Choosing and focusing on a niche in blogging is an essential first step and serves many valuable purposes, for you, your readers, and your pockets. If you hope to eventually make a successful, profitable blog, starting by exploring the proven, most profitable blog niches and choosing yours accordingly is the first step to blogging success and profits.
For your readers, understanding your niche communicates exactly what your blog is about and what they can expect you to deliver.
For you, good niche selection sets you up for success by choosing a low competition, high paying niche, or helps you manage expectations by understanding the higher competition and lower payoff up front for some niches if you’re blogging for passion.
The most valuable element of choosing a niche is that defining your blogging topic and subtopics upfront keeps your content planning and writing focused on specific topics that will perform better in SEO, will respond better to the needs of your user base, and will contribute to a cohesive library of content.
In this section, we will help you understand the importance of niches and guide you through the selection of your niche.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- A comparison of niches to identify which is best for you
- Define niche by asking the right questions about your experience and expertise
- Validate the viability of your niche and sub-niche (audience, profitability, low competition) with a little research
THE TAKEAWAYS & FACTS UP FRONT
- Well defined niches keep our content focused and help readers identify as our readers and predictably expect content we’ll deliver
- Specific niches (Finance, Food) have lower competition and higher profitability, setting us up for success from the start. Pick the right niche for your expectations
WHY DO YOU NEED A WELL-DEFINED NICHE IN BLOGGING?
Writing within a well-defined niche and sub-niches helps audiences pre-identify themselves as your target readers, expect great things from your blog, and stick around through the “get to know you” phase.
For your reader, having a clearly defined niche and sub niches for your blog helps them understand what to expect from your blog. Even further, well defined sub-niches help readers pre-identify themselves as part of your audiences and tribe and starts the rapport building process, between you and them.
Just as understanding a blog is about travel may help us, understanding that the blog is more clearly about Vietnam, or solo female travel, or surf travel helps readers connect with you and your content right from the jump because they know what to expect, what problems you aim to solve, and whether you will solve their problems.
For you, choosing the right niche and having well defined sub-niches help you stay on track on the path to success and focusing on delivering that promise of what your content is about.
Payoff and Competition Vary by Niche, so Choose Accordingly while considering your tolerances and expectations
As we introduced in the post **How Blogs Make Money**, some niches are predisposed to higher earnings while others are bound by higher competitiveness levels. The most profitable blog niches, blogs in the food and personal finance niches pay the most by far, average ~$9,000 per month. This higher payout is due to the nature of the content, ad networks that cater to these niches, and commonly associated products for these niches. On the other hand, the travel blogging niche, one close to my own heart, unfortunately pays far lower (~$5,000 per month) and is the most competitive niche in blogging.
You can increase your probability of success and reduce your timeline to success from the start by choosing the right niche – or – you can manage your expectations by understanding the journey to “success” will require more passion, time, and effort than other niches.
Writing in well-defined niches keeps our content focused on the reader’s needs
Choosing a well-defined niche and sub-niches also serves to keep us on track with our content, staying on topics relevant to that niche and to the problems & interests of our readers and tribe as a whole.
Though we might love to write about every topic in the world at our whim, readers are most concerned with having their initial questions answered, and then follow on questions answered relating to that same topic. Those follow on questions will undoubtedly be within the same sub-niche. By keeping our writing narrow and focused, we are more likely to answer the reader’s initial question and the next question, ultimately fulfilling their needs as much as possible. After their questions have been answered, readers will keep your site in mind as a great resource for tangential questions on that same topic.
As we already discussed, the niche we select has a significant effect on how easily success will come, thanks to predictable levels of competition with other bloggers in the niche, the general profitability of the niche, and the common hurdles new bloggers in the niche tend to encounter.
Now that we’re familiar with why good niche selection matters, for building an audience and setting ourselves up for success from the start, let’s take a moment to understand what a niche is, the major niches in blogging, and how these niches compare to each other.
A niche is an interest or topic that appeals to a portion of the population. Examples of niches within the blogging space include travel, parenting, automotive, sports, and personal finance.
To reiterate, selecting a niche important because
1) Niches guide us in creating somewhat predictable content within a topic that our audience (and search engines) can come to rely on
2) Niche (and sub-niche) selection help us focus on the needs of a small, specific (but economically viable) portion of the population, thoroughly addressing their needs. This approach builds rapport and a deep-seated relationship with a loyal following and is the most efficient path to success in blogging.
