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6 Fatal Symptoms You’re in the Wrong Niche

This guest post is by Martyn Chamberlin of Two Hour Blogger.

“What should I write about?” It seems such a silly question. Of course you know what to write about!

In fact, you could argue it’s even impossible to write about the wrong thing. That’s like ordering the wrong iPod! Whoever heard of such a thing? As you know, if you write long and hard enough, someone will listen.

An audience of five is great if you’re just blogging for fun. But what if you’re trying to build a profitable business? Can you get enough people listening to make a business?

The answer is yes, if you’re in the right niche. The problem with many failing entrepreneurs is that they’re in the wrong niche. Here’s a list of symptoms you’re one of them.

1. You’re building a big list but you can’t sell anything

In your zeal to rebel from your day job, it’s easy to pick a topic that’s utterly foreign to what you’re good at. But it’s hard to make real money in an area you know relatively little about.

Forget about monetization. Businesses don’t monetize. They sell things. What are you selling? If you don’t have a clue, you’re in the wrong niche.

2. You aren’t becoming an authority in your niche

If nobody’s commenting on your prose, sending email, buying your stuff, and becoming clients, you aren’t an authority. If you’ve spent a year of hard work without anyone acknowledging your expertise, you’re at a dead end. It’s time to move on.

This isn’t always your fault. You can be the greatest parody IT blogger, but if not enough people care about parody IT, you’re stuck. It’s safer to go with a demand that people have proven already exists.

3. The people in your niche don’t spend money

If your niche doesn’t spend money, you’re in trouble.

I know a fine art painter who returned to his day job because his titanic audience wouldn’t buy enough work. Don’t pick a field where people are looking for a quick laugh or a brief diversion. They won’t pay your bills.

4. You never enjoy writing about your topic

Have you gone six months without loving your subject? Does the very thought of hitting “New Post” make you cringe?

The best content comes from writers who are compelled to write. You can’t enjoy this excitement every single time (we all have our bad days), but you should feel it regularly.

5. You’re measuring everything in immediate dollars and cents

If money is all you care about, you’ll be too sane to stick when it’s tough. You won’t be passionate with tasks that have little immediate revenue.

To build a thriving blog, you have to be dedicated to your community. This means dispensing free advice to strangers for the greater community. If you want every single decision to be data-driven and money-making, you’re in the wrong niche.

6. You’re copying other people’s ideas outright

There’s no such thing as 100% original content. It’s okay to get inspiration from other people—in fact, it’s important. But if you don’t even try to edit other people’s ideas, if you mimic their entire ideology with tasteless apathy, you aren’t built for this niche.

Eugene Swartz once said he never knew a company that built its success from copying a competitor’s ad campaigns. Content marketing holds the exact same principle. You can’t expect success when you’ve got nothing original.

If your imagination doesn’t takes control at some point, you’re destined to burn out.

What should you do?

You don’t have to start out a genius. You don’t have to be a perfect writer. You don’t even have to completely understand your business model.

But you can’t be in the wrong niche.

Take a hard look at your blog.

Then pick yourself up and get good at something people pay for.

Martyn Chamberlin can take your WordPress site to places you never dreamed with the Genesis Framework. He blogs at Two Hour Blogger.

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Comments

  1. I hate visiting websites where it’s clear that people are in it for the money and have no real passion for the topic, it shows!

    And at the end of the day, if you have a choice between 2 similar products will you buy from the person who loves what they’re doing or the person who hates it?

  2. Nice posting.. :)
    It is a big reference to build a new blog

  3. Thanks for the article. I write about minimalism and simplicity. It is against material purchases….. so I can’t try and push buying anything that hard :) But, I love it and have posts planned out for weeks. I do want to make money from the blog (cause I am spending about 40 hours a week on it) but am trying to be more creative and patient. I have a book that I am getting ready to release that helps coach people through simplifying and I have my eyes open for other opportunities…. but, I went in knowing that it would be harder to sell a bunch of stuff.

  4. Daniel Roach says:

    I have to say, I take exception to a few of these points; mainly liking your topic and being passionate about your niche. That’s a myth that has kept a lot of potential probloggers broke and miserable. 99% of the niches that you are passionate about and that are fun to create content for, are filled with people who have followed the same advice: “do what you love,” and “follow your bliss.” It’s overcrowded and staking your claim is going to require more than just liking your topic. That why there are so many failed self improvement blogs, movie blogs, and video game blogs. Thousands of people are interested, but the market’s needs were filled early by a few.

    If you want your blog to be a hobby, then who cares about the market you’re in. But if you want to build a real business, treat it like a business by finding markets that have needs and filling those needs whether you are interested in that market or not. Get interested. If you don’t know anything about that market, find out, do your research. If you’re not willing to do the uncomfortable, your business is dead before you even get started.

    I don’t mean to rag on your post, Martyn, it really is a good post and I’ve read a lot of your content and love what you have to say. It’s just that after six years of blogging myself and working as a blog consultant for others, I’ve seen too many people fail because they believed the fantasy that blogging as business was supposed to be about following their passion, not about providing value that customers need.

