I'm currently reading How to Build a Successful Blog Business by Collis Ta'eed. Wow, talk about in-depth & thorough! (I'm working my way right through, but I can't wait to get to the case studies at the end to see it all in practice. Word on the street is that they are worth the price of the ebook alone.)
Anyway, Collis touched on something important for new bloggers: Before you start a blog in a popular niche, make sure you have a unique angle!
A large niche is good in the sense that you know there's a market for it, but it's not-so-good in the sense that it's hard to stand out.
I think what happens for a lot of us (myself included) is that we find a blog and think, "Hey, I could do that!" Next thing we know, we're setting up a blog just like the one we've seen.
This is not all bad, of course, but if your goal is to make an income from your blog, standing out is key.
1. Do Your Research!
Collis provides some great, practical ways to research a niche and find out whether or not it has monetization potential, but in my opinion, one of the best places to start is to simply hang out and watch a bit.
See what well-known bloggers do in that niche. Check out the other blogs they link to. Follow them on Twitter and see who they communicate with.
Knowing your way around a niche and seeing who's involved is good to know because it will help you fine-tune the "thing" that will make you different from the rest. That "thing" is what you're after.
2. Ask, "What's missing?"
This question is exactly how BloggingWithAmy.com was born. There are a gazillion blogs about blogging and making money blogging. What I noticed though, is that a lot of them say things like, " Wanna start a blog? Great! You'll need hosting and a domain and then here's how to do it…"
Not a lot of them explained how to go about choosing a domain and how to purchase & set up hosting in a step-by-step way. So, even in this huge niche, I decided to tackle the basics where a lot of people seemed to get lost (like I did when I first started!).
As you're hanging out in your potential niche, continually ask yourself what's missing? What are people looking for? What are you looking for? Read comments, get involved in forums, Twitter and Facebook and keep your ears peeled for hints about what people want, but can't find.
3. Narrow Your Niche
Consider focusing on a niche of a niche, instead of the broader niche itself.
Someone who has done this well is Stephanie from Keeper of the Home. She recently ventured into the coupon/deal blogging niche (a HUGE niche), but at Saving Naturally, she focuses on deals for organic & natural products only. It was a smart move, especially when being green and going organic are so popular.
How can you refine your focus? Sure, you may have a smaller pool of potential readers, but you might be able to gain a quick following too.
4. Change Your Target
Another coupon/deal blogger, Carrie from Springs Bargains, has chosen to focus locally and blog about deals in her city. She lives in Colorado Springs, CO — a large enough city so there are lots of potential readers, but small enough so that there aren't a whole lot of well-established bloggers catering to the same group.
Not only are her readers loyal, but she has also been able to make IRL (in real life) contact with them via fun events and meetups she's planned. She's also been able to rise to the top of her local niche without an overwhelming amount of competition.
Is there a way to make your blog especially useful to a smaller (but not too small) group in your larger niche? What can you offer them that they aren't getting anywhere else?
5. Do Something Different
Bloggers tend to copy what other bloggers do. This is absolutely valuable in many ways, but it's not so good when it puts your blog right smack in the middle of average.
So, instead of just watching what someone else in your niche does and following suit, brainstorm ways to do things differently.
- Do most bloggers in your niche write long posts? Why not keep yours short?
- Do most bloggers in your niche write words? Why not vlog?
- Do most bloggers in your niche post a few times a week? Why not post every day?
Or maybe you could start a unique feature or incorporate an interesting twist — something no one else has done or something you saw someone in a different niche do that you think might work in yours.
You may have heard of The Pioneer Woman. Way back when, she was one of many bloggers blogging about their lives as a mom. But one day she started recounting the tale of how her (a city girl) and her husband (a cowboy) met and fell in love; her readers ate it up. Coupled with her outstanding photography and love for cooking, she subsequently rose to the top of her niche…and the entire mommy blogging world.
What hasn't been done before? Try it and see if it propels you to the top!
6. Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Plan
It could be that after you hang out a while in the niche you've chosen, you may suspect you'd have a much better shot at success in a different niche altogether. In that case, go for it!
7. Be You!
Gone are the days when you could jump into blogging and have a good chance of "making it" simply because there wasn't a whole lot of competition. There are millions of blogs currently and countless new blogs are started every day. In order to be found, you're going to have to stand out.
What's your unique angle?
Disclosure: I am compensated for purchases made via the referral links in this post.