Choosing a niche – should you follow passion or money (or something entirely different)?

When choosing a niche for a blog, one of the most common questions that beginners have is whether to follow their hobby/passion/dream, or should they choose a niche that has more potential for profit, has little competition, and is easier to monetize?

Let’s see why the actual answer is somewhere in between, and exactly where that is.

The niche problem for new and first time bloggers

If you’re about to start your 5th blog, you either know most of the things I’m about to say, or you have a good intuition of them. But if this is your first blog, you are probably so confused about everything, that you don’t even know where to start (at least that’s how it was for me).

And to make matters worse, the first steps you take for your blog, are both critical to the success of your blog, and are irreversible much of the time.

Choosing a niche is one such step.

Choosing the wrong niche for your blog is, to put it plainly, a disaster. If you don’t pick a niche that’s right for you, you can easily end up wasting the next 3 to 12 months on a wild goose chase that will yield you the total profit of $0. I’ve been there, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

The Money vs Passion Debate

To help new bloggers out, experienced digital marketers frame the problem of choosing a niche for a beginner blogger in terms of money vs passion.

On one hand, you are (probably) blogging for some financial gain, and your blog must be able to bring you at least some money, which nudges you in the direction of choosing a less competitive niche (the demand vs competition debate is a whole different dichotomy that we will address in another article).

On the other side of the coin, there’s the argument that you must have at least some level of interest in your niche, or you will get bored and burn out too quickly.

And, as it often happens, a large part of the remaining not-so-competitive niches (which is constantly shrinking btw), are available because, well, they bore bloggers to tears. And you must find at least some balance between the two, or you simply won’t build a successful blog.

That’s the core of the money vs passion problem. The fun, cool stuff that you would love to blog about, probably is fun and cool to tons of other established bloggers that are already dominating them, or even worse, large publications and media houses and teams devoted to covering those large niches entirely. The smaller niches that can still earn you good money, well, they will crush your will to live.

For some people, this will not be a debate at all. Some people are passionate about topics and niches that are boring to many (I know a guy that can’t shut up about accounting, for example). For those people, the debate is over, and if they start their blog on their boring niche which they love and has at least some audience around it, they will have an easy time.

The rest of us have to make a difficult decision.

Current solutions

Some will say “always follow the money”. These people may tell you to suck it up and stop whining and just go ahead and write those 50 articles and spend the rest of your life in Costa Rica (and they will usually be slightly mean when saying it).

They mean well, and it’s a valid argument.

What they’re missing is the fact that competition is growing at a break-neck speed, and even smaller niches are getting occupied left and right by all sorts of evil media corporations. The amount of content required to establish a foothold there is not as little as it was 5 years ago, and those 50 boring articles you need to write are probably more like 150, and as time goes by, that number will only increase. Not to mention the fact that you may have no choice but to support your blog with a Youtube channel in some niches, and a Youtube channel without a passionate person running it is very difficult to pull off.

So the argument that you should pick any random topic that has a seemingly decent potential for profit and doesn’t interest you even one bit is getting weaker.

Some will say “always follow your dream”. These people may tell you that the money will always come and that passion shines through, and you should just produce the work that you love and eventually your audience will discover it (and they will usually be slightly condescending when saying it).

They mean well, and it’s a valid argument.

What they’re missing is that you must not ignore monetization. Creating content that only you care about is a mistake, even if you create a lot of great content, and that’s at the extreme passion end of the passion-money spectrum.

However, in general, I believe that choosing a niche you’re passionate about is the lesser of two evils. There are some exceptions to this, but mostly, you will find that blogging and digital marketing are very long-term games. In some cases, SEO may take even up to a year to start showing results! You will need to spend a lot of time with your topics, and if you have absolutely no interest in them, you will probably not have the patience or the resources to last in long enough to win.

Choosing a niche is almost like an art form, and you shouldn’t rush this process. Luckily, most of us have more than one hobby or passion or a thing we’re interested in, and one of them will be most monetizable and have the least competition around it, and in most cases, that should be your next niche.

