Want to Make Money From Your WordPress Blog? You Need a Niche

It’s the mother of all cushy jobs, isn’t it? Start a blog, find an audience, and watch the dollars roll in! I’m sure everyone who runs a blog sometimes dreams of quitting the day job and becoming a full-time blogger.

Except full-time blogging isn’t as easy as it seems. Like so many “dream” jobs, the reason we think it’s easy is because the people who are making a success of it make it look effortless. But in reality, they’re like ducks – calm serenity on the surface with those little legs paddling like mad underwater.

So blogging can be hard work, and it isn’t always glamorous. But if you have a topic that you love talking about, writing about, or learning about – then it could be a great career for you.

In this first of a series of posts, I’m going to start by addressing one of the key factors in becoming a successful blogger – finding your niche. I’ll identify some successful blogs and their niche and give you some tips on finding a niche that works for you and can help you make money.

This series is for you if:

  • You want to turn your existing blog into a money-making venture, either as a full-time job or a sideline;
  • You’re want to launch a blog but haven’t started yet;
  • You want to use your blog to support a business or fundraising activity, driving traffic and customers your way.

I’m going to imagine you haven’t started yet, so if you have, then you’ll need to adapt my tips to your existing blog. After all, if you’re going to make it work, you may need to go back and make some adjustments.

Once you’ve identified your niche by following this post, there will be follow up posts designed to help you turn your idea into reality:

  • Setting up your site and configuring it as a professional blog
  • Producing content that fits your interest and your audience
  • Engaging with your audience via your blog and other platforms
  • Monetising your blog – identifying which methods are right for you.

So let’s start with the initial concept – your niche.

Read the other posts in this series about making money with your WordPress blog:

Creating a successful blog isn’t just about setting up your site

What is a Niche?

The Oxford English Dictionary gives two relevant definitions of the word “niche.” Firstly, one that’s about you:

“A comfortable or suitable position in life or employment.”

This could be what’s driving you to launch or develop a successful blog – finding something that suits you, that challenges and fulfills you and that (yes) is less stressful and dull than the nine to five.

The other definition is about your audience:

“A specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.”

This is about your audience, knowing who they are, what market they’re part of and what they’re looking for. Fail to take this into account at your peril.

Finding Your Niche

So, identifying the niche for your blog means you have to understand two things:

  1. Your topic – interest, specialism or hobby that you know lots about, have some authority on (maybe), enjoy working on and have lots of idea for future content relating to.
  2. Your audience – a segment of the population that shares your passion for this topic, works with it or needs to learn about it.

If you focus just on yourself, you’ll struggle to make money. But if you focus solely on the audience you’ll soon run out of ideas for the blog or get tired of it, or both. So the trick is to find a topic you’re knowledgeable on, love creating content about, and that there’s an audience for. The audience doesn’t have to be huge – if it’s a small but extremely dedicated audience not served elsewhere, that could be a bonus.

WPMU DEV blog
The WPMU DEV blog has a well defined target audience, which includes you!

You need not be an expert on your chosen topic, which is fine as long as you’re honest. Plenty of bloggers have documented their journey learning about a topic, which appeals to an audience looking for authenticity and the opportunity to learn alongside the blogger.

Finding a Topic You Love

Let’s start with you, and finding a topic you can produce content on. That doesn’t have to be written – you could produce videos, podcasts or photo galleries. Bloggers working across a variety of media are becoming more common (and successful). And written blogs are so numerous that using an alternative medium helps you stand out and boosts your search engine rankings.

Think about what interests you: hobbies, professional specialisms, or something you’re just learning about. It could be domestic – there are thousands of people out there blogging about the experience of becoming a parent, for example – or professional – as myself and other WordPress bloggers can attest.

The key is being specific. So if you want to blog about family life, find an angle. If you want to blog about web design, find a specialism. Something you’re interested in and know there’s an audience for.

Unless you have an obvious passion, it makes sense to come up with a few viable ideas, so you can whittle them down when you start thinking about your audience. These ideas could relate to very different topics, or they could be angles on the same topic. Or they could be the same topic, but with a different readership in mind.

Understanding Your Audience

So you’ve got some ideas, or one big idea if you’ve already started your blog. Now think about your audience.

Be realistic and honest with yourself, and seek second (and third, and fourth) opinions. Research what else is out there – the blogs that are successful and entertain you. Don’t worry if there are already other blogs on your topic – if you can provide a new angle or a new voice, then you’ll be giving something extra to an already established niche.

If your blog only has a tiny potential audience, then your blog is unlikely to be profitable. If you can widen that audience just a little, then you increase your chances of making money.

But it’s actually more likely that you’ll aim too big. It’s tempting to start a blog about everything under the sun, documenting all your experiences, ideas and opinions. But if your readers don’t know what your blog is really about and what makes it unique, they won’t come back.

