A successful blog must attract an engaged audience that keeps coming back for more, and one of the easiest ways to get such an audience is to find the right niche for your blog. Once you’ve got a niche targeted, it’s easier to organize content, tailor your social media engagement and focus your search engine efforts for long tail results.
But if you’re just starting out, or running a blog that’s extremely general, how do you find the right niche? These tips will help you discover and focus your blog to drive more traffic.
Find and fill a need.
Ever think, “I wish someone would invent…”? That’s called a need, and it’s how many successful businesses are started. The same is true of blogs. If you’ve found yourself wondering where and how you could get information or resources online about a particular topic, you may have found an available niche. Take the site USA Love List, who’s mission is to find high quality products that are made or assembled in the U.S. Founder Sarah Wagner started the site because she thought stylish made-in-USA products “were an interesting, important and mostly unfilled niche. I attribute our growth to the fact that we are offering info that people genuinely want but need our help to find.” That is the key: create a blog based around hard-to-find information that people need. Sample subjects that offer opportunities for a niche topic include support sites for rare diseases or conditions, alternative health news and information, and technology subjects for non-techies. The key is to think outside the box for topic, but make sure you have the demand.
Be passionate about the subject yourself.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to want to get up and blog every day or every week about a topic that only mildly interests you. When considering a niche, think about the topics that fire you up. Not only will that motivate you to keep on top of news, trends and important people on the scene, odds are it will have some aspect of controversy – and that is great for building traffic. Whether it’s homeschooling in New York City, barely legal car customization, or celebrity wardrobe malfunctions, your topic needs to engage people in way that will make them want to keep coming back to hear your opinion.
Make sure your topic has staying power.
While controversy is great, it doesn’t ensure that your topic will be here next week. For example, if you’re very passionate about Vine and start a blog centered around it, when that falls out of fashion, you’ll be out of content. It’s better idea to focus on a more a general topic, such as“cutting edge social media trends” or “image apps that rock.” That way, if a fad falls out of fashion, your blog can still keep a lookout for whatever replaces it.
If you’re having trouble with topic that more than just a fad, you can put a twist on a popular topic to make it your own. Improving traffic or writing skills are subjects with plenty of life in them but require a fresh spin. You can focus on quick and easy tips bloggers, for example, such as this post, “21 Quick Actions for Blog Success” by Corbett Barr.
John Paul Aguiar’s “The Money Dummy Blog” takes on the highly popular topic of improving your blog by helping readers avoid mistakes and blog like a pro, with articles like “8 Dummy Proof Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog.” There will be plenty of content to share for years to come but a new angle helps him to stand out from the pack.
Is your topic regional or available anywhere?
Your blog can be focused around a location or around a topic that is covered anywhere. It’s important to determine which it is, because that will affect driving your traffic.
If you are regional, take advantage of tightening your niche within your location. For example, if you are a hair stylist in Clearwater Beach, Florida, you can blog about how to care for your hair in humid weather, what styles are hot in and around the beach, and protection from the sun. In addition, local news sources can be critical for gathering information. Regional events in your niche are a great place to hand out business cards about your blog and make connections, as well as providing events to write about. Contact and partner with local companies to share information with and about each other to further spread the word. In addition, do not overlook larger regions to focus your niche: your state, the U.S., English speaking countries, etc. – again, USA Love List is a great example of U.S as a region.
If your topic is not location-specific, keep in mind that you will not have the benefit of optimizing your site regionally and will need to find another way to target your search engine efforts. If your topic is not regionally centered, do not overlook the power of in-person marketing at events you can get to. For example, a local-based food event will not draw audiences nationwide, but one that features national brands will be.
Make sure there is enough content available.
If this is a topic that few people blog about, this is your chance to educate others about it, but you can’t do that unless there is information that is ongoing and available. In addition, your topic should lend itself to other, closely related subjects, giving you content created by others that will benefit your readers – a great way to use social media in a complementary fashion. For example, a blog about amazing apps for children can lend itself easily to posts and content about technology in education, video games and children, and hot new devices your kids will want.
Draw on your own history.
There is probably something that you’re an expert on that no one quite does the way you do. Or perhaps you have a background that crosses unusual disciplines – math and art, for example, or biology and engineering. Whatever the case, think back on your own history, from your education to your work experiences to travel – anything you can think of where you learned something that stuck with you. These can be great starting point for niche topic ideas. Writer Kristi Hines has a solid background writing, blogging, social media and marketing that allows her to produce great content like “How to Create a Killer Blog Community.”
Research your niche idea.
Once you’ve got a few ideas for niche topics, how can you tell if people are interested in them? Even if your topic has staying power, if no one is really interested enough to search for and use this content, you are wasting your time. Avoid this blunder by doing some research. Find groups and forums that cover your topic or something close to your topic and find what people are seeking.
Look for hashtags on subjects that complement your topic, and ask around on Twitter and Facebook for this information. Follow discussions on LinkedIn or join groups to see what people are seeking out and not finding enough information about. If you’re a member of a targeted group or forum that features your desired audience, ask about the niche you are considering and gage their interest level. Finally, Google the topic to see what other sites are out there that are competitively covering this information, and address what’s lacking at those sites.
What if I already have a blog?
You can easily change an existing blog into a niche blog. I’ve been running Mom-Blog since 2003 and, in the last year, I’ve changed it to focus more on helping kids with disabilities through special diets. Now, Mom-Blog frequently tops Google’s search for the term “gluten free,” and my client list includes advertisers that are almost exclusively organic, healthy and allergen-free foods and products. The key is to make sure your new niche does not wildly delineate from your current blog topic. In fact, it should be something that your audience is already interested in. (If not, you’ll probably want to just start a new blog.) Now take your current topic and gently steer it towards your newly found niche by writing about it and sharing relevant content. (Social media will help you in a big way here!) Give it some time and be sure to court new readers. In fact, you may want to re-launch your blog with a new design or logo that matches your new niche in order to inform readers of the change.
These steps will go a long way in helping you craft a niche blog that can target readers and future customers, and help to grow your blog community.
Gina Badalaty is the owner of Embracing Imperfect, a blog devoted to encouraging and assisting moms of children with special needs and restricted diets. Gina has been blogging about parenting, raising children with disabilities, and allergy-free living for over 12 years. She’s blogs at Mamavation.com, and has blogged for major brands like Silk and Glutino. She also works as a copywriter and brand ambassador. She loves engaging on social media, travel and cooking gluten-free.