I think most bloggers are familiar with the saying “the money is in the list” which refers to collecting subscribers on your site with a view to selling them products via email. There’s no doubt list building is effective but what bloggers have missed is that in order to make money from your site (list-building or not) you need to effectively target your content to a specific group of people, in marketing we call this the niche. Many webmasters are put off by the idea of a niche because to them niche means small, it doesn’t have to be though, to me it just means targeted.
The problem is that bloggers often think they are getting targeted traffic when they are not. For example a friend of mine recently started a blog on computer hardware because he’s always been into building his own PCs. On the blog he reviews everything from sata hard-drives to the latest motherboards and to him this is niche since most people buy computers instead of building them. The first problem he encountered is there are a million other general computer hardware blogs, he would need to do something spectacular (or illegal) to get noticed in this market, every product he reviews has already been written about by a hundred other sites before he hits publish.
“Appeal to everybody and end up pleasing no-one”
The second problem was more un-expected because he found it very difficult to make any money though advertising from the traffic he was getting. On the one hand this didn’t make sense since computer hardware is reasonably expensive and there are plenty of online stores with affiliate programs. Eventually he realized that because nearly all of his subscribers and visitors were just interested in “general” hardware it was impossible to show a specific advertisement to them that would convert into a sale since computer hardware is such a broad topic. When people are thinking about making a purchase they always have a specific topic in mind, e.g. “what’s the best LCD monitor under $200”, it’s a question like that which often comes before a purchase. Essentially my friend had tried to appeal to everyone and ended up with content that interested no-body.
So where is the real money when it comes to blogging, in short it’s with the people who become an authority in their niche. I admit that niche blogging got a bad name in the last decade, mostly because people started creating one page sites around a “long tail keyword” with the hope of getting to the top of Google for it. Those days are gone though since search engines now require a reasonable amount of authority to rank for even obscure terms. But it’s not as difficult to become an authority as you might think, it requires knowledge of the topic (which can be learned) and it requires consistency (keep creating content that works for you blog).
“Become the authority people turn to”
So how did my friend eventually make money from his blog? He found a new direction for it by finding a gap in the market that he could dominate. For a long time he had been interested in super lightweight laptops (since become ultrabooks) and when he couldn’t find a blog dedicated to reviewing the best ones he knew this could be his new direction. He started by reviewing every model he could find along with in-depth specs and his personal opinion on what worked and what didn’t. He also scoured the web for the best prices so his readers could buy at the lowest price, and this meant he could receive commission from any store that his readers did purchase from. It was the perfect combination of targeted traffic with a niche interest and advertising which was 100% related to the content, it was a win win situation for everyone.
Now I’m not trying to say that finding the right niche market is easy, but it will always be a sector of the marketplace that you have a genuine interest in, and writing about what you like is never a chore. I hope this article has helped if you building a site and struggling for a topic to focus on, the key to real money on the web is thinking small!
This guest post was written by Paul, who writes at EMO about internet marketing and the science behind making money online.