Have you noticed that when you settle into your niche and find your target audience, everything else comes into focus?
The way you look at your social media, content marketing, business – everything has a new sense of clarity. Though true, solidifying your niche and audience is only the first step in building a memorable brand. Now comes the next step: finding your edge.
I started using this phrase a few weeks ago on Periscope and was asked by several participants "what the heck is an edge?", so I thought I'd answer with a blog post.
I define “your edge” as the characteristic(s) that allows you to stand out among others in your niche who are doing similar things. Yes, even against those big players in your field. It’s what you possess that no other blogger or business owner does.
There are plenty of bloggers who cover the same things I do: blogging/content marketing, social media, branding, and the creative process. Here’s the difference between them and myself: I know my edge is community.
Everything I create then is through this lens and always relates back to building sustainable communities. It’s what helps me become more than just a blogger who blogs about blogging. (We’ve all heard that before, haven’t we?)
Here's a great place to start.
For you equation-friendly people, let's put it into a simple formula:
Your edge = your niche + (your area of expertise + your unique traits)
Your niche is important because it will define the categories of your blog, thus building a foundation of what content your audience can expect which breeds trust. Then we add your experience and expertise with the personality of your brand, all resulting in your edge.
So how do you go about filling in those variables? Here are some simple but powerful tips to help you out.
Write a list of your strengths
What are you good at? This question seems simple at a glance, but can actually be pretty tricky to answer yourself. Start by making a quick list of all your skills. Anything from your communication and learning styles to the hobbies and activities you have a knack for. Your answers don’t have to be specific to one area. Once these are all listed, you’ll be able to find ties between them. I listed a few of mine below to get your own wheels turning.
Mine: adventurous/willing to try new things, short-form copy, meeting quick deadlines, transparency/vulnerability, high energy, actionable content, tenacity
Acknowledge your weaknesses
Not sure what your specific strengths are? Then start with your weaknesses. It might sound strange, but hear me out. We can’t find our edge if we tell ourselves we have to be the best at everything. Your weaknesses will reveal your strengths by naturally guiding you their opposites.
Mine: large groups of people, no wiggle room outlines, structure, financial side of biz, legal side of biz, my Minnesotan accent (kidding, kind of), addressing conflict, people pleasing
If I hadn’t previously listed my strengths, from my weaknesses I would gather that I probably should invest in building an intimate community to match my personality. Also, I’d know creativity is my thing since numbers and jargon aren't. You’ll want to go more in-depth, but this is my way of showing you that working backwards can help you work forward.
Listen to what others know you for
I used to think people knew me for rebranding since I shifted so much in my first year *insert laughing while crying emoji here*, but my audience let me know that when they thought about community building and content strategy, I came to mind. That changed everything for me, so I encourage you to ask your blog besties (or BBFFs, as I like to call them) what they know you for.
You can also create a reader survey for some extra insight into what content your audience connects best with and what they enjoy reading. This is going to give you more detail into how they feel about your thought leadership thus far. If you blog about visual branding and your readers unanimously say they love your blog photography, you know you’re on the right track.
You can even tweet and ask your audience for quick responses. I did this a few times when I was shifting my blog vision in the first year and it really helped me narrow down my content so I could write for my ideal audience. When doing this, I also offered to tell others what I knew THEM for, so I could pay them back with some extra value for their time.
Now that you are well on your way to finding edge, I’ll leave you with a few tips to keep in your back pocket.
- OWN YOUR EXPERTISE. Yes, all caps were totally necessary. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, remember your edge and be sure it’s clear in your introduction. The most successful people are the people who know what they excel at and make sure you’re aware of it too, in a humble way of course.
- Not matching what everyone else is doing is a GOOD thing. Who wants to see the same content with the same voice over and over again? Stay true to your vision and don’t be afraid to take a stance on topics in your niche. When I talked about not monetizing in my first year, I shared an unpopular opinion but it turned out to be one of my most engaged with posts.
- Done is better than perfect. I fully believe that starting somewhere and shifting until you find the right fit is better than never launching because of a fear of failure. Get off of that launch pad! Blast off! You’ll find your purpose and clarity in the free fall.
- Keep challenging yourself to try new things. The more nervous I got about video content, the more I knew I had to try it. When you conquer your doubts, you open yourself up to a whole new skillset. You never know if you’re a natural at something until you give it a real try. Maybe you will uncover a new edge you never knew you had.
- Goals can always be changed. Maybe you went into blogging for an entirely different reason than you find yourself blogging for now. It doesn’t matter how you got here; it just matters that you’re here now and loving every minute of it. Stay close to the things that light you up.
You’ve got this, my friends.
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What is your edge? What was your path like to discovering it? Let me know in the comment section below.