The itch for a niche: Finding out who you are on the Internet.

When we’re kids, some of the most important ways we use to express our personal identity are the posters we hang on our bedroom walls, the t-shirts we wear to school, and the cartoon characters on our lunch boxes. I had a giant Pokemon poster in my bedroom throughout middle school, wore Invader Zim t-shirts most days to high school, and had a fabulous Monkees lunchbox I took to school in 6th grade. (Please leave a comment to tell me what you had!)

When you’re showing your stuff on the Internet, it’s a little different. How can you convey who you are? Where is your digital t-shirt? How do you decorate your e-bedroom wall? And where exactly is the proverbial lunch room of cyberspace?

Figuring out how to express myself on the Internet was a huge challenge. I knew who I was in real life, but transcending that gap from reality to digital took me 3 years. I had to find out how to visually express myself through one banner on my blog, the perfect Twitter avatar, and a tagline that fit me perfectly. And these things tended to change all the time!

I finally feel that I have come up with something I’m satisfied with. I like to describe myself as an official Internet Pixie, a digital whimsy spreader, an Ewok trapped in a girl’s body, and as someone who is living the geeky life with purpose. I like to use images of cats and cupcakes to describe myself. I love using pastels, pink, teal, and mint in my branding. I could try to explain all the nonsense that went on in my head as I tried to identify myself through words, keywords, images, iconography and phrases …but that would take far too long.

So what is a niche? A niche is literally your place, your position. It’s where you live on the Internet. It’s how other people will know if they are interested in reading your blog. It does not have to be just one word, it can be 10! A trap that many bloggers will fall into is trying to just pick one niche, but trust me – you can have as many as you want. As you explore each one, you may find yourself growing and expanding in a couple of them, and then narrowing it down after you experience each one.

How do you find out what your niche is? How do you write your tagline? How do you design your picture perfect head shot, or express yourself in 140 characters or less? What images should people see and think about you? Here are some exercises to help.

1. What is one of your favorite words, that you have never heard any one else that you know of describe themselves as?

2. If someone was to search for your blog in Google, and you could rank on the first page for 5 keywords, what would they be?

3. What is your favorite adjective? Especially one to describe the way a person is.

4. Think of your favorite movie character, comic book character, or cartoon character, that you self-identity with. What are a couple of words you would use to describe their personality? What color would you describe them as?

5. What color are you?

6. What are you the most knowledgeable about? What would other people say you are the most knowledgeable about? When is the last time you went on a really good rant about something?

7. If you had to design a business card right now, and could only have 3 words on it, what would those words be?

8. Your blog is a food. What food is it and why?

9. If you could plan a photo shoot for your professional head shot, what would you be wearing? What piece of clothing, jewelry, or accessory would you wear that screams you?

10. If you could collaborate with any blogger, artist, or person, who would it be, and what would you bring to their table?

11. Pick a tagline for yourself. Or a few. 10 words total, for your identity, and niche.

12. If you could copyright one item, food, object, or animal, and when people see it they would think of you, what would it be? It will help if this object is not already associated with someone else.

13. Your blog is an animal. What animal is it, and why?

14. You have to pick 2 emotions that your blog will make people feel. What are they?

15. Someone who reads your blog writes you an email, expressing that your blog caused them to do something, or feel something, or think about something, or try to make something, and it makes you so happy to know this. What did it cause them to do?

16. What’s your favorite mythical creature, and why?

17. Your blog is referred to someone that you admire by a friend. They use these 2 words to describe your niche.

18. You can only use one social network to promote your blog, forever. Which one do you choose and why?

19. You would love it if this store posted your blog’s business cards on their front counter.

20. If you had to pull an Emma, and take a photo of yourself looking down from your chin of your feet and the ground, where would you choose to be standing, what would you choose to wear, and why?

21. What are you most passionate about? What would other people perceive you as being most passionate about? Are these things different?

22. You have to choose a celebrity to do a poetic reading of your favorite blog post, with the perfect voice. Who is it?

23. What image on someone else’s blog have you seen that you love?

24. You can only blog from one location for the rest of your life. Where is it?

25. You walk into the Internet cafeteria. You see tables with every blogger ever. You sit down at the table with these 5 bloggers.

26. You have to decorate your online bedroom. What is the pattern on your bedspread? What poster is above your bed? And what CD is in the CD player?


Feature image by Laura Williams

Leave a comment with your answers, or post them on your own blog!

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