How Not Narrowing Down My Niche Almost Killed My Blog Business
This post was written by Tor Refsland.
You’ve recently become a parent to a new baby. And your baby is weak and is struggling to survive. That baby is your blog.
And the worst thing is? It’s entirely your fault.
You thought that if you gave the baby your love, time and content, you would do great as a parent. However, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The doctor said that a baby blog mainly need two things to survive and grow into a mature successful blog…
…traffic and conversion.
Deep down inside, you know that you really don’t know how to supply that for your baby, and it breaks your heart. Because the time is running out, and if you don’t pull your shit together NOW, your baby won’t survive.
Sounds familiar? No worries, I have been there too. Relax and breathe. I got your back.
Let me introduce you to how not narrowing down my niche almost killed my blogging business.
Note: Normally I write blog posts that are all about you (the readers). However, this time Sarah, who is my SAP (super accountability partner, not the boring German IT-system), asked me to write a step-by-step epic guest post for Unsettle outlining exactly how I realized my audience isn’t who I wanted to reach and how I rebranded / pivoted.
Since I adore Sarah and you guys (The Unsettlers), how could I say no? I am so stoked to dish out some awesomeness for you.
Are you ready?
Let’s do this!
How Getting Featured On 85 Blogs In My First Year Of Blogging Almost Turned Into A Disaster
On my birthday, the 17th of December, I published a post thanking people who had helped me on my blogging journey (yeah, the post includes Sarah).
That post went totally crazy and I managed to add 248 subscribers to two email lists in 14 days by combining two approaches I have created: “The Birthday Technique” and “The Pre-Free Technique”.
Don’t worry – we’ll address that later.
However, three days before my birthday I was really frustrated. Don’t get me wrong, I had achieved things that most bloggers can only dream of in their first year of blogging, I:
Wrote a post that generated 20,231 page views in 6 days, with 1500+ social shares and 80 comments
Landed 2000 targeted Twitter followers in 38 days (free traffic) – I now have about 12,300 followers
Won “Most Epic blog post” on Jon Morrow’s blog Boost Blog Traffic
Became a moderator for Serious Bloggers Only (Jon Morrow`s mastermind group)
Became a case study for Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course
Was asked to go through and give feedback on Jon Morrow’s Blog Launch Formula course
Increased my email list in 779 subscribers in 60 days (by working 40 days)
Was included among the top 100 personal development blogs on 99 Smart Ideas
Got 28 guest posts published on big websites, including Pick The Brain, Addicted 2 Success, Jeff Bullas, Tiny Buddha, Lifehack, etc.
Was featured as a productivity expert on Inc.com
Was featured as an expert on 44 blogs, including Ahrefs, SEM Rush, Post Planner, Monster, etc.
Added 347 subscribers to my list in one day by using what I call “The Banking Technique”
Connected with hundreds of influencers by using what I call “The Thanks For The Party Technique”
Created several digital products
Have 3 blog posts ranking on the first page of Google, and several on page 2 and 3 (still climbing)
You may have read that and thought “Tor, seriously. You achieved all that and you are frustrated. What the hell?”
And I get it. You’re probably thinking about sending the people in the white coats at my door. But before you do, let me explain.
Why was I frustrated?
Well, I wasn’t just building a blog. I was building a business.
And building a blog is easy. Building a business is hard. So I had what I call…
A Dynamite With No Fire
What does this mean?
To create an explosion you basically need two things: dynamite and fire.
In this case, dynamite is your blog and fire is your business.
You can have one of the components, but if you miss the other, there will be no explosion. You get that the explosion is a metaphor for awesome success, right?
If you have a successful business, but an unsuccessful blog, you are flushing money down the toilet. That might be a blog post for another day.
In my case, I had a successful blog, but I hadn’t succeeded in my business (at least not the way I wanted). The real trick to success online is to be able to marry the successful blog with the successful business.
When you combine those two, what do you get? If you said a successful profitable blog, you are correct. A flying high five to you! *SLAP*
When it comes to running a successful profitable blog, there are only two things that matter.
