8 Steps To Determine Your Blog Niche

Creative Juice, Start Your Blog

As you begin your blog, one of the most important decisions you will make is not going to be about your domain name, hosting, theme, monetization or blogging frequency.

First, you will need to determine: What is your blog about?

determine blog niche

“Well that's easy,” you say, “it's going to be about: travel, car repair, roofing, beauty or fashion.”

Well that's fine, but that's not a niche.

Unless you're going to have a team of experienced and high-yield writers you need to have a very narrow niche.

What is a Blog Niche?

It's important to recognize that a general category (like travel or beauty) is going to be a difficult blogging niche. Successful blogs take a very narrow and deep view of a specific topic. For example, a blog about backpacking the Andes Mountains from Columbia to Chile will be more successful than a general blog about traveling in Latin America.

You might be asking, “But won't this niche blogging limit my readership?” Yes, it will. And that's kind of the point.

It would be impossible (at least as a solo traveler/blogger) to provide all the information that would be needed for healthy and complete blog about Latin American travel. But backpacking the Andes Mountains is doable – and when people visit your site it will be clear to them what your site is about, they will feel like they found the answer to their question, and they will want to become part of your blog's community.

What this means, is that this niche group of readers will be much more likely to purchase products that you recommend or create, to click on contextual PPC ads, and to share your relevant content with their friends (who likely have similar interests).

While choosing a specific and narrow niche is important, you also need to think through the following criteria:

8 Questions To Determine Your Blog Niche:

  1. Do I actually like this topic?
  2. Do I know what I'm talking about?
  3. Are other people interested in this topic?
  4. Is this interest growing or shrinking?
  5. How many other blogs cover this same niche?
  6. What do these competing blogs miss?
  7. Will I find enough topics/content to write about?
  8. Will I be able to make money from this niche?

1) Do I actually like this topic?

Okay, so this probably sounds like a silly question. Do I really have to like my topic? The answer is: No, you don't have to like the topic. Then again, a person doesn't really have to like their job either – but it's a lot better when they do.

Having a topic that excites you and interests you, is going to come across in the quality of what you write. It is the difference between dreading the next post you have to write, and losing count of how many posts you have scheduled because of your love of the topic.

If you're having trouble determining what topics you enjoy to write about, ask yourself:

  • What do I enjoy to do in my spare time?
  • What do I talk about with my friends and family?
  • What do I look forward to doing on the weekends?
  • What is the last book I purchased to read just for fun?
  • What websites, books, magazines, and TV programs do I enjoy the most?

Why You Should Enjoy Your Topic

Creating a blog (and a business) will take a significant amount of time. It will require real dedication and interest to continue blogging – especially during the months when you feel like no one is reading your hard work. This will be much easier if you like your topic.

2) Do I know what I'm talking about?

This is also a very important question. While you do not need to be an expert to run a successful blog it is important to have at least some background in your topic. A good blog is an exploration, a learning experience for the blogger and the readers. There is no need to wait until you are a bona fide expert in the topic before you start blogging about it. In fact blogging is the best way to become an expert in your niche.

That being said, it is important to have background in what you are writing about. Setting yourself up as an expert – when you are not – is a recipe for disappointment, for both yourself and your readers. You can count on your readers calling you to task on your lack of knowledge / insight.

If you are not an expert in the topic that you want to blog about, be honest about that. Tell your readers that your blogging about this topic because it interest you, and because you want to learn more about it.

Blogging is a journey and it's important to be transparent about where you actually are.

3) Are other people interested in this topic ?

Enjoying your topic is one thing. Finding other people who also have an interest in the topic is something else.

Just because you enjoy collecting unusual items doesn't mean that anyone else does. It's important to take the time – before establishing your blog – to determine the potential readership (market) for your topic.

Reviewing other blogs in your niche, Facebook fan pages, magazines or actual clubs in your city is a good way to determine possible readership potential. Remember, you don't need millions of readers to have a successful blog, but you do need a large readership base.

Interest in your topic can be determined in a number of ways, but because your blog is going to be online (obviously) checking search volumes and results is a powerful and fast way to see levels of interest for your topic.

A few tools that I've used to determine possible market size are:

how-to-determine-blog-niche-topic

Check out these other blogging resources.

4) Is this interest growing or shrinking?

It is possible to choose a niche that is “too niche”. Internet trends, fads and bizarre hobbies are probably not a good foundation for your blog. On the other hand, trends that have been growing and appear to have the potential to keep on growing are an excellent place to begin. Covering a new trend as it begins is an amazing way to become the authority on that topic.

