If you are in the process of deciding about your new site or blog, you will want to know how to choose a niche for a blog. This is a big and essential decision because you will spend years on it. So make sure you choose wisely, and think in long terms.
What is a content or niche website
To make things clear from the beginning, this is about sites or blogs that are built assuming that the traffic will be organic, through search engine optimization (SEO). If your plans are about a site based on a paid traffic, you will have to search for some other source to read more.
But what is a niche in the first place?
I am not an expert in linguistic and semantics, and this is not my native, so it is best to see what some authority says about it. Here is what you can find in Meriam-Webster dictionary:
Obviously, for the purpose of this post, the first two meanings are relevant. So you realize, a niche site is supposed to cover topics that are of interest for you and for a particular group of your potential readers. A niche site is a content site, and a content site is a collection of texts and knowledge created around the topic defined by the niche. This should answer the question from the title of this section.
But does a blog need a niche?
You can look at this in the following way. If your all site or its biggest part is about some relatively narrow field, this will be noticed by Google. So when somebody searches something related to your niche, and Google locates your site with plenty of good related texts, it will say “OK this seems to be a very relevant and authority site on this topic, so let me show something of it in this particular SERP”.
More or less, this is the essence of it. When you write a number of quality texts related to a narrow field, Google and other search engines will likely see you as an authority. They might tend to show your texts more frequently than texts from some site which is filled with a very limited number of texts related to that particular search phrase, even if such a site has an infinite number of topics and texts.
I say “might show” and not “will show”. Nothing is certain in online business, and this is the only certainty in it. You might want to bookmark this post because of what I have just said. If you continue on this road, sooner or later, you will realize this yourself. The reason for saying such things is because of continuous changes of ranking algorithms that Google and other search engines perform. So you never know what will happen, more below.
But there may be a problem in this all, you have seen I used the phrase “relatively narrow field”. Now, what is relatively narrow? If you are a beginner, it may be difficult to know and to see far ahead. You may decide to start too narrow, and if this happens, sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation that you have to expand your initial niche.
Years ago, I wanted to be clever, and I decided to build a site on a very narrow field. I had a crazy idea that its should have a good keyword in the site’s URL. So, the site is out there with its ugly name that contains only a keyword, or better to say a key-phrase because it contains 5 words that are really difficult to pronounce.
So, very soon I had to expand it into an another niche, and I did this several times after that. This site now contains 5 separate niches but they are slightly related. I had to do this, did not have enough material to write about. Only one of the 5 niches is essentially in the site’s name and in its URL, but this is one of the smallest. So the site’s name does not really reflect what its overall content is about.
Yet, this Frankenstein site with its ugly name is one of my very successful sites. Each of the mentioned 5 niches has plenty of material, with many posts. In fact it could be easy to make 5 different sites of all this material. So the site is an authority site in all 5 niches. But the main problem is the name, it does not reflect the complete content.
On the other hand, this tells you also that the name plays no major role. With my current knowledge, I would not choose it that way, but it is late.
So, yes, a blog or a site does need a niche. This is the answer to the question raised in the subtitle above. It is good to start narrow because this is an easier way to get noticed by Google. This may also be better to get your regular readers who will be willing to subscribe to your email newsletter, etc.
You will expand later into some other niches that may be related to your initial niche. This is why it is always a good idea to make the site’s name and URL broader and more general than your initial niche.
What I mean by this is as follows. If you want to write about backpacking sleeping bags, it may not be the best idea to have the URL based on such a keyword. Can you really write one thousand posts and reviews about trail sleeping bags? I could not (and trust me I am an expert in this).
But you know well that with sleeping bags on the trail you will need sleeping pads. So it is better to choose a name (and URL) for the site that would be around ‘sleeping on the trail’ or ‘outdoor sleeping gear’, or something similar. You get the idea?
Is every niche profitable? Do niche sites still work?
When I started my sites a number of years ago at an online business teaching and site hosting platform, I was told that every niche is profitable. I have never really subscribed to such a philosophy, and this is partly based on my own failures and on what I have observed at this same platform that has hundreds of thousands of members.
But it is probably true that you can make a profit with any site and in any niche. However, this is the matter of i) efforts and time, and ii) what you mean by profit. It should be easy to build a site that will generate enough to cover its hosting and to yield a bit more than that. But in my view ‘profitable’ should imply enough for living. This may be difficult in some niches, and this holds in particular for beginners.
Niche sites (or micro niche sites as some call them) do work, I have them a few and they generate full time income. But it is becoming more and more difficult, and I can see this clearly year after year. There are many reasons for this so here are a few.
♦ If you are an Amazon affiliate, you know well what has been happening with their commission rates. It appears to me that they do not really need affiliates.
♦ Then there is the pandemic around, at least this is so as of the moment of writing this text. So supply lines are affected, and many products are missing at Amazon, Walmart, etc. This means that a big part of my links are almost dead links.
♦ There is also problem with Google, it behaves like a schizophrenic beast with their everchanging algorithms. My the most important site was very badly affected a few months ago, and it was in the middle of its top season (it is a seasonal niche/site).
See what happened: the site has been around for 4 years, and it has never been negatively affected by those core upgrades of Google ranking. I have been doing everything by book, proper SEO, detailed reviews, etc. In fact, last June it’s status improved after their update. And I can tell you this was an update that affected almost everybody, I mean negatively, even the best known marketers.
