For many of us who’ve been blogging for a while, a new year signifies one critical thing: reinventing our blogs.
Last year, I shared tips for crafting yourself a niche if you do not have one yet. But what if you already have a blog and want to shift what you’re doing with it? Perhaps your current niche is not working, or you’ve become interested and attracted by a slightly different topic, with a target audience that just happens to match your own. Instead of starting up a new blog from scratch, here is how to reposition your existing blog.
Mom-Blog: A Case Study in Repositioning Your Blog
A few years ago, I started feeding my kids a highly restrictive diet.
Since my blog is about parenting and since my struggles to feed them consumed a large portion of my time, naturally I blogged about it. But of course, when your blog has already been in existence for years, changing it from a parenting focus to a food niche is tricky. The solution came in the form of a something that we need to keep top of mind as bloggers: search engine optimization.
The Benefits of Google+ and Relevant Hashtags
In spring of 2012, I was contacted by a company that invited me to be their gluten-free blogger for a dinner event at a restaurant owned by a former Iron Chef Competitor. It took me quite a while to understand why they selected me: I was ranking very well for “gluten” and “gluten free” on Google – result #4 at the time! I was mystified at first because I’d only just started blogging about my experience, until I realized that those links came from my Google+ page. I’d simply promoted on G+ with the hashtag “#gluten” and my shares landed right in the top search results. I still get that ranking because I regularly use that hashtag when posting to Google.
Work on search engine optimization for your new niche, using Google+ with your new keyword in hashtags to promote your blog posts. Read my dinner event post for an example on how to do an event overview. I used my best photos and a “Wordless Wednesday” meme to promote.
Attend Events to Gain Exposure
Naturally, I attended this event, especially since they made it so easy. They sent a car to drive me out to New Jersey for a private dinner with a few other bloggers at a 5 star restaurant, where we watched a short presentation, enjoyed a cooking lesson with the restaurant’s owner and took home a bag of cooking swag. It was my first blogger invitation event and one of my favorite. I took a ton of photos and wrote up a few blog posts, keeping in mind that event attendance can be a doorway to bigger and better blogging opportunities. I made sure that year to attend several blogger conferences plus a few private parties.
About a year later, I saw that the Gluten Free Expo had a nearby event in New Jersey and was looking for bloggers. I filled out the application and surprised when I was selected to be one of their bloggers. I attended the Expo for free and brought lots of business cards. Because this event was in my new niche and because this was a public event rather than a blogger conference, I got to review and write about a lot of gluten-free products, which further boosted further establishing my authority in this niche.
Attend events targeted toward your new niche, especially private ones. Apply to ones you might think you’re not big enough for yet. Join local blogger or business groups so that you can get local invitations to events nearby. When you do attend events, interact online while at the event, take lots of photos, share on social media, and craft an outstanding blog post with great photos. See my Gluten Free Expo post, where I used a “top 10” meme to promote attendance to my readers.
Take a Stand to Build Authority
Back at my blog, I kept writing about gluten-free living.
In Spring, 2012, I had only one gluten-free product review but my food journey was growing. I learned about the to label GMOs. I discovered that GMO-free foods and gluten-free foods often go hand-in-hand, as they usually cater to the same market. I signed up for several blog carnivals about labeling non-GMO products and volunteered to write pieces to support the ballot measures in different states. Then I learned about LARABARS, a gluten-free brand that was labeled as non-GMO by The Non-GMO Project. There was a debate going on about whether their intentions could be trusted, since their parent company is General Mills, who have raised a lot of money to fight against labeling GMOs while LARABAR has done the opposite. When I reached out to them to ask about their financial relationship with GM, I was satisfied with LARABAR’s position and they offered products to review. We started a relationship as I shared my belief that their intentions were honest.
My foray into non-GMO foods put my back in touch with some bloggers who write about non-toxic and clean living.
In October, I went to a Twitter party that defined “pink washing” – the practice of labeling something as supporting breast cancer research charities – in order to promote marketing and make more money. As many pink-washed products are foods that contain GMOs and there is a suspect relationship between GMOS and cancer, I wrote an in-depth article about what I learned, linking to all the information and party hosts. One of those hosts picked up my article and circulated it to all her readers, which brought me a nice boost in traffic. While not exclusively about gluten-free products, the target audience of all these areas are the same, so it worked to spread my name among my desired community.
Champion a controversial cause or support a brand in or near your new niche, which will not only to help bring in traffic and boost SEO, but spread the word about something you care about. It will also show both brands and big name bloggers that you can be a hero for them. Read my pink washing post for an example on how to recap an online activist event, complete with eye-popping photo.
Get Inspired by Experts
Now, there are a number of gluten-free blogs out there nowadays, but I do believe mine is a little different, since it focuses on how to cook a gluten-free diet to recover your child if you are not a great cook. That said, there are some amazing gluten-free blogs in existence. Your work on changing your niche is not complete until you look at the competition, especially successful blogs, to see what they are doing right.
I’m not advocating plagiarism, I’m talking about getting ideas for topics (as well as SEO research) and finding unique ways to approach them.
For example, this holiday season, I chose to create a last minute “gift guide” for moms of kids with special needs like so many of my friends do – and while it was a fun experiment, it was clunky and definitely a beginner version. A week later, I realized that I had this great photo of a prize I had won of products that were perfect for my audience: a gluten-free, non-GMO and nontoxic baking package, with a bow on top. This is one of the best prizes I ever won – wouldn’t it be great to teach readers how to make this type of a package for their friends? I crafted a piece on how to do so around that image, positioning it around gluten-free gifts. This post did much better than my gift guide – and it’s a useful piece that can be shared on social media every holiday. Again, this piece was picked up by the folks who sent me the prize and by the party organizer, and shared among their audiences.
Those tips have gone a long way in taking me from my first gluten-free post in Spring of 2012, to becoming a regular blogger for Glutino Gluten Free Foods and a Gluten Free Expo Blogger by Fall, 2013. These four easy steps can help you reposition your blog into a new niche that attracts much of your current audience and brings you opportunities in a little more than a year.
Article by Gina Badalaty
Gina Badalaty is the owner of Embracing Imperfect, a blog devoted to encouraging and assisting moms of children with special needs and restricted diets. Gina has been blogging about parenting, raising children with disabilities, and allergy-free living for over 12 years. She’s blogs at Mamavation.com, and has blogged for major brands like Silk and Glutino. She also works as a copywriter and brand ambassador. She loves engaging on social media, travel and cooking gluten-free.