Blog Topics Selection 101: How To Choose Blog Topic
(Welcome to the fifth article of the series which aims to teach how to start a blog. This article will comprehensively teach you step by step how to choose a blog topic and how to evaluate your chosen blog topics.)
Previous Article: – Start A Blog Only When You Have Read This Article
A word of warning! This article is 4500+ words long because it contains everything, from information to tutorials, that you need to know about for selecting your topic. If you follow this step by step topic selection process, you will not regret and get frustrated later. So I request (and beg) you to read it in detail and follow it.
If you follow this step by step topic selection process, you will not regret and get frustrated later. So I request (and beg) you to read it in detail and follow it.
An Example Of Topic Selection
Let me share a story with you. I’ve been studying and reading regularly. I’ve also done many online courses in the last 12 months. Two interesting, and saddening, facts that I came across during these studies left me thinking a lot. These were the two facts.
- Over 2 billion people in the world are living in poverty.
- More than 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan.
These numbers are astonishing. I wanted to do something for kids and their families. From my personal experience, I knew that education not only changes the fate of a person, but it also changes the conditions of his/her family. I knew that the internet was a powerful tool, so I figured out a plan to do something. I learned how to create a YouTube channel and how to optimize it.
Knowing that the internet is a powerful tool, I figured out a plan to do something. I learned how to create a YouTube channel and how to optimize it.
I want you to read following assumptions closely because that’s why I’m sharing this story. Here is what I anticipated in my head.
- More than 2 billion people in the world are poor, and the majority of them are in South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, etc.)
- In Pakistan only, more than 25 million children do not go to school.
- Not getting the primary education is a problem of the poor people and out-of-school children which I should solve.
- By starting a YouTube channel in Urdu/Hindi, I’ll be able to address this problem through YouTube.
- Since millions of people are uneducated in this region and most of them understand Urdu/Hindi (thanks to Bollywood and refugee camps), I have a large audience.
- A considerable number of people have a problem that I can solve. It’s a perfect idea to start my YouTube channel.
I created a YouTube channel themed as a school for primary education for all. I became the teacher and started posting my videos. My motivation was the fact that I’m going to be part of a solution to a world problem; something I always cherish.
It all seems fantastic, doesn’t it?
The idea didn’t last long before I lost focus and ultimately ignored it completely. It failed.
Why did that happen?
You’ll get the answer to this question in detail when you go through the step by step checklist to choose blog topics.
Why am I talking about YouTube here? I’m supposed to be talking about blogging, right? Yes, that’s right. I’m not talking about YouTube. I want you to focus on how I selected a topic for an online presence and how I got it all wrong.
Why So Many Bloggers Fail?
There’s no failure. Our mistakes are our biggest teacher. Bloggers don’t fail if they keep learning and improving. Nevertheless, blogs do fail and blog ideas do fail.
Besides inconsistency, the primary reason of a blog’s failure is choosing bad blog topics.
Make no mistake. Choosing the most suitable candidate out of all your intended blog topics is the most critical milestone in your blogging journey.
The more time and consideration you give to topic selection, the stronger will be the foundations of your blog. If you fail to recognize the importance of researching your topic, you’re setting up for failure.
There are so many blogs that start and never pick up. There are those bloggers too who start, struggle, learn from their mistakes and start again. They’re bound to succeed because there’s no failure for learners. It’s just a matter of time before they succeed.
It’s not necessary that you get the things right on your first attempt, but if you follow what I’m going to cover in the following step by step guide, you’ll be in a great position to select the best topic for your blog.
Many blogs fail because they either don’t have a well-defined topic, which means working on too many blog topics on a single blog or have chosen the wrong topic.
Top Two Things A Topic Should Have
Any topic that you choose must have these two fundamental things. The absence of either means that you’ve chosen a topic you don’t care about, or your topic is not going to be profitable. Let’s see what these two things are.
You should choose a topic you’re passionate about. Without passion, you’ll lose focus sooner or later. A topic you don’t care about will not get your attention week in week out. You will not make efforts to learn more and more about your topic because you’re not interested enough.
