Many factors determine the success of a blog but none more so than the niche you choose. If you get it wrong, your fledgeling online enterprise could be doomed to failure from the get-go.
With so much at stake, your future blogging success, it pay's (literally) to put some forethought into your niche selection.
But, many budding bloggers don't.
Then, after a few months, they realise their blog is not going anywhere and never will go anywhere. All that work down the drain! It's not a nice place to be. It's heartbreaking, frustrating and totally deflating.
However, it's not something that you have to go through.
Choosing a winning niche is not rocket science it just requires some forethought and research. It' a process!
And in this post, I am going to walk you through each step.
Pick a Topic
Picking a topic is the first step in choosing a niche. Your topic is the content focus of your blog, the subject area that you write about.
Although there are an endless amount of topics that you can build a blog around, the best topics are those that
– Solve problems
– Help people reach goals
So, when choosing a topic keep this in mind. People will have no interest in reading your blog if there is no value in it for them.
Also, keep this in mind.
Behind nearly every successful blog is an author with a passion or at least keen interest in what the write about. You should too.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Passion alone doesn’t make for a successful blog, but it plays a big part in getting you there.
- It will help you consistently write – As a blogger, you have to write a lot of content. Without passion or interest, you will find it hard to motivate yourself to write week-in and week out.
- It will help you grow your audience – Passion shines through in your writing, and readers will pick-up on it – this breathes connection and engagement and turns readers into fans.
- It will help you stay the course – The road to blogging success is long and not without frustration. There are times when you feel like giving up. Having passion will help you stay the course and keep going.
- It helps you become an authority – Part of being a successful blogger is becoming an authority. Without interest in your topic, you won't be motivated to learn new things and stay on top of your game.
If you don't know what to blog about grab a pen and paper (or whatever electronic alternative you prefer) and brainstorm by making a list of all your passions and interests.
When making your list, consider the following:
– Is there something you could talk about all day? – Politics, Football, Gaming
– Do you have any hobbies? – Crafts, Bird Watching, Fishing
– Do you have skills you can teach others? – Cooking, Painting, Photography
– Do you have expert knowledge in a professional field? – Tax, Nutrition, Fitness
– Are you currently learning something where you can share your journey?
– Have you overcome challenges that can help others in a similar situation?
Although you might have many passions and interests, unless there are connections between them, choose only one as the focus of your blog. Blogging about unrelated topics – Fashion, Travel, Healthy Eating, Pets – under the one roof makes it harder to monetise your blog and build a following.
Identify Your Audience
Often people describe a niche as simply the topic of your blog, but that description leaves out a vital part of the niche equation, which is the audience.
A niche is the topic of your blog plus the audience that it serves. And, you should be clear on who that audience is. If you’re not, your blog will be directionless and without purpose.
If your blog serves a clearly defined audience, you will find it easier to get traction, grow a community, and gain recognition and authority within your niche.
But what do I mean when I say, "clearly defined audience"?
- As a fitness coach – Starting a blog about fitness, in general, is too broad in scope. Instead, you create a blog on fitness for people over 50
- If healthy cooking is your thing – Don’t create another health food recipes blog (there are already thousands). Instead, you could create a blog that helps families eat healthy on a budget
- If you have photography skills – Build a blog for beginners or a blog that provides advanced tips for intermediates who want to take their skills to the next level.
- As a career guidance professional – Don’t create a blog that offers general career advice (the audience is very broad). Instead, you could create a blog that helps college graduates land their dream job.
One last example to kick this home.
- A mom or dad interested in blogging – Could build a blog that provides advice for parents of toddlers or teens or a blog that focuses on an ethos like natural parenting for people looking for an alternative to mainstream techniques.
When defining your audience, you can also add additional layers of identity, such as age, sex, income, profession. The more you can hone your audience the better you will be able to create content that resonates.
Confirm There is Interest
You might want to blog about "Photography for beginners," but maybe there is no interest. There might not be an audience. Maybe people couldn't care less about learning photography.
("Photography for Beginners" is my example for the rest of this post)
While you don't need an audience of millions, there should be enough people (over 50 thousand at least) searching for information to warrant creating a blog.
The best way to gauge the size of an audience is through keyword research. It shows you exactly how many monthly searches people are making for different search phrases.
To perform keyword research, think of 10 to 15 main keywords that people would use when searching for related information. You can use a free keyword tool like Uber Suggest to get the search volumes.
After only a little research, I could see that beginner photography is popular.
