If you want to make money blogging, picking a niche is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll need to make. It’s a step you don’t want to rush through, or else you could wind up spending a lot of time building a blog that never had a real chance to be profitable.
Knowing how to choose a niche can be a bit of a mystery when you’re first getting started, but with the help of this guide, you’ll be able to move forward confidently.
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What Is a Blog Niche?
Your blog niche is the subject or topic you cover with your blog’s content. It could be gardening, parenting, home decor, personal finance, video games, or any number of things.
Some have a tighter focus, and others take a broad approach to their niche.
For example, personal finance would be a broad niche that could include many different aspects like investing, frugal living, budgeting, debt pay off, making money, and more.
A tighter focus would involve just one sub-niche, like debt payoff.
What Is Niche Research?
Niche research is exactly what it sounds like; researching niches to find one that is a perfect fit for your blog.
The reason I wanted to call out niche research is that it’s probably the most important step to building a successful blog or affiliate website. If you don’t start out on the right foot, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Here are the most important things to look for during niche research:
- Competition: You don’t want too much or too little. Too much competition means you won’t be able to cut through the noise. Too little competition means there probably isn’t any money in the niche.
- Products: The entire point of building a blog is to make money, and you can’t make money without sales. I recommend you look for a healthy mix of physical and digital products in your niche at various price points.
- Passion: You need to have a base level of interest in what you will be blogging about; otherwise, you’ll burn out. I promise if I made a site about yoga, it would be a total failure. It’s a great niche, but I have no interest in learning and writing about yoga.
Why You Need a Blog Niche
You may wonder, “Can’t I just write about whatever I want?”
If you want to make money with your blog, you need to choose a blog niche. If it’s strictly personal and you don’t care about growing an audience or profitability, by all means, write about whatever you want.
Here are the most important reasons you need to choose a specific niche if you want to build a profitable blog.
Your niche helps make your blog more memorable. It’s difficult to establish your brand when you’re publishing content on many random, unrelated topics. Taking a more focused approach shows readers what to expect.
If your blog is all about drone photography, visitors will know to come to your site whenever they’re looking for information on that subject.
Connection With Your Target Audience
Your branding and your blog’s focus also help you appeal to the target market you want to reach.
When the right visitors arrive at your blog, they should feel like the blog is written specifically for them. They’ll feel a connection to you and your blog because all the content is relevant and exciting.
Think about this scenario:
Someone new to drone photography is looking for information about how to get better photos. Through a Google search, that person comes across two different blogs with similar articles.
One blog is highly focused, and it’s immediately obvious the blog is all about drone photography. The other has no real focus with articles on various topics, including this one article on drone photography.
Which of these two blogs will be more appealing to the visitor and more likely to convince this visitor to subscribe to an email list?
Which blog is the visitor more likely to return to when looking for more drone photography content?
Takeaway: The blog focusing on drone photography will stand out, and the visitor will feel more connected to this blog.
Publishing content that focuses on a specific topic also helps you become a recognized expert on the subject. Building your authority as a blogger encourages readers to pay attention to you and makes monetizing easier.
Whether you’re selling your own products (like e-books or courses, for example) or recommending other products as an affiliate, visitors will be more likely to trust you if they recognize you as an authority in your niche.
Clarity and Focus
Having a specific niche also makes it easier to know what types of content you should be publishing, what audience you’re targeting, and how you should monetize your blog.
A general blog that covers a wide variety of topics won’t have much clarity or focus in these areas.
How to Choose A Niche
Ok, so now you’ve seen why it’s essential to have a niche for your blog, but you might not have any idea how to go about choosing one.
After all, you could cover thousands of different topics, so how do you choose the right one?
Consider Your Interests and Experience
You should brainstorm different niche ideas and come up with a list of a few possibilities at this stage. It’s a good idea to start with your hobbies or interests, as well as your existing skills and experience.
When choosing a niche, there’s some debate over whether you should “follow your passion” or choose a niche based on income potential.
It’s not 100% necessary that you’re passionate about the topic of your blog, but writing blog content is a lot easier, and running it is more enjoyable when you have at least some interest in it.
It also helps if you’re not a complete newbie on the topic of your blog. With most blog niches, you don’t have to be a pro, but your experience can help.
You’ll be learning as you go, but having some knowledge before you start is definitely helpful.
Hopefully, your brainstorming will lead to a list of 3-5 possible niches or topics based on your interests and experience.
Ideally, the right niche you ultimately select will overlap to include your hobbies, interests, experience, and income potential.
You’ve got the first two covered so far. Next, we’ll ensure the income potential exists before moving forward with a niche.
Validate Your Niche
One of the most challenging parts of choosing a niche involves evaluating the income potential. Building a blog is a long-term business, not a get-rich-quick scheme.
Most new blogs don’t make very much money for the first six months or maybe even the first year. That means you’ll need to put in a lot of work before seeing the payoff.
You don’t want to dedicate hours of hard work and months of your life to growing a blog, only to find out that the income potential never existed in the first place.
