The biggest decision you have to make when you’re starting a new blog is deciding what you’ll be blogging about. The possibilities are endless and it’s difficult to know here at the beginning which one will pan out. And even if you have a good idea for your topic, are you sure it’s in a niche that will be specific but also last over time?
People search the Internet to solve a problem, learn, reach a goal, and/or be entertained (sometimes all of the above at the same time). To have a successful blog that stands out among the masses, you need to find a topic that suits you well and is specific enough to draw in a loyal readership while playing to those reader goals.
How to choose your blog topic
Your blog topic will be the basis for everything you write, podcast, or make videos about on your new blog. That can feel like a lot of pressure when you’re just getting started, but that’s perfectly normal. The only way to move past the discomfort and fear is to make the best choice you can right now and get started, adjusting as you learn more over time.
The first step to finding a solid idea for a blog topic is to make a list of all the topics you think you would enjoy blogging about. Don’t try to narrow it down at this point, just write down everything you can think of. If you need a little help brainstorming, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- When I was a kid, what did I spend time doing when no one was telling me what I should do?
- What are my hobbies?
- How do I spend my free time?
- What is the one topic I could go on about for hours if my friends or family let me?
- What types of classes did I enjoy in high school or college?
- What do I enjoy reading and learning about?
- If I could do one thing the rest of my life regardless of salary, what would I do?
- What’s one thing I’ve been wanting to learn more about?
- If I had more free time, what would I spend it doing?
Next, ask yourself “Is a goal of this blog to help me make a living?” This may seem like an odd question to ask yourself when you’re choosing a blog topic, but knowing that answer will help you qualify or disqualify ideas in your list. And maybe it’s not “make a living” but more “bring in extra income” or “help me build up my savings”. But as long as there is a monetary goal, your topic should have these three main qualities:
- You should have interest in the topic
- You should have some expertise on the topic (or at least a desire to build more expertise with time)
- Other people should value the topic enough to pay money for products or services related to that topic
You’ve probably seen something like this in a venn diagram before.
There will always be an audience that values information about any topic, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that right now. Let’s focus on your personal interest and expertise first.
- Being interested in your topic is obviously important. Don’t choose a topic because of it’s trendy vibe or how much everyone is talking about it. No matter how popular the subject might be, if you don’t find value in it, the blog just won’t work. Your readers are smart and will be able to tell that your content isn’t genuine. So stick with what you’re interested in no matter what the hot topic of the day is.(The corollary, of course, is that if you're genuinely interested in a hot topic that's taking off in popularity, that might be a great fit!)
- Expertise is one of the most valuable assets you can have as a blogger. The more you know about a topic, the more you can teach about that topic. But that doesn’t mean you’re absolutely ruled out of starting a blog on a topic you have interest in just because you lack expertise. Instead, the corollary would be, the more you learn about your topic the more you can teach about that topic. This is sometimes referred to as being a “leading learner.”
Don’t give up on a choosing a blog topic just because you don’t have pre-existing expertise. The journey will be more difficult than if you already had that expertise, but it is still possible if you’re willing to learn.
If you need further inspiration, here’s a list of blogging topics we’ve made for you, in the order of popularity for the blogging industry based on our State of the Blogging Industry Report:
Of course there are hundreds of other potential topics for your blog, but we’ve found that this list gives you a good starting point in that it represents the majority of existing blogs.
How to give more focus to choosing your blog topic
Once you’ve chosen your blog topic, it’s time to make sure you’ve focused in enough to get started. Niche blogs are really where it’s at these days. Honing your skills and topic into one very small area might sound like a bad idea, but this is how you build loyal followers. The more dedicated and narrow-focused you are for your blog, the more trust you build with an audience. Here are some ways to help you niche down.
What’s amazing about the blogging industry is that your unique personality plus your unique audience gives you an extra unique spin on your topic. That means that five blogs with the same topic might seem like drastically different blogs even though they cover essentially the same material.
It’s a good idea to ask, “More specifically, what do I want to cover about this topic?” The goal in making your blog topic a bit more specific is to make it possible to differentiate your blog compared to all of the other blogs out there. For example, it would be tough to believe a given person is an expert on every kind of baking. But if you say you’re the expert on baking breads, that’s a much more believable statement.
Categories exist to give structure to your topic. That means the better defined blog categories you have, the clearer your focus is for your topic. For example, if you were starting a site about craft beer, you would need to create blog categories that help you tell your audience what aspect of craft beer you were talking about in each post. Tasting notes, brewing techniques, and the best places to find craft beer in Nashville, TN are all very distinct kinds of posts.
If you wanted to focus on the types of craft beers, your blog categories could be IPAs, Wheat beer, Stouts, Lagers, and Belgians. But if you wanted to focus on breweries, your blog categories might be Microbreweries, Regional Craft Breweries, and New Breweries. By creating these blog categories you’ll help differentiate your blog about craft beer and narrow your focus for creating content.
Getting clear on specific blog categories of interest your readers might have related to your topic will also help you set up your content calendar, generate more blog post ideas, and will help your readers navigate your blog to find what they need.
Pro Tip: If you’re still in the process of deciding between a few topics, try to come up with five categories of content you can create on your blog within that topic. This brainstorming will help you find out if 1) you know enough about the topic to get started and 2) there is enough potential material to justify an entire blog on the topic.
Are you ready to choose your blog topic?
Choosing the right blog topic is the first step on your blogging journey. By identifying what you will love creating content around and thinking through whether it will be valuable to your readers you'll be more likely to stay true to your journey down the line.
If you haven’t already, start making a list of all your blog topic ideas and start narrowing them down. Do you know what categories you would have or how you could create a unique spin on the topic?