I recently had a conversation with a reader about selecting the right topic for a profitable blog. In this discussion, I realized that finding a balance among various factors is crucial. Let’s explore these essential principles for choosing a profitable blog topic.
One important factor in the success of any profitable blog is that it will need to find readers. I could probably build a blog that would dominate the niche for ‘green striped paper bags’ and get 100% of those searching for the term on Google (there is no competition) however the fact of the matter is that I’d probably be my only reader. It’s important to choose a topic that meets a demand for information. It need not be on a topic that absolutely everyone is searching for information on – but the popularity of the topic is obviously one factor that could increase the chances of success.
Selecting a topic with a significant demand for information increases the likelihood of attracting readers. While it’s important to find a balance between popularity and competition, identifying niches within popular topics can be highly profitable. For example, rather than starting a broad blog about fitness, focusing on a specific niche like “keto diet for beginners” or “high-intensity interval training (HIIT)” can yield better results. These focused topics allow you to position yourself as an expert and capture a dedicated audience.
To gauge the popularity of a blog topic, keyword research tools can provide valuable insights. These tools help identify search volume, competition, and related keywords for conducting your niche analysis:
- Google Trends: This free tool allows you to explore the popularity of specific keywords over time and in different regions. It provides data on search interest, related topics, and rising trends.
- SEMrush: Known for its comprehensive keyword research features, SEMrush offers insights into search volume, keyword difficulty, and competitor analysis. It also suggests related keywords and provides an overview of the competitive landscape.
Topic Competition and Narrow Niches
Another way of increasing the chances of profit is to choose a topic which currently has few quality sources of information already existing online. You may think that no such topic exists – but you’d be wrong. Whilst the web is a crowded place there are many topics where there is little competition and as a result you have the ability to be one of the biggest fish in that small pond. Sometimes you have to narrow your topic to find such niches, other times you have to be ‘the first’ as a new topic emerges and other times there might be existing sites on the topic – but they are of a low enough standard that you can compete easily by producing something better or more useful. Finding a niche with limited competition can provide opportunities for significant growth and profitability. Here are a couple of examples:
- “Indoor Urban Gardening Tips”: With the rise in urban living, many people are interested in growing plants indoors. By focusing on providing valuable content and advice on indoor urban gardening techniques, tools, and plant care, you can establish yourself as an authority in this niche. Monetization options can include affiliate partnerships with gardening equipment suppliers or creating your own line of indoor gardening products.
- “Sustainable Fashion for Men”: As sustainability becomes a global concern, the demand for eco-friendly fashion is rising. By catering specifically to men and providing content on sustainable clothing brands, styling tips, and ethical fashion practices, you can tap into a growing market. Revenue streams can include affiliate marketing with sustainable fashion brands and collaborations with eco-conscious clothing companies.
- My narrowest niche blog is one that I run on UAV’s or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Now it’s not my most profitable blog by far – and when I started it ten years ago there weren’t as many people searching on the topic and I was able to get a fairly large % of those searching for my keywords because I ranked so highly on Google for them. These days this topic is a lot more competitive but it’s an example of what you can do over time if you’re willing to carve out a niche for yourself.
Here are some additional niche analysis tools to help you identify untapped markets:
- Ubersuggest: offers keyword suggestions and competition analysis. It provides information on search volume, difficulty, and related keywords, helping you discover specific niches with lower competition.
- Ahrefs: a powerful SEO tool that enables you to analyze competitors, discover low-competition keywords, and explore niche opportunities. It also offers content gap analysis, helping you identify areas where your competitors are lacking.
Availability of Revenue Streams
Ok so you’ve found a topic people search for and you don’t have much competition – but you’ll never turn a profit on it if you don’t find an income stream for it. Contextual advertising programs like Adsense offer varying click values for different topics. Ideally, you’d want to choose a high-paying topic, but you might discover intense competition within those niches. It can be worthwhile to explore medium-level click values with less competition. Remember, Adsense is not the only revenue stream for bloggers. Explore available affiliate programs relevant to your topic and consider opportunities for sponsorships from private advertising sources.
Identifying topics with potential revenue streams is essential for long-term profitability. Here are two recent examples:
- “Smart Home Automation”: With the increasing popularity of smart home devices, blogging about smart home automation can be lucrative. Monetization options include affiliate partnerships with smart home product manufacturers, sponsored content from companies in the home automation industry, and creating digital products such as e-books or online courses on setting up smart homes.
