When Christine White started her blog, Court + Hudson, she intended for the focus to cover a few different lifestyle topics. Fashion was amongst them, and with that came outfit posts. With only spare amounts of time to work on her blog when she wasn't working professionally, her content became more and more populated with outfits because the posts were easy and accessible. Her personal style became the driving force behind the growth of her blog.
We talk a lot at IFB about how important it is as a blogger to have a niche or specialty that drives and defines your content. The general consensus seems to be that in order to stand out from the pack, your blog has to have that special something. The market is so congested with blogs that if you don't figure out what sets you apart (and fast) you're going to get lost in the crowd.
There's a flip side to this theory, though. Over the past year or so, we've noticed a spike in the amount of very well done, well-written blogs that cover a range of lifestyle topics from food to fashion, travel and decor – and they're tremendously popular. (Look at blogs like A Piece of Toast, Apartment 34, Mimi + Meg, Oh Joy, Gala Darling and …Love Maegan.) These blogs, some older and some newer, prove that you can still have a specific identity and talk about the many aspects of a fashionable life, not just clothes.
“I think most of my readers are pretty multi-faceted women,” says Victoria McGinley of her blog, Vmac + Cheese. “There's so much more to them than just great style! As far as balancing the topics go, keeping an editorial calendar and referencing what the content has recently focused on keeps me semi-organized and helps me mix things up.”
When Victoria started her blog, she had the opposite approach of Christine. She began with the intention to only blog about food. “Over time, I felt like I posted less because I had boxed myself in and only allowed myself to talk about this one topic. Once I gave myself “permission” to talk about whatever I wanted, I had so many more ideas and was able to push myself creatively in new directions.
After recently deciding she didn't want to cover just personal style, Christine redesigned her site and started transitioning her content back to it's roots, by diversifying her posts with more food, DIY projects, entertaining and “guides on how to live a creative life,” she says. Good for her? Yes. Good for her traffic? Not necessarily.
“[The change] has definitely affected my audience,” Christine says. “My traffic is much lower now than when I was posting daily style photos. But that is to be expected. The audience I grew came to my site because their interest was personal style. So, I consider this period to be my growing pains, and I'm okay with that. I'd rather lose followers to create the content I want to produce. If that means I have to take a step back to do so, then so be it.”
This is where the “personal” part of running a personal blog comes in. It can be a real struggle to balance what you want to post about, and what content you know might make your blog more successful. Can you have both? Certainly. Both Christine and Victoria agree that no matter how broad or narrow your content spectrum may be, high quality with directional consistency is key. “Your interests change as your life changes, and as long as there is that underlying thread within your content as it evolves and expands then people will still care about what you have to say,” says Christine.
She concludes, “Listen, if you have great style, people will find you amongst the millions of style bloggers that are out there. If all you want to talk about is personal style, then do it. People are attracted to authenticity and if you have a discerning eye for your craft then that will shine through. I think Blair from Atlantic-Pacific and more recently, Lauren + Mico from The Marcy Stop are great examples of how quickly a personal style blog can grow by having a great eye.”
From Victoria's perspective, even if our (rather short) history implies that a finely tuned niche is the best way to single yourself out and achieve a certain level of popularity and build a business around your blog, it's not how she wants to approach it. “These days, if I'm honest, I do think it's easier to find success in the blogging world if you're singularly focused…however, I don't think that would ever be an option for me. I have so many different interests, that even if I tried going back to talking about one specific topic, it'd be boring to me.”
As far as we have come as a community from our infancy in the mid-2000s, we are still for the most part blazing our own trail as style bloggers. There are no set rules, no guarantees. All we can be sure of is that in the blogosphere, nothing amazing comes without hard work. Christine's analogy sums it up well:
“I like to equate growing a blog to being good at a sport or hobby. If you stick with it, invest the time, be yourself, and recognize opportunities you will be successful.”
We would love to know where you stand on this. Do you think a niche is necessary for success in blogging?
Image credit: Christine from Court & Hudson