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What Are YOU About? [Choosing a Topic for Your Blog]

I was reading through an old notebook last week and came across a quote that leapt out from the page at me. It was partly because it was written in CAPITALS and had arrows pointing at it – but partly because of what it said.

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

I’m not sure where I picked this one up. I actually think that it was a friend who doesn’t even blog who said it to me.

The reason it stands out to me is that it rings true from my own personal experience of blogging.

I’ve had more blogs than I can remember but it is only those on topics that reflected something of my own passions, loves and interests that I continue to blog. It’s also those blogs that remain profitable.

The temptation is to pick topics based upon profitability first and foremost – however this has a couple of main problems associated with it:

1. passion shines through – you might be an incredibly skillful writer but blog readers are a pretty clued in bunch and if you don’t have energy for your topic it’s likely to be picked up. You might fool them for a post or two – but over the weeks, months and years if you don’t have an interest in your topic you’re not likely to attract those that do.

2. sustainability – the other main problem with blogging on a blog that you have little interest or passion for is that it is incredibly difficult to sustain for the long haul. I’ve tried it and rarely lasted longer than a month or two on a topic that I didn’t enjoy. I probably could have gone longer but in the end realized that even if I’d been able to grow a readership on those topics that it would have been a rather empty experience of blogging and that I’d have likely given up at some point or another.

While if your goal is to make money blogging you do need to analyze your topic for its potential profitability I wouldn’t start with that. As I encouraged students in Six Figure Blogging this week – look at yourself and your own experience.

A few questions to ask:

  • What do I know about?
  • What topics do I read about and seek out information on already?
  • What topics do others come to me for advice on
  • What topics keep coming up in conversation for me?
  • What topics would you write about for free?

Once you’ve come up with a list of topics that reflect YOU it’s then possible to begin to refine them by looking at other factors including profitability.

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.

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Comments

  1. I agree with all of these. If you have no passion for what you blog about, then it is neither sustainable or profitable.

  2. SpaceAgeSage says:

    Darren, I would respectfully add:

    What seems to give you energy rather than drain your energy?

    What topic seems to stir post idea after post idea in your mind, as if a wellspring of thought wants to burst free?

    If you could share a part of yourself or your knowledge, what would it be?

  3. Tiggy says:

    Blogging is like any job – if it becomes a chore, it’s time to quit.

    I spent a few months writing and experimenting with ideas before I began constructing a site. I needed to get an understanding of what I was trying to do, and whether I wanted to keep coming back to it!

  4. Lee says:

    This is one of the topics we have been writing about at Epiblogger. All to often people start blogs based on “keyword research” first and never give a second thought to what their passion is or if they can keep writing about their topic for more than a week because it is boring to them. If you enjoy what you do it is not a job, it is simply a part of who you are.

  5. Brad V. says:

    Great post Darren! I’ve also had several blogs that have come and gone over the years. Most were personal blogs about my mundane life and a few about topics I found interesting, but wasn’t really passionate about.

    I finally settled on literature and writing because they are subjects I really love. My blog is almost a year and a half old now and keeps growing.

    Finding a subject is tough for any would-be blogger, but it can mean the difference between success and failure.

  6. Ryan Mac says:

    I am definately writing my blog about what I am passionate about. Over the past 18 months I have started (and closed) over 20 blogs because I tried to write about things I wasnt passionate about.
    Now I write about finances which i am EXTREMELY PASSIONATE about. So i love my blog and I love my life
    great post

  7. Someone once told me (this is found on my blog on the home page too), “Find out what you’re most passionate and figure out a way to get paid to do it.” My passion is connecting people to the right resources and right people in order for them to become successful entrepreneurs.

    You’re passion is extremely important to entrepreneurship. In my opinion Darren, IT’S EVERYTHING. One might say, “but I’m making a ton of money right now online with niches I’m not passionate about…” my response will always be “for how long though.”

    There’s nothing wrong with that, but I believer that sooner or later you’ve got to start doing the things you’re most passionate about or you’ll get bored fast.

