How to Survive and Flourish in a Crowded Niche

HourglassNiche blogging is one of the most popular online publishing mediums responsible for large chunk of content generation for the web.

I started my blogging career through a niche blog way back in 2008.

Contrary to the popular belief, popularity has nothing to do with the profitability of a niche.

In other words, several low competition niches can give you much better returns than a highly competitive niche. But, it is often seen that newbies often deliberately select a crowded niche in hoping to make big bucks through different monetization techniques.

Today, we're going to talk about surviving cut throat competition in a crowded niche. Fortunately, it is not that difficult provided you've chalked out a detailed plan right from the beginning. Let's assume you already fulfill some of the prerequisites of niche blogging viz., passion for the niche, flair for writing and familiarity with general principles of new media marketing.

So, let's get started and see what it takes to get your share from the big pie of a highly competitive niche.

Research Your Competition

Start with a fact-finding exercise to dig out the details about the top blogs in your niche. This is a time consuming exercise that requires extensive analysis of different trends, data sets and strategies used by your direct competition.

If you're not familiar with this research process, here's a detailed and comprehensive guide to research your competition.

Start with the top ten blogs and gradually move down picking a dozen more down the ladder. This will give you ample data to come up with enough facts and figures that can help you strategize your own approach to stand out in the crowded niche.

But the big question is - "What are some of the most important details one must analyze during the research process to shape up their own plans?". Here's what need to be analyzed during the entire process.
  • Dynamics of content - Content analysis is the first and the foremost important step to get hold of the kind of content being currently served to the audience. This includes content scope, its format and how it is being packaged. This will also give you the details about the topics and subtopics that are generally covered by the leading blogs.
  • Branding strategies - One of the major reasons some blogs manage to witness massive growth in a relatively short period of time is their approach towards building a brand. Readers are more likely to trust your content and services if they're comfortable interacting with you and clearly know who the person behind the scenes is. During your research, try to find out how top blogs have built their brand over time.
  • Community building exercises - A blog doesn't grow in a vacuum. Almost every successful blog devices unique plans to strategically open several channels of direct communication with their readers. That's what you need to find out during the analysis phase to come up with more effective solutions for community building.
  • Monetization strategies - Seasoned bloggers always devise new ways to make money from their niche blogs. Whether through regular pay-per-click ads, through affiliate marketing, through email marketing or through the services offered by them. Detailed analysis can give you greater insights about these strategies so that you can leverage your budding niche blog to its full potential.
This entire research and analysis procedure will give you tons of useful information that will equip you with concrete data sets that may help you in coming up with a strong and effective plan to boost your blog's presence in a competitive niche.

Devise Your Own Way!

The research phase will let you know about the strategies used by your competition. The key to grow in a crowded niche is to come up with unique and effective solutions that none of your direct competitors are offering.

This is a challenging task where you have to analyze each and every prominent blogging activity of your competitors and have to formulate your own unique way to get things done. And that too, in such a way that not only makes you stand apart from the rest, but is effective as well helping you pull the traffic that converts.

Let's try to understand it with a simple example.

One of the most common blogging activities associated with niche blogs is their monetization. Generally, you'll find your competition using different techniques to leverage the traffic and reach. The most popular ones are inserting PPC ads and stuffing affiliate banners in different sections of the web page.

But, you can try out something different and can compare the results.

I'm not saying that these methodologies are wrong. I'm only emphasizing on getting things done in a better and unique way. In this case, apart from these regular monetization techniques, you can also try out serving custom ads depending on the context and visitors' attributes.

Never heard it before?

It's an advanced technique that involves sensing the context of the web page as well as capturing the demographic information of the visitor and then serving custom content based on the collection information. The end result is much higher conversions compared to the regular methods.

So, in a nutshell, here's what you need to do:
  • Pick a blogging activity.
  • Find out how your competition goes ahead with it.
  • Strategize and find your own unique way to do it.
  • Implement your solution and compare the results.
  • Rinse and repeat.
Let's take one more example to ease out the whole concept.

Another common blogging activity associated with niche blogs is - writing posts focused around a specific topic. Now, it's quite natural that you have to write on the same topic your competition is writing about.