Number one rule of topic selection is to choose a topic that you’re passionate about, and you care enough to master it. Violate this rule, and you’ll regret in some months if not weeks.
How can you find a topic that you’re passionate about?
The answer will be included in the step by step procedure of topic selection later in the article. Let’s switch to the second thing now.
And the second thing is…
Don’t get me wrong.
I do not mean to suggest that money should be your priority. Money is the second biggest consideration after determining your passion for the chosen topic. Pick a topic which you can monetize with ease.
If you remain focused and passionate about your topic, it should bring you money. Find more about how to determine if the topic has money in the step by step guide that follows.
Step By Step Guide To Selecting A Topic
Passion and money are two things that should be there in the topic you choose to blog about. But to find a passion-based and profitable topic, there’s a step by step guide or a 7 point checklist that makes the job easier for you.
Don’t forget to measure your subject’s suitability regarding these 7 points. Here’s the step by step procedure to choose your blog’s topic.
Think of A Topic You Are Passionate About
You can face either of the two scenarios while thinking of a subject that you’re passionate about. Let’s discuss them separately.
Scenario 1 – You Know A Topic Already
You may already be thinking of blogging about a particular topic. Or you may have a list of topics to choose from. What you’re not sure about is the suitability of that topic.
For example, if I start a new blog based upon one of my passions, it would most certainly be about football, financial education, or blogging. Why? Because I know what I’m passionate about. In this scenario, we only need to weigh our topics against the remaining checklist to see if it is a good blogging idea.
But if you’re unsure about the topic, move to the next scenario.
Scenario 2 – You Don’t Know Your Topic Yet
This situation is a bit tricky because you’re willing to step into blogging arena, but you don’t know what you’ll blog about. As it turns out, it’s not that tricky. You just need to dig a bit deeper to find a topic or a list of topics.
Find your secret passion by exploring following options.
- Have you studied anything in detail in college or university?
- Have you specialized in something through diplomas and courses?
- Do you spend a lot of time doing something you love?
- Did you collect a lot of information on a single topic?
- Have people praised you for something that you do well?
- Do you have a hobby that you learn about often?
- Have you traveled a lot and can advise people about it?
- Have you got experience in a field?
- Do you have a strong desire to learn about something?
Take some time answering these questions, and you’ll have a nice list of topics that you can cover in your blog. After noting down the topics, measure them against each standard as explained further in this article.
Is it a blogging friendly topic?
Great! You have a topic or a list of topics in your mind. It’s time to evaluate the suitability of your chosen topics for blogging. Blogging is a digital platform, and not all topics are blogging friendly.
By blogging friendly, I mean a topic that can easily be blogged about and monetized. It’s possible that millions, even billions, of people have an interest in a certain topic but it may not be blogging friendly.
For example, everyone in this world uses socks. Billions of people buy socks. But can you make a blog about socks and make it successful? The answer is no because people don’t come online to read articles about socks.
They may search for socks online but just to buy them (which suits an e-commerce website), but chances of someone searching for blog posts about socks are very rare. Look at the following picture.
Only a 100 people search Google for ‘how to buy socks, ‘ but billions buy socks. Average monthly searches for socks are 1M-10M, but almost all of them are for the purpose of buying; not reading articles about socks. Have a look.
The point is; the topic that you choose should be blogging friendly. A blogging friendly topic means that you must be able to write articles about it on a consistent basis and people should be interested in reading those articles.
You should be able to easily monetize the topic which means that:-
- It should be able to attract a lot of traffic from the search engines
- You should be able to write an ebook about it that you can sell (even if you don’t intend to)
- Making an online course on that topic should be easy.
- It should have the potential to make you a paid guest speaker.
- You should be able to make and sell any sort of an online or a physical product based on that topic. (Even if you don’t want to do it)
Assess Your Expertise In That Topic
When discussing topic selection in scenario two above (when you don’t know a topic), we discussed some ways to search for a topic. After selecting a blogging friendly topic, it’s necessary to evaluate your expertise in that topic.
