Today I am pleased to welcome contributing writer Jessica West to Kate Tilton, Connecting Authors & Readers. Jessica will be sharing some marketing and publishing posts for all our writers and bloggers out there so please give her a warm welcome! – Kate Tilton
Finding Your Niche
Whether you’re new to the blogging scene or just looking to shake things up, try looking at blogging as a business. A new business owner’s first priority, obviously, is market entry. When entering (or re-entering) any market, preparation is key. The blogging “market” is no different, especially since it’s so important for self-publishing. I’m most experienced in the publishing industry, so I’ll focus on that topic in this post, but these principals apply to blogging on various topics.
Choose a Topic.
Plenty of bloggers use their online space as a sort of journal, writing about whatever comes to mind. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it can be frustrating for readers who stumble across your blog and follow it, hoping to read more from you in the future on a certain topic. If you want people to keep coming back to your blog, and maybe even engaging with you on your site, then it’s best to make up your mind what you want to write about. For example, if I were to start a new blog, I might choose the publishing industry as my main topic. This is a broad subject, but that’s the idea. The next part, choosing your categories, will refine your topic while still leaving open the opportunity to explore your main topic.
Choose up to Five Categories.
At this point, take a moment to research your topic. This is especially important for authors who choose to self-publish to do so that they really understand what they need and how they can help others. For the publishing industry, look for and read articles with multiple comments underneath. Pay attention to the dates of each article and make sure the information you’re reading is current. What do these articles talk about, specifically? Do they offer insight into self-publishing, or are they geared more toward traditional authors or those who hope to become traditionally published? If you’re an independent author with a bit of experience, then you have something of value to offer others who are currently struggling with the same issues you’ve already experienced. Go ahead and add self-publishing as one of your categories. If you have experience as a graphics artist and making book covers, there’s another category for you to add. If you want to blog about blogging itself, toss that into the pot, too.
Choose your Keywords.
Social media expert Rachel Thompson of Bad Redhead Media recommends using five keywords that best represent the message you hope to convey, also known as your brand. I think that’s a great idea. She further suggests having five related “backup” keywords, an idea which I also support. Refer to your topic and five categories. My list, as an example, would look something like this:
Topic: Publishing Industry
Categories: Blogging, Social Media, Marketing, Self-Publishing, and E-mail Newsletters
Think about who you are as an individual and what you can offer others who have less experience than you. Read some of the comments of those posts you found earlier. Find out what information people are looking for and match their questions to the answers you already have. As you do this, pay attention to terms and phrases that come up repeatedly. Make a list of 2-3 keywords for each category, and choose the five that best represent your experience in the publishing industry. Include variations of keywords such as blog, bloggers, and blogging and check your usage within each blog post. Every time you write a new blog post, keep your topic, categories, and keywords in mind. Ask a question you know the answer to, and then answer it. Now that you know what you’re writing about, I’ll leave you with one final piece of advice.
Take advantage of your blog’s schedule post feature. If you can write 3-4 articles in one day, but can only write once a week, then spread out those articles so that you’re blogging consistently, even if you aren’t writing consistently. Each of us has a unique perspective, an opinion or understanding of any given topic filtered through our own experience and offered through our own style. Even if there are hundreds or thousands of other articles discussing the same topic, each new voice adds a layer of insights into said topic. Do take care with time-sensitive topics, however. You should only schedule posts that don’t pertain to a specific event, such as the release of Kindle Unlimited. If the topic of a post is relevant today but will be less so tomorrow, consider posting it as a “special update”, or even releasing those posts as newsletter content only.
If you look at blogging as a market, you’ll see that the steps I’ve outlined above have helped you find and define your niche. As simple as that sounds, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself now and an important step in the process that will benefit you throughout the duration of your career. One last thing, does your blog need a style guide? Sign up to receive free, easy editing tips by May 29, 2015 and get my upcoming June 1, 2015 newsletter, Your Blog’s Style Guide, which shows you why you do need a style guide for your blog and how to create one.