- “Digital Nomad Lifestyle”: As remote work and location independence gain traction, the digital nomad lifestyle has become a popular topic. Bloggers in this niche can generate revenue through affiliate marketing of travel gear, sponsored content from travel agencies or co-working spaces, and offering coaching or consulting services for aspiring digital nomads.
Researching “your topic affiliate programs” on search engines and exploring Amazon’s affiliate program can be excellent starting points. Here are a few examples of tools to assist you in assessing your blog affiliate revenue potential:
- Amazon Associates: Amazon’s affiliate program, known as Amazon Associates, allows you to earn commissions by promoting products relevant to your blog’s niche. With a vast range of products, it can be a valuable income source for bloggers.
- ShareASale: an affiliate marketing network that connects bloggers with various merchants and brands. It offers a wide range of affiliate programs across different niches, allowing you to find relevant partners for your blog.
If you are going to use Adsense you ideally want a high paying topic. Unfortunately whilst you might identify one you may just find that your competition is incredibly high. Sometimes it is worth picking a topic that is in the medium level of click values and has less competition.
Availability of Content
You’ll want to do a little research on your topic before starting a blog to see if you’ll be able to sustain it in adding fresh content over a long period. The thing that kills many commercial blogs very quickly is that the author simply runs out of things to write. I’ve started numerous blogs over the past couple of years that I quickly found I had nothing much to say about.
Ensuring a steady stream of content is crucial for maintaining engagement and attracting readers. Here’s an example:
- “Plant-Based Recipes for Families”: As more people embrace plant-based diets, there’s a demand for family-friendly plant-based recipes. By curating and creating delicious, kid-friendly plant-based recipes, you can cater to this audience. Content can include meal planning tips, nutritional information, and creative plant-based alternatives for popular family meals. Regularly sharing new recipes and engaging with the audience can help build a loyal readership.
If you’re wanting to test the availability of content keyword research tools can help identify popular topics and generate content ideas. Here are two tools to assist you:
- BuzzSumo: allows you to discover popular content in your niche by analyzing social media shares and engagement. It helps you identify trending topics and create content that resonates with your audience.
- AnswerThePublic: This tool generates a visual representation of questions and phrases related to your chosen keyword. It can inspire content ideas by revealing what people are searching for and what information they seek.
Measure your own Energy, Passion and Interest
Lastly (and very importantly) it’s worth trying to objectively measure your own passion, interest or energy level for the blog. Whilst there might be plenty of news going around on the topic will you still be energized by posting on the topic in 6 months time (without the motivation of money – because it might take take a year or two to establish yourself in a niche). If you don’t have something motivating you to post on a topic it can become very difficult to keep doing so – unless you have a very dedicated personality type.
Put it all together
The fact is that you’ll rarely find a topic that all these factors come together on unless you’re either very lucky or the first in a popular new niche that you just happen to have a passion for. Most blogs fall down in one (or more) of these areas. This does not mean it can’t be a viable and profitable blog, but it’s good to be aware of the weaknesses as you venture out. The beauty of blogging is that there are no rules – and some of my most successful experiments have flown in the face of most of the above principles.
For example (just to disprove myself and give a little hope to you rebellious types) – arguably the most successful blog I’ve ever been involved with (over a short period of time) was the Athens Olympics Blog that I ran with a mate which generated 2 million visitors in a few weeks and made us a tidy sum of money.
This blog succeeded despite having massive competition (from every major news website going around) and despite having very low click value on Adsense and few lucrative affiliate programs. The sheer weight of people searching for information over a short period of time was the main ingredient to our success. This was coupled with us working incredibly long hours (around the clock for two weeks and for months before) providing a blog that was actually quite useful. We actually became known as a site that updated statistics and information faster than most of the ‘professional’ sites covering the event.
Despite being dormant (and falling into disrepair lately) it still even gets reasonable visitor levels to this day.
So take these principles as friendly advice – not rules. In many ways they are ‘ideals’ which you will almost certainly have to compromise some of at some point but which can help you choose a topic that has a greater chance of success.
Add your own suggestions and experiences in choosing a blog’s topic below in comments12.