The idea that one needs a narrow, single-niche blog in order to be a successful blogger has always rubbed me off the wrong way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a super niche blog, and in fact, I totally understand why the blogging “gurus” insist upon a niche. But then again, look at blogs like A Beautiful Mess, or Chasing Foxes, or A Cup of Jo, for example. All of these are very successful blogs, and as for niche? I have zero clues… they seem to blog about anything and everything!
So why the stress on choosing a niche?
Because of course, they have some advantages, and they pretty much depend on how you wish to be known, or rather how you want to brand your business. (And by business, I mean your blog, because let’s face it, when all is said and done, unless we are ready to treat our blogs like legit businesses, we cannot create successful, profitable blogs.)
Now, let’s say you want to create a resource hub where people can come to find all they need to know about a very specific topic such as ketogenic diet, or product photography, or mental health. If so, then yes, you’ll most likely find success much faster if you focused on creating content only in that particular niche.
On the other hand, what if you decided to brand yourself? I’m sure you as a person do not think about just one thing day in and day out, do you? If your very being is the essence of your brand, then isn’t it a given that you’ll have many different things you’re interested in?
The difference is that when you brand yourself rather than a particular niche, you’ll need to show people the kind of person you are. You’re the object of attraction, and therefore, the idea is simply to attract readers to YOU, and by extension to that, your readers will be interested in what you have to say, regardless of the topic or niche.
Is it possible to blog about all these different things and still be successful? Well, if Joanna Goddard can do it with A Cup of Jo, Emma and Elsie can do it with A Beautiful Mess, then you bet it IS possible!
So, here’s the conclusion I’ve reached after studying all these different kinds of blogs. Ready?
Here goes: There’s no one way to get from point A to point B. That’s to say that you can create a successful blog in many different ways. With a narrow niche, or a broader niche (or a lack thereof). The things that are truly important are these: You are aware of your strengths and your weaknesses, you know what to do in order to fully take advantage of your strengths, and formulate a strategy and then stick to the said strategy. Show up consistently, be authentic, and do not give up!
That said, it helps to figure out what kind of posts readers will find interesting. Usually, blog posts that either solve a problem or engage the readers somehow tend to do well as opposed to posts that are just ramblings of the blogger’s personal thoughts and opinions. (Actually, there’s a platform that’s just right for such opinion pieces. It’s called Medium. But that’s a different topic of discussion for another day.)
Alright, have I managed to thoroughly confuse you yet?
If so, my bad…
But here’s the deal. You see, I don’t say all these to confuse you or discourage you. In fact, this is all to help you find just the right kind of blog you should have.
So, let’s look at how you can find the perfect niche for your blog:
Figure out If Your Focus Will be You, or a Particular Topic
If your goal is to create a resource hub for a particular topic, then you should create a blog that focuses more on that topic and less on you. On the other hand, if you are a multi-passionate person and wish to write about a lot of different type of things, you may start a “lifestyle” blog and create a brand that focuses on you rather than a single niche.
Do keep in mind that certain lifestyle-type blogs will require you to bare your life open for all to see. If you’re an introvert, think very carefully before you choose to write about your life. That is not to say that you cannot have a lifestyle blog, but that you’ll need to be mindful of your personality when creating content. Because if not, you’ll find that you have burned yourself out pretty fast.
Make a List of Topics You’re Interested in Blogging About
A blog requires commitment. You’ll be at it for the long haul, so you should find topics that you’re interested in and invested in. You should have some knowledge of these topics. You don’t have to be a proficient (that’s what research is for), but if you don’t have any knowledge of a topic then you won’t know whether or not the topic itself will hold your curiosity for months and years to come.
You see, even though blogging is such a lucrative field, do you know why most people can not find success in it? It’s because they give up on it. And the primary reason for that is a lack of interest in writing about whatever they’re writing about.
For example, let’s say a blogger chooses a lucrative niche, such as personal finance, or fitness and nutrition. However, if they don’t like to research and write about this topic then it will be mighty difficult to continue on with this. Eventually, sooner rather than later, the blogger will lose interest and give up.
Niche Finding Exercise # 1
Write down a few topics that you want to write about on a piece of paper. Don’t think too much about it. Just write down the first 10-15 things that come to mind.
Then, go over the list again and try to pick out the topics you know something about. Again, you don’t have to be proficient, just have some idea as a starting point.
Niche Finding Exercise # 2
See if you can find commonalities in these topics and make a topic cluster under an umbrella topic. For example, if one of your topics is vegan recipes, and another one is exercise or yoga, could you perhaps combine these two topics and create a vegan lifestyle blog focused on vegan meals and fitness specific to vegan folks?
