How to Choose a Niche Topic for your Blog

The approach I’ve taken to build a business around blogging has been to build multiple blogs around niche topics. I describe the reasons for this in my post One Blog Many Categories or Many Blogs? but I regularly am asked about how I choose my niche topics to blog about. In this post I’d like to outline a few questions that I tend to ask myself when considering a new topic. I hope it helps:

Are You Interested in the Topic?

A friend of mine explained it this way recently:

“Probably the best place to start thinking about what your blog should be about is to consider what YOU are about.”

Perhaps that’s a slightly awkward way of saying start by identifying your own interests, passions and energy levels for topics. While it might be tempting to start blogs based on what other people are interested in or what makes commercial sense there is little logic in starting a blog on a topic that you have no interest in. There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly if you want to grow a popular and well respected blog it can take considerable time and you’ll be needing to take a long term approach to building it up. As a result it’s well worth asking yourself ‘can I see myself still writing on this topic in 12 months time?’ If you can’t I’d suggest finding another topic.

The second reason is that you readers will quickly discern if you are passionate about your topic or not. Blogs that are dry and passionless don’t tend to grow – it makes sense really as no one wants to read something that the author doesn’t really believe in.


Is the Topic Popular?

While the blogger’s interest is important it’s not enough on it’s own to build a popular blog. Another crucial ingredient is that people WANT to read information on the topic you’re writing on. The law of Supply and Demand is what most business students are taught in their first semester of of studying economics and it comes into play here also. You might be interested in your topic but unless others are also you’ll always have an uphill battle in building a highly read blog.

Of course keep in mind that you are writing in a medium with a global audience of many millions and as a result you don’t need a topic that everyone is searching, just one that some people are searching for because even it’s something that even a small percentage of people have an active interest in it can be a lucrative area.

Is the Topic one that is growing or shrinking?

Also keep in mind that popular topics change over time. Obviously it’s great to get on a topic before it becomes big rather than when it’s on the decline. This is not easy to do of course but predict the next big thing that people will be searching for and you could be onto a winner.

Get in the habit of being on the lookout for what people are into. I constantly ask myself ‘what will people be searching the web for in 6 to 12 months?’

Keep an eye on what people are into and what the latest trends are. Do this online but also keep an eye on TV, magazines, the papers and even the conversations you have with friends.

What competition is there?

One of the traps that some bloggers get sucked into when choosing a topic is to go for the most popular topics with no regard for the competition that they might face in those markets. The chances are if you have identified a niche that you think is ‘hot’ at the moment that someone else will have also. It’s demand and supply coming into play again – for any level of demand for information on a topic there will only be a certain number of sources of that information that will be needed on that topic.

The web is becoming a more and more cluttered place and sometimes it feels that there are no niches that are left open to blog about. While this is true in some of the more popular topics – remember that you don’t have to go for the topic that everyone is searching for. In fact sometimes it’s some of the less popular topics that have little or no competition that are the best earners.

I have one friend who after years of attempting to do well writing about gadgets swapped to ‘ride on lawn mowers’ (a topic he’d been researching for a purchase he was making). He was amazed to find that after just a couple of months of writing on his new topic that it was doing significantly more traffic (and making quite a bit more) than his gadget websites ever had.

As I’ve said many times before on this blog – become a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.

What is the competition neglecting?

This is a great question that is obviously related to the last one on number of competition. It attempts to find ‘gaps’ that are not yet filled. While your competition might have the advantage of an established audience, you have the advantage of flexibility and can position your blog very quickly to fill a gap in the niche that you might observe – in doing so you create a sub-niche within the larger topic.

Will you have enough Content?

One of the key features of successful blogs is that have the ability to continue to come up with fresh content on their topic for long periods of time. Conversely, one of the things that kills many blogs is that their authors run out of things to say.

Answering the question regarding whether there is enough content can be done on two levels:

  • 1. Do YOU have enough content within YOU as an author? This really comes back to the question we asked above about your passion, interests and energy for the topic (so I’ll leave it at that).
  • 2. Do you have access to enough other sources of content and inspiration? There are many web based tools around these days that can help you in coming up with content. Some places to check out on your topic to see what news is about include Google News, Topix, Yahoo! News, Bloglines, Technorati and Blog Pulse (among others).

Are there Income Streams on the Topic?

Not everyone will need to ask this question if their intention is not to build a blog that has an entrepreneurial edge to it but as this blog is on the topic of making money from blogs I’ll address it.

If you are interested in earning an income from blogging you will need to also factor in some investigation of whether the topic that you’ve chosen has any obvious potential income streams. As I’ve written previously, there are many ways of earning money from blogs – however the problem is that not every topic is going to be suitable for every potential income stream. For example, contextual ad programs like AdSense and YPN work really well for some topics but hardly earn anything from others (you might like to read my post on finding high paying ads on AdSense to explore this topic). Similarly some blogs do fantastically out of affiliate programs (the key is to find affiliate programs that match your topic closely) and others are better suited to impression based ads (those with high traffic levels).

