With so many online communities out there, it can be tough to stand out.
Let’s take travel, for example.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of travel blogs, online communities, and groups that focus on travel.
There’s adventure travel, solo travel, and family travel, but also luxury travel and much more. People are often blogging about the same destinations, but also sharing different experiences.
So, in a world that’s saturated with content, how can you carve out your own focus and inspire a community?
Well, it requires taking the time to answer questions to discover what you’re passionate about. I emphasize passion because you’re going to be creating a LOT of content, and it helps if you are genuinely excited about what you share with others.
We’ll stick with the travel example for now to explain this a bit more…
- Pick a topic. Instead of broadly writing about travel and churning out blog post after blog post about “10 must-sees in X country,” see if there is a subtopic you’re interested in. Maybe you’ll be sharing about unusual dishes or fashion. Or, it maybe it’s encouraging others to do outdoor adventures. Perhaps you care about sharing local artisans’ stories. Whatever the topic is, it’s important to nail that down before you start creating content.
- Create a List of Post Ideas. Before you write, create a list of potential topics you can cover. Another strategy is to work backwards and think of the larger goal first: what are you hoping to accomplish, and what wisdom or value can you share with your community? The narrower the content you create, the better. Why? Because you’ll have purposeful content. You’ll have content that educates others, or highlights fun facts about the topic you care about. Having a focus will help your community members know what they can expect from you.
A quick side note…
When I first started a travel blog, I was posting all kinds of stories–local things to do in Boston, then in NY, about my travels abroad, travel essays, evergreen content about art, languages and culture, and more. Now, while there wasn’t anything wrong with writing any of that content, there wasn’t a unified theme to any of it. And, I felt like my readers couldn’t always engage with the content, because it was somewhat free flowing and not consistent.
I also realized over time, that travel blogging wasn’t for me. While I love to travel and write about the experiences, I far more appreciate the ability to share travel stories with my social media community. That’s why my focus shifted from blogging to creating a community on social media (and connecting offline, too). I wanted to talk to travelers and exchange stories and perspectives in a meaningful way, and around a topic I care about: digging deeper into local culture during travel.
Regardless of where you want to launch your community, it’s crucial that you define what it is that you’re focusing on early on.
Here Are the 5 Steps to Defining Your Niche Again:
1. Define Your Main Focus
Focus on a subtopic within a niche you care about. Who does your blog or business cater to? What are you passionate about and can write a lot about? Take the time to define your niche and answer key questions to stay on topic.
2. Identify your audience.
Before you can even start building a community, you should take the time to explore who your target audience is. Imagine your blog reader, community fan, or even core customer.
Who is this person? What does this person care about? What type of content does this person seek out?
Tip: It’s best to picture one specific person that you’re talking to rather than focusing on an entire audience. If you can pinpoint someone’s interests and identify this one person’s pain points, you’ve already made a lot of good progress in establishing trust and addressing their needs.
3. Establish cohesive brand messaging.
“Just do it.” (Nike)
“I’m Lovin’ It” (McDonalds)
“Think Different.” (Apple)
“Because You’re Worth It.” (L’Oreal)
“America Runs on Dunkin'” (Dunkin’ Donuts)
There’s a reason it’s easy to instantly identify these powerhouse brands. They have memorable and catchy slogans. The slogans carry through across these brands’ communications’ platforms and align with their missions. Having a cohesive brand message is important as it helps to set your brand apart.
4. Be Relatable and Set the Tone
Are you naturally funny or gravitate toward stories that have a sense of humor? Do you prefer to be more serious? Are you educational in how you share stories? These are all important considerations as you start to post content. More than anything, people relate to people.
5. Create Engaging Content, Ask Questions
As you create content, think about ways to get your community involved. How can community members respond to you and tell their stories? Do you ask questions or engage them? Sharing content isn’t a one-way street; think of it is an open dialogue that happens. If you post something and your community members respond to it, be sure to thank them, ask a follow-up question and respond back quickly. If you see that multiple community members seem to be in the same geographic area, encourage them to meet up.
What information can you offer that is of value to your audience? If you’re a blogger, how do you differentiate yourself from others? Share in the comments!