In my post “Blogging for Business - Blogs are like Puppies” I introduced you to some of the main benefits of blogging. Today I am starting a mini series about how to get started with blogging:
Part 1: Find Your Blog Topic
Some people say that blogging is dead and that social media has killed it. However, they are wrong. In fact blogging is often the backbone for many businesses. Blogging allows you to generate influence, build your authority and cultivate relationships with your clients and customers, while reaping the benefits of making a living doing something you, hopefully, love.
Choose your blog topic with care
FACT: 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable type of content marketing. (Source: Content Plus)
FACT: Company websites with blogs get 55% more visitors (Source: Content Plus)
FACT: 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (Source: HubSpot)
FACT: Most people read 5-10 blogs. (Source: HubSpot)
So what is a blog really? A blog is an online website that has entries known as posts that appear from last entered to first in chronological order. Blogs feature comments from their readers, links to other sites and products and interaction with social media platforms. The format of blog posts can be written, images, videos, audios or any combination of these. Most blogs are created using specific software such as WordPress or Blogger.
There are many reasons people blog. Probably the original reason was to express thoughts and opinions, and that’s still a popular reason to blog. People also blog when they have something they want to market or promote, such as for a business or yourself.
Another reason is to help other people in similar situations as you, such as in parenting or health-related blogs. Or you might want to blog to establish yourself as an expert for your topic.
You could start a blog to connect with like-minded people. Or to make a difference in a cause you are passionate about, like social or environmental issues.
A good many blogs are created to make money by promoting products or services as well as other income-generating activities.
Other people simply blog as a creative outlet and to have fun. They may dedicate their blog to a particular actor or hobby.
Just about anything you want to know can often be found online in a blog. Not all of these blogs are profitable; some are just for information, some for non-profit.
If you’re like many new bloggers, you are most likely wanting to make your blog profitable. You need to know, though, that not all topics will be profitable. It’s best to do some research before you jump in with writing posts. You’ll want to see if there are people spending money in your niche.
You don’t want to be a copycat niche either. You’ll want to develop your own unique voice that people will listen to and come back for more.
Finally, you need to know what your unique selling proposition is, so people will instantly recognize your brand.
Don’t panic. All these things are easily accomplished. This article will help you with the blogging brainstorming for finding a profitable topic, developing your voice and ways to determine your unique selling proposition.
Finding Your Topic
You know you want to share your knowledge with others. You’re passionate about your topic and want to tell everyone about it. But will anyone read your content? How do you know if what you are passionate about will be well received and profitable?
Or maybe you don’t know what topic you want to pursue. In that case, how do you choose what to blog about?
First let’s get the basics down.
What is a niche or topic?
The niche is basically what your blog is about. It’s for a specific group of people sharing something in common. Your niche can be very broad, like health in general, or it can be very tight such as preventing high blood pressure in women over 50. There is no right or wrong niche. Your niche is what best fits you, your personality and your passions.
Examples of broad niches:
Health and fitness
Examples of tight niches:
How to make money after you retire
Living a Christian life for families
Health and fitness for busy executives
Vegetarian recipes for families
Exploring disc golfing
Minimalist decorating for twenty-somethings
How do you find a niche?
There are several ways to choose your ideal niche or business topic:
- Your passion, hobby or personal interest is the most popular way. The common advice is to “do what you love” or what you are passionate about. It might be something you already love doing, like knitting, or something that you want to learn to do, like golf.
Everyone has something they do for fun. It might be a unique as collecting Elvis memorabilia. Or you might love searching for the best deals on electronics or love doing do-it-yourself projects around the house. The list is unlimited on passions.
Make a list of all the things you love to do or would love to learn how to do. This is for the things that make you giddy, the things you would do 24 hours a day if you could, or the things that you get so involved in you lose track of time. Do you love to play sports? Do you love to talk about the latest fashions? Do you love to dress up your Pomeranian? Get creative and dig deep.
- You professional expertise or experience is another great option, if you aren’t burned out from doing it already. Maybe you already have a field of expertise you enjoy. Are you a doctor, accountant or a chef? Have you won awards for your creative writing? What are you good at or a have certifications in?
Make a list of your skills and expertise even if you don’t particularly love doing them. Do you have a certificate in graphic design? Do you have a knack for negotiating?
- Your ideal lifestyle or dream can be turned into a blog. What would you love to do if time, money and obligations weren’t an issue? This can be a fun niche topic. Make a list of all the things you would love to do. Maybe you want to travel across Europe exploring castles. Or you have passion to build a log home by hand. Whatever you have always dreamed of, list it.
- Identify your strengths. What are you good at? Are you funny? Do others turn to you for advice about certain topics? Does everyone say you’re the best at creating stunning dinner parties? Are you an excellent photographer? Do you get compliments on your fashion sense?
- Browse through and study blogs you regularly visit. Make a list of them and what they all have in common. Are they all fashion blogs? Food blogs? Or is there a certain lifestyle coming through on each of them? What is it about each one that keeps you returning?
- Look at magazines at the checkout counter of your grocery store, or check out magazines.com. These magazines are all good ideas for niches. The niches attract enough readers to make it worth spending money to publish the magazines and keep them in business.
- Think about what you could talk about endlessly. You’ve already created a long list of things you love to do or are good at. Look at that list and think about what you could talk about forever. Do you love talking about being a parent and the shenanigans of your kids? Or maybe you love talking about your dog’s obedience training. If you can’t see yourself talking about it forever, then cross it off your list. Is the topic something where you already have tons of article topics swirling around in your thoughts? If so, that one might be a good possibility for your blog’s niche.
Will It Be Profitable?
You should have a list of possible topics now. You are ready to begin. But wait − how do you know they will be profitable? Is every topic going to be a money maker? The answer is maybe. If you can get people to read it and build a relationship with those readers, you can probably monetize it. But will it be profitable?
- Go to Amazon.com and search through the categories and subcategories. These categories are all hot topics that you can build a niche around. The subcategories are a great way to narrow down a broad niche and to see what people are buying. For example if you want to have a blog in the health and fitness niche, browse through Amazon’s categories until your find a narrower topic like this:
- Use a keyword tool to search for possible topics. In the search box, enter the broad niche or your favorite keyword. For example Siberian Husky dogs, organic foods or science fiction. Then look at the search terms to narrow your topic. These tools let you see how often your search term is searched for, giving you a look at how popular it is.
- Are there products and books on the topic? If there are multiple angles and different subtopics on the niche in books, that’s a good sign people are buying in the niche. Also browse the web for blogs and websites dedicated to your chosen niche. Do the top blogs have lots of activity and comments, and a social media presence?
- Do you see a true need or problem you can solve within your niche? It will be hard to make the blog profitable if there aren’t needs or problems you can help solve.
Blogs are about content. If you love something, but can’t see yourself writing about it day after day, you need to consider another niche. Your blog topic needs to be something you won’t get bored with soon. Chances are you will be contributing to your blog for the next two, three or five years or more. But it has to be something you can make a profit with as well.