What will you blog about? What will be your blogging niche? These are the least technical questions you will face as a first-time blogger, yet the most important.
Settling on a blogging niche provides clarity about your purpose and helps you build authority around a central subject. Yet, picking a niche you can stick to over the long haul is much easier said than done.
Learn from My Mistakes
In the past five years (more or less) I have started blogs about restaurant franchises, centrifugal pumps, equipment sales, running, religion, self-help, computer programming, affiliate sales, lifestyle travel, RVing, and camping products.
I honestly couldn’t tell you how many different blogs I’ve started. The number has to be solidly in the double-digits. However, in this case, that’s a confession, not something I’m proud of.
You see, many of my blogging attempts have fallen flat because I didn’t spend enough time settling on the right niche. Through those experiences, I’ve been able to identify some of the pitfalls that lead to poor niche selection. As a result, I believe you can pick a great blogging niche by following three rules.
Three Rules for Picking the Right Niche for Your Blog
When picking your niche, let these three rules guide you.
1. Pick a Topic Your Care About, A Lot.
To run a successful blog, you’re going to have to dedicate a large amount of time to brainstorming, researching, and writing about a single central topic. While your blog will undoubtedly go off on tangents, in general, your posts will be centered around one broad topic.
Because you’ll be spending so much time writing about your blog’s niche, you need to care about it. It needs to be something you enjoy researching and then thinking and writing about. Otherwise, your blog won’t make it too far out of the gate.
Let’s look at my site’s niche for instance. I tend to blog about the intersection of blogging, WordPress, and freelancing. Why do I care about these topics?
To answer that question, I need to tell you a little more about myself.
About 4 years ago I was spending 9 hrs per day in a gray cubicle. The money was good but I was definitely guilty of becoming “one with the ones who I never believed in.”
Blogging, or more specifically, working as a freelance writer and blogger for hire, opened my life up to a whole new world of possibilities.
So why do I care about blogging? Professional blogging changed my life.
When you pick a niche, pick something you can imagine yourself writing about for months or even years to come.
2. Pick a Niche with Flexibility
Let’s say you pick a niche like “1969 Camaro Transmissions”. Now, you may really care about that niche, and there’s probably some real value in that niche if your goal is to create an e-commerce site. However, assuming you are looking to start a blog, sooner or later you’re going to run out of material (and my money’s on sooner).
Pick a niche that has some room to it. Let’s look at my site again to see how this tip in action. As I mentioned just a minute ago, I blog about writing and WordPress.
Those may seem like two disparate topics, but they really aren’t. Any modern freelance writer can tell you that WordPress fluency is a must-have skill if you hope to make it in the industry.
The combination of those topics allows me to write about some pretty diverse topics – everything from quality web hosting and social media marketing to finding work as a freelancer and WordPress tutorials are all appropriate for my audience.
3. Pick a Niche You Can Grow Into
One of the first blogs I started several years ago is called Intro to Pumps. When I started the blog, I had spent 2 or 3 years working for a centrifugal pump manufacturer.
I recall that when my boss found out about my blog he called me into his office, closed the door, and said something like this: “I heard about your blog. I think you should wait until you have at least 10 years experience before blogging about pumps.”
In one sense, my boss was right. I can remember revisiting some of my earliest content a few years after the fact and spotting many errors. However, I didn’t take my boss’ advice and I’m glad for that. Why? Because that blog landed me my first paying gig as a professional writer.
So, what’s my point? My point is this: don’t limit yourself to topics where you are already an expert. If the niche you want to write about passes the other two rules, then don’t be afraid to pick a niche you can grow into. You don’t need to be an expert in the niche you select today. While you will need to know something about it, you can grow into an expert over time.
You don’t need to be an expert in the niche you select today. While you will need to know something about it, you can grow into an expert over time.
Pinpointing the Right Niche
There are three types of aspiring bloggers in this world:
- Those who know exactly what they want to write about.
- Those who have no idea what they want to write about.
- Those who have 30 ideas and aren’t sure which to focus on.
I’ve rarely found myself in the first group but have found myself in the second and third categories on many occasions. So, if you’re in group 2 or group 3, don’t sweat it. You’re in good company.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to generate niche ideas or narrow down the list of potential topics. If you need help picking the perfect niche, grab a notebook or pop open a word processing document and get to work.
Question 1: What are you willing to get into an argument about?
If you tell me that no one makes money blogging, that no one reads blogs, and that blogging is a waste of time you will have found a topic I’m willing to argue with you about. If you’re willing to argue about something it may be a topic you care enough about to write about.
Question 2: What do you already do or know that you want to share with others?
Is there something you’re really into or really good at that you want to share? Perhaps you’re a great cook who manages to satisfy the vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO dietary needs and wants of your family. Or maybe you manage to do what I do think may be impossible: make money as an independent musician (ok, I know it’s possible, but I could never crack that egg).
Question 3: What do you want to know more about?
Without a doubt, you will eventually run out of blog post ideas that you already know everything there is to know about. When I started blogging about pumps, I ran out of topics just 6 posts in. From then on, I had to learn more in order to write more. Is there a topic you really want to learn about? If you persevere as a blogger, you will become an expert in the topics you write about. So pick a niche you want to be an expert in.
Niche Selected, Time to Get Cracking
Having answered those three questions, you should have a good idea of a niche or two you may want to focus on. Sleep on it, settle on just one niche, and then start blogging.
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How did you settle on your blogging niche? Let me know in the comments below!