Tracy and I announced last week that Incredible Smoothies (now DavyandTracy.com) was about to become more than just a green smoothie blog as we focus on other areas of health than green smoothies, nutrition, and plant-based eating.
Besides the standard smoothie-related fare on our website, we now have content on travel, mindfulness, tarot, spirituality, crystals, overcoming fear, and blogging. And that’s just a start.
So why are we branching out beyond our niche? I’ll explain:
The conventional wisdom of successful blogging is to choose a niche, and dominate it.
It makes sense to do this for several reasons:
- It’s easier to build a successful website that is focused on a narrow niche since broadly topical websites are nearly impossible to compete with (ie: “health” or “weight loss” is impossible, but a much narrower topic is doable).
- It’s easier to brainstorm content since your blog is topical.
- It’s easier to establish yourself as an authority within a niche if your blog is focused and thoroughly explores all aspects of that topic.
- Monetization is straightforward. You know what your readers are interested in, and the products/services that you promote are relevant to your entire readership.
Sticking to a narrow niche makes your blog a cohesive Internet destination. People know what you are about. Your whole blog caters to the subject matter that your readers are interested in.
And everybody else is doing it, so…
Maybe you shouldn’t.
Maybe you should ditch the niche and let your blog evolve, jump around, and flow in any direction, or back again.
There are some downsides to having a niche blog:
1) You will eventually run out of things to write about. It’s easy to write for a niche blog during the first few years.
But can you really see yourself writing about that topic with the same enthusiasm and freshness 5 years from now? How about 10 years from now? Or 50?
Depending on the size of your niche, you’ll find yourself rehashing old content, or reaching for new ideas.
2) You will feel one-dimensional. Imagine if you had a friend who only talked to you about one topic. Would you continue hanging out with that person?
On the same token, think about artists, musicians, authors, actors, and sport stars that you admire. Don’t you just LOVE to learn more about them – their interests, what else they do, and how they are relatable?
Do you ever just want to hear people talk about one subject all the time? Why do you think anybody wants you to do the same?
3) You will feel trapped within your niche. Maybe not now, or in the next couple years, but eventually, your niche will feel like a suffocating box, closing in around you.
It will be hard to write new content.
Your views may change.
Your passion might flow somewhere else.
But the pressure to maintain a successful niche blog will frustrate you into writer’s block.
If you’re tired of your topic, you may find that you no longer write from a place of passion. Instead, your blog becomes a job – and you will feel your soul die with each sterile post that you feel forced to write.
It’s a stressful position to be in because on one hand, you want write about different things. You might even end up hating your blog. But you’re shackled to it because it’s paying the bills.
And in that situation, entrepreneurship is pointless. If you hate what you do for a living, then you aren’t living.
4) When you change, or trends change, you could lose your business. In some cases, pigeonholing yourself into a niche can spell disaster in the future.
Trends come and go. What’s hot today may fall out of fashion in a few years.
Your interests change too. Your views change or evolve as time goes on.
I’ve seen raw food vegans build a popular raw food blog. Then a few years go by and they no longer want to be raw or vegan.
Just because you are committed to a topic, a lifestyle, a diet – whatever it is – right now, doesn’t mean you will 5-10 years (or longer) into the future.
This is one of the main reasons why I recommend staying away from keyword-focused domain names, or highly descriptive blog/domain names that may pigeonhole you into a corner. (Ha, and I say this with the word “smoothies” in my domain name!)
Be a little generic with a blog name (and domain) so that you can pivot yourself right out of a niche when the time is right.
There Are Benefits To Having A Blog With No Niche
While there are some benefits to niche blogging, there are also benefits to blogging without a niche:
1) It’s Harder To Compete With You. It’s super easy to compete with other niche blogs.
The typical niche blogger writes content based on readily available keywords. Your competitors are doing the exact same thing.
Your content strategy is the same one your competitors are using.
Two (or more likely, many) competing niche blogs are going after the same readers, competing for search engine rankings, social media reach, and e-mail subscribers.
But if your blog is unique, and operates outside of a strict niche, it’s virtually impossible to compete with you.
Your readers follow your blog because they are interested in what you have to say – not just in a narrow topic.
While branding can help a niche blog stand out from its competitors, allowing yourself to become a multi-dimensional blogger can further strengthen your connection to your readers.
2) You Are Free To Write About Anything, To Grow And Expand Your Blog’s Focus. If you are so thoroughly done with a topic, you can write about another one.
You can write about a variety of topics and connect them to each other – for example, travel, entrepreneurship, creativity.
3) You May Get More Traffic, With A Broader Reach. Many niches have limits. The interest and audience is only so large, and the number of competitors eat into that share of traffic and potential customers.
You may hit your traffic ceiling with nowhere else to go. Strong competitors may make it difficult or impossible to hit your income goals.
Maybe the maximum amount of traffic you can get within a niche isn’t enough to monetize sufficiently to quit your day job.
Your competition may lure away too much of your audience on certain keywords.
