One of the best ways to earn a real income with blogging is through niche marketing.
It’s what I’ve been doing for years – and I’ve learned a lot about things you should (and shouldn’t!) do in order to be successful. This post is going to be the first in a three week series about niche marketing – so if you aren’t sure what it is or how to make it work for you, you’re in the right place!
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, let’s talk about what, exactly, niche marketing is:
A niche is a small but specific group of people that can be identified by having the same wants and needs. I talked about this some earlier – you start with a large group of people, say “parents” – then you get smaller “parents of toddlers”; and smaller “parents of toddlers who are stay at home moms”. You can even get much more specific, say, “Stay at home Moms of toddlers who plan to homeschool and use organic foods”. The key here is to get as specific as you can – and once you do, this will be your “niche market”.
Niche marketing is looking at the wants and needs of that niche, and figuring out how to solve their problems.
As bloggers, that means you’ll be blogging about things that interest them: healthy food recipes, making your own diapers, homeschooling printables. If you have ads or sponsors, you’ll want to make sure that the products on your blog focus on things that your readers need or want.
The smaller you can get your niche, the more likely you are to be successful – it’s much easier to be a big fish in a small pond than to fight with all the other fish in the ocean. Just think about the example above – a mom that homeschools has different needs from one who sends her kids off every day. A mom that uses organic food will be looking for different information than a mom who is cool with the occasional box of mac ‘n cheese.
In order to make money in a profitable niche, it takes a lot of research. The problem is that most people (even me!) started blogging without really having any idea what they were doing, didn’t know what a niche was, didn’t know how to focus on an audience… and then can’t figure out why they don’t make any money. It’s always best if you can do your research first – but you can always apply this information to a blog you’ve already started.
How do you identify your market?
If you’re already blogging, you may have found that you’ve developed a following without even knowing it. Look at those people and decide how focused of a niche you’ve created. Can you make that niche any narrower? Can you get more specific about what your blog is about?
If you want to niche market – whether you plan to monetize with ads, affiliate programs or sponsored posts – it’s important to decide on your niche first – you’ll end up a lot happier. You can create a following of people that you actually LIKE and respect. If you pick products first, and try to build a niche around those products, you may end up miserable.. the people that want those products may not be the right people for you! You might not LIKE that audience, and you may end up hating your job. So identify your target audience FIRST.
This was a super “AHA!” moment for me – before, I had always picked products that I thought were cool, then tried to find other people that would like it. But when you create a niche first, you’ve got people that you can identify with – and you will know how to help them.
My niche is stay-at-home-moms who want to create an income through blogging. If that’s you, guess what – My blog exists to help YOU.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t be blogging about stuff that might help other people – and that’s important to keep in mind. A lot of people get scared when they get into a super tight niche, because they worry that they’re excluding readers and possible clients/customers.
Don’t worry about it! The people that need to see your information will read it and use it whether they’re an exact fit to your niche or not.
The important thing is that when people read your blog, they should feel like “THIS! This is talking to me!”
What Niche Do You Want to Work With?
This is a really important question! You should already know what types of people you care about, have a passion for, and understand a little bit. You’ll be way more successful connecting with people that you already like and know.
That’s another mistake a lot of people make – they choose a niche based on what they think is hot at the moment, or they pick it because someone said “You have to blog about XYZ if you want to make a lot of money.” Well, that ain’t true, ladies. You’re much more likely to have success blogging about something you know about and have experience with. As Robin Cockrell says over at Pajama Affiliates,
It could be the hottest market in the world but if you don’t know anything about the audience it appeals too, you’re not going to be a strong competitor ever.
So pick a niche that you know about, that you care about. I know a lot of people (even me!) have said “Be passionate about it!” – well, here’s a secret: you don’t *really* have to be passionate – but you do need to be knowledgeable, and care about it.
Knowing your niche will help you understand the people in it better – you’ll be able to figure out where they hang out – are there online forums they use? Are they members of Facebook groups? What do they do for fun? What do they like to read? What are their fears, their problems? What are their deepest desires?
There are probably already a few big blogs in any niche – this is awesome for you, because you can learn so much about your audience by knowing their influencers. What shows do they like to watch? Do they read certain authors? What products and services do they love, and why? These are the kinds of things you can pick up from the top influencers – they are influencing the choices of the market.
Develop an Audience Persona
As you learn more and more about your niche, you should start developing a persona – a made up person who personifies all the traits you look for in your target audience.
For example, on one of my other blogs, I blog about my life here in Lima, Peru. The person I blog for is “Sarah” – she’s a North American in her 20s, she’s come to Peru to live because her new husband got transferred here for a couple years in his job. She’s got young kids, and doesn’t know much about Peru, but she has lived outside the US before so she’s not completely lost.
For a long, long time, I blogged for this made up person “Sarah” – I blogged about how to cook Peruvian foods, how to find a school, shopping in the markets, how to get a new passport if you lost yours, how safe is living in Lima; things that Sarah would want to know. I ended up with a blog that, while it was live, was well known in the Peruvian expat community (I still keep the FB page alive for sharing info, even though the blog is gone).
Identifying your audience should be your first step to creating a profitable niche blog. If you don’t know who you’re blogging for, you won’t have any idea what kind of products they’ll be interested in, what kind of ads they want to see, what kind of posts they want to read. Figuring out WHO you are blogging for makes everything else fall into place.
It all starts to happen when you start taking action!