With over 80,000 monthly searches (and that's just scratching the surface), you could be confident that there is enough interest in this niche to move forward.
Confirm the Niche is Profitable
The last thing you want to do is pour your heart and soul into a blog only to discover that you can't make money. Although, there might be interest in your niche that does not mean there is profit in it.
To confirm your niche is profitable, look for evidence that people are buying related products and services.
There are a few ways to this:
Check out online retailers like Amazon, and Target to see if physical products are selling well, you can tell by the number of reviews.
As you can see below, cameras are great sellers on Amazon.
For a photography blog, you could review cameras and use affiliate marketing to make a commission on any sales.
Make a list of online tools and services related to your niche and check the search volume for each – this tells you if people are actively seeking out these brands.
I found a platform called PHOTOSHELTER.COM; some quick keyword research shows that 6k people a month are searching for this platform.
This is a service that the audience of photography blog would find useful.
Again, through affiliate marketing, you could earn a commission for recommending such services.
Check out educational platforms like Udemy, SkillShare, and Lynda.com to see if people are buying courses related to your niche.
A quick look on Udemy, tell us that people are buying photography courses.
If educational courses are selling in your niche, you could create one too, and sell it from your blog.
You should also check if people are buying eBooks.
If you are in a niche that lends itself to offering freelancing gigs, coaching services or consultancy services. Then check out platforms like Fiverr, Freelancer.com.
Product photography shoots are popular on Fiverr; however, this service would probably not be in-line with a blog that teaches people beginner photography.
But, if your niche was related to career advice, you could offer resume writing as service on your blog. These gigs are selling like hot-cakes on Fiverr.
Determine What You Bring to the Table
In every niche there is competition. There will be other bloggers targeting the same audience that your blog serves.
Competition in your niche is not something to be feared. It's a good thing. It further proves that the niche is profitable, but not only that, it keeps you on your toes.
However, if you want to stand out from your competitors and get ahead, you have to bring something different to the table. If you can do that, you will have a fighting chance of competing in any niche, no matter how tough.
This is where competitor analysis comes in.
Pick five to seven competitors and deep dive into how they serve their audience. Sign up for their email lists, read their content, watch their videos.
The goal of your analysis is to identify
– What they do (the purpose of their blog)
– The audience the serve (it might be slightly different from yours)
– Their strengths and weaknesses
– The types of content they produce
– Where they engage with their audience (Channels)
– How they differentiate
Compile your findings in an excel doc (something like in the example below) and try to identify areas where you can make your mark.
A big part of your focus when conducting analysis should be on how you can deliver better or differentiated content.
Ask yourself –
- What is the quality of the content? – Maybe you can create more in-depth, better-researched content.
- Can you identify content gaps? – Quite often topics that relate to your audience are not sufficiently covered or not covered at all – this presents an opportunity for you to get ahead.
- What are the typical formats of content? – Like content gaps, you might see an opportunity for creating content formats that your competitors are not utilising.
- Do you have a different point of view? – Having a different point of view or approach to a topic can help you stand out.
To get the lay of the competitive landscape, perform a Google search using the top 5 to 10 keywords associated with your niche. Filter the results for using this search parameter "blog: keyword"
In addition to performing a Google search, research other channels where your competitors might be hanging-out such as Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, iTunes (Podcasts) etc.
Content Landscape Research
The last step in choosing a niche is confirming that there is enough depth in the content landscape (the topics related to and surrounding your niche) to sustain your blog over the course of its lifetime, which is hopefully forever.
You don't want to choose a niche where you will quickly run out of things to talk about.
Ideally, you should be able to compile a list of at least 100 blog post ideas (and that should just be scratching the surface) before you commit to building out a blog.
To research the content landscape and gauge its depth.
Use Udemy to check course content; you can turn course chapters into blog posts.
Use Quora – Quora is a goldmine of information, you can tap directly into the questions that your audience are asking.
Use Answer The Public – Answer The Public is an excellent tool for content discovery, it pulls auto suggest keywords from Google and Bing.
Research Competitors – Check your competitors and other publications that cover your niche.
Join Facebook Groups – Facebook groups are a fantastic way to speak and engage with your audience, and tap directly into their conversations and questions.
And that's a wrap..
There is a sea of failed blogs on the internet don't let yours be one of them.
To give yourself the best chance of success first perform due diligence and research your niche to validate that it ticks all the boxes. You can then move forward with confidence.
I hope you enjoyed this post and it helps you make the right choice when choosing a blog niche.
Should you have any questions or other tips, please feel free to leave a comment below.