How to Select a Profitable Blog Topic
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The Problem: Many new bloggers get a “wild idea” for a blog when they try to select a profitable blog topic. They jump right in. Months later they wonder why they failed to gain site visitors and income.
The Solution: Use “best practices” to select a profitable blog topic that will be fun and interesting for you to write, and will attract site visitors. This step will help you select a profitable blog topic.
Select a Profitable Blog Topic that Attracts Visitors
A profitable blog requires visitors. Therefore, you want to write on a topic that attracts them. When blogging first started, bloggers could start a blog on almost any topic, and they could expect a flock of visitors.
One of the most popular types of blogs back in the day were those where bloggers shared their day-to-day lives. Visitors were like voyeurs taking a peek through the window at the roller-coaster lives of these bloggers.
There are still a few of these kinds of sites on the internet, but they are mostly as dead as disco. People have enough of their own problems, so they tend to avoid reading about the problems of others. That fact means an opportunity for you. You can gain a readership by offering solutions to people. People are avidly seeking answers to the various problems they face, and you can provide them on almost any topic you choose.
Your Passion Versus “Felt Needs”
You’ll want to use wisdom when selecting a profitable blog topic. You want to write about your passion. That’s important because that will motivate you to blog consistently over the long haul as you’ll need to do. Yes, at the same time you’ll want to determine the “felt need” of the people for whom you intend to write.
A “felt need” is a problem that people are experiencing. These problems are indistinguishable from a real need. Your blog posts should offer solutions to the wants, wishes, and hopes of your readers, as well as helping them accomplish tasks (“how-to”), enhance relationships, or make decisions. People have problems and they use the internet to find solutions. You can supply them in your genre.
Use Multiple Techniques
How do you determine the “felt needs” of people? By doing market research. I will offer some simple ways to do that so you can gather some hard data about the kind of information you can provide and make money doing it.
Choosing a topic where your passion overlaps with the “felt need” of your audience is where is the point where you have the most significant opportunity to make money.
My advice is that you not rush into selecting a profitable blog topic. You are making a long-term commitment to building an audience and an income, so you don’t want to make a decision on impulse. Work through the process. You do that by using these three steps.
- Determine Your Passion – Right Brain
- Determine Others “Felt Needs” through Market Research – Left Brain
- Merge Ideas to Select Profitable Blog Topic
This process is essential. Having gone through it, you will have the confidence you’ll need to stick to your decision once you make it.
Determine Your Passion
Passion is vital for two reasons. The first relates to your own motivation. There will be days when you don’t think you can write another blog post. You’ll feel drained. You’ll start thinking about skipping your regular schedule. That’s deadly of course, and only your passion for your topic will save you.
What does it mean to be passionate about something?
- You are insatiably curious about the topic. You become a sponge and want to learn all you can about it.
- You do not need to be prodded into discovery or action by others. Your passion empowers your motivation.
- You often get lost in time when you are pursuing your passion. Time flies when you are engaged in it.
- The topic brings you a level of enjoyment and personal satisfaction that you don’t receive in other pursuits.
- You are eager to share your passion with others.
Here’s the best advice I can give you about blogging for cash: Don’t do it and less you have a clear vision about what you want to accomplish at the very start. You may get discouraged in the future if you don’t have a clear vision about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Then, you will lose interest, start making excuses for not maintaining your blog, and eventually fail. Please start well so you can enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
The second ingredient of passion relates to your readers. Their time has value, and they want to read the material, learn things and gain new insights, from someone who has a deep understanding of the topic, or at least some experience in solving it.
Truth be known, you may or may not be an authority on the topic of your blog. I’ll discuss that in detail later. However, if you are passionate about it, others will see that, and they’ll want to keep reading what you write. Even if you know just a little more than your readers, you should consider yourself an authority. The old saying is true—“In the land of the blind the one-eyed is king.”
Picking a topic to blog about may be easier than you think. But it best to have a systematic method of choosing it. You’re making a long-term commitment to being a blogger, and the potential long-term income, so you want to avoid a false start if possible.
Chill and See What Emerges
Put your mind in neutral and ask yourself what subjects you care about. That’s an amazingly quick way to discover your passion. You may already know what you want to write about, or you may get a sudden revelation. This method may seem somewhat mystical, but that’s not the process that’s occurring. You’re putting the brain function known as cognition to work.
You see, when you clear away the cobwebs of your thinking, your brain has the opportunity to fire neurons and this connects disparate information that already exists in your mind. The clustered networks that are formed are what we, naturally enough, call ideas. A good idea is more likely to emerge when you are in a relaxed state and you let your mind do its work.
