If you’re anything like me, this is the millionth post you’ve read on blogging before actually taking the plunge and starting a blog of your own. You’re in the “dreamer” phase of starting an online business. You don’t have a website. You don’t have a blog. Hell, you don’t even have a clue about what it is you want to blog about. That’s what I want to help you with.
Defining your niche should be the very first thing you do when you create a blog. It doesn’t always happen that way, however. Some bloggers simply set up a website and start firing away creating post after post without ever giving a second thought as to which blog niche they should target, and that’s totally fine. What matters is that each and every blog finds and defines their blogging niche at some point in time. In this post, I’m going to walk you through the process of finding your blog niche.
Before that, though, we’ll go over what a blogging niche is and why your blog needs one. We’ll also go over the parameters that will ultimately lead to the specific blog niche you choose. I’ll wrap up with a bit of a “public service announcement” in regards to niche marketing after that. Let’s get into it.
Jump to Section:
- Section 1: What is a Blog Niche?
- Section 2: Why Do You Need a Blog Niche?
- Section 3: Should You Choose a Niche Based Purely on Profit?
- Section 4: How to Find Your Blog Niche
There are a lot of definitions for the word “niche,” but the one that relates to blogging is quite simple. According to Merriam-Webster, a niche is…
a specialized market
A blog niche is more or less a specific subject in a large, much more broad topic. Let’s walk through a few examples. Let’s say “baseball” is our broad topic. “Major League Baseball” would be one of its niches. Let’s say “fishing” is our broad topic. “Ice fishing” and “fly fishing” would be its niches. You can even call “ice fishing” and “fly fishing” broad topics and break them down into niches, such as “ice fishing rods,” “ice fishing gear,” “fly fishing bait,” etc. When it comes to your blog, your blogging niche is the main topic your blog is about. It’s the topic every single one of your posts falls under. Let’s go over a few real-world examples.
Smart Passive Income is my favorite website about online business and how to earn money online. It was founded and is owned and operated by Pat Flynn, a top influencer in this industry. Pat teaches entrepreneurship in the form of online business by showing people how to make money online. He focuses on techniques that generate passive income while also going much further than that. “Entrepreneurship” is the broad topic his niche falls under while “online business” is his niche. His niche used to be purely “passive income,” but he’s moved beyond this concept.
Nerd Fitness is a, you guessed it, fitness blog. It was founded and is still operated by Steve Kamb, a nerd who wanted to help people like him, “people with desk jobs that love nerd culture, games, books, and movies, but also know they need to make healthier choices in their day to day lives.” That’s what the “nerd” part of “Nerd Fitness” is about, teaching fitness to a specialized group of people who aren’t used to working out. “Fitness for nerds” is his niche.
Minimalist Baker is a vegan (I think?) food blog. It’s ran by husband-and-wife team Dana and John Schultz. They’re a food blog that publishes healthy, easy-to-make recipes, but how exactly do they stand out from the thousands upon thousands of other food blogs on the web? With their “minimalist” approach to recipes. Every recipe Dana publishes requires “10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.”
Why Do You Need a Blog Niche?
You may be wondering why your blog needs a niche in the first place. Why can’t you simply think of a general topic you want your blog to be about and write whatever comes to mind? Unfortunately, blogging isn’t that simple these days. Here are a few reasons why you need a blogging niche:
- It keeps you focused.
- It allows you to become an influencer.
- It allows you to earn more traffic and revenue.
Let’s elaborate on each of these.
A blog niche keeps you focused in more ways than one. It starts with your target audience. “Target audience” may be a new concept to you if you’re new to blogging and the world of online business. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Your target audience is the community behind the niche you choose. It’s your “niche market.” It’s the specific group of people you’ll be creating content for. You’ll use target marketing, a form of internet marketing, to sell your products to that specific group of people to increase your chances of earning revenue. You can even use it to your advantage in affiliate marketing when you search for affiliate programs to join.
Readers like consistency. With the amount of content there is to consume these days, it can be nice to find a few sources that publish quality content on topics you’re familiar with. A blogging niche allows you to maintain consistency by keeping you focused when it comes to publishing blog posts and creating products for your target audience.