Examples of Successful Niche Blogs

Let’s take a look at some successful WordPress-powered blogs and the niches they fill. This should give you some inspiration on what’s possible and how you could tailor your passions to your audience.

DIY and Design: Young House Love

Young House Love website

Interior design and DIY blogging is huge. There are thousands of people sharing their home renovations, decorating or craft projects. It’s an industry that feeds upon itself – the bloggers teach their readers how to do design and DIY, and then the readers often become bloggers themselves, charting their own projects.

Young House Love was launched in 2007 when Sherry and John Petersik started doing DIY on their first house. Ten years (and three houses) on, they’ve released two DIY books and a coloring book, have a successful podcast, and lines of homewares with retailers including Shades of Light and Target.

What’s the niche? The Petersiks have one thing setting them apart from their competition, and that’s John. While most design blogs are run by women, or women whose partners are somewhere in the background, this blog feels different because of the male perspective. It’s a little more grounded than some of the other blogs and feels like a family affair.

Cookery: Cooking on a Bootstrap

Cooking on a Bootstrap website

Jack Monroe started blogging about food when looking for creative ways to cook good food on a meager budget. Out of work and desperate to eat something better than Weetabix and water, Jack started investigating the cheapest ways to eat well on a budget of as little as £10 per week.

Jack was spotted by the Guardian newspaper and invited to write a column, then approached to take part in a supermarket advert. This was followed by a book and TV appearances.

Jack’s used the opportunities blogging has brought to become a campaigner on food poverty and on transgender issues (after coming out as non-binary in 2015). All of the recipes on the Cooking on a Bootstrap blog include costs and can be made for as little as 10p per person.

What’s the niche? Cooking on a tiny budget. While many food blogs and websites claim to cater for limited budgets, Jack Monroe claims that many don’t come close to catering for people on benefits who want to eat well.

Parenting: #LifewithBoys

Hasta Life with Boys website

Parenting is one of the biggest niches out there, with probably the highest number of bloggers (most unsuccessful). ‘Mommy’ blogs range in their focus, including natural and organic parenting, parenting kids with disabilities and balancing parenting and work. Some take themselves seriously, others less so.

#LifewithBoys is firmly in the latter camp. It pokes fun at the experience of bringing up boys and reminds parents just how far from the parenting ideals their lives can be. It does this with humor (sometimes gentle, sometimes rapier-like), reminding us all that even mommy bloggers are human.

It’s run by two moms, Lyndee Brown and Tiffany O’Connor. Both clearly adore their sons but are also exasperated and enraged by them on an almost daily basis.

What’s the niche? Parenting boys, and celebrating what’s real instead of an impossible ideal. The site is a backlash against the trend to tell parents what they should be doing better and is very funny.

Web Development: Tom McFarlin

Tom Mcfarlin's blog

There are millions of people out there wanting to learn about web design and development, and about WordPress design and development specifically. This very blog you’re reading is one of the sources that cater to them.

Tom McFarlin is an established WordPress developer who’s written best-selling books, edits the WordPress section of tuts+, and runs a successful business. On his blog, he shares tips, advice, and code, and talks about what’s going on in the world of WordPress. He also reveals what it’s like to juggle such a busy development career with family life.

What’s the niche? Tom is a recognized expert, and the tips and examples he shares are unimpeachable in their accuracy and quality. For anyone aiming to become an advanced WordPress developer, his blog is a go-to source.

Politics: ConservativeHome

Political blogging has become the new form of punditry. All of the major news outlets run blogs, and the Huffington Post has achieved prominence largely on the back of its bloggers.

ConservativeHome is a rightwing, UK-based blog set up in 2005 by Tim Montgomerie to represent Tory grassroots members. He’s now regarded by the mainstream media as a political influencer. He still writes for the site but is no longer its managing editor, after being offered a job with The Times in 2014.

What’s the niche? ConservativeHome is supportive of one political party, and is read by members of that party as well as Tory MPs, ministers and other journalists. It doesn’t attempt to offer a broader range of viewpoints and caters solely for its niche.

Other Niches

I’m going to be returning to the examples above as we work through this series, identifying what these blogs do that make them work. But the niches they cover are by no means the only one available.

Other popular niches include:

  • Fashion, beauty and make-up.
  • Entertainment, movies and gaming.
  • Pets, pet care and animal shows.
  • Living with disability or chronic or terminal disease, or caring for someone who does.
  • Creativity – writing, art, photography etc.
  • Gadgets, technology, cars, machinery etc.
  • …and many more!

Finding a Niche is Essential for Blogging Success

Identifying a topic you love is great if you want blogging to be a hobby. But for it to become a career, you need a niche.

By identifying a topic with an audience, and focusing on one part of the audience or one angle on your topic, you’ll offer something unique and easy to define. That will give you a much higher chance of gaining a loyal audience and achieving success.

Rachel McCollin
Do you run a blog or are you interested in starting one? Have you decided what your niche will be? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!