Starting an income-generating blog is fairly simple (albeit tedious), but deciding what to write about on your blog? Now that’s daunting. By the end of this post, I guarantee you will know exactly how to find your blog niche and why that’s important.
What is a niche, though? A niche is just a fancy name for the general topic or subject that your blog posts are about. Remember that the ultimate goal of a blog, any blog, is to be the go-to resource for a particular topic. You want your blog to be top of mind when people think about your niche.
Bearing that in mind, you now have to ask yourself the first, critical question: “What can I start a blog about?”
The answer, I’m afraid, can only be answered by asking more questions.
Get a pen and paper. Or fine, open your favorite note-taking application. Without overthinking it (you’ll have plenty of thinking to do afterwards, I promise), list down the following:
• Things you take pleasure in doing
• Things you do on your free time
• Things you like and enjoy searching or reading about online
• Things you know more about than most people
• Things you can’t shut up about to your friends or family
You’ve essentially narrowed it down from an infinite number of topics to this list. Hopefully, the answers overlap into only a few related answers. If you find yourself grappling with 5, or even 20 wildly unconnected answers, don’t fret! I’ll give you things to think about to help you narrow it down further.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has at least one thing that they enjoy doing. Is it collecting something? Is it playing some kind of sport? Do you love shopping in thrift stores? Does puttering around in your garage do it for you? Or do you love making GIFsets of your favorite TV series?
Whatever comes up, don’t judge yourself for it. Don’t include things that you think you should be enjoying; only list down the things you actually are enjoying. Be absolutely honest with yourself. Your enthusiasm (or lack of it) for your topic will show in your writing sooner or later, and your readers will pick up on that.
Think about the topics and industries that you have significant experience in and that you have inside knowledge about. Those are where you can provide the most value to your readers.
One of the cardinal rules of writing is to “write what you know.” Bear in mind that your aim is for your blog to be the go-to resource for a particular topic. If you don’t know much about your chosen topic, readers will sense it and go elsewhere. They’ll want to read about it from the authority on the topic.
That said, it’s not impossible to be an expert on something because you started to blog about it. Keep in mind, though, that this will entail a lot of hard work from your end if you don’t already know a lot about your topic. You’ll have to start from scratch and build your credibility up from the ground. Considering all the other factors involved in getting a blog up and running, this might work against you.
Mull over the topics you’ve listed down, especially about the things you can’t shut up about. These are things that always find themselves in your conversations with people, even when they try to change the subject.
Now think about this: can you see yourself writing article after article about it? Do you already have lots of ideas swirling around in your head that you want to flesh out and write? If yes, then file it away as one of your final candidates for your blog niche.
Really? No semi-finals or playoffs? Let me explain.
Blogging is all about content. Choosing a topic that you already have lots of ideas for or that you know you can write about day in, day out without getting sick of it would ensure that you still have fresh ideas months or years down the road.
If this happens to be a topic that you are passionate about (and chances are it is, because how can you not stop talking about something and not care about it even just a tiny bit?) and know a lot about (again, how can you not stop talking about something you don’t know?) then that’s good for you and your blog! You’re more likely to do the hard work, do it for the long haul, and do it well.
After this exercise, you should (hopefully) have a more thorough knowledge of yourself and what you can start a blog about. The next section is about your potential readers, which you’ll have to consider to find your blog niche.
At the risk of belaboring the point, your goal is to be the authority for your niche. You’ll want to gain and keep readers. More importantly, you’ll want to gain and retain buying readers. Considering what others might want to read is thus important when deciding what to write about. Here are some thoughts on what readers want.
What do people find difficult? What are the roadblocks on their path that take considerable time and effort to remove? Is there an easier way? If not, is there a better way? Do you have the solution?
What is something that a lot of people seem to be interested in but no one seems to know how to do? Or something that people need to know in their chosen career, but have limited resources and means to learn it? Can you teach these people how to do it? More importantly, can you teach them in an engaging, non-intimidating way?
What are goals that people typically want to achieve? These might be related to health and fitness, family, career, financial, spiritual, and so many other aspects of people’s lives. Do you have a similar goal and want to share your journey? Or have you reached your goal and lived to tell the tale?