In addition to niches, subniches are also valuable as they help us hone in our writing and content to address very specific, unaddressed topics that are important to our readers. By using our chosen sub-niche as a guide for topics in writing content that our readers need and can’t get anywhere else, we solidify our brand, solidify the relationship with our readers, and set our blogs up for organic audience growth
Whereas travel may be a niche, solo travel for women, single parents traveling with children, surf travel, and budget travel for college students are all very viable niches that can hone in on needs of small segments of the population that are currently unmet in media and the blogosphere at the moment.
In the beginning, and throughout your blogging career, honing your sub-niche will be very important as it will help you stand out from the crowd, rank easier in Google, and more easily connect with your readers.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE MOST PROFITABLE BLOG NICHES
Though the number of niches you can choose are infinite, over 80% of the most profitable blogs fall into the following niches:
- Personal Finance
If you are considering a niche outside of these 5 niches, don’t be discouraged. If it passes the validation process (proving there is opportunity, audience, and the potential for profit) then you’ve found a hidden gem, so you should still continue.
For the rest of us, still blogging on major topics, it is worthwhile to examine these 5 niches for profitability, competitiveness, and the unique trends of each. Form there, we can decide whether they’re indeed suitable for us, our profit expectations, and the level of competition (and work) we’re ready to handle.
Let’s go through each of the most profitable blog niches, one by one
1. Personal Finance: Low competition, high payoff
The personal finance blogging niche is one of the easiest to get into with the highest payoff, if you have the knowledge to write the content. The personal finance blogging space is much less cluttered than its counterparts, content length tends to be shorter by nature, and writing content tends to be formulaic (i.e., responding to a question, delivering a how to article, delivering a list of options) making it easier to get started.
Popular topics include budgeting, saving, credit cards, banking account selection, personal financial planning, investing, taxes, minimalism, and more.
Viable monetization paths include ads but affiliate marketing (of financial products, information products, and services) is more efficient with smaller audiences.
The average professional blogger within the personal finance niche earns approximately $9,000 per month.
2. Food: Low competition, high payoff
The food blogging niche is an extremely wide niche with lots of payoff and potential. Though the food blogging niche may seem cluttered, it benefits from the fact everyone on the planet needs to eat and there are so many different approaches to how to make that happen(cuisines). This wide appeal and underrepresentation of cuisine/niche specific blogs relative to the number of types of cuisine (e.g., Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Vegan, etc.) leaves plenty of opportunity for newcomers with the right sub-niche selection.
Most professional food bloggers monetize via AdThrive which pays such high rates to its publishers that bloggers can create a sustainable business through ads alone – but admission to the AdThrive ad network does require a minimum of 100,000 monthly sessions to a website.
Additionally, food bloggers can monetize via affiliate marketing by recommending products (e.g., cookware, ingredients), courses (masterclasses and cuisine specific courses), and services (e.g., subscription box delivery services).
The average professional food blogger earns roughly $9100 per month.
3. Travel: High competition, low payoff
The travel niche is arguably the most competitive niche in blogging and close to the lowest paying blogging niche. Due to the high number of travel bloggers, and the plethora of evergreen content, breaking into the niche can be difficult and generally takes two years minimum of concerted effort – though good sub-niche selection or significant existing social media assets can cut this timeline down.
For many travel blogs, monetization is a combination advertising income and affiliate marketing, split roughly in half. Mediavine is the most common ad network for professional travel bloggers and (generally) pays the highest rates (though some travel bloggers see better success with Ad Thrive).
Affiliate marketing opportunities tend to be heavily dependent on the sub-niche of the travel blog (e.g., luxury travel, budget travel, travel preparation), most focusing on accommodation recommendations, tours, and products for packing lists.
The average professional travel blogger earns roughly $5000 per month.
If you have a dream of starting a successful travel blog, I highly recommend reconsidering it as any more than a hobby as this will be a long road that takes a lot of effort. However, if you’re already on the road and you have enough drive and passion, go for it.
