Are you ready to start a new blog? Sure, maybe things are going well with your blog now, but at some point we all get an itch to try something new and different.
It takes plenty of work, sure, but a new blog projects can prove rewarding in many ways. So if you have the itch to start a new one, maybe now is the time to scratch it. There’s just one big question:
What are you going to blog about?
It’s the question first-time and veteran bloggers alike ask constantly. It seems as though there’s not just one blog, but a whole sea of blogs on every imaginable topic.
How are you going to stand out from the crowd? Thankfully, there are some ways to figure out what works best for you.
I’ve consulted for many bloggers, and when they say they want to try something new I put them through this exercise. I hope it works for you as well as it has worked for my clients.
Do you have a working knowledge?
Let’s face it: there is more money in certain industries than there is in others. Some niches offer more in the way of affiliate marketing opportunities, so you stand to make good money if your blog becomes even semi-successful.
There have been times when I’ve advised clients to chase the money. But the current state of media has changed things.
If you’re going to run a successful blog, you have to post frequently. I don’t want to say you have to post every day, because I know many successful blogs that don’t.
But yeah, these days you pretty much to post every day, and maybe even multiple times per day. If you don’t have a good working knowledge of your topic you won’t be able to pull it off.
Can you dig deep?
Starting with a baseline of knowledge is fine, but you’ll have to build on that if you’re going to become successful. That means plenty of reading and research, on top of the time you spend writing.
The question is, do you have the time and the passion? If you don’t, and you can’t see yourself getting to know a subject inside out, you’ll just flop like the majority of people who start blogs.
I recently advised a client on starting a home improvement DIY blog (a great idea, by the way). I showed him this page of different household pumps.
Can you learn everything there is to know about all of these? He hemmed and hawed, but eventually decided that sure, he could learn about pool pumps and sump pumps and all the different ones in between. Good. He might be successful.
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How competitive are the keywords?
One thing you need to do before you start a new blog is extensive keyword research. If you jump into a blog project and don’t understand the keyword landscape, you might as well throw Google out the door as a referral engine.And since Google refers more traffic than any other single source, that would be a poor strategy.
Here’s what you want to know when you conduct keyword research.
- How many people search this term daily?
- How many variations of each keyword can I create, and how often do people search them?
- How many sites target these keywords?
- How much do these keywords cost per click in AdWords?
- What are some of the biggest longtail keywords in this niche?
If you can find the level of competition for your keywords, the longtail potential, and the cost-per-click rate, you should have a better idea if this niche will pay.
It’s best to avoid over-competitive niches with high cost-per-click rates. You’re going to need CPC advertisements at some point.
Can I sell products?
But those don’t work on just any blog. You’ll have to dig through and find which niches work best for affiliate sales.
Create an account with Commission Junction and ClickBank for starters. Look at what kind of offers they have. If there are opportunities in your niche, you might have found one worth pursuing. If there isn’t much interesting, you might want to try another idea.
What’s the CPM of display ads?
Yes, you are going to need to use display advertising to help cover some of your costs. These are typically low-paying ads that require many visitors just to make a buck.
The key is to do some research here and see what works. As I said above, there are some niches that pay better than others. Ask around and see what other people are getting for CPM. Check ad networks’ websites.
Basically, do whatever you can to find the going CPM rate for your niche. If it’s under a dollar, it’s back to the drawing board. I experienced this one myself when trying to start a new sports blog.
There’s so much competition that CPM is in the gutter. I scrapped that project pretty quickly.
Can you blend your topic into others?
Now you have to go out and build every link by hand, one at a time. This often means guest posting (as I’m doing right here). But guest posting isn’t easy.
Many blogs take guest posts, but you have to know how to write one. Basically, you have to take your niche, and combine it with a similar niche.
For example, if you were a workout blog and wanted to post on a tech blog, you might write, “The 10 best smartphone apps for your workout.” You could do that as a tech blog posting on a fitness blog, too.
Whatever your topic, though, you have to mold it to others. It’s the best way, and one of the only ways, to build links these days.
Hopefully after you run though this exercise you’ve found a blog topic that works for you. Don’t get discouraged if your best idea, or even a couple of your best ideas, doesn’t work. The more you think about it, the better idea you’ll come up with.
Joe Pawlikowski writes and edits several blogs across the internet. In the past few years he has consulted for blogs as well, providing strategy and insight he’s picked up from more than seven years of blogging. He keeps a personal blog at JoePawl.com.