How to Pick a Writing Topic (and Stick With it)
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Odds are you’re falling into a trap.
I’ve seen many aspiring writers fall into it and I’ve written about many times, but it needs to be said again.
If you want to stand a chance at becoming successful as an online writer, you can’t start a blog that reads like a personal journal.
I get it. You have words you want to share and ideas stirring in your head. But if your writing topic is “random musings” it won’t be focused enough to attract and retain and audience of people, which is what you need to do to succeed.
I’m all for creative expression. If you want to keep a journal with the random thoughts in your mind, that’s great, but as far as writing online goes, the ones who rise to the top have a unique and consistent message to share.
So what type of message should you share?
How to Find the Right Writing Topic
Are you having trouble finding clarity on your writing topic?
Let me guess you either:
- Know you want to write, but have no idea what you should write about.
- Have too many ideas, and feel paralyzed because you can’t make a choice.
Both are equally painful because they both lead to you not writing.
Without writing, you can’t build a writing habit.
Without a writing habit, you can’t build a writing career.
You want to write about something you enjoy, but you also want to choose a subject people want to read about.
Everyone tells you to find the “perfect niche,” else your writing will fall on deaf ears (Although in this post I explain why the perfect niche isn’t as important as building a writing habit).
What should you do?
Today, I’m going to give you some strategies to help you find an idea, but I want you to remember this next sentence.
You’re not married to your topic.
My advice would be to choose a topic and stick with it for a trial run of 90 days. Why 90? Because it’s long enough to figure out whether it’s worth sticking to.
How to Mine for Mental Gold
Here’s what I want you to do. Answer the questions below. Once you’ve answered them, I want you to use those answers to come up with five ideas for topics you can write about.
What’s something others find difficult that you think is easy?
Example: I can write 1,000 words in 30 minutes.
What do you find yourself talking about with friends to the point you won’t shut up?
Example: I’m always talking about ways to create a life based on your strengths and coming up with unique solutions to create freedom and income.
What type of books do you love to read?
Example: I love books about entrepreneurship, self-help, health, psychology, creativity, and eastern philosophy.
What have you thought about choosing for a subject?
Example: Profiles of 19th-century business tycoons, personal development for millennials, book marketing for aspiring authors, how to start a yoga practice, copywriting for businesses.
Use the answers to those questions to come up with 5 promising topics you could write about (if you can’t narrow down to 5 it’s okay to add more)
- Personal development
- Writing tips
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Profiles of 19th-century business tycoons
I want you to order the topics you chose from 1-5. 1 being the one you’d enjoy writing about most and 5 the one you’d enjoy least out of the group.
Next, I want you to order them from 1-5 in terms of how popular you think they are with readers.
How do you figure out which topics will resonate with readers?
I think you’re smart, and you know intuitively, but there are some questions and metrics you can use to answer the question.
Try the ones below:
Can this form of writing be used to make a product?
There are several products based around “becoming a better writer,” and there aren’t very many products aside from books that can be made around “19th-century business tycoons.”
Why would anyone other than you care to read this?
Many people dream of becoming popular writers and published authors. I dreamed of doing it for six years before I started. I’m sure people love to learn about history, but the level of care is lower than people who want to build writing careers.
Which type of writing speaks to people’s needs and wants?
Using my example, people definitely want to learn about entrepreneurship, writing tips, and personal development. Mindfulness and meditation are on the rise, but still not quite as popular. 19th-century business tycoons come in last.
You can use tools like Google search, Amazon, and Quora if you need to do some extra digging.
After you’ve ordered your 5 topics in terms of how much you’d love to write about them and how popular you think they are, combine the scores.
Whichever one is the highest can be the topic you choose to start with. If you’re still unsure of your topic, you can look at the list of blog types below to find tried and true niches.
The 11 Most Popular Writing Topics
Some people choose truly unique writing topics or combinations of topics. Writing something super unique can work, but it can also leave you in a market too obscure to ever make an impact and an income with.
There are some styles that have been proven to resonate with readers. Check the list below, and see which one piques your interest most.
Credit: I learned about these categories from the Guest Blogging Certification Program run by Jon Morrow at Smart Blogger.
Self-improvement is probably the most popular category of them all. Writers create countless amounts of blog posts and books in this category. It comes with many different sub-genres — health and wellness, meditation and mindfulness, religion and spirituality, among others.
If you’re looking to inspire other people with your words, self-improvement is for you.
Parents visit parenting blogs to learn tips and tricks to make parenting easier, read stories for cathartic release, and learn more about products for parents.