If you don’t have such an interest, I generally recommend choosing something that you can see yourself still being interested in at least 2 years down the road, and if you believe you will still like doing that 5 years from now, then you’re sitting on a lottery ticket.

The ideal solution, however, is slightly different.

The path of the apprentice

If you want to have your cake and eat it, too, you will have to do more than blog about what’s interesting to you.

First of all, interests are fleeting, and it’s difficult to evaluate whether you’ll still like something 5 years from now. That introduces a whole new dynamic to the debate.

It’s great if you start with something you’re interested in. You will already have a lot of advantages, and you will have fun while blogging about it.

But what if you start to lose interest? Or what if all the things you like are in super-competitive niches, and maybe require a time commitment of 3 years of consistent work?

It all comes back to the mindset again.

No matter what you choose, you must adopt the mindset of an eternal student of your craft, of your topic (which, as it happens, is a great way to live life in general as well).

That means loving the process.

That means actually learning to enjoy even the menial tasks.

That means always getting back to that beginner’s curiosity, every single day, never believing the whispers of your narcissism that you are this awesome expert in your field and don’t need to research your topics and keywords anymore.

Now, this conversation can easily get sidetracked way outside of blogging and marketing (and in another article, it most definitely will).

I still want to leave you with a practical advice on how to stay an eternal apprentice and student of your niche and topic (which, ironically, will make you the master of it in the end).

Here’s a short but very helpful tip to try when you feel like you’re getting bored with your topic:

Every day before you start working, think to yourself “I know nothing about this”.

This little sentence can take you on a journey of curiosity and research every single day, and turn an “if I write one more word on this topic I will blow my brains out” into an “I have 5 more great articles to write and I can’t wait to write them!“.

What if I want to just write for the money?

Some of you don’t want to spend the next few years mastering their work ethics and becoming the Buddha on the mountaintop and just want to build a profitable blog as quickly as possible. And hey, fair enough, nothing wrong with that.

But then you’re left with a possibly bigger problem – you have to find a niche that has good profit potential, but that’s also not beaten to death by the competition.

And as I mentioned, those are already rare, and getting increasingly rarer every day, taken up by competitors that know what they’re doing, and some of them maybe even actually passionate about them.

You have one thing going in your favor here. There’s an interesting principle at work in blogging, that basically works something like this: the more time you spend finding a good niche, the less time you will have to spend writing content on it.

Most good niches are kinda obvious, and everyone discovers them with a few hours of research, so they are often saturated. But the good ones that are not so obvious, will take a bit more research and digging to be discovered.

However, when you do find such a niche, you can be fairly confident that you will be able to conquer it almost entirely with less work. That’s a strategic approach, and it requires more time investment upfront, in actually finding a good niche, and also, it’s still possible that you research niches for two weeks and still can’t come up with anything good. But if you succeed in finding a profitable niche that’s not still that competitive, you would have solved your problem, and all that’s left for you is to create the content.

So, if you’re planning on writing on the best topic possible, the one that shows the most potential for profit, and you don’t really care about whether you’re interested in it or not, then spend as much time researching the niche as you can afford. Even a month of research and deliberating and planning will be a month well spent, if you end up producing content for three months instead of six.

Still, for most people, I believe this would be the wrong approach, as you will probably still need to write at least around 100 articles, and unless you’ve done that before, don’t underestimate how soon a topic can get boring when you’re not interested in it at all.

And, finally, don’t forget that if you join the Digital Marketing Empire, you will get to choose between writing on several different topics, alternate between them and write on the one that’s the most fun to you at the moment, while still profiting from the fact that content compounds and that you will be writing on a large publication with a lot of domain authority yet you will reap the fruits of your own labor as well.

Want to get cool tips and learn how to build a passive income online? Join Digital Marketing Empire.

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I’m Matt, the man behind the Learn Digital Marketing brand. Find me on Instagram and TikTok if you want more.

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