Welcome to writing/communications Wednesdays.

Last Spring I went to a blogging conference (BlogWest 2013). It was a general conference about a variety of topics related to blogging. One of my biggest take-aways from the conference was hearing from the leaders in the “Mommy Blogging” niche.

This week in Understanding Social Networks by Kadushin (2012), I read that self-designated opinion leaders or influentials are:

“the ‘multipliers’, and trend-setters, the source for guideance and advice, the human transmitters of mass-mediate climate of opinion, issues, and agendas” (p. 144).

Image via associationsnow.com

What these mommy bloggers who spoke at the conference had in common was that they were influencers. They had all reached a level of blogging that included high-quality consistent content that resulted in a high number of visits to their websites and they were making thousands of dollars per month blogging!

Once a blog reaches a certain number of visitors, the blogger becomes an influencer. If companies find these influencers, they can capitalize on the blogger’s specific audience.

There are many types of niche blogs with some of the major topics being:

  • Mommy blogs – topics related to raising children
  • Foodie blogs – normally specified to a region (e.g. French food), dietary-restrictions (gluten-free), or specific food group (e.g. chocolate or wine)
  • Travel blogs – normally focus on one city, country or region, or travel from a certain perspective (e.g. solo, family, or budget travel)
  • Fashion blogs – topics related to clothing, accessories, make-up and/or hairstyles

There are niches out there for any topic people might be interested in and that’s the beauty of the long tail.

Niche blogs tend to gain a large and loyal following. Because the bloggers are always writing about one focused topic, they become thought leaders. They read other blogs, news articles and books related to their niche, and as a result become very knowledgable in their chosen area.

Kadushin (2012) writes:

“Leaders are often of slightly higher status than their followers but not much higher…This happens because most people like to look up to others that are like themselves, only a little better” (p. 145).

This quote reflects the leading bloggers precisely because bloggers are people, who have their niche topic in common with their readers/followers. Leading bloggers engage with their readers in the comments section and on other social media channels such as Twitter. The leading bloggers tend to have a higher number of Twitter followers and blog readers than others in the same niche so they have a higher status, but they aren’t too much higher.

This higher status and following is what allows some leading bloggers to monetize their blogs. Companies and advertisers are attracting to niche bloggers because their followers trust them and so advertisements carry more weight with the blogger’s stamp of approval behind them.

Leading bloggers write sponsored posts (paid for by a company for including name brands and hyperlinks to their website), product reviews, hold contests for their readers to win prizes from companies, and/or place advertisement banners on their blog.

Not all niche bloggers can monetize their blog and neither are all monetized blogs niche blogs. But to become a leading blogger or influencer in a certain topic area,  followers expect consistent high-quality content that they find value in reading.

When I started blogging, my goal wasn’t to become a leader in a certain niche or to monetize. My goal was to create a portfolio of online written work and to get involved in blogging communities. My blog covers several topics, which all have their own niches as well: travel/culture, communications/writing, book reviews, and lifestyle. A fellow blogger, Jessica Lawlor, wrote a great post about being a general rather than a niche blogger. So while I’m not a though leader in one niche, I have a solid knowledge base in the areas I blog about, and I have a diverse network in multiple areas that interest me.

Are you a niche blogger? Have you thought about monetizing your blog? Who in your network would you consider influential or a leader on a certain topic?

3 thoughts on “Influential Bloggers – Niches and monetization”

  1. What are your thoughts on guest blogging? http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/

    Disingenuous? Not gonna lie, I do a bit of contributing for the byline and picking up some followers. You can be seen as a quasi-expert. You get noticed in some circles. It leads to other things and ice breakers in your real job. The social capital far outweighs the stress of writing for a living.

    1. I’ve written guest blogs and have had guests post on my blog. The link you provided discusses more along the lines of guest blogging to drive traffic and sales. I have gotten a number of “spammy” requests for guests to write on my blog because they want to drive traffic to their own websites. However, guest blogging is a very effective way to engage in community/niche building. If you make friends with bloggers in a niche area you are interested in, it is very useful to write guest posts for each other’s blogs because you tend to have overlapping audiences (homophily), but also it may attract new followers you didn’t have before (effectance).

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