How to Start a Blog #1: Choosing a Niche and Direction for Your Blog

How to Start a Blog #1: Choosing a Niche and Direction for Your Blog
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This is the first part in my 10-part series of How to Start a Blog and grow your website .

More specifically, how to start a WordPress blog and treat it like a business, not a hobby,

The series will guide you through the entire process of creating a blog: domain registration and hosting, WordPress installation, Plugin set up, lead magnet and email list, SEO tweaking, content strategy, blog monetization, and how to write your first article.

It’s a step-by-step guide for you to launch a WordPress website, and create a side-income or make a living out of it in the long-term.

It is beginner friendly, easy to use, and there will also be a FREE checklist and FEEE ebook with all the articles (10 steps) combined so you can go one by one and have them all together.

Let’s jump right in!

Define Your Goals for Your WordPress Website

One of the first things before creating a brand is to define your goals.

The act of goal-setting and the thought we put in crafting them directs our attention to why, how and what of our aspirations. They allow for feedback, promote happiness and encourage us to use our strengths.

Goals give you structure, keep you looking ahead and keep you acountable.

First, ask yourself “What do I want?” What’s my outcome? What’s my result?” This is important for the focus and direction of your blog. I believe it is crucial.

The more clearly you’re seeing your future, the better the chance that you’re going to get there.

A goal can’t just be “to make money” because – here – have a $1 and you’re done.

Goals need to be specific. The more specific they are is, the better. They need to be both short-term and long-term so you can keep the focus continuously.

I have a list of short-term goals for 1, 3, 6 months, and for 8, 12, 18, 24 months for long-term goals as well. They span from getting 1 subscriber on my email list, to making 5k a month.

Define Your Goals

In general it’s best to keep it simple. 5 goals and that’s it. Something like, get 100 subscribers, 50 backlinks, 10 posts, $5000 a month, etc.

After picking a niche, it will be much easier to define more goals.

Once you define them, you should visit and look at them every day, and remind yourself what you’re trying to achieve.

I also suggest that you write your affirmations so you can practice being successful, and repeat them daily at least once. Some people do it in the morning, I do it before I go to bed.

I keep my eyes locked on where I want to be. You should too.

Define Your Purpose for Your WordPress Website

Goals and affirmations tie in and create a purpose.

You need to know why you’re doing this. This one is easier, it’s usually either to make money on the side, grow your website with a blog, completely replace active income with passive through a small niche, or to promote your brand through a personal blog/website.

Whatever it is, you need to define it, write or type it down and know it by memory.

What is the purpose of your website? Write it down.

If you’re a bit unsure, then ask yourself: who are you targeting? Who are your potential readers/buyers/customers? You’re creating a website to satisfy a need, or solve a problem.

Targeted Readers/Buyers/Customers

To rank well on Google you need to bring in the value. Every time you want to earn more, you need to bring in more value. So what do you bring in?

If you already know, that’s great, you’re half way there. If you don’t know precisely, then you need to make sure to always research well, and write the best possible content. Useful content is of great value.

For example, my purpose, with this website can be summarized in one sentence:

I help entrepreneurs build and grow their WordPress website for their business”.

Once you define goals and purpose make sure they are written down or typed somewhere for you to always access quickly and easily, to keep your spirits up and motivate yourself, and to always know where you’re heading and what you’re going to achieve.

Choosing Profitable Niche Markets

niche is a sub-industry relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.

Good niche ideas are everywhere and all kinds. The highest probability of success and the best way to create profitable niche markets is either to choose a nich in which you have expertise in, or a specific niche with low competition but still good general search volume.

I always recommend to choose something you have passion for and will want to learn about, and that you know you’ll be putting in efforts to grow it.

If you’re creating a personal brand website or a website for specific product or a service than you already know what those are, then it’s easy to choose a niche.

It’s already determined – it is a niche in which you have “some” knowledge in, and also some interest to learn more down the line.

It’s a niche for which you want to write good articles about for some time.