For this reason, it’s essential to be sure that your blog could generate revenue.
Here is a three-step process you can take to validate any niche you’re considering.
1. Check Search Volume
Most blogs get most of their traffic from search engines, especially Google.
This won’t be the case for brand-new blogs since it takes time to gain Google’s trust and grow search traffic, but search traffic is key for most established blogs.
If you want to make money in the long run, you can’t ignore the importance of search traffic.
To generate search engine traffic to your blog, you’ll need to write about topics people are actually searching for.
There are several SEO and keyword research tools you can use to find estimated search volume for different keywords, including:
- Wordtracker – Free plan offers a limited number of searches that will display search volume estimates plus related keywords with their search volume.
- Ubersuggest – Similar to Wordtracker, with limited searches available for free.
- Keyword Surfer – Free Google Chrome extension that shows estimated search volume whenever you search Google.
- Google’s Keyword Planner – Created to help advertisers and marketers with keyword research, but can be helpful for bloggers too.
- Google Trends – See if search terms are trending up or down.
Of course, there are also many premium SEO tools, but the free tools listed above will get you started at no cost.
When you’re checking search volume, there’s no exact number of searches per month you should see to validate the niche.
Obviously, higher search volume shows that more people are interested in the subject, but even terms with lower search volume provide some money-making opportunities.
If you’re looking for a guide to follow, you could try to find a niche with at least 5,000 searches per month for the primary keyword and at least 1,000 searches per month for another 5-10 related keywords.
Sidenote: Many niches you research will be well above these numbers, but this can serve as a baseline to prove that enough people are actively searching for the content.
Let’s take a look using the example of drone photography. Using Wordtracker, I can easily see that “drone photography” gets an estimated 8,725 searches per month.
I can also quickly see several other related search queries that get over 1,000 searches per month.
I can see that “best camera drones” get an estimated 11,500 searches per month with another query.
This query also shows several other related searches with a volume of over 1,000 per month. Based on my criteria, I can see the niche of drone photography provides enough monthly search volume.
If I can get my blog to rank on the first page for some of these related terms, there’s enough traffic potential to make money.
2. Analyze the Competition
Next, we need to check out other blogs that are covering similar topics. There are two main things we want to check as a part of this step:
- Are there other successful, active blogs covering these topics?
- Do I have a realistic chance to start a new blog and rank on the first page of Google for keywords related to the niche?
You might think it would be a bad sign to see many other blogs covering similar topics in your niche. After all, that means there’s more competition, right?
While it’s true that you’ll have more competition for a spot on the first page of Google, seeing other blogs covering your niche is actually a good thing.
It shows other blogs are making money covering these topics. If they can do it, so can you.
It would be a lot more concerning if you had a hard time finding blogs covering the niche you’re considering. That would likely be a sign that there’s not enough interest in the topic.
If I search for the “best drone photography blogs,” I come across a few lists that make it easy to find other blogs covering the same topics.
Just with a quick search, it’s easy to see that many blogs exist, there is indeed enough interest in the subject, and it seems like these blogs (at least some of them) must be making money.
To verify other blogs exist in the niche, you can look at the pages ranking at the top of Google searches for some of the high-volume search phrases you uncovered in the previous step.
Or do a Google search for “best [your niche] blogs.” Another option is to find blogs in your niche that are popular on social media sites.
Next, we want to check to see how difficult the competition will be for ranking on the first page of Google.
We can use some of the keyword tools mentioned earlier, and we can also manually look at the sites ranking on the first page for some of the search queries we want to target.
Wordtracker lists a competition score for each keyword. The higher the number, the harder it will be to rank on the first page.
“Drone photography” has a competition score of 16.82.
Some keywords have lower competition numbers.
In the screenshot below, you can see that “best drones with camera,” “kids drone with camera,” and “cheap drone with a camera” all have much lower competition scores.
Competition or keyword difficulty scores will vary from one tool to the next.
Ubersuggest provides an “SEO Difficulty” score that attempts to gauge the competition for ranking in Google searches, but the numbers from Ubersuggest and Wordtracker will differ.
The best way to use these scores is to compare keywords and the niches you’re considering.
Compare the average competition scores for keywords from one niche to the average scores of keywords from another niche. It’s safe to assume that it would be easier to get your content to rank in a niche with lower average scores.
It can also be helpful to check out the competition manually. Search Google for one of the keywords and click through to the site ranking on the first page.
Takeaway: If you see blogs that look similar to something you could create yourself, that’s a good sign that you’d have a chance to rank on the first page as well.
When I search for “best cheap drone for photography,” there are some huge websites on the first page, like TechRadar, Digital Camera World, and PCMag.
If high-authority sites filled the first page, I would know it will be tough to get my blog to rank. But I also see sites like UAVCoach.com, DroneRush.com, and AirDroneCraze.com.
When I visit these sites, they all look like something I could recreate and compete with.
It’s important to keep in mind that not every post you publish on your blog will rank well in Google searches. Some will, and some won’t.
