In the early days of the internet, bloggers didn’t have to work as hard to stand out as today's writers do. Now, with millions of pages on nearly any topic available in seconds, most bloggers need a niche in order to get to the first page of Google search results.
But how do you go about finding a profitable blog niche? How, given the ocean of information available online, can you figure out how you might contribute something new or valuable? Here are eight tips to help you pick a blog niche that will keep your website both engaging and well-trafficked.
1. Consider your interests.
Even if you’re blogging primarily for money, finding a topic that interests you is crucial to success. Not only will you be spending a lot of time with this topic, you’ll need to continually create unique posts. In order to connect with your audience and not burn out, it’s important to be intellectually and emotionally engaged.
Start by writing down things that you’re interested in. Since many topics can be considered subtopics within a broader category, you might want to draw a mind map or an outline. A visual representation of the depth and breadth of your interests and knowledge can show you what ideas might make good blog topics and help you in finding your blog niche.
2. Look for a gap in the market.
In marketing, professionals often focus on the USP, or unique selling proposition, of their products and services. A USP is what sets your product apart from the competition.
To find a blog niche for which you offer a strong USP, look for the ways your interests intersect. You might be able to fill a need that few others—or no others— are.
For example, while both blogs about music and blogs about alternative medicine may be common, a blog about music therapy and how it intersects with other complementary treatments might fill a gap in the blogosphere. If you love embroidery and reading, you might find that creating embroidery patterns based on popular novels is profitable.
To find out whether the world could use a blog on a given topic, Google it and see what you find. You might be surprised to learn that you can offer something different and exciting.
3. Consider your expertise.
Expertise in your chosen topic will help you stand out among other similar blogs online. The better your knowledge of the industry, the more likely it is that your understanding of the gaps in the market is accurate.
Expertise is also helpful to you once you’re established. More knowledge means more material to write about, and it also means that you won’t have to go to as much effort to come across as authoritative.
4. Define your goals.
Next, consider your blogging goals. Whether you’ll blog for enjoyment, money, or both makes a big difference in how you choose your blog niche. Some common goals for running a blog include:
- Exploring your interests
- Making friends who have similar interests
- Making industry connections
- Selling a product or service
- Developing and showcasing portfolio pieces
- Selling ad space
- Making money via affiliate links
- Promoting your brand
Identifying your blogging goals allows you to take your first step toward defining your blogging niche. For example, while a blog meant to connect you to new friends and further your interests could be about any number of topics you enjoy, a blog meant to promote your personal brand or the products or services you offer should be related to your desired career and directly demonstrate your expertise.
No matter your goal, your blog content should show readers that hiring you, connecting with you, or buying your products would be a good use of their time and money.
5. Write to your target audience.
To attract your target audience, you need to offer information, products, or services they want and optimize your blog for the terms those people are searching.
Perhaps your goal is to sell access to online embroidery lessons and patterns. In this case, while a blog about various types of sewing or the history of embroidery might be relevant to your goal, such a blog doesn’t meet the needs of your target audience—likely, readers with no sewing experience who want to learn to embroider.
To attract this demographic, your blog posts could offer free introductory lessons, diagrams, and patterns. You might also showcase pictures of some of your more complicated projects in a gallery. These free posts would establish the value of your paid products and services.
While beginners would benefit most from paying for your full range of lessons and patterns, your demonstration of skill, clarity, and creativity could also induce more experienced artists to become your students and customers.
6. Check for consistent interest.
To find success online, you need to write about a topic that is popular enough to have a substantial audience and a consistent client base. Since Google is the most popular search engine, free Google tools are good choices for this research.
Start with Google Trends. Enter general blog topics you’re considering into this tool to make sure that online interest in your subject is consistent. For example, interest in embroidery patterns is fairly consistent, so you can expect people to continue to search for them in the future.
Searches for embroidery lessons are more volatile, but they nevertheless are predictable over the long term.
Interest in viruses, on the other hand, shot up in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting a blog about viruses in 2020 in the hope that this interest will continue might be unwise, since interest in the topic will likely decrease again once the pandemic is over.
<div class="tip">Besides gauging interest in a topic, you can use Google Trends for keyword research. Find out what topics are gaining in popularity and how these topics vary based on location.</div>
7. Find low-competition keywords.
Next, define your niche a bit more by identifying relevant keywords with low to medium competition. Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner is a good tool for this step, and you can use it without creating an ad campaign by choosing the settings for experienced users.
Search for keywords you might want to optimize your blog for. For example, you might search “embroidery lessons” or “embroidery tutorials.” These terms are highly competitive, so a new site trying to rank for these keywords is unlikely to take off.
However, keywords focused on specific stitches are much less competitive, as are keywords offering free patterns. By optimizing blog posts for these keywords, you could build an audience and eventually have the means to target highly competitive keywords like “embroidery lessons.”
8. Run the numbers.
If you plan to make money by blogging, then before you choose your blog niche, you need to plan exactly how your blog will fit into your business plan. Some ideas you might have for direct monetization include:
- Ad placement
- Affiliate links
- Sponsored posts
If you want to profit from ads, then make sure you do the math before you start. How much are you likely to earn per click? How much traffic is your site likely to have, given the popularity of your niche? Since the internet is already full of blogs, finding a topic that is niche enough to get you noticed yet popular enough to create substantial revenue from ad clicks may be difficult. Make sure your expectations are realistic.
For ads, affiliate links, or sponsored posts, make sure you and any companies looking to advertise with you have the same target audience. For example, if you run a blog about embroidery patterns and lessons, then companies that sell thread and embroidery floss may want to partner with you.
Blog posts also bring in revenue indirectly because they optimize your website, demonstrate your expertise, and make potential customers want to do business with you. If your blog brings in revenue indirectly, you may use it to:
- Demonstrate your expertise
- Draw potential customers to your website
- Develop a desire to work with you in potential customers
- Showcase your ability to consistently attract an audience
This kind of content marketing turns readers into customers. If your blog is content marketing meant to lead more people to purchase your products or services, you should provide information that potential customers are looking for without diluting your blog’s focus. Having a blog that focuses on a variety of different industries you’re interested in might end up attracting no industry in particular. On the other hand, a blog focused on one industry plus a portfolio showing your work in various markets could do the job nicely.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll have an idea of a blog niche that would be good for you. Still, you can’t stop there. The internet is always changing, so make sure that you regularly evaluate your keyword rankings and update your target keywords. Your interests and business offerings may also change over the years, so don’t expect your niche to be set in stone forever.
Take some time to reflect on your interests and research your options, and then enjoy the adventure of blogging.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer McKenna Johnson.