Niche Is The New Black / by Joseph Palumbo

It's 1:59am. I just finished reading a book and now I'm in my kitchen thinking about building a new site (which makes sense, because not like I maintain this one in any regular fashion, right?). 

But it got me thinking, one of the problems is that this site is sort of a catch-all. It's just a gelatinous blob of content that is somehow all loosely related because it comes from, well, me. But that doesn't make it interesting, and certainly doesn't make it cohesive and focused, and therefore it's mostly not useful and difficult to curate. 

I mean, could very well be a single HTML file that just aggregates my disparate web presences through simple hyperlinks. You want to know about me? Well here's my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Good Reads, Github, Flickr, etc. 

No, when you're thinking about web content, content strategy or even something as large as planning a new site, specificity is your best friend. The more niche the better. 

It's not good enough to say, "My blog is about Volkswagens". 

It's only slightly better to say, "My blog is about early Volkswagen coupes manufactured in American." 

It's awesome if you can say, with confidence, "My blog is about restoring blue 1972 Volkswagen Rabbits that were sold in Southern California by left-handed mechanics who think The Cure is a better band than Depeche Mode." 

OK, probably not the best example, and more than a little far-fetched, (1) but it's late/early and I'm sleep deprived and (2) I think you get my point. 

So yeah, I think the reason why I don't update this site on a regular basis is that when a site/blog tries to be everything, it succeeds in being nothing. In contrast, successful blogs, the ones that are routinely updated, which is a key factor to successful longevity, tend to have narrow scope and very specific focus. Take for example one of my favorite sites, The Setup

Let me break it down into its fundamental particles: it's a productivity site that documents what tools interesting people use to do their job using a simple but effective group of questions: 

  1. Who are you and what do you do? 
  2. What hardware do you use? 
  3. What software do you use? 
  4. What's your dream setup? 

Here's a recent post they did about a friend of mine, the effervescent Jill Jubinski, better know as @HugDispenser on Twitter. 

Simple. Concise. To the point. It doesn't get much better than that. 

So, in closing, if your digital presence can be traced by a trail of half-baked and quickly forgotten GeoCities, Tumblr, Moveable Type, Wordpress, Squarespace, and Wix sites that were started with the best intentions, you're aperture is probably set too wide. Narrow the scope to something way more specific, like getting over an illness, trying a new diet or or a specific hobby. 

Not only will it make it easier to maintain and update, it will be easier for interested readers to find you and appreciate your message. 

On a side note, I feel compelled to give an honorable mention. There is one exception to the here-is-everything-about-me site/blog model, and that award goes to Paul Stamatiou and his site, which really is a collection of his varied interests and what's going on in his life. Although, to be fair, it can also be updated with more regularity.