If the posts on Performancing have inspired you to start blogging professionally then you are going to need to decide the subject you are going to blog about. Let’s look at some ideas for choosing a niche .
What is a niche?
A niche is a subject area or theme for your blog. A niche is your “space” in the blogging world, the space that you not only want to occupy but hopefully own. By “own” I mean be the number one in your subject area not one of many. To win big you have to be the destination for the audience you have identified.
The difference between a blog topic category and a niche, at least in this context, is focus. As I said elsewhere, if you focus you will usually achieve more success than trying to cover too broad a topic or by being generic. If you choose wisely you will have a much easier time.
There is no harm in blogging about whatever you feel like when you are blogging for fun. Professional bloggers though are better off sticking to one theme per blog. You need to plan well and stick to your plan. Changing your mind later means a lot of pain, in most cases it would mean starting over and building from scratch and most of the hardest work is at the start. In some ways blogging gets easier once you have built some momentum. Once you have that momentum though it gets more difficult to change direction. What’s more your audience might not like you switching tracks on them.
Brainstorming blog topics
Step one is to think of all the things you could blog about. If you already have a personal blog it might help to consider topics you have touched on already. Cast your net wide at this stage, the time for narrowing down your choices comes later, for now you want a good long list. Do not rush this process. Add a few ideas, go away and leave it for a while, think of some more. This isn’t like choosing a sandwich flavour for lunch, it’s more like finding a place to live. The decision is going to impact a lot of your time going forward!
If you are having difficulty thinking of ideas, have a think about the following questions ..
- What are your interests? – your interests are a good starting point, maybe the best starting point
- You will keep abreast of the subject anyway
- You know what information people would like to see
- You speak the language of the audience
- You would enjoy working on it
.. on the other hand it might well kill any joy you had in the subject knowing you had to write about it day in day out..
- Would your work make a good subject? – if not your hobby, what about your work or profession? In some cases you have to keep up to date anyway so why not report on it? Some careers are very information heavy, others less so. You might want nothing more to do with it of course, for many professional blogging is a dream of escaping the world of work!
- What do you know a lot about? – your hobbies and work will obviously be areas you have put a lot of effort into getting to know but there might well be others. Are there subjects you are a mastermind in? What topics would people call you for if you were a “phone a friend” on “who wants to be a millionaire”?
- Have you searched for information yourself and not found what you were looking for? – it could be you have found a subject no-one is writing about yet but is crying out for information. It is tough being this cutting edge but it is always good to be the first to fill a need (if there is a need).
If those questions haven’t helped, look at just brainstorming subject categories, you can focus and hone your ideas later, let’s just keep building your list. Visit your library or favourite bookstore and walk down the isles, any inspiration there? Local history, crime, science fiction, romance.. How about your magazine store?, photography, home computing, celebrity gossip, auto..
Here are some more subject area headings you can think about
- aspirational – by aspirational I mean the sort of subject people will read just to get a taste of a lifestyle or to fuel their dreams. I am thinking “lifestyles of the rich and famous”. You know the sort of thing, pictures of yachts moored in the south of France, super sports cars, private jets. There is pure entertainment value for the reader and it would be fun to write about.
- goal based – you might have a goal and want to blog about your progress or you might want to give advice to others wanting to achieve their goals. Everyone can think of a goal they would like to achieve, from getting rich to losing weight. Some might be short term, such as running a marathon, others might be ongoing like being a great parent/husband/etc.
- ideological – people have strong feelings about faith, politics and their way of life. You can pretty much talk about any subject by applying your world view to it.
- trends and fashions – if you have your finger on the pulse of fashion then you are ideally placed to help others keep up.
- hobbies and pastimes – there are thousands of hobbies to choose from and the audience are obsessive. Some even have events and conventions that you can cover.
- sports – sports fans can the biggest stats obsessives on the planet and like to keep updated daily on the slightest piece of news about their own team and those of their opposition.
- current affairs – you will never be short of things to write about if you cover current affairs but you will need to find your own unique take on things as there are so many people doing it.
- collecting – collectors can be found everywhere, just look at how huge ebay is!
- arts and crafts – you can take the highbrow approach and cover the art scene or the practical approach and help people become hobby painters and crafts people.
- health – many many people are interested in the health topic and there are so many facets, there is bound to be a rich subject to cover.
- shopping – some people are born to shop .. I know my wife is .. and you can’t ask for a better subject for advertising purposes! There are so many products and aspects, from the individual items to buy through to the worlds best shopping malls.
Now I have got you started I’m sure you can think of more!
Trimming your list
Now you should have a decent enough sized list to start narrowing down your options. We need to dismiss some of the poorer choices so you are only left with subjects you feel you could really post about without too much difficulty.
Go down your list and strike out any that you feel uneasy about. Think about posting about the subject every day, would it be easy, enjoyable, interesting?
Consider longevity, this is after all a business idea rather than a new hobby. Will the subject area still be relevant for a reasonable time? What is “Reasonable” will depend on your own definition but you don’t want the topic to be a passing fad ordinarily although some have made a great success from events, such as the olympics. I considered starting a blog on the topic of the Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympics, I still might.
As well as longevity of the subject matter, could you sustain posting about it over the long term? Would you get bored or would you be able to find new things to write about. It always helps if there is fresh new “stuff” coming into the niche all the time. For example there are always new gadgets, people have been discussing sports since sport began, etc.
You might have found some really interesting topics but are they only interesting to you? Is there sufficient interest in the subject? Look on the net to see if people are discussing the subject, ask people you know. A niche is not the mass market so it doesn’t have to be majorly popular but you don’t want to be the one of the few people interested as you need traffic and ads to make a living.
Choosing a niche is an important first task in starting a professional blog, it impacts everything else you do and is a very important factor in wether you are a success or not. In this post we looked at opening your mind to all the possibilities and casting your net wide for ideas then trimmed the list of ideas that wouldn’t work for you. In part two we will short list and refine based on critical success factors such as the revenue potential and level of competition.