    Your passion = the thing that you would to regardless of if you got paid or not!

    If you find your passion, you’ll find your real niche!

    Good luck folks!

  8. Jonathan says:

    Great post. Like the commenters before me I’ve had blogs I wasn’t passionate about and they’ve all ended within two months of starting them.

    Thanks for the insight!

  9. Snh says:

    Writing about your passion will add value to your blog, so before starting blog one should do homework.

  10. It’s just easier, right? If you already think about certain topics, have strong opinions on them and tend to read about them anyway, then you would need to do significantly less research before writing posts, *and* your blog will be a great creative outlet for thoughts and issues that are on your mind anyway.

  11. Tom Stine says:

    And that is why I blog about spirituality. I had thought about personal development, because, well, there is seemingly more potential there (ZenHabits comes to mind). But that isn’t me. I live, eat, breathe, talk, walk spiritual stuff. I’ve been at it for 3 months, but I’m having fun. And since it is my passion, I think it will be the perfect choice when all is said and done. Thanks for a good post, Darren.

  12. xlt says:

    sure. if you don’t like what you do you’ll never succeed in that.

  13. Harmony says:

    Blogging is our conversation with the world, either for profit, or for pleasure. If it becomes dry, ( assuming it is a topic you are truly interested in most of the time) a sure fire way to stir our your own interest again, is get silent for an hour, a day, week or months. The silence regenerates and renews until you are once again – full.
    I like the 10 minute silence retreats. I come out refreshed and renewed with something to give again.
    Thanks Darren, for your posting today.

  14. Andy Wood says:

    Walt Disney once explained why Snow White was a raving success and Sleeping Beauty, his next animated feature was disappointing. When he and his team reviewed the difference, he realized Snow White had two things missing in the next film: laughter and tears. They resolved then and there to see to it that every Disney film had both.

    In other words, they discovered the role that passion plays in attracting people – and in keeping them interested.

    Great ideas, Darren.

  15. CK says:

    I can relate to this one. I’ve had more blogs… blah. Now I find I’m not really writing at all, other than an occasional update in my personal blog.

    I have a question. If you take the time to answer, I would appreciate it. Should I delete my old blogs or do I let them sit there unattended?

    Is this appropriate to ask a question in the comments section? If not, I apologize…

  16. As usual, excellent post Darren:
    This is the same thought process with my 2 blog’s I currently have.

    While one is mostly personal, but also deals with acting (my biggest passion), the other is highly focused (Humorous podcast about Gollum from Lord of the Rings). It became clear to me that if I wanted to launch some sort of niche blog, I COULD have, but I would not have the energy or passion to sustain it.

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

    Can’t say it any better than that.

    You must believe in what your blogging about with 100% of your being in order to be believed by the general public. If you can’t say that you believe in what your doing with everything you have….then you will ultimately fail.

  18. Ken Stewart says:

    I couldn’t agree more!

  19. Darren Rowse says:

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this. Looks like it connects with others experience too! Phew!

    SpaceAgeSage – exactly – great question

    Andy Wood – great story – hadn’t heard that one!

  20. jhay says:

    This is my struggle up to now. I have so many interests that I can’t decide on which one to focus a blog on.

  21. Kishor says:

    Nice post. I want to write about technical stuff. I generally write about problems I faced while coding something or using some software and how I solved them. So in a sense my blog is not the one where people will keep visiting every now and then. I think it is more of a blog that gets hits via google search when people face the same problems that I did.

  22. julie says:

    Valuable post and range of insights – what I find tricky is having a number of creative interests/passions which I normally pursue sporadically, and knowing how best to express these (or not) in blogging without creating confusion or multiple blogs to manage.

    One slant on the ‘dead blog’ comment – I’ve come across bloggers who don’t keep archives – to cut down on people using their material without permission. Makes it easier to pull the plug.

  23. Wil says:

    Great post! This step should be done prior to starting a blog. I believe the key is to be focus on your blog theme and not deviate too much from it.

  24. Neil Duckett says:

    Couldn’t agree more ….i think the results show for themselves too.

