Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My Niche, Your Niche

But first, a fun link: Zoom, if you dare. From Fishbucket.

Okay, so back to this workshop I took this morning. It was conducted by Steven Cohen of Library Stuff blog. Most of what he talked about I already knew -- self-taught mostly, via experimentation and reading stuff I've found on the web -- but he did fill in a few gaps in my knowledge, I got some neat sites to check out re: blogs and rss, and after the session, he figured out for me the problem we'd been having getting our library blog syndicated. We had the wrong path listed. It's always something simple, isn't it? Anyway, it's fixed and folks can now subscribe to it.

So, anyway, back to those things I mostly knew already. Under the topic of Marketing a blog was the item: "Finding your niche." It sounds like a no-brainer and yet, to those of us come lately to blogging, it can be difficult. I've discussed this before, either here or one of my other blogs. What to blog about? I've mostly assigned themes to my blogs, with this one being the personal, catch-all, mostly fun and comfort blog, Occasional Blog covering politics and other rants, Presto Speaks! dedicated to writing, and of course, the meme and photoblogs, and now Shelly's Book Shelf for reviews. And there really is nothing unique about that. Other people blog about their personal lives and interests, rant about politics, post photos, do memes, share book reviews. After so many years of blogging, can there be anything new? Anything unique? Should we all blog about the same things? Do we have our own spin on things? Or are we simply engaging in one of the more obvious aspects of the web? The ability to spread information (of any sort, even fun quizzes) across the globe in the least amount of time possible?

What constitutes our blogging niche? What makes my view of the election or of blogging or the most recent episode of "Jack & Bobby" different than anyone else's and therefore, worth reading? Only one thing. My voice.

Readers either like a blogger's voice, or that of any writer, or not. We can't know what will appeal or not appeal to the potential readers out there. We know we have a lot of competition. Folks who have been blogging a long time have built an audience and they need a reason to add your blog to their reading list. Do they want more fun links? Pretty pictures? Political rants? News items that hundreds of people blogged about first? Probably not. But they might discover, once they sample your blog, that they like you. What you say and how you say it. Trying to sound like everyone else just gives folks a reason to read those other bloggers, not you. But finding your voice, your style, means that someone likely will come along and like what they read. And they'll be back. Maybe they'll tell someone else about your blog. Maybe they'll link to it. And soon, you'll have your audience, whatever size it turns out to be.

Be true to yourself and you'll find your niche. Your blog will be a place where people will get to know you and even if they don't really know you, if your voice rings true, they'll feel as if they know you and that's what matters, to them, and ultimately to you.

This blog reflects me. The wordiness. The eclectic tastes. The desire to communicate. (My opinionated nature is better reflected on Occasional Blog, but will appear here at times.) Like it or not, this is my voice. And to those of you who have found your way here and continue to read what I have to say, you have my thanks and appreciation. And I'd like to think I've found my niche. I just have no idea what it might be. :)