Do you need a niche for your blog? What is a blog niche, you may even be asking? My short answer is yes, you need a niche. Read on to find out how to find your niche in 4 easy step.
Niche is a funny word. As a biologist in my former life, it has a lot of meaning for me.
It makes me think of Darwin, the Galapagos Islands and the finches that helped him develop his theory of natural selection. And those huge Galapagos tortoises. So cool. They can live to be like 170 years old!
In biology and ecology, niche refers to specialization. Darwin discovered that in the Galapagos islands, finches evolved with different shaped beaks to so they could take advantage of specific food sources.
In blogging, niche bloggers specialize by writing about a narrow topic that appeals to a specific group of readers.
A niche is a combination of 2 factors: your ideal reader and your focus. When you identify these, you’ll find your niche.
How a Niche Helps Your Blog
The word niche also makes me think about the survival of the fittest.
Blogging is competitive these days. There are millions and millions of blogs. And only so many readers. It may seem like a great idea to appeal to as many readers as possible but that’s actually the opposite of what you should do.
It’s much better to have content that some people love than content that no one loves. By being more specific, you have a greater chance that certain readers will be passionate about your topic and invest their time in reading your blog.
Think of writing for a broader audience as like writing a textbook. Niche blogging is more like writing for a glossy magazine. People hate paying for textbooks. But they’ll happily subscribe to receive a magazine month after month.
When blogging, you want readers to stop by to read an article (duh). They should love that article, it should speak to them. And they should stick around and read more articles that they connect with. This is your ideal reader.
Some readers won’t love what you’ve written. They ‘ll bounce and never come back.
But if you do it right, enough ideal readers will find your blog. They’ll become a group of loyal followers who visit your blog on the regular. And you’ll continue to attract more of your ideal readers and your blog will grow over time. An engaged, loyal reader is the holy grail of blogging.
“Rocking the Topicless Blog”
Some bloggers insist they do very well without a defined blog topic or blog niche, thank you very much.
There are definitely some blogs out there that post about pretty much every topic under the sun. However…however, when you take a deeper look, their content is targeted to a very specific ideal reader.
So, while their topic is broader than the Atlantic Ocean, they’re really rocking their niche, which is blogging to Millennials who live in big cities and love to drink artisan coffee…or whoever their target audience is.
The common theme here is that ideal reader. This is a profile every blogger should create for their blog.
Blog Topic vs. Blog Focus
Your blog topic is the broader subject (or subjects) that you write about.
When you say “I’m a fashion blogger” or “I blog about travel”, that is your topic. So, if you can say “I’m a ________ blogger”, you’ve just identified your blog topic.
But not every fashion or travel blog is created equal. It would be impossible to blog about everything travel-related on one blog! So, your travel blog will need a focus, a specific aspect of travel that you blog about. This will set you apart from other travel blogs.
Say you blog about traveling with children. And Jack blogs about traveling on the cheap. And Sam blogs about luxury travel in exotic lands.
Each of you blogs about travel but you focus on different subcategories of travel. This is your focus.
The Big Picture
But let’s get back to the overall picture. Your blog needs a topic (or topics). The topic is then narrowed into a more specific niche based on specific focus and ideal reader. This is what turns visitors into loyal followers.
Let’s chart this out:
topic → focus + ideal reader → niche
On this blog, my topic and niche relate specifically to my business.
I design pre-made blog themes and templates. My customers are bloggers. So, my topic is blogging.
But there’s more to it than that. I also have a focus and ideal reader that help me define my niche. More on that as we walk through the steps of finding your niche.
So, let’s tackle that big picture with the 4 steps to finding your blog niche!
The Steps to Finding Your Blog Niche
This is not one easy step, sorry, guys.
But we can break it down into 4 smaller steps (in case you’re starting to notice, yes, I love breaking things down into smaller bites).
Here’s that this looks like:
- Find your passion (topic)
- Narrow your focus
- Identify your ideal reader
- BAM, there’s your niche
Step 1: Find Your Passion
Your blog topic must be something you’re passionate about. You going to be writing 1-5 posts per week for years about this subject. Make sure it’s something you like to talk about or your blog has zero chance of survival.
The best way to find your passion is to write down a list of all the things you enjoy doing. Just brainstorm them out onto a piece of paper (or my handy dandy worksheet, available at the end of this post).
From professional topics such as finance to hobbies like gardening, you can blog about anything. Just make sure it’s something you know lots about or are willing to research and learn a lot more about.
Make sure your topic is something other people are going to want to read about as well. Think about topics you often talk about with friends. Look at blogs you like to read (don’t copy but give your own spin).
Type “gardening blogs” into Google and see what you come up with. If there are lots of blogs about your topic, chances are it’s going to do well. Yes, there will be competition, but better than a topic with zero interest.
Search for “blog about the mating habits of shrews” and I’m gonna guarantee you won’t find one single solitary blog dedicated solely to this topic.
