Life as a history blogger (and what you can learn from me)

Hello. My name is Claire and I’m a history blogger.

Yes – you heard right. A history blogger. We exist. There’s actually quite a few of us once you start looking.

But I think we all know by now a label like ‘history blogger’ doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, I’m a proud and active member of the history blogging community, but I am equally involved with several blogging communities full of what I call mainstream bloggers. People who write about fashion and lifestyle, and who don’t have to worry about what category they fit into when blog award nominations open.

I’ve been pondering about writing this post for a while. These two sides of my blogging life are equally meaningful and valuable to me, but they are VERY different. However I learn so much from both of them, and I genuinely think there are many lessons mainstream bloggers can learn from us niche bloggers and vice versa.

Hisdoryan Blenheim Palace

Life As A History Blogger

When I attend blogging meet-ups in Cardiff I get loads of comments along the lines of;

‘Wow  – that’s different.’

‘You’re the first history blogger I’ve ever met.’

And

‘That’s so niche!’

But is it really? History is a BIG subject.

You quickly learn that the number one thing to do when starting your blog is to define your niche.  Many people would say that history is a niche within itself – but its not. I’ve had to define my niche within a niche (if that makes sense), concentrating on fashion history, royal history, Welsh history and historical travel.

In my own head, I class myself as an ultra-niche blogger (If that’s not a term – it is now). Yes, i’m a rare breed – but I love it!

(Top tip – If you’re still struggling to define your niche Vix Meldrew has done a great podcast episode about how to find your niche here)

hisdoryan

The Other Side Of The Story

While defining your niche is the logical thing to do if you want to run a successful blog with a clear focus, there is also reality. I hate to break it you, but the person running that blog is actually a multi-faceted human being with diverse interests! Yes, I love my history, and I love blogging about it, but I have other interests too. I like fashion, baking and Harry Potter. I love bigging up Boudicca and championing Charlemagne, but I can’t do it 24/7.

Without doubt I am a history blogger. But I also actively participate in blogging communities which are populated by bloggers that you can slot into the ‘mainstream’ accounts of fashion, lifestyle, mummy blogger etc. I enjoy their content, I learn lot from them and I’ve made some great new friends. These relationships satisfy the other, non-historian part of me. And – BONUS – they help me on my history blogging journey.

  • They’re the experts – Some of these guys are pros and have been blogging for a long time. They are experts on the problems and subject topics ALL bloggers have to deal with at some point. It doesn’t matter if you blog about luxury beauty or vegan baking, at some point in time you WILL have been flummoxed by SEO. And yes, we all still hate the Instagram algorithm.
  • Community – Mainstream bloggers have learnt that its community over competition. While Instagram Pods and Tailwind Tribes can seem artificial and a bit fake tbh, there are genuine blogging communities out there. They will welcome you with open arms, be the blogging agony aunt you’ve always needed and throw your posts around on social media like confetti. Don’t join too many tho, and join at least one that’s close to your chosen blogging niche.
  • Blogging Meet-ups – Personally I have gotten the most out of attending ACTUAL BLOGGING EVENTS WITH OTHER ACTUAL BLOGGERS! I live in rural Mid Wales so I often feel really distant from any type of physical blogging community. So, a couple of times a year I make the four hour round trip to Cardiff to attend one of the Bloggers Meet Brands meetups hosted by The Wonders Of Events. Its a long trip but its worth it. The other bloggers I have met have been so supportive and given me confidence to try things with my blog I never thought I would.

Blogging event

At first glance you may think there’s not much bloggers in these ‘well-established’ categories can learn from us niche bloggers who can only dream of the day we get a thousand people visiting our site.

But there is.

What You Can Learn From History Bloggers
  • Research – Planning and research is key to writing a banging blog post, especially when you consider that 2019 is the year blog readers start to appreciate longer posts. Well guys, us history bloggers are experts at this research malarky. We’re used to reading TONS of books to ensure what we write is both well researched and well informed. We even ‘evidence’ where we got our facts from in our blog posts for full transparency. Basically, research is king and do as much as you can.
  • How to niche it up – In online blogging groups you constantly come across people struggling to find ‘their angle’ in a saturated world of blogging. I feel people are too scared to define themselves and their niche – because no-really likes being labelled, amirite? But its okay to do this in the blogging world, and us history bloggers are especially good at it. For example, Louvain from Hello Historia blogs about death and funerary customs in Welsh history and A Millennial’s Guide To The National Trust is all about days out at National Trust properties from a young person’s point of view (spoiler alert – there are a lot of scones). If you ever think you are getting too niche, look at us history bloggers then stop worrying.
  • Evergreen content – Again, this is an area history bloggers excel in. Because what is more evergreen that stories from history that have endured for hundreds of years? History will always repeat itself and always be relevant. My recent post on Welsh women that changed the world is probably going to be recycled several different ways in March for both Women’s History Month and a Welsh History Month I’m planning. That’s three-for-the-price-of-one right there. When any blogger writes a new post, they should always be thinking about how it can be reworked in the future.



