Last updated on September 18th, 2013 at 08:51 am
This week I received an email from someone I admire, a fellow blogger, who is trying to make a living online.
In an email conversation about making a living from your passion, she pointed out to me that she couldn’t select a niche because what she does (and loves) encompasses many subjects within her passion choice and picking a niche would be too narrow a focus.
I am putting together a guide for women wanting to make money blogging online, so her email was timely to say the least. I thought I should respond here so that you too might understand the importance of your niche when it comes to online success, or even, understanding your passion.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to use “travel” as my example subject.
Shall we begin?
Let’s say that you are wanting to create a travel blog with travel-related products, but you don’t want to pin yourself down to one subject because you participate in all kinds of travel. You want to share all of your varied world travel knowledge.
And “travel” seems like the perfect word for what it is you do, who you are and what you are all about.
Except there’s one big problem … when you put the word “travel” into Google Search, Google returns 739,000,000 results. That’s right. You read that number correct.
To top it off, the search landing page is filled with major players in the travel industry like Expedia and Orbitz.
Unless your daddy left you a big old trust fund to spend on Google Adwords, “travel” as your niche won’t get you the attention of a fly because in order to become a success you will need people to be able to find you online – that is, if, you ever want to sell them anything.
“Travel” is too vague of a word for what it is that you will probably be writing about anyways. Elisabeth Gilbert didn’t mention travel as the name for her runaway hit book, Eat, Pray, Love, even though she was clearly using travel to heal her heart.
It’s more than travel.
Let’s say you actually love “world travel” because traveling the world is something you are quite good at. It feeds your soul. Now you are getting warmer at understanding what your niche might be and begin to define who you really are.
Only problem is “world travel” returns 3,390,000,000 possibilities. That’s still a lot of competition.
But what if you narrowed world travel down to exactly how you do world travel? What is it that makes you special when you travel the world? What are you great at when you are on the road?
If you are an amazing parent on the road there’s the niche “world travel with kids”. The term returns 1,100,000,000 options, but if you look carefully at the front page of Google for the term, it’s not all large companies. There’s a mixture of choices and with this type of mixture offers the possibility that if your blog stays around long enough, becomes big enough with great content, then it is possible that your blog stories could end up on the front of Google.
And you’ve defined your niche.
You’d have to do a few things right with your website and keywords to rank high on search, but it’s not entirely impossible– especially when you niche.
However, there are even smaller niches that could fall under world travel like:
- Places to travel with children
- Places to eat with children
- Packing for children
- Emergency locations for children
- Places to stay with children
It’s in these smaller niches where people are searching for an expert to help them. You can still use the travel/world travel theme, but you must go deeper to help people solve problems and make a living helping them.
And if you want to be inspirational too because this is a part of who you are, then you write these subjects from an inspirational point of view — what inspires you to travel with children? What places inspired you and your family?
And the niche goes deeper:
- Inspirational places to travel with children
- Inspirational places to eat with children
- Inspirational packing for children
- Inspirational emergency locations for children
- Inspirational places to stay with children
You can use inspiration as your theme to tighten the understanding of what you offer and how you are different from everyone else who travels the world. The reason so many women loved the book, Eat, Pray, Love is the inspired travel Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about.
The big misunderstanding when picking a niche is people believing it confines them when, in actuality, it frees them. Everything becomes clearer because you now have a frame of reference.
It becomes your compass.
You can sharpen the inspirational theme further by thinking of it as adventure travel. Inspirational adventure travel is quite a niche.
It’s through this practice at looking at what you love, what you are good at, what feeds your soul, and what you have the ability to teach right at this moment is where you find your niche sweet-spot. Then you can find the right name for it – what people call it and will use to find you when they search online.
Just look at the online sensation Matt Harding, who dances his way around the world. There is no question about who he is:
You are not the master of everything, but you are the master of what you love. In this place lies your niche. Once you hone in on exactly what your love is, everything about writing online and making a living at it will become crystal clear.
And sometimes it’s a journey that takes a while to figure out.
Ask your family and friends what they think you are great at with “travel” (my example, but choose what your big niche is). Hear what they tell you. Better yet, just ask them what they think you are good at (don’t tell them what you think you are good at) and see what they say. See if they say the same thing about you.
A mother can start a blog about postpartum depression, tell the truth about her thoughts and feelings and use them as a basis for an ongoing memoir of her life as her children age. And because she starts with a niche of postpartum depression and telling the truth about her negative thoughts on being a new mother, she is able to grow her niche into sharing how she manages depression through the years as her children age. She can take her readers with her on her journey. Had she started with just the subject of “depression”, she never would have build her loyal following.
This story is true. And build a following this woman did … and she even turned her journey into published books.
There are people out there who are waiting for your expertise and to hear about what you love too, but you have to stand out in order for them to first find you, then remember you. We forget just how hard this is when it’s our own stuff.
Women wear something red when they want to be noticed.
What is it about you that can be your “red” online to get you noticed?
I know you’ve got it hidden in a drawer somewhere.
Bring it out.
Here’s some other thoughts on niches —
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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