So you want to build your first hobby site and you’re aiming to build up a second income? Good stuff. The hardest part of all this is taking the decision to go for it. Most people reading this will give up within a couple of weeks leaving the persistent few to achieve their goal.
In this section we’ll guide you through the process of selecting a targeted topic for your site. Take the time to read this page carefully as this really is a big deal. Getting it wrong at this stage is likely to knock your confidence but it is important you stay focused and keep going.
If you do head out in the wrong direction, that’s OK, just learn from the experience and do try again!
What is a Niche?
The word ‘niche’ is rather over used in blogs about blogs and across ‘make money online’ websites. What we are really getting at here is the selection of a topic for your site and its unique selling point.
- Too broad and you will end up with a site that doesn’t mean anything to anyone. No one will be able to engage with it, no one will buy into the message that you are selling. People won’t know what the site is for.
- Too narrow and the appeal will be limited. You will have limited scope for growth and in some cases you may be limiting the lifespan of your site. The site will only be useful to a handful of people. And although they may be very grateful for your efforts, you may not like that your entire readership consists of 3 school kids and a pet hamster.
So what will your new site be about?
Here is what you need to consider:
- What do you want to talk about?
- Who do you want to talk to?
- How will readers identify with your content?
- What is it that people will want to get from your site?
It is crucial that you understand how people use the Internet. At a high level you can split users out into two categories, the time wasters and the searchers. The former group are those browsing around trying to fill in some time. They are looking to be entertained. The second group are people who are actually out to get some information, they are looking to answer specific questions.
Arguably it is easier to get the time wasters on to your site. But you need to ask yourself, do you really want people on your site just to waste time? The department store that runs a lingerie catwalk show is sure to see an increased amount of passing traffic, but will that mean more sales? Most of that new traffic won’t be your target audience!
You need to provide a purpose for your site to exist.
- What is its function?
- What questions does it answer?
- Why would people want to read it?
Look through the sites in your own favourites list. I am willing to bet you have bookmarked the majority of sites because they have a specific use to you. As you look through the saved sites you will probably know immediately the value that the site offers. What value does your site have? Make sure your site appeals to an audience.
How to Pick the Topic
So now you have a basic understanding of why you need to get this decision right, we will look at how you go about selecting something. The best approach here will be a good old fashioned pen and paper brain-storming session.
Start by picking some broad topics out of the air, then start breaking them down. Connect up your inter related ideas at logical points. Let the ideas flow out of your head, don’t be afraid to write down even the strangest of thoughts – often it is the ideas that fall outside your comfort zone that spark off a novel turn of events.
“Chance favours the prepared mind”
Never underestimate the importance of research. Time and effort here will save you many hours of wasted work. If your goal is to provide an income then you need to ensure your topic has value. If you have what you believe to be a novel idea then check that it hasn’t been done a thousand times before. If you are a beginner to website building then aim for a topic with minimal competition.
If you listen to only one piece of advice…
Pick something you can be interested in. I realise that many people create sites on a purely commercial basis and if you can take a purely professional approach to this then good for you. I invite everyone else to be realistic in their goals. Set yourself realistic targets and stick to them. Set appropriate expectations and you won’t give up before you have even started.
If you enjoy creating the site and believe in it, then the work won’t seem like work at all. Often the most successful sites are those run by enthusiastic and passionate authors. You read their thoughts because they offer insight that you can’t determine for yourself. How can you possibly provide that insight if you have no real interest in a topic yourself. If your site is just a summary of other people’s articles then it will never be a leader. Sure you might get some background traffic (the usual 50 hits a day that any site gets no matter how poor the content is) but no one will come back twice.
Do your Daily Blogercise
Share your passion. Take the Blogercise.com website as an example. I know that this site does not possess the “pizazz” of some of the fast talking mega bucks big budget sites.
But I have a genuine belief that I can offer something different and a burning desire to get an alternative message out on to the web. I know that as an IT professional who has worked for one of the most successful Web site companies in the UK I can provide a point of view that goes beyond the typical “make some cash quick” sites.
I work with teams that are continually analyse every click that occurs on their site, researching search engine rankings, developing partner relationships, pushing technology boundaries and initiating regular public workshops to deliver the ideal user experience.
Our goal is to show how professional experience can help out the hobby bloggers amongst us. Blogercise is aimed at those that enjoy building sites and want to grow a passive second income over time, an income that will contribute towards a family holiday, help chip away at that mortgage or supplement a pension.
What this site isn’t going to do is sell you the next “big secret to success” for the bargain price of $500, I’m not going to encourage you to give up your day job and gamble your family’s security on a promise. I have a strong dislike for the brash US “make money online” sites and sometimes wonder if they are nothing more than a giant pyramid scheme.
We’ll show how you can slowly build a website up over the next months and years and how you can grow that into a successful money making blog with a welcome secondary income.