There are a number of important actions to starting a blog that has any potential for success. Choosing the best blog topic that fits your goals should be at the top of your to do list.
You need to uncover a blog topic that has an active audience, in a niche that is trending, and is poised to continue growing in popularity. Before jumping in, make sure you have a feel for the competition in this space, the market need present, potential for earnings, and how your blog could fit into this niche.
There are so many interesting blog topics, and likely more than one that aligns with your expertise and passion. You need to narrow down your choices and pick one. Looking at the market leads to choosing the best topic direction for your new blog. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of market research and competitive analyses, focused on helping you choose a blog topic.
Starting a blog is tough. It’s an arduous road to take a new blog and push it until it breaks-through in its niche. Make sure all the work you’re about to put into your new blog is worth the effort.
How Popular is the Blog Topic?
While your passion identifies your enthusiasm for a blog topic, it’s important to gauge how interested other people are in that topic. It’s critical that people want to learn about the topic you plan to focus on.
You might be fascinated in a topic, have a love for it, and desire to write about all its nuances, but unless you have a market interested in that topic, you’ll face a challenging situation of speaking to an empty room.
Without supply, there is no demand. This is a basic business principle.
You can determine the level of interest in a blog topic by using freely available tools and resources online, such as:
- Google Keyword Planner. This tool helps you identify the number of people searching for particular terms. Keep in mind that your blog may focus on a few high level topic terms, but ultimately you’ll be publishing hundreds of blog posts that each target topics relevant to your audience. So, it’s really an aggregate of a number of keywords on your blog that will determine the size of your traffic driven from search (beyond the dedicated audience you grow).
- Google Trends, is another useful tool. Using it, you can quickly gauge the search trends for any given topic. Just type the topic in and you can see how that topic has been performing. The line graph gives you a quick view. You’ll easily see if the topic is trending upwards, which is ideal, or dropping off in a downward decline.
- Social Media. Seeing what people are discussing right now on your potential blog topic on Twitter, Facebook, or another popular social media site is useful research. It gives you the insight you need to determine if people in this niche are discussing this topic actively. Gauge if people are asking questions and needing assistance on this topic. Quora is another helpful site to determine this.
Use these tools to gauge the market on the blog topic you’re considering—getting a feel for popularity of the topic, market size, and audience demand. Popularity of a topic is an important market factor, but let’s put it into perspective.
Catching Trending Blog Topics On the Rise
What is popular today, and a trending subject, may prove to be a short lived fad. Popular is such a relative term and it changes all the time.
It’s clear that jumping into a topic on it’s way up toward trending is ideal, whereas entering when its on the decline is poor timing. It’s tough to predict the next big thing though. What will people search for tomorrow? What will prove popular and needed?
If you can predict the next big thing, your blog stands to become a market leader quickly. Get in the habit of paying attention to what’s becoming popular. Keep your ear tuned-in during conversations with friends, your eye’s open when watching TV, and your mind geared towards identifying and looking for new trends.
Also, consider how established topics might intersect with coming trends. You could establish yourself in a proven market topic, while positioning yourself for covering trending subjects from that unique position. For example, you might have launched a development blog, and then covered Google Glass from a programming angle, finding a popular niche to focus on. Or have poised your fitness blog for catching the rise of the CrossFit trend.
With an idea of the size of the market, the passion this audience has for the subject, and how the topic is trending, then look more deeply at who’s already serving this market.
Analyzing the Competition in a Niche
It’s not a good idea to jump into a blog topic blind, with little understanding of the competition you’ll face. Chances are that if you’ve identified a topic that is trending, then someone else will have seen this as an “emerging” opportunity as well. Find these competitors.
List each of the main competitors in this blog topic and get a feel for their size and business models. Consider how effective they are in this niche and look at what strategies they are using to be successful.
Use web based tools to help you do this competitive research:
- Search Alltop to find popular blogs in various niche topics.
- Use Alexa to get basic competitive information on audience size and traffic trends.
- Work with Seobook’s marketing tools or test out other tools to spy on your blog competition.
Use these tools, but don’t rely solely on them. Also, jump directly onto your competitors’ sites, read their about pages, and take a look at a few of their top blog posts. Get a feel for their approach to this topic.
Spotting Market Gaps
Right now you’re looking at the big picture and working to spot opportunities in a niche. Keep in mind though, you don’t necessarily need to focus on the most popular blog topic to be successful. The market size you need for a successful blog is relative to the market demand and your business model.
Even if a relatively small percentage of people have an active interest in a topic, it can be a lucrative area to jump into. Depending on your business model, you can potentially thrive in a narrowly defined niche, and face much less competition.
When looking at competitors, look for gaps that have market potential, but that aren’t being filled. Your competitors may be the market leader in the broad topic you’re considering, but you could turn this into an advantage by focusing tightly on a sub topic gap that you’ve identified.
Depth of Competitive Research
Keep in mind, competitive research at this early stage should remain light. You want to do just enough to get a feel for the competitors and look for opportunities—spotting those gaps in the market.
Note that you’ll continue doing competitive research after launching your blog, so this will be an ongoing process. This type of research continually informs your content strategy.
Look at Your Income Opportunities
As you do this market research, keep an eye on how competitors are making money. Consider the income potential that is present here.
As yourself, how are competitors making income in this niche? How might this help define your business model? Are they selling their own information products, promoting affiliates, selling services, or using another blog monetization strategy? How might you fair in this landscape?
If you have entrepreneurial goals for your blog, then it’s critical that you prove to yourself that people are spending money in this niche. Look for evidence that someone else has built a successful business around this topic. It sounds counter-intuitive, but competition is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it validates the market potential for you. It shows that there are customers out there willing to put down money on this topic.
Looks specifically at the types of income streams your competitors are using. Brainstorm and map out a plan of how you could build a profitable blog in this niche. Compare potential blog topics and monetization approaches you’re considering, until you arrive at a solid path forward.
Consider Your Ongoing Content Strategy
Blogging is by it’s very nature all about creating content. Successful bloggers come up with fresh ideas over the long haul, while other fade as their authors run out of ideas.
To come up with compelling blog post ideas requires you to have passion for the topic, interest in developing your expertise in it, and an inner drive in this niche. Additionally, you must have access to sources of inspiration outside yourself.
The market research you’re doing today to define your blog’s focus topic, is the same approach you’ll use to craft compelling content as you move forward with your blog.
Keywords research, keeping an eye on what your competition is covering, and watching for upcoming trends is what will continue to feed your blog post after post—month after month.
Learning how to do market research will serve you now and as you grow your blog.
Narrow Down Your Blog Topic Niche and Get Started
Take the research you’ve compiled, and use it to choose a topic for your blog—one that you have a passion for, but that also presents real market potential, and business opportunity.
Ideally focus on a blog topic that is trending upward, where an audience with a great need exists—and real money is being spent. Look at the competition and position yourself to stand out in the marketplace. Keep in mind, few blog topics will be a perfect fit. Most will have some kind of weakness. Don’t let that stop you from acting.
Spend a week or two doing market research, narrowing down your ideas to the blog topics that look most promising, then pull the trigger. Take that leap and start building your blog. Overcome any shortcomings as you move forward.