Introduction: Your blog needs a niche because the most successful businesses have niches
So you want to start a financially successful blog?
Then you need to have a clearly-defined niche.
The most successful businesses have clearly defined niches.
But this might not be apparent from afar.
When brands have widespread recognition, they’ve often expanded significantly from the narrow niche in which they started.
Apple illustrates this concept clearly.
in Apple’s first year of business in the late 70s, they sold 600 computers – less than 1% of the already tiny demand for computers at the time. (source)
In 2017 Q3, Apple sold almost 47 million iPhones. (source)
In other words, Apple started in a very small niche and has expanded from there as they have experienced success.
Procter and Gamble is another example of this phenomenon originally making only candles and soap in the 1800s. (source)
After experiencing success and gradually building out their niches, they sell a stunning array of consumer goods products today from Crest toothpaste to Swiffer cleaning products. (source)
Likewise, bloggers should follow the pattern of successful businesses and have a clearly-defined niche when beginning.
Your blog needs a niche because the most successful blogs have niches
Need more proof that defining your blog niche is a good idea?
The most successful bloggers today have clearly defined niches and subject matter.
Pat Flynn’s niche is passive-income generating online entrepreneurship,
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s niche is personal finance,
Tracy Raftl’s niche is adult acne,
And you too need a niche for your blog.
“But I don’t want to define a blog niche! I want to blog about all my interests!”
I totally understand this sentiment.
This is how I ran The Profit Anywhere Blog for a while.
I didn’t have a clearly defined niche.
I wanted to write about anything and everything.
I didn’t want to define a niche because I didn’t want to limit myself.
And my blog has suffered as a result.
Countless marketers have said:
Trying to appeal to everyone appeals to no one. (source)
And it’s true.
If your blog lacks a clearly-defined niche, how will you market it?
Who will it appeal to?
But I’ll let you in on a secret.
As long as you define your niche and relate your posts to your niche, you can blog about all your interests.
Here are some examples.
Successful Bloggers who Seem to Lack a Niche but Actually Define their Niche Clearly
James Clear is a good example of defining his blog’s niche in such a way to discuss his wide array of interests:
I study successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do. Then, I share what I learn in my popular email newsletter.
At the core of my work is a simple, but powerful question: How can we live better?
As you can tell, took the time to carefully craft the description of his niche on his blog.
And he always makes an effort to clearly relate his posts to his niche.
Because he understands the importance of defining your niche.
Even Tim Ferriss, the famous Jack of all trades master of none, defines his niche at the beginning of most of podcasts saying something like:
“I’ve deconstructed what makes world-class performers great – from The Terminator to Tony Robbins. Learn their tools & tactics today.” (source)
He also reminds his audience of how he deconstructs excellence into content to help you be healthy, wealthy, and wise. (source)
His NYT best-selling 4 hour series follow this pattern:
- 4 Hour Work Week (how to be wealthy)
- 4 Hour Body (how to be healthy)
- 4 Hour Chef (how to be healthy/wise)
And he divides his subsequent works, Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors, into sections called healthy, wealthy, and wise sections as well.
So do yourself a favor, follow the pattern of successful businesses and bloggers, and define your blog’s niche.
Where to Begin Defining your Blog’s Niche
How do you find the perfect niche for your blog?
It starts with considering your “element.”
Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally renowned Ph.D. and expert in personal creativity development, puts it this way:
Being in ‘your Element’ is where your natural aptitudes meet your passions.
The intersection of your passions and aptitudes is a great place to look for finding your blog’s niche.
Because ultimately, you want to blog about passions and aptitudes.
Researcher Angela Ducksworth has found that passion and perseverance are the character qualities most likely to produce success. (source)
In other words, if you are passionate about what you blog about and you persevere in blogging through difficulty, it’s likely you will experience success.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these concepts.
Examining Your Passions for Blog Niche Direction
The first step to finding out which blog niche is right for you is to consider what you love doing.
What are your hobbies and interests?
If money weren’t an issue, what subject matter of content would you spend all day creating and promoting?
Think of this step as a brainstorming session where you don’t rule out anything.
Be completely honest with yourself and don’t get caught up in whether you think these passions can make money.
Many bloggers make a lot of money from a passion that didn’t seem like it could be monetized at first.
- PewDiePie makes millions narrating video games on YouTube,
- Victor Pride makes six figures blogging about bodybuilding and personal development,
- Benny the Irish Polyglot, turned his love for learning languages into a full-time income.
None of them pursued conventional career paths, but all of them are now making a comfortable living (or more) doing what they love.
To sum it up, here’s Warren Buffett’s advice on finding your ideal career:
“Follow your passions… Find something you love.” (source)
Here are some practical ways to use Buffett’s advice, identify your passions, and find the perfect niche for your blog.
- Take personality tests. Take every personality or self-knowledge test you can find to get a better understanding of who you are. Here is an example. This test has helped me understand what energizes me and has helped me think about the work scenarios where I would thrive most.
- Examine how you spend your “fun money.” Tim Ferriss encourages asking yourself, “Where am I price insensitive?” It’s likely on your passions or hobbies.
- Think about what you wanted to be when you “grew up” as a kid. Veteran entrepreneur and blogger James Altucher recommends writing down a list of everything you loved doing from ages 7 to 20, before “the real world” changed your mindset. For example, when I was a kid I wanted to be a journalist. My aspirations haven’t changed much – now I want to be a blogger 🙂
- Read books on the topic. If you’re still struggling, check out Ken Robinson’s book, Finding your Element.* I read this book and went through the exercises which helped me gain further clarity in establishing my dream to become a blogger. Thousands more have used this book to find direction for their life.
Letting Your Aptitudes Help Define Your Blog’s Niche
Next, consider your talents.
Are you great at graphic design?