Validate Your Idea
There are some niches that are more profitable than others. But like I said, you can start a blog practically in any niche and be profitable if you know how to reach your audience.
If you want to blog about some of the safe topics such as fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, personal finance, food and recipes, digital marketing, and travel, then you can pretty much create content and get traffic if you’re providing value and doing your content marketing right.
However, for more niche topics such as knitting or felting or, I don’t know, making stickers, you may have to dig deeper. I suggest finding local (Meetups?) or Facebook groups and then networking via those channels before you start your blog may be a good idea.
However, in most cases, I’d suggest going with something a bit broader. For example, instead of focusing on felting entirely, how about you start a blog in DIY things around the home and incorporate felting as a sub-category?
Typically I suggest new bloggers choose a niche that small enough so that it’s not overwhelming, but broad enough so that enough people will find something of interest in the blog to start making an income by some type of monetization method. Which brings me to:
Decide How You’d Like to Monetize Your Blog
Different types of blogs benefit from different monetization strategies. Some of the ways a blogger can make money are listed below.
Providing service(s): This method works well with a niche blog as you can use your blog to establish authority and use it to sell your services. For example, if you’re a photographer and you write posts about how you like to approach a photography session, what you expect from your subjects, what kind of photos you like to take, then you can attract people who relate to you and like your energy. If they feel a strong connection to your style and approach through your blog posts, chances are, they’ll be up for hiring you.
Selling products: Again, just like with services, you can use a niche blog to sell more of your products.
Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing can be a great way to create passive income streams. Whether or not you have a niche blog doesn’t matter as much as knowing the type of products that will sell. For example, if you blog about personal finances, and you know a certain online course on personal finances that you love and trust, then you could become an affiliate and promote that course in your blog. But, let’s say you’re not a niche blogger. Even so, you can still promote a product that goes well with the topic of the individual blog posts.
For example, one of the biggest monetization method here at Blog to Biz is affiliate sales, and since I blog mostly about blogging, and blogging with WordPress, I have picked a few products that fellow bloggers and WordPress users can benefit from. One of these products is my favorite website hosting company SiteGround [affiliate link], and another is my favorite email marketing platform ConvertKit [affiliate link]. It’s convenient and makes sense as, by way of choosing to blog about blogging and WordPress, I know my audience will benefit from both of these services.
Sponsored Posts: Niche blogs, as well as lifestyle blogs with a lot of different categories, can benefit from sponsored posts. Influencer marketing is big these days and companies and brands understand well the power bloggers have over their audience. So, a lot of these companies will gladly pay you to promote their product on their behalf.
Ads: Personally, ads are my least favorite method for monetizing a blog, but since a lot of bloggers seem to earn a decent income by utilizing this method, I figured I should at least mention it here. Niche doesn’t seem to play much of a role for this method of monetization, especially if you choose to go with ad networks that automatically place ads in your blog based on the readers’ interest. You can, however, show direct ads on your site from businesses and those tend to cater more towards your particular niche.
Offer coaching/mentoring sessions: As long as you know something more than another person, you can potentially make money by teaching that something. A lot of bloggers tend to make money by offering coaching sessions via phone or Skype. This seems to work particularly well if you have a niche blog, as it establishes you as an authority in a certain field.
To get an in-depth idea of how to monetize your blog, check out the blog post: 10 Ways In Which to Make Money with Your Blog
Niche Finding Exercise # 3
At this stage, I want you to look at the shortlist you created before, and think about which of these topics can benefit from which type of monetization method(s).
At this stage, you may not know much about monetization, and you will likely add more income streams to your blog as you go. However, starting off with at least one monetization goal will help you come up with a content strategy, which is really important for a blogger. Things will change over time, and that’s OK. But at this stage, I want to you focus on at least one way in which you can start making money.
For example, before starting The Side Blogger, I knew I wanted to create a passive income stream. I was liking the idea of affiliate marketing more and more. The things I could write about were blogging, web design/development, WordPress, Blogging, Portrait Photography, Street Photography, Print design, etc. So, after comparing my notes, I realized that I could start a blog on blogging, which will allow me to write about some of the other topics too. For example, I can easily geek about WordPress and pivot it so that the topics relate to blogging and bloggers. I could also write about graphic design and do the same.
I had to compromise and let go of the idea of writing about photography, but that’s OK. Sometimes to create something big, you have to say “no” to some other things. I was ready to do that.