This is the first post in a four post series to help you with starting a blog. No matter whether you are an individual looking to write more and earn a little money on the side, or a business seeking to expand a content marketing strategy, you’ll benefit from our series. We’ll take you from stage zero to blog hero, and make sure that you understand the importance of having a niche, choosing the right blogging platform, crafting the perfect post, and getting found online.
So you’ve decided to join the world of bloggers – congratulations!
But where to start with starting a blog?
While starting a blog is the work of just minutes, building a blog that will attract visitors, provide leads for your business, and even provide you with a regular income is something very different, indeed. To develop this sort of blog you’ll need more than just a username and a password.
You’ll need a plan, and you’ll definitely need a niche.
In this post we’ll explain why you need to find a niche before you even consider getting online and we’ll give you tips on how to find a niche to blog about. We’ll even reveal our exclusive 30-minute method to move from ‘no idea where to get started’ to ‘ready to go’.
Are you ready to get going with starting your blog? Great – let’s go!
The Importance of a Niche for Starting a Blog
A quick Google search will confirm what you have always suspected: there is a blog about just about every topic under the sun.
There’s not a lot of overlap between blogs about organic gardening, public policy, and digital cameras, but believe it or not all successful blogs have two things in common.
First, there is a motivated person behind every one – the blogger.
And second, each blog has a specified niche.
When it comes to the first point, well, you have that covered. The blogger is you, or your marketing and content team, or a group of your friends. If you’re interested in starting a blog its reasonable to assume that you’re on-board with being a blogger or on a blogging team.
For the second, though, it’s the first and perhaps most important choice you’ll make about your blog. The niche you choose is important for three reasons:
It will define what you write about. The niche that you choose provides you with a clear topic and theme that you’ll write about consistently on your blog. You won’t be jumping from topic to topic, or writing about politics one day, sports the next, and baking the day after that. Your niche will set the tone for the work you’ll publish and the content that you create.
It will define the audience that you attract. Visitors to your blog will be people interested in the same niche as you. If you are targeted in your writing and if your posts are grouped around a specific subject, you’ll attract readers who share that same narrow interest. While a broader focus might attract a more diverse group of readers, they won’t find much reason to stay, or return.
It can allow you to monetize your blog in the future. Choosing a niche where there is a possibility to monetize your blog in some way in the future is a smart move, but it’s one that you have to make even before launching your blog. Whether you are an individual considering targeted advertising or affiliate marketing opportunities, or a business blog that wants to develop targeted and qualified leads, having a well-defined niche allows you to eventually monetize your blog to the benefit of yourself and your business.
So choosing a niche is important, and it should be a choice that you make before you launch your blog. But how do you choose a niche to blog about?
Three Tips for Choosing Your Niche
Choosing your niche is a personal or corporate decision and it will be driven by a number of factors. However, there are three tips that will make choosing (and maintaining) the niche you choose.
Start With Passion.
Blogging is not a hit-and-forget pursuit. You’ll need to post regular content about your niche on your blog every week, maybe even every day. This means that there is real value in choosing something that you care about, something that you can realistically remain motivated about in the long term. In short, you need something that you are passionate about. For a business this can be easy: ask yourself what your business does, what industry they work within, and what the company’s unique selling point is. Questions like this can help reveal the niche that a blogger or team of bloggers can remain passionate about. For an individual, try and identify the areas of your life where you find your passion, be it sports, the home, photography, a hobby, or a game.
Consider Your Expertise.
While it can be nice to start and manage a blog where you are learning along with the readers, your visitors will generally arrive looking for answers and expertise. If you have expertise in a certain area, taking advantage of that expertise in crafting your posts and building your blog can save you time, energy, and a lot of research. For a business blog, drawing on your expertise is a great way to highlight your products and services, and to demonstrate that you know a lot about your market. For individual bloggers it’s a matter of choosing something you know enough about to save yourself the time required for extensive research before every post. Writing about something that you already have expertise in won’t mean no research, but it will help you research less, and faster.
Review What You Already Read.
If you’re getting ready to launch your own blog you are almost certainly reading other blogs already. Take some time to think about the blogs that you enjoy reading, the ones that you return to every day or even every hour, and think about what they have in common. If they are all in the same niche then you have an idea of what you could target. On the other hand, if you are reading blogs about different niches then perhaps you’ll be able to identify what makes all of these blogs interesting to you and develop a niche at the nexus of these different blogs. For a business, look at what your competitors are blogging about and see what you can emulate or where you can innovate. For individuals, try grouping the blogs you read into categories and try and understand what niches these categories represent.
DOZ’s 30 Minute Method to Find Your Blogging Niche
On top of these three tips the team at DOZ has developed a 30 Minute Method for finding your niche. If you’re stuck for what to choose, or if you’re not sure that you are on the right path, this method can help you find the perfect niche for your blog.
A few caveats before we lay it out.
First, getting through things in 30 minutes is easy, but there’s nothing wrong with taking more time. Remember that you are looking for the raison d’être of your blog so, if you aren’t pressed for time, you can take longer.
