Finding your food blogging niche in what can often feel like a crowded blogger landscape isn't an easy thing to do. But it can be worthwhile and reward you with income earning options once you figure it out.
Let's start with the basics.
What Is A Blog Niche?
When people hear the word niche they often think "obscure" or "limited" with topics like only blogging about turnip greens. And while I'm sure there would be a handful of people out there who would love to know what to do with turnip greens, that might be too obscure for most of us.
Perhaps better words to use are "focused" and "defined". A blog doesn't need to be obscure to be niche. Baking blogs are a niche. So are healthy eating blogs. They're focused and defined but they still have a wide appeal.
So how do you find your niche?
It's Time To Have a Talk
Finding your niche is about focusing in on your content. Know who you are and what fits.
It sounds easier than it is.
One question I ask all my prospective food blog clients is "what makes you different from all the other food blogs out there?" Almost everyone skips that question. Of the ones who do answer it most respond with something like:
"I write about budget friendly meals, local ingredients, family friendly, gluten free, vegetarian, bbq, vegan, paleo, low-carb, comfort food, healthy eating, decadent desserts, ethnic dishes, product reviews, book reviews, restaurant reviews"
...deep breath....and exhale!
The reason most people leave it blank or come up with the most general statement possible is because it's really hard to sit yourself down and ask yourself "what is it I really want to write about?". It means taking some time for yourself, which can be hard to do, and asking yourself some tough questions. And the scary part is, what if the answers mean you have to make changes or... gasp... say no to some opportunities?
Forget About Money - What Do You Love To Write About?
Be honest... if you weren't worried about page views, brand interest and any and every chance to earn some income from your blog, what would you write about?
Sit down and make a list of what you really love to write about. What are you passionate about? Maybe it's cupcakes and icing sugar. Or kitchen gadgets. Or food photography props. Or kid friendly recipes. The possibilities really are endless.
It can be really hard to keep your focus when somebody is dangling money or exposure (!) in front of you. But, you know the old saying "do what you love and the money will come"? There's truth in it.
How Do You Figure Out What You Want to Write About?
Sometimes it will be obvious what you want to write about. Sometimes not so much. Here's a few tips to get started:
- which of your posts were you a little scared to hit the publish button? Odds are good those are the posts that came from your heart and gut. And they're probably the ones that got some good reader response.
- which posts have got the most comments? Something in them probably resonated with your readers - another good sign that you showed some passion and excitement in your writing (obviously you'll want to exclude posts where you were giving something away or that were in a linkup, etc)
- which posts give you a little skip in your step when you set out to put them together?
You've Got Your Blogging Niche - Now Get Inspired
It sounds weird to hear that getting focused and specific can actually inspire you but it can. Imagine if you were only allowed to photograph red things for a week.
What do you think would happen?
Suddenly you start noticing red everywhere.
Once you know what you want to write about, starting brainstorming all the potential topics you can think of. Once you start, you usually can't get your pen to move fast enough!
So imagine if you decide you really want to write about pies. Pies start to take over your brain. Suddenly every ingredient becomes a possible pie filling. You wonder about different filling combos. Or you start thinking about different pastry techniques. Or different ideas for crusts. Or different types of lattice work. There's dessert pies and savoury pies. There's tarts and hand pies. Maybe you even start to think about trying different pie plates to see which works best. Or rolling pins. Or reviewing pie cookbooks or checking out premade crusts...
What Questions Can You Answer For Your Readers?
Sticking with the pie example, imagine what questions your readers might have about making pie. Think back to the first pie you made and how it turned out. What went wrong? What could have been better?
Would butter or shortening have made a better crust? Would making your crust by hand or with a food processor have given you a different result? Was your pie filling too runny? Did your lattice burn before the rest of the pie was cooked?
Those are all blog posts that will be helpful to your reader (and your SEO). This is your chance to be the expert, "go to" person in your little neck of the internet woods.
Stay Focused - Even If It Means Saying No
It can be tempting to veer out of your niche on those days where it feels like nobody's reading or when a brand is offering you the chance to work with them in a way that pays money but doesn't necessarily work with your content. Sometimes you have to stand firm and say no - short term pain for long term gain. Here's some tips to keep focused:
- Get out your handy editorial calendar and start filling in the blanks to help you keep your focus.
- look at your overall branding - does it tell people what your niche is? If not, start making changes and creating a consistent look/feel
- carefully evaluate income opportunities if your goal is to earn money. Don't be afraid to say no if it doesn't fit - or offer up an alternative solution that would make it work better for your blog. Don't break your readers' trust by doing something that doesn't fit.
And there you have it. You've gotten specific and focused. But you're definitely not limited or obscure. And stay tuned - in the coming weeks we'll have a follow up post on how zoning in on your niche can actually expand your blogging, writing and income earning opportunities!
Go Your Own Way: Find Your Food Blogging Niche, was written by FBC co-founder and Managing Director of editorial, Melissa Hartfiel. By day, Melissa wrangles content for Food Bloggers of Canada while also working as a freelance web designer, writer and photographer at her own studio, Fine Lime Designs. By night she writes Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach, her very niche food photography blog. She hangs out in Vancouver with chocolate and her dog, Sam.