On the writer side, starting a parenting blog can help you work through your own emotions as a parent and connect with other parents who are experiencing the same struggles. You can also rave about products you’ve used and even create partnerships with companies if your blog grows large enough
Are you a shrewd investor? Starting a personal finance blog might be for you. Personal finance blogs are popular because they deal with a subject that’s ubiquitous in all of our lives. Who doesn’t have money issues? If you’re looking to stand out in the personal finance space, look to add humor and engaging stories to what can be a rather dry subject.
If you’re into design, arts & crafts, photography, or decorating, you’d likely fall into the creativity category. This category is a bit more open-ended, but the blogs tend to be visual and the words act as descriptors of the visuals rather than being the focus of the blog.
Business & Entrepreneurship
If you have some business expertise or industry experience to share, a business blog can help you distil your ideas and give others advice they need to build their own businesses. A caveat here — there’s been a rise of people starting business blogs without having any prior business experience. If you don’t have a ton of experience, you can still write about business, but do it from a more observational perspective, e.g., trends you notice in an industry, profiles of successful companies, things business do well, etc.
Marketing blogs are a bit different from business blogs. They can cover topics like copywriting and persuasion, search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing (which I talk about to a degree). If you’re hungry to learn, start a marketing blog because you can study and acquire the skills of a seasoned marketer without having any business experience yourself. The techniques and principles are time tested. Most don’t take the time to learn them. If you learn them, you’ll become a valuable asset.
Social Media and Blogging
This is the category my blog would fall into. I wrote a personal development blog for a year and published a book in the space. I still write personal development material and I focus on publishing books in that area (my second book is out now!), but after going through so much trial and error to figure out my own writing journey, I figured other people must need to know the information I learned.
Like the business blog section, blogging about blogging or writing about writing can be a slippery slope. From personal experience, it puts you in the position of really having to know your stuff if you’re going to share it with other people. Some writers, like Jeff Goins, started writing blogs simply started their blog to share their love of writing, which is something you can definitely do too.
If you’ve done freelance work, starting a freelance blog allows you to help others break into the industry. This is another type of blog that requires some experience in the field before you start writing about it. If you want to become a freelancer and document your journey along the way, that’d be a great place to start too. The freelance category can also include teaching others how to break into industries like publishing.
If you can add personality and flair to your writing, the career space can prove lucrative, but it’s crowded.
My friend Olivia Gamber runs a career blog that makes tens of thousands of dollars per month. She found success in her career and learned how to find great jobs that weren’t found on typical job boards. Others kept asking her how she landed great gigs and it led to her starting her own blog.
Career blogs work because the goal is straightforward — help people find amazing jobs.
If you do love your job and want to help others find great work, consider starting a career blog.
Gadgets & Technology
If you have a tech background, the skies the limit in terms of online writing. I publish a lot of my work on a site called Medium, and it’s dominated by tech-writing. Tech is fast paced and constantly changing, so the demand for quality writing on the subject is high. Tech writing involves tons of detail — the blog posts are usually long and informative with screen shots, visuals, etc.
If you’re into devices and gadgets, you can create blogs around product reviews and latest trends in the industry. My blogger buddy, Ahmad Imran, runs a blog that discusses the latest gadgets. Like tech blogs, these tend to be highly informative as well.
News, Culture, and Entertainment
This category is somewhat broad and could include subjects like celebrity gossip, travel, fantasy football, fashion, you name it.
If you have an interest that doesn’t quite fit any of the categories above, this might be the one for you. The message should stay consistent, but there’s a lot of room to play around.
Hopefully, the information you’ve learned today will give you enough information to get started.
Once you’ve chosen a subject, it’s time to start your blog.
Start Your Blog Today & Get FREE Coaching From Me
To set up your blog, you need to work with a hosting company.
I use Bluehost for my blog.
I am an affiliate for the company, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you choose you to create a website using my link. If you decided to google Bluehost and went directly to the site, it’d be the same price.
To make the decision to use my link a no-brainer, I have a special offer for you.
Starting next month, I’m creating a free monthly coaching group for anyone with their own self-hosted blog. I will cover an important subject and have a Q & A session to answer everyone’s questions.
If you already have your own self-hosted blog, you’re in. Just send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll add you to the group.
If you don’t have your own blog yet, sign up through my link, and I’ll add you to the group.
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This is the first of a series covering the nitty gritty you need to know to build your writing career. If you have any questions you want to be answered or topics you want to be covered, let me know in the comments.