Knowing how much grip you have on that topic gives you a good idea about chances of success. Choosing a topic which you don’t know about is suicidal.
But I do not mean that you should be expert in that topic. You don’t have to be an expert in your topic. But you should know your level of knowledge, and you should be passionate to master the topic. Here’s how you can assess your expertise.
Due to the similarity of the purpose, much of the list is repeated from the topic finding scenario.
- Have you studied about the topic that you have chosen?
- Have you done additional courses about it or its related topics?
- Did you live the topic? For instance, if you’re blogging about making money, then ask yourself, “Have I made money?” If you haven’t, it’s not a good idea to blog about it.
- Did you or do you do a job based on that topic?
- Have you been teaching it offline?
- Have you attended seminars about it?
- Did you read a lot of books about that topic?
- Have you searched Google and read articles about it?
- If it solves a problem, did you solve that problem for yourself?
There’s a lot more that can be added to this list of questions but answering these questions would give you a fair idea about your expertise on that topic.
Remember again that you don’t have to be an expert in the beginning. But you should have a strong urge to become a master of your topic by learning more and more about it.
Find The Number Of People Interested In Your Topic
We’re getting technical now with tools to measure the number of people. Why does it matter to have people interested in your topic? Because people make your blog successful.
What is traffic? It’s the number of individuals who come to your blog.
What’s monetization? It’s the number of people who click an ad, buy an ebook, purchase a course and listen to you in the seminars and meetups.
So knowing what number of individuals are interested in your blog topic is absolutely (and I mean absolutely) important. Remember the socks example? You won’t like to blog about ‘how to buy socks’ because people are not searching for your topic.
But how to know how many people are interested in a topic? I’m going to list a few great tools with screenshots to give you the exact knowledge that you need.
One of the greatest and the most used tools used to know the number of people interested in a topic is Google AdWords. It’s easy to use. Just sign in to Google AdWords account and use the Keyword Planner tool for free.
Go here to know how to use Keyword Planner. Here’s how it looks.
You can use any of these three options to get data about the number of people interested in your topic. Let’s see how many people search for ‘how to make paper planes’.
Astonished? I was surprised too when I saw Mahir Cecen’s YouTube Channel having millions of views on most of the videos. There’s an interesting story how I discovered this channel.
I was teaching a neighborhood kid how to use YouTube to learn instead of watching Motu Patlu and found this channel on ‘how to make’ suggestions.
All varieties of keywords based on paper planes get 1M-10M searches per month. Our particular long tail keyword (how to make paper planes) gets 1oK-100K average monthly searches, and the competition is also little.
Low competition means that it would be easier to rank in Google for this keyword. Put your chosen blog topics to test in the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool, and you’ll get a good idea about a number of people interested in your topics.
SEMRush is a bit different from Google’s keyword planner. Go to SEMRush and enter your keyword in the search bar. You can select the country of your choice as well.
Talking about countries, SEMRush and some other keyword research tools focus on countries where online shopping and payment is a norm. USA, UK, Germany, Canada and many more countries are included.
The purpose of country-wise data is to see how a keyword fares in the biggest online shopping markets. It helps the monetization planning because it is easier to sell your topic related products, courses or subscriptions in these countries.
Coming towards the topic research, type in your topic, select your country of interest and hit the button. You see various data as a result. Let me show you two screenshots.
This photo shows monthly search volume, the number of results, CPC (Cost Per Click) and competition.
These data points give a good idea about the potential of your topic. If your topic is doing good in countries listed in SEMRush, it’s a good topic.
These two data points give you suggestions about matching and related keywords based on your query. Go for the keywords with good search volume and CPC. There’s more below these fields as well that you can see.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Used almost similarly to SEMRush, Moz’s Keyword Explorer is another great tool for blog topics’ validation. It offers two queries daily for free. Beyond that, it’s a paid tool.
