When you want to set up a new blog, the first step is to find a niche (a topic) to blog about. How you choose a niche for your blog will depend on your blogging motivations: whether you’re blogging simply for pleasure, to promote something, to monetize the blog, etc.
The information here and in the rest of the “Start a Blog in 7 Days” series is designed to help bloggers setting up blogs for their own use (not people setting up blogs solely for making money, where they don’t intend to actually blog themselves – such as setting up splogs or hiring other writers / bloggers to do all of the writing).
If your primary goal of launching a new blog is to promote a company, product, service, or person, then you already have your niche; what you’re promoting.
If your blogging goal is to manage a personal blog, then your niche topic is yourself and your life or business.
If your primary goal of blogging is to write about something you love, and you’re not concerned with making money, then you will simply choose something that you’re interested in enough to write about it regularly without running out of things to say (perhaps your favorite local sports team, a specific type of craft, a style of cooking, a hobby, etc.).
What poses a bigger problem for new bloggers, or experienced bloggers launching a new blog, is how to find a niche for a new blog where the goal is to treat it as a business (or at least supplemental income stream). Let’s talk about finding a profitable niche for blogging.
Factors When Finding a Profitable Niche for Blogging
- If you plan to use contextual ad networks (like Google Adsense), you’ll need to find a niche with a good selection of keyword phrases that are heavily searched for as well as ones that have a good bit of advertiser competition (advertisers will pay more for the clicks).
- No matter how you choose to monetize your new blog, traffic will play an integral role (the more traffic, the more potential clicks; the more traffic, the more private advertisers will pay, etc.). You have to find out if there’s truly a big enough need for information in niche to keep traffic coming. You’ll also need to evaluate the level of competition (if a niche market is over-saturated, it can be much more difficult to rank well in search engines and steal a decent-sized piece of the niche traffic pie).
- You should always choose a niche that you’re passionate about when launching a new blog, even if your primary goal is to make money blogging. Blogs aren’t like static content sites (if you’re using them in their true sense and not just using a blog platform to launch a content site). You don’t just put a few posts up and leave the site alone. Blogs are designed to be regularly updated, and if you’re not interested in the subject matter, you’ll find yourself discouraged (especially in the beginning when earnings can be quite low) and you’ll risk running out of blog post ideas fairly quickly.
What are you Passionate About?
The best place to start when learning how to find a niche for a blog is to sit down and write a list of everything you’re passionate about – your work or area of expertise, your hobbies, your favorite places, etc.
Go through that list several times narrowing it down to just a handful of topic ideas that you love, where you think you can come up with enough post ideas to get you at least through your first year (if you think it would be unlikely that you could post once per day, or close to it, without running out of ideas, delete a niche idea from your list).
Once you have a few ideas bouncing around in your head, it’s time to do some keyword research and to evaluate the competition to determine which idea would make for the most profitable niche that you could maintain an interest in blogging about.
Keyword Research and Market Research
I find that Google’s Adwords Sandbox tool is an excellent resource for keyword research (even if not highly specific) when finding and choosing a profitable blog niche. The process is simple:
- Enter one or more keywords or keyword phrases to check (if you’re interested in cooking for example, you might search for cooking, recipes, or more specific phrases such as low-fat cooking, low-carb cooking, holiday recipes, etc.).
- Google will return a list of related keyword phrases (including the ones you’ve entered) – meaning it’s a keyword suggestion tool as much as a keyword research tool for search and advertiser information.
- The Adwords Sandbox doesn’t give exact search numbers, but instead a bar showing search frequency, and another showing advertiser competition. The concept is simple: you should preferably want keywords ranking high in both areas.
- If it looks as though there are a good number of keyword phrases available in the niche you’re interested in, you may be onto something. Now do a Google search for some of those keyword phrases, and look at the number of results being returned (search in quotes for multiple word phrases to find exact matches).
In an ideal situation you’ll find a topic that you’re passionate about, which gets a lot of monthly searches, which has a good bit of advertiser competition (if you’re using contextual ads), and which doesn’t have an obscene amount of competition.
Is Your Niche Narrow Enough?
If you’re really interested in a niche, but you’re finding a lot of competition, you can always consider narrowing your niche. For example, if you were interested in writing about holiday recipes, you would find that Google returns one and a half million results for that search phrase. You can narrow it down more by choosing topics such as “Thanksgiving dinner recipes” (which has around 25,000 results), “easy holiday recipes” (with around 67,000 results), or better yet “vegetarian holiday recipes” (with just over 1000 results returned).
If you really still wanted to go with the more general niche for the blog, a good strategy would be to create categories or sections of your new blog to take advantage of more specific niches within your larger choice (like categories for the niche examples given above).
At the same time, if you find that there is almost no competition at all for a niche, it may be because there isn’t enough interest to make it profitable. In that case, see if there’s a way you can expand the niche to a larger topic encompassing the narrow niche you’d like to cover.
Before you start thinking about the technical side of blogging (where to host your blog, what blog platform to use, etc.) or your blog’s overall content strategy, make sure that you’re comfortable with your blog niche choice.