How to Blog without a Niche

If you do an internet search of the phrase “how to start a blog,” you’ll find a common theme among the lists, tutorials and “expert” opinions that pop up – namely, that you must have a niche to be a successful blogger. I DO NOT AGREE.

Not every blogger can – or wants to – fit into a niche. AND THAT’S OK.

The rules of “owning” a niche can be stifling. I’ve heard bloggers express frustration over feeling bound by having to stay on one topic. There’s a lot to be said about this great, wide world, and even more to be shared about our personal experiences in it; for many bloggers, following a rule of “write this, but not that” just doesn’t work.

So…ditch the niche. Here’s how.

How To Blog without a Niche by Stacey Nerdin at Tree Root and Twig

Develop your “why.”

If you don’t have a “what” in terms of niche-specific content, you should have a “why.” It will be the umbrella under which all your content resides. What’s the mission, point, or purpose of your blog? It doesn’t have to be grandiose, it doesn’t even have to be expressly stated on your blog (though it should). But you should know why you blog. Much like there are a dozen routes to get to one major point on a map, having a “why” will give you direction without giving you rules. Follow whichever road holds your bliss, but just know in the end where you are going.

Develop your “who.”

Your “who” is…well…you. It’s who you are as a writer, a blogger. It’s the voice you give to every bit of content you create, no matter what the topic. Some people stumble at this point and think they need to adopt a different persona when blogging, but the easiest way to discover your “who” is to just be yourself. If you are authentic and engaging, readers will be drawn to you as a blogger, not just the topics you cover. This is how you become your niche.

Clearly organize your content.

Useful navigation is important for any blogger, but even moreso if you cover a wide range of topics. Clearly organized and identified content allows visitors to scan for their interests, then go straight to specific categories. It’s also a way to fan your feathers a bit, and advertise and own your passions.

Offer individual feeds for individual categories.

I commonly hear non-niche bloggers express fear over annoying their readers. “What if they don’t want to read about __________?” If this is a serious enough concern, it is possible to create individual feeds for individual categories. Then you can offer the options up front and allow your readers to determine what type of content they receive from you.

Related to this topic, I’ve seen bloggers post surveys along the lines of “What would you like to see more of on this blog?” My personal stance is: don’t poll your readers on what you should write. The answers are rarely cohesive enough to form actionable data. Besides, your blog is your home online. Do you really want to live with someone else’s furniture? Finally, what if your readers want you to eliminate a topic you love? Would you be happy cutting out that content? If you decide to keep it anyway, will you feel good about going against their wishes? (after all, you did ask!) If you are looking for sound advice on your blog, choose one or two trusted friends online and get their feedback. That will serve you much better than throwing your blog’s fate to the wind.

Write for other niche-specific sites.

Bloggers worried about being perceived as a “Jill of all trades, but master of none,” can still gain credibility in a particular field by guest posting or contributing to niche-specific sites. Then when that audience comes to your blog to read more of the same, you’ll be glad you have clear navigation to lead them to it.

Bottom line…

Some bloggers can really rock a niche, and kudos to them! But that formula doesn’t work for all bloggers, and it shouldn’t have to. There is enough room in the blogosphere and enough definitions of the word “success” for each of us to find our way as a blogger, niche or no niche.

There’s no need to feel discouraged or apologetic about not operating within clearly defined lines of content for a blog. I’ve listed some suggestions here for how to make non-niche blogging work, but ultimately, each blogger needs to own their space online and their reasons for being here, and embrace what they have to offer. If that means ditch the niche, then I say go for it! You’ll be in some pretty great company if you do.

*This post adapted from my Roundtable discussion at the 2011 Mom 2.0 Summit.

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  • CarissaRogers

    hitting. the. same. nail. on. the. same. head.

    I’m over hear nodding my head. Yes. Yes. and Yes.

    I’d go slightly insane if I decided my only topic all day every day was tween parenting. So instead I place ALL of that topic over on one site. Same for several other topics.

    I have a friend who has rediculously high traffic, yet she can’t figure out how to write about what she genuinely cares about. She’s so chained to that ‘traffic’ ya know? The extra feed thing might be exactly what she needs… I’ll look into that.

    can you do that with blogspot??

  • http://twitter.com/littlehenhouse Morgan B.