Everyone needs some time off the drudgery of their daily lives to read something out of the ordinary, something hilarious, or just something that distracts them temporarily from their reality. There isn’t a scarcity of entertainment to be had, so if you decide to head down this road, make sure to offer something unique, or at least of higher quality than anything else out there.
When you’re thinking about this, try to think inwards. Wear your “reader” hat for a while. As you encounter problems that need solving or questions that you need to be answered or goals that you want to reach, ask yourself: are you willing to buy something to solve your problem or answer your question or help you reach your goal? This should help you ponder about what you have to offer and if your readers are willing to buy it.
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what to blog about. I don’t mean to muddy the waters further, but you’ll ask yourself these questions anyway throughout the process of finding your blog niche, so let’s bring these out in the open.
The perpetual question, especially regarding people’s careers: do you go where your passion is, or do you go where you stand to make money?
Surprise, surprise: it applies to blogging as well.
Waking up every morning (or evening, for you night owls) just itching to write great content because you just love blogging about your passion sounds like a dream come true. However, if your passion is watching paint dry (an extreme example, I must admit), you probably won’t make a lot of money from blogging about it.
By contrast, picking a niche that has proven to be profitable will up your chances of reaping income from blogging. Then again, writing about something that you have absolutely no interest in sounds very unappealing at best and unsustainable at worst.
My take? Compromise. Write about something you know that has a large enough audience that will likely pay money for products and/or services that you have to offer. Consider the likelihood of your readers making a purchase if you turn them onto a premium solution. Again, turn it inwards: if someone else offered this to you, are you going to spend on it?
But what about your passion?
Of course, passion is important, but passion is not something you develop overnight. You didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “From now on, I’m going to be passionate about [insert your passion here].” Something piqued your interest. You read about it, researched it, did it, and never stopped. That’s how you got passionate about it.
The thing is, it can happen to a topic that you previously might not care too much about. The more you blog about it, the more you will study it and the more authority you will have to talk about it. The more authority you have on that topic, the more people who are enthusiastic about your topic end up on your blog.
You see where this is going, don’t you? Your shared enthusiasm about the topic will feed off each other and eventually, you’ll have developed a passion for your topic that you didn’t know you had.
The bottom line is that for your blog to be successful, you need to be in that coveted sweet spot where you’re writing about something that benefits both you and your readers: it addresses your readers’ needs while paying you a decent income.
Should you please everyone slightly, or should you please a handful of people immensely?
If your blog’s topic is far-reaching, it’s easier to attract a lot of different people, but that makes it harder to stand out from all the other blogs in your niche. If your topic is too narrow, that sets you apart from all the other blogs, which is good, but your pool of interested people is now too small for you to make enough money.
Difficult as it may seem, aim for a balance of breadth and depth. You want to write about a topic that is interesting for enough people so that you can make money and at the same time specific enough such that not a lot of other bloggers are writing about it.
Speaking of other bloggers, should you be threatened? Should you shy away from niches where you have competition?
On one hand, if other bloggers in your niche are making money, then it probably means your niche is profitable. On the other hand, if there are too many of you in that niche, then it’s difficult to break into that niche and stand out.
Don’t be afraid of the competition. Of the hundreds of millions of blogs out there, you are bound to get some, no matter what niche you pick. You get the benefit of learning from those who have come before you. Knowing your niche well will help you work on your unique selling point that’ll make you stand out from the rest. What value can you provide that no one else can?
At this point, you should have your list down to 2 to 3 ideas. Sleep on it. Reassess after a week. If you need to, do the whole process again. Contemplating on it without making snap decisions will help reveal the one you really want.
Over time, you’ll find yourself gravitating to one of your ideas. You’ll think about the other items on your list and imagine the possibilities for those, but you’ll find yourself going back to this. One. Topic. That’s how you know the blog niche that you truly want to write for.
Once you find your blog niche, you’re ready to start a blog! Jump here to read about how to start your blog from scratch.
Have you tried to find your blog niche yet? Need someone to bounce ideas off of? I’m here for you! Comment below and let me know what’s on your mind.
This is the first of a five-part series about how to start making money blogging. I highly recommend reading them in order, but for your reference, here are links to the five articles in the series:
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.