Editorial notes: This article is originally written by Gina on September 2013. We have edited it dozen times in the past to make sure that it remains valid.
This is normally how a newbie starts a blog: they would write about their work on Monday, hobbies on Tuesday, movies they have watched on Wednesday, and political views during the weekends.
In short, these people simply write on a wide variety of topics without a prime focus.
Yes, these blogs would accumulate a steady following among their friends and families; but that’s about it. It’s very hard to have a significant number of loyal readers when you are blogging randomly because people will not know if you are a movie critic, food reviewer, or a book critic. Advertisers will also be reluctant to advertise with you because they don’t know what you are about.
To build a successful blog, you need to find a niche.
You pick a profitable topic that you are interested or specialize in; and you stick to it.
So how do you go about looking for a profitable blogging niche? Here are some of the key points to consider.
1. Find and fill a need
Ever think, “I wish someone would invent…”?
That’s called a need, and it’s how many successful businesses are started.
The same is true of blogs.
If you’ve found yourself wondering where and how you could get information or resources online about a particular topic, you may have found an available niche.
Take the site USA Love List, who’s mission is to find high quality products that are made or assembled in the U.S. Founder Sarah Wagner started the site because she thought stylish made-in-USA products “were an interesting, important and mostly unfilled niche. I attribute our growth to the fact that we are offering info that people genuinely want but need our help to find.”
That is the key: Create a blog based around information that people need.
Sample subjects that offer opportunities for a niche topic include support sites for rare diseases or conditions, alternative health news and information, and technology subjects for non-techies. Think outside the box for topic, but make sure you have the demand.
Once you got some topics in mind – research and look around to validate your ideas. If no one is really interested enough to search for and use your blog content, you are simply wasting your time.
Avoid this blunder by doing some research. Find groups and forums that cover your topic and read people’s questions. Twitter search and see how often your subject pops out in the tweet stream. Run basic keyword research using free tools on the Internet such as Google Keyword Planner and Answer the Public to understand what searchers were looking for. Check relevant YouTube channels to see if they are getting sufficient views.
2. Be passionate about the subject yourself
Let’s face it, you’re not going to want to get up and blog every day or every week about a topic that only mildly interests you. If you have no interest on your blog subject, then it would be very tough to stick around constantly.
When considering a niche, think about the topics that fire you up. Not only will that motivate you to keep on top of news, trends and important people on the scene, odds are it will have some aspect of controversy – and that is great for building your blog traffic.
Whether it’s homeschooling in New York City, growing businesses online, finding cheap eats in your city, or celebrity wardrobe malfunctions, your topic needs to engage people in way that will make them want to keep coming back to read your opinion.
3. Ensure that the niche is monetizable
Being passionate about a topic is only part of running a successful blog. The other part is to make sure that your niche is monetizable. For instance, you may be passionate about politics. But generally speaking, this is not a niche where you can make a lot of money off ads or through affiliate sales (although there are bound to be exceptions).
It is a good idea to map out a monetization plan early. Do you want to run ads? Or, do you want to make money through affiliate commissions? There are also a lot of blogs that create their own eCommerce stores where they sell branded merchandise.
Once you have a plan ready, it is also recommended that you validate the concept. If you plan to run ads, you may want to take a look at the average CPC (Cost-Per-Click) for ads in this industry. This gives you a fair idea of how profitable this niche is. For affiliate commissions, you may check out websites like ShareASale and CJ to check the top products in your niche and the average EPC (Earnings per hundred clicks). If you plan to run your own eCommerce store, take a look at the kind of products you want to sell and the average search trends on Google. This tells you whether this business idea is good or not.
4. Make sure your topic has staying power
While controversy is great, it doesn’t ensure that your topic will be here next week.
For example, if you’re very passionate about Vine and start a blog centered on it, when that falls out of fashion you’ll be out of content. It’s better idea to focus on a more a general topic, such as “cutting edge social media trends” or “image apps that rock”.
That way, if a fad falls out of fashion, your blog can still keep a lookout for whatever replaces it.
5. Draw on your own history
There is probably something that you’re an expert on that no one quite does the way you do. Or perhaps you have a background that crosses unusual disciplines – math and art, for example, or biology and engineering. Whatever the case, think back on your own history, from your education to your work experiences to travel – anything you can think of where you learned something that stuck with you.
What if you already have a blog?
You can easily change an existing blog into a niche blog. I’ve been running Mom-Blog since 2003 and, in the last year, I’ve changed it to focus more on helping kids with disabilities through special diets. Now, Mom-Blog frequently tops Google’s search for the term “gluten free,” and my client list includes advertisers that are almost exclusively organic, healthy and allergen-free foods and products.
The key is to make sure your new niche does not wildly delineate from your current blog topic. In fact, it should be something that your audience is already interested in. Now take your current topic and gently steer it towards your newly found niche by writing about it and sharing relevant content.Give it some time and be sure to court new readers. In fact, you may want to re-launch your blog with a new design or logo that matches your new niche in order to inform readers of the change.
These steps will go a long way in helping you craft a niche blog that can target readers and future customers, and help to grow your blog.
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