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Friday, October 16, 2009

SUBJECT MATTER

Blogs that tackle a specific and limited range of concerns generally tend to outdraw those with a more scattered approach. Blogging within a particular niche is usually the best way to experience success. However, there are limits to specificity. If one chooses a subject area that is too limited, the potentiality for high-volume traffic is reduced. Alternatively, if one opts to blog in a well-covered subject matter they risk getting lost in the shuffle and not finding a regular readership.
There is no secret formula that will yield the perfect niche for your blog. There are, however, some guidelines you can follow when selecting a blog topic that will help lead you to a choice that has good traffic potential.

First, remember that you will be revisiting, updating, tweaking and researching the topic of your blog for as long as you decide to maintain it. Thus, it makes a great deal of sense to choose a subject matter in which you have a keen interest and a developed knowledge base. You may discover that there are a lot of people looking for information on widgets and that there are few great sources for that information online. However, if you don’t know a lot about widgets and find them a complete bore, you will probably have a hard time maintaining the site over the long run.
Second, remember that there are two different factors you must consider when trying to choose a topic with real traffic potential. You will want to write about something in which others are interested. There must be a group of people out there who are regularly looking for information on your topic. That is a necessary factor. However, you must also consider how many other sources of information are out there already. It can be very tough to break out in a competitive field.
You can get an idea of the competition and interest levels by using any of a number of freely available online tools. One tool I have found to be invaluable and easy to use is Nichebot at http://www.nichebot.com. It operates almost like a search engine: you type in the word or string in which you are interested and it then supplies you with a breakdown of how many people are searching for that phrase (and related phrases) every month. It then provides you with an indication of how many sites online contain the words in your search phrase. It even goes so far as to express the ratio of sites to searchers, making determinations of a niche’s viability relatively simple. Nichebot offers some additional tools that can make subject selection easier.
Ideally, you will find a hot topic with little competition. However, that is far easier said than done! One could spend days plugging possible subjects into Nichebot without finding a wildly underserved group of searchers for a topic in which the blogger has an interest. However, it does a great job of letting one know what they might be up against in terms of competition and occasionally you can discover some very interesting gaps in the information market.
Third, remember that although finding an underserved niche will make your life easier, it is not necessarily a requirement for success. There are some people who will tell you that operating in a competitive sector is great. After all, you know in advance that there are hordes of potential visitors on a hot topic. All you have to do is give them a reason to come to you instead of others. That is, of course, easier said than done. However, if you are up for a challenge and believe you can offer something that will truly separate you from the rest; you may consider blogging in a competitive field.

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