Choose a Niche

At this point it’s time to choose a topic for your blog. It’s probably unlikely that you’ll find the perfect topic on all of the fronts above. While it’d be great to find a topic that you’re passionate about that just happens to have massive demand and no competition – but the reality is that most topics topics that you come up with will have at least one weakness to them. Don’t let this get you down – there comes a time when you just need to make a decision and start blogging. The key is being aware of what the weakness is so that you can work to overcome it.

PS: An Example

ProBlogger.net itself is an example of the process I’ve outlined above. While blogging is a topic I had (have) a real interest in and which is quite popular the weakest link of this blog is the fact that so many other blogs write on the topic of how to blog better. The other problem was that there were not too many lucrative income streams on the general topic of blogging. There are lots of AdSense ads for different blog tools, but they pay very little.

As a result of this I narrowed my niche slightly to focus upon making money from blogs (something I didn’t see many others writing about a year ago). This narrowed my potential market slightly but meant I could carve out a niche and potentially make a name for myself in the area. The other side benefit of narrowing the topic was that it also increased the income potential of this blog. Contextual ads on this topic pay a little more and there are other potential income streams (like consulting work) that a more general topic of blogging might bring.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

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Comments

  1. Theresa says:

    Hello,

    I have been thinking about starting a blog. I was wondering if I MUST select a specific topic. I am not looking to make money but this is more of a mind dump for me. I am home from work right due to illness and will not be returning for awhile. I plan on writing about current events that I feel passionately about of have affected me in my personal life. For example, my house is being foreclosed on and my real estate agent is trying to do a short sale on the house. Therefore, i want to write one post on the foreclosure process and how it can affect a family. The next day I might write about something I saw on the news that I feel passionately about. You feedback would be appreciated.

  2. Christian says:

    Yes, if you can’t hold your own interest, then you most certainly will fail to draw others in. I find myself in a different situation…I am an inventaholic and can’t stop talking or writing about my blog, which results in multiple blog entries per day. Does that make sense? I had to start a new blog to try to clean up the mess…I hope I can get the hang of this soon…
    .

  3. Pushkar says:

    Thanks Darren. Thanks for providing some sites for contents. Maybe this comment is a bit late but every single line on your blog is worth reading. Keep it up! Newbies will need you.

  4. Kevin says:

    I guess thousand of people looking for money maker niche.But i think all that nice niches are gone already.Only choice is good seo.So i dont think there is money for amateurs like me:)

  5. SK says:

    There are a number of ways to choose a niche for your blog, but the process usually starts like this:

    -Take a good hard look at your regular activities. What do you have a unique perspective on that others would enjoy?

    -Brainstorm topics you’re interested in but don’t necessarily have expertise. Then do some deep research into the area and see if there are topics you’d want to learn and write about.

    -Do some market research. Google Trends and Wordtracker are great tools to use to see whether your niche has growth/revenue potential.

  6. abdul says:

    Excellent article..It helps everyone for choosing their niche..

  7. Great post.

    Personally I’ve selected the niche of egovernment in Australia (http://egovau.blogspot.com), the are I currently work in (at least in my day job) and find both fascinating and frustrating.

    This probably is too small a niche for the money making opportunities that some are looking for, but for me this is a sadly neglected topic in Australia with lots of talk but not as much activity.

    Mine is the only blog I’ve found talking about it specifically.

    Money isn’t the direct objective, it’s primarily a sounding board for my own thoughts and a communications medium to increase the volume of my voice.

  8. Subodh Kumar says:

    Good Stuff.You should go more practical about how to make money through blog.Also your posts should not confuge the readers by just making too many points.For if a blogger dont know which topic to select then u should mentions some safe topic which he can start with.

  9. Ken Wilson says:

    Hello Darren,

    Ken Wilson here again. Sorry to trouble you once again, but I am still trawling through your heaps of info. Would you be able to tell me if I am able to purchase your book “Problogger” in Melbourne, rather than waiting for Amazon etc. Also in your book, do you go into Domain names and hosting etc.
    Thanks for all your help,

    Yours sincerely,

    Ken Wilson

  10. Estella says:

    Hi Darren,
    I actually have a question about selecting a blog topic. Is it better to have one niche topic, or a generic blog that talks about anything? With my blog, I pretty much blog about anything that comes to mind – focusing on topics and events that happen around my life. I’m keen to learn of your thoughts on this. Hope to hear from you soon!
    Estela

  11. Hi Estella,

    Your entire blog does not need to be niche specific although being niche specific does help to get repeat visitors

    If you choose to stay loose, then you must make sure that each blog post is keyword optimized. SO if you are blogging about your dog in a specific post, then I would include Dog in the title of the post and optimize that post for dog

    Each post on your blog will have it’s own URL. If you are using blogger then the title of the post is automatically included in the URL so having a keyword in the title helps your SEO

    I however go for niche specific blogs and update them as often as I can. This means that anyone who comes to any of my blogs knows that they can come back at a later date for more information or new posts on the same topic

    Hope this was useful

  12. A few months ago I had a brainstorming session to choose the topic I should blog upon. I got a free book downloaded from blog mastermind that helped me a lot in choosing my niche. Finally I decided to blog on Famous places in India because I really like to travel and I have visited virtually every nook and corner of India.
    Secondly I found less competition in the niche.

