choosing your niche

So I heard you want to start a blog… But don’t know how narrow to go with your niche.

What exactly is niching up, anyway?

First things first – what is a niche?

“Niche” is just a fancy way of saying category. Think of a niche in the wall – a small opening or space. If the whole world is a piece of beautiful architecture, that niche is the part of it you’ve decided to inhabit, like a fairytale mouse.

To simplify it further, your niche is what your blog is about.  Ultimately, starting a blog isn’t just about you and for you – it’s about, and for, your future readers as well. If you aren’t providing value to them, they’re not going to stick around.

So part of starting your blog is deciding what to write about – whether you want to run a site about fitness, parenting, finance, home décor, etc.

Niche down or niche up?

There’s conflicting advice on how to approach choosing a niche for your blog. Some people say you should niche down, niche down, niche down, until you’ve gotten an idea so specific you can completely capture that audience and corner the market.

For example, let’s say you want to start a fitness blog.

Proponents of niching down would tell you to make that smaller – so say, a blog about yoga instead.

Micro-niche enthusiasts are gonna tell you that’s maybe still too broad, and suggest something like yoga for people with disabilities, or yoga you can do with dogs.

But if you wanted to start a blog about fitness because you also want to talk about weight lifting and nutrition, thinking about writing only about doga (dog yoga, get it) is going to feel like a dog-sized cage.

Now, if your idea is already a quite small niche, I’m not trying to knock it. There is DEFINITELY a place for micro-niche blogs. If there was a website for every weird hobby and obscure subculture, the world would be a happier place.

Niching down has a lot of advantages:

  • You’ll have much less competition and will be able to more easily be recognized as an authority in your small niche
  • Your regular readers will be more likely to stick around, subscribe, and buy from you because they feel like you really *get* them
  • You’ll be able to target specific types of people with your promotion methods; making your promotion much more effective than casting a wide net and hoping for the best

Niching down also has some disadvantages:

  • You’re restricted in what topics you can write about
  • You have a much smaller target audience – therefore, you’ll have a harder time attracting new readers and finding the right kind of subscribers
  • Some super small niches won’t do well on Pinterest or even Google so you’ll have to get creative in finding your audience

For me, I ultimately decided to go a different route. I don’t want to knock niching down – if you feel you can really spread your wings in a narrower niche, then by all means do so!

If you have a general idea of what you want to write about, it might be worth brainstorming ways to narrow down and see what you come up with. If you hit an idea that you get excited about, it’s definitely worth exploring to see if that’s something you’d like to write about for a while.

My beef here is with people who insist that niching way down is the ONLY way to make any money with a new blog, when clearly – that isn’t true.

I wasn’t happy with that, and I wasted a lot of time trying to do something that wasn’t working with my overall vision.

Ultimately, I was listening to a lot of opinions and advice that wasn’t necessarily serving the journey I was on. Everywhere I looked I was being told to “niche down”. When I couldn’t even decide what umbrella to start under, I was being told that in order to be successful, I had to pick only one spoke of the umbrella and focus on just that. It felt… really stifling. And because I took this advice to heart, I ended up really struggling the first few months of having my blog, feeling like I couldn’t write about what I wanted to.

So I went looking for a different way.

An Alternative: Niche UP

I haven’t heard anyone else use the term “niche up”, but it fits so I’m making it up (feel free to share).

What I did hear people say: “You don’t really have to choose a niche if you write a lifestyle blog, because it’s about a certain lifestyle instead of a specific niche”.

You know what I found when I went to find so-called lifestyle blogs?

Someone blogging about beauty and fashion and travel and food, all at the same time. Or, someone who blogged about personal finance and interior decorating and parenting. And these bloggers were killing it.

It was like a light had gone off. Not only did I NOT have to narrow down to a niche the size of a pencil… I could open up and write about multiple topics!

