Choosing a blog niche is one of the most important decisions you have to make when starting a blog.
You’re essentially answering the question: what is the main topic of my blog?
Your blog niche sets the foundation for the content you’ll write, the audience you’ll attract, and how you’ll make money (assuming your goal is to monetize your blog). As you can see, the success of your blog depends largely on the niche you choose. It’s kind of important.
Maybe you have no idea what niche is best for you or you’re trying to decide between two niches. In this post, you’ll learn about how to choose a blog niche that you’re excited about and also has a high probability of making money.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links as explained in my disclosure policy.
Do you really need to choose one niche?
First, let’s address a common question new bloggers have: is it necessary to choose just one niche? The answer is a resounding YES. The blogosphere is increasingly saturated and competitive nowadays, with over 600 million blogs on the internet. Blogs that focus on a broad set of topics, from food to travel to personal development, could do well in 2010. They just don’t cut it anymore.
If you want to blog as a hobby, then you can write about anything under the kitchen sink. However, if your goal is to make money, then you need to choose a specific topic that all your content will revolve around. To drive this point home, I’m going to outline the specific reasons why focusing on one niche is a must if you’re starting a blog today.
1. It establishes expertise and trust
Writing about one topic or a group of related topics in depth helps you establish yourself as an expert. Your blog becomes the go-to resource for that particular topic. The most successful blogs today are known for one thing. For instance, The Bump is all about pregnancy and parenthood. Every single post on the site is related to getting pregnant, prenatal care, and taking care of a baby. As a result, The Bump is one of the most popular resources for first-time moms. It answers every possible question an expectant mother could have, from what to expect during each trimester of pregnancy to what to name the baby.
Imagine if The Bump covered pregnancy as well as personal development, fitness, travel, and food. Would it have the same credibility with new moms? Of course not. It’s hard to be an expert on so many different topics. By focusing on writing in-depth about one topic, you establish expertise and build trust with your target audience.
2. It helps you grow your readership faster
Want to drive lots of visitors to your blog quickly? Solve a specific problem for a specific group of people. You understand this group of people thoroughly, speak their language, and address their questions better than anyone else.
I saw this firsthand with my first blog, Somto Seeks, a travel blog. I started out by writing about travel in general, covering tips for traveling around the world. Growth was painfully slow in the beginning. So I paused and critically thought about what regions and topics and I knew the most about. Who could I best serve based on my knowledge and experiences?
That’s when I narrowed my focus down to travel in Southern Europe – particularly Spain – from the lens of a black solo female traveler. I had lived in Spain for a year so I could write about it for years.
I narrowed my audience to black female solo travelers who were looking for advice on navigating Europe. I know this may seem very niche, but there is a surprising number of black female solo travelers out there. I could answer their questions about topics like racism, hair, and safety in a way that few other travel bloggers could. Within six months, my traffic grew from 25,000 to nearly 80,000 page views.
3. It’s essential for search engine optimization
Traffic is the lifeblood of any blog. To put it differently, traffic is to a blog what tenants are to a landlord. With traffic, you don’t have a business. When it comes to getting organic traffic from Google, having a niche is critical. It all comes down to one factor: relevance.
Google ranks and displays websites on search results based on relevance. That simply means: is the content of your site related to the keyword someone is searching for on Google? Notice that when you search for something like ‘pasta recipe,’ the top results are food blogs. That’s because Google has indexed those sites and knows that their posts focus on food. It wants to give users the most relevant results to satisfy them and keep them coming back.
A site that focuses on personal development would find it next to impossible to rank for pasta recipes, even if the blogger shares a brilliant pasta recipe. That’s why it’s not a good idea to write about widely different topics on one blog nowadays. Relevance has become more important than ever because of the sheer number of blogs on the internet today – 600 million. The more focused your blog is, the better it will perform on Google search results for relevant keywords. I highly recommend the course Stupid Simple SEO if you’d like to learn more about building a relevant site that ranks highly on Google
4. It makes planning your content easier
Having a niche is also beneficial when it comes to planning content for your blog. Brainstorming blog post ideas and doing keyword research becomes a streamlined process. You don’t have to decide between a multitude of different ideas. You have a narrower set of topics to choose from, which simplifies the decision-making process. Also, each post naturally builds on the next. For instance, I wrote this post before writing How To Choose a Blog Name. Someone who just decided on a blog niche would naturally want to know what to name their blog.