Automatic Idea Creation
There are a number of relaxation techniques that will spur this kind of automatic idea creation. One of them is to simply lay down in a quiet place, close your eyes, and inhale deeply three times, letting each breath out slowly to a count of ten. Instruct your body to relax its various parts.
For example, you would start at the scalp and say in your mind, “My scalp is relaxing.” You move down your body with these “chill affirmations.” Instruct each part of your body to relax — eyes, nose, mouth, neck, right and left arm, each finger — and so forth right down to the pinky toes on your right and left feet.
Do this, and you’ll find yourself in a fantastic state of relaxation. You don’t entertain any intrusive thoughts in your mind, and you just allow ideas to form. One big idea may come forth, or you may get several ideas. Use this relaxation technique to sort out your thinking. Our minds are invaded by a thousand thoughts, and this technique enables you to focus on developing ideas for a single purpose.
Like more information about this method of enhanced creative decision-making? See the “Visualization Done Right” bonus content in the sidebar for this Plan Step.
Find “Felt Needs” Through Simple Market Research
You’ll get valuable intuitive insight using visualization methods. When people go through a process like that, they have far more conviction about their passion and how they want to pursue it creatively. They have more ongoing motivation than they would if they had selected a topic from a list.
However, intuition is not enough. before you invest time, money, and emotion in a blog topic, you need to confirm, to the best of your ability, that it will be profitable. You may have intuitively decided that you are going to make your blogging fortune writing about how to make all-natural perfume by squeezing the moisture from rose petals. Before you invest any time in that topic, even if you think it is a billion-dollar idea, you must determine if there is any market for rose petal perfume.
You will waste time and money trying to promote an idea that interests just a few people. There MUST BE EXISTING DEMAND (“Felt Need”) for the solution you intend to provide.
Here are some ways to confirm your intuition with market research.
The Free Google Trends Tool
Go to Google Trends and type in the topic that interests you the most. For example, your intuition may tell you there is money to be made with a blog about scrapbooking.
Is that true or false? In this brief video, I’ll demonstrate how Google Trends can validate your intuition OR save you months of the slow death of failure.
See what I’m saying here? Passion and intuition are good, but they must be confirmed with market research, and this is just one example of that. In this case, it started out looking good, but the overall trend made that topic highly questionable.
Checking trends is easy to do and offers valuable insights about the “felt needs” of your potential audience. If they don’t feel they need it, then you don’t want to blog about it.
The Amazon Buying Machine
Amazon.com is a great place to discover what people are interested in. In fact, I’d say it is far better than Google to do market research for a blogging topic. Why? Because people go to Amazon.com with the intent to buy something.
When you see something is popular on Amazon.com, it means people have actually paid money to acquire it.
That’s a powerful way to determine the felt needs of people. They paid money to satisfy their need, and you want to attract people like that to your new blog.
We have seen that Scrapbooking is perhaps a marginal topic, but let’s see if Amazon verifies that. So, I’ll continue to use that as an example of doing market research at Amazon.
In this case, the first red arrow shows that I have selected Books from among the choices. The second arrow is the search term “Scrapbooking.” But you don’t click the search go button. You want to examine the list (downward arrow) that Amazon produces.
But if you scroll down, you’ll see the Best Seller’s Rank (BSR). In this case, it is 2,325. Based on that, this book is probably selling around 1.200 copies every month. That’s great!
So, take a look at the books and associated scrapbooking products, and if they seem to have a BSR of 5,000 or less, then you may have struck gold.
By the way, as you go through this process to verify the merit of Scrapbooking as the purpose of your blog, make a list of the hot books and products. You can become an Amazon Affiliate and sell those products on your Scrapbooking blog. See the details about that in Step 7. Please don’t jump there now, keep on track since we are discussing an important topic now, how to select a profitable blog topic.
The Easy Way to Access the Buying Machine
Does this sound like a lot of research as you explore various topics on Amazon? It is. Fortunately, there is an easier way. It involves buying a software product, but beyond purchasing your own domain name and hosting (more about that in Step 3), this product will save you more time and money, and provide better results than you could ever imagine.
What is this little piece of magic? It’s called PublisherRocket. It is designed primarily for authors to verify book popularity and competition, but it is also a goldmine for bloggers. It provides sales information instantly, and that means you can get a profitable idea for your blog. Also, it will help provide have a never-ending resource of blogging ideas from Amazon search.
Let me show you how it works in this brief video.
PublisherRocket is so powerful, and you’ll want to buy and use it before you make your blog topic decision. You have your intuition and passion, but Google research and PublisherRocket will help you cement your decision.
Once you the kind of conviction you need from sound market research, you can move ahead with confidence.
As I said in the video, PublisherRocket is also an ideal tool for getting ideas for blog posts. See the Bonus Section of Plan Step 4 for details about that.
