How to blog with success – part 2: find the right blog topic

Running a blog presents a range of opportunities. As a platform for sharing experience and knowledge, blogs have a huge impact on today’s modern media and advertising landscape. Together with social networks, blogs are also the biggest influencer on marketing sources and an integral part of content marketing strategies. But for most, it’s a long route from part-time blogger to wide-reaching influencer. In our blogging series, we’ve made it our mission to accompany you on this journey. After part 1’s look at how to create your own blog, it’s now time to find the right blog topic.

Can’t I just blog about anything?

In principle: yes. There are successful blogs covering almost every topic you can think of. But given the high level of competition in the blogging world, it’s definitely best to find a main topic to focus on, instead of trying to cover various trending topics. Generally speaking, those who find niches tend to have the best chance of success. But when choosing a blog topic, it’s important not to simply find the most unique and lucrative subject. Instead, you should find one that you’re able to write informatively about over a long time period. To help with this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What interests me?
  • What excites me?
  • What are my strengths, which areas am I really familiar with?
  • Which topics am I prepared to research deeply in order to improve my knowledge and  understanding?

Having your own interest and passion for a topic is indispensable, because you have to both want to and be able to keep up regular posts for the long term. Know-how also plays a big role. A professional level of expertise isn’t required, but you need to be prepared to involve yourself in a particular topic and research it regularly and deeply if you want to eventually reach an expert status.

Why is the blog topic so important?

Passion for a topic and a spontaneous idea lead to the founding of many blogs. Creativity and imagination are essential too, of course – an idea alone isn’t enough to sustain a successful blog for the long term. Those who are just trying their hand at blogging and experimenting privately can afford to take more liberties with their web presence. But if you want to run a professional project and earn money from blogging, you need a more strategic approach.

Carrying out initial basic research is important: you’ve got to make sure that the topic really has potential. Ask yourself: ‘Is it conceivable that I’ll still be writing regular, high-quality blog articles on the topic in two months or two years’ time?’ Blogs come and go, and the reality of it is that the online world isn’t sitting around waiting for ‘another blog about XYZ’. To enjoy long-term blogging success, you must first earn a dedicated readership.

Does your blog idea have potential?

After taking the time to think of and research ideas, you’ll likely find yourself looking at a list of potential blog topics. Now, it’s important to work out which one of these has the best chance of becoming a successful blog. Consider the following:

Do I really want to handle this topic in the long run?

As mentioned above, passion and interest for the topic is crucial. Perseverance plays a role here too, because a blog isn’t a short-term project. The topic you choose will become a primary focus for a long time, in some cases several years.

Am I actually able to handle this topic for such a long time?

Regardless of how much you might love a topic and want to write about it, the topic itself has to have longevity too. It’s important to ask yourself if the topic will remain relevant in the future, and if it can provide enough regular input for you to continue to create fresh content.

Does the blog idea have potential for more than 20 articles?

Finding a niche is desirable, but this has to remain broad enough that you still have room for new and relevant content after 20 articles. It’s best to try to find a good balance. For example, if you’re running a travel blog, then attempting to document the entire globe would surely be too much. On the other hand, specialising on one tiny island in Greece probably won’t offer enough content to keep you going for several years, either.

Does the blog topic stand a chance of being profitable?

If your aim is to run the blog commercially and earn money from it in the long run, then there’s one additional factor to consider. You’ll need to analyse the numbers behind the blog: search volume, level of competition, and advertising potential. To explore search volume and assess the competition, Google Analytics represents the most comprehensive option, though a simple Google search can also help. To determine the advertising potential, you’ll need to research possible sources of income. One way is to check the click price via Google AdSense, another is to seek out a partner program for the blog topic using affiliate marketing networks.

Find inspiration for successful blogging

After determining your main topic, it’s time to collect and catalogue all the blog ideas that have contributed to the final decision. It’s best to plan articles and entries in the long term, to help create a sort of editorial calendar for your blog.

You can draw inspiration for new blog posts from lots of sources, for example from:

  • Other successful blogs, which you have perhaps discovered during competition analysis, that you feel you can learn from. But beware: Taking inspiration is fine, copying isn’t!
  • Magazines, journals, and books - particularly ones that offer a different, and perhaps more scientific, approach to the topic
  • Videos and podcasts about the blog topic
  • Personal conversations, interviews, and discussions from your private or professional life
  • Situations, experiences, or circumstances that illustrate a particularly personal connection to the topic

It’s good to jot down spontaneous ideas and inspiration to make sure they don’t escape. For this purpose, be sure to either carry a notebook or to make notes on your smartphone using text or a voice recorder. These can become particularly useful as frames of reference if you are suffering from a lack of ideas or writer’s block.

The blog idea is in place, the first entries are noted down in shorthand on paper, and the editorial plan is beginning to take shape: in theory, you’re all set to start your blogging journey. But there are a few important questions that you might be yet to answer: who am I actually blogging for? Who is my target audience? Am I aiming my articles at beginners or professionals? Is the readership I’m looking for predominantly made up of young girls, or men over 40?

In the third part of our blogging series, we’ll discuss the importance of defining your target group, and how you can profit from carrying out proper analyses.