Monday, August 30, 2010

You Asked For It: Your Blog Niche

I got an e-mail awhile back from the very lovely Ilde asking me how to get started writing a blog. She didn't ask me to mention this here, but I thought one of the questions she had was quite intriguing and something that I think all us blogger-types should think about every once and awhile: how do you know what to write? It's a question near and dear to my heart.

As some of you may know (depending on how far back you've wandered in the archives), I've been blogging for a few years now off and on. I started when a friend and I were obsessed with Daddy Likey and she suggested that, hey, I was amusing and liked fashion so why don't you start a blog? We sat around brainstorming a title for a couple hours (Chicken Soup for the Dorky Soul was the best we came up with and had even littler to do with fashion as it does to what I write about now) and then I began searching for fashion things to talk about. I quickly found, though, that I was frustrated with the fact that only one person was reading my blog about a very popular topic that I thought was being written in a way people wanted to read. Winona was popular so why wasn't I? As into fashion as I was at the time, I quickly got bored and frustrated and ran out of things to say. I stopped blogging, only to pick it up again on a whim for a little while at a time until I got tired again.

Sometime in 2009, that changed. I tried to look back in my archives and sort've pinpoint the turning point for this blog. I slowly began writing about things that weren't fashion because, well, I was beginning to see that other people wrote about fashion a lot better (and funnier) than I did. I realized that I wasn't being Vanessa so much as Vanessa Who Wants to Be a Funny Fashion Writer when that really wasn't my niche as much as I tried to squeeze into it.

My first post about body image was "What is a 'Bikini Body.'" I remember sitting down to write and feeling really inspired by what I was doing. Instead of sitting there and agonizing over funny things to say about a shoe, I just went for it and it all felt... right. It had nothing to do with the direction I'd intended my blog to go in. I think it was the culmination of looking at a lot of plus-size blogs and becoming increasingly frustrated to the point of utter anger at society's standards and all that. I didn't intend to be a size acceptance blogger or a "lifestyle" blogger-- I suppose that's what you could call me. After all, I write about a little bit of everything now. At some point I decided I wanted to sit down and think "what do I wanna talk about today?" and then write it, whatever it was. That's when I got passionate about blogging, and that's what having a "lifestyle blog" gave to me: the freedom to do what feels right even if it doesn't fit a "niche."

When I first started blogging, I would have told you that writing about accepting all kinds of bodies was far too personal for me. Writing about bodies started a trend of me really showing myself on the internet: I've shared so many things with you, from my measurements to my OCD and everything in between. For me, blogging became a mission to make my triumphs and my struggles heard in the hopes that shouting them from the rooftops would help someone. I learned that it was scary to talk about being fat or having a mental disorder, but that the rewards of having people tell me it touched them outweighed it one-trillion-fold. I don't even know how many e-mails I've gotten from people who have dermatophagia or dermatillomania. When I first wrote about it, I was terrified that no one on the internet would want to have anything to do with my freakishness or something, but instead I got an outpouring of love and amazingness. Before I started the Love 365 project, I called my boyfriend and told him that I wasn't sure I wanted to do it because I didn't think anyone would be interested or that it would be seen as a self-absorbed and silly. I was completely floored by the response you guys gave me by showing love for yourselves along with me, and it really just goes to show that if you write what's in your heart you can find people whose hearts are quite the same.

Basically this is my long story that is supposed to let you know the following: just start writing. Sit down and ask yourself "what do I wanna write today?" Don't worry about having a theme. Don't worry about what people will think. The amazing thing about blogs, the thing that makes them worth reading, is the fact that they're the voices of real, everyday people. Real, everyday people have something to say-- you have something to say-- and they don't need to be famous for people to hear it. A blog is a window into the world of someone who could very well be your neighbor, and that's what makes them special. A blog is your chance to be heard. You don't have to be someone else to be liked or to matter. Say what's inside you and ready to burst out because when someone writes with passion, the words radiate it. When you're real and sincere, the words will radiate it. That's when you've found what to write about. That's your niche.

How did you figure out what to write? Any advice for new bloggers?


Raquel said...

Thanks for this advice! I'm fairly new to blogging, and I often put pressure on myself to write something interesting/funny about a particular topic and it just doesn't happen. Also, I sometimes stop myself from writing posts because I think "People have already written about this, no one wants to read my take on it." I think for me it's an issue of gaining confidence as a blogger and just doing what feels right.

Jem said...

Oh my gosh thank you so much for this! Lately its been a bit of a drag for me to come up with things to write about but this I think will help me solve some of my issues. My blog doesn't pin point itself, it has no certain topics that I only talk about which sometimes does present a problem. I think its easy in someways if you only have a "fashion" blog or a "art" blog or whatever issue you want to blog about because then you already know what your going to write about. If you have an "everything" blog then its harder, you have to search longer and find out what it is that YOU want to write about not what Others want to read. So once again... thanks for inspiring me! :)

zoya said...

What great advice

Jeanni said...

This is really good advice. I gave myself this advice when I started my blog Carpe Omnes and I think it's worked pretty well so far, although no one actually reads mine yet. :(

thatafricangirl said...

Hi Vanessa,
I'm glad you wrote about this. I just wanted to say that, along with Daddy Likey, you were also one of the bloggers who inspired me to get started and most importantly, to keep going. Thank you for the inspiration.

Zmaga said...

You are so right. I stopped blogging a while ago as you know and I'm thinking of starting again - I miss it. I have some ideas, but I'm not really sure what my niche should be. Thanks for help!


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