How narrow or broad should your niche be?
When you’re starting a blog, you want to choose one topic or a group of related topics that you can write about with authority. Not only that, but you also want to ensure you can write about this topic for a long time without getting bored or running out of ideas.
Let’s say you start a blog about eco-friendly yoga mats. How long could write about eco-friendly yoga mats before running out of ideas? Now, let’s say you start a blog about yoga for beginners. You can write about yoga mats, yoga poses, yoga classes, yoga retreats, and other yoga-related topics. You’re still focused on one topic, but you give yourself the leeway to write about a range of ideas.
After you’ve established your blog, you expand your niche to other topics. For instance, you can start a fashion blog and write exclusively about footwear. Then, after establishing your credibility as a shoe expert, you may find out that your audience also wants to learn about other types of fashion. Then you can gradually add other topics to your site – activewear, workwear, beachwear, and more. It’s better to start with a narrow topic, establish credibility, and then expand to other topics.
One blog that has successfully executed this strategy is The Spruce. It started out as a home decor and gardening site and became an authority in that niche. Then it expanded to other categories: food, pet care, and arts and crafts.
Choosing a blog niche: 5 questions to ask yourself
1. What am I knowledgeable about?
To build an authority site, it helps to have a good base of knowledge and experience with your niche topic. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, as many new bloggers mistakenly believe. For instance, if you want to start a blog about personal finance, you don’t need to have written a New York-Times Best Selling personal finance book. You just need to be one step ahead of your target audience. If you’ve taken a couple of investing courses and created a portfolio, you’re a few steps ahead of a beginner investor.
A good way to discover the topic you know the most about is to ask yourself this question: if I could give a keynote speech at a major conference about one topic, what would it be? This will get you to critically think about not only what you know, but also what’s important to you. Knowledge doesn’t just come from reading books, but also from life experience.
Maybe you went through a struggle to lose weight after giving birth and discovered some weight loss strategies for new moms. Maybe you paid off your student loans in 2 years and developed a great system for budgeting. These are experiences that others can learn and benefit from.
There is usually a trail of clues about what you’re good at. Think back through your childhood.
What subjects did you excel at in school? What function do you currently do at your job? What do your friends and family typically ask me for advice on? Take some time to reflect on these questions. They hold some major clues to the ideal blog niche for you.
2. Is there an audience for this niche?
You may be knowledgeable and passionate about collecting seashells, but it doesn’t mean people want to read about it. For your blog to succeed, you need to attract a constant stream of readers. That means that there have to be enough people out there who care about your blog niche. That’s why it’s important to find out if there’s an audience for your topic before you start a blog. How do you find out if there is an audience for your niche? There are simple methods to research your niche:
Do a Google search for best [insert niche] blogs
A simple way to get a sense of whether there’s an audience for your niche is to do a quick Google search. Type in ‘best [insert niche] blogs to see what results come up. Are there many blogs coming up in the results or only a few? For instance, if you search for ‘best solo female travel blogs’ you’ll find plenty of results and one post that lists 100 blogs. That’s a good sign. If there are already so many bloggers in this niche, then that must mean there is an audience for it.
On the other hand, if you search for “best hitchhiking blogs” there aren’t as many results. There is one post that lists 10 blogs, some of which aren’t exclusively about hitchhiking. This indicates that hitchhiking may be too narrow a niche. There might not have a big enough audience.
Enter your blog niche ideas into Google Trends
Google Trends is a free tool that shows you the popularity of keywords that people are searching on Google. It is a great tool to research your blog niche ideas. Google Trends allows you to answer two questions:
- Are people searching for your niche?
