Is your blogging niche too broad or too narrow? And, if you're supposed to narrow it, how do you actually do that?
The very beginning phases of building an online business are the most difficult. It usually starts with little more than an idea that you want a side business. But, from there, there are a ba-zillion different potential directions you could go. Which do you choose?
Plus, even if you have a niche in mind, it is common to get a little bit "stuck" on whether it is right or not. You're there looking for some signs of confidence that you're not completely on the wrong track.
And it is in this vein that we often come to the notion of whether your niche is too broad or not - and how to "narrow" it down.
It Usually Begins With An Interest Or Passion...
Much of the time, choosing a niche begins with an area of interest or passion. While it may be a pretty strong interest, two things will quickly come up...
- Is it "narrow" enough to actually gain any traction?
- Could it turn into a potential business?
What ends up happening for many is that they begin looking for external signs of proof. Often, that will end up using various keyword research tools. And then... we get into the weeds.
Keyword research tools can be useful for many things, but all too often it just introduces even more confusion. You end up in a sea of numbers and keyword phrases. But, what are the numerical cut-offs? Which keyword phrases are actionable? What does any of it actually mean for you?
Well, here's some good news...
You can forget about wading into keyword research tools to make decisions on your niche.
I'm not saying keyword research tools are useless. Not in the slightest. However, I think we can be far more effective here in the early stages of niche decisions by keeping things simple. I think keyword tools often just serve to paralyze people even further.
A lot of this can be more effectively addressed by just thinking of human beings and not the algorithm.
So, you've got an area of interest. You've got some ideas. How do we know if it is too broad?
4 Signs Of A Niche Which Is Too Broad
Here are some things to look for when you're evaluating a niche to see if you are defining it too broadly.
It Is Difficult To Determine Your Blog's Intent
If you look at a blog and cannot immediately determine what the purpose is, you're going to have a tough time ranking it on Google.
For instance, start looking at the blog archives or the navigation. If topics are all over the place and you're jumping around to whatever crosses your mind, then this would be the epitome of "too broad". In fact, you might not really have a niche at all.
This is common with personal blogs. Such blogs are just a running journal of the author's mind.
Simply put... this won't work. And if you're trying to cover more than one entirely separate topic and target market on the same site, you've gone way too broad. If your blog could very easily apply to people with radically different interests, you've gone too broad.
You Have Constant Writer's Block
If you are pretty continually running up into a wall as you try to write a post - not knowing what to really say - then there's a good chance you have no clearly defined niche.
The most common reasons for writer's block are:
- A general topic "niche" with no clear focus, so there are simply too many potential angles to write and it just leads to paralysis.
- You're not clear on WHO your target reader actually is.
- Your level of knowledge is too limited and you really don't have anything of value to offer or can't go much deeper than just surface-level stuff.
You see this pretty commonly in the real generic niches, such as:
- Personal development. Develop what? Just a general desire to be better? Such blogs end up with a bunch of regurgitated cheerleading that helps nobody and usually fizzle. Read my thoughts on the personal development niche here.
- Lifestyle. This could mean anything to anybody.
- Internet marketing. Great, you're interested in making money online. But, there are gobs of ways to do that and a helluva lot people talking about it.
You get the point. But, one of the most common symptoms of all this is neverending writer's block and an eventual apathy that writing for your blog feels like a waste of effort.
Stagnant Growth In Traffic, Email, Sales
Now, keep in mind here that there are most definitely other reasons why you might have stalled growth in traffic, email or sales. So, what it comes down to is the phase of business you're in.
If you are in the very early stages and struggling to get anything to convert, then lack of focus on your niche could very well be the problem.
- Have a really tough time getting anybody to subscribe to your email list?
- Can't seem to get anything to rank in search?
- Low engagement rates in emails you DO send to the list?
Your niche could be the problem.
You Define Your Niche Using Just A Couple Words
If the way you define your niche could be summed up in 1, 2, or even 3 words... then you're probably too broad. Your niche is poorly defined. You're probably just throwing out a topic.
"Personal development" is a poorly defined niche. "Internet marketing" is a badly defined niche. "Fitness", "Health", "Fashion", "Dating".... all poorly defined. Too broad.
And if you have a tough time getting off these high-level topical umbrellas, then you're probably too broad.
Which leads us to an important aspect of this discussion...
How To Define Your Niche To Begin With
One of the most common mistakes people make is to equate one's niche with their topic. As I've said a bunch of times in other articles and in my training...
Your niche is NOT your topic.
You do NOT define your niche by merely stating what the general subject matter of your posts are. Not unless you're aiming to get stuck in some endless hamster wheel of content "churnification" that leads to no other monetization options than Google Adsense.
A niche is actually a need. It is a real, human desire.
What we're looking for is a MARKET. A market has 4 components:
- It is a group of people with a clearly defined desire or problem to be solved.
- They are actively looking to do something about it.
- They have the ability to pay for it.
- They are willing to pay for it.
Right off the bat, I hope it becomes clear that we need to begin thinking of your niche as a group of people, not a topic.
So, for any niche idea you're looking at, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are they?
