Who's the personal blogger?
A dreamer, someone would say. A person with too much free time, someone else would complain.
Not one nor another, I say.
I'm a personal blogger.
But I'm a niche blogger, too.
Jerry Low has me as a contributor on WHSR. I work as a freelance writer, blogger and copywriter for other clients as well. I run niche blogs and I'm all about ‘serious' copy all week long.
Why still a personal blogger then?
It's Simple: You Never Grow Out Of Personal Blogging.
Look at how I introduced this blog post— I made it personal. I let my true self speak. Maybe later in this post I will add an anecdote or two where I see fit.
Darren Rowse of Problogger.net started as a personal blogger, too. His posts speak with his own voice. You can feel Darren right there, as if he was talking to you, face to face.
You don't stop being a personal blogger when you move to niche blogging. The ability to write with a heart and make your writing feel like ‘you' is an asset that can only benefit you in the long run. Readers love credible, heartfelt stories and — believe it or not — storytelling is a winner in copywriting, especially when it triggers real emotions in people.
Also, you can always keep running a personal blog along with your niche blog. Nobody said you had to stop blogging for fun, right? ;)
Do You Write Like A Personal Blogger?
If you're wondering, that's a serious question, so ask it yourself and answer honestly before you read on.
You write like a personal blogger if:
- You speak freely of what you like the most
- You go deep with your interests
- You return comments and engage with readers
- You're easy to connect with
- You write well and often
Are you that kind of friendly, communicative writer? Yes?
Then you have all it takes to start with niche blogging.
9 Ways You Can Move to Niche Blogging from Personal Blogging
1. Extract more niches to blog about
I'm sure your Archives are packed full with blog posts about at least two or three niche topics in between your dog stories and the last movie you watched.
Look for patterns: what is it that you blog about the most? What do you really feel driven to write about so often? These topics (or subtopics) in your personal blog can be grouped to form the launching material for your new niche blog.
An example: say you 70% of your personal posts are about fashion– you can use these posts as a base to launch your professional fashion and style blog.
2. Hone your research skills
You already have them! Recall the last time you read and noted down opinion on a baby stroller you bought and posted a researched post on your blog; or a movie you watched, or a book you read. The process of looking up information, reviews, case studies and white papers, or to go out of your comfort zone to email relevant people to your blog post is research.
Bloggers are generally attracted to information, so it's unlikely that the most experienced will only write about generic, uninformed opinion. All you have to do is refine these research skills and learn a bit of journalism (i.e. reporting, interviews). If you're scared to get started, freelance writer Carol Tice has a great post at Make A Living Writing to get you started stress-free.
Outline, research, then write!
3. Engage with your readership
That's something you, as a personal blogger, are pretty good at. Personal blogs thrive on close relationships with readers, the people who could potentially turn into your friends and who could hurt you with the mere mention of going offline forever (been there, done that).
As a personal blogger, you entertain long conversations with your readers, care about what they think, get mad if they say negative things about a story you care about, wonder why a reader doesn't comment anymore and you miss her. As a niche blogger, this interaction is vital: you won't thrive without readers and subscribers, and there's no improvement without feedback.
The more you interact with your readership, the more you will understand it. Remember: your niche blog is your media and the readership is your audience.
4. Get personable with readers
Blogs were born as diaries. They were — and still are — an online alternative to that paper diary you used to keep under your pillow to write on at bedtime.
While a paper diary is strictly for your eyes only, however, an online diary is open to the public, so you have— readers. I already wrote about the importance of interacting with your readership in Way #3, but I will reiterate here that readers can turn out to be the best of your friends if you listen to what they say and get personable with them.
By ‘personable' I mean—
- You thoroughly listen to their needs
- You reply to their comments
- You get in touch via email if a reader hints at a more private kind of feedback
- You mention your most helpful readers in your blog posts
Also, personal bloggers email their readers often. They become friends. As a niche blogger, do the same by creating a newsletter for your readers: you will build trust and loyalty and, of course, emails make it easy to build real, genuine friendships. Being ‘serious' about your niche doesn't mean you should be cold and talk business all day long!
5. Keep your idea well always full
As a personal blogger, your idea well is always full. A day doesn't pass without something happening that makes good material for a post: your son's graduation, your end-of-the-year school dance, a book you really loved, certain thoughts you had on personal writing, your new scrapbooking projects, etc.
