It was a one-sided conversation.
“Narrow your focus!”
“I said narrow!”
I looked at him, confused. “Carpentry nails?”
“Yes, build a blog about that!”
That was the last time I talked to Kevin.
Kevin was grooming himself to be one of the many blogging gurus. He said he knew everything there was to know about making money from blogging, and he was offering to be my mentor.
Kevin was a tool.
But, he did something for me that day. He got me thinking about the whole “niche” thing. I already knew you couldn’t just pick a topic and expect that people cared enough about it to come back to your blog week after week and continue reading your content.
I mean, carpentry nails? Sure, people were searching for it on Google, but who really cares about nails?
Even carpenters aren’t likely to care.
What I decided was that for a niche to be valid, it has to solve a problem, and the problem has to be something that people care enough about that they would come back to your blog again and again.
Kevin eventually niched himself in a corner when he sunk all his money and time into a blog and e-commerce store that specialized in jewelry made from old computer parts encased in glass.
Career death by niche.
The Best Advice About Blog Niches
One of the main problems with the blogging formula comes up right at the beginning of the process. I even pushed this advice for many years before Kevin gave me an epiphany, even though I am in no sense of the word a guru.
We asked you to look at your passions, and find one that intersects with a topic you have intimate knowledge of or experience with. That was your sweet spot. After you make a list of topics that fall in your sweet spot, you find out if people are searching out keywords related to the spot.
If people were searching, you had a winner! And that’s why there are 500 million blogs on the web, and many of them are about obscure knowledge of carpentry nails, computer jewelry, Q-tip art, and Czechoslovakian movies of the 1920s.
Most are abandoned after the owners realized that only so much content could be written about a topic like that.
So what if instead, we start looking for problems for which we have the solutions? I did it with my blog. I realized that the blogging formula was broken, and I wanted to be one of the people who fixed it and made blogging into something worthwhile again.
So I changed the formula.
- Find your sweet spot– the intersection between what you know and what you love. Now you have a standard niche.
- Brainstorm problems in this niche and turn them into keyword phrases you can search.
- Find out if others have this same problem. If you have the answer, you are way ahead of the game.
- Decide if the niche problem is broad enough that you can continue to write about it without boring your readers.
Congratulations, you have a new kind of niche that is a problem you can solve!
I know we are all intelligent enough to figure out if the problem niche is a realistic one. You may hear it on social media, or TV, or the news. You may have even had the same problem at one time in your life and solved it.
Now, create content and make some blogging magic.
Simple Solutions are Usually the Best
One of the issues with the blogging formula was that we are creating content around a niche that no one cares about. How do you get someone to care?
I guarantee if they have a problem, they will care if you can solve it.
For instance, instead of niching down, and down, and down to “PC hardware issues,” what if you found a problem people were having that they cared enough about that they search on the web about it?
“I can’t figure out how to install all this hardware in my PC and I’m getting error messages!” Now, that is better! Do you know how to build and repair computers? Great, start a blog, and create some content. Maybe even make some videos.
The sky is the limit!
Bottom line: I advocate for people to stop building blogs if they don’t need one. We don’t need any more noise or blogs taking up space on the web if they aren’t worthwhile. Let’s use the applications and software that people create that solve the problem of too many worthless blogs on the internet, like Medium, LinkedIn, and Adobe Portfolio.
That would help most people, but what about you?
What Is In It For You?
If we don’t run off half-cocked and build a blog about the first niche that seems promising, but instead, find problems worth solving, the web will be a much better place.
And when you are not spending all your time or money building and managing worthless blogs that will never help anyone, or will never make money, we will have more time to spend on the things that really matter.
Isn’t that what we want?