I said in the last section that this article would take us to some different places. That’s true, but before we get to the fun stuff, I want to talk about something more basic: how to choose a niche and come up with a brand name.
What you might not know is that this is one of the most important things you need to do to be a successful blogger. Once you choose a brand (or don’t), your fate is set, so it’s very important to give this the time and attention it needs.
Choose Your Niche
First, you’ll decide what your niche will be. People have written whole books about how to do this, but I’m going to make it really easy for you by telling you that the niche you choose should be the thing you’re most interested in. That’s the end of the story.
You might object at this point and tell me that knitting, Marvel comics, or feng shui don’t make money. No matter what you’re interested in, you’ve probably been told that the big money is in health and fitness or in money.
Put that thought out of your mind and write what you know and love. This is critical because you will be working on it for hours every day for years.
If you want to be a TOP blogger—and keep in mind that we’re not talking about a small side gig—you need to put in the time and know the subject matter like the back of your hand. You will also have to write this content yourself, which is another reason why it should be something you understand and love.
Many people choose a niche they are only somewhat interested in because they think it will make them money. Then they hire a writer to put content on the site and wait for it to grow. It never works out. You might make some money from it, but you won’t become a “top blogger.”
Why? This strategy won’t bring anything new to the table and won’t show who you are. Say you want to write about fitness. To have a top blog, you need to either provide the most complete and accurate information out there, making you a top resource, or come up with new ideas that no one else has thought of.
You need to give your own unique take on the topic and offer interesting insights and ways of looking at things that other people won’t have thought of. All of this needs to be done in your own voice and in a way that shows people who you are and makes them want to come back to your site. If you hire a writer, even the best writer in the world will give you boring, generic content. Since they are writing for someone else, they won’t use their own voice, and they won’t add anything completely new.
They are not experts in that niche because they are writers. Even if they were experts in that field, they wouldn’t want to give you ideas that were too new, too controversial, or too unique because they’d think you wanted to sound like you. In other words, they can’t “put words in your mouth.” You can only bring something new to the table if you write it yourself. And you can only do that if you know and understand the subject well. And we haven’t even talked about how much you have to care about the subject to spend that much time on it without getting bored and moving on.
How to Hone in on a Smaller Niche
But what do you do if you know you can’t succeed in the niche you’ve chosen? What if it’s too small or too big?
A too-big niche could be something like “bodybuilding.” This is a huge market niche, and huge amounts of money are constantly poured into it. If you want to start a blog about bodybuilding, you’ll be up against some big, well-known brands. Some of these will be like Bodybuilding.com!
So, you need to ask yourself if you really think you can compete with a site like Bodybuilding.com, which spends thousands or millions of dollars every day on advertising and already has a huge number of regular readers. How can you stand out from all those other people? One solution is to narrow your niche and make it more specific. What is a part of the niche of bodybuilding that you can make your own? I’ve seen whole blogs about how to work your calves. They were written for people who didn’t like how big their calves were.
If that’s the only thing you care about and that’s where you put all your effort, you can compete with bodybuilding.com in that one way. But a better example might be to target a certain group of people. That could mean fitness for people who are overweight, older, women, students, moms, or business owners. “Nerd Fitness” is one of my favourite blogs that do well. Nerd Fitness is a fitness blog for smart people. This gives it a very specific place in a larger market and lets it compete with much bigger names.
You can also combine a niche with other topics and ideas to make it bigger. In a way, nerd fitness does this because the idea gives the blogger the freedom to write about other things, like nerd culture. The Art of Manliness is another example. The author of this blog writes about everything he thinks is “manly,” from health and fitness to fashion to how to smoke a cigar. It is a very broad idea that is also completely unique in its own way.
If your niche is too narrow, you can try this. If you really want to write about “Sonic the Hedgehog,” that probably isn’t a big enough niche for you to make money on your own. So why not try something new and add some other video games you like? Geekdom101 is a YouTuber who started out blogging about Dragon Ball Z. Now, he blogs about other movies, TV shows, and games as well, making his brand much more valuable.
Also, if you’re interested in bonsai and want to make the topic a little bigger, you could write about some other things you like that are related. Maybe something about Japanese culture, gardening, art, philosophy, or painting?
In this way, you’re starting to make a brand out of your niche by coming up with a very unique topic and tone that helps you find your own audience while writing about things that really interest you.
Route to Market
When you’re coming up with ideas for your blog, you also need to think about your “route to market.” That means you need to think about how you will get people to read your blog. At first, your blog won’t make you a lot of money. You might be able to sell a product, but you’ll need to get a lot of people interested in it first. In the same way, AdSense and other display ads won’t make you much money until your site gets a lot of visitors.
So, you probably can’t pay for advertising in the first place, which means you need to find ways to market yourself for free. A “route to market” is a direct way to reach the people you want to reach. Your “persona” is the made-up person for whom your site was made. You need to know what kind of person this is and where to find them. You also need a free way to get in touch with them.
When you are thinking about your niche, you should also think about how you will reach your market. Don’t start a blog and then stress about how to get people to read it. For instance, you could ask yourself if you are already a trusted member of any online communities. These are great places to put up free ads and get some attention. Or, do you know of any good Google+ communities or forums where you can post?
Before you spend too much time making a blog, make sure there is an audience and that you can reach that audience.