7 years ago, in ten minutes with a small idea, I did one thing that changed my entire life. It's allowed me to make $15,000-$20,000/month from home, spend months travelling Europe and South America as a digital nomad without having to ever request vacation and build a business that I'm passionate about. That one thing I did that afforded me all of this bliss was this: I started a blog. The first thing I hear come out of people's mouths after “I want to start a blog”, is…
“But I don't know what to blog about!” I'll help you with this today. I'll show you the three-question process to find out exactly what to blog about, so you can start a blog around something you love. If you follow this process, you won't get bored with your topic or wish you had pursued another path.
Want to Figure Out What to Blog About? Ask Yourself These Three Questions
Before I get into the three questions you need to ask yourself, I have to cover one thing: Your life is not interesting enough to blog about it and expect to get paid. I don't say that to be mean – I promise. I tell you that because a lot of people misunderstand “starting a blog” to be “journalling about your life online”. Your blog is not your diary, or your journal or your best friend. And even though we like to say it because it makes us feel interesting, no, your life could not be a reality show. So let's take the “blogging about my journey” topic off the table before we leap into finding a topic, and ask ourselves three questions… Ready?
Question #1: What Are You Interested in Right Now?
Note that I didn't ask you what your passions are. Passions are cool – if you're a passionate person, you probably have a lot of passions. But let's take the pressure off with the whole passion thing. You don't need to blog about your passions. Just list a few things that you're interested in. If you're having performance anxiety, here are a few questions to jog your creativity:
- What was the topic of the last book or article you read?: Unless you regularly read things you aren't interested in, chances are the last book or article you read say something about what you're digging right now. Example: I recently read a productivity book, an article about female friendships, and a report about weight lifting for women. Guess what? All interests of mine.
- What was the last documentary you watched?: Again, you tend to choose documentaries and shows about your interests. I last watched (or rather, re-watched) Hungry for Change. Nutrition is an interest.
- What are your goals: Usually you don't set goals you're not interested in. My goals are to learn Spanish, deadlift 200 pounds, travel to 12 countries this year and save 30% of my income. I'm interested in language learning, weight lifting, travel and personal finance.
A general rule of thumb is that if you're interested in something, other people are too. To get the most out of blogging, you should be blogging about something other people are interested in learning and reading about – otherwise it will be a long, hard, reader-less road ahead of you.
Question #2: What Do You Know More About Than Most People?
Don't skip over this part. Even if you think you don't know more than other people about anything, you do.
- If you can play the guitar (even poorly), you know more about playing the guitar than most people.
- If you save 20% of your income, you know more about saving money than most people do.
- If you speak another language, ride a motorcycle, play tennis, are an expat in another country, have volunteered abroad, have visited several countries…
Yeah, you know more about those things than most people do. Most people's knowledge of most topics is limited at best. This isn't a bad thing and it doesn't mean others are stupid or ignorant. It just means that they choose to invest their attention to learning other things. And no, you don't have to be the world's most expertly expert to blog about a topic. You should probably know more than the average person about the topic. And you should always keep learning about the topic. But as long as you stay one (or ideally several) step ahead of your target audience, you're good to go.
Question #3: Do I Have Any Crazy Goals?
Most people stay inside their comfort zones. Because… well, they're comfortable. But that means that there's an awesome opportunity to quickly build a large and engaged readership if you push yourself out of your comfort zone to take on a challenge or a goal that could be perceived as unique or unusual. A huge bonus is that if you blog about a unique challenge or goal you're pursuing, you'll stay on track. Assya wrote about this in her guest post on Unsettle about her challenge and how it went viral:
Most of you will probably choose to blog about an interest or something you know more than others about, but this is always an option as well.
How to Vet Your Idea
Now that you have a few ideas rolling around in your head, let's say you are trying to choose between a couple of options. Or maybe you are pretty solid on your idea of what you'll blog about, but you want to make extra sure it's the right choice. Ask yourself a few questions to make sure it's the right idea:
- Are there 1,000,000 people or more interested in this topic? If there aren't 1 million people worldwide interested in your topic, it might be a bit too narrow.
- Can you think of a minimum of 10 article topics? You don't have to map out an entire year's worth of content yet, but if you can't brainstorm 10 potential topics in your niche, you might run into trouble later.
- Can you make money from it? Is your target audience not only able, but willing to pay for something in the topic? A good way to vet this is to think about the last thing you spent money on in the industry. Was it a book, a tool, a course? Another great way to figure this out is to see who else is writing about your topic. Do their blogs seem to be making money? We'll get into monetization strategies later, this is just an initial litmus test.
As you go through this process, there are two things to keep in mind: You do not have to be the only one blogging about it. In fact, if it's a completely original idea, chances are it's a bad idea (otherwise it would have been done already). You also don't have to stick to the topic forever. You can pivot, change direction, and broaden your scope as you establish expertise. In fact, you most certainly will. Even Unsettle doesn't look like it did when it first started. Just choose a topic. Don't get stuck in analysis paralysis. Don't freak out about having to choose the perfect thing now. You're not chained to it, and you will change. That's ok. You just need to take action.
It's Time to Choose a Topic
Alright challenge takers. So now that you have your topic-choosing juices flowing, you probably have at least a few things you've been thinking of blogging about. Choose one. And pop over to the Facebook group to let the Unsettle community know that you chose what to blog about!