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Episode 2: How to find your niche, the secret to successful blogging, and why you definitely don’t need to be an expert to start a blog
If you are at the beginning of your blogging career, or just setting up a new business and need a website – you probably want to find out how to create a website on a budget without breaking the bank and then monetise it.
You’ve come to the right place. I’ve been teaching WordPress since 2010 in Ireland – check out what clients say about my WordPress training – and I’ll show you in this ‘How to start a blog 2021 – The ultimate WP tutorial’ step-by-step:
How to start a blog 2021 – The ultimate WordPress tutorial’ will cover
- What kind of options you’ve got for each WordPress topic (free and premium)
- Advantages and disadvantage of each and what to look out for
- Where it’s worth spending some money and what you can do yourself easily (even for WordPress beginners)
- I include lots of written and video tutorials for each topic so it’s easy for you to follow
This is a full-blown tutorial series on how to build a small business website for beginners and getting into niche blogging, with individual detailed posts for each topic. The index makes it easy for you to find what you’re interested in, skip parts you don’t need and go back to parts you might like to do later.
What’s the secret to start a successful blog
Successful blogs can be about anything, not just wealth, health, food or fashion, which are currently some of the most popular blogging niches. However, any blog in any niche can become successful as long as you keep a few core values in mind.
The key components to make a blog successful would be that the content will improve the reader’s life, that you provide value and build trust.
Core values of a successful blog
- Improve the reader’s life
- Provide value
- Build trust
- Be committed to your blog
- Have an interested in your niche (not vital but it makes it so much easier and fun)
How to find your niche for your blog?
If you can provide these core elements to improve the reader’s life, provide value, build trust and you are in for the long-haul your blog can become extremely successful almost regardless of the niche you start a blog about. Try to be specific about your niche and core audience, but don’t try to combine unrelated niche ideas into one blog as it will be difficult to find an audience who is interested in exactly the same unrelated niches just because you are.
As an example, you might like gardening, fishing, football, cooking and paragliding which makes for an interesting lifestyle however finding people who are also interested in all five topics will be a challenge and it makes it more difficult for Google to display your blog to the right audience. My advice would be to investigate search trends for each blogging niche, do some good keyword research in regards to competition and search volume, think about how to monetise each niche and then decide which niche will be best to start a blog with.
For many bloggers – including myself – there is however one more crucial fact when starting a blog and that is to be passionate about your niche. This is not vital, but it makes it so much easier to stick with it and fun writing about it.
It’s not necessary, as you can see with the example of the Keto diet bandwagon – it’s a bit further down in this post under ‘Make money blogging‘ – you can start a successful blog just by picking the right niche without having a real interest in that niche, but for most bloggers, passion makes it much easier.
For many bloggers, it’s often a hobby like gardening, fishing, baking, gaming, cycling, travelling, photography etc. Things the blogger loves to do, read and write about. They share their passion with others and improve the reader’s life with their knowledge – and it’s even better when they realise that they can make money blogging with their blog. Once you have an audience, you can monetise your blog without being pushy.
5 steps to find your perfect blogging niche
1. Interest and passion
What are you interested in or passionate about? Pick a niche you enjoy reading and talking about, so it will be much more fun writing about because you’re interested in it anyway. You can simply write down your different interests or use a mind mapping tool to get a bit more clarity on your thoughts, ideas, interests and different passions.
2. Target audience
Who is your target audience? This is really important. Who are you writing for?
- It could be specific demographics such as age, gender, nationality or education.
- It might be a specific lifestyle people choose, e.g. an activity such as sailing, hiking or simply the outdoors,
or a lifestyle choice like to follow a specific diet e.g. keto or veganism.
- It could be a lifestyle they find themselves in e.g. pregnancy, being new to a country/area, being single etc.
- Also think about whether you focus on beginners or professionals in your niche, e.g. beginner tutorials about photography or all the newest trends for advanced and professional photographers.
Some niches and target audiences are great to combine such as baby development and baby weaning, however often it can be easier to get established in a certain niche first by starting with just one topic and then adding a related niche after an audience and domain authority has been established.
If you’re not clear about your target audience it can be difficult to reach the right people – the ones who are really interested in your niche. If your site is too broad and not focussing on one target audience, readers might not come back to your blog and therefore it will be difficult to grow your site.
3. Narrow down your niche
Let’s say you choose ‘Fitness’.
Fitness is massive!
Now ask yourself ‘Fitness for who’?
