There are a couple common challenges to blogging effectively when it comes to picking your niche:
- How to pick a profitable blog topic, and…
- How to pick a profitable blog topic when you already have an existing business.
I will try to shed a little light on both of these. Most importantly, if you’re blogging for the purpose of selling stuff, you’re smart. Good call. But if you want to sell stuff, you need to first make certain that there is a market for what you’re selling. This is the first order of business. It may seem like common sense, but you’d be amazed how often this step gets skipped entirely! I recommend using SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool. This is a free tool, and it can give you some huge insight into whether or not there is a real market for what you want to sell.
Here is a typical report this tool will generate for you:
I ran this report on the keyword “cake recipes” just as an example, because I wanted to show you what this tool offers you. Look at a couple things here:
- It seems “cake recipes” itself only generates an average of 63 searches per day. Not too heavy. But look at all the other related searches. Check out the scroll bar to the right in this screen shot, and you’ll see that it’s quite a list of very related searches, all totaling up to several hundred searches per day. Is this sufficient for your needs? I have no idea, because I don’t know what you plan on selling to these people, but the point is that it’s important to look at the whole report, not just the exact keyword you type in.
- Look at all the resources to the right. All those links take you to other reports and resources you can use to cross reference your results and get more ideas. It’s pretty comprehensive.
I’ve used this tool a LOT over the past couple years, and believe me it will enable you to save yourself a lot of heartache by confirming up front whether the niche you’re pursuing is even something people are interested in.
Another thing to consider
Let’s say you’ve found a keyword that gets plenty of traffic. That’s a good thing, right? Can you make money in that niche? Possibly. But just because there are a lot of people looking for information in a particular niche doesn’t mean they’re spending any money. There’s a difference between getting a lot of traffic and making a lot of money. This is a theme that will continue to come up here a lot, so I’ll go ahead and say it again: it’s better to get only moderate traffic in a profitable niche than to get tons of traffic in an unprofitable one. This sounds like a “duh” statement, but go look at how many people are trying to make a living with entertainment blogs and news blogs, and you’ll see very clearly that most bloggers often monetize as an afterthought. That’s fine of course, but if your goal from the start is to make money online, make sure you pick a niche where there is sufficient interest AND where people are actually spending money!
Do a search in Google and see if there’s any advertising in the sidebar in the search results page. Look at this result for “cake recipes”:
Now this is just my personal take on it, but there’s over a million search results and a grand total of 7 ads. And 3 of those ads are from big name companies, probably wasting money. If I was looking for a profitable niche, I’d want to see more than 7 people trying to make money on it. I’ve talked about this before, but competition is a good thing! If there are a bunch of people advertising to try and reach this niche with paid advertising, I’d take that as more of a sign that people were spending money on this niche. As it stands, I see a million pages offering free information and half a dozen people charging for it. This is not what I call a good target.
What if You Already have a Business?
Let’s say you own a business already, and you want to start blogging. Or maybe you’re already blogging and social networking and not getting the results you’re looking for. One common mistake a business owner will make when starting a blog is to simply use their existing business niche and build a blog around it. This is surely a logical approach, but don’t make the assumption that what you’re doing offline is going to work online. The internet is its own marketplace.
Think about it this way: if you were taking your business and starting another store in a new location…you would research that location first, right? You wouldn’t just assume that any old place will do, and you wouldn’t assume that what you do in one place is going to work somewhere else, right? There are a whole variety of factors to consider when opening a new location for your business, and doing it well and profitably requires that you do research up front. Give your business blog and social networking presence the same consideration.
For example, let’s say you’re in the real estate business. I use this example because I have experience in real estate, and I know a lot of people in the real estate business. The common assumption for a real estate agent would be to use their blog to post their new listings. That makes sense of course, but will it help you produce results toward reaching your goals? The name of this post is “How to Identify Your Most Profitable Niche Market”, so we need to find a niche for your blog that is actually profitable, not just one that makes sense.
From what I’ve seen, I’d say 99% of Realtors who have a blog, use their blog primarily as a place to post their new listings, and that’s about it. Look, marketing your listings is a big part of the real estate business, so that makes sense, and I think you should do it. But I strongly encourage you to dig a lot deeper. Are people in your market searching for vacation property? Short term rentals? Foreclosures? Multifamily investment property? If so, then any of these are worthy niches…valuable pockets of your market where you could slip in and dominate your competition…and you’re missing out on it entirely if you’re not doing your research!
Type in all the keywords you can think of that fit your existing business. Anything that you think is relevant to what you offer. How do you want to be found online? Type it in. See what comes up. Get familiar with what people are actually looking for. This keyword tool is a fantastic, free resource…use it! You can start a blog using a topic that “makes sense” if you want, but if you want great results, you need to be sophisticated in your approach. You need to provide content that is highly targeted to a market with demand that you have verified. This goes for those of you who want to start a new blog to make money online or for those of you with an existing business. It’s the same either way. Do the research and verify demand up front, and you will be well-rewarded.
A Specific Example of Finding a Profitable Niche
An example of this…I work for a real estate broker, and in her particular market there is a high demand for bank owned properties. There are a lot of people searching for bank owned properties; we’ve seen it. It’s funny, because compared to many markets across the country, there are very few bank owned properties in this market, but nevertheless…people are searching for it. So we set up a single page with a keyword-targeted domain name pointing to it…to target that traffic. When people search for bank owned properties in this market, her site will show up. No other real estate people in this market are doing anything nearly as targeted as this, and as a result I bet this page is going to do very well for her.
That’s all I’m talking about. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a matter of digging in deep, doing research up front and taking the time to make sure that whatever blog you want to set up is going to actually help you meet your goals.