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A Better Starting Point for Choosing a Niche

Earlier this month, I wrote a post on gearing up your blog from a hobby into a business that generated some interesting discussion.

One thing that’s often a sticking point relates to the point I made about niche assessment. Today I’d like to step back a little further and consider niche selection from scratch. Or “before scratch,” if there’s such a thing!

The “good niche” myth

I often see bloggers wrestling with the question: what are some good niches to blog in?

Once you start thinking like this, all kinds of other, even tougher questions pop up.

  • What are the best niches to monetize?
  • What niches have the most readers?
  • How can I find a niche that’s not too crowded?
  • If I choose a crowded niche, how can I make my blog stand out?

Many bloggers who think along these lines are blogging because they want to get on board and be part of the blogosphere. They know that blogs can be monetized, and/or they can gain authority through blogging, so their starting point is to get involved in the blogging industry.

That’s fine, but I think that if this were my motivation, I’d have a lot of trouble sustaining my blogs. For one thing, I don’t think I’d be able to find the kind of niche Ronique Gibson described as one I could “expand on for life” in her post on choosing a niche. She asks, “Could you talk about your niche morning, noon, and night?” And that question demands that we, as bloggers, look at our own personal interests.

An approach to niche selection that doesn’t take your passion into account in some way may make your blog difficult to sustain. Who wants to write (or source content) on a topic they don’t care about, week in, week out? If you don’t have a deep, motivated understanding of your niche, you could have trouble selecting the best affiliate promotions, or relating to advertisers and other partners.

Also, if you choose a niche you don’t have any experience or knowledge of, you can end up creating more work for yourself than you might have if you’d followed your heart. I can’t imagine all the research I’d have to do to run dPS if I didn’t love photography.

My passion for that niche is what motivates me to communicate with other photographers, research, and learn. It’s fun for me. If it wasn’t, I’d have to do a lot more “work” to understand the niche, and make my blog sound natural, enthusiastic, and empathetic to the needs of my readers.

Hence the myth of the “good niche”—what’s a good niche for one blogger, is a terrible niche for another.

A better starting point for choosing a niche

If you’re starting your blogging journey by asking, “What are some good niches to blog in?”, you might be motivated by a desire to be part of the blogosphere, rather than a desire to connect with like-minded people.

And I think this is the key. Community is certainly the cornerstone of blogging today. If I were to give advice to a would-be blogger wanting to choose “the right” niche, I’d say this:

Choose a niche in which you feel passionate about connecting with others.

If you don’t feel you have much to share on the topic, you don’t have respect for other people in the niche—including your “competitors,” you don’t care about the niche’s trending topics in social media, or you can’t really think of any questions you’d like to find out about by talking with others who share this “interest,” then the niche might not be the best one for you to blog in.

Your involvement within your niche’s community will underpin your success. You’ll have to be involved if you’re to understand what your potential readers—and potential customers—need, and work out the best ways to deliver it to them. You’ll have to be involved if you’re going to be successful at reaching readers and establishing an authentic rapport. And if you’re involved, you’ll find it easier to get help and advice from others who have complementary skills or experience with that niche.

To put it another way, you can’t build a profile for your blog without being involved in the niche’s community. So if you’re considering a niche, but you don’t want to immerse yourself in its community, you might want to choose another niche.

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. Linda Caroll says:

    This is such a good point. To add to it — I think when a blogger has no passion in their topic, it comes across in their writing. Somehow, research (instead of passion) becomes the prominent flavor. It “reads” sort of dry and technical.

    Commercial copywriters know that can research and sustain passion in the short term… like to write a very effective sales letter or page copy. But it’s hard to sustain long term, the way a blog requires.

  2. Marc Ensign says:

    Well put Darren! Look, if finding a niche was merely about something original, then start a blog entitled “What I Had For Breakfast This Morning”. It’s original and you have something new to write about each day! The problem is that no one cares, including you (except if you have some really creepy followers). Instead write about what you are passionate about. Who cares if it’s been done before…do it differently. Take a different spin on it. Make your niche how you approach the subject rather than the subject!

  3. I agree Darren, you just have to feel passionate about it or there’s no point, even if it is successful it’s like having a job you don’t enjoy. Work at things you do enjoy!

  4. Sean Chang says:

    Hi Darren, that’s so true.

    In fact, I’ve found that the sites I’ve built purely out of passion end up earning much more than those that were built purely for profit.

    I believe that when you truly enjoy the niche you’re in, it really shows through your work and that becomes naturally attractive to others that are also passionate about the niche.

    And involvement doesn’t even have to just be limited to online activities. I’ve found that being actively involved in your niche offline and actually meeting up with others with similar passions really adds an additional depth to your writing that cannot be otherwise replaced through online interactions.

    That seems to be something we can neglect when we get so caught up in trying to find a niche that is ‘profitable’.

    Thanks for the reminder on why we do what we do in the first place!

  5. Manesh says:

    Good post. Many are starting niches just looking keywords that gives more adsense revenues. Later end up with short of ideas. A topic that we are passionate about, that we can write regularly gives more revenues than a half baked blog ( whether they have good keywords). Thanks Darren for the post.

  6. Luckily I can talk and write about my niche – personal finance – night and day. There are so many sub-niches there as well. I usually find that I’m able to write a lot about something that I obsess about myself. I spend weeks and months learning about it, then find out that I’m passionate enough to be able to crank out a bunch of content on it.

    Personal finance is the only niche that hasn’t gotten boring for me.

