In the first part of the Start a Blog Series, we talked about why you need a blog. To continue the series, in this post we will discuss how to find your niche (or, in other words, what your blog topic will be). This is actually a twofold process. First, you want your topic to be something that you have a background or interest in. Second, you want to be sure that others are interested too, because you don’t want to be the only visitor to your own blog! Other people who share your interests are what we’re going to refer to as your target audience. Keep reading to find out how to identify your niche and properly select your target audience.
What are your interests or background experience?
It’s important to identify what you’re interested in. If you blog just to blog, it will be really obvious. Your blog posts will be shorter, vague, and sound forced. Posts like that are not the share-worthy content that you want to create for your audience. But if you choose to blog about a passion, your posts will automatically become longer, more authentic, and you’ll sound like an expert. Take a moment and really think about all of your interests. Log them either with pen and paper or in a Google doc. Seriously, jot down whatever comes to mind. You can include your hobbies, skills, television shows, ministries, magazines, anything!
Now, take a look at the list of interests that you’ve compiled. Is there a recurring theme present? For example, you love any show on HGTV, you enjoy looking for diy home decor and improvement projects, and during your Target runs, you can’t help but browse through the new issue of Better Homes and Gardens. In that case, it would be safe to say that your niche is home diy and improvement.
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What if you don’t see any recurring themes?
Of your interests, are there any that your friends or family identify you with? Before your best friend goes shopping, does she make sure to ask you where the best deals are because of your extreme couponing? Or maybe your friends are constantly in awe over the way you seem to effortlessly style clothing and accessories while they struggle with figuring out which pieces pair well together? If you’re the go-to resource for something that you’re also passionate about, that would make an awesome niche for you!
What if there are no recurring themes and you aren’t identified as a resource?
Looking at your list of interests, is there anything that just sets your soul on fire? Is there an interest that if everyone had, the world would be a better place? You want to shout from the rooftops just how great it is. You love it so much that you feel sorry for those people who don’t know about it or how to do it? Let’s say you love photography. In your spare time, you like to learn new techniques and experiment with new equipment to improve your photos. When you see someone post their vacation photos, you find yourself thinking about how you would have captured the shot from a different angle, adjusted the aperture, etc. If one of your interests has such an impact that you wish everyone had it, or it acts as a filter for how you see the world, then that would also be a great niche!
If none of the above techniques were helpful, it’s time to go straight to the most important one. It’s time to have a conversation with our Heavenly Father. Ask Him to show you what you’re over looking. Ask Him to guide you to the area in which He has set you apart. If you genuinely seek Him, He will make it known to you. Humble & Whole is proof of that.
Why you shouldn’t blog about everything
You can blog about everything, and in that instance you’re fighting an uphill battle. Let’s say in your spare time you love baking, you’re an avid runner, you’re the most stylish of your friends, and you love recommending books. Let’s also say that instead of narrowing a niche, you decide to blog about all of these things. And you do manage to get some traffic. A young woman sees your pin for homemade strawberry cheesecake and clicks over to your blog. She loves the recipe so she bookmarks your blog. When she comes back to your website three weeks later, she gets confused because she can’t find any new recipes; instead, you’re blogging about your new ebook “From 1 Mile to Marathon.” What are the chances that she’ll return to your blog? Slim at best.
By narrowing your niche, you learn how to relate to one particular group rather than five different crowds. By consistently posting content suitable for one crowd, it’s easier for your audience to relate to you and return to your website because they trust that your blog will provide them with the information that they’re looking for. Returning visitors become loyal followers, and loyal followers become your future customers.
Now that you’ve got a solid idea of what your niche is, it’s time to determine your target audience. Your target audience and your niche are related, but they are not the same thing. Your target audience is a small (or targeted) facet of your niche. To use Humble & Whole as an example, our niche is blogging and online business. Our target audience is Christian creative women/aspiring bloggers. Another example: your niche may be photography, but your target audience is bloggers wanting to get the most out of their DSLR.
How you can identify your target audience
The first step to identify your target audience is to first imagine exactly who you want to visit your blog. In other words, your ideal reader. You should actually create an ideal reader profile, especially if you can’t personally think of anyone in real life that would enjoy your blog. How old is your ideal reader? What are their beliefs? What does she do for fun? Where does she hang out online? (This is absolutely vital to figure out in order to drive traffic to your blog later)
How you can verify your target audience
Once you’ve figured out who you want to blog for, you can verify that your ideal reader is out there. You’ll want to take a look at Facebook groups, message boards, social media accounts (search hashtags), conferences, etc. So, what does this look like in action? Going along with an earlier example, you’ve decided to blog about photography. And you want to target bloggers who want to get the most out of their DSLR and take great photos for their blog. You see a Pinterest board (various boards, actually) where users are pinning blog photography tips. Or, in a Facebook group for beginner bloggers, you see a thread where members are asking how to use the DSLR they just purchased to take great pictures. In both instances, you have proof that your target audience exists. And when you find your evidence, take good notes. What are they saying about your topic? What issues are they facing? What are they having trouble figuring out? Use this to get content ideas for your blog and show your target audience that your information is of value to them.
When you take the time to get clear about your niche and your target audience, it will be so much easier down the road when you’re trying to create products and services that are profitable.
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