    This came just at the right time for me! I have to thank Melissa at Mom Comm for sending me your way. I’ve been holding back on writing about my urban farming because I didn’t want to make my reader’s heads spin. You and Melissa gave me the push I needed to just go for it. Thank you!

    PS: You couldn’t be more right about niche bloggers getting stuck in their own content. I have a friend who has a very popular blog that deals with very serious and somber issues. She has so many wonderful things happening in her life, but she feels she can’t write about them.

  • Brittany

    I agree! But of course you know that. Maybe that’s why I am so loving the new name of my blog. I actually realy enjoy reading blogs that focus on different things. I feel like I have a better sense of who someone is if they have more than one topic. Plus I feel like, in terms of so-called “mommy blogging” that being a wife and mother has SO MANY aspects to it. To focus on just one aspect would be ridiculous. Same with life really. Thanks for all your advice!

  • http://livingthebalancedlife.com Bernice Wood

    I have struggled with this too Stacey and I like how you have presented it. I did not fit in a niche when I began, and felt like I didn’t belong. I do feel like I have a *niche* but it is one I am working to create. If I had to define it is the niche of selfcare. That is what I write about. It is pretty broad and gives me flexibility to write what I am passionate about. The funny thing is, I really don’t feel I can write my funny or challenging family stories. I have bgun doing some guest posting on mainly mommy sites to post those!
    I am still working to define where I am, as well as designing my site to rightly display that. Thanks for this post!
    Bernice

  • http://liberatedlifeproject.com Maia Duerr

    Great post!

    One thought and one question.

    Thought: Maybe some of us are just living in the wrong era. There was a time when being interested in a number of different areas and good at many things was seen as a gift — a Renaissance Man or Woman. I like thinking of it that way better than ‘jack of all trades, master of none.”

    Question: You mention setting up a separate feed for each category on our blog. This is a great idea that I’ve never heard before. How do we do this?

  • Gigi927

    Now I’m even more bummed that I missed this round table. This is such a fantastic post, Stacey. Great suggestions and encouragement. I love the idea of individual feeds – did not even know that was possible. I am starting to see my blog split two ways between parenting/humor and blog tips/technology and two feeds might be a perfect solution.

  • http://www.thedivinemissmommy.com Stacie Haight Connerty

    I completely agree. Thanks for saying what needed to be said.

    It is entirely possible to survive in the blogosphere without a niche and do well for yourself. Although many will tell you otherwise, you definitely can!

  • http://www.mommyofamonster.com Natalie@mommyofamonster

    Stacey, thank you….I’m so tired of hearing I need a niche. I LOVE to cook, and love to publish recipes, etc, but they don’t get the traffic that my regular posts do. Your post is making me rethink things!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Natalie, I think there is so much to love about you, and I think it’s only right your readers get to see it all. :)

  • Michelle

    Back in January when I suddenly came up with the idea of having a blog(out of the middle of nowhere), I too read all of those articles that said I needed a “niche”. I told one of my friends that I didn’t have a niche. She told me that my blog could be called “Help me find my niche”. LOL I’m still niche-less, but having a great time. Thanks for proving to us that you don’t have to have a niche!! Stopping in from SITs
    Michelle
    http://www.heartfeltbalancehandmadelife.blogspot.com

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Congrats on starting a blog! Just to give some perspective, I’ve been blogging since Dec 2005, and no one has come knocking on my door asking for my niche card. :) You have a lovely blogging future ahead of you, and can do things ANY WAY you want. Keeping having that “great time” you mentioned!!

  • Sarahviz

    Yes! Perfectly said – from a blogger who’s still going strong after 5 years – who writes about anything and everything. Don’t NICHE ME, people!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      You need a tshirt made with that phrase on it – “Don’t NICHE ME, people!” ;)

  • http://www.themommymatters.net Courtney K.