Chasing a trend can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, but if you choose it correctly it can mean a very successful site. It is obvious that the best bloggers need to stay current with trends both in blogging and in their niche. Take some time, hang out on some blogs or sites in your niche (including Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts) to get a feel for the direction of the sites and communities, see what topics are popular, and what the readers are asking and looking for.

An excellent way to gauge current trends, and to see if they are growing or shrinking, is using Google trends. You can compare two niches or topics at one time and get a feel for which one shows more potential.

5) How many other blogs cover this same niche?

If there is interest in your topic, then someone is going to be covering it, at least in part, already. There is a possibility that your specific niche has not been covered yet. But reasonably speaking, that isn't very likely.

What is likely, is that you will find a niche that is being covered in part but not to the depth that it could be. Find that niche, cover it well and you are on your way to a successful and profitable blog.

So while finding no similar blogs could be a sign of lack of interest, there is an equal risk of finding thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of blogs covering your topic. It's clear that there is a lot of interest, but what are the odds that your blog will rise to the top? Most blogs depend heavily on search engine traffic and if your topic has been covered extremely thoroughly already, it may be a stretch to imagine your post ranking above the thousands of similar ones already published.

There are always exceptions, but there's no need to make this harder on yourself than it needs to be. There are numerous niches that have been under-covered  or could be covered from a different angle – there is no need to choose an impossibly difficult topic to blog about.

6) What do these competing blogs miss?

This is an important question. While you are almost certain to find competing blogs in your niche it is important to ask the question: What can I do better?

Specifically, read the comments from readers on specific posts of competing blogs. Is there a common theme or topic that is being requested?

What topics do you notice that are either missing, being covered halfheartedly, or that could be covered from a different angle?

The best niche is often what is “missing” in a very popular topic.

It's important to ask yourself specific questions about these competing blogs. Look at their strengths and weaknesses. In what areas do they excel and/or fall short in interacting with the readers and in gaining traffic?

7) Will I find enough topics/content to write about?

A good blog niche will not have a shortage of content. As a blogger you have three primary sources of content:

  1. your previous experience and knowledge
  2. what you are learning about your niche now
  3. developments/news in your niche

A good test of the amount of content available in your niche is this:

Starting right now: write down as many specific blog post ideas as possible. Probably the first 5 to 10 will come quickly, but then what? If you can't identify at least 20 possible blog posts within the next 10 minutes, then maybe you need to rethink your niche. As I planned this blog (Blogger Abroad) I wrote a list of more than 100 posts that I would write over the next year. As I write each post, I think of numerous new posts that I will write in the future.

Sites such as reviews or celebrity news will continually give new topics, so there's really no need to worry about running out of content. There are topics however, that will be challenging even after just 20 or 30 posts.

8) Will I be able to make money from this niche?

Make sure you ask this question: Is there a way to make money from this niche?

monetize-blog-niche-topic

There are many ways to monetize a blog, including:

  • pay per click ads
  • affiliate programs
  • display advertising
  • selling your own product
  • selling services through your blog

Until you actually begin blogging and building an audience, it can be hard to determine which of these methods will work for you. But before you start your blog make sure that it can be monetized.

An excellent place to start, is to look at your competitors sites and see how they are making money.

  • Do they have a product to sell?
  • Are there a lot of affiliate links and display ads?
  • Do they actively promote private display advertising?
  • Do pay per click advertising spaces receive a prominent location on their blog?
  • Do they ask for donations?

Promoting affiliate products is a primary way that bloggers in almost every niche make money.

It basically works this way: you promote another companies product on your site including a coded tracking link to their sales page. When one of your visitors clicks and purchases the recommended product you receive a percentage of the purchase price as a commission. There are a number of large affiliate networks that manage the programs for the vendors and make automatic payments to the publishers (a.k.a. bloggers).

Where To Go From Here

There's a lot to think about when planning a new blog and determining your specific niche. Make sure to take enough time when making your decision, as you will be spending years writing about the topic.

While a poor choice can make it hard when you're getting started, it often isn't difficult to make an adjustment in your niche as you're going, provided that you are still writing within the same topic. Sometimes readers let you know the direction that your blog should be going in through their comments, emails and interaction on social networks.

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Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of WiseGuides.ca (Nova Scotia travel blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for Canadian travel brands). Bryan is also an avid photographer. Check out ClickLikeThis, a GoPro tutorial blog he runs with his wife, Dena.

17 comments… add one
  • SADIA Nov 11, 2015, 7:41 am

    Very informative.I was searching something like this to start my own. I have also follow you on FB.Thank you for a wonderful ideas

  • Stewart Jun 18, 2015, 6:24 pm

    Brian,

    You wrote this article almost 2 and 1/2 years ago and I´m just now discovering it. I hope to apply it to a start up company that´s my website. That and a future blog about Cumbaya, Ecuador. I may be emailing your for your opinion regarding different aspects of the Cumbaya blog.

