If you already have a blog (or if you’ve decided that you’re ready to start one), figuring out what to blog about can be a difficult decision. There are countless popular blog niches to choose from, all with their own potential benefits and pitfalls. Whether you’re trying to use your blog to build an author platform or blogging to make money, it’s critical to pick the *right* niche.
So, how can you decide what to blog about? Here are some of my favorite tips:
1. Write about what you love.
This one’s easy. If it sounds obvious, that’s because it is. Writing about what you love and what you’re passionate about is going to be way more sustainable over the long-term. It’s not just about what you *should* blog about or what you think other people want to read, because — in the end — it’s about you and what you enjoy.
The first time I tried blogging, I decided that I needed to write about writing advice. I hated it (even though I do enjoy it), because there were SO many other things I’d rather be writing about. Sure, it’s still included in my blog from time to time, but my main blog niche is all about self-improvement and building your dream life. Sometimes that means writing advice, other times marketing, and sometimes it’s all about productivity or self-care.
2. Stick to what you know (or are willing to research).
The very first topics I started blogging about were the ones I was most familiar with. I’ve spent nearly a decade working in digital marketing, and — as an author and publishing industry veteran — I’m intimately familiar with the challenges of being a creative entrepreneur. That’s why most of my blog posts, even if they are about self-improvement, are written with a creative individual in mind.
Anytime I step outside my lane, I make sure to do a TON of research first. But if I were to decide that I wanted to write a yoga blog starting tomorrow? It probably wouldn’t go down well. Sure, I could try to research it and come up with topics, but since it’s not something I’m already familiar with (beyond the random class or two per year), creating content would be a time-consuming struggle.
3. Ask your existing audience.
This is one of my favorite tips because it’s super useful. Not sure what to blog about? Try asking people! I love using the poll feature on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to ask people which topics they’re more interested in reading about. This helps me define my blog content and meet my existing followers where they’re at — and hopefully attracting new ones to me in the process.
However, it is important to consider whether your existing audience is the same as your ideal audience. If you’re new on the scene and only have a few hundred followers, most of whom are friends and family, will they want to read the same content as the people you’d *like* to have following you? This is where your passions should come into play, as well as my next tip:
4. Start general and test topics to see what works best.
When I launched my blog, I didn’t actually know exactly what my blog niche was. I knew it was something related to self-improvement, but it was actually pretty general and lifestyle-y. (And while it can be tempting to stick with a lifestyle blog because it seems cool and easy, it can actually be way harder to build a brand if you don’t have a niche to help draw them in.)
What I did was write a handful of blog posts on several topics, and I started promoting them across my social media — especially on Pinterest. Soon, I was able to use Google Analytics to see which posts were the most popular and which were falling flat. Can you guess what I did next? It’s pretty clear — I started writing more posts that were about topics similar to the popular ones. My web traffic increased and people started spending more time clicking through my blog posts because I was writing about a niche that they wanted to read more about.
5. Find an existing market that you can add value to.
If you spend any amount of time already reading blogs, this tip should be pretty helpful for you. Think about existing content in an area that interests you. Now, think about what’s missing. What would you like to see more of? What would you do differently from X, Y, or Z? How can you add to the conversation?
It’s not about parroting the same information as everyone else (boring), it’s about bringing something new to the table. You want to give people a reason to read your content versus every other blog on X topic because you have a fresh and unique perspective, a funny tone, or something else entirely you.
6. Think about the long-term.
I mentioned this earlier and for a good reason. Deciding what to blog about is a decision that’s potentially going to impact your career for many years. What do you want that career to look like? Do you still want to be writing about X topic? Can you see yourself expanding that niche into some other form of business — like a book, speaking career, or a product-based business (even if those products are digital)?
I knew my long-term goals before I even decided on my blog’s niche. This plays a major role in deciding what topics I write about because they need to be aligned with where I wanted my career to end up. It’s not just about five or ten years in the future either — what about your immediate future? Is this topic interesting enough that you can see yourself finding new things to write about after 10, 20 or 50 blog posts?
7. Create your own niche. (Difficulty level = high).
While my blog does fit into the self-improvement category, I decided to create my own niche that would better define exactly what people could expect on my blog. Originally, my plan was to write about marketing and self-care. I knew it was a topic no one else was writing about, and it was something I was passionate about, knowledgeable about, and knew people would read.
However, that ended up being a little *too* specific. (Both for my readers and myself.) People finding my blog because of a post about self-care weren’t reading my posts about marketing and vice versa. It was taking a lot of work to integrate the two, and it honestly wasn’t giving me the results I’d hoped for.
Instead, I ended up expanding my niche to all things self-improvement and human optimization (whether that applies to you as an individual or an entrepreneur), and my blog traffic exploded. People who were interested in productivity were interested in photography tips for Instagram and coping techniques for when you’re feeling anxious. Simply by broadening my blog’s scope, I didn’t limit myself to becoming yet another marketing guru and discovered my tribe.
And why does that matter?
Because successfully defining your blog’s niche can help you create an engaged and active community that will benefit you throughout your career.
It’s not just about what you think you should blog about (aka authors blogging about writing tips), but about what people actually want to read. If you’re a young adult fiction author trying to connect with your readers, then you shouldn’t be blogging about topics that will attract other authors more than they’ll attract readers. (Sorry.)
Instead, take a page from John Green, whose YouTube channel vlogbrothers is pretty all over the place content-wise but has one main purpose. To talk about/explain stuff. While you might not get away with that broad of a blog niche, you could do something similar to a lifestyle site that deals with topics relevant to your readers. If your ideal reader is 18, that might be a blog all about the struggles of adulthood or dating advice or something entirely different.
In the end, you’re not actually stuck with whatever you decide to blog about (unless your domain name is howtoraisechickens.com.) Your blog will inevitably change over the years (just like you!) and that’s okay. Having a niche simply it easier for you to build a community around your content which, let’s be honest, is pretty freaking awesome.
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