Should you choose a niche that you love?

If you’re new to web publishing, you may have already heard that you should blog about what you love. But is that really the case? Choosing a niche that you’re passionate about has its advantages, but it can be risky too. Here’s why.

This post was originally written in May 2016, carrying the message: “you should blog about what you love!”. I’m coming back to it now, in June 2020 with a new perspective. No more exclamation points. These days, I think there are pros and cons to choosing a niche based on what you love. The final choice depends on your situation.

Old man reprimanding
“Back in the day”

Over the years, I had hundreds of different websites; most of them very small. Back in the early 2000s, topics were up for grabs, and search engines were easy to manipulate. I confess: I was part of the big pseudo-SEO festival of the period. I even managed to rank a site for the lucrative term “auto loans.”

While my sites were never complete junk, they were MFA – Made For Adsense. When choosing my niches, I just went for whatever was lucrative on Adsense.

Case in point (literally). I had a website about the thrillingly fascinating topic of DVD cases. It made hundreds of dollars a month from Adsense and Amazon. It was the dullest topic ever. (At least for me. I’m sure there are people out there who find the subject of DVD cases genuinely fascinating. I don’t know any of them, but with more than seven billion people on this planet, they must exist somewhere.)

Now, here’s the thing. Back then, sites used to be small. 5-10 pages of content were enough to get your website to page 1 on Google. I ranked high for the term “auto loans” with a site that had under 20 pages. Each page had around 4oo words.

When you only have to write a dozen pages with 400 words each, it’s pretty easy to write about anything. You can even write about DVD cases.

Things have changed.

Consider the size of a typical site.

If your site only has a dozen posts with 400 words each, you’re unlikely to break into any niche these days.

If you follow the Income School 60 steps program, they’ll tell you to write 30 posts for your site as soon as you install WordPress. And even then, you’re only just beginning. Once you finish the 60 steps, you go back to producing even more content. Jon Dykstra’s courses also advocate focusing on content creation. The more, the better.

I follow a similar method.

Essentially, the more posts you have on your site, the more traffic you’ll get. There’s also a “critical mass” issue to keep in mind. A website with 3-4 posts is unlikely to get any Google traffic whatsoever. It’s just too small.

I blogged (!) here about why I think larger sites are the way to go.

Keep this in mind when considering the pros and cons of choosing a niche based on what you love. Assuming you’re writing the content yourself, it matters. You’re going to have to spend many hours researching these topics and writing about them.

Blogging About What You Love – The Pros

Here’s why you should choose a niche that you love.

1. You’ve done the initial research

One of the first steps I take when launching a new site is to map out the niche. I try to figure out how to structure the site and which topics to keep exploring with seed words.

If you know the niche, this stage becomes super easy.

Let’s say you’re a dog owner. You can probably demarcate your categories based on your everyday experience with your pooch. You know a dog needs to eat, so dog food makes a good category. You know what types of dog food are out there, and so “dry dog food” and “canned dog food” could become topics to explore. You may also be familiar with the debates around feeding grains, or homemade diets – more topics for you to go after in that category.

Knowing the niche well can help you put together a vision of your site, making it easier to organize and structure content. If you’ve never published a website before, deciding on the structure of your site can be a daunting step. In that case, creating a site around something you love can make things easier.

2. Writing becomes fun!

If you are passionate about soccer, then you probably read websites and blogs about the game anyway. You do that because you enjoy expanding your knowledge and learning from others. Isn’t it remarkable that you can actually be working while doing that? All it takes is getting organized, taking notes and bookmarking resources, and you have the perfect background materials for writing your fascinating post about the game!

And it shows. When you write about something you love, your passion shines through. When that happens, people listen, just like when you talk with your friends about your favorite topic. Enthusiasm is catching, and it can make your content more sticky. It’s hard to fake, too. Blogging about what you love lends your style a degree of authenticity that can’t be achieved without passion.

3. Connecting with others becomes easier

Authenticity also makes it easier – and again, more fun – to connect with other bloggers. Leaving a comment on their latest blog post, you will probably go beyond the “thank you for your post” line because you indeed will have something of value to contribute. It will also be easier to interact on Twitter, Instagram, or whatever social network is right for your niche (if any). You are probably already following that topic anyway and know who the industry influencers are. In the long run, networking can get you recognition and traffic.

