Teaching sells. Reputations are built by those that teach, that share knowledge, experiences and insights. We live in the information age, where people rely on information and use the internet to research.
If you have the knowledge or master a skill that other people can use to improve their lives and their careers, you can become an authority and make a living by teaching those people that skill.
When you start teaching everything you know, when you start providing value, the audience will come to you, people will start listening to you, they will see you as an authority, and this will be the best advertising for you.
The idea is to post about a topic that you are passionate about, that you know a lot about, and that people want to know about. This perfect topic, your sweet blogging spot, is found by interlinking these areas:
- Your passion: a topic that you really love and care about
- Your assets: a topic that you are good at and people ask you questions about
- A market reality: a topic there is an interest and demand for
1. Passion: What gets you up in the morning?
To find your perfect niche topic look inside and see where the raw energy comes from. Something that you like and care about. Something that engages you emotionally. Something that makes you come alive.
Get a sense of on what you are spending your time on. What gets you up in the morning? What do you love to do? What do you dream about?
How you spend your time reveals to you what your true passions and interests are. Blogging about your passion and the knowledge you possess makes you enjoy what you do, and turns the work into play. Success isn’t guaranteed but it is much more likely when you are emotionally invested in your topic.
Think about the topics that you do have the experience, knowledge and passion for, and come up with a list of topics you care about.
Your passion will get you over hurdles and will fuel and drive your work day to day, but passion about a topic is not everything that you need. The second thing you need to look at are your assets.
2. Assets: Where do you have credibility and experience?
You need to find your unique selling point (USP). You need to find what differentiates you from others, something that’s special about you, a reason why people should listen to you and not to someone else. You brand yourself as an expert within that field and your readers know what to expect from you. People pay more attention to those they see as experts so focus on specific subjects where you can build your personal brand.
Look at what you do best and what you do better than other people. In words of Mark Twain: “Write what you know”. You don’t have to be the best in the world at this topic. You just need to express your unique point of view, share your journey and the lessons learned. There’s always someone that knows less about you on this topic and that can get valuable insights from your guidance.
The topic of my first website was the band Metallica. I loved them, spent a lot of time on their music and ended up starting a site about them. I collected and curated all the info about them that I could find and put it all together in a nicely organized site. The band didn’t even have an official website in those days so I was able to create a niche for myself that other fans and people new to the band found very useful.
Sometimes you will discover challenges that other people find difficult but you find them easy. These challenges could be that valuable skill and a valuable asset that differentiates you from others. Discover and write down these key points. Define the problem you are here to solve and explain why your solution to the problem is more compelling than the other sites on the market.
Successful sites are not built on passion and ideas alone. Having a topic that you are passionate about and the key skills that differentiate you from the rest doesn’t automatically make your topic a potential hit. Just because your heart comes alive at a calling doesn’t mean that there is an audience for it. You need to consider the market demand too.
3. Market reality: What is there a demand for?
You should teach what you love, what you know well and what there is a demand for. Your site cannot appeal to everyone. You can’t be an expert on everything. If you attempt to write about every idea or issue that pops into your head at any given moment, you will lack direction. You can’t write for everyone, so don’t even bother. It is much easier to attract visitors if you have a very focused topic.
You need to decide which of the topics that you love and that you are really good at also have an interest and a demand from the audience. Look for something people are already trying to do, then help them do it. Consider the reality in the market. Which topic do people around you perceive you to be an expert at? And what do your family and friends ask you for help with? How popular is that topic online in general?
People around you believe that you know something valuable about this topic, and all the questions and the attention proves that there’s a demand for this topic too. But can your knowledge and your skills solve real problems for other people too? Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see how many people search about it.
Look also if there are many other successful blogs in this field. That’s a good thing. It proves that there’s a market and that there are people willing to pay for products and services about this topic.
What if I don’t have any skills?
You could look at the latest trends, what people need and want, then work backwards by doing some research, learning about this new field, acquiring new skills and hiring experts to help you run your site. New trends are normally less competitive than established and more popular trends. When a field is highly competitive it can be challenging to get much attention to yourself.
When targeting a new trend you choose to go to an area with low competition where knowing simple things and getting the basics right counts for a lot. This is because the field is so new and not many sites have the basics right. You choose to ride the wave of this new trend. Instead of being a small fish in a big pond, you aim to become a big fish in a small pond. And if the trend really does go viral and becomes established, the pond will increase and you stand to win big.
It’s difficult to find an open market space as we are programmed to notice what is there, not what is not there. You need to find problems people have. All trends are driven by needs and desires of the people. Look for what people are already trying to get done and then help them do it. Pay very careful attention to the things social media users complain about. Search for phrases like “I wish I could do…” or “I hate…”. You need to understand what’s going on in the heads of an audience. Discover what people want and see things from their point of view.
New trends emerge when human needs go up against external change to create new wants and desires. A trend can be a reaction to a previous trend or it can be a result of a technological innovation. Successful innovation happens when you mix unrelated elements from different areas, or when you take existing things and put them in new and different contexts. Figure out what people desire and what people want but what they currently don’t have. What useful content, products or services could you create to cover those gaps.
What if I have multiple great passions?
If you have passion for more than one topic, I would recommend taking it one topic at a time. Start one site, give it some 3-6 months, focus on writing good and quality content, focus on promoting it to your audience. After some time, the process will become easier, you will get into the rhythm of writing 2-3 posts a week and marketing will not be much more than sending out a tweet about your article. You will be able to automate by writing on a consistent schedule and encouraging your visitors / subscribers / Twitter followers to spread the word about it, which will leave you with more time to start another site.
Keep an open mind though as you might happen to find that two topics mixed in your personal way create something very unique with a potentially large audience. Your site becomes more unique with two subjects: there are a gazillion sites about fashion, but there’s only a handful about fashion and cooking. It’s also more interesting for you to write: writing articles about the same topic can at times feel uninspiring. You can avoid that by switching from one to another.
Steps to starting your own site
Do you have the perfect topic in mind? Great! The process of actually starting your site is pretty simple. First you need to decide what content publishing platform you will use. I love WordPress and use it to run all my projects. It is an open-source platform, powers more than 60 million sites and gives you the complete control over the look and feel, features and other aspects of your site.
Don’t build your own software to run your site, just use WordPress. It will save you weeks and weeks of work. Don’t get a custom designed theme for your site. Just get one of the free or premium templates that already exist for WordPress. They are amazing and will save you lots of money and lots of time, and there’s a much better use of your money and time right now. You also get access to websites such as my one to help you with all the WordPress tips and tricks you may need.
WordPress needs a domain name and a web server space to work. A domain name is the address people will type to get access to your site and a server space is where your content and files are hosted online.
Don’t worry too much about where to host your blog in the early days. There are many very capable and very affordable providers for hosting your site in these days. Expect to pay around $5 per month. I recommend Bluehost. It is simple to use, offers a free domain name, an affordable hosting account with unlimited space and WordPress officially recommends it. More than 2 million WordPress blogs are hosted there. It will take you 5 minutes to get your blog online with their 1-click installation feature. See my complete guide here.
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