Starting a blog is easy with the right tools. Finding that perfect blog niche, however, is the tough part. You might have a topic that you’re passionate about, but can you stick with it for a long time? It can be hard to tell.
I recently started a new blog called Where Plants Go to Die. It’s about gardening and houseplants (and my inability to keep them alive most the time). I wasn’t sure if it was the right blog niche for me. I’ve wanted to have a plant-related blog for a long time, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stick with it since I only occasionally keep a garden during the summer and kill all my houseplants (hence the title).
How do you decide if the idea for your new blog is the right one for you? I wasn’t sure how to tackle this at first, so I started a brain dump. I wrote out a bunch of questions, then, I went back and answered those questions.
This simple process helped me do many things:
- Realize how passionate I am about this topic
- Get an idea of how I would be able to use the blog
- Brainstorm topics
- Ignite excitement
- Create an action plan
This thought process helped me out tremendously. If you want to start a blog of your own, I highly recommend trying this for yourself.
Here are the questions I asked. I’ll go into detail about each one:
- What is it about?
- Who is it for?
- What are the possible main topics?
- What are possible secondary topics?
- How often would you like to post?
- How often could you realistically post?
- How much do you care about this topic?
- How much could you write about this topic?
- What kind of expertise is required?
- Do you have it?
- Could you obtain it?
- What would “the end of the blog” look like?
- Can you contribute unique information?
- Is this professional or personal?
- What monetization opportunities are there?
- Are they feasible?
- Is monetization important to you?
- How could you connect with other bloggers in this niche?
- What are some blog titles you could use?
- Why do you want to make this blog?
Not all questions need an answer. They’re only meant to help you start thinking so you can determine if your blog idea is the right path.
Write out the answers to the questions. Don’t just think about the answers. Write them out so you can see them. Write out your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Treat it like a messy journal entry. If answering a question toward the end makes you think of something to write down for a question in the beginning, go ahead and do so. I did that, myself.
You’re not just writing useless answers. You’re documenting ideas that you can come back to later.
What is it about?
It’s a simple question, but it’s arguably the most important. A blog without direction is messy.
Imagine going to a blog that promises to be about baking, but there are multiple posts about politics, auto repair, and volunteering. If you want your blog to be about all of those topics, that’s perfectly fine. But, you need to advertise your blog as such.
Your blog topic is going to draw in readers that are interested in that topic. If someone wants to go to your blog about baking and they have no interest whatsoever in auto repair, they might stop visiting your blog if you keep posting about that.
Decide what your blog is about and don’t stray from it. Of course, it’s okay if you want your blog to be a little of this and a little of that. Just make sure your readers know that ahead of time.
Who is it for?
Think about who your target audience is. This might be a tough question because it easily has a simple answer: anybody who’s interested.
That’s not necessarily the case, however.
Let’s go back to the example of the baking/politics/auto repair/volunteering blog. Who is that for? Handy bakers who want to make the world a better place? That’s specific, but maybe that’s the intended audience. If so, you can easily market your blog to that audience and form a community online who enjoys going to your blog.
I’ll use my plant blog as another example. It’s about plants. More specifically, houseplants and gardening. Most plant lovers love both houseplants and gardening. With all the videos and websites I’ve seen about the plant obsession, I don’t think I’ve seen too many people who are enthusiastic about one and hates the other. I can easily market my blog to “plant lovers.”
It’s possible for me to have issues with my target audience, however. If someone hates gardening but loves houseplants, and I start talking about gardening for a month or two at a time, I risk losing the houseplant lovers. If I venture out into the topic of environmentalism because it sort of pertains to plants, I risk losing all of my plant-loving audience if they aren’t interested in environmentalism, because that’s not why they came to the blog.
What are possible main topics?
Make a list of everything that pertains directly to your blog topic. Don’t steer too far off course. This list needs to be as focused on the topic as possible. These topics are the foundation of your blog.
Here are some main topics I wrote for my plant blog when I went through this process myself:
- Garden progress
- Organic gardening
- Plant rescue (Propagating or restoring plants I find)
What are possible secondary topics?
Think of secondary topics as being a little off-topic, but not so far off that your main audience will lose interest. Make a list for this group, as well.
Again, here are some things I wrote for my blog:
- Plant wish lists
- Plant hauls
- My favorite ____
My secondary topics are personal. They’d only interest the readers that want to get to know me as a person.
How often would you like to post?
What are your visions for this blog? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly posts? This where you’re allowed to reach for the stars.
how often could you realistically post?
This is not where you reach for the stars. Instead, you need to be as realistic as possible.
Things to think about when answering this question include:
- How much time can you contribute to this blog?
- Is the topic evergreen? That is, is it relevant all year long?
- What obligations do you have that would prevent you from posting regularly?
The example of the baking/politics/auto repair/volunteering blog might have difficulty juggling all four topics. Baking tends to be more popular in November and December because of holidays. Politics tends to be more popular every four years in the USA. Auto repair is evergreen. Volunteering is evergreen but might spike if a cause is getting a lot of attention in the media.
Let’s say this blog is your blog, and you decide to post once a week. Which topic do you post about, and how do you decide that? Or do you make four posts each week? That might be difficult to keep up with, especially if blogging isn’t your full-time job.
