Niche blogging is an artform. And usually, the successful niche bloggers are the ones who love their topic. In fact, I have a friend from Performancing who ranks on the front page of Google for the word “candy” because he loves candy and he’s networked with others who do too. People who love a topic know what other people who love the same topic want to talk about.
I’ve never been successful at niche blogging myself. Instead, I’ve been inclined to go after broad high-competition topics (mostly because I’m lazy and don’t have the patience of niching). There’s a little bit of envy here. I’d like to be good at niche blogging…I really would.
Well, recently, I was fortunate enough to interview Jesse Nachtigal the guy behind Cigar Jack, one of my favorite niche blogs. It wasn’t until after the interview that Jesse and I became Twitter friends. Goes to show you the dynamics of networking… it just happens…make yourself available, and your network will grow.
Here’s the interview. Enjoy.
1. How long have you been a cigar smoker? What motivated you to start blogging about cigars?
I’ve been smoking cigars for five years. I started blogging as a way to keep track of what cigars I smoked and what I liked about them. After awhile I noticed that other people were actually reading my site and commenting on my reviews. That is when I started to look at monetizing the site. The current version of my site only dates back to March of this year, but I’ve been blogging there since 2005.
2. There are quite a few cigar blogs. What sets yours apart? What do your visitors seem to like about your site?
I try and set myself apart by having new content on a daily basis along with featuring cigars that the typical cigar smoker might not know about. There are quite a few small cigar manufacturers out there that don’t get the press or name recognition the big boys do. I have gotten quite a few comments on my weekly review of manufacturer’s websites, taking them to the ropes for lack of information and out of date sites.
3. What’s your primary form of monetization? Affiliate, CTR, CPM?
Direct Sponsorship is probably the largest, followed by PPC and TLA.
4. As a Performancing reader, how have we helped you? Is there any specific article at Perf that makes a day-to-day difference to your blog?
I’ve got a couple articles that I liked recently. One was the Link-out like a Loose Lemon , I was getting a bit stingy with throwing out links and sometimes can be still, but I’m trying to get in a better habit of linking out to other sites, especially those that might border my niche instead of just inside my niche. I also liked the idea of an Editorial Calendar it has already helped me be more productive, by planning out some of my regular spots in advance. I find that by laying out ideas on the Calendar I have less of those ‘throw up something quick at 1 AM’ moments.
5. Do you see yourself still blogging in 3 years, 15 years?
I’m hoping to add another blog or two in other niches over the next 3 years. In 15 years I hope to have used my cigar blog to help me move into a career in the cigar industry, eventually even creating my own cigar brand.
6. How much time do you spend blogging (and on blogging-related activities) every day?
I typically spend about 2 hours a day working on blogging activities. I’ve got wifi access in my cigar lounge (aka the garage), so while I’m smoking a cigar to review I catch up on the other cigar sites and blogging sites.
7. Do you blog more for the money or for the passion?
75% Passion, and 25% Money, although seeing a steady increase in revenue helps fuel the passion.
8. If there was one niche besides cigars that you could successfully blog in, what would it be?
Technology and Gadgets! I’m a geek at heart and will always be, but those niches are too saturated.
9. What do your family and friends think of you blogging? Do they even know?
The wife is jealous that my hobby pays for itself, but is very supportive and actually started to write some for my site. My parents don’t even have a computer, so explaining how I make money by not actually selling anything was an interesting talk.
10. If you could meet any blogger who would it be and why?
Just one? I’ve got a whole list of bloggers I want to meet! I’d have to say Chris Garrett or Darren Rowse are my first choices. Chris I want to meet because after he interviewed me on my site I had some of highest traffic days ever and want to buy him a cigar and a pint. Darren I want to meet since his blog is the first one that I read on blogging to earn a living and inspired me to do more with my site.
11. Is the USA crap economy and lousy dollar value causing you financial headaches?
Not really, the cigar industry is actually starting to take off again and is looking like it is in another boom. Since I live in the USA the weak dollar has less of an impact since I’m not changing currencies.
Good to see you get interviewed buddy. We have a nice little niche group that helps each other out. Its quite nice.
The idea of niche blogging really is appealing. I have something in mind but have no time to follow through. Kudos to you for writing about your passion and making money with it.
Thanks for the mention (no link though – what gives!?!?)
I am jealous that Cigar Jack has a hobby that is paid for by his blogging. I enjoy blogging about anything that come’s to mind that I find interesting. This type of blogging is not a niche and produces very little monetarily. Still enjoy it and will continue to blog no matter what happens.
Blogging about stuff that matters at http://www.fam5.com
It’s interesting how many successful niche bloggers like Cigar Jack got started by blogging to track their niche for themselves and not for others. Yet as they blogged for awhile, they find out they have an audience