Are you ready?
The Only Two Things Your Blog Will Ever Need for Success
What is the most important thing your blog needs to be successful and profitable?
You probably think traffic, right? Well, you’d be wrong.
The right answer is…
There are two types of conversion that matter:
- Conversion from traffic to subscribers
- Conversion from subscribers to customers
If you have 10,000 unique visitors each day, but you don’t get any new email subscribers, what’s the point?
Your traffic would basically be worthless.
You might be thinking: “But Tor, can you really get people on your email list without having traffic to your own blog?”
Yes, you can.
The fact that most people aren’t aware of is that…
You Don’t Need Traffic To Your Blog
Yeah, you read right.
The real trick is to leverage other people’s traffic by providing awesome value for their audience. This can done by the number one tactic both Sarah and I have used to grow our email lists FAST from scratch…
You can guest post on big blogs within your niche that already have a lot of traffic and subscribers.
If you want to get a lot of targeted subscribers from a guest post, you need:
- An awesome article that is a good fit for their audience
- A great call to action in your guest post bio
- A good looking and well-written landing page
- A free gift (freebie) that is appealing to their audience
And the most important thing…
All the steps above NEED to be aligned with your ideal target audience.
Because you really don’t want to get a lot of subscribers. You want targeted subscribers
And at the end of the day, you will need to pay your bills, so you need to make some cash, right? You have probably heard the phrase: “People will buy from you, if they know, like and trust you.”
That is just partially true.
What is equally important, if not more, is that you are able to find out what your audience wants before you create a product.
This is where the hard work comes in, and where you will really understand if you are spot on or miles away.
And this is exactly the moment…
When I Realized That I was About To Fail Miserably
I am a beta member of Sarah’s group coaching program, and she pushed me to jump on Skype and talk with my audience – more specifically, people who was a good match for my avatar (ideal customer).
When she said the words “ideal customer”, I immediately got a bad gut feeling.
Because of all the expensive courses I have taken, yeah I have taken a lot of them, I always skipped what I felt was the most boring part…
to narrowing down my niche…
and identifying my avatar (ideal customer).
Yeah, I know, bad move. To be quite honest, it was such a bad move that I almost failed miserably.
Why is it so important? Let me explain.
Fatal Mistake #1 – My Niche Was Too Broad
In the start I targeted everyone who wanted to become more productive.
Because I was afraid that if I didn’t target everyone, I would lose sales. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I experienced the hard way is that when you try to target everyone, you will actually target no one.
Since I am targeting every living breathing creature under the sun, it’s not easy to stand out.
But what’s even worse, is that you don’t know who your audience is. This results that you are fumbling around in total darkness:
- You’re not able to identify them
- You don’t know where they hang out
- You’re not able to attract them
- You don’t know how they think
- You can’t communicate with them in their language
- You’re not able to create awesome products for them
In other words, it smells like a lousy generic sales pages that will have zero sales. Then I decided to narrow down my niche.
My new niche was entrepreneurs who wanted to become more productive. But if I targeted entrepreneurs, I would probably lose out on bloggers and Internet marketers, which I have more in common with.
So I narrowed down my niche again.
The niche had been narrowed down to online entrepreneurs who want to skyrocket their productivity and crush their goals.
Yeah, I was really proud about sentence. Then I realized that crushing goals was too general. I needed to be more specific, and I needed to talk about the desired end outcome.
People don’t really want to crush their goals, they only want to crush their goals so they can achieve something else.
You have probably heard the sentence, “You are not buying the drill. You are buying the drill to create a hole in your wall, so you can hang up a photo of your family.”
My note to myself was to sell the end benefit / desired outcome. Then I narrowed down my niche for the third time.
I was now helping online entrepreneurs who want to skyrocket their productivity and maximize their profits.
Online entrepreneurs (which includes bloggers) do want to become more productive so they can earn more money in their business, right?