Becoming an Influencer
Pat Flynn, Steve Kamb and the Schultzs all operate in what we call “overcrowded niches.” There are thousands of blogs in the online business, fitness and food blog niches, so how were they able to stand out? Well, they “niched down.” Pat didn’t make a blog and start teaching people how to succeed in every path in online business. He found something that worked for him, selling a book he worked really hard on for a short period of time and earned passive income from, and started a blog that demonstrated a few methods people could use to try to accomplish similar success.
He found a specific niche market to target, learned how to make a blog and created content specifically for that market, allowing him to rise in popularity with relative ease. If you find your own blog niche, you’ll have the opportunity to do the same. It’s pretty simple when you think about it. If you create content for a broad topic, you’re creating content for a broad audience. If you create content for a niche topic, you’re creating content for a niche audience. The difference? It’s much easier to get noticed in the small pond that makes up the niche audience than it does in the great lake that makes up the broad one.
Earning More Traffic and Revenue
All of these points piggyback off of one another, and this one is no different. If you stay focused and create content for a niche market, you have the potential to become an influencer in that niche market. In the same vein, if you become an influencer in a niche market, you’ll have an opportunity to earn more traffic and revenue than you ever would had you targeted a broad topic from the get-go.
Speaking of traffic and revenue, I’ve talked a lot about how finding your blog niche can help you become successful as a blogger, so I wanted to take a moment to talk about something before we go through the methods you can use to find your own blogging niche.
Should You Choose a Niche Based Purely on Profit?
You may be tempted to simply Google “most profitable niche website ideas” and call it a day, but there are a number of different parameters that will influence the decision you make when it comes to choosing your blog niche. In fact, the entire second half of this article is dedicated to them. It starts with considering topics you’re knowledgeable in as well as ones you’re interested in. I’ll also show you how to narrow your choices down by determining how much content you’re able to produce for a particular topic, how popular the topic is, and yes, how profitable it is. That last point is something I want to go over before we go through the step-by-step process of finding your blogging niche.
Should you choose a blog niche simply because it’s profitable? My answer? No. Like I said, when you’re new to the world of online business, you’re going to be tempted to search for things like “most profitable blogging niches” and “what types of blogs make the most money.” This isn’t the way to go.
For starters, a lot goes into what makes a specific blog successful, so much so that it’s next to impossible to replicate the results for yourself. Secondly, a huge part of what makes a blogger successful is their ability to understand their audience’s wants and needs. If you aren’t knowledgeable in the blogging niche you choose, you’ll run into a few roadblocks where you aren’t able to solve your audience’s problems adequately, causing them to seek help elsewhere. Thirdly, if you aren’t interested in the blog niche you choose, you’re going to run into a different kind of roadblock where you aren’t able to produce new content out of a pure lack of motivation.
For these reasons, it’s important for you to consider topics you’re knowledgeable and interested in first before you narrow your list options down by profit and popularity. Your objective in business, whether it’s on or offline, should be to solve your audience’s problems better than your competitors and watch the money trickle in by doing so. Chasing profit will only work against you.
How to Find Your Blog Niche
We’re going to go through the seven-step process I recommend using to find your blogging niche. I’m going to be using applications like Coggle, Google Docs and Google Sheets, but I’ll list a few alternatives you can use as we go.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps we’ll be going through:
- Step 1: Start with What You Know
- Step 2: Continue with What You’re Interested in
- Step 3: Break Down Your Broad Topics
- Step 4: Determine Each Niche’s Blogging Potential
- Step 5: Determine Each Niche’s Popularity
- Step 6: Determine Each Niche’s Sales Potential
- Step 7: Make a Decision
Let’s make like Brian McKnight and start with one.
Step 1: Start with What You Know
This is where you’ll lay the groundwork for finding your blog niche. Keep in mind, we still have six other steps to get through, so don’t “niche” down too hard when you brainstorm blog ideas. Think in broad terms for now. We’ll break things down and find more blog niche ideas in step three.
I’m going to use a Coggle mind map for the purpose of this tutorial, but you can just as easily use a bulleted list in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or LibreOffice, a hand-drawn mind map, or even sticky notes. Write down a list of broad blog topic ideas that are…
- …things you’re at least somewhat knowledgeable in.
