Choosing a niche is the first thing you struggle with on your blogging journey. It could possibly be one of the hardest decisions you make when you decide to blog.
If only someone could tell you what niche to focus on…what would be profitable…what wouldn’t make you want to smack your head a year down the road…
The decision is harder with all the conflicting information you read on blog niches. These things start to shape what you believe is right and wrong. They start to limit you and box you in. But these are just myths and all of us hold onto at least one of these.
To make progress, you need to identify what’s holding you back. Myths 3 and 6 – those are the ones I struggled with. Let’s identify what yours are.
Myth #1: Stay away from niches with big fishes
You’ve probably felt this fear before.
“How can I possibly stand out when there are experts who are selling products and services that solve the same problems that I do? Experts who’ve been blogging for years. Why would anyone take notice of me?”
A lot of bloggers will tell you to stay away from particular niches because there are big blogs dominating the scene.
And the reason?
You’ll not stand a chance being a newbie with all that competition. It’s akin to blog suicide right? I used to trust in that advice too. But that’s when I came across Jonathan’s Morrow’s article in Copyblogger. Here’s what he says:
“Every time I hear someone tell a beginner not to enter a niche because it’s too crowded, I feel like screaming. Yes, I know this is the standard advice, but it’s just not true.
Crowded niches got that way for a reason: they work. Your best bet for succeeding with your blog is to find a subject lots of people are blogging about, and then start a blog about the exact same subject.
You don’t want to be a copycat. Just look for the hidden benefits behind an audience’s interest in your topic, and target those benefits instead.”
What you should do:
Instead of seeing the competition, see the opportunity.
Yes, that niche you’re going for may be crowded. But the number of people who use the internet and who actively seek out new products and services has increased. The pie is big enough for all of us.
Those big blogs may take a chunk of your audience, but not everyone will resonate with the voice and style of the big blogs. That’s the reason several blogs are able to thrive alongside the big ones. Remember that people are more likely to be influenced by someone whom they like and can relate to–someone who’s at a level that seems attainable.
See how you can bring your unique worldview into your writing, your products, and your business. You will start to attract people who resonate with your views, celebrate your quirkiness and the way you do things.
Myth #2: Choose a niche where you can write on what you’re passionate about
Did you just do a double take on reading that?
Aren’t you supposed to write about what you’re passionate about? Well, yes and no.
You may be passionate about your kids, pets and have a journal style blog. That’s fine if you’re blogging as a hobby or your blog is a means to connect with your friends and family.
But if you’re intent on building community and plan to make an income from your blog, your writing has to translate into value for your audience.
What you should do:
Find your sweet spot. This is where your (1) passion and interests, (2) your core skill set (what you have a natural inclination for) and (3) what people need help with, intersect. Aim to provide a takeaway from each of your posts even if you’re talking about your life and experiences.
Use ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ and ‘I’ in your writing. Here’s what a little shift in perspective does:
I’m having a bad day. I had a fight with my husband in the morning. My boss screamed at me. I needed to work late to finish a presentation, that too on my kid’s birthday. Nothing is going right in my life. It’s frustrating. It’s unfair. I bet you feel that way too. So, here’s where I can help.
Now change it up and use YOU
You’re I was having a bad day. You I had a fight with my your husband in the morning. Your My boss screamed at you me. You I need to work late to finish a presentation, that too on your my kid’s birthday. Nothing is going right in your my life. It’s frustrating. It’s unfair. You deserve better and I’m here to help.
See how a simple change of words creates a powerful picture? It allows you to slip into the skin of your target audience. It’s a slice of your audience’s life and if you get this right, you build connection and trust.
Myth #3: It has to be original
Now, be honest. Are you still searching for that original angle that will help you stand out. A unique blog post that will go viral. An original niche that will propel your blog to success?
Most of us are. The blogosphere is a crowded place and if you want to stand out, you need to be original, right?
But haven’t you noticed…every blog topic, book or business idea, blog niche has been done.
I dare you. Think of the wackiest thing possible and Google it. Yes, go do it. I’ll wait.
Did you find it? I bet you did, in one form or the other.
If you’re in this place right now, please stop. There really isn’t anything that’s original anymore. Originality stems from how you differentiate yourself. How you repurpose existing ideas. Your take on a ‘done to death’ topic.
In his bestselling book, How to Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon says, “Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas”. In this article, Business Insider elaborates on this point and says how we ought to find things to imitate instead.
What you should do:
Start by looking for topics and niches that get you fired up. Analyze how you can add to the existing content that’s already out there. How can you position your blog differently? Is there a gap you can take advantage of? Start a digital swipe file so that you can study what draws you to these topics and what makes them successful. A swipe file is a collection of material you can use as inspiration for your own work. Start by stealing my own swipe file here.
Myth #4: Don’t do a niche if you don’t have enough experience & knowledge in it
Afraid of being called out as a fake? Of being asked “who are you to tell me this?”
You’re not alone. I’ve heard those doubtful voices in my head too. And they’re not going to make it easy for you.
Everyone who has seen success, started from scratch and grew from there. You can too.
One of my favorite quotes is by Bre Pattis from his Manifesto The Cult of Done.
He says “Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.”
What you should do:
Aim on being 2 steps ahead of your reader. How can you get your reader from where they are, to where you are right now? Read books and blogs in your niche. Scour through Facebook groups to know what people are asking. If you don’t have the answers yourself, find out. You can learn almost anything with a simple Google search these days. Invite your audience along in your journey and show them how you make progress. This is a great way of building authority.
Myth #5: Pick a niche that people will pay you for
Ever heard the saying ‘the riches are in the niches’. Well, some niches are known to be more lucrative than others. These are heavyweight topics such as finance, marketing & online business.
You can have a monetization plan in place for your blog but that shouldn’t determine the niche you choose. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. If you go in with just the thought of making money, you will burn out.
What you should do:
Ask yourself, what are you willing to invest the time in learning? Can you see yourself writing about this topic for the next 3 years? Is this an area you would love to help people with? Remember that you will always be able to monetize your passions and core skills if you provide value to people.
Myth #6: Nail down your niche and core message first before starting
My biggest regret? I wish I had started sooner. I wanted to get it ‘right’ the first time. I wanted to be absolutely sure about my core message and niche before launching.
But you will never be able to nail down exactly who you’re serving because your blog will evolve over time. Here’s why.
- Some topics will get you more traffic, page views and comments.
- The people who gravitate to your website might not be the exact audience you had in mind.
- The way you write about a particular topic may attract a specific subset of your initial audience group.
What you should do instead?
You should have a target audience in mind and that’s perfect to start with. Try different styles of writing and see what gets you more traction. Build your audience and find out more about their struggles, aspirations and pain points along the way. Make tweaks to your core message and audience profile as your blog grows. Focus on the process and quit trying to get it right the first time. Because you most definitely won’t be able to.
Where to go from here?
Identify what myths are holding you back at the moment. We all have at least one. Now that you’ve done that, pick a niche and start. Nothing will feel a 100% till you actually start and put it out there for people to see.
What did you struggle with when deciding on your niche?