Why You Should Forget About Your Niche (And Just Write)
Why you should forget about your niche – dealing with algorithm change after algorithm change is tiring as a blogger. Maybe you should just forget about your niche (and just write)!
Hi there! My name is Chantal, and I’m the creator of this website!
I write every single blog post, create every single Pinterest pin, design every single product, and type up every email.
Because of that, I appreciate every single reader that comes and stops for a while – even if just for a minute or two.
For the past year (or even a little more), I have struggled to find the inspiration to keep my fitness blog, Ironwild Fitness, up and running.
Not only has the blogging landscape changed a lot, but so has the world we all live in, along with my personal world.
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When In Doubt, Write It Out
I wanted to sit down and write a post from the heart, which is how I’d always write when I got started. If you have stopped by the blog lately and simply thought to yourself, “Meh” – I get it.
I totally get it. It used to be that I wrote every single post with a ton of passion and purpose, and I know that my readers could feel it right through the screen.
I know this because people used to leave a lot of comments and send me tons of personal emails every week. People would respond to my writing with some sort of solidarity and understanding that was truly beautiful.
The blog really helped me connect with people. What I had to say felt really important and it was.
But somewhere in the last year or two things started to change. I changed, the world changed, and what I felt was important to talk about changed greatly.
I began to struggle with the idea of writing expressly about fitness.
When I started Ironwild Fitness, I wasn’t totally new to blogging, but I was new to fitness. I was sharing my postpartum fitness journey, and it made sense.
But then that season of my life came and went (the youngest baby is five now), as did my burning passion for postpartum topics.
So, over the last year or so, I have struggled to sit down and write posts about weight loss and healthy eating.
I put so much time and effort into that website (five years of my life) and I haven’t been able to let it go – though I have considered it.
That’s really why I started this site. So I could just forget about my niche and well, just write.
How could I keep Ironwild Fitness going when so much has changed? How could I turn it into something better, more heartfelt, and more connected?
I have wrestled with these thoughts for over nearly two years. I wanted to sell my blog after getting a quote for $25,000 from a website broker. But I just couldn’t.
Five years of hard work, and after taxes and success fees I would only get about $15,000. But that wasn’t really why I didn’t sell.
I didn’t sell because at the end of the day, that little corner of the internet is mine. And even with its challenges, I can’t give it up.
But this website – ChantalSteele.com – gives me the freedom to forget about everything and just write what I want to. I wish I’d started this way sooner!
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The Blogging World Has Changed
You see, there are many contributing factors to why I haven’t been able to let go, even though the fire is just barely burning.
First of all, if you aren’t a blogger, you should understand just how hard it’s become to “make it” in this community.
Had I started blogging in the golden age of blogging (2005-2010 ish) then things could be a lot different.
Though I started my first official blog in 2014, I spent the next three years learning how to blog and playing around with my niche.
I had a mom blog, a blog about blogging, a homesteading blog, and about 10 other blogs.
Yep, I struggled to find my niche even then.
Anyway, I started to get SO into blogging back then that my health started to dwindle.
I already had baby weight to lose, but blogging (which entails a lot of sitting) was not helping. So then I gave myself an ultimatum – if I was going to be a blogger, it needed to be about health.
I had always thought it would be kind of cool to be a personal trainer, so I decided I’d be a fitness blogger / personal trainer combo.
I was all about it for a couple of years.
But, oh, I’ve learned so much! Forget about your niche!
I became a personal trainer. Yep, I was a fitness blogger.
But it always felt like something was missing. Something was out of place. Maybe even a little bit fraudulent. More on that later.
Time went and the growth of my blog was slow but steady. I mastered Pinterest and was able to get into Mediavine, the coveted ad network that many bloggers only ever dream of working with.
But then social media started to change. And Google, as we know, is always changing.
It became harder and harder to see growth and traffic. Google suggested that a website that focused on one or two major themes would see a preference in a sea of websites.
Basically, the whole idea is that if you have a lot of content about one topic, you’ll be seen as an authority on that topic.
So that’s what I focused on. I had this idea of being some big-time fitness blogger. I wrote about the same things over and over again, just changing the angle a bit here and there. It worked for awhile.
Then, blogging about blogging became a thing. Though I’m grateful for free and cheap information, this movement hurt the overall movement.
Suddenly, the internet was inundated with a million new bloggers all competing with one another. But that’s a whole different rant.
I have been through algorithm change after algorithm change with social media and Google.
It seems as though each new change makes it harder and harder to be a blogger. (And is a big part of why I don’t do Instagram or Facebook for my blog currently.)
It used to be that you could rank on Pinterest for a really great pin, and it would just be kind of a snowball effect, traffic-wise.
