One of the toughest, and most important, aspects of starting your blog or online publication is choosing a successful niche. It's tough because you don't necessarily want to do what everyone else is doing, so you have to find something differentiating or an alternative angle. It's important because without a defined niche, then you'll end up writing about anything and everything, which means it will be tough to build an audience because you don't have just one thing to please certain types of people. Here's how to choose a successful niche for your blog:
Write Out as Many Niche Site Ideas as You Can, Using Your Interests as a Starting Point
If you want the full rundown on how to create a niche site, blog, or online publication, then Location 180 shows you all the steps (and lots of other great stuff too). But, for the sake of just choosing a niche, then this first step is what you need to do. You need to make a list of these ideas with as many as you can, but preferably around 100 ideas of products, hobbies, and/or interests that you could possibly blog about or have an online publication for. That's a lot of ideas, but the point of getting a lot of ideas into one place is that it gives plenty of room and choice for you to narrow the list down to that successful niche. There are many factors that go into choosing and deciding what will be successful, and what won't, so you want to give yourself as many possibilities as you can. If you're unsure how to start, then below are a few examples from my list our list that we created before we setup Gateway Grounds:
- online poker
- identity theft
- credit repair
- making a difference
- content marketing
Narrow Down the List Based on These Two Criteria
- Revenue opportunities
- Can you write 100 posts about the topic?
If you're writing primarily as a hobby, where you want a serious blog but you don't want to turn your blog into a business, then the second criterion is what you want to think about. If you would like to monetize your blog or online publication, then the first criterion is priority, although both need to be considered when choosing a successful niche. Depending on which criterion is your primary criterion, there are additional criteria that would factor into your final decision. Of course, you can start out writing for fun and have it turn into a money-making opportunity, but you need to decide what you want to accomplish with your blog or online publication. What you want to accomplish will determine the best niche for you, and what it means to have a successful niche.
If You Want to Make Money
If you're looking for revenue opportunities, then you need to think about the types of revenue opportunities that are available and the topics that will give you the most revenue for your chosen options. Below is a short list of the online revenue options that you could use to make money with your blog or online publication. You do want to look at what's available, what opportunities exist for your ideas, and how lucrative those opportunities are, and you don't want to pick a niche that has options. You want to pick a niche that has options that aren't too competitive or that offer too little revenue.
- Affiliate Links
- Adsense Ads
- Other Paid Advertisements, such as Display Advertising or Video Advertising
- Paid Text Links
- Direct Product Sales (whether your own or someone else's)
For example, identity theft is a great topic, but there aren't many revenue opportunities. Most of the ones that did exist were for identity theft protection reviews, which may be useful and may drive a lot of traffic to the blog, but might not generate much money. There aren't a lot of identity theft protection programs out there, so emphasizing the opportunities that do exist wouldn't be great if making money was my goal. Coffee might be a better idea for this goal, because you have the option to sell product, do affiliate links, and advertise coffee companies and coffee products. Content marketing may be way too competitive, while documentaries might not have many lucrative options, if any.
If This is a Hobby
Then, go through the list and eliminate ideas that don't bring blog post ideas to your mind immediately. To determine if you can write 100 blog posts on this topic, you need to know if you ideas for two or three right away. If you don't, then it's unlikely you'll come up with 100 ideas (or coming up with those ideas will take more time and energy than you care to spend). Something you can do to help with this is to do some keyword research on some of your ideas. If the keywords are competitive, or if there aren't too many keywords associated with your idea, then it's not an idea to pursue. However, if no one else is really competing for those keywords, or there are tons and tons of keywords to work with to help you come up with ideas, then that's a niche idea you want to keep on the list.
Now, continuing with the identity theft example, it's a perfect idea for a hobby or an expert blog. There's plenty of need for this information, and it's a field that's changing rapidly and where an expert is badly needed. Identity theft might not sound like something that would make a great blog or online publication, but if it's something that you're interested in and would love to write 100+ articles about, then everything will work itself out. Documentaries would be great here as well, as reviewing documentaries or covering screenings is useful and fun, while offering something in return besides money.
Start Coming Up with Blog Post Titles
Hopefully, the consideration of the above should have narrowed your list to five or 10 topics. It's likely that a lot of your topics may have been too vague, or too competitive, or not something you'd want to put your time into as you're only going to do one blog or online publication for now (if you choose to do more in the future, then all of this work is done and choosing your next successful niche won't be as difficult). To make the final decision, you should come up with a few blog post titles for your finalists. Ultimately, you don't have to write these posts. The point of this is to see what interesting angles you can take with your topic, what you can write about right away, and which of the finalists grabs your attention the most. Identity theft could have some good articles about it, but documentaries might be what you choose because you're more driven to write those articles first. Coming up with blog post titles also makes it easier to get your successful niche up and running. It's no fun to choose the niche, only to waste time thinking about what to write about and where to start. You're figuring out where to start by starting with something you want to start with and with something that already has a few blog post ideas.