Finding a niche with Cardiff Bloggers
When I first started blogging just under a year ago, I did it because I thought it might be fun. It was also part of my attempt at trying out different forms of social networking. (I’d recently joined Twitter and was finally getting around to using Facebook. I know, I know, a little late to the party on that last one!) I thought that I would blog about books and chocolate and writing and life with a squirrel intent on world domination. (Between you and me, and I can say this as he probably doesn’t read my blog, I was hoping that if the squirrel had his own SquizzBlog he wouldn’t take over mine too much.) And I didn’t really think about it much beyond that. I certainly didn’t think about whether anyone, besides me, would read it and I figured it would either grow and evolve or fall by the wayside.
What I hadn’t been expecting to get out of blogging was finding myself part of a supportive and friendly community, or that it could be remotely sociable.
The Cardiff Bloggers’ meet-up is a great initiative organised by Hannah Waldram (Guardian Cardiff) and Ed Walker (your Cardiff), currently held in Pica Pica on Westgate Street and sponsored by Warwick Emanuel PR. The inaugural meet-up was in March with another at the end of May and their success paved the way for a Valley Bloggers meet-up in June. You get a chance to talk to fellow bloggers about their blogs, what works (or doesn’t) for them, ask questions, bounce ideas around and just generally chat.
Last Wednesday was the third Cardiff Bloggers’ meet-up and this time it focussed on Niche Blogging. You can read a great write-up on the Guardian Cardiff blog here.
One of the main things that I took away from the evening was how all the guest speakers – Nicki Tudor (Cardiff Bites), Phil Jones (Pint of 45) and Gwyneth Moore (Cardiff Fashion) – had started writing their niche blogs about subjects they loved. Nicki is a self-confessed foodie. When her friends told her that she was making their mouths water from writing about her meals out on MySpace, she decided to start blogging as Cardiff Bites. She shares recipes and her opinion about Cardiff eateries, and enjoys getting to meet and know other foodies and food bloggers. Phil likes going out and getting hammered with a mate and they thought it would be handy and fun to have a record of where they’ve been and what it was like. If it helps someone else find a good place to drink in Cardiff, all the better. Gwyneth has been interested in fashion since she worked in the industry and felt she wanted a Cardiff-centric blog, where there previously was none.
Even now they’ve been blogging for a while, it’s clear that none of them are too bothered about follower numbers or hits to their blogs. That doesn’t mean to say that they don’t want – and like – people reading their blogs or that they aren’t happy when people visit and read them or subscribe to and/or comment on them. Of course they do, and are. Who wouldn’t be? But if blogging stopped being fun, they probably wouldn’t hesitate to stop doing it tomorrow.
Hearing this from other bloggers cheered me up no end. It is all too easy to get caught up in blogging advice handed out through social networking sites, start worrying about content and stats and forget about why you’re blogging and who you’re blogging for.
I am, at best, an erratic blogger. I blog when I want to and when I have something particular to say – I might have been to a great event or read a good book I want others to know about. I can’t force myself to blog, say, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and every second Saturday. I don’t jot down ideas for blog posts, draft them in advance or schedule them. Not just yet, at any rate. I admire those that can do all these things. I wish I could but I think at the moment that would take the fun out of blogging for me. As would worrying about building up my so-called “author platform” and keeping tabs on how many people follow this blog, however they may do so.
Last Wednesday’s event was timely and so useful for me. Not only did it get me out of the house (very important to venture out into the real world every so often!) but I had the opportunity to hear from other bloggers about why they blog. And, first and foremost, they’re doing it because it’s fun, they enjoy it and they’re writing about something they love. Why are you blogging? And is it for the same reason now as when you first started?
Many thanks to Elizabeth McGuire (@PoshAudrey on Twitter) for permission to use one of her photographs from the evening with this post.