Pick Your Blog Topic
Once you have that list, narrow it down and select a topic or a few that seem related, like organizing, cooking and saving money (these can totally go together with the right niche approach!). Now you have your topic(s).
Your topic at this point should be fairly broad. Fashion, travel, cooking, homeschooling, etc. Again, this is the term you’d use in a 4-word sentence like, “I’m a travel blogger” or “I blog about fashion”.
If you have an established blog with a topic already, great! You’re ¼ of the way to finding your niche. And I have a couple great tips for established bloggers on how to find a niche, so keep reading!
Step 2: Narrow Your Focus
OK, you’ve decided your life’s great passion is cooking and you’re ready to start your food blog. Huzzah!
But wait! Blogging about food, in general, is really broad and mission impossible unless you’re the Food Network. As a solo blogger (or even a couple bloggers) starting out, tackling that kind of mountain is like climbing K2 without a guide. Don’t. Do. It.
Now it’s time to narrow down your subject. Can you blog about food unique to your ethnic heritage? Or your homeland? Do you live a vegan, vegetarian or clean lifestyle? How about gluten free or celiac? Or just plain comfort cooking?
Fashion bloggers think about words that would describe your style. Is your style business casual or mommy chic? Young professional in the city? Or hot hipster?
For established bloggers, there are 2 great ways to narrow your focus by using feedback from your current readers:
1. Analytics. What are your top 10 or 20 most popular posts? Is there a trend in the subject of these posts? The posts your readers love most will give you a huge clue to the blog niche you should focus on.
2. Survey. Ask your readers what kind of posts they’d like to see. If you’ve got a mailing list, this is a great newsletter topic.
Time for an Example
I recently read a great story on the SumoMe blog about the food blog, A Sweet Pea Chef. The post was about sales funnels but what struck me was that this blog was struggling, pretty much making $0 blogging about all kinds of recipes in general, no real niche for the blog at all.
Then, they surveyed their readers and found they wanted more posts about clean eating. Looking at their analytics, they realized that the healthy recipes they’d posted were among their most popular.
With this new direction, they turned their blog around. They now turn a profit as well as show up in places like Food Network Magazine, Huff Post and Good Morning America.
Yeah, you need a niche.
Step 3: Ideal Reader
Ok, you’ve got your topic and narrowed your focus. Now, you need to define your ideal reader.
Your ideal reader is that person who stumbles across your blog on Pinterest. They read an article and then 4 more. They sign up for your newsletter. They’re thrilled every time your emails show up in their inbox announcing your latest posts. They buy your ebook and your planner. They. Love. You.
Ideal client/ideal reader is an idea borrowed from branding and marketing. But the concept works well for finding your niche, too. Your niche is about content. Your content is what you’re trying to sell. And you want to identify the people who will love your content so you know who to write for.
Create your Reader
Now that you have your focus, write a profile about the person your content would “speak to” the most. If you’re a women’s fitness blogger, are you writing for a stay-at-home mom who’s just had a baby or a busy middle-aged working mom?
Some people get super specific with their profiles. They give their ideal reader a name, gender, age, hometown, occupation, spouse, kids, pet, favorite color, etc. If that’s how you roll, go for it!
At least identify an age range for your reader and some general characteristics and interests.
For example, my ideal reader is a 25 – 55 years old (bear in mind not all readers will fit your profile and that’s super ok!). My ideal reader is also a woman because most of my customers are women.
My ideal reader has a full-time job but blogs on the side. Her dream is to monetize her blog and make enough money to pay for a fantastic vacation or someday quit her day job!
If you get a bit stuck, think of your ideal reader as a friend. Do you have a friend that you chat with about fashion or cooking or whatever you’re blogging about? That’s person is your ideal reader.
Step 4: BAM, that’s your niche
Ok, so you’ve got your topic, focus and ideal reader profile. Now, it’s pretty easy to translate those into your niche.
For example, my blog topic is blogging, my focus is blogging tips for Blogger and WordPress users and my ideal reader is the 25 to 55-year-old lady with a day job we talked about above.
So, translating this into my niche: “I blog about blogging tips for women bloggers who want to take their blog to the next level by growing and monetizing it.”
Well, that’s a mouthful.
A quick tagline it’s not, but it does give me a lot of focus when it comes to creating my content.
Am I going to write blogging tips for muscle car bloggers or gadget gurus? No, most of my readers are probably blogging about teaching, lifestyle, fashion, travel, books, cooking, women’s issues, etc.
One way I really use my niche and my ideal reader profile is to imagine each post as a conversation with my ideal reader. Is she going to be interested in what I’m saying? Will it help her solve a problem or answer a question she would have?
Writing to your niche
Now that you have our niche, a natural extension of that process is to organize your blog categories. So stay tuned because that’s where we’re headed next week as we revisit how to organize your blog the right way!
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