Identity Crisis - The Quest For My Blogging Niche

It is 3:15 in the morning on a night not long ago, and I find myself staring at the ceiling unable to sleep. Perhaps the Starbucks I had shortly before bed had something to do with it, but the bigger culprit are the swirling thoughts running through my head. On this sleepless night, I wasn't concerned with money, or a sick loved one, or if the Euro would see the light of 2012. No, my lack of sleep was due to reasons far more trivial in the grand scheme of things. I was worried about my blog...

Over the last year or so, an internal struggle has been waged over the direction of my little corner of cyberspace. When I started The World of Deej, I assumed that about the only people stopping by would be my wife, mom, and maybe a few good friends. Fast forward about six months and I began to realize that there were actually people reading this stuff - some of them on a regular basis. I had been given a taste of heroin for new bloggers - the unique visitor - and I wanted more...lots more. So like any self respecting male, now that the project was started I decided it was time to read the instructions. 

I came across countless articles from more established bloggers on what has made them successful. As I went from article to article, there was one refrain that kept being repeated...Find a niche, find a niche, find a niche.  There was just one problem....I don't have one. I mean, sure, I identify myself as a travel blogger, but that is about as specific as saying I'm from North America. According to these guys, however, I had to have a niche, and for whatever reason I decided to search for one at 3:15 in the morning.


My inner turmoil continued on for the next few months, and just about every day brought a new idea or direction for my blog. I registered three completely different domain names, thinking that I would shut down The World of Deej altogether, and start again with XYZ being my niche. The problem with sticking to a niche, however, is that it meant dropping some topics from my writing. I love writing about hotels, restaurants, and Disney just the same, and to drop one in favor of the other seemed silly. Sure, a niche would be good in the eyes of Google Analytics, but would it be good for me?

It went on like this for a while, until one day I came across a post from my friends at yTravel Blog titled "To All New Travel Bloggers." It was as if the post had been written just for me. Here was one of the more established blogs that I respected telling me that they once felt the exact same way, and sometimes they still do. The message was clear...be yourself, do this for you and no one else. 

The quest for my niche is over, and in the end the entire process brought me right back where I started. The World of Deej is simply a travel blog based on my various adventures. It will probably never get any more specific than that, but after a year of struggle, I'm once again sleeping at night.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 

Deej

43 comments :

  1. Love this post man. Really I do. I've been feeling the same way and seeing the same things being said. I don't want a niche. I am my own niche. I'm like yourself, I like simply writing about my travels, whether that be a favorite food, someone I met, an idea I had, whatever. I can't see why that type of writing is boring to people, but oh well.
    In fielding a question on my facebook the other day, Travels of Adam said that sometimes it is best to have two separate blogs; one for your every day writing and another for your niche market. Perhaps that is the way to go also. Which ever way, I like the advice of yTravel.

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  2. I think that "the world of Deej" really sums up your  blog quite nicely - it's YOUR world that you're writing about, after all, right?  I'm glad you've settled on that, and are feeling better about it.

    Trust me, I've laid awake thinking about my blog and composing blog posts in my mind (never of which actually end up seeing the light of day).  I finally settled on a name for my blog that kinda encompasses it all.  To those who like it, great.  To those who don't, find a new blog to read!  LOL

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  3. That's good advice - I completely 'get' where you're coming from. Sometimes i write something and as I read it back I think 'my mother-in-law will love hearing about that little anecdote' quickly followed by 'Hmmmm, not sure all those travel buffs who've paid me a visit or two will be remotely interested in this'. It's a good exercise to think back to where and why it all began, and start typing from the heart again, and just be who you are... I hear ya and I'm feeling inspired now, so thanks!

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  4. Thanks Fidel...Glad you agree with the sentiment. I gave some thought to the whole two blogs thing, but then I realized I'd be losing sleep over both. GGMU!

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  5. The problem with the 3am blog post outline is they are long forgotten at 6am. I've lost some good ones to the power of going back to sleep!

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  6. i've given up on a niche and simply making my navigation seperate all the stuff i ramble about...so now surfing has it's own section, reviews its own and destination specific too...that way i figure i cant really loose and everyone can find what they want!hahaha!

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  7. Great advice.  My thoughts on blogging is first and foremost you are talking to yourself.  And so talk about what you like.  Other will join you because they like you not the 'niche'.  So 'Welcome back'!

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  8. Inspired???...Wow. My mom is going to love reading that:)

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  9. That's a good idea Chris...Perhaps I'll add a "rambling" section as well.... Look forward to reading about your adventure to Ecuador. My wife has been begging me to go for years...

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  10. I talk to myself a lot, so this should be easier! Thanks Mary:)

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  11. ha ha - i need a facebook 'like'button for that comment

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  12. NO NO NO NO NO!!! You have to have a niche! Let's see...for you I suggest the "Disney fans who have poor taste in soccer teams and are afraid to drive in snow unless there's a $100 room at the Four Seasons" niche. Sure it might be a bit of a limited market, but I'll bet you can get almost 100% of said niche to drop by your blog!
    You go ahead and write about whatever you want Deej. Unless you're going to advertisers and saying "Come advertise with me because I write solely about your industry" then it doesn't really matter. Unique visitors come and go, and it doesn't always have a lot to do with whether or not they like your writing.
    Besides, you're still the number one search result for "World of Deej Cheese Soup"! That's a whole untapped market right there!

