This is a guest post from Mike Essex, who prefers to be referred to as ‘Koozai Mike’. Mike managed to get a book published thanks to his blogging exploits. Here he is with his book.
Inside everyone there’s a voice that wants to be heard. Whether you are incredibly shy or hugely outgoing, or somewhere in between, everyone ultimately wants to be listened to. Alongside the psychological need for self validation it’s also incredibly empowering to say something and have other people agree with or debate what you have said.
Despite this, very few people actually share their views with more than just their mates in the pub or at work. Some people never share their opinions at all, and that’s a real shame. Thankfully with the drastic rise of blogging websites, video sharing sites and social networks there have never been more ways to share your views.
So in this guide I’m going to take you through everything from deciding what it is you want to say, to how you’ll share it, get people to see it, and get paid for it.
What do you enjoy?
So to first pin down your niche you need to look at all of the activities you like doing and all of things that you enjoy talking to friends about. There will likely be things that you love to discuss and debate; things that you are really passionate about. Make a list of everything and then one week later take a look at this list again and mark anything that you could theoretically talk about every day, if someone with similar interests was to talk to you. These are your key passions, and that’s where you should focus.
I found I really enjoyed reviewing products and that often I would think about the pros and cons of each product I purchased. I’d also get in to heated debates with friends over which products were best. So I started thinking about sharing my product reviews with others online.
Who else is talking about it?
Once you have a rough idea what you could talk about, you can start writing down anywhere you know that already talks about that topic. So consider any magazines, TV shows and websites. It’s also worth doing a search online for other websites on the topic to see what they do well when they talk about the topic. Write up a list, which we’ll analyse next.
In my case I found that a lot of websites gave reviews, and it seemed like the key items reviewed were often video games, books, movies and TV shows.
What can you add to the conversation?
The most popular sites are those that offer something new, that have a unique voice which covers a topic in a fresh way. So based on the previous analysis you should look for gaps in the conversation. Is there anything you like to talk about that doesn’t very often get covered? It could be that the other sites already cover a topic, but that they don’t often look at it from a certain angle. For example, there are millions of video game websites, but only one that looks at the lack of homosexuality in games – GayGamer.net. It’s a unique take on a topic, and it appeals to people.
In my prior analysis I discovered that a lot of products were rarely reviewed, such as fashion, home appliances and toys. So this helped me pin down that I could create a website that reviewed any product, and that in order to save money I’d only review products people sent me for free.
How will you deliver your message?
Now you know what you’d like to talk about there are many ways to do it. A quick method is to register a blog with WordPress or Blogger.com. For around £25 you can buy a domain and hosting, although you can get a free blog if you don’t mind it sitting on another website. If you don’t want to use words you could film videos for YouTube, with most smart phones now powerful enough to record short videos.
A great example of using a different format to spread a message is What I Wore Today – where Poppy Dinsey took a photo of her outfit every day. People become so interested in her site that she grew it into a social network where anyone can share their daily outfits.
Personally I used Blogger to start my blog, as it was free, and I still use them today. Although these days I’d have to recommend WordPress as a much more robust solution. It also made sense for me to use a blogging site as I’ve always enjoyed writing, and quite like putting down my ideas in words.
How will you share your message?
Using Google Analytics you can see how many people are on your website, which helps you keep track of how things are going. Once you have the means to see how many people are viewing your site, it’s wise to add social sharing buttons – Share This is a quick way to add them to your website. If you are spreading the message by video, then YouTube already comes with easy ways to share content.
When I made my website, I was just beginning to learn about Search Engine Optimisation. In essence this means writing your content to make it more search engine friendly. In an interesting twist, SEO ended up becoming my day job, so the hobby I learned for a personal project became my future career. You can get started in SEO through the resources on this Infographic.
One more thing to consider with visitor numbers is that you don’t have to “go viral” to make what you do worthwhile. Often people getting annoyed because only 50 or so people read their content. But at the end of the day that’s fifty human beings who read what they had to say. Just because the Internet is such a huge place, doesn’t mean everything you do has to be super popular. Even a very small following can still be very powerful.
How can you monetise your message?
Do what you love first and then worry about making money from it later. I started my blog as a personal project, it was advert free and didn’t clash with my career. In my experience that seems to be the best way to start out.
If I’d started out with an advert filled website then it would have put off a lot of early visitors. Likewise, if it had been my only income, I would probably have dropped the site quickly and moved on to something more profitable.
When you do decide to monetise your content then you can display adverts on your website with Google Adsense, and use affiliate links to make money for any products sold via your site – Amazon Affiliates being one simple scheme.
In my case I wrote a book, called Free Stuff Everyday. As my website had been about freebies people had sent me, I decided to write a book on how other people could get free stuff. The book had brand new content not seen on the site, and by writing the site first I built up a good understanding of what people wanted to read from reader’s questions.
Now I’m about to embark on an attempt to break the Amazon Top 100 chart for my book, I’m enlisting the help of everyone I can, and I’d love your help too! You can discover more on my challenge at http://www.koozai.com/blog/news/help-an-unknown-author-reach-the-amazon-top-100-top100challenge/ and it just goes to show that finding your niche and writing about it can turn in to something really amazing.
So now you’ve found your niche, all that remains to do is get started. I can’t wait to hear what you do with it.
Mike Essex is Online Marketing Manager for Koozai a UK Digital Marketing Agency. He is the author of Free Stuff Everyday, a simple guide on how anyone can get products for free. You can find him online as @Koozai_Mike on Twitter or via his website Mike Essex.co.uk.
This post is part of the Personal Branding Series, helping you develop a successful online presence.