But just a month later, in July, its traffic dropped by more than one third after the update they did that month. This was the first time ever that their core algorithm affected this particular site. So how can it be that in June the site was so good in Google’s eyes, and then suddenly became so bad in July? It simply makes no sense. Now you understand why I used the word schizophrenic above.
♦ There is more to this related to Google. They have introduced People Also Ask and they put it on the top of the top page in SERPs. See the picture if you do not understand what I am talking about. I searched for the word schizophrenic and Google shows me this:
So people searching on the Internet may find the answer even without clicking on links. The answer is provided by Google. Actually, there are more things related to the same issue, but hey, I have to get back to the main topic of this post.
How to really choose your blog niche?
If you search online about this issue, you will see advices like “check out competition”, “make sure it is profitable”, etc. None of these make sense, and here is why.
You cannot check competition in advance for hundreds if not thousands of your still unwritten posts.
You want something profitable? Well, go to fashion niche, or make money online niche, etc. Those are profitable, but they are also incredibly competitive, and this means they may not be profitable for you at all.
Here are some basics that I suggest considering when you choose your niche, the items are numerated for navigation, but this is not necessarily a priority ranking:
1. Think in long terms. If you plan to achieve something overnight, good luck with it, but this text is not for you. This is about establishing an online business and reputation, and this implies time and hard work. So take your time and do not rush with the decision.
2. This is about writing texts, and I mean writing a lot. It must be something that you enjoy writing about. So take a look into your own mind and soul, and ask yourself what your true passion is and what your interests are. Do you have knowledge about the topic? Are you ready to write about it for years, and at least twice a week if not every day? Are you ready to write thousands of posts?
As of the moment of writing this text, my biggest site has more than 1100 posts, and I have several large sites. This is what I mean by writing a lot. I do not pay writers, I write my texts myself.
So passion + interests + knowledge is a winning formula for sure. Perhaps you do not have enough knowledge, but you have a passion to expand it and to learn more, and you are then willing to share this on your site.
3. Think of starting relatively narrow and then expand later to cover more and more related sub-niches or parallel niches.
4. Check Google Trends. Perhaps you do not want something that is very volatile. If so, look for some topics that show stability and perhaps even growth.
The graphs below show several that I have chosen randomly. As you realize, hand sanitizers had a huge jump when the pandemic started, but this did not last. Family camping (the red line) is a stable but seasonal. Make money online is stable and strong, but as mentioned earlier, it is incredibly competitive.
5. Choose your domain name wisely so that it covers the content, or make it brandable and memorable. Think about Amazon, Apple, Nike, the names do not describe what the sites are about.
6. Note, so far this is not necessarily about affiliate marketing. You do not have to promote anything, you can develop audience with your quality texts, and then generate income with ads on your site. Not familiar with this? OK, the simplest way is Google Ads, but when you get far more traffic you can do the same with Mediavine. In any case, they inspect your site and if it is OK from their perspective, you will add some code somewhere and there will be ads that generate income.
This is what is described as a passive income without selling anything and without convincing anybody to buy this and that.
7. But if this is about affiliate marketing, check the products on the market, those that you want to promote. Are there enough of them? Are there great brands with products that have long shelf life? Are you familiar with them? If the answer is yes to all, go and write your first product review.
8. Are there some good affiliate programs for the niche you choose? I guess you can have it with Amazon, but their affiliate commission is really low, so are there alternatives?
9. In terms of choosing items for affiliate marketing, try to see things from your reader’s perspective. Would you buy some specific item online. Perhaps this is something very personal so you would rather want to feel it in your hands before buying. If so, perhaps it is not the best idea to promote such products on your site.
10. Related to the previously mentioned long term strategy, perhaps at some point you will want to sell the site. You know that there exists a market where fully-grown and successful sites can be sold? So will the site be too personal and not suitable for selling?
Perhaps this is not such a big deal, if you have readers this means there are people out there who share the same issues and problems. But this also means there may be buyers that can easily take over the site and keep it growing.
But bear in mind the previously discussed Google Trends, this is also related to the issue of selling the site. You do not want something that is decreasing in time.
But where to begin, and how to start your online business?
If you have decided to do all this, you will need a site. You do not have knowledge and have no idea how to make a site? When I started, I was in exactly the same position. Here is what you should do to get there:
- Check this link and register. No worry, you will not be charged anything. You can stay a free member forever, but you will not, you want to create a business.
- They offer a number of free lessons so go through them and see if you can follow. You can have a site’s basic structure within an hour. If you do not believe, try and then come back here and let me know if I was not telling the truth.
- When you start going through lessons, if you have problems, ask questions. There are many people ready to help. So am I talking about some ideal community with angel-like beings? No, those are people like you who came there earlier than you. Those that jump in to help have their own motives, I might discuss this elsewhere. The point is that the help is genuine and it is valuable. If you are a complete beginner, it is unlikely that you will be able to continue without it. I was not able, but perhaps you are smarter, I am just a theoretical physicist (not a joke, see the About This Site page).
So this was what I wanted to say on how to choose a niche for a blog, and I hope that my reasoning makes sense and it resonates with you. You might want to read also my text about best affiliate marketing platforms for beginners. Check also my text on how to make money while traveling. Let me know if you have questions, there is a comment box below.