Niche Blogging: Timelessly Successful, or Hopelessly Outdated?

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If you ask the experts (like Darren Rowse, founder and author behind ProBlogger), niche blogging is the way to go to be a successful blogger. Fashion has proven to be a successful niche for many bloggers, with personal style far and wide the most common subtopic. Just one look at the list of IFB contributors will show you a range of other subtopics within fashion blogging; lingerie, shopping deals, fashion PR, etc.

Being a longtime participant and consumer in the fashion blogging niche (and other niches), the distinction was much more clear a few years ago. With evolution, many blogs have seemed to branch outside of their original niche to cover more of a variety of topics. Fashion bloggers nowadays might include posts about travel, food, health & fitness or (non-fashion) DIY projects. Some have steered their blog's niche focus to align with lifestyle changes they've experienced – becoming a mom or starting a new career, for example. In turn, bloggers of other niche topics – design/home decor, crafts, mommy, etc. – have embraced their personal style in posts on their blogs. This evolution seems natural, but it begs the question – is niche blogging still the expert way to success?

I've forged my path as a blogger by bucking the trend of niche blogging. When I started my blog in 2008, I immediately (and always have) considered myself a lifestyle blogger (Seattle events and lifestyle, specifically.) I'd post about things to do and see in Seattle, but left myself open to covering independent designers, boutiques and other cool things outside of my city too. In 2009, I started using Twitter and other social media to promote my blog and found social to be even more useful for something else – networking with other bloggers. I ‘fell into' a community of fashion bloggers via Twitter, and by nature of this community I'd built online, I gravitated more openly towards covering fashion and style-related topics on my blog.

Has this been successful for me? In many ways, yes, and in many others, no(t yet.) While I might be appealing for a brand to work with in targeting Seattle or fashion, others might not look at me for that same duo-niche. I don't regret my decision to cover more than one niche, nor would I forgo one topic to write exclusively about the other. I do recognize that brands – especially fashion brands – will sometimes prefer to work with bloggers who write primarily about the topic they're interested in.

On the other hand, I've also noticed fashion and other brands targeting bloggers because of their reach and audience, regardless of their primary niche. In that perspective, the field of competition is widened for bloggers. Whereas you may have been considered against just other fashion bloggers, now there are prominent design, foodie, parenting and other bloggers being considered for the same brand campaign as well. In the past year, I've been blogging a lot more about eating better and working out. It's opened me up to opportunities with health, wellness and athletic brands who may not have had my blog on their partnership radar before. It's been so exciting to work with these brands in ways I hadn't worked with other brands before.

I want to leave this post open in hopes of getting your thoughts and conversation around this. As blogging evolves, is focusing on a niche topic still the most viable way to success? Have you focused on one niche, or do you prefer to cover a variety of topics? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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22 Responses

  1. Carla

    I think there’s no problem on covering other niches but I think they should be related. I think you need to decide your style first. If you like to wear classic outfits and talk about Audrey Hepburn movies and pin up is ok, but I can’t stand people wearing classic outfits and talking about
    hip hop sportswear and Lady Gaga on next day. You need to create a connection with your reader. My problem with different niches in a blog is only related with random content that doesn’t interest me. This also difficult to brands relate with your blog concept. So, this need to be really planned.

    Reply
    • Annette

      Totally agree, Carla. Authenticity is most important – for my readers and regarding collaborations with brands.
      Annette

      Reply
    • Wontfit

      Eh. Some people don’t fit into one box that easily. I love classic styles and cuts in interesting patterns and colors. I love hip hop and classical music. I love neo soul and pop. I’m a health foodie that loves an indulgent cheat day or two. That’s my authentic self, and if I were try to only present a certain branch of my interests just so that I could fit into what someone else perceives as authentic (based on my style of dress no less), it would ironically NOT be authentic. At least not for me (I happen to like Audrey Hepburn and hip hop, in what world is that problematic?). Everyone is different and that’s the beauty of blogging.

      Reply
  2. Annette

    I am 51 and a fashion and style blogger – a niche indeed! And that is what I am focusing on as there is a demand for mature bloggers. Women over 40, interested in fashion are looking for inspiration but can hardly identify themselves with very young women! A fact that meanwhile more and more brands fortunately start to realise as well.
    Therefore besides my personal style, my age certainly is my USP.