    • Martyn says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Daniel. I tend to agree with you – lots of writers out there are following their passion, but there simply isn’t a market for their vertical.

      I think we both agree that you have to be interested in your vertical – whether that happens before or after you make a business out of it is up to you, though I prefer before. ;)

    • Bryan says:

      The key is to be passionate about a marketable niche. You can’t have one without the other and be profitable. I was passionate as hell about producing music (also overcrowded) and was getting pretty decent at it, but it’s extremely difficult to break into a niche in which many don’t value the work that goes into making a good record (listeners and musicians included). Put me back in time to the 1960s, and maybe things would be different ;-)

    • Paula says:

      Daniel, you made some good points. But I would say, if you’re passionate enough, you’ll figure out how to make money at it. I disagree with Martyn that if you aren’t selling you’re in the wrong niche. Some people need to learn HOW to sell to their niche.

      The love of a topic drives the writing and drives the entrepreneurial experience, but the HOW of selling really makes it a business.

  5. Rushid says:

    Well, organized & experienced posting & I’m looking more from you- like 6 encouraging/ positive symptoms, you’re in right niche, regards.

  6. Can say for sure that I am in the right niche, it’s kind of narrow though sad to say.

    Do you think one should expand the niche just to compell to more people?
    That or just make my niche more compelling by being excelent;)
    A pleasure as always to read your posts Martyn.

  7. Absolutely nailed it here. I started blogging on a different note a couple of years back in my enthusiasm to get blogging. Now, I realize that I spend many an hour trying out what other bloggers fancied, and never realized the potential in my own niche.

    I was looking for the quick buck without selling anything valuable to my readers. Thanks.

  8. It really helps if you’re a member of your niche! I didn’t pick my topic to get rich on, I picked it to share what I knew. Amazing the difference it makes!

  9. HiepNguyen says:

    After reading, maybe i’m in the Wrong Niche! Thanks your post.

  10. Saqi R. says:

    I Love WWE and feel myself really alive watching and talking about it..So writing about it can never ever be dry for me…
    Great work here at Pro Blogger….

  11. I’ve encountered this problem with a couple blogs I run, they make a lot less than the rest, but I keep them around because I enjoy them. Sometimes it looks like they can’t make any money at all, but you can try and be creative, but that won’t always work.

  12. Jason Ulsrud says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve been Rocking my website for just over a year, and it’s almost impossible to get anybody to spend money. The cool thing though, is I’ve found a new passion, or I should say “re-found”, in the process of doing this website, and that is video. So, off to a new adventure in video.

    Cool article…

  13. I think choosing the wrong niche is inevitable for most new bloggers–sort of the way that most really successful entrepreneurs don’t achieve that success with their first business. It takes time to find your sea legs. You’re right, Martyn–these symptoms are a sign it’s probably time to move on or try again.

  14. Great points. While some seem obvious (the people in your niche don’t spend money) many don’t even consider those kinds of questions to ask themselves when starting a blog or website.

    I’ve got a couple blogs that aren’t making any money but I keep them because…I don’t know why. Now might be a good time to let them go. Thanks!

  15. Monte says:

    If you have the passion and can write for your blog then you could use that same passion to create your own products.

    I have and am sucessful, not as sucsessful as my Wife would like but it isn’t the niche or the product, in my case it is my marketing skills – non-existant…

    Good post.

  16. John Counsel says:

    Your niche, in a marketing context, should be what your target audience needs and is willing to pay for to satisfy that unmet need. But bear in mind that it’s a process of building awareness, understanding, hope, empathy, confidence, trust and desire. So it’s really about a serious of stages and points of contact with your audience.

    What that really means is that each point of contact with your audience has one purpose: to sell the NEXT point of contact.

    It’s also a matter of branding yourself as the best — in fact, the ONLY acceptable — source of the solution to their unmet need. That takes time, interest, initiative, ingenuity, information, insight, inspiration and integrity in order to build the necessary awareness, credibility, respect, trust and action.

    Different people take different times and steps in order to get them to take the desired action.

    This is one of the strongest reasons why blogging can be such a powerful platform for this process of not just making them aware of their unmet needs, but of getting them to WANT you and your solution. It doesn’t matter how much they NEED your solution, until they WANT it, they won’t BUY it!

    Then it’s a question of turning your BUYERS into your most productive, profitable SELLERS as advocates, referrers, raving fans, etc.

    When your blogging can achieve that process, you’ll be a success at blog marketing.

  17. Good stuff here Martyn. Wow, you can write AND build incredible websites… :-) Keep it up my friend…

  18. Sergio Felix says:

    Hey Martyn,

    Great to see you writing for ProBlogger man and awesome article as well!

    In the beginning I was told many times “good luck trying to monetize your hobbies or passions” and I don’t really think that was the best advice I could have received about choosing the right niche.

