In this article Mark Avey discusses the pros and cons of running a niche subject blog, from a point of view of making money.
A little History
I run a number of blogs. Most of them cover pretty niche subjects but one, in particular, is about as niche as you can get – flight simulation. Nothing more, nothing less. The site (flightsimx.co.uk) started life as a simple, fairly static web site. With the release of one particular item of flight simulation software, the increasing number of news items grew to such an extent that I needed an easier way to manage it. A blog format was the ideal choice for me. Whilst technically it is a blog, I guess you could argue that it’s really more of a news site, but a blog it is and a blog it is likely to stay.
It was around 14 months ago that the blog really started to attract visitors in reasonable numbers. It’s now getting around 2,500 uniques and 5,000+ page views a day, which I’m pretty happy with. In that time, I’ve learnt a lot about blogging. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and hopefully learnt from them. One of those things has been to be aware of the pros and cons of running a very limited subject blog from a financial viewpoint.
Why it’s bad to have a Niche Blog
- Almost by definition, you’re aiming at a small audience. A small audience means a lower number of potential “customers” than you’re going to get for a Britney Spears fan club site (in this context, customers is referring to anyone following through with an ad on my site, be it an AdSense click, an affiliate sale, or any other method)
- There are relatively few affiliate programs available for you to pick from. The low audience status of the blog also filters through to a low audience for things you might want to try and sell through such a program
- Context sensitive ads are few on the ground. With something as specific as my flight simulator blog, there are a relatively low number of people willing to pay for advertising through programs such as AdSense. This can mean you start getting ads repeated quite often, which can easily lead to “ad blindness”
- It can be much harder to get other sites to link to you (and hence bring you new customers). This is obvious really. The subject is so narrow that there aren’t (in my case) all that many sites out there on the same subject. Additionally, of those that are out there, most of them want to keep the visitors on their own sites and not send them away to mine via a link.
- It can take a long time to start getting search traffic. This is simply because there aren’t all that many people searching for the subject matter of your site. (This really falls into the good and bad sections, so I’ll come back to this in a moment)
Why it’s good to have a Niche Blog
Strange as it may seem, a lot of the negative aspects can actually work for you after a while.
- A niche site can bring you a lot of dedicated readers. Most of my traffic comes from search engines (around 75%). Most of the remainder are return visitors. I think a near 25% return rate is pretty good.
- Expanding on point 1 a little, once you’ve been around a while (assuming you’ve got your SEO optimised), the search engines can start to like you. If the search engines are picking you up (my posts get indexed within about an hour now), people that are searching for your subject have a pretty good chance of finding your site.
- Whilst there are fewer affiliate programs out there for you to choose from, you can get some reasonable deals if you go looking. The same rules of supply and demand work for anyone working in that niche, so people selling related items are looking for as many people as possible to sell their goods, which can put you in a good position.
- Your name can get around. I get a lot of emails from people along the lines of “Are you the guy who runs the flight simulator site?”. As well as giving you a nice warm fuzzy feeling, it also means your name is being associated with that niche subject. If you do your job properly (blogging), this can turn you into an expert in your field, which is great news for your blog. This in itself can bring people to your site.
- You can create a captive audience. Because there are so few sites dealing with the subject of my blog, people who are interested in the subject are more likely to return once they find me. If they’re coming back, they may click on an ad.
- If you’re going to start from scratch with a blog, you’ve got more chance of finding a subject that few people have already covered. You’re going to find it hard to compete with a blog about movies, but you may have some success with political movies of the 1940’s for example.
Is it Worth it?
Overall, I’d have to say yes. I’ve been lucky. The subject of my blog is something I’m passionate about. Hopefully this comes across and will encourage other people with a similar passion to come back. And click on an ad.
Perhaps the critical point is the size of the niche and whether or not it’s growing or declining. My return visitors are about the same as yours and I also get more search traffic now that I’m more focused on a niche. Perhaps the next step for some people is to widen the scope of the niche, but if it is a clearly defined topic that could prove tricky.
My musicblog has around 6000-7000 UV’s per day and it is a very niche like blog, but being this I was able securing some really targetted e-partners that get very good traffic and sales from us.
Of course the regular ad networks are not really working on such blog, but there are ways to check out things. We are working on a new design now that will have plenty of extra advertising options which we sell at a very low cost (since we are on a niche market :)) in package deals. But selling a few is enough to have some nice income.
I didn’t think my blog would be as niche as it turns out to be. With the number of secretaries around the world, I figured everyone would be doing blogs about admin work. Well, if they are, they certainly haven’t heard of SEO, because I can’t find them *laughs*.
