If you’re working on choosing a topic for your new blog, it’s helpful to approach the problem with a decent understanding of which topics have some profit potential built in, and which topics are really bad choices.
Remember, when you’re a blogger your topic is your product, and you’re not going to get very far if you start with a product that is low quality, uninteresting, or has no market.
That makes sense, but how do you actually figure out what topics/products/niches have a good potential to be profitable?
Easy! You look at what the people making good money are writing about. I’m a genius.
I actually did this. I looked at what successful blogs were doing, and mapped out my impression of their behind-the-scenes strategies on actual pieces of paper. With a pencil! It was crazy, like I was in 1922 or something.
I spent a good amount of time on this project – working my way down from big “authoritative” blogs, to small, small blogs just getting off the ground. All told, I looked at almost 200 of the most successful, most promising, or most well represented (on search engines) blogs around. I even used some fancy tools to get a peek under the hood (We’ll talk about tools eventually)
Almost universally, all of the blogs that are turning serious profits fall into just a handful of different topics.
If you pay me $99, I’ll tell you what they are.
Relax, future superstars, I’m just kidding.
1.Teaching Other People How to Make Money
This may take the form of a blog about blogging (kind of like this one), or a blog about marketing, or search engine optimizing, or sales tactics, or picking stocks, or drop shipping, or lots of other sub-niches (See what I did there? I introduced a new-and-important piece of vocabulary in a context that made it instantly understandable), but the topic of teaching other people how to make money makes a lot of money.
This is a strong topic because it has three critical factors:
- The market is big, it’s dedicated, and it likes participation, which makes it easier to create engagement
- It’s transactional because people understand the old adage that it takes some money to make some money (so they’re willing to give up a little cash if you can provide a quality product that will help them reach their goals)
- It has multiple possible revenue streams, avoiding the eggs-in-one-basket problem that can plague some other niches
2. Money & Personal Finance
Another really big one. People love talking about money. People love reading about money. People especially love talking and reading about how to turn their money into more money. This whole niche works because a lot of finance and investing either seems like some kind of Merlin’s web of arcane and secret knowledge or like a sure-fire path to happiness on easy street.
An especially hot sub-niche in this category is the whole FIRE (financial independence early retirement) thing. If you’re not familiar, FIRE is basically where a bunch of rich people pretend they’re normal Janes and Joes. They get together to pat each other on the back for putting their Mercedes-buying habits on hold for five years and cutting back on the avocado toast so they can save that money instead. Miraculously, when they stop spending money like total idiots, the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’re already making tend to accumulate pretty quickly, and then they can quit their jobs and live off of their investments. It’s talked about like it’s some kind of magic. Boggles my mind.
3. Beauty & Fashion
A large niche, with many possible sub-niches. This one works well because the world of beauty and fashion lends itself quite perfectly to two things that are great for content creators:
- It’s a visual topic, so images, galleries, pinterest pins, and youtube videos are actually a topical way to produce content, rather than an afterthought tacked on to try and capture more views. Since the more variety (and sources) of content you provide will help grow your readership, this topic has some marketing baked in.
- It’s a topic that relies on trends and is always changing, which means there’s always a lot to write about and there’s always churn built into the market of products. Last month’s nail polish is now très bourgeoisie, so there’s a market of people looking for this month’s hot polish. Or, there’s a new hairstyle that some dumb celebrity is wearing. Things like that. It’s a big market, it’s constantly changing, and there are a lot of products and subjects to tackle.
4. Health, Wellbeing and Fitness.
Health and Fitness can be a solid topic, with good profit potential, but it can also be a tough nut to crack. It’s kind of a unique niche because it’s like the Force from Star Wars – there’s a light side and a dark side.
On the light side are the Jedi personal trainers, nutritionists, and other qualified people dispensing real information. On the dark side are all the jerks pushing spammy crap and dubious supplements, diets, and ebooks. I swear, if I have to see one more stupid Keto Diet site put up by someone who obviously has zero qualifications, I’m going to unplug the internet. But, I suppose there is some wisdom we can take away from the fact that so many crappy Keto diet sites even exist – there’s market potential in the space.
The truth is that both the light side and the dark side of this topic make a lot of money, but the dark side of this one is just so scummy it almost makes me kind of angry. This is a free country, and you do what you want to do, but you’re not going to find any tips and tricks on this site for how to scam suckers out of money for Chinese shark pee popsicles or whatever other bogus crap is selling this month.
If you’re interested in this niche, you probably need to spend some time doing a little keyword research and scope out other sites in the niche to understand what the market looks like around your specific topic.
There are some sub-niches in this topic that have pretty big markets, but are difficult to run in a profitable way.