  25. I think it’s kind of funny that when you try real hard to come up with the perfect subject, it turns out it was right there in front of you the whole time. You hit this one right on the nose.

  26. Evelyn Lim says:

    I totally agree. I’ve started many blogs, more than I can remember. But it is the few that is about my journey that continues to hold my interest. At the end of the day, I found out that it is not really the money that the site earns but the satisfaction of having helped readers in that niche.

  27. @balootisme says:

    you’re the man Darren.

    you know what you blogging about. after 6years of blogging, you know what you are. ;)

    well, im blogging for personal use and to help those newbie affiliate marketer in Malaysia.

    many affiliate marketer from Malaysia are newbie, and thats are my blog readers. and my blog posts right now is for newbie.

    everyone knows it.

  28. Those are really good points, I decided that I am about many different topics, so I created different blogs for different topics. Not a rare thing, but it keeps me focused on the topic at hand when I am writing about a particular subject.

    You do have to blog about something you have a passion about, I agree. It will be much more interesting to your readers for one thing.

  29. So true. I am a part time blogger for about 6 months now and my blog topic is about having a happy family, parenting and marriage tips. Ironically, I am an engineer by profession. Got the connection?

    My friends who do not know me that well says I will not make it for a month and I will run out of topic.

    Surprisingly, I am posting almost every other day, and having good comments.

    This is because I came from a broken family, grew up belonging to the poorest among the poor and worst, without a mother.

    I promised myself that I will NOT do the wrong things my parents did, and to remind me of them, I blog about it. It may sound weird but this is my dream job.

    About monetizing my blog. Well, I just realized it when it’s time to pay some bills. Hopefully, I am not in the wrong path.

    Thanks for enlightening us once more, Darren.

  30. Dave says:

    For me making a little money on the side is a bonus, but it sure would be a nice bonus to get money for talking about a subject you are really into. The subject of my blog was a natural fit since it was something I’ve been interested in and it definitely helps, like you said, to have a passion for your subject!

  31. vutha says:

    Thanks for your sharing good idea, before creating my own blog, i never know that what i should do with it. I just want to share my thought, opinion and for what i have with my friends and other people. Until now, I just know that we should set specific topic before entering into the world of blog. My friends are mostly giving up their blog it is because of without comments on their blog.

  32. Darren Rowse says:

    jhay – sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing one of those many interests, going on a hunch and seeing what happens.

    Max – you’re very right. My two most successful blogs just… well they just came out of me and I couldn’t really stop them.

    Dave – good attitude to have

  33. “In Between The Tapas And Tantrums” Is a chronical of the ups and downs and so often funny side that goes hand in hand with raising twins and multiples as seen through the eyes of their devoted but very tired father.

    I dont think I will ever run out of things to write about as there is always something new happening on a daily basis and I’m hoping it will be a lovely thing to be able to hand over a log of their lifes from birth to adulthood to my daughters and hope they continue it on for their children.

    I did get the blog for money bug, but as you have all pointed out they soon fall by the wayside as you stuggle to find things to write about.

    My question is: What have you done with all the blogs that you don’t keep updated now?

  34. Ron says:

    Do what you love (or in this case write what you love) and the success will follow. The formula doesn’t work the other way around. Good post.

  35. Caleb says:

    The five questions in this post are the main reasons to blog;otherwise,it’s just a waiste of everybody’s time -especially the readers.

    Another strong reason to blog is the inate motivation or desire to want to help/share something of value.

    In possible solution to the last comments question: For blogs not kept up it may be a good idea to either import the posts to an active/updated blog(as long as the posts fit the particular subject matter) or redirect the traffic to an active/updated blog or even turn it over to someone else who may be in a better position to give it more life.

    Darren: I agree with you about going on a “hunch”. But thats how many great ideas develop and grow anyway ;)

  36. Rajita says:

    Thanks for this article.I am a new blogger.It gives me lot of guidance about how to write and design my blog
    Cheers
    Rajita

  37. Missy Caulk says:

    Just read the interview Midori did with you on Active Rain. Great job.