  13. Stop Snoring says:

    Thanks for the great run down on how to choose a niche to blog on
    Problem is finding a profitable niche is sometimes hit and miss

    There are niches out there that people are making an income on that you will not believe
    At the end of the day I think the blogger needs to have some interest in the niche they eventually choose to dominate

    It makes generating content and doing the necessary research a little easier

  14. Shasha says:

    Thanks for the informations on the niches. I have just started with an on line business and when you stop to really think about how small our world really has become it can be overwhelming.

    Just seeing the number of sites in your area can be a bit discouraging, but I like the fact that you don’t have to appeal to everyone just a few someones. Those people have family, friends, and neighbors they can share with and that is how it grow.

    I’m excited to see where this will go!

  15. Amy says:

    it is a wonderful blog post and I have been able to get some real good ideas on how to select a good topic for your blog. I have tried to implement one or two ideas and have been able to get fruitful results.

  16. thanks very much for this post. It really help me, well somehow motivated me to continue posting and managing my personal blog.

    and, you’ve got yourself another subscriber! *wink*

  17. Irfan says:

    Nice post!!
    I have just starting blogging and this post has given me a motivation to carry on.Can u tell me for how long should one wait before he starts using his blog for creating some income.

  18. James R. says:

    You’ve got an exceptional blog- just found it today. I greatly appreciate your video tutorials- I’m still trying to settle into my niche’ and you’ve given me further inspiration. Contunued sucess to you. Jim

  19. Niche Boy says:

    Man you are sooooo right! So many people just start writing about any old niche and most of the time they don’t even know anything about it!

    It’s important that you write about something you care or are interested about!

    Believe me, it will be a lot funner for you!

  20. Pradeep says:

    The key to capatalizing on niche market is to find or develop a market nitche that has customers who are accesible, that are growing fast enough, and that is not owed by one established vendor already.

  21. It is great, when blog niche is the same as your purpose in life. So when you are writing – you at the same time discover your purpose.

  22. Ali says:

    This is possibly the best idea in all of blogging. First I started a blog on Tech and games a week ago. I wrote at least 1 post a day let’s say and I knew that if I wanted traffic I needed to be patient and start making more posts and the like. Then after reading this I decided to make one more topic on Flash Games. For six days it was around 3 views a day and it only had two posts. Over night after I showed it to one place it became 220 more. I can’t believe this. I don’t know how this happened but I gotta keep going on that site. Here’s a link.

    flashview.wordpress.com

  23. Ali says:

    Oh no wait someone was just doing me a favor and advertising it on their site. Whatever

  24. tim says:

    I have found that with all the new bloggers out there it is impossible to go general. You HAVE to go specific niche. However, i know that this post is 4 years old but i still would like to know how you guys decide if the niche gets enough hits or not. Is it dumb to start up one with a longtail that gets only 500 searches per month? Even if i can rank #1 on G for it how many would actually click to me and then ctr?? Cannot say. I started one on how to cook and it has been doing okay but i could use some pointers. http://razorbackribs.blogspot.com

  25. Bunsoi says:

    I honestly used this article as a reference or it served as my guide in establishinh my newest niche blog I created the other day. It’s all about accountancy students, like me. I hope I’ll be able to get a fair share of the very competitive keyword like this. Thanks and more power!

  26. jon says:

    I have been blogging about how to improve a blogs traffic, to much compitition need to find a better niche…thanks alot good post

  27. Those are truly some fantastic tips to choose a niche. Sadly most bloggers dont look at all this when they start their own blog. They just have a aim of getting rich quickly.

  28. seogene says:

    Very useful information but I don’t finally understand how to check competense in the niche.

  29. work at home says:

    huh…i feel full of new info. I will try to apply it. i am so eager in making money from internet..online. and of course blogging!Tq for sharing with us.

  30. Bati says:

    Really good tips for people who want to build a Niche blog

  31. The Wizz says:

    Well thought out. I like this article enough to add it a range of articles I have put together on the subject of choosing a blog topic. Thanks

    Blogger Tips Choosing a Good Blog Topic

  32. Max Orelus says:

    Great Post! The number one thing I think is important is how passionate you feel about your blog topic. It sucks to write articles on something your not passionate about.

    Nice!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How to Choose a Niche Topic for your Blog [...]

  2. [...] Darren over on ProBlogger asks some very good questions around picking a niche for a new blog and we are going to list some tools and tips that will help you answer some of them. [...]

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  15. [...] Update: the link in this post is now out of date – but on the same topic you may be interested to read my post – How to choose a niche topic for your blog. [...]

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