Ever feel like all of the “good” topics in your niche have already been worn out by more popular blogs?
A post about getting more blog traffic or living more frugally may be interesting the first time you read about it. Maybe it’ll even catch your attention the fifth or tenth time you see it.
But what about the 50th time? Or the 100th? Doesn’t it get a little … tired?
Sure, you can go to the content crossroads for new angles and spins, and it works … for awhile. If your niche is super crowded, eventually it feels like even the devil couldn’t find you a new angle. And you start to wonder: how are you supposed to stand out, writing about the same old stuff?
You’d think it would be impossible, but it’s not. You just have to be a little sneaky …
Introducing the “hidden benefit”
The “hidden benefit” is the reason behind the reason audiences are interested in a topic.
Let’s take blogging, for instance. Every blogger wants more traffic, but the reason why they want more traffic will vary.
They might want more traffic to:
- Attract younger, Internet-savvy customers
- Impress their boss by modernizing the company marketing
- Build a platform and get a book deal
- Spread a new idea that they believe will change the world
- Become a recognized authority and get a cushy job
Really, we could list dozens more. Where “normal” benefits tend to be the same across an entire topic or industry, hidden benefits are much more personal. You’ll typically find a different one for every type of reader you want to attract to your blog.
How to find the hidden benefit
So, how do you guess which hidden benefit might motivate your reader?
Well, you can’t. There are too many possibilities to make an accurate guess.
The only way to know for sure is to interact with your audience:
- When readers leave comments, email them and ask follow-up questions that uncover details they didn’t want to discuss in public.
- Give away free consultations, where you dig into the problems your readers are having.
- Go to conferences and listen to what questions attendees ask, and then buy them a drink afterward to find out more about their individual situation.
It’s work, but it’s worth it. The hidden benefit allows you to write posts that you know will resonate with your target audience. You’ll be inside their heads.
Examples of powerful hidden benefits
To show you what I’m talking about, let’s go through some of the hidden benefits we outlined earlier and turn them into headlines for blog posts:
Hidden Benefit: Attract younger, Internet-savvy customers
Headline: Out of Touch with Generation Y? 5 Ways a Blog Can Help
Hidden Benefit: Build a platform and get a book deal
Headline: Blogging for Authors — The Ultimate Guide
Hidden Benefit: Impress their boss by modernizing company marketing
Headline: How to Talk with Your Boss about Blogging
Hidden Benefit: Spread an idea that will change the world
Headline: 21 Bloggers Who Changed the World (and How They Did It)
Hidden Benefit: Become a recognized authority and get a cushy job
Headline: The David Pogue Guide to Becoming a Professional Blogger
The blogging niche is crowded, but each of the above posts would stand out to the smaller groups of people they target. Really, they’re all about the same subjects: blogging and web traffic. The difference is they cover those subjects in a much more personal way.
No niche is ever too crowded (for a savvy marketer)
Every time I hear someone tell a beginner not to enter a niche because it’s too crowded, I feel like screaming. Yes, I know this is the standard advice, but it’s just not true.
Crowded niches got that way for a reason: they work. Your best bet for succeeding with your blog is to find a subject lots of people are blogging about, and then start a blog about the exact same subject.
You don’t want to be a copycat. Just look for the hidden benefits behind an audience’s interest in your topic, and target those benefits instead.
For a savvy marketer, no niche is ever too crowded. Standing out is a matter of having a more intimate understanding of your readers than the competition.
Let the hidden benefits guide you, and you’ll beat them every time.