Write Good Articles

Choose a Niche You Have at Least Some Interest In

It’s better to choose a niche that you have interest in, because:

  1. it’s easier to figure out what you’ll write about and create content marketing strategy
  2. you will enjoy it and you will work harder to take it to the next level, especially if you’re going to write your own articles.

If you’re uncertain about choosing a niche, just make sure you don’t completely dislike what you’re going to write and build a business about. It can really slow you down. If you don’t like what you’re writing about, you can hire writers but, at least love what you’re doing with the business model. That is more important.

You want to grow your business around something for which you either:

  1. Have passion for and see yourself growing a sucessful business out of, OR
  2. Have put efforts in, and you’re following your efforts and see your future self growing a successful business out of it.

The combination of both is generally preferable, but if you have to choose, go with efforts because your efforts can usually create that passion, and passion alone is not sufficient unless you work at it. For example, I have passion for graphic design, but I never put the required effort in to make it in graphic design.

If you’re writing about something that you dislike, failure is pretty much guaranteed. Or you’re going to have a miserable time writing about.

Solution to Content Writing: Hiring Content Writers

There is a solution to not being able to write good articles – hire writers.

You find a writer on Fiverr or Upwork, pay 2-3 cents per word (or 10-25$ per hour), for example, and you have yourself an article for your website. You can put your name on it, which is something many people do called ghost writing, or you just don’t put a name or don’t have an author’s name for your articles.

With an OceanWP theme you can easily set up all this meta content (more about this in #7: How to Start a Blog #7: Logo, Theme and Design).

Since I’m sharing here how to do all this without investing much, I’ll assume you’ll write articles yourself.

How to Find a Profitable Niche

If you already have a product, a brand, service or anything that you know you’ll be writing about and promoting or selling, it’s already easier for you to choose a niche.

This is also the time to figure out if you need to choose a sub niche.

A sub-niche is a lower rank of niche, such as “baseball training for kids” in a niche of “baseball training”, or “sailing instructions for small sailing boats” in the niche “sailing instructions for boats“.

It’s a more specific, easier to target niche, and to compete in.

It is also much easier to write article ideas for when you get more specific, and also to rank in Google search.

Top Google Search Ranking Factors

Google has straight up admitted the top 3 ranking factors: links, content and RankBrain. The rest of the factors are presented in this pyramid, where the number 1 is the most important:

Google Ranking Factors
Level 1 are the most important factors in Google Search rankings

Rankbrain is a machine learning-based search engine algorithm used by Google since 2015. It helps Google to process search results and provide more relevant search results for users.

General search volume for the keywords you’re trying to write about is something you should determine, because if there isn’t enough traffic, you won’t be able to get enough visitors to your website.

For any type of niche you will need to research a lot to bring the useful articles in. Unless you know quite a lot, and wrote a book on the subject. Still, learning more is recommended.

I suggest to just pick something so that when you think of it, you can easily think of 10 good articles to write about.

Same goes for both higher authority niche websites, and passive income niche websites. These two aren’t always mutally exclusive, as a passive income website can also be a high authority website.

Key Questions to Answer for a New Niche

To find good profitable niche market you should answer these questions:

  1. Is There a Good General Search Volume?
    1. SEMrush is both free (limited) and has a cheap trial
    2. Ahrefs, (you can get trial for 7 days for $7 just make sure to cancel if you’re not going to buy it, because it’s expensive)
    3. keywords everywhere chrome extension (no longer free)
  2. Is It Too competitive?
    1. Can you create more helpful content, or differentiate yourself from the competition?
    2. Can you write many good articles on it?
    3. Is there a less competitive and better sub-niche?
  3. Can You Monetize it?
    1. You can monetize literaly anything, but ask yourself how much can you get from affiliate marketing first
    2. What kind of info-product, or a general product or service can you sell down the line?
    3. Ads can be a good income source, but can you get the necessary traffic? go to (#1) again and research if you’re unsure, but don’t spend all your time on it

Once you answer these questions, do some keyword research.

