Welcome to Week 2 of Bliss*Tastic! Today my friend Christine from Boston Mamas will be inspiring us…
I’m thrilled to attend Blissdom for the first time next month (I’ll be speaking on a panel about life balance) and I adore the lovely and positive spirit of Oh Amanda, so I was honored when Amanda asked me to guest post for her BLISS*TASTIC series.
Amanda asked me to share how I manage my local blog Boston Mamas while making it attractive to a broader audience. I receive a lot of inquiries about this topic from folks looking to start geographical niche sites, so it’s been a pleasure to think more concretely about my “niche & beyond” approach. Admittedly, my approach has evolved rather organically, but here are my key tips for blogging niche and beyond.
Find a hole.
I created Boston Mamas because I saw a hole and wanted to fill it. At the time, the city lacked a stylish, all-in-one parenting resource portal and I was brimming with ideas for what I wanted that portal to be. Whatever niche you are pursuing (e.g., geographical, food, craft, etc.), I recommend that you find a hole. The internet is a big place and there’s plenty of space for lots of blogs within a given niche, but identifying an editorial angle that is uniquely yours can be very powerful and also can help focus your writing and thought process.
Follow your instincts and passion.
My tech friends advised against going with a niche name like Boston Mamas, instead suggesting I use a more general name to attract a wider following and more advertisers. But this just didn’t feel right to me. Though I did want to write about a lot of general topics (e.g., eco-living, food, crafts, developmental issues), I was passionate about carving out something for Boston. I followed my instincts and good things have followed, both in terms of a national readership and a wide range of advertisers.
Be realistic. And don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
I created Boston Mamas while I was still working full-time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and MIT. Laurel was a busy, uber attached toddler. I was still coping with the loss of my father. Subsequently, I needed to be realistic, not only in figuring out what was feasible time-wise, but also emotionally in terms of what would be the most fun. For example, for a geographical niche blog, it might make sense to host an exhaustive events calendar. However, I didn’t feel that this would be feasible time-wise or much fun for me. Plus, I didn’t see the need to reinvent the wheel with dedicated calendar sites such as Boston Central already well established. Instead, I decided that I’d simply highlight cool event picks as they arose. It’s easier, more personal, and more fun for me.
Let content come organically.
In all aspects of life, I think it’s important not to try to drive square pegs into round holes. And when it comes to blogging, instead of trying to be something you are not, let content come organically. Stay true to your passions; content will spin off easier and more naturally and readers will tune in to that authenticity.
Believe in karma.
Within and beyond niches, I’m always troubled when I see bloggers (and also traditional media) view one another as competition to be conquered. The reality is that the internet is a big place and there is plenty of room for everyone. Not to mention that it’s pointless to do poorly by your fellow bloggers; other bloggers will not simply disappear because you want them to, and synergy goes so much farther. I have seen countless examples of how it pays to be a positive and generous member of the community, as well as how tearing others down comes back to bite people later. In a nutshell, believe in karma.
Try not to take things too personally. And keep moving forward.
One challenge for me in life is that I am a relationships person and tend to take things personally. So when aforementioned bad karma situations are directed towards me, my first reaction is to feel angry and hurt. However, the reality is that these instances will not go away, and the more successful your blog becomes, the more likely it is that you will encounter cranky people. The key is modulating your response. Jennifer James of the Mom Bloggers Club gave me the best advice on this topic. She said that you just need to focus on the positive and keep creating and moving forward. She’s absolutely right about that.
Make friends, and give back.
One thing that touched me immensely when I launched Boston Mamas was the kind and generous response of other bloggers when I reached out to make contact. In particular, Erin Kane and Kristin Brandt (of the locally based Manic Mommies), Asha Dornfest (Parent Hacks), and Danielle Friedland (formerly of Celebrity Baby Blog) were already established bloggers when I started out, yet they took the time to respond with kindness and also exchange ideas. I always think of these women when I get emails from others looking for advice and try to pay it forward as much as possible.
Step from behind your computer.
As Jo-Lynne wrote in her BLISS*TASTIC post, it is so powerful to meet people who speak your language. At every media event and blogging conference I have attended, I’ve felt energized, inspired, and honored to be amidst creative spirits. All of those in real life interactions have been so memorable and that’s why I’m thrilled to head to Blissdom next month. And whether it’s for Blissdom or another conference down the road, I urge you to start saving some money, step from behind your computer, and nurture your blogging passion by meeting fellow bloggers in real life. It’s such a joy to be a part of this online community, and the thrill of putting a real face to an avatar is particularly sweet.
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Christine Koh is a former music and brain scientist turned freelance writer, editor, designer, and creative consultant. She is the founder and editor of Boston Mamas, the designer behind Posh Peacock, writes a personal blog at Pop Discourse, and pens the Shoestring Magazine column Minimalist Mama. She resides in the Boston area with her husband and 5-year-old daughter. She tweets about it all at @bostonmamas.
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Isn’t she great? I first met Christine at the Pampers event and have had even more fun getting to know her online since then. She is genuine, intelligent, funny and incredibly gracious and kind. Plus, I think she’s kinda famous.