    Annette | Lady of Style

    Reply
  3. CynthiaCM

    DelectablyChic! is a lifestyle site. We focus on food, clothing, beauty and events, mostly Toronto-based. I find that around here, certain PR companies seem to avoid me. I don’t know why – perhaps I’m not “fashion” enough? Oh well…I guess that’s what happens when you brand yourself as “lifestyle” and not something more specific!

    Cynthia
    http://www.delectablychic.com

    Reply
  4. Chaudie

    For the longest time I was a Gyaru blogger with sub-niches in western (gaijin) gyaru and gyaru mama. It was good and I flourished on it. Eventually I ‘outgrew’ the community and wanted to focus more on my personal interests the people who shared them.

    Now, I’m considering myself a Lifestyle/trophy wife 2.0 blogger. It does sound a bit weird, but I mainly focus on my interests according to my audience (Generation Y Women). Niche blogging is a lovely way to start blogging. I think evolving into a ‘well rounded’ blog is better than having different blogs covering different niches. I don’t know about any of the other readers here, but it’s far too stressful for me to run several blogs with different brand archetypes and corresponding social media accounts. Working on one blog with a sturdy brand and several media accounts (including a personal public twitter and private Facebook account) is just right for me.

    Reply
  5. Bike Pretty

    Putting “Lifestyle blog” in your description is a red flag. It’s basically a euphemism for “indecisive, unfocused content that bounces around from topic to topic.”

    Maybe as a writer, you don’t want to be pigeonholed into one topic. But what about the reader? They want to trust you. They want to believe you are an expert at something. But you have to pick one thing and post about it regularly.

    Keep in mind that the stated mission of any given blog might be different than its actual niche. For example, the successful so-called lifestyle blogs do have one major area of expertise that is a consistent in most of their content: the skill to create fabulous images.

    Reply
  6. Monika Faulkner

    I’m all about the “personal style” blog!! It’s my favourite type of blog to view…and I honestly always feel a little disappointed when I’m presented with a makeup or hair tutorial instead of photos of a new outfit!! So that is what I decided – right from day one – to focus on with my own blog. But as luck (or, more precisely, bad luck!) would have it, I broke my foot a few days ago…which might make those outfit posts a bit of a challenge for the next little while. I may be forced to expand my “niche” after all!!

    http://www.StyleIsMyPudding.com

    Reply
  7. Carol

    I run a petite style blog for women in the UK & US who are 5ft 3″ or under. I found that advertising companies were contacting me regardless of whether their products were suitable for my target market.

    As a result, I decided to set up a more generic fashion & lifestyle blog to capitalise on these opportunities. Blog posts are much easier to write for the fashion & lifestyle blog but I struggle on the seo front to get my blog onto the 1st page of a google search.

    However, on my niche blog, seo is much easier & I’m ranking on the 1st page of google when you do a search for “petite style blog uk” and feature on page 2 when you google “petite style blog”.

    To keep things simple on social media, I now have 1 social media account for both blogs. E.g. 1 facebook account, 1 twitter account, 1 pinterest account.

    http://www.petitestyleonline.com
    http://www.lifestyleandimage.co.uk

    Reply
  8. Marina

    I agree with ‘Bike Pretty’ in the comments above, about the term “lifestyle blogger” as being very generic. 5 years ago it was less popular and easier to get away with. But since around 2007 when the term “lifestyle design” entered the global vernacular (a term coined by Tim Ferris, 4 Hour Work Week), it led to everyone jumping on-board the “lifestyle train”.

    It’s not to say a lifestyle blog can’t succeed in today’s competitive market, it’s just not as easy as it once was. And same goes for fashion, beauty, and style blogs – it’s difficult to break into the market now. BUT A fashion blogger niche site for “women over 40” (as mentioned by Annette in the comments) will be much easier to capture the attention of a new market hungry for something different. While there may be a smaller size pie overall, there will also be more opportunity to capture more of the market within the smaller pie =)

    Reply
  9. Jenna Michelle

    This is such an interesting topic and something that I continue to struggle with as a new blogger. I’ve read many articles that discuss the importance of having a niche, but I worry that focusing on just thing could really limit what I could post about. Since my current interests cover more than just fashion, for example, I think it’s refreshing to mix things up vs. sticking to one topic. And while I think covering a variety of topics might make it difficult to garner a more targeted readership, it can also help you reach a wider span of people (ie: those interested in food, fashion, decor etc.).

