It’s clear that a lot of people want to “analyse the market” or “gage online trends” before deciding what to blog about. Well, those bloggers want one thing: MONEY.
I think some of the best blogs are started just because. On a whim. And I decided to blog about food because that’s what I like to read about (besides celebrity garbage). But there are already SO many amazing food blogs out there. So many it would be a full time job to keep up with them all. Now imagine how many mediocre or BAD food blogs there must be out there.
After deciding on food I definitely needed to somehow find a much smaller niche within this huge niche of the food blog. Then inspiration struck (Thanks, SBS. I knew all my TV watching would come in handy one day).
But before starting my “weird food” blog, I should check out the neighbourhood. See what I’m up against. And maybe find a blog to idolise, since I’m not familiar with territory. A quick search reveals that there are lots of posts and articles about weird food, but very few dedicated blogs. I knew the niche was small. Further research reveals just how small.
According to Google Trends (link) “weird food” is a very untrendy search term. Isn’t anyone else out there curious about the same things as me? Despite the research results, I do not despair. On the Internet there’s an audience or market for (almost) everything. That’s the beauty of the internet. Online space is not limited, it’s infinite1! There’s room for every subject, however obscure, boring, or downright creepy. My blog would definitely fit into what’s called “The Long Tail”. The theory of the Long Tail is all about demand. On a graph of product demand, the most popular products are “the Short Head of hits”, and less popular products create the Long Tail (Anderson) . According to media guy, Chris Anderson, producers used to be more focused on the Short Head and products that were as broadly popular as possible. Today more attention’s shifted to the Long Tail, and the Internet’s definitely played a major role in that. Imagine: before the Internet, every dog bootie enthusiast might have thought they were the only one in the world. Now with the Internet, they can find each other, and share their passion. Isn’t that a nice thought?
Back to the point: Since I’m not trying to gather followers a la Ashton Kutcher, I’m perfectly fine with appealing to only a narrow segment (hopefully that segment is at least one person wide).
Searching for blogs in my niche turns up only a handful of results. A couple of them get zero comments and are pretty sad. Will I find a weird-food blog to idolise or is this the fate of all weird-food blogs?
Thank god I found a couple blogs that weren’t too bad:
Weird Meat is a food and travel blog written by a young American guy named Michael. The blog documents his experiences trying foods from different cultures, foods that according to mainstream Western culture would be considered “weird”. Like spider in Cambodia. Rooster testicles in Taiwan. Definitely Fear Factor territory, so not exactly the same focus as my blog. I will not be tasting any animal organs for the sake of this blog.
Despite turning my stomach, Weird Meat is definitely a readable blog. The writing is good- personable and humorous. Posts aren’t too long and wordy, and there are lots of pictures. Pictures are really essential for good food blogs: if you can’t taste or smell it, you should at least be able to see it. I also like the fact that the blog design is really clear and simple, making it easy for new visitors to navigate. How many people actually visit the site and who they are, I can’t tell. But every post seems to get at least a few comments, ranging from 2 to 220 (a big debate exploded about eating dog meat).
Deep End Dining
First off, Deep End Dining seems more commercial than Weird Meat (which seems like a hobby blog). There isn’t any clear advertising, but they sell a huge range of merchandise with their logo on it. And for some strange reason the right column randomly features a link to Aquasana under the heading ‘Water Filters’, just above the post archives. Am I missing something here? Or is that just a weird method of advertising? The right column features a message encouraging visitors to use their site for advertising.
This blog is about dining out on strange and exotic fare, mostly around Los Angeles. I guess because it’s based in Los Angeles the food is definitely a lot less “weird” than on Weird Meat. Again it’s hard to know what kind of following the blog has, although posts typically get about 10 comments. But while the blog doesn’t appear hugely popular, it must be doing something right, because it’s apparently been mentioned before in the mainstream media, and the most recent post is about the main contributor appearing on Top Chef! The blog definitely has some sway. But I’m actually sort of bothered by the layout. The text column is so wide that I find it hard to read. The posts can be quite lengthy, and I think the width of the text column makes it feel even more so. I’ve realised written content definitely has to be kept scannable and manageable. Which is ironic considering the ridiculous length of this post…
Chris Anderson, ‘The Long Tail, in a nutshell’, http://thelongtail.com/about.html.