Sidenote: At this stage, we’re just looking to find some search queries with smaller blogs ranking on the first page.
3. Consider the Monetization Opportunities
If you feel confident that your potential niche offers decent search volume and the competition is not overwhelmingly strong, the last step is to think about how you would make money from the blog.
There are many ways to monetize a blog, but we’ll look at three of the most common options. Evaluate the other blogs in the niche to see if they’re making money in these ways.
Probably the most straightforward way to monetize a blog is through ads. Google’s AdSense is a popular platform for smaller sites, but you can make exponentially more money if you’re accepted into one of the leading ad networks.
If you see blogs in your niche using any of the ad networks below, it’s a sure sign that they’re making some money. You won’t know exactly how much they’re making, but to validate the niche, all we really need to do is see that other blogs are making some money.
AdThrive: A premium ad network that requires sites to have at least 100,000 pageviews per month to get approval. If you see a blog in your niche running ads from AdThrive, it’s safe to assume that blog is making some money.
The amount will vary depending on many factors, but a blog using AdThrive is probably making at least $1,500 – $4,000 per month from ads.
The easiest way to tell if a blog is running ads from AdThrive is to check the blog’s footer. If it says “An Elite CafeMedia Publisher,” that means AdThrive manages the ads.
Mediavine: Similar in many ways to AdThrive. Sites must have at least 50,000 sessions per month to get approved by Mediavine, and the ads typically produce similar earnings to AdThrive.
Mediavine increased its approval requirements last year. Previously, the requirement was only 25,000 page views.
When you see a blog using ads from Mediavine, you won’t know if they were a part of the program when the requirement was 25,000 or 50,000 sessions, so it’s a bit harder to guess at a minimum traffic level.
However, most sites using Mediavine should earn at least $500, and the majority will be over $1,000 per month in ad revenue.
Sites using Mediavine are easy to spot because the Mediavine logo is below the ads.
Ezoic: Requires at least 10,000 sessions per month, which is the lowest requirement of the three options we’re looking at. Blogs using Ezoic are probably generating a minimum of a few hundred dollars per month in ad revenue.
Identifying blogs that are using Ezoic is a little more challenging, but you can do it.
You’ll need to view the source code of the page. In Chrome, the keyboard shortcut for a PC is Control + U, and on a Mac, the shortcut is Option + Command + U.
Once the source code is visible, use find (Control + F on PC or Command + F on Mac) and type “ezoic.” If the page uses Ezoic to manage ads, the word “ezoic” will appear several times in the page’s source code.
Another common way to make money from a blog is through affiliate links. As an affiliate, the blogger earns commissions by referring visitors who purchase products and services on other websites.
The most common affiliate program is Amazon, and many blogs send traffic to Amazon and earn a small percentage of each sale generated through their affiliate links.
You won’t tell how much a site makes from affiliate marketing, but the goal here is to see if there are affiliate programs you could use if you’re writing about certain topics.
Check the other blogs in your niche and look for disclosures (usually at the top of the content) that say something about affiliate links.
Sometimes the disclosure will be with the actual affiliate link. For example, when using Lasso to display your affiliate links, the promo box includes an affiliate disclosure beneath the call-to-action button (like in our WP Rocket display below):
Many blogs use shortened links or redirects to mask affiliate links. You can look at the URL a link is pointing to and see if it’s being redirected or not.
For example, on my site, Vital Dollar, the affiliate link to Fiverr is redirected. If you hover over the link and look at the bottom of the browser, you’ll see the link is pointing to https://vitaldollar.com/ref-fiverr rather than leading directly to Fiverr.com.
When you see redirects like this, it’s usually an affiliate link.
With a little bit of poking around, you can see if other blogs in the niche are monetized with affiliate links.
Some bloggers and small business owners create and sell their own products as a way to make money. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown eCommerce site; it could be just one or two simple products.
These products are usually digital (e-books, courses, printables, etc.), but physical products are also possible.
As you look at other blogs in your niche, you may see some that are doing this. Again, you won’t know how much money they’re making, but you might pick up some business ideas you can use to monetize your own blog.
Of course, you don’t want to copy their ideas, but seeing products being sold in your niche market may spark some creativity for products of your own.
Check Blog and Online Business Sales
Optionally, if you want to find blogs that are making money in your chosen niche, you can check websites for sale.
Brokers and marketplaces show how much money sites are making and what monetization methods they’re using. The URL of the site typically won’t be public but will list the niche or main topics of the site. The pricing can also give you an idea of what’s possible with your own blog.
Some sites to check out include:
The Most Profitable Niches
Looking for great niches that are proven money-makers? Our post on types of blogs that make money covers ten worth considering.
When you’re starting a blog, knowing how to choose a good niche can be one of the most intimidating obstacles. Start with your interests and experiences to develop a few possible topics.
Then, all you need to do is verify search volume, check the competition, and see how you would monetize the blogs. The details covered in this article will walk you through those steps to have confidence in your niche selection.
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