How to Choose your Best Niche for Blogging
I’m often asked about the best niche for blogging, as if there’s some single magical answer to the question.
One thing that’s certain is that you really do need to select a niche if your blog is to have any real chance of success. And, let’s face it, success for most of us probably means income.
If you look back to the early days of blogging, the activity was largely seen as a way to maintain an online diary or journal. Plenty of people still have blogs that they operate along those lines. However, what separates out the “hobby blogs” from the ones that have a chance of making money is a clear niche, which brings with it a target audience.
NOTE: I have a free action plan worksheet you can download that’s a perfect complement to this article, click here to find out how.
What NOT to do
Something I often have to talk people out of is setting up a general blog where they plan to talk about “all sorts.” This is absolutely fine as a hobby, but the audience for such a project will almost always be very small.
Let’s say I brainstormed all the things I’m passionate about and created an “all sorts” blog about them. I’d want to cover freelancing, soul and disco music, parenting, holidays, male mental health, food and drink, Apple technology…and, well, I’m just getting started.
The thing is, I can’t even think of a single friend or family member who shares all of those exact same passions.
Now, in a world of over 7.5 Billion people, there probably are a few individuals who, by sheer coincidence, have the same set of interests as me. However, there’s little point in starting a generalist blog in the hope of connecting with them.
In short, unless you’re a huge celebrity, a blog that merges all of your unique interests simply isn’t going to engage very many people. By all means name a blog after yourself and start writing about anything you like – it could be an enjoyable hobby and there are sure to be some people who will enjoy reading it. But this isn’t how most people make money from blogging.
Choosing YOUR best niche for blogging
Let’s go back to that list of passions I started reeling off above.
If we separate out those interests, we then start to arrive at some potential blog niches. I already have a site about freelancing, but I could think about blogging about disco music, anxiety, British cheese – the list goes on.
The best thing to do is attempt to come up with a shortlist of things you think you could blog about and would like to. Passion for the topics is incredibly important here.
Ultimately, your own best niche for blogging has to be something you’ll enjoy writing about, and not just for the short term. If your blog is successful, you’ll be writing about that topic for years to come, so it’s not usually worth chasing after fads, or niches you simply think might be profitable.
I imagine some people might dispute that last point, assuming that the best niche for blogging is the one with the best chance of earning money. However, I’m not at all convinced – and I’ll tell you why…
Real Life Example 1
Several years ago, I stopped using Microsoft Windows and switched over to Apple Macs. I decided to launch a blog about the process. (There are some old snapshots of my WindowsToMac site on the WayBack Machine here – it looks SO dated!)
To begin with I was really fired up about it. My early experiences with a new computer and an unfamiliar operating system gave me plenty to write about. The site gained a little traffic and I actually saw some affiliate income pretty early on.
The trouble was, as soon as I was used to my Mac, the transition was over. There really wasn’t much left to write about. Even though I’d hit on something where there was public interest and earning potential, it was never going to “go the distance” once that well of inspiration had run dry.
Of course people can and do make money from blogs that don’t marry up with their passions. However, I’d argue that the time to go trend and money chasing is once you’re already a seasoned blogger and are prepared to pay people who are passionate about the topics to write about them.
Tips for Finding your Blog Niche
Find the place where passion and money merges
If you plan to make some money blogging, you’re ultimately going to need to sell something. This can mean other peoples’ products or products of your own.
For example, if your passion is in Virtual Reality gaming, you could become an Amazon Affiliate and aim to earn commission on VR headsets, games and accessories; If you launched a food blog you could market kitchen gadgets or even put together and sell your own recipe books; Or, if you also sell professional services – anything from coaching to graphic design – you could blog about a related subject and use the blog as a “shop front” for your own service offerings.
The crucial thing is to at least have in mind what you’re going to sell from the start. This can help you focus on the right niches. In truth, this will probably see you dismissing some potential niches because there’s no obvious angle for monetisation.
It’s worth noting at this point that on any blog, you do always have the option of putting up some adverts from an advertising network like Google AdSense or Media.net. I personally make income from these networks. However, unless you have considerable traffic, you’re only likely to see a trickle of revenue from ads like this. It’s best for this kind of income not to be your one and only plan.
Real Life Example 2
A couple of weeks ago I chatted with someone who planned to set up a blog about UK politics. While the idea and the angle was certainly a good one, I felt I had to caution them about its limited potential for revenue.
For starters, UK politics is of minimal interest to most people outside the UK. That immediately restricts the potential audience to a fraction of the world out there. However, there are plenty of regional blogs that do perfectly well financially.
More to the point is that talking about politics in general doesn’t really lead to anything that you would SELL. The two main monetisation angles that spring to mind would be general display advertising, such as that described above, or an “off shoot” book, if the blog is a success.
The trouble with these options is that they both require a LOT of traffic for the income possibilities to produce much money. This essentially means that a blog like this requires huge success for it to have any real financial success.
