It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves. Blogging sounds fun! I want to be a blogger. But what kind of blog should I start???
Results, in detail:
A niche blog is right for you if you’re passionate about a single topic and could write about that one thing day after day, forever. You don’t need to be the face of it — maybe you’d even prefer to be totally or mostly anonymous. You also don’t need to be a total expert on the subject matter. Having an interest and desire to learn as you go, and a willingness to spend time researching and fact-checking, is enough to be successful in most niches.
Niche blogs are not usually very personal, since the focus is more on the information you’re sharing. That’s not to say you won’t use your personal experience and knowledge in your writing, but YOU are not the focus.
When starting a niche blog choose a very specific subject to cover and write only on that . For example “gardening” is a niche but not a very specific one. There are so many types of gardening and ways to garden and approaches to gardening that just “gardening” is much too broad. “Container gardening” or “organic gardening” or “shade gardening” are much better choices. The narrower and more focused the better when it comes to choosing a niche.
Niche blogs are somewhat easier to rank on search engines due to tight focus/clarity of subject matter (Google knows exactly what your site is about, because it’s all about one thing), and with proper keyword research SEO is a niche blogger’s best friend for traffic. In fact it’s very possible to have a successful monetized niche blog with no social media and no email list (although you can certainly include these if you want).
Due to the nature of niche blogs it is easier for the blogger to work behind the scenes and/or be somewhat anonymous. The focus is the information, not the author.
When it comes to monetizing a niche blog all options can be used but the most common, and perhaps easiest, are ads and affiliate links. Search engine traffic + ads + affiliates = a largely passive income stream (once you put the work in to get things rolling, of course).
Niche blog key takeaways:
- Subject matter must be tightly focused
- Best way to drive traffic = SEO
- Best way to monetize = ads, affiliate links
- Social media and email list are optional
- Photos can be stock or personal
Examples of niche blogs:
Vertical Veg (https://verticalveg.org.uk/) Container gardening/growing food in small spaces. Focus on urban gardening and growing your own food in small city spaces (often utilizing vertical space).
Hipcamp (https://www.hipcamp.com/) All about, you guessed it: camping! Specifically camping in Australia, Canada, and the US. Also includes info about RVs, cabins, treehouses, and glamping.
Little Faith Blog (http://littlefaithblog.com/) Focusing on supporting young Christian women in their spiritual journey and building their relationship with God. Printables, Bible studies, devotionals, etc.
Most food/recipe blogs and DIY/printable type blogs also fall into the “niche blog” category.
The expert blog is like a niche blog in that you focus on one particular topic, but with the addition of you as an expert in your field. You’ll need some kind of specific expertise in the subject matter (education, licensure, credentials, proven track record, experience in the field, etc) and be willing to be the face of the blog. In an expert blog you are what people connect with, and that drives everything the blog represents.
Expert blogs are personal, but in a professional way. You are the “face” of the blog, and will need to connect with your audience in a direct and purposeful way (no “behind-the-scenes” options here). That being said expert blogs are not all about your day to day personal life — everything should stay professional and focused on your area of expertise (niche).
Traffic for expert blogs will come from a variety of sources. SEO is a good start, plus an email list as a means of connecting with your audience and building trust. Social media may be beneficial as well, depending on the niche.
Expert blogs are usually monetized with products and services (ebooks, courses, coaching, printables like worksheets and charts) and sometimes affiliate links as well.
Expert blog key takeaways
- Subject matter must be tightly focused
- Best way to drive traffic = SEO, email list
- Best way to monetize = products & services, printables
- Social media can be helpful and should be considered
- Photos: Will need headshots/images of yourself, other photos can be stock
Examples of expert blogs:
Jillian Michaels (https://www.jillianmichaels.com/) She’s a licensed fitness expert and you know everything on her blog is either created by her or approved by her and fits her unique methods and approach.
Rachel O’Brien (https://www.rachelobrienibclc.com/) Rachel is a licensed lactation consultant and covers everything breastfeeding on her blog.
Rigel Celeste (https://www.rigelceleste.com) That’s me! This blog is based on my professional experience and success in the online content writing field.
Lifestyle blogs are where the majority of new bloggers start because they want to write about all the things! Lifestyle blogs are great for experimenting and “finding yourself” in the blogging world.
Lifestyle blogs are also great for those who have a lot of varied topics they want to cover. The key to making this approach work, however, is to choose a very specific target audience (think: affluent moms with infants and preschoolers, urban millennials living on a budget, singles navigating the dating world while managing a mental health disorder, etc).
When writing a lifestyle blog you are the face of it. You and your experiences is what drives the content (while of course always writing for the reader!). Due to this social media is the primary traffic source for most lifestyle bloggers. Readers will follow you on social for the day-to-day, and click through to your blog when you talk about topics that interest them the most.
It’s worth mentioning that one downside of utilizing social media as a primary traffic source is that it is not passive. You must commit and remain active on your social accounts, or traffic will begin to dwindle. SEO is, of course, always a good idea for sustained and relatively passive traffic, but lifestyle blogs face a longer more difficult road on search engines due to covering so many topics (confuses Google as to what your blog is about and makes it harder to establish authority in any one area). Some lifestyle blogs begin with many topics, and as time goes on narrow down.
Lifestyle blogs are very personal, so monetizing is driven by what you love and recommend. Affiliate links and sponsored posts (both on your blog and on your social accounts) are popular. Ads can also be used, but too many can detract from the authentic, personal nature of the blog.
One additional consideration of starting a lifestyle blog is photography — most of it will need to be personal and custom to you. Readers need to see into your life!
Lifestyle blog key takeaways
- Subject matter can be less focused, but target audience must be very focused
- Best way to drive traffic = Social media
- Best way to monetize = affiliate links, sponsored posts
- Social media is a necessity for lifestyle blogs, SEO and email list should also be considered
- Photos should primarily be organic and specific to the blog author
Examples of lifestyle blogs:
The Pioneer Woman (https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/) Targets women who are interested in wholesome, outdoorsy ranch life. Heavy focus on food but also covers home decor and organization, sales/shopping, fashion and beauty topics.
Bright/Bazaar (https://www.brightbazaarblog.com/) Covers a lot of adult-focused travel plus home design and men’s fashion. Primarily geared to affluent urban millennials.
Love Taza (https://lovetaza.com/) A mom blog, essentially. All about family and parenting and travel and everyday life with kids. Targets moms and families with school-age kids.
Disclaimer about “blog types”
The three types of blogs I talk about above are general categories only based on how the internet works, basically. They aim to provide a loose framework of “what usually works” and “what usually doesn’t work” to save beginners some time as well as reduce overwhelm and give some direction.
But there are exceptions to every rule.
Feel free to ignore these guidelines completely and forge your own path if you want! Do you want to start a lifestyle blog but be anonymous and aim for SEO traffic and monetize exclusively with ads? Go for it! I’m sure there’s an example somewhere of someone doing it successfully. The internet is a big place, and there’s room for experimenting.
Blazing a new trail comes with a unique set of challenges, however, and there is much to be said for starting in the footsteps of others as a means of being efficient.
Choosing a blog type that most closely fits what you envision for your future can save you so. much. time. as well as some of the emotional strain that naturally comes with the ups and downs of building a blog.
You’ll still have plenty of room to make your own way and put your own stamp on things.
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