However, it offers 30 days free trial which should be enough for you to research your topic thoroughly. Here’s how it looks.
Here’s the help guide to Keyword Explorer. Visit it to know how to use it.
This is a little secret. You’ll hardly know it from anywhere else. Facebook is one of the greatest tools to see how many people are interested in your topic in locations of your choice.
And it’s absolutely free.
Make use of this free tool and get great insights. Log in>Create Ad>Audience insights is how you can go to this underutilized keyword and topic research tool.
Here’s a screenshot of the audience having an interest in paper planes in the USA.
Amazing! Isn’t it? Enjoy using this tool for free without even entering credit card details.
This one is simple. Go to YouTube and search for videos on your topic. If the videos on your topic are doing good (many views, channel has a good number of subscribers and ads appear on the video) on YouTube, it is a good topic.
It just shows that people want to learn about your topic and that’s an opportunity.
Are Others Making Money From That Topic?
Since you’re going to start a blog on your topic, it is interesting as well as essential to know if other bloggers are making money from that topic. Now since bloggers don’t post their earnings online (except in some cases, like Ali Raza), it’s not easy to know how much money they make from their blogs.
But it is incredibly simple to analyze their blog on monetization. Following are the indications of a blog making money.
- Blog displays ads. It only means that there’s some income coming from advertisement.
- Paid course is offered. If it’s still there, people are buying it no matter what their number.
- The author is selling an ebook.
- The blog offers physical products related to its topic.
- It provides consultancy.
- It promotes others’ products through affiliate links
There can be ‘n’ number of ways a blog makes money. If there’s a sign of a blog making money, it’s reasonably successful because nobody pays annual hosting and domain renewal fees for fun.
If a blog is there for a while, it’s definitely profitable. What you need to do is to visit other blogs on your topic or a topic closely related to yours and see if it’s making money.
How Much Commercial & Social Activity It Generates
Other than knowing the number of people interested in your topic and the number of other blogs making money from it, another useful knowledge for selection of your topic is about the commercial and social activity that your topic generates.
We’ll again rely on some tools to measure how many people are spending money on your topic and how many are gathering to know about it. I’ll mention commercial and social activities separately along with the tools to measure them.
Moving quickly to the practical part, use following tools to get an idea of the commercial activity that your topic is generating.
Amazon is where online shoppers spend their money. Go to Amazon.com and search for your topics. See the products which are listed and analyze how many people are buying those products.
If there are many products (books, guides, etc.) on your topic and people are buying them and giving ratings, your topic has the potential of making money for you.
You can also check Ebay.com and Alibaba.com in the similar fashion. Here’s a screenshot for ‘paper planes’ from Amazon. You see? People are buying books on paper planes.
Udemy is an online learning platform where people sell and buy online courses. It’s the fastest growing digital marketing and, of course, online education platform and has thousands of courses on a variety of subjects.
Go to Udemy and search for your topics. Analyze the results for the number students enrolled, prices, ratings, and the number of courses doing well.
If there’s no course, your topic may not be a suitable choice. If there are healthy competition and many students, your topic has tremendous potential.
Let’s see how ‘YouTube Channel’ is performing on Udemy.
Clickbank is a digital marketing platform that sells digital products. Repeat the same process as you did on Udemy to see how your topic is performing there. Let’s see if products based on ‘Magic Tricks’ sell on ClickBank.
Do offline ads or articles about your topic appear in newspapers and magazines? Does a TV show cover your topic? Did someone became famous and rich from your topic and is covered by TV channels?
All these things indicate commercial activity which is a great sign.
Many social platforms are available for gathering people online or physically. For determining social events taking place online and around you, you can do the following.
- Search for Facebook groups on your topic and join them. Look carefully for the number of people who join these groups and the level of activity in the group.
- Go to Meetup.com and EventBrite.com to see how many people are gathering in arranged events based on your topics.
Does It Have Long Term Potential?
Donald Trump is elected president of USA. US elections drove massive traffic to some websites. It was fun while it lasted but can US elections attract the same number of online visitors now or the next year? No, because the moment has passed and the importance is gone.