- Is the interest in this keyword decreasing or increasing?
Let’s take a look at an example. If you wanted to start a blog about vegan recipes, you would enter the keyword vegan recipes into Google Trends.
As you can see from the chart, vegan recipes is a popular search term that is trending upward overall, despite some dips. That’s a good sign.
Search for your blog niche ideas on Pinterest
Google is not the only search engine to consider when evaluating the potential of your blog niche ideas. Pinterest, a visual search engine with over 200 million users, is a popular traffic source for bloggers. It’s especially popular for the following niches:
- Home decor
- Food and drink
- Health and wellness
- Arts and Crafts
If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, you can sign up for one for free. Doing this Pinterest exercise is especially important if you plan to use Pinterest as one of your traffic sources. You’re validating that your blog niche idea can perform well on Pinterest.
Once you sign into Pinterest, head over to the search bar and enter your niche keyword. For instance, if you enter the keyword “budget fashion” Pinterest will show you all the keywords related to budget fashion that users are searching for, such as:
- Budget fashion outfits
- Budget fashion blogger
- How to look rich on a budget
Those keywords are displayed in the circular boxes right below the search bar. If there’s a long display of boxes when you search for a keyword, it means that Pinterest users are interested in that topic. On the other hand, if you search for a keyword and there are few results, it means that the topic is not popular on Pinterest.
Use Buzzsumo to discover the most shared content in your niche
Buzzsumo is a website that lets you see the most shared content on the internet for any keyword. It aggregates the number of shares that posts have received on social media. Then it displays the content in order of the highest number of total shares.
By looking at the most popular content in the blog niches you’re considering, you get an idea of the potential of those niches. For instance, let’s say, you’re thinking about starting a blog about the keto diet. A search on Buzzsumo shows you that the top 10 posts about the Keto diet are getting between around 9,000 to 35,000 shares.
Let’s compare that to the Paleo diet. Buzzsumo shows that the top 10 posts about the Paleo diet are getting betweren 215-2.1k shares on social media.
If you’re debating between those two topics, the Keto diet would have an edge because it’s proven to be more popular. Buzzsumo only allows 10 free searches per day, but you can start a free trial to do more searches.
3. Can I make money writing about this niche?
Not only do you need to attract an audience to your site, but you also need to make sure that your audience:
- Has buying power
- Is looking to spend money
It wouldn’t make sense to create a blog targeted at broke college students because, well, they aren’t likely to spend any money. They’re probably looking for free information, and that’s okay. If your plan is to make money with your blog, though, its best to target a niche that has a proven track record of making money for other bloggers. It’s as simple as that. If there’s no evidence that you can make money from your niche, you should definitely look at other options. How do you know whether a niche can make you money?
Research how other blogs in your niche make money
Bloggers typically make money in four ways: ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and their own digital products. The opportunities for making money vary by niche. By researching how bloggers in the niches you’re considering make money, you can get a sense for how you too can monetize your blog.
Some niches have a higher traffic potential than others, and it all comes down to consumer behavior. For instance, health and wellness is a necessity for people so they are more likely to prioritize researching and spending money on organic food, exercise programs, and other means of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Accordingly, blogs in the health and wellness niche have a higher traffic potential than, let’s say, the travel niche. This is because travel is a luxury for most people.
Health and wellness blogs tend to get accepted into high-paying ad networks like Mediavine and Adthrive with relative ease. Niches like personal finance and online business have an abundance of high-ticket affiliate marketing opportunities – such as online courses and digital software. Take the time to evaluate the income potential in the niches you’re considering to help you narrow down your choice.
Read income reports
Bloggers sometimes publish income reports that detail how they earned money each month. In the beginning of my blogging journey, I would study these reports frequently to understand how other people were monetizing their blogs. This gave me ideas about what products to promote and what activities to focus my energy on. If you want to get a sense of how bloggers in certain niches make money, reading their income reports is a direct way to do that. I should note that bloggers who publish income reports tend to be highly successful so you should take the information they provide with a grain of salt. It will not be representative of how much bloggers in that niche as a whole earn.