Second, moving through some steps in this method more slowly than others might be useful. if you feel like you need to take a little longer at step one or step two, take the time.
Those aside, if you can’t wait to start blogging and are itching to get online, this method is made for you – in half an hour you’ll have a niche identified and can start thinking about the next steps in your blogging journey. Here’s how it is done.
Before You Start
We’re going to do this ‘old school’. Make sure you have a pen and paper close to hand and avoid using a tablet, smartphone, or computer instead. You are trying to get through this in just half an hour so you don’t want distractions pulling you aside for even a minute.
Make sure you are in a space where you can work uninterrupted for the next half hour – again, you don’t want to lose time to colleagues, kids, or ringing phones.
Finally, get yourself a timer or a watch. We’re going to move through the steps in 5 minute intervals so you’ll want to know when to move on.
0:00 to 5:00 – Passions on the Page
In this first five minutes you should get as many of your passions onto paper as you can. Let things flow, and don’t worry about making an ordered list. Whatever pops into your head is useful here, so don’t worry if you skip from sports to electronics, to your hobby and your work. There’ll be time to figure out how everything fits together later. Don’t worry, too, if you list seems to double-up on some things. If you end up with cooking, baking, kitchens, barbecuing, and picnics on the same list it is not a problem. Indeed, it might make it easier to find your way through the next step.
5:00 to 10:00 – Group the Passions
OK. So everything is on the page? Now it is time to order it up.
Look at the passions you have no your paper and see if you can group them together into some categories. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, and no need to rush: if you see electronics, technology, internet, and drones, group them together somehow. Circle them, highlight them in different colors, or re-write them in a list on a fresh sheet of paper. If a passion seems to fall into two categories, list it or connect it in both. Your goal here is to determine the categories you are passionate about, not to make independent lists of absolutely unrelated passions.
10:00 to 15:00 – Expertise
Back to brainstorming!
Just as you got your passions onto paper quickly, now you need to take a separate set of paper and get your expertise onto paper. Try and think about your expertise in terms of skills. Don’t just say you are an expert manager, for example; instead, think about ‘people skills’, ‘leadership’, ‘financial planning’, ‘project planning’, and ‘resource allocation’. If you enjoy watching football on television, make sure you are thinking in terms of ‘football tactics’, ‘play analysis’, ‘player reviews’, and ‘know everything about team X’. Again, don’t worry about the order – just get them down on the paper.
15:00 to 20:00 – Connect Expertise to Passions
Bring it together!
Look down at the two pieces of paper you have: one with the categories of passions and the other with your expertise. Now spend five minutes looking for ways that these cross over. You might be someone whose real expertise is in public speaking and leadership, but you are passionate about sports or technology. Look for ways to connect these such as, for example, coaching (leadership and sports) or TED talks (public speaking and technology). Keep your mind open, but an eye on the clock, too.
20:00 to 25:00 – What Do You Read?
Take a break from the introspection and think about others for five minutes!
On another sheet of paper see if you can map out the blogs and other websites that you read regularly. Don’t go into detail or describe them – the name will do – and, again, don’t try to categorize them: just get them down on paper. You’ll find that the ones that come to mind most quickly have something to do with the passions and expertise you’ve just listed out. This is entirely normal, and a result of your mind already starting to identify a theme or even a niche subconsciously. Avoid the temptation to refer to your computer or handheld device for clues from your browser bookmarks: if it’s not coming to the top of your mind it might not actually be that important to you after all.
25:00 to 30:00 – Make the Link
Now you have three pieces of paper: your passions in categories, your expertise with links to your passions, and an idea of what you like to read. Now your job is to see where the links are.
Do you have expertise in public speaking, enjoy technology, and like reading about great presentations on SlideShare? Make the link between these three things and you may have the seed of a niche.
Do you have leadership skills, are passionate about sports, and enjoy reading about heroic sporting heroes? Make the link – maybe you’ll be able to focus on telling grand stories about sporting heroes from teams you know well, or can be motivated to learn about.
In this final five minutes you’re trying to pull all your ideas together and see if there is a way to bring your passions, your expertise, and the writing you already enjoy together in a way that is unique.
30:00 – Your Niche in a Sentence
All of the rushed work of the last 30 minutes leads up to a final task. You now should see if you can describe your niche in just a single sentence. Try and make it elegant – and, OK, this is going to take more than a couple of minutes – and ensure that it explains what you’re interested in, why you are interested in it, what you’ll bring to the table, and what your blog will be about.
It’s a tough job, perhaps the toughest of all the steps, but when it’s done you’ll be able to reflect on the perfect idea for a niche blog.
And once you’ve done that, you can start thinking about how to put that idea into action.
Conclusion: Starting a Blog the Right Way
Determining the niche for your blog is an important first step for any blogger and getting this right is a key to starting a blog that will last in the long term. While focussing on broad tips is a good way to find your niche if you are really stuck, our 30 Minute Method is a fast and structured alternative for those who need a little more direction.
PS — Our eBook, The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging, is available for free. To get your copy simply enter your email in the box below and proceed to the download page.
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