Do a Quick Keyword Research

More specific guide will be available in the part 5: Content Plan and Keyword Research

For now, you should check a search volume on SEMrush and Ahrefs. In general, it’s almost impossible for you to know this precisely, but these tools will help you to have a general sense of the search ovlume.

I don’t suggest using Google Keyword Planner, which is usually suggested.

This is not a great tool for keyword research, because it doesn’t show you general search volume. Google Keyworld Planner is for advertisers, and it’s not saying how many people search the key, but how many ad impressions you can expect.

Ahrefs offers a 7 day trial for $7 and I think it’s worth it.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Once you’re there, you have all kinds of useful info to check. To find more useful but similar words, check “Having Same Terms“.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Now look at the KD, Volume, and Clicks.

KD “Keyword Difficulty estimates how hard it will be to rank in the top 10 organic search results for a given keyword in a given location.” Tells you all you need to know. Go for keywords below 40. If you’re not sure in your own expertise on the subject, go below 30 or 20.

The general rule is “the higher the difficulty, and the better the competition articles for the keyword, the better and the longer your articles need to be to rank better“.

Next, the Volume and the Clicks tell you the avereage monthly search volume for the selected keyword, and the amount of clicks. Some keywords might not produce as many clicks, such as motivational or inspirations quotes for example. But these two do have extraordinarily high search volume.

If you don’t want to use Ahrefs you have the option SEMrush which requires a new account as well but is free for a few reports a day.

3rd alternative, and the most important one, is just using common sense.

If it’s a niche with low competition, just use alphabet soup method, and go one by one. Check an article for which you want to write, if there aren’t any good ones in the first 5 resulst on Google – guess what – you can beat it.

Easily. Just write better content.

If it doesn’t have any pictures (or any good ones) – add your own. If it has <1500 words – write longer article. If it’s pretty good, and has like “6 Great Ways to Make it” – write “7 Great Ways to Make it”.

You can always beat it. Write useful stuff. And do it consistently. Results come 3-6 months later, depending on how good you are. Unless you use a good guest-posting strategy (more in part 10: Blog Monetization).

If you use a good backlink strategy, then you can compete in just a month or two, especially if it’s a niche with lower competition.

Choose a Market with High Income Power

You also need to know if your audience is going to pay for the products and services you’re selling, or to go through with the purchase on affiliate links.

Your targetted potential visitors need to have high income, or good income potential.

You need an audience with a solid buying power. Basically, you need to make sure your prospective readers reside in a lucrative B2B niche with a high monthly recurring income.

Customer Buying Power

Those are the most important things to consider.

Research the highest ranking websites for some of the long tail keywords that you’ll be targetting. Clik on the keyword and check their domain authority and the quality of articles. If they have lower domain authority, and the articles are short and/or without pictures – generally if you feel that you could write better, then you can compete successfully.

If not, you can still compete, just not “as” successfully.

Even if the articles are excellent, but you feel that you can write more than that, and that you could write better, more useful and/or specific advice, steps, guides and answers to people’s problems, then you can definitely compete.

And if you love what you write about, you’ll be having not trouble with it. Just keep it up.

Google Trends

If you don’t want to invest in ahrefs then check out google trends for a general trend of a keyword. If it’s going down, or has spikes it might be best to avoid.

Mild, long-term spikes may indicate that it has a seasonal trend, and with this you would need to figure out articles that are relevant during the off-season time. Sometimes it’s not the season but a shorter period of time – whatever the case, it’s unpredictable and more risky.

Google Trends Spikes

You can mitigate most of these risks for ranking by having a good content strategy, but also you can overcome this heavily by simply getting as many good “follow” backlinks from high authority sites as possible.

Best way to do this is through the guest posting. With guest posting you can build your authority fast, rank high in Google and drive audience to your website faster than anything.

Except maybe through excellent content.

But, if you’re a new website, and you don’t take the advantage of guest posting (which I don’t recommend you avoid), it will take time for Google algorithms to recognize and rank you, sometimes up to 5-8 months to get to the peak of where your article can rank.