So, what's the scope of uniqueness here?

Here's what I do when I'm writing about a topic already covered by gazillion of other blogs. It's as simple as eating an apple pie and gives you noticeable results in a positive way.
  • Head on to Google search engine and try out some common queries associated with the topic.
  • Capture the addresses of all the blog posts on the first 2 pages.
  • Open each one of them and thoroughly examine how they've covered the topic.
  • Note down what sub topics they've covered.
  • Start building your own copy that picks the cream (topics, concepts and subtopics) from the collected data and package them in a different way.
  • Spice up with some good examples and illustrations, if applicable.
  • Publish and reap the rewards of giving a new perspective to a popular topic.
Initially it may sound a daunting task, but gradually you'll find it very addictive. The goal here is to present the old wine in a new bottle. That's what is needed to stand out in the crowd.

Collaborate With Peers

Experts always suggest using your competition to grow yourself. Budding niche bloggers can collaborate in different ways to kick start their blog's growth. It can be in the form of service or product offering for the readers, providing platform for guest blogging or promoting each others content and services on social media platforms.

Do extensive research and make a list of niche bloggers suitable for a collaborative effort in growing each others blog. Preemptively email them your proposal and highlight the inherent benefits for both the parties.

Here are some of the examples how two bloggers can form an alliance to survive in a crowded niche.
  • Cross-promoting each others services - Let's take example of two niche blogs related to social media and meta-blogging. One of the blog owners offers custom blog design services while the other one offers Facebook page customization services. Both can collaborate and can divert prospects to each other through their blogs.
  • Regular guest posting - Another popular alternative is to provide guest blogging opportunities to each other to tap each others traffic in an easy way. The frequency of guest blogging can be negotiated between both the parties.
  • Social media promotions - Often group of bloggers form an alliance to promote each others blog's content on new media platforms. This is extremely effective if the promotion is done intelligently in a correct way leading to extra targeted traffic.
  • Publishing interviews - Another potent weapon is exchange of interviews that gives each involved party an excellent opportunity to connect with the readers on the other blog.
  • Technical help - Often bloggers provide technical help to each other to optimize and tweak the blog. If you're technically strong, you can offer your services in exchange of some other offering from the other end. In simple words, it will be a win-win situation that will help both the bloggers in some way.
While collaborating with fellow bloggers, avoid blogs with ambiguous owner details (incomplete 'About' page). Another important precaution is to avoid long term commitments in the beginning unless you've got positive results in your first short-term collaboration.

Build a Strong Personal Brand

And last but not the least, if you really want to get heard by the audience, you have to give your blog - a face. Every top blog in any niche is instantly recognized by the person behind it.

Isn't it so?

That's what you need to do with your own niche blog. Personal branding is an important part of blogging activity that'll help you survive in cut throat competition. When I say this, it doesn't mean that you have to strive for gaining the status of a public figure.

All that is required is that your readers, subscribers and people connected with you through your blog recognize you, appreciate your key skills (or are aware of it) and talks positively about your personality as a whole.

This aids in expanding the visibility of your blog on key new media platforms that eventually contributes in the overall growth of your niche blog.

Niche blogs - without a face - couldn't survive for the long term whether you're managing your blog alone or you're part of a team of bloggers. Create a powerful about page, interact with your readers and share your experiences on a regular basis.

Over to You

Are you running a niche blog in a highly competitive market? If yes, what steps you've taken to stay ahead in the race? Have you ever switched the niche in mid-way or completely abandoned one of your blogs?

You can share your experiences how you've managed to survive and flourish in a cut-throat competition against all the odds.

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About Rajeev Edmonds

MintBlogger author - Rajeev EdmondsRajeev Edmonds has been blogging since 2006 about digital marketing, social media and of course about problogging. He specializes in WordPress installation and Thesis theme customization. He is the founder and editor of MintBlogger where he blogs about new media strategies.

Since April, 2012, he's making his living entirely from his blogging efforts. He holds a post graduate degree in computer applications and loves to dig in CSS/HTML code. Read more →

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