How much do you care about this topic?
A blogger that lacks passion might not be a blogger for long. You need to care about the topic enough to be able to post again and again, especially if you’re trying to make your blog work for you financially.
Caring might not even mean enjoying it. If you want your blog to be about a serious topic, like a cause or a political issue, you might not think it’s too fun to write about. But, if you care deeply about the subject, you’ll have the drive to continue.
how much could you write about this topic?
In other words, how much content do you have to contribute to this topic?
When I was answering this question, I noted that sometimes I don’t have money to buy a new houseplant, and I don’t keep a garden in the winter. That means I might have some dry spots on my plant blog where I don’t have much content to contribute. I’ll have to rely on some evergreen informational content to carry me through the winter.
This is where your secondary topics can help you. If you find yourself in a slow spot, take a look at the secondary topics you jotted down to see if there’s something else you can write about until you’re able to get back into the groove with your regular programming.
What kind of expertise is required?
Some topics require expertise. Do you have it? Could you obtain it?
If your blog is personal or opinion-based and you don’t intend to claim expertise in an area, you could probably skip this question. Still, if you’re going to make claims, it’s important to prove that you know what you’re doing, even if you only have to prove it to yourself.
What would the “end of the blog” look like?
Everything has to come to an end eventually. Or does it? You need to decide if your blog has a specific lifespan or an end goal. If it’s the kind of blog that will last “forever” as long as there’s content available, you need to figure out if it’s possible to run out of content. If it is possible, when will that happen?
Remember that the end of your blog can’t always be determined. Perhaps a new obligation will pop up in your life that will take up too much of your blogging time. Maybe you want to blog about a fad that will eventually go out of style. Consider these things when you’re answering this question.
Can you contribute unique information?
What do you bring to the table that’s different than what everyone else is writing?
If you Google, “how to bake a cake,” you will see several results about vanilla cake, white cake, and of course, how to bake a cake. Most of it looks the same, so it almost doesn’t matter which website you choose.
You want to stand out, right? If someone stumbles across your blog, you need to be memorable. How can you do that? If you know the secret to bake a vanilla cake in 5 minutes flat, that’s unique. You might draw in someone’s attention.
Don’t stress yourself over standing out. While it’s important for getting more views, what’s most important is that your blog provides good content, whether “good” means useful, informative, or entertaining.
Is this Professional or personal?
Are you going to use your voice, or are you going to sound like Wikipedia? It’s possible to be professional and provide information while showing your personality.
That’s what I try to accomplish on this blog. It’s my blog, not a blog; there’s a difference! I want to provide resources for writers, so I try to keep it on the professional side. However, I’m a person with a personality, and I don’t mind if it shows through.
Your blog topic, audience, and purpose will all determine how the blog should be written. A professional tone probably isn’t appropriate for a blog titled A Day in the Life of Fido, featuring your dog.
What Monetization opportunities are there?
Money isn’t everything, but with blogging, it can be something. Even if your purpose for blogging isn’t to make money, it’s wise to be aware of ways your blog could be a source of income, in case you do decide to go that route eventually.
Are they feasible?
Once you determine the possible income opportunities of your blog, consider what steps to take to make it happen. Again, money doesn’t have to be the driving force for your blog, but it doesn’t hurt to start taking steps in that direction in the very beginning.
Is Monetization important to you?
The answer to this question isn’t too important. All you need to know is your purpose for blogging. If monetization is an important aspect of blogging for you, then it will probably change how you go about building and marketing your blog.
How could you connect with other bloggers in this niche?
Socializing with other bloggers is a great way to spread awareness about your blog while simultaneously showing support for others. Blogging can be a solitary activity, but it can also be community driven. It’s possible that the people interested in reading about your topic have their own blogs in the same niche, as well.
It’s wise to connect with other bloggers so you can support each other. You might recommend their blog to someone, and in return, they can recommend yours to someone else. It’s a great way to help each other find new readers.
Places you can connect with other bloggers include:
- Other blogs
- Social media (make use of those hashtags!)
- Discussion forums
- YouTube videos/comments
What are some blog titles you could use?
Search the blog names as you brainstorm so you won’t get your heart set on a title, only to find out later that it’s taken.
Why do you want to make this blog?
When I jotted down these questions, I saved answering this one for last. As you answer all these questions, you’re thinking about the why. I grew more excited to start my plant and gardening blog with each question. By the time I reached this one, I had quite a bit to say about it.
I had been contemplating a plant blog for quite a long time. As I mentioned before, though, I had concerns with starting it up because my gardening and houseplant care can be sporadic. I needed to think about if I could really commit to blogging about it.
Answering these questions helped me out a lot. It helped me think of future blog post ideas, and now I have a bit of a game plan for the blog, too. Better yet, it allowed me to have new content for this blog, too.
Hopefully, these questions will help you out, too. I didn’t get these questions from other websites — I sat down and started typing out questions based on the answers I needed to find. This list isn’t perfect, and I can’t promise that it’ll help you solve all your problems, but I certainly hope it’ll at least point you in the right direction.
Seasoned bloggers, what other questions would you add to the list?
New bloggers, did something in this post help you in any way? I’d love to hear if it did.