Guest post by Barrie Davenport
Are you blogging because it's so much fun you're forgetting to eat or pay the bills? Or are you blogging to make piles and piles of cash?
Is it possible to do both. In fact, your chances of success as a blogger are better when you love the process while still approaching it like a business.
However, many people start blogging about a topic that interests them without initially giving any consideration to generating income or building a business from it.
Others strategically build a site around a topic they know will generate income, but they don't give two hoots about the topic. They just want to make money.
You will never make a decent income with the first strategy. You can make money blogging with the second -- but it won't be sustainable. Eventually you'll grow bored with the work, and it will impact your ability to grow your business.
I know this because I've tried both strategies -- separately and together. I've created sites just based on fun and enjoyment, and I've eventually had to backtrack and rethink my strategy to make the blog profitable (which is very time-consuming) or abandon the project altogether. I've also created sites just with the idea of making money, but without any real connection to the topic, and my interest and commitment waned quickly.
This week I'm launching a new expert site, BarrieDavenport.com, focused on helping people uncover and live their life passions. In creating the site, I used a 3-part formula guaranteed to be successful if you implement it well before you ever launch your blog.
Most of the potential for the success of a site happens in the planning phase, before you choose a name, buy a domain name, decide on a blog design, or write the first blog post. Finding your blogging niche is an art and a science that requires careful thought, research, and planning.
With that in mind, here is the 3-part formula I used for my new site -- one that has been followed by many other successful online entrepreneurs.
Part 1: Passion
To become an authority blogger, one who is viewed as having credibility, integrity, and depth of knowledge, you need to become an expert in your topic. You don't have to begin as an expert, but over time, you must build your knowledge base.
This requires spending hours every day reading, researching, and writing about your topic, answering reader's questions, guest posting, and talking about your topic on social media.
If you don't love the topic, if you don't feel passionate about it, eventually you'll want to chew off your own foot to escape the boredom. You can't sustain that amount of work around a subject that doesn't make you froth at the mouth with enthusiasm.
This is particularly true if you are selecting a narrow niche. In fact many blogging experts recommend choosing a narrow niche because, as a rule of thumb, people searching for broad terms are less inclined to spend money. A narrow niche suggests that you have a solution to a very specific, personal problem.
My niche for BarrieDavenport.com is helping people uncover and live their life passions. On my other blog, I write about a range of personal development topics. But from the outset of planning this new site, I knew I wanted to become the expert in one area. My passion is helping others find and live their own life calling, so that's why I selected this niche.
What if you don't know your passion?
If you aren't sure what you're passionate about, you need to find out. Don't select a blogging niche that feels "just sort of interesting." If you want to build a business with your blog, view your niche like a marriage partner. Do you love this topic enough that you can live with it day in and day out, in good times and bad? If not, don't go there. It will likely end in divorce.
Take the time to figure out what you are passionate about. This may take weeks or months, but it is imperative if you want to sustain your business. In fact, you may need to find a couple of topics you feel passionate about (more about this below). I have plenty of tools and articles about finding your passion on BarrieDavenport.com if you need some support in this endeavour.
Remember, you don't have to be an expert in your passion initially. Over time, you will grow into an expert. But you do need to feel the love -- or at least a very, very strong attraction.
Part II: Demand
Once you have a niche in mind you feel passionate about, you'll need to determine if there's an audience out there equally passionate or interested in your topic. It's wonderful to feel all giddy about red widgets, but if only three other people in the world share that excitement, you can't build a business.
It's difficult to know whether people will like your topic before you create your site, but keyword research is a great way to find out how many people are searching for your topic in the search engines. Doing this research is a must before you settle on a niche. (That's why I suggested having a couple of passions for when one is too obscure.)
There are a variety of free and paid keyword research tools available.
Here are some of the best free tools:
Also, the next time you're at your local news-stand scan the magazines to see the popular publication topics and the hot topics covered within the publications.
You can also use Google Trends to see if the audience for your particular topic is growing or shrinking and how it compares to other topics.
Part III: Earning Potential
When you're thinking about blog monetization, always begin with the readers in mind. The mantra of any successful blogger should be, "How can I serve my reader?" If you can provide solutions, support, and value to your reader -- and if there's a way to package that in products or services -- you can find a way to monetize your blog. Here are a few suggestions:
Since my new site is an expert site (putting the focus on me as an "expert" at helping people find and live their passions), it was important that I create a personalized solution for my readers.
I created a six-part formula based on my personal experience, coaching work, and research, to help people find and live their passions. Then I created products, books, and courses around this solution which I offer for sale on my site. I also offer personal coaching services, and eventually I may create a membership program.
Of course, before you offer your own products for sale, you must first build your personal credibility and foster trust and loyalty with your readers. This is done through providing consistently useful and quality content through posts and meaty free products.
There are a myriad of other ways you can create income with your blog -- including advertising, affiliate products, membership programs, and partnerships. Many of your decisions about how to monetize your blog will be based on the niche you select. Some topics lend themselves more to one method than others.
Remember, your reader and what they need is the most important thing to keep in mind with decisions about monetizing. As you test different products and services, your reader will let you know whether you're on the right track. If they like what you are offering (and it's marketed properly), they will continue to buy from you.
By doing this advance work before you create your blog, combining passion, demand, and earning potential, you will exponentially increase your likelihood of success -- while feeling fulfilled and happy with your daily work.
Barrie Davenport is a life passion coach, author, and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, dedicated to helping people uncover and live their life passions.