    Just found this post via SITS and I have to say that I completely and TOTALLY agree. In my opinion, niche blogging is like beating a dead horse. How many times can you blog about the SAME thing over and over and over again before it gets redundant and boring? Thanks for sharing this!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      You’re absolutely right! I didn’t mention it here, but I think one way to avoid that burn-out if you simply MUST have a niche is to eventually add on contributors. Because otherwise, you’re right – you’re going to find yourself circling back around to your own thoughts and words. And then, well, you may as well be talking to yourself! :p

  • http://andthenshesnapped.blogspot.com rachel

    this is a great article. I feel like I sort of lack a niche…and maybe now I won’t worry about it so much. I think my blog voice is definitely “me” so I have that part down, and the “why” I maybe need to think about a little bit so I can define why. I don’t think “because I said so” is an acceptable why, right? ; )

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      I don’t know, “because I said so” can certainly work in SOME situations! ;) I love that you feel your blog voice is defined – for so many people that is the biggest battle. You’re already ahead of the curve!

  • Jenny

    This is a great post. I myself do not have a niche I just blog about whatever. This is a really great help for me to clear up some things :D

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Jenny – I love your blog! So aesthetically pleasing, and – as the blog name so accurately suggests – all about YOU. I love it!

  • Stephanie

    This is excellent advice, Stacey!

    I have always felt like starting a niche blog would be too stifling for me. I like the freedom of being able to write about social issues, books, education, travel, and motherhood – all under one blog roof. :)

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      “Freedom” is exactly it – who wants to start a blog just to be chained to something? I’m glad you enjoy the process and have it all under one roof! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debs-Dis/100002245177954 Debs Dis

    This is an inspirational post for me. I have a niche but there’s so much more I’d like to write about. Thanks!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Thank you for visiting, and for the comment! :)

  • http://hiccup-in-time.blogspot.com Dawna

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, Stacey! (Coming to you via SITS) I’ve been grappling with this, myself, and just decided… “you know? I’m going to do it my way!” And, now, the post content is flowing so much better for me these days. Before, when I was trying to settle myself in one particular niche, I ended up getting so blocked that I went on hiatus for a rather lengthy period of time. Now, I’m back, and feel I’m doing better than ever. :-)

    Thank you for the validation!

    ~Dawna
    http://www.hiccupsintime.com

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Dawna – thank YOU for your comment! I’m so glad you have felt rejuvenated since you decided to do things “your way.” That’s what it’s all about – owning and loving your space online. Go you!

  • Kristenlila

    OMGOOOODNEESS!!! YES. Exactly what I have been fighting.

    I started a blog end of last year after fighting the idea that I had to have a niche. I still don’t and had been not posting as much , once a month or so because I felt that I needed to “get my act together!” HA! thank you for the reassurance.

    How would you suggest blogging without a niche but not seeming like you are just randomly posting things just to post, but that they truly do have value for your readers? and you DO have a point!?

  • Heidi D.

    My “why” is easy. Therapy!

  • Terry Stoufer

    Oh, I was suppose to have a niche??? I never knew that. That is why I am called the “writerly wanna be’ just want to write. There is no pattern. I do need some help with the organizing though.

  • Sk_sohel

    Some bloggers can really rock a niche, and kudos to them! But that
    formula doesn’t work for all bloggers, and it shouldn’t have to. There
    is enough room in the blogosphere and enough definitions of the word
    “success” for each of us to find our way as a blogger, niche or no
    niche.
    There’s no need to feel discouraged or apologetic about not
    operating within clearly defined lines of content for a blog. I’ve
    listed some suggestions here for how to make non-niche blogging work,
    but ultimately, each blogger needs to own their space online and their
    reasons for being here, and embrace what they have to offer. If that
    means ditch the niche, then I say go for it! You’ll be in some pretty great company if you do.

  • Sk_sohel

    The rules of “owning” a niche can be stifling. I’ve heard bloggers express frustration over feeling bound by having to stay on one topic. There’s a lot to be said about this great, wide world, and even more to be shared about our personal experiences in it; for many bloggers, following a rule of “write this, but not that” just doesn’t work.

  • http://learntoembracethestruggle.blogspot.com/ Alisonhector

    Thanks Stacey!  I’m just starting out and was feeling a bit guilty about not having a specific niche.  Thanks for the good counsel!

  • http://twitter.com/alanamorales Alana Morales

    This is wonderful! I have struggled with this since I started blogging years ago. Nice to see this perspective on it!

  • Natalie Chiles

    Thank so much for this post!  It makes me feel so much better!

  • http://twitter.com/CiaoMom Elena Sonnino

    I love the idea of a different feed for different topics. I had never thought of that!