- What, specifically, are they looking to accomplish?
- What are they looking for to help them do that?
- How can you connect with these people?
Now, let's dive into these factors a little deeper. Since, therein lies all you really need to know about how to narrow down a niche.
Who Are They?
One of the chief problems with broadly defined niches like "personal development" or "lifestyle" is that they apply to... everyone.
A niche that applies to everyone is kind of a bad niche. You don't know where to aim your efforts if it applies to everyone under the sun. Even narrowing it down a level (like men vs women) is too broad.
Here is where you get into the idea of creating what is commonly called an avatar. It is simply a symbolic person that represents the most common traits of your perfect reader. Some things to consider are:
- Are they male or female? Age range? Marital status? Kids? In other words, the usual demographics.
- What are their struggles? What is causing stress in their lives?
- What are they looking for? What does "success" look like to them?
- What is their level of awareness of the nature of the problem? For instance, are they doing broad searches with no real focus... or are they actively looking for specific solutions to specific sub-problems?
It all comes to do WHO THEY ARE. As actual human beings. With typical days. With thoughts and emotions. With daily struggles.
And the more you focus on who they are, the better you can understand what kinds of things could be provided to them to meet their needs.
But, this needs to be intersected strongly with our next question...
What Is The Specific Problem They Want To Solve?
Any market is driven by a human desire. That is what gives it the energy. That desire is usually in the direction of seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.
Any market is driven by a human desire. That is what gives it the energy to work. That desire is usually in the direction of seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.
So, you want to focus on either on enabling people with a strong desire to better fulfill that desire.... or enabling people with a problem they want to solve to actually solve that problem.
Now, part and parcel of this is to be able to be concrete enough about that problem or desire that you can actually define it and know what they're seeking. "Personal development" is way too broad because the desire is vague and generic and the problem is not defined.
You want to make your focus narrow enough where you can clearly define the goal and you're not speaking to everybody. For instance, "make money online" is a super big market online. However, make money doing what? Make money how? It is way too broad. Everybody wants to make money. Literally every human on earth. And even if you try to narrow that to "affiliate marketing" as a niche, it is still going to be super difficult to land anything because it still tends to cater to everybody.
What Are They Looking For?
Another strong consideration for a niche being too broad is how easily you can define what it is they're actually looking for.
If they're trying to solve a particular problem, what kinds of things are they looking for in their effort to find a solution?
I keep using "personal development" as an example because it is such a grand example of an overly broad and unworkable niche definition. But, what do people actually look for in that space? How to be happier? Usually they can't even quite place their finger on what they're looking for. They don't really know.
This brings up another big thing to consider, which is...
How actionable is what they are seeking? What is their level of awareness of the solvability of it?
Specific problems warrant specific solutions. People love specific solutions.
Vague problems warrant vague quasi-solutions and confusions. Vague problems warrant inaction and apathy. Vague problems usually warrant generic content full of "tips", but it is hard to get much deeper than that. Often, people who might come across your site wouldn't even know a solution if it smacked them upside the head because they don't really have much of an idea what success even looks like.
Specific niches warrant specific solutions. Vague niches warrant little but confusion and inaction.
How Can You Connect With Them?
This is a super important question to answer. Answering it usually brings up several different considerations that all lend themselves to narrowing your niche.
If you have the idea of the specific desire you wish to enable and WHO you want to serve, you obviously need to be able to REACH them and have them FIND you.
- What specific headlines would attract their attention if they saw it?
- What questions could you answer that would attract them?
- Can you attract more people by making your question more specific?
- Where are they currently found online now? Social groups? Forums? Other blogs? Podcasts? Youtube channels?
Often, it is at this point where you are going to spend some time on research, going through different sites, seeing what seems to have traction and what doesn't.
And sometimes, you'll find that you have to change up your focus a bit to make this easier.
The First Step Of Niching Down Is Properly Defining It
So, at this point, if your niche is super broad and unclear, then your first step to narrowing down your niche is to define it correctly to begin with.
Spend some time and answer those 4 questions above.
Now, obviously, as a starting point here, you will use your own interests and passions. At the center of this whole thing will be YOU. Either you or a business system that you build. And you or your business needs to be capable of serving the need you're defining.
So, start with you. What do you enjoy doing so much that it would be hard to get bored with it? What are you really good at?
Then, answer those 4 questions with as much detail as you can.
Don't worry if you have multiple ideas coming up as you do this. This is a process, not a destination. What you may want to do is break up each potential niche onto a separate piece of paper... each one answering those 4 questions.
The Next Level Of Narrowing Your Niche
Above, the focus has been on fully defining the niche in the proper way. For many, doing that solves many problems. Answering those 4 questions is going to lead you to WAY more actionable information about your niche than merely throwing out a topic and subject matter for your blog posts.
But, sometimes we want to dive deeper.
Or perhaps you answer those 4 questions but still feel as if you're going to have difficulty with competition and standing out.
So, here's a few things to consider...
Let's dive a little deeper into each...
