After many months of research, brainstorming and reflection I have finally concluded there are only a few crucial ingredients you must follow to have a super successful blog or website.
You don’t need to invest a lot of money in keyword tools, although I will admit they can be fun to play with. You probably already have the perfect niche idea inside your head. In this article, I’ll reveal a few tips & tricks on how you can discover it.
If you have already built a list of ideas, start by examining each one closely to see if they properly match up with your personality. Try not to get obsessed with how much traffic or money a website could make if you ranked highly for certain keywords. If you’re not passionate about the subject, you will likely burn out and so will your website/traffic/income.
If your niche feels forced, you have probably picked the wrong topic.
Think of starting a niche website as having the same qualities if you were getting married. You want to have everything working in your favor so you don’t get exhausted and burn out. You want to love the subject and be passionate about it.
Now there are more reasons than ever to pick an authentic niche. First it’s a lot more fun. Second, your audience can spot a phony blog with articles from a mile away. Also, the search engines are now able to tell the difference between a truly authentic blog compared to one churned out at a content farm, so don’t even waste your time trying to trick them.
It’s ok to let yourself go free when brainstorming niches. Write as many down as you can think of. The following advice is to be used for filtering out the good ideas from the bad ones so you will be left with a handful to make a final decision on.
So, here is my current list of Niche Filters. Each filter will weed out low quality ideas or niches that may be good, but don’t match up with your personality.
Niche Filter #1: What Are You Good At?
Take a blank sheet of paper or start a new document on your computer, and when you can find a chunk of distraction free time, write down everything you are good at. It can be anything from blowing bubbles, dog grooming, running a marathon, cooking, saving money, fashion, wood carving, fishing business, etc. No matter how trivial, as long as you are good at it, write it down.
Eventually, if you can find a niche that is centered around what you are already good at, it is MUCH easier to build a blog around the topic. Many times you will be able to write without research and words will flow off the top of your head. This means you will be able to crank out more content and do it faster. More content usually translates into more money down the road.
You can get an idea of how important this is by thinking of a topic you are NOT good at. Right now, pick something you are horrible at and try to write a paragraph or two about it. Now try writing a paragraph or two about something you know you are good at. See the difference?
Sure you can put together a blog on any topic if you wish, but if you want to maximize your chances of long term success, see if your idea passes the “What Are You Good At?” hurdle.
Take Inventory of Your Skills
Also, take inventory of your skills. In job hunting circles skills are divided into hard vs. soft skills. Hard skills are teachable abilities that can be quantified like typing speed, programming a web site, a specific degree or certification, etc.
Soft skills can also be called people skills. Communication, positive attitude, flexibility, creative thinking, etc.
When you are brainstorming or reviewing your current list of website ideas, be honest with yourself and cross out ideas which you know are not in your area. There is one exception which will go into more detail later in this article: topics you are not currently good at but would LIKE TO become good at. Keep those ideas alive (for now).
Niche Filter #2: What Experience Do You Have?
This is similar to the What Are You Good At filter, but will cover it briefly. Your experience could come from many sources such as your current and former jobs, hobbies you developed as a kid, skills, knowledge/expertise picked up in school or wisdom from growing older and suffering through real life experiences.
Experience gets its own category because sometimes you didn’t voluntary plan to gain it. Some examples include… taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s in your home. Helping a family member get approved for benefits… surviving and recovering from a car accident… getting rid of fleas in your home… what to do when you win the lottery… what to do and what not to do when joining the military… college advice… etc.
Experiences could also include travel or knowledge from working at a specific company or industry… moving to a new city, raising kids and more.
So, keep your experiences in mind as you judge your ideas.
Niche Filter #3: What Would You Like to Learn or Be Good At?
If you would like to start a website on a topic that you are not an authority on, there is one exception to the rule which makes it possible. Build a website that basically journals your progress from being a complete novice to an authority – or at least somewhere in the middle. This is one of the best opportunities as there is no way you can lose. The worst case scenario by the time you have “finished” your web site (to the point where most topics are covered), you will now be an expert in this niche.
One of the best circumstances to do this is when you have a chronic problem in your life that won’t go away. More than likely there are many other people in the world going that have the same problem and need help. Your site can help yourself while helping others at the same time and possibly earn revenue – maybe even to the point of quitting your day job.
Start building a list of things you would like to learn or become good at. Decide on which one you like the best and start blogging. Once you have posted enough content you can also sell a book version of your blog. That’s basically my plan with Niche Site Ideas. This is a journey for me to streamline the process of finding website ideas and choosing the ones that have the best odds for success. Using the George Kao technique, eventually I will organize all the info into a book.
Niche Filter #4: What Do You Love? What Are you Passionate About?
Well, ok this is an obvious no-brainer, but it still should be mentioned. Whatever topic you decide, try to make sure you have some love and passion for it. You don’t want to pick a topic that makes you miserable. There are many niches that are extremely profitable, but if YOU aren’t excited about it, you’re going to have a hard time getting traction with your website as it will be evident in your writing. Gone are the good old days of the Internet where you could rank high based on keywords, long articles and exact match domain names. Those tactics are dying quickly.
Your best bet is to treat your website like a high quality magazine in an era before the Internet existed. Build your site for humans, not robots.
Build a site that YOU want to exist. I’ve had the best success when I can spot an opportunity in a market – where I want the site to exist for myself. The site doesn’t exist, so I build it and sure enough others like it and it takes off. This is the same philosophy that the legendary Shoemoney recommends. One of the first sites he built was one called NextPimp.com which allowed cell phone owners to customize the wallpaper on their phone. He then upgraded the site and added ringtones. When he first started the site he did it for himself because he wanted it to exist. Fast forward a couple years later and he was able to monetize it and earn a massive check in the amount of $132, 994.97!
Some people say that the whole passion thing is B.S. and there may be some truth to that. The argument is that you can be passionate about anything if you’re making money at it. Suddenly a once dull subject becomes exiting… Alex from Create and Go touches on this a bit in this excellent video below. He says that passions are not found, they are developed:
The overall advice I’m hoping you get from this article is to not get obsessed with finding secret “hidden niches” where you can throw out low quality content and then retire on the beach. Try to think long term as if you were launching a high quality print magazine that would be around for years – like Popular Science, Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens or Motor Trend. Create as much value as you can and have fun doing so at the same time. Create a site you would want to exist for yourself. See our other article on this topic “#1 Most Important Rule When Searching For a Niche Site Idea“.
If you are still stuck, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you find your own custom tailored niche 🙂