Your pin would be out there, catching steam perpetually. Now, Pinterest favors brand-new content, so you have to publish new pins every day if you don’t want your traffic to drop. (Another rant.)
If we’re being honest, I’ve been able to keep my traffic up just enough to justify the continuation of my efforts, but I still haven’t seen any “huge” success.
This all despite the fact that I have spent probably $2000 on continued education and courses that promised big things for my blog.
I’m still hearing about bloggers making $5000+ monthly, whilst I’m still making an average of about $750/month.
(Like I said, it’s enough money to keep me going, but not enough to quit my day job.) 😉
Anyway, though it’s difficult, I know for a fact that I could have been more successful if I’d been more serious about my blogging gig.
But I haven’t been able to because something has been missing.
The Age of Coronavirus
I’ve talked about it several times before, but I have always been interested in hobby farming, country living, gardening, and homesteading topics. (I know it sounds crazy, like, but isn’t she a fitness blogger?)
When COVID happened, every instinct I had was to start “prepping.” We didn’t know what to expect, and fitness felt so damn irrelevant.
I started gathering my emergency supplies, from food to radios and seeds.
I went a little nuts buying extra everything. When the lockdown happened, I prepared myself to homeschool indefinitely. My thoughts were everywhere.
Except on fitness! Even today, I have a hard time with it.
That homesteading blog that I started years back? Man, how I wish I’d still had it. When the food supply chain was interrupted and the stores were out of meat and yeast, I felt like I had been focusing on ALL of the wrong things.
I felt like I had been right to have a slight, “prep in my step,” and right to love the idea of supplying my family with its own food. Sustainability was on my mind.
Mental health was on my mind. How could I keep everyone healthy with the lockdown? Could we all make it as a family stuck together? We were way too dependent on the outside world.
The point is that we are HUMAN and our interests change as our lives change.
I could really go on and on about how passionate I am about all these ideas of self-sufficiency and getting, “back to your roots.”
For years now, I have been questioning how dependent our society is on outside sources. No one is doing anything themselves anymore!
I embarked on a journey to learn how to make my own sourdough started and bread. (It was a long but successful road, see my wheat sourdough bread recipe here.)
I wanted so badly to quit everything and write about all of these other things that were on my heart. But they just didn’t fit the mold.
So, of course, I started another blog. Another homestead blog. I wrote on it for a while, but I couldn’t give up the three years of work I’d put in on Ironwild.
There had to be another way!
Could there be a marriage between health topics and everything else I wanted to write about?
Maybe I could say that getting back to my roots was my way of getting healthy. (It actually is, I have a whole theory about mental health and doing more things with your own two hands.)
Why You Should Forget About Your Niche And Just Write
I could switch over to another niche entirely, but then what of my work? So many hours, so much personal information I’d shared.
But then, what if my passions just changed again if I were to switch over to a different niche?
I know myself enough to know that I’m not going to be able to write about one thing for the rest of my life. At the end of the day, one of my overall passions in life is writing in general.
If I go back to the drawing board, writing has always been in my life.
I say all of this to say one thing – write about what YOU want!
Forget your niche – that is the beauty of blogging!
Life is too short to confine yourself to one topic. You are more complex than that!
The whole appeal of blogging is that you can write about what you want, on your terms, right?
We are all multi-passionate people, and we are believing the societal lie that says we have to choose ONE thing to do. One career, one passion, one thing that will make us successful.
This is why we have this whole, “mid-life crisis” thing. Maybe it’s why kids drop out of college (raises hand). This is why people are unhappy in their professions.
We are human beings, and we are NOT meant to be defined by one or two things. Sure, our major interests shape us and help us define who we are. But what about all of the other things?
If someone said that you HAVE to live and breathe just one thing for the rest of your life, would you have trouble choosing?
I know I would! What about your hobbies, secondary interests, and new things you might get into later in life?
We are all changing, multi-talented people. It’s normal to have many interests. Don’t box yourself in.
Do you have to have a niche to make it? Can you really just forget your niche?
I’m not saying that if you’re a blogger, you shouldn’t try to have some authority or some common themes.
It is beneficial if you plan to earn money as a blogger. But worrying about every little algorithm change is tiring, isn’t it?
Connection is so much better than regurgitating the same information. Writing from the heart is so much better.
All of that being said, I’m still looking for the right way to adjust my blog to suit ALL of my needs.
It is, after all, 100% mine. But, to my loyal readers, know this: at the end of the day, I’m a writer. I enjoy the act of writing, and I enjoy writing about many things.
I’m not able to box myself in any more, and neither should you!
You’ve been given permission to have many interests and do whatever you feel is right. Even if you aren’t a writer. 🙂
So – forget your niche and just write.
Best of luck,