A word of caution: Niching up isn’t a get-out-of-niche-free card. There are key things to consider:

  • You’ll have to work hard to keep a cohesive voice and feel across all of your content, to avoid looking like you’re all over the place.
  • You still need an overarching focus and structure for your blog.
  • It will likely be much harder when you want to sell your own products, because your audience isn’t as refined.
  • I want to emphasize this: You still need an overarching focus and structure for your blog.

Niching up comes with more freedoms than niching down, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. In a way, you’ll have to work harder to make sure your content is cohesive. Just because you blog about three or four different things doesn’t mean you can just throw up whatever and have it stick.

If you want to niche up, you need to have a focus that ties your content together.

Maybe you blog about beauty and travel and baking, but your focus is how to do all of those things on a budget.

Maybe you blog about bullet journaling, parenting, and backyard gardening, but your focus is really on living with faith, or maintaining your mental health. All of those topics can easily be covered from either of those angles and be incredibly relevant to tons of people.

Niching up allows you to have multiple topics – that are all connected by a similar theme.

For example, I blog about personal finance, personal development, goal setting. But my central thread here is that I believe anyone can change their life, no matter where they’re starting from.

Note: You could argue that this is also a form of niching down, because finding a group of people who enjoy all of your topics and your focus form a micro-niche of their own. I think it’s more likely that most of your readers will follow you for one or two of your topics and ignore what doesn’t apply to them – and that’s ok.

How Do You Know Which One is Right for You?

I’m going into this section assuming you have a general idea of what you’d like to write about, but if this isn’t the case for you, that’s okay! Check out my guide How to Find Your Blog Niche to help you narrow down your options.

But if you DO have an idea, or maybe a couple ideas, and aren’t sure if you should niche down into one or niche up, here’s some questions to ask yourself:

Questions to Ask Before Niching Down:

  • Is this topic SO broad I can split it up into multiple topics? (I.e., fitness can be broken down into a ton of categories – weightlifting, running, sports, yoga, Pilates, etc.)
  • Am I mostly interested in one or two of these sub-topics over the others?
  • Can these sub topics be broken down even farther? (Within yoga you can have yoga poses, yoga sequences, yoga for back pain or relaxing or burning calories, morning yoga, desk yoga, yoga clothing…)
  • Are there still affiliate and/or product options within this narrowed niche? (For yoga, the answer is YES. Definitely.)

If you answered yes to all of those questions, it’s worth exploring whether a smaller niche or even a micro niche might be for you.

Questions to Ask Before Niching Up:

  • Do I have a genuine interest in writing about multiple topics equally?
  • Do I have a focus or central idea that links these topics together in a natural way?
  • Can I think of a product or service related to my blog’s overall focus that will fit with those categories?
  • Will I be able to cover multiple categories to a degree where I can showcase authority on them each?

With niching up, you’re trading it the four cozy walls of a singular niche, for an overarching ceiling (your focus) that will cover everything below it. It’s important to note that you’re still building a house.

That means that you still have to work on branding, you still have to connect with your audience, and those things can be harder to really nail down with a broader range of focus.

Don’t Overthink It

I think getting hung up on choosing a niche is one of the most time-wasting mistakes that beginner bloggers can make.

Why? Because it’s not set in stone.

You can pivot at any time. You can expand or shrink what you write about any time you want, as it suits your fancy. There seems to be this pressure for new bloggers to have everything set up perfectly from Day 1 and be a professional blogger right out of the gate – but it really doesn’t have to be that way. And to be honest, you’re likely the only one putting that pressure on yourself (I know I was).

I know bloggers who started out blogging about one topic and completely changed their niche in their first year. I’ve heard of people who start out blogging about everything, see what works best for them, then narrow down to that topic. Or people who start out with just one topic, then add another one in as their interests grow.

If deciding your niche is what’s holding you back from getting started on your blog journey – give yourself a shake, remind yourself that there’s no success without failure behind it, and get going. Mistakes aren’t the worst thing that can happen to you (sometimes they’re the best), and changing your mind is not only allowed – sometimes it’s the best way to learn.

Are you getting ready to start your blog? Check out my step-by-step guide on how to start your money-making blog in just minutes!