Without a niche, you can write about anything, and attract a broad, diverse readership onto your blog.
You can find topics that resonate, and expand on those. You can take your blog in any direction you want.
I became an entrepreneur (and especially a blogger) because I valued freedom. Niche blogging can feel like you’re right back in a cubicle after a while.
A couple things to keep in mind with a niche-less blog:
1) It may be harder to monetize. Niche blogs are fairly easy to monetize because your entire readership is on your blog for a specific purpose, and they are interested in a specific topic.
So it’s easy to serve ads, and promote products and services that are most relevant to the majority of people who visit your website.
Without a niche, you might need to accept the fact that your conversion rate (blog visitor to customer) for specific products may be much, much lower than it would be on a niche blog.
You may also need to rely on ads and affiliate marketing more than creating your own information products, unless your niche-less blog has an over-arching topic or theme that you are monetizing.
(I recommend having some sort of theme to your blog, or else your blog may look like a personal blog with no cohesive purpose. Your blog must have purpose.)
Then again, covering multiple topics opens up monetization avenues that you might not have if your blog focused only on one narrow niche.
For example, instead of just offering health-related products on a health or nutrition blog, a successful niche-free blog may be able to attract an audience that is interested in health, travel, entrepreneurship, and photography – and promote products that appeal to travel photographers and health-focused entrepreneurs.
Your most popular content can act as funnels to draw reader’s interest toward a variety of products or services.
2) You MUST be yourself. Busting out of a niche means that you need to create a personal brand that will draw the right people to your blog.
You’re not just blogging about a specific topic anymore. You’re giving readers (and subscribers) a reason to follow you, and to read your insights and unique perspectives.
So you have to be a part of your blog. Your blog has to speak to people, and resonate with a specific group of people who are like you.
Your blog needs to build a tribe.
You can be neutral on a niche blog (though I don’t recommend it), but a niche-free blog must be run by a personality.
3) You must have something to say. Niche blogging is easy. Everything you write is focused on the topic. You answer very specific questions. You write about very specific things.
Niche-free blogging is more difficult. Your content strategy is more free-form. Your perspectives and your insights (your story) must resonate and provide value.
Ultimately, you want to write content that attracts the types of people you want to write to.
Examples Of Successful People With Niche-Free Blogs
Niche blogs are a dime a dozen. They are all over the Internet.
But there are a few A-list bloggers who have niche-less blogs.
Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development For Smart People was a blog that influenced me and helped push me toward quitting my job and becoming the successful blogger I am today.
His blog, while dealing with topics associated with personal development, dives into a variety of subjects from diet to relationships to travel – all sorts of topics. He even wrote a post recently about why he doesn’t blog within a set niche.
Zen Habits, by Leo Babauta, is another example of a niche-less blog with a massive following.
You may have heard of Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, 4-Hour Body, and 4-Hour Chef. Just take a gander at the “Topics” list on his blog’s sidebar and it’s all over the place.
Chris Guillebeau’s blog The Art Of Non-Conformity has an overall theme, but isn’t focused specifically on one topic. He writes about travel, entrepreneurship, and a variety of topics related to personal development.
Here’s another super-successful blog with a huge following – and while it is a cooking and recipe blog, Pinch Of Yum is so much more than that.
Scroll through the recent posts and you will see that this blog is not confined to the food and recipe niche. Lindsay writes about remodeling their home, clothing, blogging, family trips, pregnancy, her wardrobe – all sprinkled in among the recipe posts.
Her husband, Bjork, even shares monthly income reports that provide some incredibly generous insights on how they make an enviable income from a food blog.
There are many other blogs out there that are successful without sticking to a niche in the strictest sense.
These blogs have an overall theme – food and recipes, personal development, lifestyle design – but they are not defined by their niche. They share many aspects of their lives with readers, rather than “stick to the script” on a specific topic.
People follow bloggers like Steve Pavlina, Tim Ferris, Pinch of Yum – because they like what these bloggers have to say. They appreciate the insights. They like their personalities.
And while they connect on a shared interest (food, entrepreneurship, self improvement), the connection goes much deeper than that.
The blogger is free to explore any topic, to grow, and to change course.
Niche blogging has its benefits. Tracy and I have done well with our green smoothie niche blog since we began making a living with it back in 2011.
But there are times when we feel stuck in the niche. After writing about green smoothies and natural health going on 8 years now, we sometimes feel backed into a corner.
Can we see ourselves STILL blogging about green smoothies 10 years from now? Or 50?
Not likely. And that’s why we’ve started to branch out and write about other topics. We may ultimately change our name (from Incredible Smoothies) to reflect a new vision.
So keep this in mind when you create your own blog.
Leave yourself a little room to change, expand, and explore. Be more than just a niche blog with a single, laser-focus on your topic.
Keep a 10-year plan in mind.
And don’t paint yourself into a corner with a blog name or domain that is too niche-focused (like we did!). Leave yourself some breathing room.