Last week, blogger, newsletter author and media consultant Tom Critchlow
re-shared an older post titled “small b blogging
”. Tom’s distinction between Big B blogging and small b blogging resonated immediately in the indie maker community.
Big B blogging is the “promise of audience”:
When people think of blogging their natural reference point is to create something that looks like the mass media they’re consuming. Content designed for pageviews and scale.
Small b blogging is “writing content designed for small deliberate audiences”
By chasing audience we lose the ability to be ourselves. By writing for everyone we write for no one.
Tom’s optimistic view of the state of blogging in 2020 is that while many people think that blogging has gotten harder because so many people are doing it now, it’s actually gotten easier, because there are even more people reading.
Getting a post read by “everyone” is harder than ever but reaching hundreds or low thousands of audience has never been easier.
And while the post is about blogging, it would be just as true if we had substituted blogging by newsletter. And not surprisingly several newsletter authors have already put forth that same idea.
, who covers technology for The Verge and writes The Interface
newsletter talked about it in a great episode
of the Longform Podcast about a year ago (the relevant part starts around 30:00).
When you’re starting a blog, pick a niche. If you tell me you’re starting a newsletter about Apple, I will tell you to pick something much more specific. When you find the niche, you will find the 1000 people that are obsessed with it and you’ll have a nice little thing going.
Although it’s in vogue to say we’ve reached peak newsletter, I believe 2020 will see far more newsletters launch, many of which will go on to be successful brands. The not-so-secret secret to all of these new newsletters is that they will all be niche.
Tom, Casey and Jacob all very much acknowledge that there is a peak. But that peak is all about mainstream. On the other hand, there’s never been a better time to start a newsletter if you provide quality in a niche.
The niche strategy also works well for larger publishers.
of Poynter wrote about theme park newsletter Park Life
by local news publisher Southern California News Group.
Faced with layoffs and the necessity to drop some coverage, a renewed focus proved to be a blessing in disguise.
Her team found they were already covering theme parks, festivals, casinos, food and TV, but they needed to both narrow and deepen that coverage.
Having reporters work on a specific niche, turned out to be both more fun and more successful.
It’s not a competition with each other, it’s a competition with yourself. The goal is to grow local and returning audiences.
This is very much in line with Tom’s small b blogging. Publishers don’t need to chase everyone as long as they know what their audience wants.