I’ve been trying to actually teach myself about blogging properly, more professionally; learning SEO, learning about affiliate marketing, seeing if I could maybe try and make some money off this. I have no intent on making this my job, but it would be nice to have an additional income source and get a little something back for the hours I put into writing each week. And there keeps being a piece of advice that comes up basically on every post: find your niche.
And I have feelings about that.
In short, I think that’s a crock of bull.
But it’s more than that. I think that so much of the internet and society wants us to fit cleanly into a box or a niche. It helps them to label us, to figure us out, to understand us. Which makes sense, we like to know who are we dealing with. It’s a survival mechanism from when we needed community and our tribes to survive. But now we package ourselves into boxes and niches and digestible parts of ourselves for society’s consumption as we have turned ourselves into a product on the internet.
And it makes sense, if you want to make money on the internet you need to make yourself marketable, to create something that people want to buy. But we aren’t one dimensional, we are not a niche, we can’t package our whole selves into one aspect of our personalities or interests and we shouldn’t have to just because we want to put something creative out online.
But I also see the rationale behind niches, one reason is for privacy. When you start to gain a following, people want to know about you and your whole life. But if you have a niche, be it recipes, or interior decorating, or whatever you can maintain some privacy by only talking about items that fall into that niche. A YouTuber I follow, Alexandra Gater, did a Q&A episode this past Saturday with her partner and they talked about how, even though the videos are in their spaces and everyone knows what their house looks like, that doesn’t mean that they know all the details of their lives. So they get to be out on the internet and maintain the privacy they were previously accustomed to.
However, I also see the flip-side. I’ve been following Jeremy Jacobwitz aka BrunchBoys, on Instagram for a few years. And in the past year or two? he’s been trying to branch out of his niche of being a food Instagrammer to encompass more of his whole personality and every week in his Q&As and in his comments you see someone complaining that “this used to be a food account and now it’s all about this dude” or something similar and it seems to really frustrate him that people are upset that he is slightly changing the content of his Instagram, even though there is still a ton of food content on his platform.
If finding a niche would work for you, go for it, do it. But I don’t want to limit any of my interests, maybe that’s because I feel like I’m just starting to come into who I am as an adult with adult money and also rediscovering my inner child and if the interests that I had as a kid are still things that entertain me now. I also am tired of putting limits on myself. I like science, crafts, reading, cooking, baking, fashion, pop culture. I am a serious person, but also light, fluffy, and silly, I have street (and farm) smarts, and am also super naïve. I’m well educated, but also have been through “the school of life” (like so many straight men on dating apps who are insecure about their education level like to say). I am Northern Irish, I am Canadian, I am Southern. These identities should conflict, but instead they just make me who I am.
We none of us fit into a niche, we shouldn’t have to place limits on ourselves to find a place for ourselves on the internet if we want one.
Also some of the most successful bloggers I follow have found their success because they just share what they like, Grace Atwood, Carly Riordan, Meghan Donovan, Lindsay Silberman. They keep expanding what they do, because they never put themselves in a box.
This ended up being a bit more of a ramble than I intended, but I was just getting so frustrated with the contradictory advise of “Be who you are” and “find your niche”. Be yourself, your whole self, don’t limit yourself to just a part of who you are.