Sometimes, the best way to get at a resource is by digging a pit and pulling it out.
People have been doing this for some time – but is it appropriate for bloggers to be approaching their niches the way some mining companies approach environmental conservation; with scorn, disregard for wasted effort, and their eye on nothing but fast profitability?
Like open pit miners, some content producers go right for the veins of gold in their niche by going broad and shallow with their content. By not only writing for your very specified subject matter, but addressing subjects in a strategic manner, you’re going to get more out of the wells you dig in your niche.
Here are some signs you might be missing the opportunity for sustainable work:
1. Removing overburden
When you’re starting niche work, one of the really tempting strategies is to write all the obvious blog entries first – 10 Ways to Get Better Sales, or How to Own A Hacksaw are great titles – but when you spend your first month in a blog with nothing but these super obvious subjects, one of two things happens; either you gain no ground because you’re showing no depth, or you lose enthusiasm because the learning curve goes from bunny hill to K2 after you’ve exhausted the easy topics.
2. Chopping off the mountaintops (overt criticism)
There’s always kerfuffle about negative action – but relentlessly hamstringing the competition isn’t just a bad idea online, it can be downright fatal to your career as a blogger. Because nothing ever really goes away (see also; Eternal Cache mediatrope), even if your opinions about something change, your Voice of Record never will. Endlessly pursuing conflict for whatever reasons you name is counter-productive.
3. Failing to survey properly
If you don’t do the research, no one can blame you for getting it wrong, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Missing vital details, neglecting to give proper credit, or opining without disclaiming an article as opinion, can be damaging to your long term opportunities as an authority on the web. And that’s just with individual articles.
If you dive into a niche that’s dried up, or being effectively addressed by a range of other knowledge workers who both got there before you and know more than you do, you’re only going to be able to get a certain amount of return on your work.
4. Paying no heed to the tailings
Run-off from a blog may be harder to quantify than from a mine, but the fact remains that unaddressable byproducts exist. Unanswered comments, unthanked retweets, ghost town Facebook pages – all of these are the tailings of a sloppy blogging operation. Missing the opportunity to clean up after yourself, by responding to comments, and thanking those who share (when you find them), is a great way to waste future advocacy.
There are better ways to produce serialized content along a constrained topic set.
Because, let’s face it, that’s the technical definition of Blogging, isn’t it? We’re not just weblogging any more, we’re not journaling – certainly not if the idea of a niche has entered the discussion. Creating serialized content in a shallow manner will net swift results if done well – but it won’t last forever.
Image by Kevin Dooley.