How to Niche Down Your Blog: Authenticity, Topics & Saying No to Free Work

As a lifestyle blogger, my site has covered a lot of topics over the 9.5 years in its existence. As a mom of four, life has been about a lot of things, but now that I’m officially owning the word midlife as a descriptor, I’ve finally decided to take the “niche down your blog” advice…and I’m really excited about.

niche down your blog

First, a disclaimer: midlife is not a dirty word. Age is a number, and it’s not a bad thing to be an older, wiser person than I was ten years ago. Society may not value midlife women as much as it should, and while I don’t expect to change that, I can value it — for myself and for other midlife women.

In reality, midlife is from 40 to 60 years of age, so why are so many of us afraid to own that? Society? How others will view us? We need to get over it, which is the biggest thing that’s going to change it in the big picture. More on that in another post on another day.

If someone tells you to niche down your blog, consider the source and the reason. Some people make the suggestion willy nilly, while others do it because they know you’re struggling with your focus and wondering maybe if you still want to keep blogging. Others will tell you because it’s just what they hear is the latest thing to do, and that’s a bad reason to do it. I’ve been lucky and had sage bloggers and friends to talk to, and I got only the best advice.

Being a mom is still a major part of my life, but I also don’t want to continue to cover things that no longer apply as much, like things for kids in ages I no longer participate in. For me, niching down is so I can write about what’s actually happening in my life, what I can relate to, what I can be the most authentic about. Family life, being a “Grammy,” food, entertainment and travel as it applies to us, our home, our dogs.

If you want to niche down your blog because you want to change the topics you write about, or you think it will help increase your traffic, ruminate on it for a while, and consider a few things.

questions to ask before you niche down your blog

Questions to Ask Before You Niche Down Your Blog

  • What do you like to write about?
  • What content do you not want to write about?
  • Is your site monetized?
  • Do you want to write about non-sponsored topics?
  • Are you tired of being gated because you don’t want to post something that a brand may not like?
  • What’s the end-goal for your blog?

Let’s break them each down a little bit.

What do you like to write about? If it’s what you’re already writing about, then your problem may not even be that you need to niche down. Instead, you need to determine if you even need to make a change. That leads to the next question.

What content do you not want to write about? What content no longer fits you? This question’s answer is easy if you give it some thought.

Is your site monetized? If you earn an income from your blog, and you like what you’re writing about, niching down your topics isn’t the problem; the problem is fixing your content to increase your traffic. Changing topics can impact traffic, so it’s something to think about before you make any change. It can be remedied though, whichever direction you go, so don’t let that stop you from writing about things that you enjoy.

Do you want to write about non-sponsored topics? Go for it! Writing should be fun, and having your own space to blow off steam or share a story is everything for a writer. Having unsponsored content mixed in your blog can be very attractive to a brand; most like seeing that your site isn’t just one big ad. They like to see some personality.

Are you worried about a brand not liking that you write about a specific topic, or something controversial? Do you feel gated into avoiding topics that inspire you? I get it, it’s a real concern. For years, I didn’t write about CBD products, anything of a spiritual nature (and I don’t mean religion) or some personal viewpoints on topics people may not agree with. I didn’t want to lose potential sponsorships, or to turn off some readers. Some brands don’t like it when you curse even. I mean, I can have a serious potty mouth, but I’ve also always believed that I don’t need to write that way, since there are far more superior words to exemplify a point than vulgarity. (This may be something I should take to heart verbally, too, but let’s be real….)

There’s a tip on how to “hide” content without hiding it at all, and you’ll still get traffic. Create a new category; you don’t even have to display it in your blog navigational menu if you don’t want it seen by everyone who visits. For example, if your blog menu is made up of various food categories, but you want to write about making wind chimes and are concerned your readers won’t get the change, don’t add the wind chimes to the menu; you can still promote the posts and people can find them via a link or successful search engine optimization. You can also not categorize the content at all, and use a blog plugin that allows you to exclude it from showing on the front page of your site. This tip can stop it from being immediately obvious that you write about wind chimes, but it won’t hide it entirely, though most people aren’t going to look too hard.

I knew that certain brands like to hold a bit of a moral bar over writers, and it’s frequently those that aren’t paying you enough, or anything. There’s a serious argument for being paid in experiences, for which I’d say that certain things are big enough compensation to count, so it’s not just money in your bank account to consider. Some brands are also known for choosing people of a certain political viewpoint, and if they see you sharing your feelings to a certain extent that they don’t agree, they may not hire you. Ethically, this is a real shame, because diversity matters, and that comes in many forms.

Only you can choose if you’re comfortable will full transparency and sharing personal things on your site, and any possible repercussions. Only you can determine if being dropped off a brand’s PR list matters…and I can say one thing about this: it may matter for a minute, then it won’t. For every brand you lose, you can and WILL gain a replacement, often times something better and more suitable.

Losing a brand that only wants to send you press releases to share but doesn’t invite you to an opening or major event that they invite others to — is that really losing anything? I mean, value yourself and stop doing all the free work in the hopes they add you back onto the list. Those that ask for your coverage but don’t answer your email when you do it or have a question? That may be another thing to reconsider.

Getting into blogging or working with some brands can definitely mean you cover things for free. You do it for joy or because you want to get on their radar. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t get sucked into the free work for eternity void. If you write something for joy, sharing about a brand or place, go for it, but if you hope to get those invites you see others share on social, put a clock on it. Only you can determine how long that clock goes, like three posts, for example. (You are sending your blog post URL to the brand in reply to their email, right? Don’t assume they’ll just go to your site and look.) If their only response to your url is another press release, that’s a red flag, particularly if you see them working on compensated partnerships with other bloggers or influencers. To be clear, they owe us nothing, and we may just not be a right fit, but one-way partnerships aren’t good for your business.

delete emails

I’ve changed my approach the last few months: I utilize my delete button, and it feels GLORIOUS. If I used to get invited, did the work, did it well, and suddenly am not valued enough for an invite, delete. If I’m too old to get the junket, the event, the gear, then I’m not giving free work, so I delete. Work is work, and if mine generates the same attention someone else who does get invited gets, then I’m allowing myself to be taken advantage of, so future mails? Delete. Brand sends me a lot of PRs, I share, and then I reply to ask about furthering our partnership and I get no reply? Next email, delete. If they want us to get them coverage from our readers/followers, they need to acknowledge that has value or they wouldn’t seek it; they’d have already removed us from their email list. It’s a two-way partnership — don’t forget that. Ever. You’ll save yourself time, effort and possibly heartache.

Lastly, what’s your end goal for your blog? If you’re doing it for an outlet for creativity or for the love of writing, you do you. Choose topics you like, and the writing will flow. If you want to make more money, choose your blog topics more selectively and/or optimize the content, providing more of it that the readers are seeking. You can also change up the navigation to create the appearance of a certain focus, and ‘bury’ other content within it, still SEO’ing it to get traffic.

The choice to niche down your blog should be based on a combination of all the factors, resulting in you having a blog that gives you happiness. If it’s just stressing you out, consider changes, and in the end, you may realize it’s no longer for you. Blogging should be fun, because it’s a lot of work and you need it to be fulfilling on some level that doesn’t overwhelm. Let me know if any of this resonates with you!

And let me just say, writing that I’ve had this blog for 9.5 years felt CRAZY. I started blogging back in 2005, but to have this particular site that long — what a milestone, and it’s one I’m proud of!

Post update: three months later and my blog traffic has increased! I’ve also spent more time growing my engagement on Instagram and Twitter, with some decent success. I need to do more, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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