Here are some examples of blog income reports
- Personal Finance – Making Sense of Sense June 2018 Income Report
- Online Business – Adam Enfroy May 2020 Income Report
- Motherhood – Mommy on Purpose December 2016 Income Report
Check for relevant affiliate programs
Affiliate marketing is recommending the products of other companies in exchange for a commission on each sale. It’s one of the most popular strategies for blog monetization. One way to understand the income potential for the niches you’re considering is to check for relevant affiliate programs. For instance, you can search ShareASale, an affiliate network with thousands of affiliate programs, for products you already use. That’s a good place to start when it comes to affiliate marketing – recommending products you already use and trust.
As you research affiliate programs, you want to ask yourself these questions:
- What are the commissions for those products?
- How many products would I have to sell to hit my intended income goal?
- Are there other bloggers in your niche who have had success promoting those products?
4. How much competition is there in this niche?
Competition is good. It means that there’s opportunity in the niche. Too much competition, on the other hand, is not so good. Some niches are so competitive that it would be difficult to stand out. The solution here is to niche down further and target an narrower audience. For instance, starting a successful personal finance blog that covers everything from budgeting to investing would prove to be a Herculean task nowadays. There are so many big, established names in this niche. A better approach would be to focus on a specific problem, like improving your credit score, paying off debt, or budgeting in your 20s.
5. Can I write about this niche for the next two years?
Given that most bloggers quit within six months, this is a very important question to ask yourself. When you first start a blog, everything is new and exciting. You may post 2-3 times a week and consistently promote your blog on social media. But can you maintain the same level of discipline and enthusiasm for two years? Are you curious enough about the blog niche to keep learning about it year after year? If not, then you’re probably choosing the wrong niche.
There are so many blogs that start out strong and then gradually fizzle out. Blogging is a long-term commitment. If you can’t see yourself writing about a niche for at least two years, then it’s best to go back to the drawing board and research other niches. Keep doing research until you find a niche that
- You can write about consistently
- Has a proven track record of making money
Validating your blog niche: final steps
You’ve done your research and narrowed down your options to one or two blog niches. Before you commit, there are a few more steps you can take to solidify your choice.
Interview 5-10 members of your target audience
One of the best ways to learn about your niche is to talk directly with members of your target audience. You can hear in their own words about their pain points, interests, likes, dislikes, goals, and other pertinent information. Remember that your audience is your blog. The more information you know about your audience, the better you can write posts to meet their needs.
How do you find members of your audience to interview? First, look at your existing network – friends, family, coworkers, former classmates, and acquaintances. Chances are you know people who fit your ideal reader profile. Reach out to them to grab coffee or for a quick phone call.
Secondly, find Facebook groups where your target audience hangs out. Simply go to Facebook > Groups and enter the keyword that identifies your target audience. Then you’ll see a list of hundreds, if not thousands of groups. Join a couple of groups and message active members to tell them that you’re doing research about your niche topic. Then ask them for a quick call. Even strangers are more than willing to talk to you for 15 minutes. Make sure to record the call or take notes. You’ll uncover a gold mine of information that will serve you throughout your blogging journey.
Brainstorm at least 50 blog post ideas
Sit down, grab a pen and paper, and write down every idea blog post idea related to your niche that comes to mind. This is a brain dump exercise. Aim to come up with at least 50 blog post ideas. That’s the bare minimum. You can go up to 100 if you can. The goal is to ensure that you have enough ideas to keep writing about your blog niche for at least the next two years. If you have a hard time coming up with post ideas, you may want to go back to the drawing board.
There you have it. Choosing the perfect niche for your blog is a rigorous process that will prove rewarding in the end. With careful research and consideration, you can find a niche that you write about for years and also make good money.