The Pros and Cons of Niche Blogging

By Steven Snell

One of the most important decisions that you’ll will make when starting a new blog is choosing a topic or subject. You have the option of choosing a highly-competitive and crowded market, or you can select a niche with fewer existing blogs. Too many new bloggers don’t realize how much this decision will impact them down the road. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of blogging in a smaller niche.

Pros:

1. Less Competition. The most obvious advantage to being in a niche is that you’ll have less competition. You’ll have less competition for traffic, for product sales, for affiliate product sales and whatever else you do.

2. Easier to Get Visitors to Subscribe. In more competitive niches your visitors may already be subscribed to a number of other blogs on your topic. In this case it’s difficult to encourage them to add more reading to their routine. You really have to show how valuable your can be for them. But if you are blogging in a small niche your visitors may not be subscribed to any blogs of your kind. If they are interested in the subject they’re much more likely to subscribe.

3. Creating Unique Content is Easier. With less blogs covering your topic you will have an easier time writing blog posts that aren’t repetitive. Unique content is essential for any blog’s success regardless of what niche it is in, so having an easier time being unique is a big advantage.

4. Higher Value for Advertisers. Many blogs create income by selling ad space. If an advertiser is looking for highly-targeted traffic, a niche blog will be a better option for advertisers. Because of this, niche blogs can frequently charge more for ad space than another blog could with the same amount of traffic.

5. Less Competition for Advertisers. Niche blogs will also have less competition from other blogs that are looking to sell ad space for specific advertisers. Again, if advertisers are interested in the highly-targeted traffic that your blog can provide for them, they will have fewer options. This also helps to increase the rates that you can charge for ad space.

6. Easier to Retain Readers. With less competition from other blogs, your readers won’t have the option to unsubscribe and get the same or similar information somewhere else. Creating and retaining loyal readers is a key to successful blogging and is much easier for specific niche blogs.

7. The Novelty Factor. Being in a smaller niche will make it easier for visitors to remember you because you will be more unique. Don’t underestimate the importance of being able to create a memorable impression on visitors.

8. Higher Search Engine Rankings. Niche blogs usually will have an easier time achieving high search engine rankings because of the lack of competition and the specific keywords and phrases that searchers will use.

9. Easier Monetization. The traffic of a niche blog will usually be more valuable than the traffic of other blogs because it is highly targeted. With highly-targeted traffic and less competition, monetizing a niche blog becomes easier because there are not hundreds of other blogs trying to earn income from the same visitors.

Cons:

1. There’s No Guarantee the Niche Will Stay Small. Some blogs start in a small up-and-coming niche and before long they have much more competition.

2. Lower Traffic Potentials. Although it may be easier to create higher search engine rankings and higher subscription rates, blogs in small niches will still have lower potential amounts of traffic than blogs that cater to larger audiences. Social media websites favor topics that are of interest to a large number of people, and links can be harder to come by for niche blogs simply because there may be less websites and blogs interested in linking to that subject.

3. Less Options for Monetization. Although it may be easier to monetize a niche blog, you may also have fewer options. If you are looking to monetize a blog by selling affiliate products you may only have one or two options, whereas with a more popular subject you may literally have hundreds of options.

4. The Niche May Become Obsolete. Depending on the niche you choose, it may not be of any interest at some point in the future. Be careful when you choose a topic and make sure that it has staying power.

5. Less Search Volume. The potential for higher search engine rankings is somewhat offset by lower amounts of searches. Ideally, you’ll want to rank highly for common search phrases, but this may not be possible depending on your niche.

My blogging experience is in the highly-competitive subject of web design and internet marketing. I’ve found that these pros and cons need to be considered by new bloggers. I’ve had an easier time creating traffic because there are so many people interested in the topics that I cover, but getting truly loyal readers is much more difficult.

Social media has been the number 1 source of traffic for my blog, and I know this is the case for many blogs that cover similar topics. On the other hand, a highly specific niche blog may have a harder time creating social media traffic, but an easier time creating loyal readers.

Ways to Check the Amount of Competition Before Starting a New Blog:

  • Perform a search at Technorati for keywords and phrases related to a niche.
  • Perform a Google Blog search for keywords and phrases related to a niche.
  • Set up a few Google Alerts to track new content that Google indexes on the subject.
  • Use Google Trends to see the search volume of phrases.
  • Use sources like Techmeme to see what topics are hot.

When deciding on a topic, you first and foremost must choose a topic that interests you enough to keep you motivated. Building a profitable blog takes a lot of consistent work, and this can be very difficult to accomplish if you don’t enjoy writing, reading, and learning about the issues and subjects that you cover.

If your interests lie in a subject area that is highly saturated you need to understand what you are up against and have the persistence to stick it out. If you decide to compete in a smaller niche you need to realize that you will be targeting a smaller audience than some other sites. While you may never reach the high traffic levels and subscriber counts of some of the top blogs, you will still have a realistic chance to earn money from your smaller niche.

Do you blog in a small niche? What challenges and struggles do you face that you think are related to the topic of your blog? What other advantages and disadvantages do you see for niche blogs?



