diluted. It is important to look at all content areas that are possible and what YOU can call your niche.” – Susie Lau, Style Bubble
Ah, passion. It's that inside-out, head-to-toe and down-to-your-bones feeling. It's different than lust, it's more than a strong interest. It's what makes a really great blog come alive. Passion can trump mediocre photography and sub-par writing, but those things often go hand-in-hand with passion interest, not life-long obsession. Crazy about menswear and ready to shout it from the rooftops? Master the crafts necessary to make sure you're heard and valued.
“If it doesn’t make you crazy like teenage love, don’t do it.” Tina Craig, Bag Snob
“If you’re really good at something or have a special talent, show that to people.” – The Evolution of Our Industry: What Does The Future Hold?
“You have to know who you are. You have to know your style. Find yourself, find your voice, be confident. Don’t drive yourself mad comparing yourself.” – Liz Cherkasova, Late Afternoon
“Menswear blogging is still in its infantile stage. Now we’re seeing lazy blogging, and what I find inexcusable. It’s becoming a mass regurgitation. Going forward, if you want to get involved in this world, you need to find your talent to back it up.” – Jake Gallagher, Wax Wane
What good is a book if nobody wants to read it? What good is a song if nobody wants to hear it? This recipe for success depends as much on you as it does on your audience, if you have one. A successful niche will seek out a topic or a voice that isn't out there yet and find the people who want it (and brands who want to collaborate with it). If nobody wants what you've got, you'll stay isolated, with minimal chance for creating something truly special.
“Building a following is different than gaining followers.” – Leandra Medine, The Man Repeller
“It helps to have really good numbers, but really it’s QUALITY over quantity. A great creative mind… that’s what brands want to buy into.” – Zanita Morgan, Zanita
“The blogosphere has become so cynical. …Nothing is more important than engagement.” – Leandra Medine, The Man Repeller
It's not always what we want to hear, but successful niches need to have a business side that corresponds with the creativity, and that feeds into the passion part as well as the demand. You need all of these elements. Earning doesn't have to come from only one avenue, think about diversity: ads, affiliates and brand partnerships can co-exist.
“It’s also on you guys to come up with interesting ways to engage us! Don’t forget to take the initiative to come to us with interesting ideas. What are ways to create this relationship? Create personal connections with people at these brands. Demonstrate your value.” Ara Katz, Beachmint
Create original content with whatever you are wearing from your own closet, this original content is only created by you and no one else. Then from there you can connect the affiliate links.” – Krisin Ess, The Beauty Department
I read recently that these three elements: passion, demand and earning potential are the keys to a successful niche blog. It's a matter of how you define success, but I do think that to create a blog that satisfies you creatively, functions as a business and provides something valuable to an audience – you need all these things. Do you agree?
[Image credit: Dustin Fenstermacher]