4. Marketing – Moderate competition, low payoff
The marketing niche of blogging encompasses everything from small business marketing, to SEO, to social media marketing, to even blogging about blogging. Though the niche is less competitive than travel to break into, the payoff is much lower as the market is cluttered and, if you are in the US, Europe, or Australia, you will still be competing against lower cost players in India, the Philippines, and other strong outsourcing hubs.
The average professional marketing blog earns $4000 per month
5. Lifestyle: Competition and payoff vary heavily based on sub-niche and monetization strategy
The lifestyle bogging niche captures a remaining smattering of subniches that vary just as widely in topic as they do in monetization paths and competitiveness.
Examples of lifestyle blogs include mommy blogs and parenting blogs, fashion, automotive blogs, sports blogs, men’s lifestyle blogs, and more.
Profitability for most lifestyle blogs falls within the range of the other niches (~$4000 to $9000 per month) and very few subniches tend to be more competitive than travel.
Lifestyle blogs tend to be well monetized by all methods – ads, affiliate marketing (products and services), lead generation, owned products, and owned courses.
Lifestyle Blog Subniches
(Note: Income and blog distribution data sourced from the TBM blog composition and Income Study)
OVERVIEW OF AVERAGE AND COMPETITION BY NICHE
- Personal Finance: $9,100 /mo. | Difficulty: 13
- Food: $9,100 / mo. | Difficulty: 38
- Travel: $5,000 / mo. | Difficulty: 78
- Marketing: $4,200 | Difficulty: 68
- Lifestyle: $5,200 | Difficulty: 69
**Note: Lower difficulty number correlates to less competition and easiest entry
When picking niches, your goal should be to pick a niche that you can stay interested enough in to write for at least two years without significant compensation and that is profitable and viable as well – but, sets you up for success as quickly as possible.
To identify your niche, we’ll take the approach of first brainstorming your possible niches, then validating them for opportunity and profitability.
The Niche Brainstorming Phase
In the first phase brainstorm by sitting down and writing down every topic that interests you and that you are fairly knowledgeable on.
After you’ve listed your interests, scroll up and return to our list of sub niche ideas to see if there are any additional sub-niches/interests that you can add. Read through those and see if any fit as possibilities for you.
I realize this “just ask yourself what you’re interested in” approach can seem intimidating, so ask yourself the following questions to spark some ideas.
Identifying what you love, know, and are equipped to write about
- What do you love?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you already know in depth?
- What you would like to know in depth?
- What would people follow you for?
Identify what information do you love to share so much that you could/would create and share it for free
- What topic could you speak on for hours (that people would find interesting)
- What topic could you write, talk on a podcast about, or make videos on?
Identify the topics people would and do trust you for information on
- What would/do people follow you for and recommend you for?
- What are you good at and knowledgeable of that people seek your advice for?
- What do people ask you for help on?
- What are your interests and expertise? Professional and Personal…
- Follow Up Question: Is there a problem you could solve by writing content?
Bonus: Identify what can you offer within these niches that is unique or uncommon.
Now, take your answers, notes, and sparked ideas from the questions above and list all of the potential niches that suit you based on skills, expertise, interests, knowledge, and reputation.
Prioritize them from the niche you would most like to write on then proceeding down to the niche you would least like to write in.
In the next section, take this highest prioritized niche and we will walk through identifying your target sub-niches before validating your niche has a sufficient opportunity that is right for you.
Let’s identify three to five potential sub-niches to validate.
Sub-niches will allow you to easily narrow your content into very specific silos that make your content (and the value you deliver) even more predictable for readers, letting them know exactly what they can come to you for. Additionally, writing on these sub-topics will keep your content organized and make flow through your content easier.
To brainstorm sub-niches, simply think of sub-topics within your primary niche that people need content for. Also, feel free to return to our list of sub-niches above.
If you need help brainstorming, I recommend doing a little “market research” to see what questions readers are asking. To do this, head to any forum, Q&A site (like Quora), or social media platform that is heavily conversation based (Reddit, Facebook). Then search for your niche (e.g., fitness, parenting, travel). Look at the unique questions people are asking and note the general sub-topic that the question falls into within your niche.
For example, our site ABrotherAbroad.com is all about travel, but within travel we cover the sub-niches of fitness while traveling, traveling for adventure sports, clothes, shoes, and gear recommendations for travel, and so on. Narrowing our content into these sub-niches has guided us in better responding to the biggest problems for our readers.