Need more ideas about moneymaking topics to explore? See the Bonus Content in the sidebar menu. If you see a subject you like and think is worthy of your time, you’ll want to run it through your intuition/passion filter, and do market research on each one that interests you.
Merge Ideas to Select a Profitable Blog Topic
You want a balance between Passion and the “Felt Need” you determine through market research. How can you find that balance? One way is through what I call the “Modified Franklin Technique.” It helps you sort your options to see which one is most viable.
Benjamin Franklin had a decision-making process that served him well all his life. He took a sheet of paper and wrote down the decision he needed to make at the top of the page. This simple step was important because it enabled him to focus his mind on a particular issue at hand.
The Franklin Columns
After Franklin wrote his question at the top of the page in a precise sentence or two. In this case, you write a single blog topic you are considering. He then drew two columns on the page and labeled one Pro and the other one Con.
He then listed the positives and the negatives in the respective columns. This served to clarify his thinking and to get a visual representation of the merits, or lack of merits, of a particular course of action.
Interestingly, he did not do this in one sitting. He made an initial list, but he let it percolate in his mind for a few days. He would return to his list and add to it as new pros and cons came to his mind. Many things went into the creation of this list and his decision — the focus of pondering the question, his interactions with people who gave him different insights, intervening events and his own bubbling thoughts on the matter.
When Franklin saw that he had exhausted his pro and con options, he reviewed his list and made a determination based upon what he recorded. He created well-reasons options so he could make a decision with confidence.
Why the Franklin Method Works
There are several reasons why I like this method of decision-making. You are able to clear your mind and think about the matter at hand. It’s right there at the top of the page.
You might put something like, “Is organic gardening a sustainable and profitable blogging niche for me to invest my time and money?” Go through the pro and con process for a few days before you consider another topic about which you might also be passionate.
It may take you a week or so to consider several possible topics, but have no concern about that. My advice is that you choose your topic carefully and don’t turn back. What if your decision-making process extends to more than a month? That would be an unhelpful barrier to your money-making prospects, not a bridge to it.
Another reason I like this method is that you are adding pros and cons over time. True, it may only be a few days, but a lot can happen in a short period of time. You may read about the topic, watch television programs about it or talk with others about its viability. You let your own thoughts gel. You don’t rush the process.
The third reason I like this modified Franklin method is that you are able to see the results in a tangible way. We humans tend to get confused when we have too many ideas swirling around in our minds. However, if we are able to clarify our thoughts enough to place them in a pro or con column, we can count that as a win. The ideas are not swirling around — they are in nice, neat columns that enable us to think about their merits in a very particular way. This kind of focus is what you seek at this stage.
Think and Select a Profitable Blog Topic
Once you have your list of pros and cons, you want to sit in a quiet place and reflect on them. Are there an overwhelming number of items in your pro column, and very few in your con column? If so, your decision about what passion to pursue should be clear. If everything is in the con column, then you probably are not as passionate about that topic as you initially thought.
The problem for us all is when the pro and con columns are equally populated. Should we proceed with that particular passion, or should we explore other possibilities? My advice is that you explore other options. When your pro and con columns are equally populated, it signifies that there are too many mitigating circumstances that might negatively affect your success. You may come back to the pros and cons of this particular passion for a later reevaluation, but I strongly recommend that you explore other possible passions before you proceed.
The Modified Franklin Technique will not ensure your success. It is a proven way, however, to clarify your thinking. You isolate one passion at the top of the page, and then you test it to see if it’s viable. It’s a great way to use reason to gain confidence that you’re on the right track in your choice of blog topic.
Step 2 Action Plan
The amazing thing is that as time passes, you will become an authority on the topic you have chosen to blog about. But you don’t need to be an authority when you start. You need a passion for your topic and about sharing what you know.
Passion is more important than knowledge, at least in the beginning
- What you do need is an insatiable curiosity about the topic. Pick a subject that you are enthusiastic about.
- Make sure your choice is not rash. Consider how you’ll feel about the topic a few years into the future.
- Test the topic both in your mind and in the marketplace. Once you select your subject matter in one of the ways I have described, you can move forward with confidence.
We live in an exhilarating time. Technology puts information at our fingertips like no other era of history. You can research any topic on the Internet. You can learn new things quickly at no cost.
That doesn’t mean you should cut and paste content from other sites. You need to read multiple sources, process the information in your own mind, combine it with your own experiences, and produce something unique. I discuss the process in detail in Plan Step 4.
The information is out there if you are excited enough to go get it. Read, watch, listen, and grow as a writer.
Do you have a QUESTION about Plan Step 2? Ask it HERE