Imagine you’re in a lift. It stops and your idol gets in. You get chatting about history and they ask “So, what’s your history blog about?” If you would a) freeze and not know what to say or b) ramble on with a lot of random things then chances are you need a bit of clarity with the direction and purpose of your history blog.
Don’t worry. Here’s how to put all the pieces together to effortlessly and confidently answer that killer question. I know it’s old-school but switch off all distractions and grab a notepad and pen, we’re getting back to blogging basics.
Next, whether you’re starting out or have been blogging for ages, I want you to work through these three fundamental questions. They will, after a little time and effort, drive you to a natural, enjoyable blogging niche. You don’t have to do them in order, just make sure all three are covered and link nicely together.
- Why do you want to have a history blog?
- What am I going to blog about?
- Who is your blog for?
Question One – Why do you want to have a history blog?
Right, let’s get to the heart of it, why do you want that history blog? Not to dampen your spirits but it takes a lot of effort, time and networking to build. So, this is a great question to answer because it will push you through writers’ block, help you engage with passion and conviction and make your history blog valuable and fun, not work.
- Has it been an idea burning inside of you since learning history at school, college or university that you want to carry on?
- Is it to support your academic or writing life or a business idea?
- Is it to help other people learn about topics you feel are missing, understated or misrepresented?
If you need further help, think about blog posts, podcasts or social media you’re already engaging with (and if you’re not – start looking!) Write down what inspires you and what you think their why is. For example, X promotes their local history and X specialises in.
Once this becomes a little clearer, sketch out some broad “What gets me excited” goals. And, be completely honest. For example, “I want my own glossy amazing looking blog”, “I want to get into video making through my blog”, “I want 100,000 followers on Instagram”. “I want to use my blog to build a community for the historical fiction book I want to write.”
Question Two: What are you going to write about?
So, maybe you know why you want to have a history blog but you’re struggling with these questions?
- “I don’t know what to write about?”
- “Everyone writes about that, there’s no room for me.”
- “I’m multi-passionate with so many ideas. Shall I just pick one or put them together?”
- “My topic’s really narrow, no-one will be interested.”
First of all, any thinking like this is completely normal. Most blog subjects start from a really large place – travel, fashion and food. Well, history is no different, in fact, we’ve got it even tougher!
History covers all the minutes between the beginning of time and everything that’s happened since you started reading this sentence across the entire world. And, millions of people, like us, love history and are out there blogging, vlogging, podcasting and posting already. So, no wonder why the prospect of choosing a topic for your history blog feels overwhelming.
But, it is something you must get past. Sorry. Brutal. Otherwise, you risk either giving up or slipping into the temptation of creating a history blog that is too general and missing out on all these benefits of having, to use the jargon, a niche blog.
- It will be easier to engage with people and attract followers
- You can create a clear and compelling name and brand
- It will narrow down your research time
- It makes you more searchable
- You will be able to re-purpose content saving you time
- You can have distinctive social media handles or a Facebook Group
- You can become an expert
- You can answer that question in the lift!
Now that you know the benefits of having a niche blog, here’s a little process you can try to narrow it down.
- Create a list of all the ideas you have for topics no matter how wacky
- Mark out of 5 how excited you are about the prospect of writing and talking to others about each topic idea
- Discard any topics you marked a three or below as they will not sustain your enthusiasm
- Put together any topics you think go together and decide on the dominant subject. For example, Your focus is King Richard III but you also have an interest in Wars of the Roses battlefields, history books and armour and weaponry which can be brought in too.
- Thinking about ‘why you want to have a history blog’ – how will you approach these topics? What unique angle could you try out that you haven’t seen yet? Maybe, academic resources, places to visit, little known facts, profiles, image galleries, infographics for children etc…
Once you’ve come up with your niche, make sure you’re still excited about it. And then, don’t look back. Don’t over-analyse it or let the doubt creep in. Remember, the one thing this history blog will have that no other blog has is YOU. It will have your unique, authentic writing voice and your passion will shine through.
Question Three: Who is your blog for?
The last piece in the puzzle is to be super-clear who you’re going to be writing for. “Isn’t this blog for me?” I hear you say. Well, it kinda is as it’s an opportunity to show your interests and passions but if you want to build a community or even business around your blog you need to attract like-minded people and respond to what they want too.
How do you do this? Well, the fancy way is to create an avatar which becomes the target reader you want to attract. How you create your avatar will relate to why you want to blog too.
So, is your target reader an avid historical fiction reader because they may buy your book. Or, are they someone who visits the English Civil War Battlefields who might need a guide and like your images? To give you an example of an avatar, this is mine:
For Smart History Blogging my avatar is an enthusiastic but frustrated history lover who has work, study and busy life but wants to know from my blog, products or services the quickest ways to start or grow a history blog. They also, like me, love historical films, books, locations, exhibitions, events and sharing thoughts about history on social media.
Once you know your avatar it will become easier to focus in on your blog posts. Plus, you can also extend this to help with where to target your marketing. For example, is your target reader on Facebook or Instagram?
Finally, remember everyone starts somewhere.
The cliche is “you can’t edit a blank page”. Well, likewise, you can’t grow a history blog if you don’t start one! Sometimes people want to start with perfection, or they look at successful bloggers who have been at it for a few years and don’t appreciate the journey they took to get there. The important thing is to do some research, be clear in your mind and then go for it! You can always look at your analytics after a few months and mix things up if you need to.
Alternatively, if you’ve been blogging for a while and you’re not happy then pivot into something else. I did. After realising for far too long I’d been trying to cram helping students who want to learn about history alongside those who wanted to blog I created Smart History Blogging. I realised along the way of growing Britpolitics, I’d lost my niche. So, I thought about why I wanted to start the new blog, who it was for and what I would write about just as I’m encouraging you to do now.
Afterwards, I bought a domain name and used Bluehost with one-click WordPress to build a new site. I set myself a launch deadline of 60 days and it was the best decision I could have made. The clarity of purpose is wonderful and motivating.
Now, if you feel you’ve answered the three questions, put yourself back in that lift and write out what you would confidently say when asked:
Q “What is your history blog about……?”
A “Thanks for asking, it’s a blog about ……… for ……….. because I want to ……… “