Are you running in circles like a headless chicken struggling to find the perfect niche for your blog?
You are not alone.
The thing I hear most right after people say ‘I want to start a blog,’ is…
‘But I don’t know what to blog about.’
Lately, several of you emailed me expressing your frustration over sticking with a single blog topic.
There are obviously two scenarios here:
- You are either in the brainstorming phase and haven’t started blogging yet, or
- You have been blogging for a while and feel adrift
Either way, I feel your pain. I was there too, obsessing over my niche and trying to figure out who my ideal reader was.
More about it in a minute.
Now… most blogging experts refer to choosing a blog niche, as the most important blogging decision you’ll ever make.
Your blog’s very own existence depends on it.
Talk about major pressure!
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Look, I get it. You are freaked out because you don’t want to choose wrong.
This fear is valid.
But this fear is holding you back.
So instead of choosing a niche, think about it as defining your niche. See what I did there? It’s a total shift in mindset.
What is a niche?
Before I move forward, let’s take a step back and make sure we are all on the same page here.
Just in case you still wonder what a niche is…
A niche is basically a problem you care enough about that you’d gladly help a specific group of people solve.
It’s the place where your interests and expertise intersect with the struggles of your readers.
It can be sustainable volunteering, gardening in cold climates, frugal traveling for women in their 20’s, animal massage, or anything else in between.
It’s your blog, and you have full editorial control.
However, if you want to build a lifestyle business, I just have to say this.
You are amazing, brilliant and awesome just by being you. We would never doubt that.
But your life is not interesting enough to blog about it and expect to get paid.
I promise I don’t say this to be mean. Please don’t take it the wrong way.
I tell you this because to get the most out of blogging you have to put your readers first. You have to blog about what keeps them up at night.
Blogging for a living is not the same as writing an online journal.
But… You have so many interests, and you want to write about all that makes you… YOU.
Your trip to Europe. Your cat. Your love of peanut butter ice cream pie.
Writing a journal is about connecting with yourself. Blogging is about connecting with an audience.
That’s why it’s not easy to choose a focus for your blog. It’s not enough for you to care about it. It also needs to draw an audience.
Brainstorm your interests
‘I’m trying to make my blog cater to people who love both fashion and technology.’ — wrote a reader named Johanna.
Most people are torn between two or more topics, just like Johanna.
But Johanna’s interests don’t normally work together harmoniously.
She has three options.
- Drop one of them (which is heartbreaking, I know)
- Marry the two and write about fashion tech, which is a fabulous niche, or
- Find a unique angle and write about her interests from there
‘The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.’ — Henry Green
Narrowing the focus of your blog will help you grow it faster and reach the right people.
But even in your blog’s early days, having a clear niche will help you pick a domain name that will brand your blog for success.
Hot tip: You get a free domain when you purchase your hosting with Bluehost. And I highly recommend them because they are incredibly easy to set up and use and have great customer service. Click here to get hosted for only $2.95/month and snag a free domain.
You want to blog about something that you really care about (notice I didn’t say it has to be your lifelong passion). Otherwise, you’ll lose interest and your blog will wither away.
I want to take the pressure off you.
You do not have to be the only one blogging about a specific topic. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
Nor do you have to be the Neil Patel of your niche.
Even if you think you don’t know more than other people about anything, you do.
If you’ve traveled or lived abroad, if you speak another language, if you can knit, if you can cook or play an instrument (even poorly), you know more about these things than most people do.
As long as you stay at least one step ahead of your target audience, you’re good to go.
But maybe even more important than the above, don’t feel thwarted. You don’t have to stick to your blog topic forever.
Honestly, most likely you won’t.
Niches are uncovered over time as you fine-tune your voice and focus and establish your expertise.
I don’t mean that it’s okay for you to change focus in mid-flight.
What I’m saying is that taking action is more important than choosing the perfect niche.
You can (and you will) make changes on the go.
The reason you struggle to find a topic to blog about is most likely because you get stuck in analysis paralysis.
There’s nothing wrong with you. Most people find it difficult to single out one idea to blog about. Nobody wants to bet on the wrong horse.
But the truth is this. You’ll never stop second-guessing and doubting your decision until you have proof that it works. And you cannot prove its worth unless you act on it.
Vet your idea
While choosing a niche you care about is important, it is equally important for other people to care about it just as much. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to gain traction and build an audience.