Fitness for women (ok, now narrow it down more)
-> Fitness for women between 20 and 40 years of age
-> Fitness for women between 20 and 40 who have children
-> Fitness for women between 20 and 40 who have very young children
-> Fitness for young mothers with babies and toddlers!
There we go – this is our target audience ‘Fitness for young mothers with babies and toddlers‘ and it’s not just ‘Fitness’ or ‘Fitness for women’ which would be very broad with great competition and difficult to break in as a new blog with low domain authority and no backlinks yet.
Now we have identified our target audience ‘Young mothers with small children who want to stay fit or become fit again’. That’s a very different audience than let’s say single women who have not recently given birth and have much more flexibility in organising their days.
Each group or audience will have completely different goals and priorities.
If you try to create a fitness blog for everyone you won’t be able to tailor your content to any specific audience. Therefore, likely you won’t win their trust as the content will be too diverse. I think we all agree, it would be a challenge to create a post that would be of interest to a teenager, a mother of three and a man who plays squash three times a week.
However, once young mothers who are interested in fitness but don’t have time for the gym, come to your site and realise it’s all about ‘Fitness for young mothers with babies and toddlers’ it’s very likely that they’ll sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media. Because you understand them (trust) and provide exactly what they’re looking for – you provide value (all content is targeted to them, no waste of time) and it will improve their lives.
Does that sound familiar? See above ‘What’s the secret to start a successful blog‘ 😉 So, niche down and identify your target audience!
4. Is your niche popular enough?
There are lots of online keyword research tools available however one of the easiest and free tools just to get started would be Google Trends.
You can compare different search terms and see how popular they’ve been over the last 12 months. It’s not the most comprehensive research tool out there but it gives you a good idea on what people google for.
In the example below, we compared 5 search phrases and we can see that even though they all are searched for, ‘yoga at home’ has been the most popular one in the past 12 months and is searched for consistently, so it might be a good topic to focus on.
And the data comes straight from Google itself, there is no better source for traffic data.
5. Keyword research
Now we come to the part which will make all the difference whether your blog will get traffic or not. Especially at the beginning of your blogging journey, it can be very frustrating and demotivating if all your hard work of writing great blog posts just seem to disappear in cyber space, don’t get found, read, shared or comment on. They key here is keyword research and do it before you start writing!
Believe me, it’ll save you a lot of work instead of rewriting your posts – I’m guilty of this too as I love writing and sometimes ideas just come into my head, I start writing and 2000 words later I remember that I haven’t done any keyword research yet. Rewriting posts take long and is cumbersome work, listing to my own – and SEO experts – advice of doing your keyword research first makes it so much easier and enjoyable ;-).
There are lots of keyword research tools available and I have written a full mini-series about keyword research, covering all the basics, how to find long-tail keywords and kickstart your traffic, all about free keyword planning tools, and comparing two of my favourite and most affordable keyword planning tools. A whole mini-series as keyword research will make all the difference whether your blog posts will be found or not. Keyword research is one of the most important tasks when blogging, but often it seems a bit complicated for new bloggers even though it doesn’t have to be.
The blogging world is very competitive and if you don’t do your research your blog will very likely just be one of many thousands which will never make it on page 1 in Google and will therefore never be found – all your hard work for nothing and unfortunately no blogging revenue either.
Some of the best known and most extensive keyword research tools cost around $100 per months, which is a lot if you just getting started. Let’s have a quick look at one of the less expensive but very comprehensive research tools, which can make keyword research a breeze. One of my favourite tools would be LongTail Pro, and I use it almost daily. It’s very easy to use and gives you loads of bang for the buck, here you can find a very detailed post about Long Tail Pro vs. KWFinder – all pros, cons and how to get the best deals.
Let’s have a look at the fitness example we had above and with what kind of post titles you could get onto page 1 in Google without any problems even with a new blog and no domain authority.
Don’t get discouraged by lower search volume, it actually feels really thrilling when you get your first few readers, your first few shares and comments. It’s exhilarating when strangers find your blog, like what you’ve written and subscribe to your blog because they want to read more of what you write. You need a starting point – and actually a search volume of 880 is not too bad, that’s just one search phrase – and then you can steadily build on that.
You can try Long Tail Pro for free for 7 days with 100 keyword suggestions per day, you can even download them for future blog ideas every day and keep them even if you don’t sign up for an account after your trial. KWFinder offers a free trial too and you don’t even need a credit card to use it. You can read more detailed information about Keyword Research for SEO – free Google keyword alternatives and compare Long Tail Pro vs. KWFinder, two very comprehensive keyword planners that come with a really low price tag.
Do I have to be an expert in a topic when starting a blog?