    There are many different ways to monetize sites (even if the niche’s audience is not a buying one) and I think it all comes down to what the owner wants to get from the niche chosen in the first place.

    Just as an example to not leave a kind of ‘vague’ comment, many people say you can’t monetize ‘how to play guitar’ because a really big audience on this are teens with no money.

    I though that’s true… but what about an adult or a senior?

    What about creating courses specific for people above 40 or 50, with songs they used to like and techniques specifically focused on them?

    I think anything can be monetized but then again, I’m just getting started with IM.

    Maybe I don’t know enough yet.

    Again, great read man, cheers!

    Sergio

    PS. Probably moving soon to Genesis, seems like all the cool kids are doing it now! haha ;-)

  19. Blunt but useful. Just like a career, your blog won’t be successful unless you love what you do.

  20. Andrew says:

    Great blog post Martyn, I’ve seen your blog linked to a number of times and often read those articles.

    Having been in the blogging game for a number of years now, and attempting many blogs over that period, I certainly have to agree that I am in the wrong blog niche. My next problem is, how do I find a blog niche that I will be happy about?

    Even on my personal blog, I launch off a new category/direction to see if I can write consistently & long term on a particular topic, but whatever I try and write about, I lose interest in about 6 months, and haven’t seen any traffic growth. Obviously there isn’t a niche out there for me.

  21. You always get me with the title Martin.. pulled me right in with the fear of loss :)

    dee

  22. Robin says:

    I found my niche years ago. I found my passion this week. I’ll keep my niche to pay the bills and my passion to feed my soul and creativity.

  23. Hansen says:

    Thank you for this article,Martyn!

    I have a question. Every point above make me sure that I’m in hte right niche. Except number 3.

    My blog already has loyal visitor. They post good comment and email. They say my blog is great. They feel it is very helpful.

    The problem is, my visitor come from low-middle economic level. I think I will feel guilty if I leave this blog. My visitor really say that it is very helpfull. What should I do?

  24. If I didn’t know any better, Martyn, I’d swear you’re reading my (niche) mind.

    My goal, my mantra, and my ever lovin’ theme song for 2012 is …

    ” … pick yourself up and get good at something people pay for.”

    Precisely!

    Can’t begin to find an adjective to describe just how much I share that sentiment — may not even be an adjective STRONG enough in the dictionary to fit the occasion.

    It’s uncomfortable and somewhat embarrassing to admit I’ve been working the wrong niche for years. Yes, I said year-S.

    There’s never been a shred of doubt I’ve got a profound purple passion for helping single moms start a business online — mainly teach them how create valuable content and how to market their awesomeness on a shoestring budget.

    But guess what, Martyn?!

    Single moms aren’t big spenders. Actually, most of them have a $0 budget. Duh … And I thought I could make money with this niche?? What the heck was I thinking?

    I should have known better, that’s for sure. I’ve been a single mom for the past twenty years. I let my empathy and compassion block the route to my success.

    Of all six of your fatal symptoms, #’s 1 and 3 ring truest for me!

    Back to singin’ my theme song … :)

    Very enjoyable read — thank you!

  25. Sam Nordberg says:

    I love this blog. Often I am told that I am lucky because I love what I do. It has nothing to do with love, it took hard work and dedication to get me where I am, but I know I am in the right niche.

    Great points!

  26. Bryan Ring says:

    WordPress has opened many doors for me personally in a very very short-time. I’ve fallen in love with helping small businesses like myself find ways to become successful.
    Landscaping is my true niche, but since I built my company website (2010), people in this niche pick my brain on how I have my service area conquered. I do give-away tips most would charge for.

    Website building has just become something I’ve fallen in love with, I’m not claiming to be this “Professional Designer”, shoot I can’t even make a LOGO. It’s really the feeling you get when a client calls to praise you after they claim “If it weren’t for you I would be working a 9-5″.

    Personally I intend to sell nothing more than ADS & services, but I can see how frustrating it can be to attempt blogging for a living. If you have a service or have a need people want, you must participate in the conversation to get any traffic to your site.

  27. Dave says:

    Every time I finished an article and the thought of sharing with people makes me excited and energetic. Makes me more motivated to learn more about blogging and the different ways to present my thoughts via text, graphics, videos. The passion of my niche and being able to share propels me to move in faster and faster momentum. I like finance and life philosophy and I like to share my thoughts.

  28. Anshul says:

    It’s relatively easy to sell if you are in a internet marketing or “make money online” type blog but in my own case I still focus on providing my subscribers with great content, tips and advice and let the selling take care of itself. This way you are more likely to hang on to on subscribers for longer and possibly forever.

  29. I love my blogs and I have no trouble finding ideas to write about; in fact, I’m scheduled out far; but I I know I could do better when it comes to list building and affiliate marketing. I know I’m in the right niches and now I need to leverage the work I’ve put in to build my business.

    Thanks for this great post; it really did make me take a look at the choices I’ve made and I’m happy that I did and I’m excited that I chose the right direction.