How to find a niche for your blog when blogging is just getting crazy popular these days.
Pretty much everyone I know is thinking of setting up a blog and monetizing it.
I get the allure — with blogging, you’ll earn a nice stream of passive income, and who knows, you might even be able to quit your day job and become a full-time blogger one day like me! 🙂
But here’s the thing — the blogging landscape is crazy competitive these days. There are 2,000,000+ blog articles published every single day, and if you’re serious about setting up a successful blog, you’ve got to go into this with a gameplan.
Now, don’t go Googling how to choose a domain name, or how to set up hosting for your blog just yet. Your very first step should be to learn how to find a niche market for your blog.
You’ll want to choose wisely, because this will have a huge impact on how profitable your blog can be further down the road.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through step by step on how to find a niche for your blog and most importantly – how to find a niche that is profitable.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t as simple as looking at your passions, and deciding which one of them you want to focus on.
You’ll need to evaluate the profitability of your potential niches, and check out the competitors in each niche… trust me, there’s more to this than meets the eye!
Step 1: What Makes A Good Niche?
There are several things to look out for when you’re brainstorming ideas for your niches. A good niche should be one where:
- Consumers are willing to spend money online
- Consumers are facing problems in
- There are products that you can promote or sell
- You have a decent understanding about
Alright, let’s break it down, starting with the first criteria… consumers in your niche should be willing to spend money online.
Now, there are certain niches where you’ll find it extremely hard to get consumers to part with their money (online, at least).
Say you’re trying to sell mattresses or furniture online, for example. Regardless of how optimized your website is, and how many trust badges you include on your checkout page, you probably won’t get much sales — simply because consumers want to test out their mattresses and furniture before spending money on them.
Next, consumers in your niche should have several problems that they’re experiencing. This makes it easier to market to them — you can simply position your product or service as a solution to that problem.
Third, make sure that there are products in your niche that you can promote or sell as well.
You don’t want to have to invent something from scratch — there’s too much hassle involved, and if your product is any good, there’s a high chance that you’ll get knocked off.
A much easier way is to simply sell whatever products are already in the market (you can get a manufacturer to whitelabel the product and brand it with your company name, if you’re concerned about that).
Last but not least, you should have at least a decent understanding of the niche that you’re in.
I’m not saying that you need to be an SEO guru if you want to go into the SEO niche, but at the very basic level, you need to know what it’s about, and why it matters to your consumers.
How will you be able to convince your consumers to buy the products you’re marketing otherwise?
Step 2: The Passion Vs Money Dilemma
Since we’re on the topic of understanding your niche, let’s talk about the passion vs money dilemma.
This is a question that I get a lot: should you focus on how to find a niche that you’re passionate in, or should you go for finding something that you know will make you money?
Let’s look at your first option: find a niche that you’re passionate in.
I find that the folks who are biased towards this option often quote the saying “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I have to tell you, though, that this is 100% untrue.
Sure, you might find it more enjoyable to build a blog in a niche you love, but at the end of the day, you’ll still have to grit your teeth and get through the menial, mundane tasks that nobody likes to do.
All the administrative work, the filing of taxes — it doesn’t go away.
Plus, what happens when you’re 9 months into running your blog, and you realize that you just can’t monetize your niche? Are you going to throw in the towel, and start again from scratch?
Now, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum, and talk about what happens if you find a niche that is profitable, but you don’t have any interest in. (Right now, cryptocurrency and forex are very much in trend, but who knows what it could be six months down the road?)
If you choose to go with one of these niches (and I’m assuming you know absolutely nothing about them), chances are that your content won’t be very convincing.
So, yes, you might get a few readers who are complete beginners, but beyond that, you won’t be able to attract quality readers who will stick around and buy the products that you’re selling or marketing.
So you can’t choose a niche that you’re passionate in (but isn’t profitable), and you can’t choose a niche that is profitable (but you know nothing about).
What you should be doing is to find a niche that straddles both sides of the equation.
You need to know enough about this niche to be able to explain the basics to someone at a dinner party, and at the same time, the niche should be one that’s decently profitable.
Got it? Great! Next up, we’ll talk about how you can find blog niche ideas.
Step 3: How To Find A Niche Market
In this section, I’ll outline three methods that you can use to generate ideas for niches to go into. Put on your thinking cap, and let’s get started!
1. Look Inwards
The easiest way to generate niche ideas is to start from what you know.
What are your hobbies and interests? What have you been meaning to get into, but haven’t had the chance to? What’s a skill that you’d like to learn? What are the problems and challenges that you’re facing?
IMPORTANT: Don’t self-censor, or hold back when you’re doing this step. You can always prune your list of niche markets and narrow it down later on — so just focus on coming up with as many ideas as possible as of now.
