Most often when people want to start a blog, they have a general sense of what to write about, but there’s that lingering question in the back of their minds: will readers care? How can I make my own voice stand out from others out there? I find it incredibly important to ask yourself these 11 questions to help you narrow down a blog niche that you’ll thrive in.
So pull out a sheet of paper and write down your answers to these questions:
1 | What are you interested in?
One tip I frequently give clients and blogging friends who want to narrow their blog niche is to look at their Pinterest boards and see what boards they are pinning to a lot. That tends to be what you are interested in, right?
Now let’s be real here, we have a lot of those gorgeous Pinterest boards that we never do–if it’s a board you don’t actually DO (for example, I could stare at pretty organization photos on there all day long, but I still have a Monica closet). Make a list of the topics that you are passionate about.
2 | What could you talk about for hours?
Let’s take this one step further: what could you talk about for hours? For example, when my son was born, I was researching cloth diapers. It became somewhat of a hobby for me–hey, I was changing diapers 24/7, why not make it interesting?! I got so involved in this community that I ended up starting a blog called Padded Tush Stats (I’ve since sold the business & the site is still going strong). Creating content for my site wasn’t difficult because finding the best-performing cloth diapers for my kids was important to me and something I already talked about frequently with other cloth-diapering parents
You want your blog niche to be something that you could talk about for hours. If a friend brought up a topic in a conversation, what topic would you have to hold yourself back a little bit with because you could go on and on about it? Make a list of any and all things that could get you excited. Here are some examples:
- Personal Finance
3 | What do you know or do that could benefit someone?
This is an important question to ask when narrowing your blog niche because it taps into what other people need, not just your interests. For example, I could talk about Harry Potter all day to someone, but that probably isn’t very relevant to people or something that could add value. When you can tap into people’s needs, that’s when the magic happens (ha ha, magic, no Harry Potter pun intended!).
Adam Connell has a great way of putting it:
Think of what you might know that could be of value to someone.
Let’s revisit this cloth diaper website example: when I started cloth diapering my son, I found that he had such skinny legs that many cloth diapers on the market didn’t work. I noticed other parents had the same issue: certain popular cloth diapers wouldn’t work for their baby’s body type.
I used my background in survey design & research to have parents fill out surveys on different cloth diapers. They answered questions about how particular cloth diapers worked for their baby’s body type (skinny, larger legs, tall, short, etc). With that data, I showed readers a list of recommended diapers that performed well based on a baby’s body type. I was able to use my background in statistics to fill a unique need and help others.
Is there something about your experience that could give you a unique spin on something? Think a little about your background. What experience do you have?
4 | What do people come to you for when they need advice?
Let’s approach this from a different angle. When people need advice from you, what are they asking about? I find that most people come to me to figure out some tech-way of doing things. Quite often it’s them wanting to set up a website, so my blog niche at Methodical Blogger was pretty simple to come up with: show anyone that they can set up a blog using an easy to follow step-by-step system.
But what do people come to you for? Here are some ideas:
- Parenting tips
- Healthy recipes
- Book recommendations
- Spiritual advice
Trust me, they are asking you questions, you just need to pay attention. This is a fantastic question because right away you are identifying potential needs of readers. And like I said before, once you’ve found something that your readers need, you up the odds of having an interested and engaged audience. Jonathan Milligan puts it well:
5 | What are your strengths & talents?
This goes a little with what you know or do that could help others, but approaching it at this angle can help give you a different perspective than just thinking about things you’ve learned.
What do people tell you that your strengths or talents are?
For example, one talent people say I have is taking a complicated concept, but breaking it down so that it’s simple for someone. That gets me geeky-excited to do! That is something that could clearly benefit an audience of people setting up a blog because blogging can feel confusing! Methodical Blogger has allowed me to provide training to people to help them understand the blogging process—all by taking my own strengths and using them to help others.