They don’t necessarily want to become more productive just for the sake of productivity. I know that I don’t. And hey, I’m kind of a productivity geek.
I only want to become more productive so I can skyrocket my online business and earn more money.
It’s a bit taboo to talk too much about money when it comes to blogging. Because it’s politically correct to talk about connecting with people, helping them out, building your own tribe and providing value.
All the points above are great, which I totally endorse and do.
However, if you are not focused on earning money, you are actually doing your audience a disservice. If you are all about creating awesome content and genuinely helping other people, like I am, and you don’t want to earn money…
You’re actually saying that your content is crap and you don`t think that it has any value.
When you expand your business, you’ll be able to create better products, hire more help in your business, create better customer experience and service, and last, but not least, reach and help more people…
If you have the cash to pay for it.
We can all agree on that, right?
With the new super slogan I help online entrepreneurs skyrocket their productivity and maximize their profits, I was definitely ready to take over the world.
I then changed my new slogan on all my social platforms. And I was so excited, because this was going to change everything.
It actually changed nothing.
Because I was doing…
Fatal Mistake #2 – Not Attracting The Right Subscribers
The case was that I still had an email list with about 1800+ subscribers that I had already attracted with my too broad approach.
Of course some of them may be a part of my target audience, but most people would not. And it was my fault.
I remember when I was emailing Sarah and she was telling me that I had to build a new list to attract the right audience. My first thought was: “What the heck! Are you freakin’ kidding me?”
Yeah, I was pissed off.
Not at Sarah, but at myself. Because I knew she was right.
First I became a bit unmotivated.
Nah, who am I kidding, I just wanted to dig a big hole in the ground and stay there for the next decades. Yeah, I was really bummed. True story.
But worst of all…
I Was Afraid I Wouldn’t Be Able To Provide For My Family
When you decide to leave a six-figure corporate job to follow your passion to help online entrepreneurs skyrocket their productivity and maximize their profits…
…and you manage to buy an apartment without having a job, which is almost impossible in Norway, it comes with a price.
The bank needed to freeze about 95% of my hard-earned “Screw being in the rat race” fund, and I had just become a father to my baby daughter Luna.
This left me with only one option…
…to succeed no matter what.
So, I immediately changed my mindset.
I said to myself: “Okay, Tor. You have to build a new targeted list from scratch. So what? You already know how to do it fast, so you just need to do it again.”
So what did I do?
I decided that I would build a new list from scratch, where I would attract the online entrepreneurs I wanted. Then I decided to do whatever it took.
Since I wanted to monetize my list, I wanted to start doing that at the end of January.
My goal was to focus on getting 1000 targeted subscribers at the end of January. Today it’s the 5th of January and I have already built 572 targeted subscribers.
Considering the targeted guest posts that are already waiting to be published on the top blogs, I will probably hit 1k targeted subscribers with a good margin, if the posts are published before the end of January.
Remember, when I was telling you about me being frustrated 3 days before my birthday?
Those days of frustration turned into something really awesome.
Even though I am really good with helping online entrepreneurs become more productive so they can maximize their profits, that is no longer where my burning passion lies.
And this was really frustrating, since I had spent almost a whole year building my brand as the productivity go to guy.
They say that it’s always darkest before the dawn. It was in my darkest hour that I discovered that my new passion was…
Blogger Outreach Like A Boss
So how did I end up with my new niche?
You remember the part where I was talking about how not narrowing down my niche almost killed my blog?
It´s not that hard to build a blog that is perceived as successful. But that was not my goal, and it definitely wouldn’t cut it.
Because social shares won’t pay my electrical bills. The amount of social media followers won´t buy new diapers for my baby daughter Luna. The amount of email subscribers alone won’t put food on the table.
You get the point.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters when you run a business is how much money you make per month.
Because hey! You need to provide for your family, right?
What I´m going to say now is very private and I feel totally exposed.
But I love Sarah and you guys, so I will share it, even though I feel very vulnerable. Here we go…
When I was targeting the productivity niche, I made a few bucks, but nothing noteworthy.