It is making it hard to start getting numbers up, though. The trick of commenting on everyone else’s blog doesn’t work too well since there aren’t that many to comment on. I’m plugging away, though. After all, it’s been less than a month. I figure 10 uniques on a good day is pretty good for a beginning.
I’m a niche blogger. I blog about ephemera (items meant to only last a few days). While it may seem limited, the topic allows me to explore the world of old paper, which encompasses nearly everything printed and then some. Plus, I use the niche as a springboard to “jump off the page” and comment on issues that bring my personality into the mix. For me, niche blogging is a blessing, and I’ve been able to grow my audience (more than 14,000 page views per month) and even attract niche sponsors. I highly recommend finding a niche to call your own, if you’re just starting out in blogging. It has worked for me and my blog is going on three years with a post per day.
I have niche blog name related to “make money” but i will try to spread my topics and to make content about everything i like to write about!
This is probably my favorite post so far. I love niche blogs…even though mine is more random. It’s about, I guess you could say, cartoons.
And, I clicked an ad. :)
I have found success in building multiple niche blogs under a single domain. I get more links to my personal blog which helps raise the domain in search engine results over all. For instance, I get a ton of traffic on my cooking blog from search results even though I hardly ever post there because I have a ton of links to other blogs on the same domain.
I entered a post in one of Darren’s competitions on this very subject called Top 5 Reasons for Multiple Blogs Under a Single Domain.
To niche or not to niche, that is the question. Thanks for pointing out the pros and cons so concisely.
I write a skateboarding blog, and while it’s not throwing money at me in affiliate money, it’s refreshing and gets 80% search engine traffic from around the world.
Meanwhile my other sites, which are geared towards making money online, are not making money.
I have just started a niche blog about clouds. Wish me luck!
That’s what I’m hoping for. In fact, I’m sort of hoping to take advantage of a niche, that may well stop being a niche soon, and by then I’ll already be popular (in theory).
I say that because my blog is about my experiences with Debian as a server operating system, and it’s market share is increasing each year. The fact that it’s increasing just cries for a place for all these newbies to learn; my blog should be that place!
Also, I get bored of blogging without a niche; there’s too many topics to cover and I just don’t have time. At least with this niche though, I really am interested in it :)
I’m experimenting with a niche blog based on action figures. My theory is that longtail keywords will bring about decent traffic if there’s enough of them in your article title. Since these action figures are based on characters, SE searchers will have to type the actual names plus some variation depending on the model.
Let’s see how it pans out.
I think it is not a good deal to have a niche blog. But it’s just a personal opinion
I’ve started a niche blog for Christian entrepreneurs and after only one month, it’s going great!
I’m planning to start another one for a subset of Christian entrepreneurs, a “sub-niche”.
I have a niche blog (a few actually) mostly because If I don’t i’ll blather on incessantly about off topic things. I have so many interests. But I do concentrate on my business blog (all about how fabulous wordpress is) more than any other because it’s most important at this time.
I don’t really have a niche, but my other sites do. It does work well to be number one in your niche.
Arrgh! My niche blog is travelling nicely but has nowhere near as many uniques or page views as you have been able to achieve…..well done!
The original concept was to record our hiking trips into wilderness areas in Australia i.e. more like a diary than a blog. Obviously, unless we were hiking each week material soon dried up.
I then started to look at the hits and searches that were sending people to our site and started to expand the topics around the core idea, so added posts about equipment, food, hiking issues etc. This increased the number of hits etc
I reanalysed what people were searching for and added more posts about those topics and the hits have slowly increased.
I am now trying to broaden the appeal of the information I provide to my readers by getting guest posters and rather than writing a long and complex post, maybe adding a short sharp post on a related but slightly “off topic” item.
This has all been successful BUT my hits are still very small (I am almost embarrassed to report) at around 50-60 a day….with 200+ page views.
What has kept me going (other than I really enjoy the challenge and learning’s involved) is:
1) I am really high on Google on most searches about hiking in Australia/Tasmania (1-4)
2) My comments are slowly increasing and I love interacting with other hikers
3) Even though my numbers are small they are constantly growing
4) My adsense $$$ are slowly growing (talking cents here rather than $$) and it seems that it has the POTENTIAL to be a good earner …..recently one hit, one ad, $1.50…just need 100 of those a day LOL
5) Most of my posts are timeless i.e. they should still be relevant in a year or 4 so maintenance and constant posting are not necessarily required…..
Thanks for the valuable post (and the chance to vent!!)
