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Unless you’re blogging about Mexican Walking Fish (who’ve been trained to fight in the Greco-Roman Wrestling style) you can bet that your niche is pretty crowded.
If you’re blogging about personal finance, technology, blogging or making money online, the sheer number of peers and competitors can make standing out seem impossible.
While many have argued that blogging in a crowded niche makes things unnecessarily difficult, I disagree.
Sure, being the first blog to cater to the needs of an under-served audience is very useful, but few under-served niches remain.
Let’s deal with reality. Most niches are crowded. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
In this post, I’ll explain how you can leverage a crowded niche for maximum benefit.
Your peers provide a platform
Being alone (or almost alone) in a niche can be hard. Without peers blogging on the same topics, you have to search harder for places to guest-post and think outside the box when sourcing out your target audience.
If there are few other blogs on your topic — or no good ones — where do you comment? Who do you pitch links to?
While the success of your on-blog efforts will be magnified (because you’re the only one doing them), your off-blog promotional activities will be tougher than usual.
When you’re trying to establish an audience and subscriber base, off-blog promotion is perhaps more important than your on-blog efforts. An under-served niche can actually be pretty tough to exist in.
When blogging in a crowded niche, your peers provide a platform to launch from. Your target audience is reading other blogs in your niche, so that’s where you can try to attract them: by commenting, guest-posting, pitching links or becoming a contributing writer.
A crowded niche indicates a strong demand
If no-one is doing quality blogging on a particular topic, it might be because the target audience for such a topic is incredibly small. An empty niche does not automatically indicate an under-served niche.
A crowded niche indicates that it’s serving an audience hungry for information. If you think about your own behavior, you might find that you’re subscribed to a number of blogs in the same niche.
A crowded niche is a death-trap if readers are only ever going to subscribe to one blog in that niche, but that’s simply not the case. Some do, but a lot don’t.
Now with more links!
Ever noticed that most of the blogs in the Technorati Top 100 exist in crowded niches?
Technorati is about links, and crowded niches are ideal for getting links. Intelligent bloggers will make sure to link out only to things that are relevant to their target audience.
If you’re the only person catering to your target audience, there’s nobody around to link to you. If you share a target audience with a lot of blogs, it means that a lot of blogs have the potential to send a link your way.
Tips for success in a crowded niche
1. Make connections — a crowded niche is full of peers with skills you might not have. Starting an email dialogue with another blogger can lead to co-operation and mutual benefit in future. Bloggers in empty niches don’t have this luxury.
2. Crowded niche = crowded audience — with so many voices trying to be heard it can be a little overwhelming. You can stand out in a crowded niche by providing something radically different to everyone else or by filling gaps that other peers aren’t covering. Shouting louder won’t work. Developing a unique voice is essential.
3. Find your audience — other blogs in your niche are places where potential readers hang out. There’s no neuroscience involved — you don’t need to puzzle out where they’re hiding. They’re right in front of you. Not having to search out your target audience is a luxury many bloggers in a crowded niche don’t appreciate. Every time you guest-post, comment or get a link, you’re building doorways for potential readers to move through.
4. Learn from your peers — other successful blogs in your niche give you a blueprint to follow. By studying them, you can see what your target audience likes, and what it doesn’t like. If you’re blogging in an empty niche you’ll need to learn everything from scratch.
5. Benchmark yourself against your peers — there’s nothing like other runners in a race to make you run faster. When trying to become popular in a crowded niche, you need to edge ahead of already established blogs. To do that, you need to match the level of usefulness they provide (and then some). Competition breeds excellence.
How do you try to succeed in a crowded niche?