Now, for your chosen niche(s), list 3 to 5 sub-niches you can write about, that readers are already asking for content on – based on your market research using social media
- Note: If you come up with more than 3 to 5 sub-niches, fantastic! Choose the top 3 to 5 that show the most potential and you’re most interested in. Save the remainder of sub-topics as starters/brainstormed notes for SEO keyword research
Second, write down what the content “end goal” would look like within the chosen sub-niches? What would a full catalog of content on that sub-niche / sub-topic look like? What general topics would you need to cover exhaustively?
- This list of topics in optional to create now, but will serve you well during your SEO keyword research phase. Be sure to record any topics mentioned in questions you found during your niche/sub-niche market research
The major niches (listed above) are a solid place to start, but aiming for more defined sub-niches will help you better communicate your value and what topics you write on while catering to a narrower, connected audience.
There is nothing wrong with writing about multiple sub-niches within your primary niche and I recommend 3 to 5 sub-niches to start. From there, you’ll naturally adapt your content (and sub-niches) based on feedback from your audience and how the content performs.
The list of sub-niches to follow is a great starting point for brainstorming and choosing your sub-niches.
- Banking (Credit Cards and Accounts)
- Debt reduction
- Personal Financial Planning
- Country Cuisine
- Regional Cuisine
- Health restricted
- Meal planning
- Food Travel
- Regional travel (Region, Country, City)
- Female Travel
- Solo Travel
- Family Travel
- Single Parent Travel
- Sport/Adventure Specific Travel
- Social Media
- Web Development (platform specific)
- Email marketing
- Small Business marketing
- Content Marketing
- Men’s issues
- Women’s issues
- Relationship Health
- Mental Health
- Specific sports
- Fitness (methodology or demographic specific)
- Hobby specific
- Entertainment (TV, Movies, Netflix, Live Events)
- Sustainability and green blogs
EDUCATION AND CAREER
- Vocational training
- College, University, and getting into College
- Studying and learning
- Self-Employment / Side Hustling
Now that you have a list of potential niches, we’ll do a quick exercise to check that your chosen niche passes the following criteria for you:
- Ensure there are good topics that are easy to write about with low competition
- Ensure you’re knowledgeable enough to write content on the niche
- Ensure there is a viable audience
- Ensure there is a path to monetizing your content within the niche.
1) Validate that the possibility for good content topics with low competition SEO keywords exists and assess the competitiveness of the niche.
Your goal: Determine whether there are a sufficient number of topics to write about that are low competition as you won’t be competing with large publications…at first.
First, brainstorm what problems or needs (especially information needs) do you see in your potential niches? List at least 10 topics or problems you could write about now within that niche.
Note: Before continuing with the validation, you’ll need to install Moz’s free extension for Google Chrome. This tool tells us the strength/competitiveness, via “PA” and “DA”, of websites in the search results. With this tool, we can easily assess how competitive specific topics, keywords, and niches are using only this tool and Google search.
Now, let’s proceed with assessing the competitiveness of your niche, potential sub-niches, and your initial content ideas.
ASSESS COMPETITIVENESS OF THE NICHE
- Search “[your potential sub-niche] blog” in Google and check the number of results in search (in the top left of the search). This will give you an idea of how cluttered the niche is.
- Within the same search, scroll down and look through the first 20 pages of Google search results, only looking at the “PA” and “DA” provided under each search results (courtesy of the Moz Toolbar) to see how competitive your potential sub-niche is
- Note: The absolute number of results in SERP and the absolute DA numbers do not necessarily matter on their own, but comparing these metrics across potential sub-niches will help you gauge the general competitiveness between your options.
2. ASSESS THE COMPETITIVENESS OF INDIVIDUAL TOPICS (KEYWORDS, CONTENT) WITHIN NICHE
For each of those 10 (at least) topics you’ve brainstormed, search Google to see if the content already exists.
If the content does exist, can you write it better? Are there more valuable solutions you can deliver related to those topics that aren’t already being delivered? If you can do it better, there is an opportunity to simply produce content, better. This can be the case in seemingly crowded niches, but understand that your success will hinge on consistently delivering higher quality content than your competition, and high-quality content in general.