I’m a niche blogger. I blog about making fitness easy for everyone, and I can tell you right now it’s tough. I’ll read about how the big boys will get 10’s of thousands of visitors a day, and I’ll get excited if I get 20! My site has only been up for about two weeks, but I’m sure that once I get the ball rolling, it’ll be rolling easily!
That’s my motivation.
Good post, I was thinking of starting a second blog for a hobby of mine recently (beer).
Everything is a niche, in one way or another. The question is whether the niche is profitable (or at least sustainable).
Thanks a lot for the nice article. Korea blogs are a pretty small niche as well but I’m quite happy with how things are going. I’ve found two things you didn’t mention —
1. Being in a niche means you can write totally unique content. I’ve written posts on topics which never, ever would have been published anywhere else (not in English, certainly) but were also exactly what others in the Korean blogosphere like to talk about.
2. Building on that, I guess, you can deliver content in a way that nobody else is either. For me the hook is straight translations of Korean content, which is something I’ve never seen anyone else do.
I have several niche blogs catering to the gift industry, and the reason it’s successful is because my name is synonymous with the industry. Being the author of two best-selling books within that niche doesn’t hurt either.
The main way that people find my blog is through search engines, but I also use direct mail to remind customers and prospects that the blogs exist and the benefit of bookmarking them.
It’s true that affiliate ads are few and far between for blog placement, but what I’ve chosen works extremely well. I make a good living, and I’m always experimenting with new affiliates for additional revenue.
Having few participants in my niche elevates the money potential, but I also reach back to support the two other niche bloggers by linking to one of their posts every other Friday. There’s no reason for me to be selfish, as visitors will always consider me their main source for ideas and information.
For me the downfall of niche blogging is that I would need to be an expert or have a strong interest in one area…and I don’t. I tend to know a limited amount about a variety of things, so a niche blog won’t work for me. I’m just not a detail guy.
In one respect I wish that I were a detail person so that I could take one topic and dive into it in detail, then over time I would become an authority on the topic which would likely be helpful for generating traffic.
The one positive about not having a niche blog is that I can respond to trends, news or whatever peaks my interest whereas a niche blog is bound to it’s topic.
I don’t even blogging about niche..basically and blogging about what I love. I love technologies and musics as well. But at the some time I’m blogging about my life, the most special is my precious “Long house” experience.
@RandomThinker: I can definitely identify with you on that – it took me a year of semi-daily blogging on anything that interested me (which is just about everything) to figure out that there actually is a niche that I know a lot about, and something that I’m passionate about exploring.
In my case, I discovered my niche only because I was reading other niche blogs in that category and found that on certain subjects (diet and exercise) I was writing long comments in response to articles that I was interested in. I thought, “I never realized that I know so much about this through my own lifelong experience, or for that matter, that I cared this much.”
Had you asked me a year ago, I would have had no clue that I’d be doing what I am now (http://www.almostfit.com). So my thought is, by participating in blogging communities, you may just find that niche that you can get into. Good luck!
Thanks for all the comments, everyone :)
This is my first guest post on any blog, and has been a great experience.
I’m impressed with the quality of the replies given. Everyone has clearly thought about the comments and they should prove useful to all the readers.
I really do think Niche Blogging can be rewarding. In fact, so much so, I’ve created yet another blog on that very subject!
Keep the comments coming.
Hi, if you want to use Adsense does that mean you have to host the blog yourself rather than use the sites provided by wordpress or google, and if so what software would you recommend that doesnt need complex installation on the server.
The big plus of niche blogs when compared to same topic – wider audience blogs is their better dollar value per AdSense click.
Months ago I was runing several aviation blogs, each being very niche-ish, and I gatehred all of them together. I still get some clicks on the old ones (and one still has good SE results despite not being updated anymore), and they are usually at higher value than on my more general blog.
However I don’t regret the merge, as promoting a single blog is easier, even if it’s not as narrow-scoped, and it’s easier to post regularly on a wider niche.
I think niche blogging is important especially if you are so focused on adsense ads. If you blog about bonsai plant for example, adsense will give you related ads so you have great probability of visitors clicking the ad for more information about bonsai.
I’ve had a niche blog for about 2 1/2 years dealing with making homemade wine and beer. Daily, I get about 400 visitors and revenue buys me lunch each day.
I enjoy niche blogging, but it is a lot of work to build it up to a decent size. Definitely a long haul project and you do experience the cons on a daily basis. Not an area for those trying to make a quick buck or those that don’t have patience.