- …things you’d be interested in starting a blog about.
I say “at least somewhat knowledgeable in” because you don’t necessarily need to be an expert to start a blog about something and make a profit from it. You just need to have more knowledge than someone else. Take skateboarding, for example. The first few things you’ll learn as a skateboarder are how to choose a board, how to stand, how to push and balance, and how to ollie (a basic jump). If that’s all you know at this point, you at least know more than someone who’s never stepped foot on a skateboard. You may not be able to teach pros how to perform technical tricks, but you do know enough to teach the basics to beginners. Consider that as you brainstorm niche market ideas for yourself.
When I say “things you’d be interested in starting a blog about,” I mean topics you’re interested in enough to base your entire business around. Running an online business is tough. It’s going to require endless hours of sitting at a computer producing content. If you’re not truly interested in the topic you choose, your tank is going to run empty before you’ve even had a chance to make your first dollar.
Consider things you’re experienced in or at least somewhat knowledgeable in as well as any skills you have, and collect a list of them using your preferred tool. Here’s an example using Coggle:
Let’s say this mind map belongs to a woman named Diana. Diana based her choices on skills she has and things she’s become knowledgeable in through life experiences. Here’s a breakdown of the category each blogging niche fits into:
- Skills: Japanese
- Life Experiences: Motherhood, School, Freelance Writing
Examine your life (I know, scary), and come up with a list of skills and broad topics you know enough to start blogs about. It doesn’t matter how long or short the list is, but keep in mind we’ll be adding on to them in the next two steps, so keep the list light if you don’t have the time or interest to create a lot of work for yourself.
Step 2: Continue with What You’re Interested in
The next step, as far as brainstorming broad topic ideas goes, is to consider things you’re interested in. This means the hobbies and passions you’ve collected throughout your life as opposed to the skills and life experiences you’ve gained through it. The same rules apply here. Add hobbies, passions and interests you’re knowledgeable in and would like to write about.
Here’s an example using “Diana’s” mind map:
Here’s an updated look at the categories each blog niche fits into:
- Hobbies: Skateboarding, Fishing, Gardening, Pets
- Skills: Japanese
- Life Experiences: Motherhood, School, Freelance Writing
This is a solid base to start with. Remember, you aren’t brainstorming “final” niches in these first two steps. You’re merely coming with a list of broad topic ideas that act as umbrella terms for more specific topic ideas you’d be interested in starting blogs about. For example, Diana isn’t interested in starting a “pet blog.” She’s interested in starting a blog on leopard geckos or chinchillas or german shepherds or you name it. “Pets” is simply a broad term she can use to come up with these niche ideas in step three.
Step 3: Break Down Your Broad Topics
You should have at least three broad topic ideas that represent your base for finding your blog niche. Now, it’s crunch time. We’re basically going to do the same thing we did in step two only in a slightly different way. Instead of brainstorming “broad topic ideas of hobbies you enjoy,” you’re going to get specific and think of individual topics that relate to each of the broad topics you came up with.
Let’s use Diana’s mind map as an example again and start with her “Motherhood” topic idea. Let’s paint a picture of Diana’s life as a mother. She’s happily married and has three kids—a boy who’s 24, a girl who’s 15 and another boy who’s 8. She and her family live in New York City. She has a special and different relationship with each child, and she’s learned a lot about homemaking over the years.
She was on a steady track to advancing her career as a research analyst before deciding to take on motherhood fulltime when her eldest son was born. She remained a stay-at-home mom until her youngest started kindergarten. During this time, she took up freelance writing so the family could have a second income to rely on, and she’s hoping to start a blog of her own.
At this point, I should mention that you should think of your blogging niche as your “schtick,” a gimmick meant to pique the interest of casual visitors. Mommy blogs have gotten so popular, the simple term “mommy blog” is actually a broad topic on its own. This means Diana probably wouldn’t have much luck starting a niche site about her adventures and knowledge as a mother.
Instead, she should use all of that information I dispensed about her to come up with a very specific way to approach her blog. Here are a few things that set her apart, if only a little:
She’s happily married and abandoned her career to take care of her kids and the home.
