A while back when I asked you what you’d like to ask professional bloggers in my upcoming interview series MM asked:
‘I want to know what kind of research they did before they jumpstart a new blog. How do they gauge the “marketability” or earning potential of a new topic?’
I’ll ask the question when I start my interview series (first interview will be released this week) – but thought it was worth attempting an answer here also from my own perspective.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. The best research that I’ve ever done on a topic for a potential blog is this…
I get a hunch, I take a guess and start a blog.
I start a blog, I watch the traffic levels and I watch the earning levels. If it does well I keep doing it. If it doesn’t do well I stop doing it.
It isn’t really rocket science – but it works! Yes there are tools that you can use to research a potential topic and some people put a lot of time, energy and thought into it – but my experience is simply to take an educated guess and give it a go.
The beauty of blogs is that they are really so cheap and simple to start up and have very little in the way of overheads. Just yesterday I had a fully functioning blog up and running within 90 minutes (with a little help from a friend who will run it with me).
So far I’ve run most of my blogs on just a couple of domains which makes starting new ones even cheaper and easier. There are some costs of this approach which I live with the consequences of, but the benefit is that you start a new blog with a good chance of being picked up quickly in Search Engines for virtually no cost at all (except your own time). I know that three days after I start a new blog with this method that I’ll be listed in Google and MSN – sometimes its even quicker.
Tools to try: In terms of what tools I use to do research and firm up my ‘hunches’ – the main thing I do is punch in the search term at Overture which gives me an indication of what advertisers are paying for ads on the keyword on contextual advertising systems and how many people are searching for the term. If it looks like a lot of people are looking for the word and advertisers are paying reasonable levels for the ads you could be onto a good thing.
Other Factors?: Of course the other factor to consider is how many other webmasters and bloggers are already producing sites for that term. You can get an indication on this simply by searching for the term in Google and seeing how many responses come up. Alternatively you can use a tool like WordTracker that gives you this information and rates the chances you have at going for the keyword.
You’ll never never know unless you give it a go: Put all that information together and you have an ‘educated guess’ – then its time to test and see. Put a blog up (don’t put too much effort into it until you know if its paying off) – get it indexed by the search engines – give it some quality content – give it some time and track the results.
If it gets some traffic then put more effort into it by giving it a cool design and writing more content – if it doesn’t take off just let it sit there and die. I generally leave my unsuccessful attempts online because they do earn a few cents/dollars per day and it all ads up – and you never know – one day it might actually take off.