Yoga is a good example – lots of interest, lots of traffic, but difficult to build as a profitable niche. Not being a Yoga person, I’m not exactly sure why this is, but I’ll use my experience in other areas to speculate – that way you’ll at least have some starting points for how to think about evaluating your own sub-niche
- Yoga is an experiential topic, not a transactional topic. Fancy. In English, a lot of the online aspect of the Yoga community is built around the idea of discussion and organization, not around the idea of buying things.
- The transactional parts of the yoga topic are built around products that are either very, very common (pads, sweatbands, socks) – meaning that you’ll have trouble standing out in the market – or around products that are hyper-specific (custom leotardy thingers, weird teas, carved stones from India) – meaning you may have trouble with sourcing, inventory, and returns. To be fair, all of that may be totally fine, doable, and profitable for some kind of online store selling yoga related accessories and such, but that’s not really a blog, and this site isn’t about how to create online stores.
- The ad market around yoga type stuff is weak. The ads are cheap, there isn’t some organized yoga ecosystem to target, and it’s difficult to direct specific ads to specific sub-sections of the audience.
I guess you could also call this “Lifestyle,” but it’s really more accurately described by the term I use. This is a niche of sub-niches and even sub-sub-niches. It’s a great one for building very targeted audiences and building real communities.
As an example, gardening would fall into this category, and you could definitely build a strong blog around gardening. But you could also sub-niche by building a blog around growing fruits and vegetables or sub-sub-niche by concentrating on heirloom fruit trees. Seriously, that’s a thing. And it’s pretty popular.
Another example would be something like RC Aircraft, which is a good topic on it’s own – RC flying is an expensive hobby and hobbyists are constantly buying lots and lots of little things (trust me. just…trust me). But, this hobby can also be broken down into sub-niches like fixed wings (airplanes) and multi-rotors (what the non-hobby person commonly refers to as “drones”).
But wait, there’s more!
Did you know that there’s actually lots of different kinds of drones, which people fly for different reasons? Some of them are built to be small and fast, and the people interested in this kind of craft use them for racing. Others are built to be big and fly a long way, and people use these for something called “first-person” flying (where you put on camera-linked-goggles and it’s like you’re flying the craft from onboard).
The cool thing about this, from a blog perspective, is that three things happen simultaneously, in a magically synergistic way. First, you have the possibility of lots of sub and sub-sub niches to develop. Second, there’s actually a lot of overlap between many of the sub (and sub-sub) niches. Third, the transactional components of all of these related niches tend to be very similar.
When you roll those three things together, you get a great example of why the hyper-hobby niche can be a powerful profit driver – you can easily run multiple blogs targeting different sub-niches while monetizing with the same types of products. You can turn one audience into three or four audiences and give each revenue stream – ads, direct ads, product sales, referrals – three or four paths to follow.
I feel strongly enough about the potential of the hyper-hobby niche that, at some point, I’m going to put together a detailed discussion and offer it in pdf to anyone who requests it.
I’m not a millennial. I’m a proud member of Generation X. And let’s be honest, that’s a way cooler name than “millennial,” which basically just tells me approximately when you were born. GenX, on the other hand, is such a perfect label for the aspirational culture and psychosocial mindset of my generation that it just blows me away. It’s perfect. Sorry millennials, but you got kind of hosed in the generation-naming game.
As a member of GenX, I’m not quite to the get-off-my-grass phase of life, but I have reached a place where some of the trends and guiding ideals of the younger millennials have started to feel…different…than me. And I’ll tell you, one of the things that the younger generation has kicked butt at is the concept of valuing experience over things.
A great example of this mindset is the explosion of travel related content that has started to make its way online. And not just travel like “hey, let’s go on vacation to the Grand Canyon,” but travel as a way of life. I will confess that I personally follow two youtube channels built on this concept – RAN Sailing and Gone With the Wynns. Very different channels, but both great at what they do.
In my article on how to write great blog content, there’s a picture where I joke that some dudes on a fishing boat must be on their way to update their blog. I make the joke because of a quippy little comment in the text about how it seems like lots of successful bloggers and vloggers are always working on their content from the deck of a sailboat or some pretty hillside at sunset.
But…it’s kind of true. Lot’s of people really are building blogs from boats, RVs, tents, and cabins.
There is an entire genre of content now that is completely based around this concept. And it’s a blog gold mine. There’s still good profit potential in more traditional types of travel blogging – where to go, what to see, places to eat & stay, etc – but, unless you’re actually from the areas you’re trying to write about, this is a tough market. Plus, you’ll have to compete against people like Fodors and Yelp. Rough.
The true potential is tapping into the market of people who are aspirational travelers. People who want to do what the RAN Sailing or Gone with the Wynns people do. The possibilities in this space are practically limitless. And user engagement? Wow, it’s crazy.
I don’t think I could personally pull this topic off, but if you’ve got the chops for it, it’s a large and rapidly growing market.
Ready for More?
Try Some Failure with these Terrible Blog Topics