As a way to showcase writing skills, there’s nothing wrong with this niche idea, but there are easier ways to make money from blogging.
I suggest keeping this in mind when you’re trying to decide what niche to focus on. Ideally you want to find something where you have a strong level of interest AND where there’s something you could one day sell to the visitors you attract.
Do your keyword research
You’ll inevitably end up doing plenty of keyword research if you get properly into blogging.
Essentially, keyword research is all about finding out how many people are searching for certain terms on Google, looking at the sites that are appearing at the top of the search results for those terms, and assessing your chance of competing with them.
By using a tool like KWFinder (pictured) or Long Tail Pro, you can quickly gain access to the data you need. This process begins as soon as you research the basic search terms around your possible niche(s) and find out how many people are looking for information on those topics on a monthly basis.
The chances are you’ll find you have some niche possibilities where there’s a huge potential audience but really tough competition, and other options where the market is much smaller but potentially easier to enter. Either way, without keyword research you’re flying blind.
An exact process for carrying out your keyword research is way beyond the scope of this article, however there is a basic primer at the start of my Long Tail Pro review over on HomeWorkingClub.
Check out the competition
Looking at the competition is an essential part of choosing your best niche for blogging. It’s also a natural progression from keyword research.
The best thing to do to begin with is to Google the kind of things you’d like your new site to show up for. Do you see lots of well-established brands or big-name sites, or is the niche more catered for by small blogs? Could you produce something better and more informative than the sites Google is placing at the top? If you can confidently answer “yes” to that question, that’s undoubtedly a good sign!
There’s plenty more you can do to get into researching your competition, including spending significant amounts of money on tools such as SEMRush and AHrefs. To begin with, however, you should at least make sure you familiarise yourself with who the competition actually are.
Sometimes this research may cause you to wonder if you’re researching a niche where you don’t stand a chance of competing. One thing you might consider in this case is whether you can narrow your niche in order to be a greater authority on a smaller subject. If, for example, becoming the world’s best camping blog seems too much of a lofty aim, how about focussing on camping in Europe, camping with kids, or wild camping? It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
With some blog topics, it really doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or not. There have been hugely successful websites created by bloggers doing things for the very first time – from raising children to running marathons.
However, it really does depend on your niche. If you’re planning to dish out medical information or advice on mental health, it’s important to ask yourself what qualifies you to speak about that topic with authority.
This is especially important in light of recent Google algorithm updates, which give more weight (and better search positions) to sites written by people with qualifications and genuine expertise.
Real Life Example 3
My main website, HomeWorkingClub.com, discusses all kinds of topics related to home working and freelancing. This website discusses blogging and freelance writing.
I’ve been working for myself for 15 years, and writing and blogging for a decade. As such, there’s no deception involved in me positioning myself as an “authority” on those topics. However, if – for example – I decided to start a website providing tips on flat-pack furniture, that would be rather disingenuous. After all, I’ve only built it on a few occasions when moving house, and don’t have any kind of expert knowledge.
The key point here is it’s absolutely fine to blog about something that you’re learning or working through as you go along, so long as you’re open about that fact. Blogs like that are often entertaining and very popular. However, if your blog is going to lean more in the direction of giving advice, be honest with yourself about whether you’re truly in a position to provide it.
Do some trials
A strategy I’ve seen recommended many times is to create a list of blog posts for your new blog before you get started. If you don’t come up with the first 20 or so with no effort, you may have a problem.
As previously stated, a successful blog should last for years. As such, if you struggle to come up with 20 post ideas, what are you going to write about after the first few months?
I’d actually suggest going a bit beyond this, and setting aside time to write the first few posts. You’ll learn a huge amount from this. Do you feel inspired? Do you enjoy writing the content? If it doesn’t feel right, it’s way better to go back to the drawing board at this point than when you’ve put a bunch of effort in.
Conclusion and Next Steps
You may have noticed that the tips above don’t provide an exact roadmap for choosing your own best niche for blogging.
That’s intentional, because this process will vary for everyone.
In an ideal world, the niche you should go with is one that hits the sweet spot in every area we’ve discussed:
- It’s a topic you love, and one you will still enjoy discussing in detail months and years down the line.
- It’s a niche where you can already see some clear ways to make money once you’ve built some traffic.
- It’s a subject where there’s a good balance between strong public interest and weak(ish) competition from other sites.
- It’s about something you already know plenty about, or about something you’re embarking on for the first time that you’re happy to discuss candidly.
- It’s a niche where you’ve enjoyed putting together a bit of initial content, and you feel keen to work on more.
If you can tick off those five things, I’d say there’s a very good chance you’ve found yourself a good niche to get working on.
Your next step will be thinking about domain names and web hosting – without doubt something for a future article. If you’re keen to get started straight away, this guide to my favourite blogging tools will help.