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Are there, at least, a million people interested in this topic?
- Is your target audience not only able but also willing to pay for something on the topic?
- How are other blogs in the same niche making money?
When you are just getting started, choosing a niche is like trying to play pin the tail on the donkey.
I struggled with the idea of creating an ideal reader profile for months. I just couldn’t visualize this person.
You know why? Because the ideal reader is a unicorn. It’s perfect and all, but out of reach. It’s just a shadow of a real person.
Sure, I knew she was craving for a freedom lifestyle that would allow her to travel whenever she wanted. But I couldn’t quite get in touch with her.
Until one day I understood that my ideal reader is a potential best friend. Someone who shares some of my values but is also her own person.
Maybe she has 2 dogs and 3 kids. And that’s okay. I have neither. But just like with real-life friends, we are not copies of each other.
I made peace with my ideal reader. We are now on the best of terms.
And because of it, I was able to rewrite my ‘About’ page and actually convey the right message.
I know you are under a lot of pressure creating an ideal reader profile. But don’t sweat it.
Rather think about your 3 best friends who share your interest and write for them.
You don’t have to (and you can’t) be everything for everyone.
Now, ideally, your blog readers should also double as your clients.
As you put yourself out there, you will start receiving feedback from your readers.
You will gather more information on what people like and don’t like; what works and what doesn’t.
You’ll also start to see who likes your stuff and will start building relationships.
And this is peachy!
But this is only part of vetting your idea.
If people are not willing to pay for whatever you’re selling, you are dead in the water.
Building a blog is easy. Building a business is hard.
Making new friends is awesome. But if you want to make a living with your blog, it won’t be enough.
A good way to vet your niche is to think about the last thing you spent money on in the industry. Was it an ebook, a tool, a course, a physical product?
You can start by running a survey among your Facebook friends and ask them:
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What product/tool/course would make their life easier?
Later on, as you build your email list, ask your subscribers the same questions.
If you are one of my peeps, you already know that when I sent you my welcome message, I asked you what you struggled with, no matter how teeny-tiny.
My inbox is always open, and I am there for you whenever you need me.
Building an email list is going to pay off big time from day one.
You will not only build a stronger connection with your readers. You will actually learn from them a lot too.
My go-to email marketing tool is Mailerlite. It is easy to use and versatile and will help you build your email list quicker.
The bottom line is that your site needs an email list, and you can start building it even before publishing the first article.
Because at the end of the day, creating content and products your people need, want and are willing to pay for is far more productive and rewarding than blindly doing so.
Don’t assume that just because you want it, others will too.
Find your unique voice
I should have convinced you by now that having a niche from the inception of your blog is important. But there are far more important things than that.
Staying flexible is one of them.
You will inevitably outgrow your present self, and your blog will grow with you. Simply because it’s yours.
But having a well-developed voice and personality is what will really set you apart.
Not your carefully chosen and researched niche.
But your unique point of view.
There are thousands of blogs in any niche. And the Internet is big enough to accommodate all of them.
Sure, your readers will choose to read your blog because the subject interests them in the first place. But they will choose to stay because of you and your unique angle.
People want to get a sense of your personality. So drop the academic-sounding voice because it’s boring, overly formal and pretentious.
We want to learn stuff in a fun and relaxed way. We want to learn stuff in our yoga pants, not with a tie around our neck. Actually, we want to learn without even knowing it.
But this is difficult stuff. And it can only be done by writing, writing, and writing some more.
Figure out your strengths.
If you are anything like me, you will need some extra help here because you’re deep in it and have no objectivity. But this is what friends are for, right?
Ask people who are familiar with your blog, how they would describe it. Usually, they’ll say something simpler and more elegant than you ever could.
This kind of mirror is priceless.
- Is this what you want others to see?
- Do they see something you don’t?
- How can you fine-tune your blog further?
The moment you open up yourself like this, you are vulnerable. And that’s okay.
It might not come naturally (it rarely does). But the truth is, people want to see the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s what makes you relatable.
A blog is a work in progress and so is choosing a focus.
Over time, your niche will get clearer.
This means that you will have to release incomplete or imperfect things.
If you are anything like me, the idea of letting something out into the world before it’s ready scares you out of your wits.
You’re going to have to get over that one.
It’s the only way you will learn.
And the more often you do it, the shorter the learning curve.