My plan for 2019 is to continue investing as much time as possible into both blogging communities. Us history bloggers may not be well-known now, but I want to learn as much as I can from other blogging communities to change this situation. I’m going to learn from the best in order to do the best I can with my own blog. And I know my friends from both blogging communities will be there to support me every step of the way.

Move over Dan Snow, Hisdoryan is in town.

 

 

Comments

  1. Such an inspiration post! I’m still finding my feet as a history blogger and I love your tip about attending blogging events. Let me know if you’re ever coming to a London one 🙂

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed 🙂 – I know its long term planning but I think I might try get to HistFest in London later on this year. Did you go to the last one?

  2. I have a post that is publishing on this going up on 4 Feb! Twist of fate 🙂 Being a history blogger can be quite complex, and I find that sometimes regular bloggers understand what we do, and sometimes they don’t. Being that I’ve been blogging for over 4 years now, I find that general blogging groups and chats aren’t as helpful as they once were (though I hope they always exist as a resource!!), but it a nice feeling to finally feel like I have my footing! I think a lot of it is confidence, and being willing to take risks- it took me years to learn it but I finally go there 🙂

  3. Yes!!! Great post! I find I’m a niche within two niches? I want to focus on sewing/fashion history but I’m crazy into daily life of the Regency Era so I have a hard time saying I will be sticking to just fashion. I’m so thankful to meet more in the history blogging community!

    • I love your stuff Kaycee – I think your chosen niches work so well together and give you a real identity online 🙂

  4. This is great! We should be blogging buddies! 🙂 I’m a history geek myself and try to integrate history into all my posts. Some of them are going to get very focused this year. And you are so right. When I started I wanted to do nothing but history but then went for adventures of all kinds and historical travel as part of that. Still shaping and sculpting but I think you articulated why I had a tough time choosing a narrow niche… because I too love Harry Potter, and travel, and my family, and all adventuring and even though history is a big part of it, it isn’t the only thing.

    • I’m so glad it’s not just me! Because I’ve been blogging for half a year now it’s given me time to get a sense of what content does well etc which has helped me shape me niche with history blogging. Sometimes it helps just to stop and take stock.

  5. YES! I love everything about this post Claire. You’re the first history blogger I’ve come across BUT I tend to stick in my book blogging niche! I feel like we’re much the same in that book blogging is diverse and you can get ultra niche (young adult, non-fiction, adult fiction, crime etc). I love your perspective on this and that we can all learn from one another – that’s absolutely true. I for one am so happy to have found your blog as I love nerding out over history! I hope we can meet when I move and maybe explore some historial sites xxx

  6. Just found this on your blog, and I’m all inspired now to start my own! Trouble is, I already have two blogs, not history, although one has a couple of historical articles. Come to think of it, those were the most fun to write, with research and books with post-its sticking out everywhere, I was having pleasant flashbacks to my student days. I think I would also have to have several niches – I’m really into the Tudors but also the long 18th century. And who knows, perhaps next year I will discover a passion for another period – so how to choose? Still, might be worth thinking about…mmh… I could have a museummaus blog (I’m @museummaus on Instagram – hello!). Anyway, some good advice here, and I will ponder this.

  7. Glad you found the post useful! I always find it useful to revisit my blog every once in a while to see what I’m writing about and if its changed etc. There’s no reason why history cant be part of a bigger blog – like my posts says, we’re all just normal human beings with multiple interests!

  8. This is a great post! I write a history blog based on my PhD research and I always feel like it’s really niche as I don’t know anyone else who does something similar. I’m so grateful to have found your blog and to see you doing it successfully, as often I can feel downhearted that no one is reading the things I put out. Definite inspiration for me and I look forward to your future posts, Dory!

    • Thanks Kathryn 🙂 I know what you mean – us history bloggers are a rare bunch! I don’t know if it would be up your street but we actually have a history bloggers promotion group over on Facebook where we share info, sort guest posts, promote each other’s work etc. Sometimes we even have history book publishers offering us freebies for review! A lot of the members are also on Insta – if you search for the hashtag #historygirls you will find us!

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