There’s a separate genre of blogging called event blogging, and for that, the best person I know is Tanveer Nandla who has earned a lot from event blogging. If you’re interested in event blogging, he’s the person to learn from.
The process I’m explaining is for the long-term blogging. The US election don’t have long term potential because they don’t have people interested in them for the best part of at least three years. Blog topics have long term potential if:-
- People will have the interest in your topic some or maybe many years from now too. For example, if you blog about technology, people interested in it will probably still be interested in technology after seven or eight years. Technology will keep evolving, and many of them will keep track through your blog.
- People face problem just once, come to your blog, solve their problem and do not become a regular visitor but, and I mean a big BUT, the number of people facing that problem every day is enormous.
- For example, men become fathers the first time and look for parenting solutions. They become parents again, but they already know what to do. However, more than 350,000 babies are born every day, so every month 10.5 million people become fathers.
- A huge percentage of these parents are first timers. So you still have a million of people interested in your topic every month without a break. If such a topic ticks all the boxes, it’s still a long-term topic despite the short term utilization per person.
Keep these seven points in your mind and measure all your blog topics and ideas against them to see where they can take you in terms of success. I would like to let you know that I’ve studied and researched a lot about blog topics selection.
I especially benefitted a lot from Anik Singal’s book ‘Circle Of Profit’ and Yaro Starak’s Blog Profit Guide (that you can get by subscribing to my blog or visiting Yaro’s website).
The Top Three Profitable Blog Topics
As mentioned in this article, the top 3 profitable blog topics are:-
- Health & Fitness
- Money & Finance
I didn’t give the numbering to these topics because the sequence can be anything but it is for sure that most of the successful blog topics are based on one of these broad subjects.
For hands-on analysis of this fact, look at this list of 50 Successful Blogs in Every Topic Imaginable and find blogs which are based on these three topics.
Also, note the blogs which are not based on any of these three topics because they are based on the fourth big blog topic.
The Fourth Big Blog Topic
Millions of people watch and follow football. Anfield HQ is a football blog managed by Liverpool Football Club supporters. Liverpool Football Club, by the way, is my favorite football team. It was declared the best Football blog in the UK recently.
Similarly, millions of people are interested in cars, so you can see the AutoBlog in the list of successful blogs.
Humanity has long moved on from the basic needs of food and shelter. We invest in a lot of things. For example:-
- Athletes spend a huge chunk of their money on kits and shoes.
- Millions of people in the UK alone buy tickets to watch Premier League matches.
- Ladies spend generously on dresses and makeup.
- People passionate about cars spend a lot of money on them.
This implies that you can make a successful blog on any of the topic that people are irrationally passionate about. Football, Game of Thrones, PS4 Games, FIFA, Android, iPhone, blogging, and airplanes are some of the popular passions falling under the fourth big blog topics category.
You can choose any topic which a sufficient number of people are passionate about and ticks all the boxes.
Why Was My Topic Bad?
I told you a story in the start about topic selection for my YouTube channel. I said that it failed because it was a bad choice. It was a bad decision because: –
- It didn’t tick all the steps of topic selection that we just covered.
- The audience I was targeting either did not have the internet.
- Or it did not search online or specifically on YouTube for basic education that I was offering.
When there’s no one searching for what you’re offering, your blog or channel is doomed unless you’re a superstar with a huge fan following (which most probably you aren’t as of now).
So choose a blog topic through this authentic process to avoid failure.
Conclusion: Choose Blog Topics Wisely
Because it matters. Your success depends on your topic selection. If you work hard on your topic selection, you’ll save a lot of time and prevent a lot of trouble.
I hope this step by step guide to choosing blog topics has taught you how to choose a topic for your blog. It has taken more than two weeks for me to compile and complete this article.
This is by far the most comprehensive guide on the topic selection that a beginner can get. Please do care to share. Let the knowledge reach everyone. Do subscribe to stay updated with the future articles in the series.
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