We all have our favorite content creators. Maybe it’s a favorite director who has created all of your favorite movies. Maybe it’s a painter who you wish you decorate your entire house with. Maybe it’s a musician that you own every album of. Maybe it’s a chef that you know always has the best recipes. No matter what kind of content you are consuming, chances are you have your go-tos; the people that continually inspire you; the ones that you just can’t wait for their next content to be published
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were that person for someone else?? If you had readers that found you to be a huge inspiration, that liked every post you produced, and couldn’t wait for your latest update. In the creative, online market we call these businesses destination brands. These are brands that viewers immediately recognise and come back for their content time and time again, like a favorite vacation destination. To be a destination brand is great goal to have and maybe that’s a goal you’ve already achieved! I don’t know where you are in your business, but chances are you are inspiring someone else and you may not even know it.
But want to know the secret of all of these destination brands and content creators that you can’t get enough of? There’s something they all have in common and it’s a lot simpler than you would think.
They have managed to pinpoint exactly what they are good at and what speaks to their audience. Sounds simple, right? We all know our strengths and we can all probably identify our weaknesses. At least, if you want to have a super clear vision for your blog or business moving forward you should absolutely be able to nail these things down in terms of business. The way to make your best content is to know what you are best at and to know what your audience loves. These awesome content creators we love to admire have made a name for themselves in whatever industry they are in by focusing in on what they want to be known for and doing a TON of that thing.
For some reason I’m thinking about Gordan Ramsey right here. I’m really not sure why he’s the first celebrity chef to come to mind, maybe it’s all the Kitchen Nightmare clips I’ve been watching before bed lately, but bear with me for a few minutes and let’s look at him as a case study of sorts.
Sure, most of us know Gordan Ramsey is a great chef. He can prepare a beautiful looking meal with a level of expertise that is awe inspiring. I on the other hand still manage to burn microwave popcorn… but that’s neither here nor there. But probably what he’s better known for is his hot temper and tell it like it is attitude. If I’m going to watch ANYTHING with Gordan Ramsey, tv shows, interviews, you name it, I totally expect him to bring his snide quips and sarcastic attitude. It’s what people love, and hate, about him but it’s also part of his total package. You expect it and he almost always delivers.
Same goes for any great content creator in pretty much any industry. You expect certain types of content and a professional level of execution and they almost always deliver on those expectations. You can expect that an M. Night movie is going to have a twist ending. You can bet that if you buy the latest Taylor Swift album it will have more than one song about a guy. And you can probably expect the newest MacBook to look and operate similarly to its predecessors. Consumers like to know what they can expect from a certain brand. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be creative and try something new! It just means you should cultivate an image for your brand that your content falls in line with.
Let’s look at another case study, this time focusing on one of the most successful bloggers in the business, Julia Engel, the woman behind Gal Meets Glam. I’m sure some, or most, of you already follow her since she’s well into the million follower range on instagram, but for those of you that don’t know Gal Meets Glam I’ll give you a brief overview. Gal Meets Glam started as a fashion and lifestyle blog, and became known for Julia’s model good looks, her classic, dainty style, and her picturesque images. It’s now grown into a multi million dollar company, that she runs alongside her husband, and they recently launched a dress line that is sold at Nordstrom. Not too shabby.
Julia made a name for herself as a go-to preppy fashion guru many years ago and she has kept that momentum going and is now sitting pretty as one of the best in the biz. From the very beginning of her blog, readers knew exactly what to expect from her content. Her style is preppy and feminine, includes lots of dresses, blush tones, ruffles, and bows. Everything in her life looks like a magazine and she’s cultivated this sense of style that totally owns her femininity with a classic twist that Grace Kelly would be proud of. There’s no doubt in my mind that she tracks what kind of content her readers are loving most and aims to bring more of that content to them in the future. That’s just good business practice. But now, across all of her channels, it’s easy to see her style of content, and viewers immediately know if it’s something they identify with and want to follow.
So what does this have to do with your own content creation? Well I think we can learn a lot from looking at people that are killing it within and outside of our own industries. What I see with both Gordan Ramsey and Gal Meets Glam is that viewers like consistency. They like to know what to expect so that they can feel comfortable. They also want to feel like they know you and have an understanding of where your views and expertise are coming from, because ultimately that’s going to determine whether they actually care about what you are producing. If they know what kind of content to expect from you time and time again, and they see you continuing to deliver excellent, quality content, they are going to see you as an expert in whatever that thing is.
Let’s look at a third case study, and this one hits a little closer to home. Let’s take a look at my own blogging history, something I sometimes like to pretend isn’t a thing, but I think you can learn a few things from my mistakes.
I started blogging freshman year of college 10 years ago. I even started a makeup youtube channel around the same time. This was before everyone and their mother had a makeup channel but even then I remember feeling like the industry was overly saturated and there no way I’d ever make it. I never told friends or family about it and tried to just do it on the side for around 2 years. There’s a whole mess of things we can learn from my attitude here, but just know that this was definitely not the best approach on my part. Then for some reason when my views started to increase I panicked and deleted the entire youtube account and all of my videos. I have no idea why, but that’s another story for another day.
From there I focused mainly on blogging so that I didn’t have to record myself and feel awkward in front of a camera. My blog went through numerous iterations, several different name changes, and many, many redesigns. I honestly don’t even remember the name of my first blog and that’s probably for the best. Needless to say, it didn’t stick around for long. I should also probably note that the fact that I cared more about the design of my blog and less about the content creation should have told me something about where this business was leading me, but you live and you learn.
