Many would-be bloggers fail to ever publish any content to the internet, believing that the niche they’d choose has already been covered in excruciating detail by other sites with more experience, more resources, more sway over traffic and an impossibly high ranking in Google’s search engine results.
In reality, no worthwhile blogger should ever shy away from a niche just because it seems highly com
petitive. Competition has a way of naturally breeding excellence, resulting in nothing but more options and a better experience for your target audience. By thoughtfully crafting a blog based on a subject about which you’re passionate, you can gain the respect of your competition – and maybe even take advantage of some of the leg-work that they’ve already completed.
Choose a Niche You Love, or a Niche That’s Open?
First-time bloggers often struggle with an important question: should I choose a niche that I absolutely love, or one that I’m not so sure about but receives little existing coverage? The answer to this question depends entirely upon your goals.
Are you starting a blog mostly as a way of generating income? Are you willing to engage in a serious amount of research learning about an unfamiliar topic? Are you OK with spending a huge portion of your time blogging about a topic that may never truly pique your interest? If the answer to all of these is “yes,” then you may be better off choosing a niche/keyword set with less competition.
Alternatively: are you up for a challenge? Do you want to write about what you want to write about, potentially for a living? Are you prepared to work with your competition instead of against them? If so, you’re free to blog about any niche you can imagine.
Some will say that all that’s required to start a blog is a computer, a wireless internet connection and some type of blogging platform. The ingredient they fail to remember, of course, is passion. This is the weapon you need to overcome the “obstacle” known as competition.
Assessing Your Competition to Thrive as a Blogger
If you know you’re entering a crowded field with your blog, your first step is to do your homework and research the competition. Follow their blogs and take note of the following:
- What sort of writing style are they using to convey information to their users – conversational, humorous, academic, story-driven, first-person, third-person, or some combination of the above? A blog about automotive repair will obviously take a different tone than a blog about your love of kittens.
- Are they covering current events related to your niche, or sticking to other topics such as history, lifestyle etc.? Knowing what currently works for your competition will play heavily into how you construct your own blog.
- How do they seem to be monetizing their blog? Are they charging subscription fees for premium content, or blanketing their pages with advertising? It’s possible that your competition isn’t monetizing their blogs at all.
Remember, becoming a successful blogger is largely a learning experience, and it will be impossible to dive into a competitive niche without knowing more about your competitors.
Choosing Your Own Angle
Based on your research of the competition, your next step is to choose a direction for you blog that will set it apart. No matter how competitive your niche, surely there are angles that your competition hasn’t covered, or hasn’t covered as well as you can. Do other blogs simply tell their users information, or do they show it to them through videos? Video equipment is becoming progressively less expensive, and regularly posting multimedia content can give your blog an air of professionalism and interactivity that your competition might lack.
In many cases, you’ll find that your competition is trying to cover every possible aspect of your niche, hoping to generate traffic from just about every keyword search that’s even tangentially related to the topic, meanwhile providing only superficial coverage of each. Instead of following the standard “jack of all trades, master of none” approach, opt for the “master of one” angle.
There’s a lot to be said about amping up specificity in a blog: users certainly appreciate it, as do search engines that look for targeted, relevant, useful content rather than just generic pages stuffed with keywords. Choose the one sub-niche of your subject matter that you know and love most, and craft the best blog on the internet related to it.
Working With Your Competition Instead of Against Them
There are actually many benefits to entering a competitive niche with your blog. If you consider your competitors successful, it’s probably because they already have an abundance of traffic. This proves that there are plenty of people online who are already interested in your chosen subject matter, many of whom may be hungry for more and patronizing your competition simply because it’s all that’s currently available. If you manage to put together an awesome blog, some of this traffic will probably migrate to it without abandoning their old standbys entirely. Taking some specific steps will help you achieve this:
- Make your presence known. Comment on your competitors’ blog posts with a high level of insight regarding the topic. Post a link to your site in the comment, if the blog’s commenting rules allow. Anyone who reads your post will be tempted to click the link and visit your page, but only if your comment was actually unique and valuable.
- Actively post links in your content to your competitors’ content. This may seem counterintuitive, like you’re purposely driving traffic away from your blog by making them aware of the competition’s presence. Guess what? If they’re serious enough about the subject matter to become your repeat visitor, they already know about the competition, and they probably already frequent those sites. Linking to relevant posts that you like will not hurt your traffic numbers, and the competition may even take note and post links to your content in return.
- Get in touch with the competition directly. Send them an email explaining that you appreciate what they do, and that you’re in the process of entering the niche with your own blog. You may be surprised to receive helpful advice and maybe even an invitation to craft a guest post, complete with a link going straight to your homepage.
About the Author: Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. When he’s not busy testing sites, generating traffic or writing content, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching TV, playing games or going camping.
- How can blogging improve a business website’s SEO? (marketing.yell.com)
- Distinguish Yourself Among Bloggers (bloggingtips.com)
- 10 Reasons Your Blog is Failing (blogworld.com)