15 mistakes to avoid – how to choose a niche in 2021

Choosing a niche or topic is one of the first decisions we make when we start a website or blog.

And there is so much advice out there about how to choose a niche. 

Follow your passion. Follow the money. Go where the success is. And so on, and so forth.

I have already presented what I think is a great method for choosing a niche in the guide to building a WordPress website the right way.

But here in this article we will focus on the mistakes you need to avoid when you choose your niche.

1. Focusing on your passion when choosing a niche

When you choose your niche based on your passions and interest alone you risk setting yourself up for a very long road ahead.

The whole idea behind the follow your passion approach is that it should be easier to stay motivated if you are writing about something you are passionate about.

And in addition you are also likely to be a bit of an expert or at least have experience in a field that you are passionate about.

But the one big problem with the follow your passion approach is that your website should be written by you – not for you.

If you take the time to start a website I will assume that you want visitors to your website. If not, trust me, it is much cheaper and less headaches to start a diary.

And if you want visitors to your website you should look at choosing a niche from the potential visitors point of view.

Conclusion: To just follow your passion is not a good approach as it focuses on you – not the visitor. 

2. Not being able to add value to your niche

When you publish content on the Internet you should offer something of value.

Your mindset must be to create epic content and to offer your own hopefully unique perspective to the article.

It does not mean that you need to come up with unique topics or problems to address. 

What it does mean is that you need to be willing to produce great content that is better than what is already ranking in the search engines. 

Look at what the 3 most successful competitors are publishing on any given topic you are planning to write about. Now, find ways to add value to what is already available.

You do this by offering your unique perspective, angles and experience to the topic.

Conclusion: You have chosen the wrong niche if you are not able or willing to produce epic content that is better than what is already available.

3. Respect and pay attention to EAT and YMYL

There are certain niches and areas where you should not be offering advice unless you are a licensed professional.

I would like to stress that this should be common sense. You should not want to offer advice in areas such as medicine, finance or law unless you are qualified and certified to do so.

 But Google has also done their part to protect people from unqualified advice in areas such as medicine, finance and law. Google introduced the concepts E-A-T and YMYL. 

E-A-T stands for Experience, Authoritativeness and Trust. In short, if you are not qualified, licensed and regarded as an expert you will not rank for any search queries in these fields.

YMYL stands for Your-Money-Your-Life and is described as topics that could affect a person’s health, safety, finances and overall level of happiness.

From the definitions above it is quite clear what E-A-T would refer to whereas YMYL is more of a fluid indicator. 

Your website might for example be considered YMYL if you give advice on how to buy a rental property based on your real-life experience.  

E-A-T and YMYL is an important topic and to learn more I do recommend reading the article by Marie Haynes.

Conclusion: Having experienced or been close to something does not automatically make you an expert. Do not choose a niche in the field of medicine, finance, law or a topic that could affect a person’s health, safety, finances and overall level of happiness. 

4. Too broad to make a difference

We start a website because we have something to say and we want to share it and possibly monetize it.

Do not make the mistake of choosing a niche that is too broad for you to ever become a recognized expert

If you are a one-person operation it is not wise to choose “travel” or “parenting” as a niche.

Where would you even start?

Should you start focusing on destination guides? Or maybe smarter to start with countries or parts of the world? Or maybe safaris in Africa or cruises with Royal Caribbean? 

You will never be recognized as an expert if you spread yourself too thin.

Instead of “travel” think “budget trips with children with campervan” or “the ultimate guide to safaris”.

Conclusion: Your goal should be to be recognized as an expert in your chosen niche. If you are too broad you will be spread to thin and never have an impact or create a footprint as an expert.

5. Too competitive niche to get noticed

Certain niches are plain and simple just too competitive for a new website to have a chance to get noticed.

This is especially true for niches where you could make a lot of money as an affiliate marketer like credit cards or web hosting.

You are well advised to stay away from these types of ultra competitive niches.

The alternative is to find a sub-niche where you can compete. But to be honest these opportunities are really hard to find.

The big brand name websites make sure to cater to every conceivable sub-niche in their quest for more traffic.

Conclusion: My advice is to look for niches in less competitive fields or to, if you just have to, really niche down in the more competitive field of your choice.

6. Popular, easy and successful holds no promises

We all love a good success story.

You come across that article about a blog you have never heard of that is making 6-figures a month. You have to check it out. And you cannot help feeling that you could have done that.