No, you don’t have to be an expert at all to run a successful blog, podcast or even a radio show. However, having an interest in the topic you write or talk about does certainly help, as the research, you will have to do will be much more pleasant if it’s about something you are interested in.
If you are enjoying this post, would you mind sharing it with your network? Yes, it’ll mean a lot to me. However, sharing helpful content on social media will benefit you too. People will realise you are someone to go to for great information. Just one click:
Ok, I said that we don’t have to be an expert to start a blog or even a radio show. That might sound a bit extreme but I think we all agree to start a radio show would certainly be more difficult than starting a blog. Good news, it’s possible and a good example would be Irish radio presenter Jonathan McCrea who has made a career out of writing and speaking about science but curiously he doesn’t have any background in any of the sciences.
In school, he never had much interest in science. “I had great teachers in school but I didn’t pursue science at the time. Now it’s all about explaining the universe or sending people into space, but in my time it was presented in a pretty dull way. I was always interested in logic and reason, however. I’ve always been fascinated with how things work.”
He studied communications and worked in IT, but Science would prove to be McCrea’s niche and he would go on to forge a multi-award-winning media career presenting The Science Squad on RTE and Futureproof on Newstalk 106-108fm.
He has said himself, that he’s no science expert but has a keen interest in it and his listeners love his shows (including myself).
Then there is Pat Flynn from smartpassiveincome.com who lost his job as an architect and decided to start an internet business. His blog was initially set up as a website to store his notes while studying a special type of architecture qualification called the LEED exam. He created an ebook out of his notes and sold it to people who wanted to pass this exam.
He said himself, he was no expert in this field but he had managed to pass the exam and realised that his knowledge was in demand after helping others on a forum. He still remembers when he made his first $1.08 in advertising clicks, then months later a few thousand in sales from his ebook and today he’s a well-known millionaire running a media-based education and training company.
Experience not required
“You don’t have to know everything about a topic to give a talk about it.”
—Abi Jones, UX Manager at Google
…Or to start a podcast. Or to write an article. Or be on a panel. Or present in front of a group. Just do your research!
What is imposter syndrome
You might have heard of Imposter Syndrom. It’s actually very common and everybody who starts out will be familiar with it. It refers to believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. You doubt your skills, talents or accomplishments. You feel that you’re not an expert in your field and there are others out there who are better or know more than you. And most likely there are people out there who are better or know more than you, but that does not mean that your knowledge is not extremely valuable to others. And maybe you have other advantages such as good writing or communication skills, or more endurance and great determination which will enhance your skillset as a blogger enormously.
Any new transitional experience, a new career, a promotion or starting your own business, can trigger those feelings and it’s often the reason why people step back into safety, back into the familiar and not taking the step to get out there.
You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.ROY T. BENNETT
Just don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. There is no need to be an expert to start a blog, many blogs are about sharing experience and learning from each other. Be honest about what your blog is about and you will attract the right kind of audience for your niche.
If you’re starting a blog under false pretence, readers will find out and they won’t like it. It’s a common issue in the fitness branches where people think just because they have tried some kind of exercise or diet that they are now someone who can tell others what to eat or do, often without any evidence or background knowledge. You can read an entertaining summary of fake fitness bloggers in Jasmine’s post on Stylecaster, even though it’s already a few years old it’s still interesting.
In summary, many bloggers – and readers – like to share their experience instead of trying to be an expert. You can share your journey with your readers and learn from each other. As I mentioned before, be honest what your blog is about and you will attract the right kind of audience for your niche.
Blog to make money
When it comes to writing engaging content passion certainly helps, however, that said there are also many successful bloggers out there who blog about something popular just to make money online e.g. the Keto diet a few years ago. Many bloggers jumped on the bandwagon and some of them made really good money while Keto was suddenly very popular but there wasn’t much information out there yet.
These bloggers are not really – or not at all – passionate about the topic they write about, but do very good keyword research and then write search engine optimised (SEO) content on topics that are high in demand.
That can work extremely well, but I just find it much easier to write about things I love and believe in especially in the long run ;-).
What about you, what would you like to blog about? Is it for passion or money or both?
Please let me know in a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
Read our last post ‘Why WordPress and what to know before getting started‘ or find out ‘Where to find the best and fastest website themes‘. Or how popular WordPress really is and why it’s trusted by world-renowned businesses.
Check them both out or click the button above for the full index of the How to start a blog in 2021 Index- step-by-step WordPress tutorials so far and I’ll keep updating this index as the WordPress tutorial guide develops.