Ideas know no limits!
And that's a blessing for your next step into niche blogging, because the more ideas you can collect — even more than you can actually use — the better equipped you will be when the muse leaves and all you're left with is a blank page to stare at on screen.
An example from my life– a few months ago, I stayed up until midnight to talk to a couple of friends living a floor under me. Our chat related to Google SEO and how to thrive during these hard times. In the end, I gave my friends a real free consultation! And that chat turned into a post for WHSR that will hopefully get published in a few weeks. ;-)
6. Never stop having fun blogging!
You started blogging for yourself because you found it fun, interesting and stress relieving. Good, then– who said niche blogging has to be stressful at all costs?
Sure, writing for a niche — and for hungry readers — asks for more work to make your blog a go-to resource in your field, but by all means have fun, write to your heart's content and enjoy the craft as if it was the most relaxing activity on Earth.
Endorphins matter when it comes to success in adult life!
A personal tip: sometimes, when I'm slow in the morning, I do housework or go out with a friend first, then I dive into work to relax. I'm a quiet person, so after some tiring physical activity, I can't wait to sit down at my desk and perform some intellectual activity. I use that characteristic of my psyche to be more productive.
Also, it helps to switch duties between the body and the mind— after you got your body a little tired, your mind is readier to an intensive, deep work session.
Believe me– I wrote the draft for this post on the sofa between mini-naps. ;-)
7. Never give up on any of your interests
Blogging doesn't have to eat up all your time. If you never do anything interesting, how can you write something interesting for your readers? You would give up on blogging as soon as you dry up (see #5) and go do something else.
Just manage your time well and make sure your writing time goes undisturbed for that one or two hours a day. The rest is life and ideas collecting for your next posts!
Your other interests also add more good things, like niche guest blogging and other blogs. If you have been taking multiple blogs in consideration, you may want to read my other post here at WHSR about running multiple blogs efficiently and without stress.
8. Personal anecdotes help the reader connect
I'm sure you noticed how personal I get in this post: I added anecdotes from my life, tips from my experience, things I learned.
Me to you.
Blog readers are not like readers of newspapers or academic essays: they seek stories that capture them, they can relate to, and ultimately that are fun and quick to read.
Anecdotes help a post run smooth on the reader's eye! And they add credibility, too, because the reader can see there's a real person with real feelings and life experiences behind that post, which makes for real proof what you're saying is not a well-crafted deception.
Here is what Sophie Lizard of Be A Freelance Blogger says in an interview to Raubi Marie Perilli at CopyPress.com:
I love its informal nature, where slang is acceptable and plain speaking is obligatory. It’s an effective combination of personal anecdotes and references to other online resources, which is helpful to the readers, and it’s my favorite type of writing. — Sophie Lizard at CopyPress.com
9. Put extra, special care into crafting your blog posts
You do that already with your personal posts, but as I mentioned in Way #6, niche posts require more work.
I know that might scare you from trying, but please— keep calm and read on. All you need is to put up some special, extra care in the following areas:
- Niche jargon
- Fact checking (research material)
- Interview/Conference attendance.
The latter is not about the writing but the material to collect for your posts. Niche readers love interviews and conference reports!
In the end, it all comes down to being useful to your audience.
Personal AND Niche?!
Yes, you can have both. Surprised?
Think of all those mommy bloggers out there— they run blogs about their own kids and families that are about the parenting niche.
Think of Google's Matt Cutts, whose blog is about his life and his stuff at Google.
It's best to have two separate blogs, though, so don't take Cutts' blog for a good example.
I chose these examples tell you how you can keep blogging both for yourself and in a niche without having to give up on your personal blog.
Only a word of caution—
Don't let your personal blog ruin your niche reputation.
Getting personal doesn't mean writing flames, trolling, discriminating, violating other people's right to privacy or cuss and use poor language.
Think of what a potential reader of your niche blog would think of you when she finds your personal blog— don't you want her to know you better but still see honesty and respect in the way you address your personal blog readers?
Also, it might feel hard to find time for your personal blog anymore once you begin niche blogging. However, with time you'll learn to manage your tasks better and even to work on more posts at the same time.
My last advice for this post is to always start the day with a bit of personal writing— it will warm you up for niche blogging.
To your success! :-)
Image Credit (comic): Verónica Bautista