The majority of people who paid me for coaching were actually entrepreneurs who wanted me to teach them how to blog…
Yup, I should have seen this sooner. *Whipping myself with wet noodles*
So even though being featured on a lot of blogs, having truckloads of social shares, comments, etc.
My business wasn’t earning the dough I needed to survive. So I had to do something very uncomfortable. I had to narrow down my niche (in my case find new sub niche).
I was afraid to fail and to make a total fool out of myself. However, in the big picture my fears didn´t really matter.
Because I would have become an even bigger fool, if I hadn’t changed and continued down the same path, working my ass off in exchange for peanuts.
So I just manned up, grew some even bigger balls and then just went for it. And to be honest, it was…
A Total Game Changer
Once I published my post on how having a blogger outreach strategy helped me getting featured on 85 blogs, everything changed (true story).
So, in the last two months I have worked diligently in silence (almost telling no one about it). I have used blogger outreach to connect with cold leads and turning them into paying clients.
My clients are paying me $500-1500 per month for my services, and the majority of my clients are six-figure earners.
In addition, I am also being interviewed on the same podcasts that have interviewed Lewis Howes, Pat Flynn, Jeff Goins, Darren Rowse and John Lee Dumas.
So, yeah, that´s the proof in the pudding.
Okay, I know what you might be thinking…
How did I find my new niche, right?
No, there wasn’t any pink flying unicorn whispering my new niche in my ear while I slept. Far from it. The thing is…
Something I have always been very good at is to connect with people and create genuine relationships.
When I was clueless and I didn’t know what conversion rate and bounce rate meant, I was certain of one thing…
I had to network with other influential bloggers.
In the start it didn’t make any sense at all. I was networking with other bloggers who was teaching people about how to blog. Since I was in the productivity niche, I should only have targeted bloggers within the same niche, right? Well, I did that too, but I networked more with online marketers and bloggers in the teach you how to blog niche.
My gut feeling told me that I had to continue to do it, so I did.
Now I know some of the most successful online entrepreneurs out there. How?
Through blogger outreach.
Then I started to think about a compliment that people were giving me more often. They said stuff like “Tor, you are really good at networking with people online.”
Ashley Faulkes from Mad Lemmings said:
And then it dawned on me…
The main reason how I was able to get featured on 85 blogs within my first year of blogging was through my blogger outreach skills.
So I decided to test out a new technique that I call The Pre-Free Technique. Long story short, I got people to pre-register for a free course BEFORE I even lifted a finger.
For the new free course I am creating, Blogger Outreach Like A Boss, I managed to get 248 targeted email subscribers to two email lists within 14 days.
One list of 100 people who will go through the course in the start of January, and a waiting list of people who will go through the second edition of the course in start of February.
The first 100 spots got filled within 8 hours! That is crazy, right?
So I thought, okay, there is definitely a market for this type of course. Blogger outreach is all about connecting with influencers in a natural way.
My last post resulted in me getting some cool emails from some pretty awesome influencers:
The marketing genius Seth Godin said:
The successful online entrepreneur Neil Patel from Neil Patel said:
The successful business coach Lewis Howes from Lewis Howes said:
The most successful personal development blogger in the world Steve Pavlina from Steve Pavlina said:
My blog post also brought in some great comments from great influencers:
Glen Allsopp from Viper Chill wrote:
Adrienne Smith from Adrienne Smith wrote:
Sarah Arrow from Sark e-Media wrote:
Andrea Beltrami from The Branded Solopreneur wrote:
Sue Anne Dunlevie from Successful Blogging wrote:
Daniela Uslan from Daniela Uslan wrote:
Kevin Duncan from Be A Better Blogger wrote:
And what’s even cooler (if that is possible)…
…is that due to my blogger outreach skills, and my latest blog post, I got invited to join an awesome mutual beneficial cooperation with two really awesome people:
The sales legend Jeffrey Gitomer from Gitomer and sale superstar Jennifer Gluckow from Sales In A NY Minute. I will help them with blogger outreach, and they will help me with positioning and attracting high-end clients.
