Module 1: Need + Passion = Niche

Module 1 Goal: At the end of this module you will define the niche for your website based on a combination of your passions and the greatest needs you see in your world.

  • If you are starting a new blog, you will define the niche you would like to enter into.
  • If you are analyzing the niche your blog is already in, this module will help you understand why who entered in this niche in the first place and create a foundation for you to build a successful blog.

Module #1

When many people start websites or blogs, they don’t know where to begin.

What do I write about?

What niche should I choose?

Follow Your Passion! …When Your Not Sure What to Be Passionate About

Without fail, the word that comes up every time I hear an Internet marketing expert talk about choosing a niche is “passion.”

Start a blog that aligns with your passion!

Do what you love!

If you don’t write about a niche in your passion, your blog will fail!

I can only share my experience with what works for me and the people I know online. I do start websites around my passions, but I don’t stop there. You can’t stop there.

If you focus only on your passion, you will create a website that is focused only on you.

People want to find solutions to their own problems. They don’t go out searching for personal blogs of people they have never heard of. They want to find people who share their passions and together live a life that they feel called to live.

If you don’t have other people in mind when you start your blog, you will fail.

This is why I firmly believe that the critical step to discovering the niche that needs you is discovering within yourself a passion that will help solve other people’s problems.

If there is no problem, no need, no challenge, no dream that needs you, then don’t choose the niche–no matter how passionate you are about something.

You have to solve a problem or people won’t come looking for you. You have to provide a solution for actual people or your website just becomes a public place to share your thoughts and experiences.

Exercise 1: Start with the Need

For all of the exercises in this module, you can use the Module 1 Worksheet (PDF / Word) as a guide.

In this exercise, you will apply the following formula to help you select your niche (even if you’ve already started a website):

Need + Passion = Niche

First, examine your life and your experiences to uncover a list of the greatest needs in your world.

“Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.”

Complete section 1 of the Module 1 Worksheet (PDF / Word) or get out a piece of paper, open a Word Doc, or start a note in Evernote.

List all of the problems that you are currently struggling to solve or have already solved yourself. Think both big and small. The greatest needs in your world are different than another person’s world.

If you are sick and tired of spending your money on something you know doesn’t work, write it down. If you’ve uncovered a great way to keep your house clean, write it down.

If you get stuck, try using the following questions as a starting point:

  1. What problems or questions have you tried to solve with a Google search recently?
  2. What products, services, or entertainment have you spent money on in the last six months?
  3. What books have your purchased in the last six months?
  4. What products have you used recently that just don’t meet a need as well as it could?
  5. What opinions of other people really drive you crazy?
  6. What groups of people do you know that have the greatest needs (physical, mental, financial, spiritual, etc.)?

Once you have spent a significant amount of time brainstorming a list of problems you have solved or are trying to solve now, start to categorize them. If you are writing in a Word Document, put the categories and topics in parenthesis or fill in the column on the right of the Module 1 Worksheet (PDF / Word).

These questions are meant to get you fired up about a problem that you are either trying to solve yourself or have solved already. This is where you need to start. This is where your passion will be.

Aligning the Problems with Your Passions

Resist the temptation to select your niche based only on problems. You may have proudly overcome an annoying problem that needed to be solved, but you might also never want to solve that problem again.

This is why you need to understand how your passions align with the world’s greatest needs.

Once you start an online business, you start to see other business opportunities everywhere. No doubt some of you taking this course are starting a second, third, or even fourth blog.

On one particular occasion (though I can’t say I haven’t purchased a number of other domain names on impulse business ideas), I was able to resist the temptation to enter into a new niche.

Here’s the story:

In 2011 we were invaded by drain flies–furry, little bugs that hang out in bathrooms. They were harmless and easy to kill, but breeding like crazy.

We did our research online and found some products to help get rid of them. We poured some green goo down the drain that we bought for $29.99 online, but this little buggers just didn’t go away.

Eventually, we had a plumber come in and check out our pipes only to find that the plumbing beneath our old house was almost completely disintegrated. A few thousand dollars later, the flies were finally gone–only to haunt us in our dreams.

I was so fired up about it that I started looking for domain names to create a website and help people with this seemingly unsolvable problem.

Thankfully, I thought it through: Do I really want to spend hours of my time writing about drain flies?

No way.

Sometimes, no matter how great the problem is, others are meant to solve it.

Take a good look at your list. Cross out anything that you couldn’t see yourself spending a whole day writing about.

If you got up tomorrow morning and went to work, could you imagine answering emails about that topic with joy? Could you see yourself writing an article helping people overcome the greatest challenges related to that topic?

Look at the list you have left. Which one to three of the problems can you see yourself really getting excited about solving?

Imagine meeting a stranger in the airport. They ask you what you do for a living. Would you be proud to tell them that you solve one of these problems?

Which problems can you see yourself talking about at the dinner table with your wife, kids, or parents?

Recognizing Your Passions

Now we are going to come at this from a different angle. Think about the times in the last few days or even weeks when you absolutely loved what you were doing. When was the last time you did something that you became so focused on doing that you lost track of time? What do you daydream about doing when you are supposed to be doing something else? What activities do you look forward to each day or week.

Be sure you get specific. If you like to write, what do you like to write about? List a specific topic that you loved writing about recently.

If you like to running, what is it that get’s you excited to get out and run?

Once you have finished with this list, categorize each item just like you did with the problems.

Bonus Tip: If you really want to take this exercise to the next level, update this list daily. For the next few days, any time you encounter a problem that you need to solve or a problem that others are having a hard time solving, add it to your list.

The next time you find yourself so focused on doing something that you lose track of time, add it to your passions list. Or the next time you find yourself wanting to get back to a project or do some other activity, add it to the passions list.

Finding Your Niche

Now that you have a list of problems and passions, let’s find a few niches of people that you can serve through your blog.

  • Who Needs you the most?
  • Who are you most excited about helping?
  • What problems are in the greatest need of solving?
  • What are the problems that have the least satisfying solutions?

The blogosphere has already organized itself into a variety of niches. When you go to any successful blog, you will find a number of other blogs like it. These groups of blogs are formed around topics and interests that are called niches.

Some of the most popular niches for bloggers include (but are by no means limited to):

City Guides
Internet Marketing
Lifestyle Design
Make Money Online
Personal Development
Personal Finance
Product Reviews
Social Media
Video Games

In reality the niches above are quite broad–too broad for you to start a website around one of them.

One route to take is to combine two topics to find your niche within a niche. For example, I started a blog about teaching religion. There were many blogs for teachers and many blogs about religion, but only a few websites focused on religious education at the time I began.

Don’t worry if what you select has an enormous amount of competition, we’ll get to that later. Right now just focus on a problem or need that you are passionate about solving and define the niche in which that problem exists.

You’ll focus your unique position in a niche later. For now, define the niche you are entering into or, if you have a website, the one you are already in. If you’re not sure about whether the niche you have chosen really is a niche, send me an email with your idea and we can talk about it.

If You Stop At This Point, You Will Fail

The next step is absolutely crucial.

Now that you have tentatively chosen a niche, you will need to define a target market.

Your target market is the people in your niche who will read your blog and become clients, customers, or members of your community.

This will be the focus of Module 2. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to send me feedback or questions by responding to the email with the link to this module.