I blog about a niche topic within a niche topic. Classic movie blogs are niche enough but I specialize in silent movies.
Want to know my favorite kind of comment?
“I have never seen/wasn’t interested in seeing/only have seen a few silent movies but I want to see this one.”
It makes me so happy to read this. But how do you get people to take that first look at your site? I am going to share some of the tricks that have worked for me. Some of them have already been covered in my post on increasing your blog’s traffic but I am going to revisit them with broadening blog audiences in mind.
How widely do you want to spread your blog?
That is the most important thing to consider is how far you are willing to spread your blog’s topics. If you blog about cooking, would it make sense to add sections on gardening, entertaining or travel? Only you know the answer to that.
Let’s cover some risks of stepping out of your niche:
You risk alienating your core fans: If your most devoted fans only want to read about cooking, suddenly adding a lot of semi-related posts will make them less likely to return.
You risk unfocusing your blog: If you add too many new topics or topics that are not closely related to your main theme, you risk losing focus on your blog. A new visitor must be able to immediately know what your blog is about. And if your blog is purposely eclectic, say so on the landing page.
Here are some rewards:
You might get readers who may never have visited your blog otherwise: Sure, you have loyal readers for your articles on French cheesemaking but adding reviews of supermarket cheeses will give you access to a much broader readership.
You might find yourself having fun: Writing a regular blog is a challenge, even for the most passionate. Thinking of ways to expand your topic can make your blog new to you once again.
Eclectic content and off-topic posts are fun to write and read. However, when you are expanding your content, never forget the original purpose of your blog. Venture out but don’t forget to come home again.
(Of course, there are cases of blogs changing their purpose entirely but that was a decision made by their creators, not the result of too many topics. And, again, some blogs are purposely eclectic.)
Adding new topics and features
What new topics and features? Again, it depends on your blog. In my case, I wanted to make silent movies more real and relevant to modern viewers who may not necessarily be film buffs. Figure out your target and then try to come up with ideas that will appeal to them.
You have a blog on classic English literature. You decide that you want more non-readers to take a look at your site. You decide to start reviewing modernized film versions of the classics.
You have a blog on fine cooking. You decide that you want to appeal to the busy mom/dad reader. You decide to start posting about quick and easy shortcuts that bring gourmet food to a busy household.
In my case, I started reviewing modern sound films that featured silent movies in their plots.
Varying post length and branch into other media
If you are regularly writing 1,000+ word posts, consider interspersing smaller, more digestible posts. Someone who is new to your blog may hesitate to commit to a 2,500 word review but will be more than happy to look at a 350 word feature. Plus, the challenge of having fewer words available is a great writing exercise.
Also consider varying your content. What do I mean? Well, if you are a passionate blogger, you are using the written word. Have you considered adding images to the mix? Movie stills, vintage illustrations, animated GIFs…
By the same token, if you are an image-centric blogger, maybe consider adding a small amount of written content to mix things up.
Videos are powerful and search engines love ’em. Just be sure that the video is either in the public domain or is otherwise authorized to be posted. Of course, your own videos would not have copyright issues, assuming you follow the rules of your video hosting service. (Here is the official word on Fair Use; the actual definition of it varies from site to site.)
Test drive your content
I’ve mentioned before that I belonged to a small writers group and that it helped my writing a lot. Here’s why.
The group consisted of four women, not including me. We were all from different backgrounds and were different ages. We all wrote on different topics. Only one of the ladies had ever seen a silent film. What did this mean? I got to test out my reviews on an audience who did not know Wallace Reid from Sessue Hayakawa. If my references were too vague or too obviously intended for insiders, they would tell me so.
You see, as a fan of your subject, you may take for granted that your audience will understand your references and jokes. Am I advocating talking down to your readers? Heavens, no! What I am saying is that it helps me a lot to try to imagine a newcomer reading one of my posts. Would it be clear and fun to read? It should be.
While I no longer belong to a writers group, I think I benefited from my membership. In addition to helping with the basic craft of writing, it also helped me to see my work with fresh eyes.