Last Updated on July 13, 2020 by Chris
When I hear the words “Canadian dad,” I immediately think of Casey Palmer, and that's an attestation to the brand building that Casey has done over the years. I reached out to Casey to talk about niche blogging because his journey towards finding clarity with his site hasn't been a straight path. In my humble opinion, it's much better to interview those who has learned and overcome than it is to talk to those who struck gold with the first swing.
Besides that, Casey is one of the foremost voices of the Toronto Bloggers Collective, a community that I cofounded in 2018 along with three other incredible content creators. He's a thoughtful voice in the blogging space, and a voice that I'm honoured to feature because I know that his ambition in blogging comes from the right place, and that he goes about things the right way.
Jeremy wrote an in-depth guide on what it means to start a niche blog in today's day and age, and I think this interview serves as the perfect compliment to that article.
Without further adieu, my good friend and respected colleague, Casey Palmer.
1. More and more, we're seeing the importance of having a niche brand or blog. You talk about a variety of topics, but all under the umbrella of “Canadian Dad.” How do you think that's helped you?
I've been blogging since long before becoming a dad in 2013, going back to a “failed” LiveJournal in 2002, an art blog on Blogger in 2006, and a blog I used to host on Posterous in 2010. Some of the thing that made them fail were the lack of a clear focus, coming in with the wrong motivations, or letting things like follower counts and likes distract me.
The thing about a dad blog—which almost didn't happen, mind you, because I thought I'd be too busy to do it—is that parenthood is a topic that so many people can understand. It speaks to one of the basic needs of human life—understanding how to raise our kids.
It's why food blogging does well—we need to eat.
Travel blogging—we need to take breaks from our lives before we burn ourselves out.
The best content speaks to the primal urges within us—the things we simply couldn't do without—and inspires our paths to make them even better.
But why being a dad blogger in particular has helped me is because it served a bit of a void in the Canadian parenting scene. Whereas we have hundreds—if not thousands—of Canadian moms sharing their stories across various channels, there are only dozens of Canadian dads who're doing the same. And only two other Black ones. And only a few others who live in Toronto. Dad blogging's a great niche because it's not too restrictive—there are sub-niches within our niche, and investing in them helps to differentiate us from everyone else doing the exact same thing.
2. How do you see niche blogging fitting into the fold in the future? Can you thrive anymore in blogging without a clear niche?
As the way our audiences search for content evolves, the way we create content needs to evolve right along with it, and the things people are looking for now more than ever are answers to questions.
Back when blogging started, we didn't have things like voice search. Google was just a search engine—not this entity to compete against because they have all the information. As tempting as it may be to continue doing what you've always done because that's what's always worked, that's the same thinking that's seen so many bloggers fade into the limelight because they weren't as relevant as they used to be.
Many have declared blogging as dead over the years, but blogging outlasted Vine, Google Reader and Klout. Social media services and tools will come and go, but people will want content forever—it just depends on whether you can package it in a way that meets your audience's needs.
Define your niche or fall behind—the choice is yours.
3. Do you feel like having a clear niche helps you to build an audience both on your site and across your channels?
Defining my niche has set the expectation for what kind of content my brand will provide—pieces that somehow relate to Canadian fatherhood. Within that, I've been able to establish other pieces on my Blackness, family travel, and life in a city that's as bustling as Toronto.
But once you've set the expectation and got people in through the front door, you need to have something to keep them there, and that's where your personality and individuality should shine through.
But they'll never get a chance to see it if you don't give them what they're looking for.
Niches. They're the gateway to the good stuff.
4. If I'm not mistaken, you just won an award for “Dad Blogger of the Year.” What was that feeling like? Did it justify the efforts you've put into building your niche?
Ha—indeed I did! With dad blogging being such a small niche, there're plenty of things we've needed to create for ourselves, and over the past couple of years, SocialDad's hosted a Dad Blogger of the Year award, open to dad bloggers across the world!
With fourteen entrants, it wasn't an exhaustive list, but I made the mistake last year of not taking it as seriously as I could've, so this year I respected both my audience and the competition by regularly reminding my people to vote while also giving them other useful information on what was going on in my world.
More than just winning the award, by getting almost half of the overall votes in the competition, it showed me that my audience of friends, family and peers I've made over the years had just as much faith in my brand as I do, and that's something you only get through constant and consistent effort to keep improving.
What's that thing someone once said about passion? “It's the thing you couldn't imagine living your life without doing.” That's why I still do it.
5. What have you learned about being in a particular niche that you could share with our other bloggers here?
If you ask me, being great in your niche is better than being alright in the greater expanse of creators. I'm a one-man show working on my brand in my spare time, but that hasn't stopped me from appearing on TV, doing interviews, and even working on getting published… but more to come on that later.
Not everyone can be a Gary Vaynerchuk or a Ryan's Toy Review, but you are the absolute best at being you. The secret of doing well at a niche won't necessarily be found in a book or in an hour-long masterclass, but in finding what it is that you can share with the world and distilling it into the best format possible.
So I've grown from a younger Casey who wanted to be the king of Toronto to a Casey who wants to create the very best content that he can. Being Casey Palmer? That's really what my niche is. Talking about fatherhood, Blackness and life in Toronto is just part of that picture.
But I'll do them all as amazingly as I can.
What are you doing to stand out in your niche? Comment below to share!