    Best to you, Dena and Drew

  • Oxford Jan 26, 2015, 7:35 am

    thanks for sharing this wonderful simple 8 steps to do nich title.its useful for me to develop my blog.

  • Abul Kashem Dec 17, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Thanks a lot Brain for sharing very important steps for choosing niches. Often I get clients who ask me to the steps. I have bookmarked your article and am going to link in my site resource page so that I can refer your article whenever they ask . I think if anybody choose niche followed by the steps you mentioned will not choose wrong and unprofitable niche .

  • Jim Veinot Jul 19, 2014, 8:39 am

    Bryan:
    I’m very impressed with how much your writing has matured. You have obviously learned a lot over the last five years. I’m also very impressed with your willingness to share.

    I am a first year baby boomer, articulate and thoughtful, looking to create a couple of blogs over the next 6 months. I also plan to visit Ecuador this winter with an eye to setting up an annual 6 month living plan (for now). I currently live in a 32′ 5th wheel unit in Port Bruce, ON by Lake Erie.

    You may recognize my last name as a Nova Scotian name, where I have family roots. I myself was born in Montreal and am reasonably bilingual. I believe I can learn Spanish fairly easily.

    I would like to meet up with you in Ecuador. I would like to discuss with you the idea of some coaching in a variety of areas. (You being the coach) I also have some ideas which I would like to run by you. Perhaps we could do some of that by email if you have the time and the interest.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Jim

  • John White Mar 29, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Very well done. I’ve already incorporated three elements in my blog. Thanks for doing all of the legwork and sharing.

  • vikram Mar 21, 2013, 7:16 am

    Worth reading this article, thanks Bryan.

  • Cathy T Feb 25, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Hello Bryan, so happy to have come across your website and blog. You are living the dream! As I sit here enduring yet another Canadian winter and struggling to pay off a ridiculously high mortgage I realize that what you are sharing here makes a lot of sense. Ecuador has always appealed to me, but I thought it could only ever be a retirement dream. But now that you have opened my eyes to the potential of online earning and family life abroad I am re-examining my options. Great info, great writing style. can’t wait to read more of your great advice.

  • Fred Collins Jan 29, 2013, 6:16 am

    Very interesting, and a good read. Thank you.

  • Gerry Symington Jan 28, 2013, 7:56 am

    Good day I have been reading the info you have provided and have thought what am I interested in?what do I enjoy? and what do I have experience in ? My answer to these questions is building I have an extensive background in this area and can provide first hand knowledge of not only the actual hands on of building but the pitfalls encountered in the process.I have a great many anecdotes funny and not so funny I can share I kinow the ins and outs of building on a small island or in a country where everything is imported I know how to deal with customs and suppliers and I KNOW how to deal with a local workforce whose idea of a hard days work is different than yours or anyone you know “back home”Do you think this topic might be of interest to people coming to a country who decide to “build” a home with little or no experience and have never dealt with the attitudes and lifestyles of an indigent population?If so please let me know I have no writing experience so I would have to rely on someone such as yourself in the same way someone with no building experience would have to rely on me.Please let me know what you think Gerry Symington

    • Bryan Jan 28, 2013, 8:21 am

      Hey Gerry – sounds like an amazing idea! If you cover “home building for expats in Latin America”, for example, you could quickly become the expert in that field. There are many expats building here in Ecuador, but also in other countries like Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, the DR and Uruguay.

      Don’t worry about not having writing experience – writing skills can be learned – what blog readers want is motivation and answers to questions. Your real-life experience is extremely valuable. And over the coming months, we’ll be covering specifics about setting up a blog and how to write a great post. Stay tuned!

      Once you get it up and running, I would love to have you guest post on Gringos Abroad.

  • Denise Toepel Jan 27, 2013, 10:13 pm

    We will be arriving in March to Cuenca to begin “outsourcing” our retirement. I think this is a great blog. I am all in, will you also be setting up think tank groups locally? Just wondering. Love the blog and your daughters too.

    • Bryan Jan 28, 2013, 8:02 am

      Nothing planned yet – but we’ll see. If there is enough interest…

  • AnneMarie Herbaut Jan 27, 2013, 7:08 pm

    I really like the idea although I am already retired. I am thinking a blog in French re the Ecuadorean lifestyle would be nice. I am not in Ecuador yet, will try to get there by the end of May. Will get in touch with you when the time comes. Thanks a million ! You are both great ! Hoping your little girl is doing real fine. Bye, Saludos, and hoping to hear from you again real soon.

  • Crazy sexy fun traveler Jan 27, 2013, 4:15 pm

    You explained it all pretty well. I hope it will help some people 🙂

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