I tell you ALL of this information to explain what happened next. I settled into the Sweet Horizon blog about 5 years ago, finally felt comfortable on this platform, but still did not have a firm grasp as to what it was going to be about. Here was my train of thought: I had already created beauty and makeup content in the past, so maybe I could include that here? I had also always loved to travel, so maybe add some travel posts, because who doesn’t love the idea of getting to travel and share about it as a career, right? If I was going to include some makeup tutorials, then I should probably add some hairstyling tutorials as well. I also worked at Anthropologie at the time, so let’s throw in some fashion posts, even though I had no money to spend on clothes and typically bought sale items that were super hard for readers to find. I also play guitar, so why not include some of my music posts. I thought I should also probably show off some of my (terrible) designs that I had been working on, you know, in case anyone wanted to hire me. And of course I love my dog, so let’s just throw in some pet care posts… Do you see where this is headed?
Literally, when people landed on my site it was a hodgepodge of everything in my life. It was confusing and messy, like any 22 year old’s life is, and not at all as interesting as I thought it was at the time. I couldn’t figure out why my following wasn’t growing, yet even I felt overwhelmed with all the categories I was trying to cover on my blog. I knew something was wrong in how I was approaching my content creation, but I honestly didn’t know what. I loved all of these aspects of my life, so why wouldn’t readers also love all of this??
The simple truth is that viewers like a clear message. They like to land on a site or on an instagram feed and immediately ‘get’ what this person is about. Sure you can have lots of interests, but you don’t have to share EVERY. SINGLE. THING you love with your viewers.
If I’m going to follow accounts like the Dogist, that shares adorable photos of dogs out on walks with captions that quote the owner saying something funny about that dog, I’m going to expect that every time I see a post from them it will be just like that. If I follow sweet Instagrams like This Little Wandering, with all of it’s stunning imagery of motherhood and her sweet children exploring, I expect as a follower to keep seeing lovely daily posts like that. I wouldn’t expect to find memes or political posts on either one of those accounts. There are plenty of accounts on Instagram that I expect that sort of content from.
Same goes for blogs. I follow the bloggers that I follow for specific reasons and I know what sort of content, and quality of content, to expect from each. I know where to go for SEO tips, for DIY projects, or if I want to see beautiful travel images.
I’ve said this before in my post on How to Start a Successful Blog in 2019, but if you can focus your content creation on a few categories and really create fantastic content for those categories, that’s so much better than trying to do all the things and not doing any of them well. My first attempts at blogging were all over the place. My readers were overwhelmed, I was overwhelmed and it wasn’t good for anyone.
I encourage all web design clients to stick with 5 categories or less, at least until they feel like they absolutely need to branch out and include something new. 5 is still a lot and you’d be surprised how much content you can create within that number. Become known for what you are best at. Once that happens, not only will you start building a following faster (goodbye slow growth) but content creation will get easier as well.
Thankfully, once I saw where my business was headed, and the fact that new bloggers needed this sort of guidance, guidance that I myself so badly needed just a few years ago, I’ve been able to narrow my focus a bit more and produce content I’m super proud of and happy to share with everyone in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE clothes and makeup, and my passion for traveling will continue to be one of the most important aspects of my life, but I’m also totally aware that I was not the best at creating that kind of content. That’s totally okay! I can still love those aspects of my life but can acknowledge that that’s not the type of content that I produce best. I’m much better at creating designs for other people that create that kind of content.
Honestly, I kind of feel like I have the best of both worlds now. I still get to surround myself with lovely things and spend my days creating new, creative ways to help others show off those lovely things! Pretty great if you ask me.
So why 5 categories? Why not 4 or 6 for that matter? 1) 5 is an easy, round number for people to stick to, and 2) like I said above, it still gives you a range of topics without being too broad. Currently within my blog my 5 categories are Freelancing Tips, Blogging Tips, Behind the Scenes posts (since I do still like to show you guys a little bit of my life and that I’m a normal human), Modern Lettering and calligraphy, and then latestly my design work. Thankfully those last two topics have gotten a lot better since the early days.
I feel like all of my categories work well together and help shape my graphic design business as a whole, but they are all different enough that I’ve yet to get bored with the content I have prepared.
One of the best ways to determine what 5 categories you should blog about is to write out ALL of the categories you’d be interested in and under each category start listing posts that you would want to write. If you can’t come up with many posts for one category, you probably shouldn’t be blogging about it. If you have a category that you overfill with content, maybe you can split that category up into subcategories. There’s nothing wrong with having fewer than 5 categories, but more than 5 will start to be a bit much.
If you are planning out a content calendar, like we talk about last week, and you are only posting once a week and still trying to cover all of your blog categories, with 5 categories you will only cover each topic once a month. That’s not very often. If you add categories then your content gets even more spread out. Of course I recommend posting more than once a week to your blog just to keep things fresh, but a general rule of thumb is, the less often you post the fewer topics or categories you should try to cover. Don’t make blogging harder than it needs to be.
Sure, we all follow bloggers that cover heaps of topics and categories, but chances are they have a team of people making sure all of their posts are awesome, quality content. You’ll also see that they are probably posting once a day or once every couple of days to their blog and each post is getting a ton of attention. If you are at that level, by all means branch out of your initial 5 categories and try something new. But until then, focus on making your 5 topics the best that you can.
These can always change over time, just as mine have. Don’t be afraid to evaluate and start fresh. That’s the great thing about being your own boss is that you can make changes and find what works best for you and your business as you go along. Nothing is ever set in stone and even if you lose a few followers as you find yourself, once you’ve settled into content you are good at and love creating, you’ll be growing in no time. I firmly believe that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on Why you should blog about 5 categories or less and I’d love to hear about your own experiences when it comes to establishing your content creation style! Have you found it helpful to narrow your focus on what topics you choose to cover? Or is this still something you are thinking about implementing on your blog? Leave a comment or drop us a line on Instagram. We’d love to hear from you!