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26 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Niche Blogging”

  • The Not Quite Crunchy Parent

    Great post! You do a good job pf covering the issues of niche blogging. a few things I might add:

    It’s sometimes difficult to stay on topic in a small niche. There are lots of things on which I’d like to write ( blogging, politics, economics) that don’t fit in my niche. Since I don’t have time to start another blog, I let out my thoughts on other’s blogs in comments 🙂 Though, I have to be careful when using my blog identity when commenting on political blogs…:-0

    It’s important if you have a niche blog that you retain your first mover advantage by branding your blog and having a unique selling proposition- that is, something that is difficult for others to copy. This may be tone or research ability or even insider knowledge.

    As others enter your niche or you find like bloggers, it’s important to interact on those sites…readers of similar blogs will read your’s too.

    Finally, keep on top of your traffic reports. You’ll want to continually analyze your traffic and your opportunities. It takes awhile to tweak your blog and find your ultimate niche.

  • Daniel

    Good points. I agree that discovering the “right” niche might something that comes over time, after you taste both your skills and people’s reactions to what you write in different topics.

  • Michael Martine

    Doing some keyword research using Google’s AdSense tool or spyfu.com is also helpful for researching niches, because your traffic is so targeted. If you are interested in making money via advertising (esp. AdSense), you will want to see the search volumes, trends, and bid levels for niche-related keywords.

  • Jorge Camoes

    You do have less competition in a niche blog, but you also have less networking/linking opportunities: who will link you if no one else is in that niche, if no one else (other bloggers) cares about what you write?

  • Armen

    I’ve read many posts on this subject Daniel, as you may appreciate. However, few, (if any) cover it as well as this. It’s quite timely for me too.

    Stumbled!

  • Guillermo

    I do blog for a small niche: immigration to canada for a latin american audience. So… you bet it’s small.. Challenges I’m facing: although my suscriber count is growing, I’m having a hard time to significantly increase visits. But I guess it’s a matter of time and indexing. On monetization… options are low because of the language. Also, new weblogs come out almost every day so it’s getting harder. On my side, I have 3+ years blogging on the same subject (most of them on blogger, now on self hsoted WP) so I have an archive worth of being explored, what gives me low bounce rate and high pageviews.

    Of course I will use your tips above for a better research on my niche! Thanks!

  • Joe

    Again some more great tips. I’ve been trying to break into a few niches recently, and I’m about to start another site with the hopes of being able to break into that niche. Hopefully I will be able to do it, though many of the points you make are valid about niche blogs having smaller traffic potentials.

  • Tejvan Pettinger

    Great post. I have several niche blogs, which helps overcome several of the drawbacks. It also means there is always something new to write.

  • Caroline Middlebrook

    I agree with the pros but I disagree with a couple of the cons. I don’t think it’s bad if your small niche grows into a larger one. I think this is a GOOD thing because you have already established yourself as an authority, you’ll already be top of the search engines.

    Darren of ProBlogger says his success with his blogging blog ws mainly because he started one early when the niche was small.

    Secondly, with regards to social media, there are so many niche social sites popping up now – there are literalyl hundreds if not thousands and because they are more targted, they tend to send very targeted traffic which often sites like Digg do not.

  • Steven

    Michael,
    Good point about the AdSense research.

    Caroline,
    You’re right, if you’ve established yourself and the niche grows you are in a good position. I was thinking more of a situation where you choose a specific niche because of the lack of “competition” and before you know it the situation has changed and it’s not a small niche any more. On the social media issue, I would agree with you for some niches, but others are so specific that they have no good social media site available yet. Some of the really small social sites send such low volumes of traffic that I think it is a disadvantage even if the traffic is targeted. I’m referring to very small niches here.

  • Jani Helle

    Reading this site keeps initiating a certain sense of jealousy at the quality of writing. In other words, great job you’re doing here.

    On the niche issue, I keep starting a new blog every time my primary blog gets into a stream of posts on one subject. That’s why I have 6 blogs… =)

    I’ve finally found my niche, Consumer Etiquette, but time will tell if I’ve chosen the right niche. I’ll be sure to take your advise to heart (and scour the site more tidbits to help me on the journey).

    I’ve referred a few friends to your site to get them started on blogging so keep up the good work!

  • Jimmy Bergmark

    Having a niche blog it amazes me how often when I myself search for something my own blog shows up high in the search result. I just recently wrote about Autodesk PLM and searching for it I see that now my blog shows up as the 3:rd result.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Autodesk+PLM

  • Virtual Lottery

    This is the best post about Pros and Cons of Niche Blogging, I ever read in the Internet. Good work 🙂

  • 60 in 3 – Fitness and Health

    You could try for a compromise of sorts by finding a medium sized niche. For example, I cover personal health and fitness in my blog. There are multiple other blogs doing the same thing but not enough to really be competition. At the same time, there’s enough interest in the topic to drive traffic and search engine ranking. The key is finding the right niche with just enough traffic and not too much competition. I found mine sort of by accident, since I just wanted to blog about fitness, but I’m sure there are other such niches out there.

    Gal

  • Sandra

    I have started my niche blog end of October 07. Wished I had read this posting before! 🙂 Coaching is not really a niche, well, my concept should be.

    I am curious how things will develop…

    Have a great weekend
    Sandra

  • Sumesh

    Hate to nickpick you Daniel, but when text on navbar and footer bar are white on dark blue, dont you think feedburner chicklet should have white text on blue bg too?

  • Denis

    Also, niches can get very boring. I had a niche blog for 1 year with a growing following, but simply became bored with it. That probably goes for any blog, but a niche blog can be difficult to convert (taking the audience along with you).

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