With this information, she can start a blog on what it’s like to live as a one-income family and/or how to transition from being dedicated to a 9-5 career to being dedicated to a round-the-clock baby.
She takes care of the home.
Anyone who makes major life changes is bound to pick a few new skills along the way. You probably learned a few new things when you moved away from home, such as how to do your own laundry and cook your own food. Moms are no different. Diana can share her unique approach to cooking, dealing with stains in clothes, mending clothes, urban gardening and even “a mom’s approach to home improvement.”
She lives in New York City.
The way you raise your kids greatly depends on where you live. Diana lives in New York City, so she isn’t going to need a “sensible car” or an expensive car seat. She’s probably going to rely on grocery delivery services over dragging the baby to the grocery store where she can only buy what she can carry. There are a lot of different variables here that make her life as a mom considerably different from moms who live in the suburbs.
Here’s what Diana’s mind map looks like after considering these things:
How to Apply This to Your Own List
Start by breaking your broad topics down into more specific topics. If you wrote “fishing” as a broad topic and only know about fly fishing, add “fly fishing” to your list. Once you have a decent number of more specific topics added to your list, start factoring in all of the unique details about yourself. For example, if you only know about fly fishing and have only fished for bass, add “bass fishing” to your list. If you’ve only fished on a minimal budget without any fancy gear and have learned how to get by just fine, add “budget fishing” to your list.
Take a look at your broad topics, and consider the unique way you partake in them. Consider the specific activities you do as well as how you do them, and jot them down as you go.
Step 4: Determine Each Niche’s Blogging Potential
So, the first three steps were all about brainstorming niches you might be interested in blogging about. Now, let’s go through a few steps you can use to narrow down your list of options, starting with a technique that will allow you to truly see how interested you are in each topic. I recommend using a bulleted list in a Google doc or your preferred equivalent for this step as this process can get pretty messy on a mind map or spreadsheet.
Choose the blogging niche you’re most interested in, and add it as your bullet list. Create an indent (sub-bullets), and come up with 8-12 blog post ideas for that niche off the top of your head, no Googling. The test here is simple. If you can come up with an abundance of ideas for a blog niche, keep it. If you struggle to come up with as little as eight ideas without needing to resort to outside research, toss it.
Here’s an example I created using “street skating” and “fly fishing” as blogging niches:
That’s it for this step. Go through each of your blogging niches, and toss the ones that don’t trigger your creative juices.
Step 5: Determine Each Niche’s Popularity
“Popularity” is a bit of a misleading title for this section. That’s because you shouldn’t choose a blogging niche based solely on popularity. It is, however, possible to create a niche website that’s too niche. That’s why this section isn’t going to focus on discovering the most popular blog topics on your list. Instead, we’re going to simply figure out which topic ideas have at least the slightest bit of interest around them online. If you niche down too much, you may wind up creating content for an audience that doesn’t exist.
Before we begin, I’d like you to install a browser extension called Keywords Everywhere. It’s available for Chrome and Firefox. It allows you to view keyword metrics in a variety of different search engines, including Google, Amazon and YouTube. We’re going to use Google to determine each niche’s popularity.
I highly recommend sticking to blogging niches that have a search volume metric of a few thousand searches/month or more. You can record each metric by adding it to your mind map or Google doc or by creating a spreadsheet, though I recommend the latter. I’ll share an example in a moment.
To start, input your first blog niche topic as a keyword in Google Search. If there aren’t many searches for any particular blogging niche, try a different variation of the keyword. For example, the keyword “mommy blog” earns a lot more traction than the keyword “mom blog.”
Go through each and every one of your topic ideas, and add the ones that have a search volume metric of a few thousand searches/month or more to your spreadsheet. Here’s a variation of what you should have when all is said and done:
Another way to determine popularity is by seeing how many Facebook groups each of your niches have. You’ll need to be logged into a Facebook account for this step. It’s optional, but it can help you determine where each niche is popular outside of Google.
Since Facebook makes it hard to count the actual number of groups a search term has, simply rate the term’s popularity in groups on a scale from 1 to 5. Searching for the term “moms” brings up a plethora of groups and only leads to endless scrolling, making this term a definite 5. Be sure to pay attention to the number of members and posts per day each group has as well.
Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like now:
Let’s move on.
Step 6: Determine Each Niche’s Sales Potential
Choosing a blog niche for a business you intend to make money from is a lot different than choosing a blog niche as a hobby, and unfortunately, it’s not enough to see if there’s any interest for the topic on the web. You also need to determine if people are willing to pay to learn more about the topic.
When you start a blog, you’re not only becoming a writer or an online publication. You’re becoming a teacher. When it comes to blogs and online businesses in general, you’ll teach using three different formats—written (blog posts), video (usually YouTube) and audio (podcasts). Naturally, this means your first few products will typically be books and courses. We’ll use Amazon and Udemy to gauge sales potential because of this.
Start with Amazon, and enter the first blogging niche in your spreadsheet from the last section as a keyword in Amazon’s search bar, and make sure you select the Books department. Make sure you change the keyword to suit Amazon. For example, “motherhood” or “moms” are better keywords than “mommy blog” when it comes to book searches.
For this test, record any niche that has at least one page of books on Amazon. If a niche truly only has one page, make sure the books on that page are actually related to that niche and not just “somewhat related.” Record the number of results each niche brings.
Feel free to combine the results you see from different variations of a niche’s keyword, such as combining the results you receive from “motherhood” and “moms.” Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like after this:
Let’s continue with Udemy. Udemy is a popular course platform. Almost anyone can publish a course with Udemy, giving you a wide variety of topics to learn about. However, Udemy doesn’t have as big of a monopoly on courses as Amazon does. If you can’t find a course about a particular niche topic, head to Google and enter “[niche topic] course” to see if a course on the topic is sold elsewhere.
The steps here are the same as they were with Amazon. Simply enter your niche topic in the search bar…
…and record the number of courses each topic has in your spreadsheet:
That’s more or less all of the data you need to make an educated decision about which blogging niche you should go with. Let’s move on to the final step.
Step 7: Make a Decision
You should now have a complete list of blogging niches to choose from based on the following parameters:
- Your own interest in each topic.
- Each topic’s popularity.
- Each topic’s sales potential.
Unfortunately, the rest is up to you. What you have is a complete list of blogging niches you know you’re interested in, that other people are interested in and that consumers are paying real money to learn about. You’ll succeed in any one of them so long as you make smart business decisions from the get-go.
What you need to do is consider which one you’re most excited about. Again, you’re going to be spending a lot of time creating content for this niche. That’s on top of designing a business strategy, spending time on social media and stepping up your email marketing game. You’ll burnout if you choose a niche you’re not truly interested in simply because you feel it may be profitable.
With that said, you should take your niche’s popularity and sales potential into consideration as well, which is why we recorded these metrics. Consider what it would mean to choose a niche that has a high search volume metric and a large number of books and courses. These types of niches are very competitive, and if you aren’t prepared to get your hands dirty and do whatever it takes to compete in them, you’re better off going with another topic.
With that said, if you consider the flip side, going with a niche that has a low search volume metric and a small number of books and courses available may actually work against you. With such a small amount of competition, you’ll definitely get noticed in these niches if you play your cards right. However, with such a small audience to cater to, you may not make as much as you were hoping for.
Like I said, I can’t make this decision for you, so I’m going to wrap this post up with one final point.
Your First Blog Niche Doesn’t Need to Last Forever
Targeting a broad topic, such as “fishing,” is not recommended if you want to succeed as a blogger. I’ve established that throughout this post. However, if you’re having trouble deciding between a few different niche topics, such as “fly fishing” and “ice fishing,” that fall under the same broad topic, just remember that your first blog niche doesn’t need to last forever.
The purpose of a blogging niche is to help you gain traction and succeed in a competitive market. Once you’ve established yourself enough to have an active audience, you can branch out and start tackling additional topics. If you’re having trouble deciding, simply go with the niche you’re most interested in.
Well, that’s all for this post. Finding and choosing a blog niche can be an intimidating roadblock to navigate, and I hope I’ve made this process a little easier for you. If you have any questions or simply want to share your own process for finding a blogging niche, be sure to sound off in the comments below!