Starting a New Online Business – But What to Blog About?
You've decided to take the first step; you're going to set up an online business. You just need to decide where that first step should take you – what to blog about? Not to worry – here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Choose a topic that excites you – one that you're inclined to discuss with your friends or family. You'll spend a lot of time writing articles for your blog, so choose something that gets your juices going. You don't want to spend a lot of time getting the blog on its feet, only to succumb to apathy or writer's block later. You'll be writing or updating your blog several times a week, and you'll also be responding to your readers' comments on a regular basis. You'll need to maintain your motivation!
- It's fine to choose a topic you could debate with others, but if your topic is emotionally charged and gets you wound up you should drop it. Keep in mind that blog topics that stir up strong emotions are likely to cause strong disagreement from some readers – even to the point of personal attack. When you consider what to blog about, you should be interested in stirring up your readers' interest – not giving yourself an ulcer. If you don't have a thick skin, dial back your topic to something less volatile.
Which topics will draw visitors – lots of visitors?
Create a list of five or more topics that interest you, as indicated above. There are dozens of ways to monetize your site, but in all cases you need enough site visitors to to make monetization feasible.This is the third item you need to consider when deciding what to blog about. Here are a few suggestions:
- Amazon makes it easy to see which products are selling. You can go to Amazon Top Products to see which products are selling best today at Amazon. Narrow the list to your specific interest by drilling down in the categories shown on the left side of the page.
- You can go to Amazon Best Selling Magazines to find topics folks find most interesting. Compare these interests to the topics you've listed as possible interesting blog topics.
- Would you like to know longer term trends – what has been of interest to the online public in the past and likely to be of interest in the future? Go to Google Trends and put a topic in the search bar near the top of the screen. Google will tell you whether interest is rising or dropping in that topic. Frequently you'll find fluctuations around holidays, elections, and seasonal changes, you'll be able to see trends. You'd like to find a topic with a lot of interest, where the interest is growing over time. If you're comfortable with the interest you see, you may decide to go with it despite a flat or even a slight downward indication in interest. You can click to enlarge the picture at the right.
Narrowing your niche
At the bottom of page 1 of your search, Google offers other searches which are related to hydroponic gardening. These suggestions reflect more specific niches. You may find one of these narrower niches fits your interest when considering what to blog about. You'll be able to avoid big competitors, their big websites, and their big marketing budgets with a narrower niche. Click on one or more of the other searches you find interesting to check out your competition. I might click on “build a hydroponic garden” as a narrower niche. “How to build a cheap hydroponic system” is a still smaller niche. Alternately, I might just strike out on my own when deciding what to blog about, finding a niche which Google hasn't suggested.
Play with it a bit, and see what you can turn up – something of interest to you in a niche where you can compete. Getting traffic from the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc) is nice, but there are other ways to get traffic to your site. It is nice to get free traffic from the search engines though, so a bit of time spent researching here could pay off over time as you build your site. We'll touch on other ways to get free and paid traffic.
You also need to consider the competing sites that are already entrenched out there on the web. If you haven't already done so, create an account with Google so you can login prior to making searches. Next, go to Google as you normally would to search, but this time login before making that search. Now click on “Settings” in the lower right corner, then click on “Search Settings” in the list that pops up. Google likes to give you search results personalized specifically to you, so under Private Results you need to tick the radio button for “Do not use private results”. This will give you an unfiltered view of Google's search results. Click “Save” at the bottom of the page, then do a Google search for your topic.
In the case of “hydroponic gardening”, the search returned 4,320,000 results. I'll take a look at my competition on the first page of the search results. It turns out I'd be competing with some large operators, such as Home Depot, Wikihow, YouTube, etc. Narrowing my focus to duck the bigger competitors might be in order when deciding what to blog about.
Traffic volume to your niche site
Great – you've tentatively identified what to blog about, and now it's time to find out how many people are interested in your niche. Go to the SERPS website and enter your niche title in the search box. Tick the “I am not a robot” box, then click on Search. Almost immediately SERPS will return the total number of monthly searches for that term. In addition, it will return the monthly search totals for a number of related keywords.
Incidentally, a keyword is rarely a single word. Instead, it is a phrase that is searched for in the search engines. In this example, the subject of my niche (hydroponic gardening) is a single keyword. The second column of data in the table is the number of monthly searches for each keyword. The third column in the table (the CPC, or cost per click) represents the amount of money an advertiser is willing to pay for each person who clicks on that keyword and is sent to the advertiser's web site. The amount of money someone is paying to get traffic to their site using that keyword is a clear indication the keyword can be monetized for a profit!
Ponder the possibilities
You now have enough information to determine what to blog about. Use the free tools above to begin sifting through topics that are of interest to you. It's critical to keep the following in mind however – it doesn't matter what you think is important. The only thing that's important is what the online public thinks is important. That's why it's so important to use Amazon, Google, and the SERPS website to find out what topics are popular and can be monetized on your site. If you're interested in left handed monkey wrenches, but no one else is interested, you should probably leave it off your plumbing site.