Earlier this month, I wrote a post on gearing up your blog from a hobby into a business that generated some interesting discussion.
One thing that’s often a sticking point relates to the point I made about niche assessment. Today I’d like to step back a little further and consider niche selection from scratch. Or “before scratch,” if there’s such a thing!
The “good niche” myth
I often see bloggers wrestling with the question: what are some good niches to blog in?
Once you start thinking like this, all kinds of other, even tougher questions pop up.
- What are the best niches to monetize?
- What niches have the most readers?
- How can I find a niche that’s not too crowded?
- If I choose a crowded niche, how can I make my blog stand out?
Many bloggers who think along these lines are blogging because they want to get on board and be part of the blogosphere. They know that blogs can be monetized, and/or they can gain authority through blogging, so their starting point is to get involved in the blogging industry.
That’s fine, but I think that if this were my motivation, I’d have a lot of trouble sustaining my blogs. For one thing, I don’t think I’d be able to find the kind of niche Ronique Gibson described as one I could “expand on for life” in her post on choosing a niche. She asks, “Could you talk about your niche morning, noon, and night?” And that question demands that we, as bloggers, look at our own personal interests.
An approach to niche selection that doesn’t take your passion into account in some way may make your blog difficult to sustain. Who wants to write (or source content) on a topic they don’t care about, week in, week out? If you don’t have a deep, motivated understanding of your niche, you could have trouble selecting the best affiliate promotions, or relating to advertisers and other partners.
Also, if you choose a niche you don’t have any experience or knowledge of, you can end up creating more work for yourself than you might have if you’d followed your heart. I can’t imagine all the research I’d have to do to run dPS if I didn’t love photography.
My passion for that niche is what motivates me to communicate with other photographers, research, and learn. It’s fun for me. If it wasn’t, I’d have to do a lot more “work” to understand the niche, and make my blog sound natural, enthusiastic, and empathetic to the needs of my readers.
Hence the myth of the “good niche”—what’s a good niche for one blogger, is a terrible niche for another.
A better starting point for choosing a niche
If you’re starting your blogging journey by asking, “What are some good niches to blog in?”, you might be motivated by a desire to be part of the blogosphere, rather than a desire to connect with like-minded people.
And I think this is the key. Community is certainly the cornerstone of blogging today. If I were to give advice to a would-be blogger wanting to choose “the right” niche, I’d say this:
Choose a niche in which you feel passionate about connecting with others.
If you don’t feel you have much to share on the topic, you don’t have respect for other people in the niche—including your “competitors,” you don’t care about the niche’s trending topics in social media, or you can’t really think of any questions you’d like to find out about by talking with others who share this “interest,” then the niche might not be the best one for you to blog in.
Your involvement within your niche’s community will underpin your success. You’ll have to be involved if you’re to understand what your potential readers—and potential customers—need, and work out the best ways to deliver it to them. You’ll have to be involved if you’re going to be successful at reaching readers and establishing an authentic rapport. And if you’re involved, you’ll find it easier to get help and advice from others who have complementary skills or experience with that niche.
To put it another way, you can’t build a profile for your blog without being involved in the niche’s community. So if you’re considering a niche, but you don’t want to immerse yourself in its community, you might want to choose another niche.