“Anyone can start blogging if they want to.” “It’s really simple to make money blogging.” I’ve heard these quotes numerous times over in the five (plus) years I’ve been a freelance writer. While there’s a measure of truth to them, the reality is that I wouldn’t be here today without a great deal of guidance. Today, in an effort to share some advice I’ve received from mentors and peers over the years, I’m going to share my ideas on how to find your blog niche.
Why Do You Want to Blog?
It took me a long time to realize that I needed to step back and re-evaluate my motivation for wanting to be a “blogger.” For the first few years, I got by alright with this simple motivation: “I want to be able to work from anywhere and make money from my computer.” That sufficed, but having money in the forefront of my motivation for blogging ultimately led to accepting contracts and article requests that I had no passion for. I burned out, and for almost two years my website sat unattended.
Fortunately, I was able to return to my passion for writing by seeking outside help and re-organizing my writing process. But the biggest part of my “comeback” was a deep self-evaluation into why I wanted to do this work. Without understanding your motivations, it can become easy to lose sight of why you were interested in blogging in the first place. A successful blogging “career” requires a holistic understanding of ‘your why’.
What Topics Do You Want to Write About?
After you take some time to figure out your why, you can move onto identifying a few topics to write about. These are subject areas that you are genuinely interested in. One of the biggest mistakes I made as an early freelance writer was to ‘over-diversify’. In other words, I claimed to be able to research and write about any topic imaginable and, while the Internet does give us the ability to learn about almost any topic in order to re-create useful content, it’s hard to fake it if you’re really not interested in a particular subject.
As part of that “comeback” I mentioned earlier, I also had to re-evaluate what topics I actually wanted to write about (i.e. book reviews, writing tips, outdoor gear, hiking, etc.). Once I committed to seeking writing opportunities that fit my interests, I found renewed motivation to do the actual work. As a result, the work I’ve produced has been better and, guess what, more opportunities have come.
How Do You Spend Your Free Time?
One of the best ways to identify a healthy niche for you is by evaluating how you spend your free time. Do you incessantly follow the latest political news? Are you an avid consumer of the latest Hollywood rumors? Have you spent many nights downloading philosophical thoughts from your favorite authors?
When you constantly seek new information about a subject, it makes you more of an ‘authority’ on that subject. That’s exactly what readers are looking for. They’re searching for things like ‘virginia gubernatorial candidates’, ‘brad and angelina rumors’, and ‘best philosophy books’ (among many, many other things). If you can offer high-quality content on the subjects you’re passionate about, you will provide real value to your readers. This will keep them coming back, build brand loyalty, and, ultimately, get you paid (whether that’s directly from a client or in the form of affiliate marketing).
Is It Specific Enough?
One of the issues I had when I first started searching for my niche(s) was thinking too broad. For example, one of the things I do in my free time is spend time recreating in the outdoors. But ‘outdoor recreation’ is quite a large niche. So then I thought about specific areas underneath the ‘outdoor recreation’ heading that I was passionate about, which resulted in things like ‘hiking’, ‘backpacking’, ‘kayaking’, and so forth.
These were closer, but I was struggling with this question: People don’t really buy ‘hiking’, ‘backpacking’, and kayaking, do they? Sure, they might buy trips where these activities take place, and they might buy gear that they need for these activities. Oh! And that was my light bulb moment: gear. I could write reviews on all sorts of outdoor gear and also write about hiking tips, trail recommendations, and other advice from my personal recreation experience.
This is the type of specific niche you’re looking for. When I started out, I was exclusively writing backpack reviews. I picked a product within my ‘outdoor gear’ niche that I wanted to research and write about. As my blog expanded, however, I realized that my readers might also be interested in places to hike, tips on how to pack a backpack, hiking safety, and so forth, as well as other ‘outdoor gear’ they might need for a backpacking, hiking, or kayaking adventure.
When identifying your niche, it’s generally recommended to start off more specific and then you can branch off into other ‘sub-categories’ once you start producing regular content. Ultimately, you’re not trying to capture everyone that’s interested in a niche like ‘outdoor recreation’, or even ‘outdoor gear’. You’re simply trying to capture a portion of everyone that’s interested in your niche. Being specific can be very useful in helping you do so.
Is It Sustainable?
The final question you should ask when evaluating a niche idea comes down to its sustainability. Is this a niche you can see yourself writing about a year from now? How about two years? Five years? Ten? Are people still going to be interested in your niche by then?
Sustainable niches are those that (a) you will maintain a passion to create content about and (b) that there is a long-term need for. Creating a niche blog about ‘2018 midterm elections’, for example, has a shelf life. What are you going to write about when the election results are in? But a niche blog dedicated to ‘untold politics’, in which you dive into topics and issues the mainstream isn’t covering, for example, has legitimate staying power.
What Are Your Niche Ideas?
What niches have you identified, if any, after reading this post? What areas make you feel excited and ready to jump in and start creating content? What questions do you have after reading these suggestions? I’d love to hear about your niche ideas, why you’ve arrived at them, and any questions you might have!
Also, if you have any other suggestions for finding a blog niche that fits you, I’d be honored if you shared them. I firmly believe we’re always learning and expanding, especially in this ever-changing arena of blogging, Internet marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Leave a comment below letting me know if you found this article helpful or if you’d like to see an article on a different topic entirely. I will respond as soon as possible and I appreciate and welcome any and all comments (although I do reserve the right to remove comments if I find them offensive or inappropriate).
I’d also be thankful if you choose to share these organization tips with others, especially if you found it particularly insightful or helpful. Be sure to tag @ballisterwriting on Facebook or Instagram if you do! The point of social media, after all, is to be SOCIAL! I’d like to contribute to a real conversation about how we continue to improve as a society and as individuals.
Find Your Niche Now!