Blogging About What You Love – The Cons

Here’s why I think choosing a niche that you love may not be a good idea.

1. A limited number of topics to choose from

What do you love? What’s your passion? This is something that many people ask themselves when they are about to choose their first niche. For myself, I think the answer would include cats, travel, and crochet. Oh, and I enjoy web publishing too.

All in all, that’s three or four topics. That is not a whole lot of choice.

For most people, a list of their favorite topics could end up limiting their choice.

2. More competition

I’ve lost count of how many “first sites” I’ve seen that are about pets and specifically dogs. Fishing seems to be another big topic, and the same goes for gadgets and gaming. I guess lots of guys love dogs, fishing and playing computer games. There are also tons of recipe sites and parenting blogs out there for the same reason.

I don’t think competition should deter you. There will always be some competition out there. However, with so many newbies following the same methods, you’re going to have a hard time finding long-tail queries in these niches.

3. What you love may not be profitable

One of my considerations when choosing a niche is its profitability. It’s not always easy to estimate just how much revenue a niche could generate, but I do my best. The two factors I look at are –

  • Potential affiliate commissions
  • The RPM range for display ads

For affiliate products and services, I need to see what affiliate programs there are and estimate what kind of commissions they offer. Amazon is still my preferred affiliate program (here’s why), so I look at what kind of Amazon products we can market in posts.

Crochet, though a passion of mine, isn’t something I’m likely to create a website around. The commission on crochet hooks and skeins of yarn will be minuscule.

Estimating the RPM range for display ads can be tricky, but if you spend enough time in webmasters forums and groups, you’ll get a sense of which niches get better RPM range. For example, gaming may be something you enjoy, but the display ad rates are usually low.

So, as you can see, choosing a niche strictly based on what you’re passionate about, can lower your overall revenue.

4. You tend to put too much time and effort into each post

When you know a topic well, perfectionism becomes a constant risk. When I write about things I’m passionate about, I tend to put a lot of thought into each section, paragraph, sentence, and word. I do that when writing here for Yeys.

It’s perfectly ok when you post only a handful of posts a month. It isn’t ok if you’re trying to write 100 posts to launch your site. Your content has to meet specific standards and be the best online answer for your reader’s search intent. And that’s it. No more.

My niche sites offer decent content. I know that most of the content ranks well. However, that content is not perfect, far from it.

In my experience, it’s faster to write (or edit) content in a niche that I don’t care much about.

Choosing the right path for yourself

When choosing niches these days, I tend to ignore my personal likes and dislikes. I’ll be outsourcing both writing and editing anyway, so it doesn’t have to be fun or easy for me to research the topic or write about it.

That’s not what I would recommend to someone who’s just starting out, though.

If this is your first site

For most people who are just getting into web publishing, I would suggest going with a niche that you know well and at least like. Especially if your time is limited and you can’t spend more than 10-15 hours a week on your site.

Choosing a niche that you like, or love will probably be easier for you, for several reasons –

  1. You won’t have to do the initial research into the niche.
  2. Writing will come easier.
  3. Breaking that initial “publisher’s block” should be easier when you have confidence in the information you provide.

Your goal is to get your first 30-50 posts out there as soon as you can. Knowing and liking your niche will help with that.

Don’t base your choice solely on passion!

Look into other parameters. The size of the niche matters, and so does the potential revenue range. Do your due diligence and find a niche that offers you the best chance for success.

If you already have at least one successful site

Once you have at least one revenue-generating site, I think you should consider niches with which you have no emotional attachments.

You have money coming in, so you could experiment with outsourcing the writing. Even if you don’t want to outsource just yet, you probably have a better sense of your business plan. If you don’t hire writers, you should “hire” yourself. Imagine you’re a freelance writer and write in bulk.

You know how these posts will make you money, right? At least for me, that’s motivation enough. It can replace the joy of writing about something you’re passionate about.

Choose a niche and go with it.

In the end, once you get the traffic, you should be able to monetize it. Don’t obsess about your choice of niche. Just go with something and start producing content.

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Need help with choosing a niche? Or want to share your method of finding one? Leave me a comment below!

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