Why 'niching' your blog is a creativity killer
I’ve noticed in the past few months as I’ve got to know more and more writers and creatives who would love to start a blog that there is a common concern they have.
They haven’t started their blog yet because they don’t have a theme to wrap it around, a category or, that god-awful word, they don’t have a ‘niche’.
I’ve just written a rather passionate post about it in my Facebook Group and three whole stories on Instagram Stories about it and now I’m on here blogging about it because I feel so passionately that this advice is a KILLER of creativity.
It sucks the joy, the spark, the enthusiasm out of writing and leaves you with dry ash in your mouth and sticky syrup on your typing fingers.
So why is there so much advice out there about niching?
Well, I’ve put a lot of thought into this and I’ve realised that there is more than one type of blogger:
There are those who want to start a blog as a business. They want to make money through affiliate links, through targeted ads, through sponsored posts that are relevant to their audience. And the way to do this is to niche. To attract a particular type of audience who will like the content they write about in order to drive more traffic through the affiliate links or to attract advertisers. It could be a blog about money saving tips, or a blog about cleaning, or a blog about beauty or fashion. They then make their Pinterest boards up with their target audience in mind and their Instagram pictures are all about that topic. If you google ‘how to blog’ then 95% of the advice you read is targeted towards these people.
On the other hand there are people out there, maybe people like yourself, who want to blog purely for the love of writing or for the love of photography. They might already be on Instagram and love expressing themselves through the photos and the captions. But they want their own space to do that. Somewhere they can write longer captions in the form of blog posts. A collection of their writing. It could be that these people have always loved writing and (quite possibly secretly) wanted to be a published author when they grew up. Or, it could be that these people didn’t know they loved writing but find it helps them through a tough time or to make sense of the world. They might not ever wish to be published but just enjoy expressing their thoughts through their fingers onto paper or the digital version of it.
There is room on the Internet for ALL types of bloggers. But the ones I’m talking to right now are in the second description.
But the advice for this group of bloggers is limited. It gets confused with the advice targeted at that first group of bloggers.
So, let me be the person to tell you this joyous news.
People who want to blog for the love of writing do not have to niche.
Can you hear that at the back? YOU DO NOT HAVE TO NICHE YOUR BLOG!
That advice to niche can stifle your creativity. It can make you procrastinate. It can just stop you. Full stop.
I mean, if you know you want to write about a project where you cook yourself through Julia Child's cookery book in a year (or has that been done? ;) ) then fine, go for it, that's your 'niche'. Although, to be fair, it’s more of a project and you can hang all sorts of life experiences on that with your writing.
But if you have no project in mind and just want to write. Then write about whatever you want. Explore your passions. Find your writing voice.
But please don't let finding a niche first put you off from starting. Because you don’t need one.
If you look at my blog it may look like I have a niche. I do write a lot about online creativity, for example, and my Facebook group is about that and my Facebook page is about that and my Patreon essays are also about that. But this is something I've discovered I enjoyed writing about through the act of writing. Through experimenting. Through peeling that onion!
It isn't something I purposely decided three or four years ago I was going to write about. It evolved.
When I first started this blog I thought I was going to write about books and baking. Notably food in fiction - that’s why I’m called A Bookish Baker. But here I am writing about writing, creativity, overwhelm - chickens, dogs and the seasons for goodness sake - none of which was in my original plan when I first started my blog.
My list of categories is huge. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and have a look. I write about lots of different topics. And by doing so I’ve discovered my writing voice. I’ve discovered what I enjoy writing about most. I’ve discovered an idea for a non-fiction book.
When I tried to pigeon-hole myself into the food in fiction category it felt uncomfortable. So much so that now I almost hate writing about it. It feels forced like something I’m supposed to enjoy.
Then, more recently a couple of years ago, I started another blog where I was just going to write about blogging for authors and writers. And this I did hate. I felt stripped of all my personality. I felt I wasn’t allowed to write about anything else and that everything had to be ‘on message’.
It took me a while to accept that I am a writer with varied interests and one day I might want to write about my chickens and the next I might want to write about a toffee roulade. And the next about blogging and the day after that about my puppy.
When you ‘niche’ your blog you are writing deliberately for an audience.
When you are writing about what you love; a wealth of different topics purely for the love of writing, you are writing for you. An audience will come along with you because they enjoy your style of writing. They will read about anything you write about, even if they have no interest in the subject matter, because they love your writing.
Okay, alright, your writing is your niche. Your writing voice is your niche. Your particular sense of humour. Your ability to capture sorrowful moments. Your ability to write from the heart and share exactly how you’re feeling.
But you’ll only get to this stage by writing. Writing Instagram captions, writing blog posts. Writing, writing, writing about anything and everything you want.
Keep writing. Keep discovering. Keep exploring.