The Secret to Standing Out in a Crowded Niche

Anyone who’s ever started a blog wants it to be successful. You’re here writing about your passion, sharing your ideas about how you want to change your corner of the world and yes, aiming to get more business.

Blogging is hard work. It can take hours to write, edit and publish a single post like this one.

But what happens when you start blogging in an already crowded niche? Is there any hope of success among the masses?

Let’s use social media as an example. (Replace it with any popular topic online -- food, DIY, pets, parenting, anything.)

Since you’re not brand new to the Internet, you know this is a very popular topic. There’s Mashable and TechCrunch and Social Media Examiner and HubSpot. SocialMouths and Copyblogger and Problogger. And I could go on and on. Their daily content is read and shared by thousands of people.

So why would ANYONE start blogging about social media in 2013?

I’ve asked myself that question more than once since starting my blog this year.

Uncommon.ly is all about standing out in a sea of sameness online. I’ve wondered, though, just how to do that here writing about social media and design.

How do you and I -- new bloggers writing about social media or parenting or interior design or food -- stand out in our crowded niche?

It’s not easy. The more a topic has been written about, the harder it is to find success in that niche. Marcus Sheridan calls this the “CSI” -- the Content Saturation Index.

I can’t compete with Mashable. Or SocialMouths or Copyblogger. For the last several months, though, that’s been my goal, at least on some level.

It’s pretty sobering to realize where you stand in the blogging world, especially when you’re faced with the reality of how hard, how time-consuming blogging can be.

You may have found yourself in this position too. Perhaps you’ve wondered if it’s worth it. This is where I tell you “yes” and explain why. Read on.

The Secret to Standing Out Revealed

We all need outside perspective in moments like these --  not candy coated “advice” telling us what we want to hear -- but honest insight on how to keep going.

I reached out to Mark Schaefer, author of the popular {grow} blog (popular as in AdAge Power 150 popular) to ask him about the best strategy for blogging in a saturated niche.

I am sharing his advice today because regardless of your blog topic, this can help you succeed.

Here’s what he told me:

“There are no crowded niches. There’s only one you. Have the courage to write about yourself. Tell your stories.” {Tweet This}

I told Mark I’d had a revelation. I couldn’t compete with Mashable or Hubspot. And I didn’t want to anymore. I didn’t want to be a hit-and-run blog where people quickly scan an article (we all do that) and never return.

Mark’s response?

“Mashable is clinical. There’s a different author every day. There’s no emotional connection there. Useful, absolutely. But to stand out, tell them who YOU are.”

You > Mashable.com.

You > HGTV.com.

You > ESPN.com.

You > Babble.com.

Here’s the advantage you have over everone else -- it’s YOU.

You have unique experiences, unique insights and a unique personality. Dig deep into those and share them with us.  Teach, entertain and inspire us along the way.

We love this. We’re drawn in to the behind-the-scenes look at how you run your business, we marvel at your resiliency in beating the odds, we laugh (and cry) at your parenting adventures, we’re inspired by how you’re using your art to save lives.

Who I Am

So this is a glimpse of who I am. I probably look a lot like you in many ways.

I’m married to a sweet guy and together we are tackling parenthood, currently with a 2 year old demolition expert/daredevil named Luke.

I work from home, which is not nearly as sexy as it sounds (although I love the sweatpants casual dress code).

I’ve got a house full of pets (2 dogs and 2 cats, sort of the Brady Bunch of the Animal World), which means I spend approximately 78% of my day sweeping and vacuuming and deodorizing.

I’m very, very tired at the end of the day after chasing around said 2 year old and sweeping up after 4 pets and making dinner and designing websites and crafting marketing plans and returning emails. I survive on strong coffee and a secret stash of M&Ms.

But I love my life. I’m doing exactly what I’ve dreamed of doing for years -- growing a family and a business on my own terms.

I really believe in the potential of the social web to connect people from around the world and build meaningful relationships.

I believe in the power of design to tell stories without saying a word.

And I believe in you. That’s why I’m here.

Maybe some of the pieces of your life don’t look like mine. But you’re here because you want to build something that matters and you believe, like me, that social media and design can help you do that.

Welcome.

What's your story? Feel free to share in the comments below.