    -Jenna
    http://www.adornedwithlove.com

    Reply
  10. Joelle

    I totally agree 100% with Madeline Rose above: focus on content and they will come.

    I started off as a “lifestyle blogger,” and have been shifting my focus towards personal style, and outfit posts. That being said, I do enjoy writing a piece on a new drink that I’m loving, or a travel article focusing on what to pack for certain destinations. I’m not sure how these more lengthy “lifestyle” articles impact my blog as a whole, but I do know that I enjoy writing and sharing them – and sometimes, that is good enough!

    Reply
  11. Shug Avery

    I believe having a niche helps you to get structured, at least that’s what it did with me. I have so many interests that when I started blogging I decided to focus on fashion to canalize myself so that everything will appear structured. Once I got the structure I broaden my views to other things I enjoyed without doing it in a confusing way.
    I don’t think in terms of success when it comes to find your niche but I am more into knowing what I want to write about the most, concentrate on this and then once I know what I want, extend to other topics.

    As for the business part, having a niche brings you great opportunities but I also guess that going further it can also bring you other opportunities in fields you didn’t expect to! And I guess this article really sums up very well the professional and business aspect of niche blogging :).

    Shug,

    http://www.thinkincognito-eng.blogspot.com

    Reply
  12. sharon

    If I want to read about fashion, I go to a fashion blog. If I want to read about food, I will go to a food blog. If I want to read about sewing clothes, I will go to a sewing blog.

    I too have various interests and for each one I search out my favorite blog. It is rare to find a blog which covers all MY interests.

    That said, I understand the situation of the blogger who wants to branch out, for whatever reason. But are they doing it for the reader or for themself?

    My comments aren’t meant in a mean spirited way at all so please don’t take them that way. It’s just that I find myself turned off by most (not all) blogs that try to be more inclusive than I was lead to believe from either the web address or blog name/ description.

    Hope my comments help.

    Reply
  13. Lynn

    My blog and facebook site f-la mode is my art, my inspiration and my vision. In LA I am stopped all the time and complimented on my style. It’s a mix of health, spirituality, yoga, dance, travel and story telling.

    Reply
  14. Jacqueline Jax

    I’ve been a niche bloggers for years and it’s my experience that narrowing down your area of expertise is one key to establishing your brand and proving your strengths in the area. If your running out of creative ways to express yourself within the niche, you need to think outside the box more on ways to talk about it. Think culturally, get creative with your images, test your knowledge, look at different view points, read others, ask yourself questions about your niche and try to answer them in your blog. If your bored, then by all means move on but being to diversified mostly turns your niche into a personal commentary blog that dilutes any branding possibilities. With that said there’s nothing wrong with expanding your niche a little wider for a broader view as long as it’s related. Check out my resort lifestyle blog. http://Www.BlondiBeach.com – It focuses on fashion for a resort or jet set lifestyle but also attracts a wider reader by promoting healthy life choices with topics relating to getting ready for your trip, where you may like to go, taking care of your skin and inner health as well. Another great example is my fashion blog. http://Www.JaxCouture.com The niche is runway fashion trends: even though it’s a specific topic, I’m open to discussing how they effect our fashion culture, personal ways that I wear them, what’s hot right now, trends to try or even a guest post from someone with a different point of view. Instead of just reposting runways photos that are everywhere, I try to examine the trends and make them relatable to our lives. Come for a visit and let me know your thoughts. -Jax

    Reply
  15. Loretta

    I’ve been blogging for a little over 6 months…and I find that having a niche is great, however, I still feel it’s important to be open. Fashion is always changing, and you can incorporate your niche in an open forum here and there. I shop discount and bargains..and like to incorporate that when I can into my site, but I don’t limit the blog to just that topic.

    http://www.mariachistyle.com

    Reply
  16. Adri

    Niche blogging? Yes, but that doesn’t imply bloggers have ONE interest. As a graphic design and sewing blogger I think it comes very natural to show people your interests, sure we can blog about one specific topic all the time, but just as when we meet someone we would like to know more than one aspect, it’s the same with blogging. As long as all content is aligned to a particular style, look & feel, of course! So, niche is ok, just remembering as humans we tend to experience burn out doing the same thing over and over. Our interests evolve, just as the bloggersphere does 🙂

    Reply