If content on your brainstormed topics doesn’t exist, congratulations, you may be near gold! Proceed to the next step of validating that there are people searching for that content.
You should have already installed the Moz Chrome toolbar plugin (don’t worry, its free) login, and set the bar to show the “PA” and “DA” ratings for the results of each search. Throughout your assessment of topics, pay attention to the authority (“DA” and “PA”) of each site in the Google search results.
If the topics you search for in Google have a result on the search page with a DA of 25 or below, there is an opportunity there. If there are pages with a DA below 15 or multiple pages below 25, you’ve stumbled on a great, low competition topic. We’ll get more into finding low competition SEO keywords in the SEO section of this book, but you’ve just used a quick SEO technique to begin validating the presence of competition (or lack of competition) in your niche.
Additionally, for each topic search in Google, pay attention to the number of results in search (image). If you find a topic with less than 1,000,000 results in SERP, this may be a good option. Less than 500,000 is great. Less than 100,000 is an easy keeper. The lower the number of results in SERP, the lower competition each search term will be, and the easier it will be for your content to rank in Google with little or no effort.
Additionally, as you search your 10 potential topics and sub-niches in Google, ask yourself the following questions to validate your niche
- Is the content delivered for your search already delivered in an engaging, digestible, and cohesive manner? If not, there is any opportunity for you to differentiate yourself in the niche with quality content
- For the (Google) SERP results, is the competition (in SERP) crowded with large entities and publications (e.g., New York Times, Conde Nast, Washington Post) or generally filled with page 1 SERP results of 40+ DA? If so, the niche may be too crowded and competitive for another blog OR, if you continue, you will have to work much harder to find low competition keywords to write on.
3. CONFIRM THERE IS SEARCH DEMAND FOR THE SUB-NICHE BY CHECKING SEARCH VOLUME IN AN SEO TOOL
For your potential topics and sub-niches that pass the competitiveness test (few high authority sites, few results in search) we now want to confirm that there is actually demand for that type of content – or people searching for that content. Though your content will eventually be shared on social media, we’ll focus on Google and search for our validation indicators by looking at monthly search volume.
Monthly search volume is the average number of times people have searched for a specific term in Google.
To check this, you will need to subscribe to an SEO tool. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend Keysearch as it is cheap, delivers the functionality you will need, and a free trial lasts two weeks. This gives plenty of time to get through the niche validation phase
Simply search each of your potential topics in Keysearch and check the monthly search volume. You want to see at least 100 searches per month and ideally 500 at minimum.
The important metrics you will want to pay attention to in Keysearch are “Volume” which details how many people search for that specific phrase per month and “Competition” presented as a score and rating (e.g., easy, moderate, difficult).
Additionally, click through any of the suggested keywords that align with your sub-niche to see if they meet our minimum monthly search. Save all of these “keywords” for later as we will use them during our SEO research phase.
If your niche has lots of “easy” keywords (coded as blue and light green) and higher search volume (500+) the niche is likely a solid opportunity.
Now, if you are comfortable with the level of competition in the niche and sub-niches and were able to find 3 low competition sub-niches with enough demand (monthly search volume) to support the effort of writing, then you have successfully identified a viable niche.
Now, let’s take a look at the niche from your perspective and ensure it’s a good fit to your capabilities by asking a few questions
4. VALIDATE MONETIZATION OPPORTUNITIES
Brainstorm three products you could recommend in Each post, honestly, and genuinely. Validating that all of the posts would be suitable for affiliate marketing gives us a monetization path from day one. When thinking of products, higher dollar value is better for your profitability – as long as the products suit the content.
For example, the potential products to recommend on a blog post on “The types of American Wines You Need to Know” could be wine glasses suited to the types of wines recommended, wine accessories (aerators and carafes), and even package tours to the vineyards and regions mentioned in the article.
But don’t just think about products to recommend via affiliates, think about information products you could write, and think about services you could provide in relation to the content.
If you’re running slim on monetization ideas, visit a handful of the competitors within your niche and note how they monetize to spark your ideas of how you can monetize that content. As you browse the site yourself, ask the following questions:
- What affiliate links and affiliate products are sold
- What courses and products are sold on the site?
- What services do they offer?