  7. Binny Oinam says:

    Hi Darren,
    Great post is already a cliche now as all the posts here are regularly great. But thanks for bringing up & dissecting the term “niche” which has been baffling me for sometime. You may find it funny but I don’t seem to fit in any niche or I don’t know how to find my niche or plainly I may not have an authority on any subject. But what’s more frustrating is that I love writing and I love to connect with people. Can you suggest a way out? No, please don’t show me the way out!

  8. Joey says:

    Nice post. Finding a niche is tough. I always knew that health was the niche I wanted to be in, but even within health are sub-niches that tough to figure out. It definitely has been a long road, but I now fit into my targeted and desired niche! Nice article!

  9. Jared Dees says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this post, Darren. I think the recent trend toward “niche sites” has really damaged the reputation of niche research and selection. When I choose new niches or advise new bloggers, I suggest the combination of PASSION and PROBLEM. I see too many bloggers write freely about their passions without focusing on the problems they are trying to solve.

    Your point about joining the community is very important. The community will fuel the content and eventually lead to the monetizing and authority that often comes too early and too often. Focus on the problem in your niche, combine it with your passion, and become known for a unique approach to approaching the needs in your niche.

  10. Finding a’re passionate about is the cardinal rule of choosing a niche. There’s just no way around it and it’s what I teach my students. I like the angle about community involvement; that is also really important.
    Thanks for sharing, Darren.

  11. bennix says:

    I agree with Joey’s point, choosing the best niche is not an easy move hence you need to consider the competition and how to fit your articles into it.Perhaps you need to focus on the niche that drives your interest to succeed or it might be a trial and error process…Nice tips!

  12. Joe Boyle says:

    There’s a good reason why many webmasters fail in their beginning stages – they choose niches they have no passion for. They are in it for just money, and nothing else. If that is your reasoning behind entering a niche, then you’re going to fail – there isn’t enough knowledge available to you.

    If your passion is football coaching, then write a blog about football coaching! Even if it is something completely ridiculous, there’s no reason not to enter it. If there is little competition, that’s an instant plus! You’ll have passion and a right-of-way in the “market”!

  13. Gjivan says:

    Firstly i wanna thank Darren for this article. It has been a long debate about if we should focus on profitable niche or should go for niche we are passionate but not so profitable in monetary term. We should be able to think and write about the niche 24/7 which describes our passion for that niche but what if less percentage of internet traffic is interested or passionate in your niche???

  14. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the article Darren… my issue is that within my particular niche, which I have been actively posting for the past 5 years, not many people choose to stick around within the niche. I’m an educator within the realm of my niche, but no matter how many online communities I encounter of like-minded people, nobody really maintains their blog, even if they start one. I have students come and go, and sometimes other instructors will visit, but not return. Perhaps my niche is too specialized? I suppose it doesn’t matter because I really enjoy it, and will continue posting without the primary motivation of monetizing.

  15. Marine says:

    I think it is not important to select a niche first, the focus should be blog content because without a good content there won’t be any audience no matter which marketing approach you have chosen.
    I am a bit sceptical when it comes to niche marketing because with this approach you restrict your options from reaching a wide audience.I think that the blog can reach its full potential when it gives an impression it is for everyone rather than when it signals that you write just for certain type of people.

  16. brandi says:

    I never really thought too much about a niche. I just blog about what I love. My nature is to teach so basically my blog came about because I love what I do and I love to share it.

  17. krissy knox says:

    I was struggling with what I wanted to do for my niche blogs. Going back and forth. After reading this post, I now know. Thanks, Darren.

  18. I belive that people should be starting businesses not only to make money, but first of all to be able to do what they love in life. If you’re not passionate about niche that you are starting business in, you just creating workplace for youself that is harder to run than staying in your current job and working for the boss. Very good article and stright to the point

  19. Jeremy says:

    I have blogged all over the place for a few years. I have finally found a niche that centers around inspiration, creativity, passion, poetry, and photography. I haven’t hit it big yet, but choosing this niche has boosted my own creativity and gratitude, as well as provided me with a few well earned shekels along the way.

    I am not sure who to connect with in my niche at this point. I would love to develop some sort of blogging alliance with like minded people.

  20. Gjivan says:

    Most guys here are talking about Passion but ultimately, the main motto behind creating and working hard in a blog as a profession is connected with monetary matter. So, the question is, will we be able to convert our passion into its physical equivalent ( monetary in this case)? Digital Photography which is passion of Darren is one of a successful blog not only because he had a great passion for photography and delivered very unique and useful contents to his readers and subscriber, but photography is a hobby and passion of a huge mass. I have researched the keyword “digital photography” in Google adwords keywords tool and amazingly approx 673,000 people only from US search for this term per month and globally its approx 2,240,000. This means huge mass have a passion in this niche and the blog positioning #1 in google will eventually gets lots of hits.
    But, if i have a hobby or passion for something which is passion of very less online community, no matter how unique content i create, my seo efforts and eventually my site will have no future. So, i think, before investing time and effort only on the basis of PASSION may not be a good choice, researching a market before creating a business model is the must!!!

  21. This is such a good point. To add to it — I think when a blogger has no passion in their topic, it comes across in their writing. Somehow, research (instead of passion) becomes the prominent flavor. It “reads” sort of dry and technical.

    Commercial copywriters know that can research and sustain passion in the short term… like to write a very effective sales letter or page copy. But it’s hard to sustain long term, the way a blog requires.

  22. Shalu Sharma says:

    Darren, you make excellent points. I started out on a venture with a blog and now I having double thoughts. 10 posts and 2 weeks later, seems as if I want to change the topic of my blog. To be honest, I am so lost that I can’t make my mind up. I will have to go back to the drawing board and do some brain storming what I need to blog about. This time, I really need to think about my niche.