Focusing On A Particular Aspect Of A Larger Desire
A lot of desires and problems that make up good markets are very big, but can be broken down easily into sub-sets.
If you break your overall market transformation into phases or steps, one aspect of narrowing down might be to focus on just one phase.
An example might be if I were to narrow down the Blog Marketing Academy itself only to niche selection. If all I did was focus on how to choose a solid niche and really hone in on that, I would still penetrate the larger "make money blogging" market, but do so in a much more focused way. Plus, that is a step of the transformation that everybody goes through.
So, ask yourself... what kinds of pain points could you focus in on? Think about before, during and after the main desire or problem.
Narrowing Down To A Smaller Market Segment
Many times, the nature of a desire or problem solved is that it will potentially apply to many different types of people. It can lead to many different avatars.
So, one common approach is simply to narrow in on one of them and solely concentrate on serving them and leaving the others out of it.
- Building an online business is a big topic, but building a membership site has a much narrower focus and is still part of the bigger picture. Focusing exclusively on membership sites would be easier, likely.
- A web developer, similarly, might be skilled with Wordpress. But, could narrow down by concentrating specifically on building Wordpress-based membership sites.
- I know a person with a web design business that could have easily blended into the scenery of all others, but instead focused exclusively on lawyers. He specialized in sites for law firms, networked within that crowd, and was able to charge much higher rates.
In most cases, narrowing like this is just a matter of making a decision. The idea, though, is simple...
Of all the various groups that your chosen niche might apply to, hone in on one of them and really make everything apply much more specifically to them.
Combining Different Markets Into One
There's a great business book called the Blue Ocean Strategy. The gist of it is simple...
Instead of competing in the same waters as all the other sharks, you compete by finding a different angle and serving that same market, but in a way others aren't serving.
One approach to this is to combine markets that seemingly don't have much to do with one another, but specifically serving the intersection. By doing this, you are serving a smaller, yet more focused crowd. Plus, you might have just given yourself a major angle for promotion that your competitors never thought of.
What smaller segments of people could your offering apply to?
Serving The Market Differently
Many big niches end up with a lot of people all doing the same thing and saying the same thing. Sometimes, you don't necessarily have to do something entirely unique.... but can just do it in a different way.
For instance, if most everybody in your niche is doing written blogging, what if you came out and did mostly video? Or a podcast?
If your niche is mostly dry and boring and corporate, what if you could come out and simply do it in a non-boring, even humorous way?
What if you're in a niche where everybody is thinking "online courses", but you come out and decide to do in-person workshops?
Or, what if you did online courses, but just made them all free? Make your money on backend sales. A free course library might give you a competitive edge over others trying to sell them.
Think about how Zappos carved out an entirely new business model by taking shoe sales online? They served the market differently.
It isn't always about what you discuss on your blog. Sometimes, it is in HOW you discuss it... and HOW you serve the need or solve their problem.
Getting outside the box is another, alternative approach to narrowing your niche.
Making Decisions (Time For Some Real Talk)
Still here? Cool. 🙂
Now, let's talk about something important. Because, I think I know where you're at. If you're looking into how to narrow down your niche, then I'm assuming you're coming from a place of doubt.
You're sorta going in circles in your head. Is your niche any good? Will it work? Did you do it right?
And thing is, you're probably looking for external signs of it being "right" before you press on. Or even sitting paralyzed on this one point and not really doing much else because of that uncertainty.
And it sucks. Because, there's not a lot that I could truthfully tell you to alleviate those nagging concerns.
Sure, I could come with with "proven niche ideas" and all that crap. Many others have already done that. You can find them all over Google. But, they mean nothing. They are giving you what you WANT, but not a real solution. You WANT somebody to hand you a "proven" niche on a golden platter, along with a series of steps you can more or less blindly perform and have it all guaranteed to work. They'll market it that way, too. But, it is all a big lie. You know it, deep down.
So, I don't want to mislead you.
In the end, the biggest part of choosing and narrowing down your niche is simply making a decision.
You look into what you're most interested in and how you feel you can be most helpful to others. You work that down into the 4 aspects of defining the niche (see above). You brainstorm that. But, then....
You inevitably will get to the point where you're asking.... "what now?" Is this narrow enough? Is this good enough?
That's where the point of decision lies.
And if you have a few different potential paths, just decide on one.
There's no real right or wrong decision here. Almost everything that would determine how it works will come later. In your actions.
What we're after here is simply giving you some guidance on how to define your niche and the proper scope of your niche. Nobody other than YOU can determine if it is right for you. And not only that... it isn't even some big earth shattering decision.
Cuz, you know what? You can always switch gears. Make adjustments. All on the fly. This stuff isn't set in stone.
So, it is all OK.
I hope, in this article, I've given you some helpful advice on how to narrow down your niche and stop trying to label it in some generic topical phrase. It'll be much more actionable that way.
A well defined niche should be actionable for you. It should flow freely into content ideas. It should alleviate doubts on who you're talking to, what they want, how you can reach them and attract them. Well defined niches make your job easier. Generic topics do not.
Hope so. If I can clarify anything for you, ask away in the comments and I'll be sure to answer.