5. VALIDATE THE AUDIENCE AND TRIBE AND MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES
Find 3 “places” on the internet where you could genuinely share your content wherein the tribe would be receptive and find value without the exchange feeling spammy. This could be in a Facebook group, a Reddit sub, or an interest specific forum. These 3 “marketing channels” will be key to sparking traffic for your blog as you focus on writing great content.
Some of the existing marketing channels and audience forums that I love to share content, and it succeeds if the action of sharing is genuinely meant to create more value for the audience than it does for me are:
- Reddit (only specific sub-Reddits)
- Facebook Groups
- Quora (answers to specific questions)
These are my favorite, but any forum that operates on the premise of discussion and sharing ideas will work. Extra points if the platform isn’t overly subjected to the whims of algorithms
Go through the checklist above for each potential niche to get a feel of the opportunity. Ultimately, go with the opportunity that you will be able to write the best content on, will be able to make good recommendations for products and services (to monetize), that has channels where you can easily share the content, and that has plenty of easy SEO keywords (found through Keysearch) with high traffic and low competition.
6. VALIDATE THAT THE POTENTIAL PAYOFF (AVERAGE MONTHLY PROFIT) OF THE NICHE IS SUITABLE FOR YOU TO AVOID WASTING MONTHS OF WORK ON SOMETHING THAT WON’T DELIVER WHAT YOU HOPE IT WILL
Review the section above on the profitability and competitiveness of the average blog, divided by niche, to confirm that you are willing to put in the effort to overcome the competitiveness level, to reach the average monthly income listed.
Though our goal was to research niche, if you’ve followed along with the practical steps you have amassed a ton of valuable information about your niche and potential blog – SEO keywords, topics, competitors, best monetization strategies, and so on.
Be sure to save this information in an accessible place. In follow on chapters, we’ll go more in depth into each of these and having those notes as a starter point will save you plenty of time, save you work, and shorten your path to success.
A NOTE ON NICHE VALIDATION IF YOU HAVE ALREADY DECIDED ON YOUR NICHE
THE BOTTOM LINE ON NICHE SELECTION: You should still do niche validation to better understand the competition in your niche and potentially identify your sub-niches to set you up for success before starting the hard work of building a site, creating a content plan, and writing content.
Understand going into blogging that you may be making a hefty tradeoff (in potential profits and work required) if you are initially married to a specific niche and sub-niche. Going into the niche selection phase with willingness to compromise will undoubtedly catapult you to success (sizable organic audience, profitability, etc.) sooner.
At the end of the day, do what serves your mission and objectives best, but understand the tradeoff we make by not selecting niches with low competition and high payoff.
NICHE SELECTION GUT CHECK
Now that you’ve done the research, brainstormed and chose a niche and sub-niche, and validated that the opportunity is worth writing 200+ pieces of content on…it’s time for a gut check. Are you ready to put in the effort it takes to write in this niche? Just because there is an amazing opportunity to write within the Personal Finance niche, doesn’t mean the opportunity is right for your interests and expectations.
To “gut check” and make sure you’re ready to put in the work, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can you learn and write about this niche for 1-2 years without getting paid (yet)?
- Could you see yourself writing 200 pieces of content ranging between 1,000 to 3,000 words?
- Would you feel comfortable entering forums (Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups) that you don’t own and sharing knowledge / debating the merits of your ideas within this niche?
- Are you passionate enough to write about this topic for free?
If you answer a solid “yes” to 2 of the questions above, you have a niche that may work for you. If you answer yes to all 4 questions, you have found a near perfect niche for you.
If you answered yes to one or none of these questions, return to the drawing board and find a niche you could create content in with little reward and for a long period of time.
When you’ve found that niche, come back and we will proceed on with designing your brand and building your site.
ACTION ITEMS FOR THIS SECTION
- Decide and define your niche and three to five sub-niches
- Validate that each of the following are reasonable within your selected niche and sub-niches
- Competition: Enough to demonstrate there is an opportunity, but not too much that it will make growth difficult
- Audience: Does enough of an audience exist to make the effort, and payoff, worth it?
- Marketing Channels: Do effective ways exist of connecting with the potential audience?
- Monetization: What is the clear path to monetizing your blog?
Record all of the answers, and any other information you stumble on, in your site’s playbook