Here are some possible strengths you might want to consider:
- Being on video
- Talking (ooooh I see a podcast in your future)
- Being empathetic towards others
- Serving others
- Time Management
- Being positive
- Giving awesome advice
- Fixing things
Identify as many as you can, don’t feel like you need to pick just one!
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6 | What are your weaknesses?
I know, not as peppy as the rest of these questions, but knowing your weaknesses can help you know (a) what to work on and (b) what to not center your whole blog niche around. For example, if you HATE being on video and taking pictures, then a video-based blog probably isn’t a good idea!!!
If you are disorganized, then an organization blog prooooobably shouldn’t be in your future (oooh unless it’s a blog about turning yourself from being disorganized to organized, hmmm).
Take a little inventory of what you struggle with. Then go in the mirror and give yourself some kind of pep talk so you feel happy with yourself #kiddingnotkidding
7 | What is a need that you see in the area you are interested in?
Let’s get back to how awesome you are. Do you see a particular need in an area you are interested in? I shared my example before of how I saw a need in the cloth diaper community. I saw that parents were wasting money on cloth diapers that just wouldn’t work on their baby types! So I used my skills to help fill that need of saving parents money.
Before I started Methodical Blogger, I found that there were so many websites out there about blogging (and there are fantastic ones), but nothing that felt like it started right from the beginning and gave the basics in a format that I totally loved. My PhD background and training is in Education and Website Usability, so I’m picky about websites & about training being extremely clear. When I teach someone something, I want someone to know exactly what to do, click by click. So that was a need that I found when establishing the blog niche of Methodical Blogger.
Of the areas you’ve listed while answering these questions, what’s a need? What’s an itch that people need scratched? Where could people use help?
8 | What are people out there already doing on this topic?
One of the best ways to identify your blog niche is by doing a little research to see what’s already out there. Search online for your concept. Don’t be daunted! You might think, “There are so many people writing on this!!! How can I stand out!” But honestly, YOU being YOU is what stands out. Don’t worry about that part! Just pay attention to what you like and dislike about different sites, questions people are asking in comments, and so on. You’ll start to gain a clear sense of what uniqueness you could bring to the conversation.
9 | Who is your ideal reader?
Who would you want to speak to? Narrowing this down helps you in understanding what your content is and also gives a little more personality to your writing voice. Here is an example of my reader for Methodical Blogger:
She is someone who wants to build a business blogging, but wants to cut through the clutter of advice—she just wants to know click-by-click, screen-by-screen what to do so that she can be done with the logistics and focus more on her content and helping people. She is a go-getter who knows her way around a computer, but just wants someone to cut to the chase with her and tell her exactly what she has to do to get from A to Z.
When I write content for my site, I think of that person (some people even recommend giving your reader a name; it’s called your “avatar”). This helps shape my content & how I represent that content. It also keeps me from focusing on myself as much. Adrienne Smith has some fantastic advice on this, stating:
10 | What is your ultimate goal?
Understanding your goal helps you get to the heart of why you want to do this. Are you trying to help people with something in particular? Maybe you are passionate about health and fitness and want to help others on their journey.
Do you want to get your voice out there? Perhaps you recently became a Mom and feel a little alone and isolated and need a platform or place to express yourself to people over 2 feet tall.
Do you want to earn money? I don’t recommend this being your only desire, or you’ll lose steam & your passion won’t be there (readers detect that!). But still, it could totally be one of the reasons! Maybe you want to earn enough money to leave your full time job. Maybe you’d love to pay off that credit card.
This may not seem completely relevant to your blog niche, but taking a moment to identify your intentions can help you with getting your voice in check so you can best communicate with your readers.
11 | What do you feel you need to learn or know in order to get started?
I often find that people who want to start a blog, but are so overwhelmed with all of the things that they need to do or learn first that they simply don’t start. One fantastic way to help you get started is to simply take a moment and write down what you need to learn. It causes you to turn that overwhelming concept in your head to some actionable steps to get started with.
Now that you’ve gone through this, I’d love to hear, what is your blog concept? What unique aspect of YOU are you hoping will connect with your readers?