2. Research Online
Now that you’ve identified your own interests, hobbies and challenges, let’s move on to looking at what other people are interested in.
A great way of doing this is to check out Amazon’s list of bestsellers.
You can filter this by department, and go further into the different categories within each department.
Amazon aside, you can also get more inspiration by looking at these other platforms:
- ProductHunt, which curates the best tech products
- Shark Tank, which is a show that features innovative products and services
- Clickbank, which is pretty much the Amazon of digital goods
- Mix (previously known as StumbleUpon), where consumers can curate the “best of the internet”
- Alibaba, where you can find suppliers to manufacture any product under the sun
When adding niche ideas to your list, don’t think too much about whether a certain niche is profitable, or whether it makes sense for you to enter that niche.
We’ll get to that further down the road — so just focus on building up your list for now!
3. Ask Your Friends
After you’ve done your online research, the last step is to go to your friends and family, and pick their brains.
Ask them what they spend most of their money on — you might discover that they have some cool hobbies and interests that you never knew about!
Step 4: Checking The Profitability Of Your Niche
At this point in time, you should have a nice, long list of niches that you can potentially explore.
The next step on how to find a niche for your blog is to check whether each niche is profitable, and evaluate whether it’s a good fit for you…
Google Trends is a great tool that you can use to determine how well-received a niche is, and the best part is that it’s 100% free.
Here’s how you use this tool: log on to Google Trends, type in your niche, and then wait for your graph to be generated.
If you’re planning to sell only to the US for a start, make sure your location tab is set to the US; otherwise, you can change this to “Worldwide” or whatever region you’re in.
I also recommend switching the timing tab to “2004 to present”, so that you get a bird’s eye view of how your niche is growing (or not!) within the past decade or so.
For example, when I search for “Kombucha”, here’s what I get…
There are some fluctuations in the graph, but overall, it’s a nice upward trend that we’re looking at.
Of course, there are other things to take into consideration, but at this point in time, it seems as though the Kombucha niche is a pretty good one to enter.
If you want to, you can also use Google Trends to compare different niches. Just click the “Add comparison” tab at the top right hand corner, and enter a second keyword.
After inputting “Yoga Pants” as my second keyword, here’s what I get:
Look at the graph on the left (below the text that says “Interest Over Time”) — this shows that there are more searches for Yoga Pants as opposed to Kombucha.
That said, you can also see that interest in Yoga Pants peaked somewhere in 2014, and less people have been searching for this term ever since.
Since Yoga Pants is on a downward trend, it’s obvious that Kombucha would be a better niche to go into.
How to find a niche for affiliate marketing?
There are plenty of affiliate network platforms that you can use to check out the affiliate programs that are available within your niche.
Personally, I like to use Commission Junction (also known as CJ) to do my research.
To view the affiliate programs on CJ, you’ll have to sign up for an account on their website.
Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click on “Sign up”. (Don’t worry, signing up for an account is completely free!)
Once you get redirected to your dashboard, click on “Advertisers” on the top panel, and enter your niche in the “Keywords” section.
As you can see, here’s where I hit a dead end. Since there are no affiliate marketing programs that deal with Kombucha, this means I wouldn’t be able to promote someone else’s product, and make a profit off it.
Now, if I really want to pursue this niche, I could still go on Alibaba and purchase Kombucha-related products to resell. But I’m not too keen on dealing with inventory, shipping, and all that jazz – so it’s back for the drawing board for me.
I’ll pick another idea from my list of niches, and research the profitability of that niche instead.
Forums And Message Boards
Last but not least, check out if there are forums and message boards where consumers go to discuss your niche.
Why is this important?
First, if consumers hang out at forums to talk about a certain niche, this means that they’ve got more than a passing interest in that niche. This, in turn, means that they’re more likely to spend on that niche!
On top of that, if there are forums and message boards that you can advertise on, this means it’ll be easy for you to reach out to your target audience, and drive traffic back to your site.
Yes, you’ll have to spend some money on advertising… but if you can reach out to high-quality consumers who will buy your products, then it’s worth it!
To search for forums, use FindAForum, and click on “Advanced Search”.
From here, input your niche, choose your category, and under “Show Forums With”, check the “AdSense”, “Sponsorship Potential”, and “Donation Requests” boxes.
Additional Questions To Ask When Evaluating Your Products & Niche
Now that you have a rough idea of how popular and profitable your niche might be, here are a few questions to assess how easy it is for you to serve the consumers in that niche.
- Are the products in your niche available locally? The tougher it is to buy these products at local stores, the more likely consumers will venture online and make a purchase from you.
- Who are your target customers? Do they have disposable income? Are they comfortable with shopping online?
- Is your niche seasonal? Seasonal niches aren’t bad per se — but you will have to deal with having next to no income for the bulk of the year, and having a ton of sales during the months when your product is in season.