Are you a skilled writer?
I began asking myself this last question after thinking about how:
- My only As in college were in writing classes,
- I got a 770 on the English portion of the SAT and 700 on the writing
- And the only high school advanced placement tests I aced were the English language and literature exams.
Obviously, none of these things necessarily make me a skilled writer (or blogger).
But their sum total helped point me in the direction of writing as a potential skill for me.
More importantly, doing things you’re naturally good at will bring the greatest sense of fulfillment and will feel less like work.
For finding your aptitudes, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, recommends coming up with two things you’re moderately good at, then figuring out how you can overlap or combine these skills.
Interestingly enough, your skill level is probably in the top 1% in the world in this area of overlap.
For Scott, he realized he was a funny guy (not the funniest guy), and he was a skilled comic artist (not the best).
When he combined his comedy and artistic skills to create the comic Dilbert, he experienced incredible success.
Scott says that this combination technique works particularly well when you can combine public speaking with another one of your aptitudes.
Why is this?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 75% suffer from a fear of public speaking.
So right off the bat, you eliminate at least 75% of your competition if you can combine one of your aptitudes with public speaking.
I think Scott Adams’ observation of the effectiveness of combining one of your aptitudes with public speaking extends to any form of communication.
This is good news for the aspiring blogger who must combine his passions with communication whether that’s blogging through video, writing, audio/podcasting, or something else.
Here are some practical steps you can take to apply this wisdom from great entrepreneurs:
- Write down a list of your aptitudes or skills. If you’re having trouble brainstorming a list, the book and corresponding aptitude test, Strengths Finder.* I took the Strengths Finder test years ago and discovered that my number one strength is futurism. Knowing this has helped shaped my decision-making regarding careers. But before I took the test, that strength wasn’t necessarily clear to me.
- Ask your friends and family where they think you’re most skilled. Web entrepreneur Noah Kagan recommends this tactic saying your aptitudes are often painfully obvious to those who know you even when they aren’t to you. Remember, the better you know yourself, the more likely you’ll be able to channel that knowledge of your aptitudes into a profitable outcome.
- Consider skill combinations. Think about each pair or trio of skills on your list and how you might combine them in such a way where you’re excellent at their combination.
- Think about your assets. Also consider listing your “assets,” or things that aren’t really skills but are unique to your situation. Assets might include physical beauty, unique relationships (like having a personal relationship with Mark Zuckerberg), etc.
Now that you have a list of passions and a list of skills, you can start using the blog niche formula to brainstorm the best niche for you.
The Blog Niche Formula: Passion + Communication Skill = Blog Niche and Type
Here’s an example of how the blog niche formula played out for me.
These are a handful of my passions:
- Teaching others
- Time and location independence
- Freedom from the corporate lifestyle
And I’m skilled at research and writing.
This has resulted in me creating a (written) blog where I teach others to escape the corporate lifestyle through internet entrepreneurship by starting their own profitable blog from scratch.
FYI: It has taken me over 4 years of (mostly failed) entrepreneurship and 1 year of blogging for me to figure out my blog niche.
Mainly because I didn’t have this guide.
It’s taken me this long to study entrepreneurs, discover their methods, and synthesize that information into a guide like this post.
So don’t worry if brainstorming your niche is difficult or if you need to refine your niche as you continue to blog.
“But don’t I need to make sure I pick a blog niche that can make money!?”
The Profit Anywhere Blog is about how to build a profitable blog from scratch.
So you might think I’d be talking more about ensuring your blog’s profitability.
The reality is cultivating a loyal blog following is THE HARDEST (and most critical) aspect of creating a financially successful blog.
Once you have a loyal audience, monetization isn’t that difficult.
Don’t believe me?
Take it from blogging expert Neil Patel who built a health and fitness blog from scratch to 100,000 in monthly profit in under 2 years.
When he was just beginning this project, he said he had no idea how he was going to monetize his blog.
Instead, his primary concern was obtaining relevant traffic.
He knew that once his blog received significant traffic, he could monetize it.
In nearly every niche (even the ones that seem impossible to monetize), you can find a way to make money if you build a strong connection with your audience.
For instance, the minimalist niche might seem like one that’s impossible to monetize.
After all, minimalism revolves around reducing material possessions, not buying more of them.
Yet, Peter Adeney of mrmoneymustache.com earns $400,000 a year from his minimalism blog through affiliate links and sponsored content.
Maria Popova, the creator of brainpickings.com, is another example of someone who simply created the content she wanted to create and has successfully monetized her audience.
She writes about her philosophical musings and receives donations from her readers.
So don’t sweat monetization when considering your blog topic.
Just make sure that you are passionate about the content you create.
Remember this wisdom from Gary Vee:
“Doing what you love will make you the most money.”
“I have too many niches I’m passionate about! How do I pick just one?”
Remember, if you can define your niche in such a way that allows you to blog about multiple topics, this might not be an issue.
But you can back into your niche by creating content even before you have a blog.
How do you do this?
Just start writing articles about whatever you want to write about.
One post could be about health, the next could be about personal finance, and another could be about parenting.
Just let your passion/interests guide you in determining what subject to cover in each post.
After writing several articles (the more the better), choose your niche based on whatever subject matter you have written most about.
So if you have 15 articles about health, 8 about personal finance, and 7 about parenting, targeting the health niche is where you will most likely have success.
Because you will need to create a volume of content for whichever niche you target.
Whichever niche you can most easily create content for is the niche in which you will mostly likely have success.
And like I said, if you can figure out a way to define your niche such that it makes sense to talk about health, personal finance, and parenting, go for it!
I hope this guide has emphasized the importance of defining your blog’s niche.
And I hope I’ve given you some tools to help you define your blog’s niche.
What niches are you considering for your blog?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments!