Getting Started

How to Choose a Successful Niche for Your Blog

choosing a nicheOne 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
  • documentaries
  • making a difference
  • content marketing
  • coffee

Narrow Down the List Based on These Two Criteria

  1. Revenue opportunities
  2. 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)
  • Subscriptions

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.

How a New Company Should Get Started with Content Marketing

getting started with content marketingI got a call yesterday from a potential client, as he asked for my professional opinion on what I should do for his new business in order to increase awareness and to create buzz. It's a good question, since new companies need to market themselves. However, new companies don't have the resources established companies have to ramp up a content marketing strategy or the background to engage with customers the way an established company does. So, what's a brand new business to do? Here's what a new company should do to get started with content marketing, and to build the awareness necessary to generate leads and to earn customers:

Think about Your Brand

Your new business will be meeting its customers and potential customers head on, whether that's on the website, on social media, via email, or on third-party review sites. Because of this, you need to think about your brand and what it's all about before you start communicating that to the world. Is your company fun, cheerful, and child-friendly, or is it edgy, active, and modern? Do you want your customers and potential customers to think of your company as a traditional, serious company, or as a youthful and upbeat? Granted, the brand will depend on the type of company you are and who you target demographic is (do your customers want an edgy financial services firm? Would a child-friendly insurance company make any sense), but the brand needs to be figured out before engaging in any form of content marketing.

Develop a Business Blogging Habit

You're new company may have a website and may have some content on there that's optimized for search engines and written really well, but it's not ranking very high in the results. Why? You domain and your website haven't yet proven its value, and search engines aren't going to rank anything that hasn't demonstrated its relevance. The best way to get your website ranking and to demonstrate that relevance is to start business blogging and to do it regularly. By developing a business blogging habit, you get the search engines into the habit of crawling your site regularly, indexing those new blog posts and accruing the credibility so desperately needed to have effective online marketing.

Build a Social Media Presence

Actually, I think it's important to develop the business blogging habit first, and then to build the social media presence. The reason is that once you have the blog going, you have something to share on social media, something other than "Sign Up Today!" or "Buy from Us!", and other messages people don't really care about. But, your blog posts are much more interesting, and are hopefully offering something valuable to your potential customers and aren't just longer versions of "Sign Up Today!" and "Buy from Us!". As a new business, a cool way to engage in social media marketing is to discuss the progress you're making as a new business, such as announcing when your storefront is finally opening, announcing when you get a new customer and how happy you are to have them, or perhaps talking about why the business was started and what you hope to achieve.

Plan for Future Content

Hopefully, your business will grow and writing blog posts won't be enough for you to generate leads and to earn customers. You will have to engage in other aspects of content marketing, such as email newsletters and lead nurturing with other types of content, such as eBooks, white papers, tip sheets, and checklists. You'll have to engage other customers in other ways, such as videos, podcasts, slideshows, and infographics. No, you don't have to do all of the above, but as your business grows and you learn more about your leads and your customer base, you can adjust your content marketing strategy to include content types and topics that engage them, while removing the types and topics that don't.

Overall, make sure to create content at a pace that works for you. Although you may get more visitors and pages if you blog every single day, but if you can't keep up that schedule and your quality suffers for it, then it's better to take back to every other day or only a few times a week. Quality needs to take precedence over quantity, so don't sacrifice it to try and to catch up or to seem like you are able to do a lot right away.

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