How awesome is that?
Blogger outreach is nothing magical. It`s just about connecting with other influential people in a natural way.
Here’s an example of how I reached out to the most successful female Internet marketer in the world, Chalene Johnson, on Twitter:
See. No magic, just providing value.
However, regardless of how awesome the stuff above was, I needed to really put my blogger outreach skills to the test.
It was time to…
Contact The Big Dogs For Testimonials
If the big influencers would give me a testimonial for my blogger outreach skills, well, then the proof was in the pudding. So I reached out to a few of the influencers I knew.
And guess what?
I got testimonials. Evan Carmichael said:
“Tor is a master networker. When he is present you immediately feel his energy. Value, encouragement, and excitement are imminent. 🙂
Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey said:
Jon Morrow from Boost Blog Traffic said:
Jaime Tardy from Eventual Millionaire said:
John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur On Fire said:
This was mind-blowing. For my motivation it was like pouring jet fuel on a bon fire.
I went totally crazy with guest posting and blogger outreach. And then things started to shift very quickly.
Since I had worked like a madman to build my brand fast, which kind of is a requirement if you are going to get featured on 85 blogs within your first year of blogging…
…I suddenly started to reap the momentum of all my hard work.
- I got invited to be featured on a bunch of expert roundup posts
- I got invited to be interviewed on a lot of awesome podcasts
- I got invited to guest post for some of the biggest blogs in the world
And this time all my guest posts and interviews are aligned with the topic blogger outreach, so I will attract the right audience.
If you want to stand out in the overcrowded blogosphere, you need to narrow down your niche. The more specific your niche is, the easier it is for you to stand out.
The successful Internet marketer Eben Pagan says that almost all successful information products fall into one of the three big niches, which he calls The Three Mega-Niches:
1. Dating and relationships
2. Health and Wellness
3. Money and Finance
Both Sarah´s and my blog fall into the third mega-niche.
Imagine this, if I was to positioning myself as the marketing guy, I would be just one in a gazillion. Then, if I was going to become the blogging guy, people would think, I would be one in a million.
What if I narrowed it down even more and positioned myself as the traffic guy? Still not very unique.
But when I narrow down my niche and position myself as the blogger outreach guy, people are taking notice.
People usually say “Wow, that is a very specific niche you have found there. By the way, I should actually start to blogger outreach more.”
How many times did I just narrow down my niche?
- Step 1. Money and Finance
- Step 2. Marketing
- Step 3. Blogging
- Step 4. Traffic
- Step 5. Blogger outreach
I narrowed down my new niche 5 times.
You are probably thinking, “Why is blogger outreach a sub-niche of traffic?”
Because I use blogger outreach to get traffic to my website. That has been my #1 strategy from the start, and still use it.
I actually used blogger outreach promoting my last blog post, How To Get Featured On 85 Blogs In 12 Months – Blogger Outreach Strategy, which generated 1626 unique visitors and 295 new subscribers (that´s a conversion rate on 18,14%).
Building your blog fast is not the most important thing.
Building your blog the right way is.
Don´t do the same mistake as me and skip the important stuff in the start. Even if you believe that you´ve nailed your niche and avatar, or that you feel that it´s boring – get over it and put in the hard work.
You will thank yourself later.
What To Do Next
You now know the importance of narrowing down your niche.
However, the knowledge is totally worthless if you don`t apply it. Want to save your struggling baby blog and help it grow into a mature successful blog?
Take action now and narrow down your niche.
You can do it!
What is your experience with narrowing down your niche? Have you identified your true target audience?
Tor Refsland helps online entrepreneurs skyrocket their business by building genuine relationships with influencers. Want to skyrocket your blog? He will soon launch the free course How To Blog Outreach Like A Boss . But he only has 100 spots (seriously). Click here to reserve your spot now, so you can receive some of his BEST tips (that no one else uses).