- Is your product subject to trends? If you find a niche that is cyclical and has a quick turnover (eg fast fashion), what will you do with your unsold stock?
- Is your product consumable? If you’re dealing with a consumable product, it’s much easier to retain your customers.
Assuming your product meets their expectations and fulfils their needs, they’ll be back to make a second purchase when they run out!
- Are the products in your niche regulated in other parts of the world? This one’s a biggie — plenty of countries impose restrictions and regulations on items such as food products, chemical products, alcohol, etc.
If you find a niche for your blog that involves selling products to overseas markets, then steer clear of these niches.
For those of you who are planning to sell your own products (instead of doing affiliate marketing), here are some other questions to consider:
- What is your markup? There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to this, but I personally recommend aiming for 50% at the very least.
This way, you have enough to cover your marketing budget, your shipping fees, and other miscellaneous costs.
- How will you price your products? Too high, and you might find that your customers are picky and hard to serve.
Too low, and you’ll need to move a great deal of inventory in order to generate a decent income.
For most eCommerce stores, the sweet spot ranges from $75 to $200.
- How large and heavy is your product? Will your product be prohibitively expensive to ship?
Consider shipping costs from your manufacturer to yourself, and from yourself to your consumer.
- Is your product perishable? Products with expiry dates are tricky — you can’t have them sit on your shelves for too long, because then you won’t be able to sell them.
If your products need to be refrigerated or stored in a certain way, this complicates things as well.
Step 5: Conduct Competitor Analysis
Cool beans — you now have a clear understanding of how profitable your niche might be.
Moving on, your next step is to get the lowdown on your potential competitors. It’s important to know who you’re up against!
Identify Key Competitors
How do you identify your key competitors?
Simple — just do a quick Google of your niche (and related products), and see what sites come up.
Then proceed to dig up as much dirt on these sites and businesses as possible!
Here are some things you could do:
- Check out their site traffic using SimilarWeb. (You can also use this tool to check out their traffic sources, their top referring sites, and their best-performing organic keywords).
- Get a free SEO audit of their site using SEOptimer.
- Look at their website, and evaluate if it’s user-friendly and optimized for conversions.
- Sign up for their newsletter, and see if they use an automated email campaign to nurture and eventually sell something to you.
Once you’re done, identify each company’s overall strengths and weaknesses, and think about whether you can serve your (potential) customers better than them.
Think About How To Brand Your Blog
Now that you know who your competitors are, take some time to think about how you can brand your blog and business to stand out from them.
This is a crucial step — if your grand plan is to just emulate your competitors and copy whatever content they’re putting out, you might as well just give up now.
Remember, your competitors have already established themselves in the space, and you’re starting from scratch.
If you don’t have anything new to bring to the table, you won’t be able to carve out a name for yourself.
Say you want to start a blog about parenting, and the eventual goal is to promote affiliate products in the parenting niche.
Well, there are a gazillion and one parenting blogs out there, so how do you differentiate yourself?
If you have a degree in Early Childhood Education, play it up, and use this to establish yourself as an authority and a thought leader.
If you’ve travelled to 20 different countries with your kids in tow, make this part of your story. Use whatever helps you stand out!
Step 6: Test Your Niche
We’re almost done! There’s just one last step you should take before you throw yourself into your chosen niche… and that’s to test your niche.
How do you do this? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Write 3-5 articles addressing the problems that the consumers in your niche are facing, and add some affiliate links in each article.
- Drive traffic to your website (either by running Google AdWords or Facebook ads, or buying ad space on those forums and message boards that we were talking about earlier).
- Monitor your conversion rates, and see if anyone clicks through to the affiliate sites and makes a purchase.
If you want, you can also create an automated email campaign and test that out, but if you think that’s too much of a hassle, then just stick with the above.
You’re not aiming for a ton of sales right off the bat — as long as you get a decent amount of link clicks and just ONE sale, you know that you’re on the right track.
BONUS: 24 Great Niches To Consider
If you’re still looking around for ideas and thinking about potential niches, hop on over to my Ultimate List of Niches & Niche Ideas, where I share 24 of the most profitable niche markets. You’re welcome! 😉
A Final Word On How To Find A Niche For Your Blog
I can’t reiterate this enough — finding the right niche is CRUCIAL, because your niche plays a key role in influencing the success you’ll have with blogging and earning money online.
Here’s a quick recap of what we talked about today:
Step 1: Understand what makes a good niche
Step 2: Learn how to address the Passion Vs Money dilemma
Step 3: Brainstorm a list of potential niches
Step 4: Check the profitability of your niches
Step 5: Conduct a competitor analysis
Step 6: Test your niche
And there you have it… a foolproof guide on how to find a niche for your blog.
Let me know how you’re finding your niche in the comments section, and feel free to shoot any questions that you might have over!