While I get many questions from bloggers asking for advice on ‘how to blog‘ perhaps one of the biggest questions a new blogger needs to ask themselves before they move on to the HOW to blog question is ‘WHAT will I blog about?’
There is no real right or wrong answer to this question as blogs come in all shapes and sizes and focus upon all manner of topics. However thinking through the question before you start a blog will help you make some of the other decisions that you’ll want to make later on in this guide (for example the domain name and the name of your blog will probably come out of this decision).
Reasons to Focus Upon a Niche with Your Blog
Choosing a niche to blog about is important for a number of reasons. These include:
1. Niche Blogs Appeal to Readers
My first blog was a personal blog with no real niche focus. It did start with a main focus upon Spirituality, but over time began to cover a large range of topics including blogging, photography, culture, politics, personal stuff that I was doing etc. The more topics I covered the less I appealed to everyone.
Sure a certain group of people were interested in Spirituality and Blogging, but less of them were into photography, even less also liked my stuff about Australian Pop Culture….. each topic narrowed the chances of me writing something that would appeal to all of my readers. I started to get complaints from them – ‘stop writing about XXXX’.
In the end this is about relevance – people seem to be drawn to niche focused blogs because they know that they’ll see content on them that focuses upon the things they are specifically interested in.
2. Niche Blogs Monetize Better
I tried to make money from my personal blog for a while but found the going really tough. At the time I mainly tried to make money from advertising and found that sponsors were simply not interested in promoting their product (which had a specific focus) to an audience who were there to read about a whole range of things.
What camera manufacturer wants to promote their latest camera on a blog about photography that also touches on spirituality, politics and what movie I saw on the weekend?
Niche blogs also tend to work better with contextual ad networks like AdSense. AdSense is getting better are providing ads that related strongly to what is on a specific page of content but I have seen instances where blogs covering lots of different topics attract ads that don’t always relate to content on a particular page.
The other thing about AdSense is that it is a system that gives advertisers the ability to target specific sites. These types of targeted campaigns can be quite profitable but they are less likely to happen if a blog covers a large range of topics, many of which don’t relate to that advertiser.
When I went niche I found monetizing with advertising a lot easier. In fact monetizing with a variety of methods seems to be easier on niche blogs. Affiliate promotions and selling your own products work better because your audience is there to get information on certain topics – so when you promote products on those topics…. they’re much more likely to buy.
3. Niche Blogs Do Better in Search Engines
It is possible to rank well for all kinds of topics on a generic/multi topic blog. It’s possible – but I find it is easier when you have a blog with a focus upon a niche topic. If your whole site is about the one topic Google treats it as more of an authority on that topic the more content you add, the more you interlink the posts, the more other sites in your niche link to it etc.
There are certainly exceptions (mega sites like Wikipedia are obvious ones) but unless you have the pulling power of a massive site like that a niche focused site could be the way to go.
4. Niche Blogs Build Credibility and Profile
One of the consequences of moving to more of a niche focus with my blogging was that I noticed I was starting to become known for that topic.
The first time this happened was after I started my first photography blog and 2 months later had a phone call from a city-wide newspaper asking for a quote on a photography related story. This had not happened to me before as a result of my personal/multi topic blog but having a site purely focused upon a single topic gave a perception that that topic was ‘my thing’.
For me having niche focuses has helped me to become known on different topics – which has led to all kinds of opportunities in those niches – including writing books, speaking opportunities around the world, main stream media appearances and all manner of partnership opportunities with wonderful people in my industries.
Not everyone wants to build their profile and become known in an industry – but if that’s part of your goal then a niche blog on those topics can be powerful.
Note: Niches Need Not Just be Topic Related
Before I conclude this post on niches I thought it might also be worth noting that a blogs niche need not only ever be focused upon a topic. I explored this more fully in a post titled – Does Your Blog Focus Upon a Niche Topic or a Niche Demographic? As the title of that post suggests – there are some successful blogs around that cover a variety of topics – that appeal to a similar type of person or demographic.
So instead of just writing about video games – a blog might choose to blog about topics that appeal to teenage boys – video games being one of the topics that they might have an interest in.
Worth noting though is that if you do decide to target a niche demographic rather than a niche topic – you could be opening yourself up for a lot of work. Covering a diverse range of topics can certainly work – but to cover them all comprehensively can take a lot of time and energy.
How to Choose a Niche for Your Blog
Now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons WHY a niche can be a powerful thing to think about before you start looking at HOW to blog – later this week I’m going to continue this post with a followup post exploring a number of factors that those looking to start a blog might consider when choosing a niche.
Update: here’s that post – How to Blog: How to Choose a Blog Niche