Great post. I run a niche hiking blog that I started 2 months ago. Traffic is slowly ramping up. I think you need to take the mindset early on that you are blogging for personal satisfaction in order to maintain your enthusiasm. Revenue may come someday, but the personal rewards have to outweigh the revenue goals in the first 6-12 months.
I enjoy niche blogging also. A good idea Is to try to combine multiiple related niches to increase your potential traffic.
Deloreans + Back to the Future + Michael J. Fox
“And click on an ad.”
Hahaha. Very nice. I, too, say that niche blogging is the key to success, unless you’re a very popular person to begin with. And I’d also like to kill his point saying that a niche audience is a small audience; can you call a niche of Apple fanboys small? Niche blogs keep the industry alive!
You can concentrate your blog (niche)
or you can dilute it (the whole world).
However, somewhere it needs to have
Great post. While my blog is a niche blog that doesn’t get much revenue yet, I have found it to be a very useful tool for communicating with clients, referral sources, and potential customers for my business. The blog itself hasn’t earned much revenue, but it has helped me establish face to face relationships with referral sources and I get one to two new clients per month. Since my average client pays more than $1000 in fees, I consider the blog to be an important part of my marketing and business strategy.
Thats a nice post. Thank you guys.
God willing, I will also continue my Digital Signal Processing blog and reach a critical mass.
Great post! I’m experimenting with a niche blog on Science Fiction. It’s only a few months old and it’s going pretty good so far. But I’m looking at focusing tighter within the Science Fiction niche, like Science Fiction books, Science Fiction Television, Science Fiction Movies, etc… However, I’m thinking that might be too tightly focused. Anyway, I’ll stick with what I’m doing for now and monitor things for awhile.
I have just started a niche blog on how to play and understand the game of Australian Football (Kick2Kick.net) and I am beginning to understand just how hard it can be as my personal blog is very open book.
Thanks for some ideas etc Darren.
I think the key to “success” is that you enjoy the subject, with a passion.
I don’t seem to be able to stop writing for FlightSimX. If anything, I have more potential post material than I can handle! This is, of course, preferable to having “blogger’s block” and being unable to think of what to post.
I’m currently writing anywhere between 1 and 5 posts per day. 5 is probably too many for some, but I don’t want to miss out on important stories for the site.
The advantage as you said is few sites with the same subject and getting authority and becoming a reliable source of information will be easy task for the blog who is having good content.
Thank you for sharing.
I’ve got a niche blog for expats living in Germany (although I’ve also got a Germans living abroad readership) and I’ve found that linking to other blogs in my niche really works to my advantage. I’ve heard from people who drop by even when I haven’t posted, just to check out my blogroll. I’ve been thinking about Adsense, and your post has helped me rethink it. I don’t get nearly as many views as you do (about 150 a day plus 75 subscribers – it’s a pretty small niche), so maybe it wouldn’t be worth it after all.
Do you think that some/any of the ideas regarding blogging can be applied to an AUDIO magazine composed of different small stories?
This is my project, dedicated to a very large niche market.
Appreciate your thoughts
When I started blogging six months ago I was so naïve. My topic was Personal Development. I didn’t realize at that time that there were billions of blogs on that same topic. I was a drop in a virtual ocean of blogs.
I tried to narrow it down a bit by focusing on Self Mastery but I fear that topic is still way too broad. It’s been a real struggle to figure out which sub-topic to focus on. Maybe I need several blogs, one on each topic – who knows? This post really got me thinking about what I should do – I just wish I knew!
Great post. Thanks.
My blog is pretty niche too. I research and post stories about worldwide energy shortages. Things like load shedding in Pakistan and diesel fuel protests in Argentina. It gets very little traffic despite being well linked and fairly high on a Google search. My bounce rate is OK and I have about 35% of all new viewers return.
I don’t do it to make money, but as an educational resource. Indeed, I’ve spent quite a few dollars to promote the blog.
One reason I think the traffic is fairly low is that it’s not a particularly happy message and nor does it offer any ready solutions!
Having said that, I’ve employed many tips from Pro Blogger and they have definitely helped out the traffic.
Nice thinking you got there. I found it enlighting me about the ignorance I have been suffering.
well done on the post…keeps people, like those posting here, going. it’s nice to see other niche blogs and bloggers. we just started ours on modern marine aquariums.
like some have mentioned this isn’t for money, but a blend of passions…which makes it both fun and rewarding.
I like your articles, the contents more useful.. i know your website since the first time i try to making my first blog page.
go problogger.. more brilliant on your website.
A good idea Is to try to combine multiiple related niches to increase your potential traffic. Thats nice post.