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  13. Great post. We are having the same dilemma and cannot just focus on one aspect of our travel because the reason we started the blog was to update our friends and family on our travels! Sure other people read it but it will be foremost for me and Adela, then our parents then our friends. Good luck!

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  14. Nice post. I've had this struggle as well with my little, lightly read blog. In the end, I was able to put the worries aside because, while I am flattered and incredibly thankful for the readers I have, the blog is mostly for me. I like doing it because it fills the time nicely between my various adventures. It's a hobby, I never intend to make any money off of it. I'd love to keep improving it's quality, and that is my focus for next year.

    Your doing a nice job here, and I think you regular readers are a testament to that. You've inspired me to write a similar post- sort of a mission statement for my own blog, but it will have to wait (as everything with the blog has) until after Christmas. Working at FedEx leaves little time for personal fun. Even writing this comment makes me feel guilty :-)

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  15. Thanks Steve...I am going to work hard to keep that #1 ranking!

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  16. Those are great priorities....I hope you can always keep them in that order!

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  17. We share a similar goal Erik. The blog will always be a work in progress, and in 2012 I look forward to continuing to improve. I love doing this, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have you and others tag along. And don't feel guilty for taking a few minutes off....you guys work way too hard this time of year:)

    I'll look forward to reading your mission statement!

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  18. This drove me crazy for the longest. I'm still pretty new in the travel blogging space and just focusing on being me. If that doesn't work, oh well...

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  19. That’s why it is so difficult to explain in a few words why people will travel  world of wonders. 
    Thanks you for interesting post ;)
    http://www.levontravel.am/

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  20. Oh my goodness i have been having the exact same thoughts lately! Glad to see youve settled it, i thnk ill have to read that post by ytravel.

    - mel

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  21. And I quite like what you're doing! Great post and great content!

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  22. April, I've come to the conclusion it is the only way to be...yourself.

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  23. Thanks Mel...Stop by yTravel, they are awesome!

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  24. Thanks Annie! I hope you are spending the holidays at a fabulous hotel somewhere:)

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  25. Gosh I so hear you - I have had many nights of "What is my niche" - funny but I also read the ytravel blog post and it made me relax and realise what I wanted to write on our blog! I think about travel, adventure, discover, explore, photos, and reviews when I stop at your blog :)
    CheersLisa

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  26. I know exactly what you mean, we used to waste so much time trying to find a "niche" or a style of writing, when really all you need to do is to be yourself, and after a while you start to see a pattern in your own writing and see how it already has its own style without you trying to.

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  27. Wow! Thanks so much for writing about us; it makes us so happy to know that we have helped you in this way, especially the sleeping part because as a mother I get not getting enough of it hurts :)

    I think you have made the right choice. The niche thing is thrown around all the time, we don't really have one either and found it difficult to pin one down. How can we? The blog is about our travels which evolves constantly. We went from solo to couples travel and now family travel-our blog has to move with that.

    I think a travel blogs are largely personality blogs it is too difficult to niche it down- that is meant really for information sites.

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  28. Yes, I slept quite well last night. Thank you guys for doing what you do and for stopping by to share your thoughts. I agree with you...the last thing I want to be is an information site. Good luck at the blog awards!

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  29. I think you're right Sofia...It does seem to get easier to write because I'm not forcing a style out there.

    I always look forward to a new video from you guys!

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  30. Thank you Lisa, good to know the blog can represent so many different ideas...Really enjoyed reading about your adventure to Melbourne:)

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  31. Great post! I have been through the same thing with my blog, but always end up in the same place that you did!

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  32. I struggled with the same questions at the beginning of my site. However, I have become more comfortable also with my own little space. Although there are days where I wonder why things aren't just quite so in the internet world. It's a constant struggle we all face, and it's good to read others experiencing the same things.

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  33. I think you can only be who you are on your blog.  I read blogs because I like the personality and writing style of the blogger, not because they have a niche.  Keep blogging!

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  34. Don't worry too much about finding your niche - it will come to you eventually! We're somewhere between 'couples travel' and 'affordable luxury' without being 100% defined as yet. But at the same time, you're here to tell a story and if you do that then you'll be just fine!

    We attended World Travel Market in London with some pretty big-time bloggers and they kept on harping about leveraging your niche. But whether it's budget travel, luxury travel, or whatever - your destination stories are bound to be pretty similar at the end of the day!

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  35. I doubt I'll ever been 100% defined, but I'm good with that. You guys are doing great stuff, keep at it...

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  36. I doubt I'll ever been 100% defined, but I'm good with that. You guys are doing great stuff, keep at it...

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  37. Well, I too find it good to know I'm not alone...

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  38. It definitely seems to be a circle, but at least we all have good company!

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  39. I'm glad I'm not the only one who worries about this stuff. I love your blog and it isn't changing. I love reading about Disney but I love reading about other destinations and far off places and living vicariously through the writer. Have fun in Vegas!

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  40. It's good to know I'm not the only one who has struggled with this niche thing. It's great for advertisers and SEO but doesn't always make a good read. I always enjoy reading about your adventures, no matter where you may roam or what you may write about.

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  41. I think everyone struggles at one point or another especially to find a niche. It took me over a year and a huge poll to convince myself of getting a niche. I am happy that I have finally found one but have found it hard to stick to the niche. I felt writing only about architecture is not really me, so I've decided to continue the way I like to blog which is about travel and experiencing new things. Good luck and have fun.

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