  • Kisha Lynn

    I wish I had read this several months ago. I went with the ‘nuclear option’ and STARTED A SECOUND BLOG. Now it’s just too much to manage between the two, I should have just integrated, and used some navigation tools. Bygones. :-/

    I do feel as though I’m working up to a split personality.

  • Deanna @ Little Green Bow

    So happy this made it on the SITS forum today. It’s very timely and full of great information. I’ve struggled with finding a niche and just decided to write as me about the things that excite me. As I continue writing, I do find common threads, but it’s nice to not be tied down to one topic.

  • Marie Bock

    I found your post reading The SITS Girls forums.  I have only been blogging for about four months.  I started a blog about working from home and that turned into me trying to help people find jobs.  So then I started a blog with my name but then it’s just me rambling about me and my blog.  This post is really helpful.  I’m trying to find my place in the blog world.  It’s nice to know that I have a place somewhere even if it’s not in a niche.

  • Jessica Crowley

    I stumbled across this page while doing a little research on how to get my own blog up and running and I have to say that I am sooo happy I saw this. I absolutely could not figure out a way to limit myself to a single topic when I am a person who has so many interests and so many things going through my head. This post helped me a lot! Thank you!

  • picturetalk321

    Here via momcomm. Here I was supposing that every blogger had a niche and that I was somehow weird and a square peg etc I’m so happy to learn (from your post and others’ comments) that this dilemma is shared by many. I will take your advice and just not worry about the not-having-a-niche anymore. Thanks!

  • Leigh Ann

    “Clearly organize your content” is something I need serious help with. I feel like I’m too far gone to organize it and my categories are a mess!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      I totally know how you feel, but I would definitely say that NO ONE is “too far gone” to sort through their categories. You can do it! I pared mine waaaaaay down about a year and a half ago, and though it was time-consuming (and a little painful), I felt so refreshed and focused once it was done. Good luck to you!

  • Megan Broutian

    Love the idea of specific feeds. Great post!

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Thank you, Megan!

  • Leighann

    This is so timely. I was just questioning if I should begin to come up with a niche instead of how I currently blog. Great article.

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Thank you, Leighann. I’m glad it was useful to you!

  • Zahra

    thanks for this! I struggled with this myself… I have a love of food and have a food blog that I wish I had more time to update but dont…I kept wishing I could put other stuff in there that interested me but I thought ‘my readers will probably get annoyed’ 

    I’ve just recently discovered ‘lifestyle blogging’ and thought I might start one as a great way to incorporate all my hobbies :) 

    Also, I did not know you can create different feeds…could you tell me how that would work? 

    thanks!

    Zahra

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Thanks for the comment, Zahra! As for creating different feeds – it will depend on if you use a feed service (ie: Feedburner, FeedBlitz, etc), and what you want to do. You should be able to do an internet search for “create different feeds on my blog” (or something like that) and find something that will work for your specific situation. In my experience, though the process requires specific steps, it’s not all that complicated. Good luck!

  • http://www.pirateprerogative.com/ Elizabeth Bruno

    I’m glad to find this post and lnow a niche isn’t a MUST. Although I see the profitability in niche blogging, it just isn’t me. I am working on honing in on my why and who (though it seems to change a bit over time). As my content count grows, I think I may need to better split things into categories.

    • http://treerootandtwig.com Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the comment! I’m glad you found this post encouraging. :) I wrote it more than two years ago, but it still seems to be incredibly relevant for many bloggers. And I’m like you – my why and who has gone through a few changes since I started blogging. Which is why not being tied to a niche has been so nice! :)

  • http://www.ellygray.com/ elly gray

    Thank you! I’ve just started my blog in the last few months, and in my research keep coming across articles about finding your niche. I don’t think that is me at all; I have far too many things in my head to try and stay on one topic. Almost reminds me of my old livejournal days as an early teenager, perhaps minus some of the drama! I do hope to one day build up a similar community feel though – I got to know some really cool people around the world!
    x Elly
    http://www.ellygray.com

    • http://thesceniclife.com Stacey @ The Scenic Life

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Elly! I think it takes some time to find and build a community when you start blogging, but it’s definitely there to be had, and is quite lovely when you do! I think it starts by just being true to yourself, and honoring all those many things you want to say. :) Thanks for stopping by!