With good backlinking strategy, you can overcome that and rank higher and sooner.

So, keep that in mind. If you’re a website about doing something at a specific time of the year, you might want to start writing some articles before months before that period, so that the Google has time to rank it during off-season. Or better yet – avoid seasonal niche.

Define your Ideal Reader

Ideal customer/Reader/Visitor

One of the biggest mistakes for both personal branders and passive niche owners is trying to please everyone.

Narrowing down your targetted audience not only helps you create a better content marketing strategy, but it allows you to hit the target successfully. You have to aim.

Your ideal reader is a specific person (singular noun) reading your blog, or visiting your website to check out the stuff you’ve written about, and satisfy their need.

They are looking for a solution to a problem, entertainment, just curious, etc.

Someone like you, reading this right now. I write this to help people like you, who are looking to build a successful WordPress blog.

And you too need to understand who you’re writing for, and what your website is for. What is your brand, and how does it help others? How does it solve their problem?

Is your conversion rate low because you haven’t yet clearly defined your targeted audience?

Then you should get to it right now. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Excel or Google Sheets
  2. In Columns put: age, gender, job, location, income, education, needs, aspirations, relationship, pain points/reasons for suffering, solution to suffering, hangout location, what makes him/her come back?, what is a “value” for him/her, and anything else you might find necessary, and
  3. In rows you fill out the required answers and info for all this.

That’s the gist of it, the most important stuff.

What this does, is create a clear image of your ideal person visiting your website.

You’ll be able to write a clear description and know this person intimately that way. You will need to give him or her a name as well.

You should know them like your know yourself. Their needs, aspirations, location, where they hang out when they aren’t on your website (and be there yourself), what their problems are relative to your brand, how to solve them, etc.

You need to know what makes them come back to your website, because this is how you create loyal subscribers and people who come to you for answers.

One of the most important attributes is defining pain points of your ideal reader.

Those are the reasons that make your ideal visitor suffer, because of which they will come to your website for answers. And you will provide them with such.

To solve their problems, just answer how you will alleviate those pain points. How will you target those points, then fix them, with solutions in your content.

Once you fill out all the necessary info, you then create another column which you can call “Description of _____” or whatever you wish, where _____ represents the Name of your ideal visitor.

In Description, you imagine that you’re sitting down or having a coffee with your ideal person, and try to describe them. Remember to go intimate. Go below and bring out their desires, fears, aspirations and needs and write them in a paragraph. This will help you cement that picture of who your ideal reader is, and how will you solve their problems.

Creating an ideal visitor is a crucial part of any marketing strategy.

If you skip this, you will need to figure it out on the fly, and it may mess up your content strategy, it will tire you needlessly, and cost you energytime and money.

I suggest you do it now so you can better understand your business for the future.

Differentiate Yourself and Your Business

Differentiate Your Business

Finally, try to differentiate yourself.

When customers see a unique value in what you offer, they are more likely to buy from you.

What differentiates your from the others in the same niche? People need to talk about you for you to be relevant and have them keep coming back.

If you don’t do anything different or interesting, or have your own tone or style, there may not be anything different about you to talk about you.

Do something different than the competition. Here are some tips how to differentiate:

  1. a better (or unique) website design,
  2. More helpful and more specific articles,
  3. Different tone or style in writing than the rest,
  4. A content strategy focused on a specific segment, etc.

If you followed the advice above you’ll have no trouble suceeding.

And if you’re still unsure whether you should start a WordPress Blog check my article on “why you definitely should“, and as soon as possible. It’s one of the curcial marketing strategies to grow your business.

Ready to Register Domain and Set up Hosting

If you’ve answered at least 80% of all this, you’re ready to register domain and set up hosting. Whatever you’re still unclear about, it will come to you, don’t worry. You don’t need to know everything, and have answer to everything.

You just need to figure out a general picture, and then keep going.

Go on to part 2: Register Domain and Set up Hosting.

FREE 10-part series - How to Start a Blog

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