You could have written about money-saving tips for the everyday mum or given tips and tutorials on fun crafts and DIY projects for children.

And maybe you could have. 

But do remember that it makes little sense to simply copy another website’s concept.

You could by all means consider the same niche but not based on another website’s track record.

The fact that the niche is profitable is of course promising. But do remember that “past performance is not indicative of future results” as it often reads on the warning labels. 

Conclusion: Do not choose a niche based on another website’s past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

7. Confusing niche with product or service

When you choose a niche you must be focused on offering solutions and solving real problems for your visitors. Period.

It is important to understand that your website is not an ad for a product or service.

We use our website to inform, educate and help solve problems

Consequently, your chosen niche should reflect this ambition.

When choosing a niche think “home decor” rather than “best drill”.

As an affiliate marketer you will link to websites selling the product or service you are promoting. 

Let them sell the drill.

It is your job to inform, educate and explain how the visitor’s problem will be solved by making a hole in the wall to hang that picture.

Focus on offering real value and do not spend your time selling.

Conclusion: Always remember that you are selling a hole, not a drill. Do not make your niche a product or service. Choose a niche where products and services can help solve your visitors’ problems.

8. Not aligning niche with earning expectations

There are classic scenarios where earning expectations do not match the potential of the niche you have chosen.

One example would be niches with no monetization value where you expect riches.

If you for example are blogging about “free website hosting” or “how to get everything for free” you will attract visitors that do not want to spend money.

These visitors are not likely to buy anything from your website. 

Furthermore, advertisers are not likely to pay you money for advertising to this group of visitors.

So where is the money going to come from? 

Conclusion: Always verify that your niche offers products and services that you can promote and monetize.

9. Not enough interest in chosen niche

It is important to niche down and not to be too broad to have a chance to succeed.

But it is equally important that there is an audience interested in your chosen niche. 

There are of course classic examples of really narrow and obscure topics you would be hard pressed to even find on Wikipedia.

Another classic example is the niche centered around a product that will be obsolete as new versions or better alternatives are introduced.

Conclusion: make sure that there is an audience for your chosen niche. Use free services like Keyword Surfer or paid alternatives like AHREFS to measure interest before committing to your niche.

10. Focusing too much on earning potential 

Earning potential does not automatically translate into earnings.

Choosing a niche based on earning potential alone makes no sense as these niches also tend to be the most competitive.

Earning potential should of course be a factor but as an isolated factor it offers little value in finding a niche where you can be successful and thrive.

Conclusion: Earning potential should always be a factor but never be used by itself when you choose your niche. 

11. Choosing a niche with no room for expansion

We  always niche down and focus to be able to compete. 

A well defined niche allows us to establish ourselves as an expert, resource and authority in our field when we start out.

And it may not seem like a problem right now, but what do we do if we run out of good topics to write about?

We of course want to expand and the only way to do so naturally is if our niche allows it.

Remember when we concluded that “home decor” would be a better niche than “best drill”?

After all, would it not be much easier to expand your field of expertise with a niche and domain like HomeDecorbyLily.com compared to BestDrillsforHomeDecor.com.

Maybe not the best example but you hopefully get the point. 

Conclusion: Think 3 steps ahead when you choose your niche. By all means, niche down when you first start out but also remember that you one day may need to expand your field.

12. Not researching depth of niche

I will be blunt. When you choose your niche you should make yourself list at least 50 content ideas for articles you will write.

Face it, you will have to do this anyway and why not complete this task before you decide on your niche?

When you compile this list of content and article ideas your website and niche will start to take form in your mind for maybe the first time. 

And if you cannot find 50 article ideas you surely want to know this now before you commit to your niche.

Conclusion: To make sure your niche offers enough depth you should make yourself compile a list of at least 50 article ideas. It should serve as a warning if you struggle with this task.

13. Broad niche and losing focus

We have already touched upon the importance of establishing yourself as an expert and authority in your niche and field.

One part of establishing this level of recognition is to stay true to your niche and topics.

And when we get lazy or complacent it is easy to start producing easy content on auto-pilot.

Let’s say our long-term niche is “Gardening” and we decide to start with “Garden herbs” to have a better chance of establishing ourselves in the field.

After 10 articles on how to grow, harvest and preserve herbs we decide to publish recipes for garden salads. 

Now, are we publishing a “garden herb” website or are we a “food blog”? Or maybe a vegetarian food blog? 

Even though the topics are related you are well served to stay focused and true to your niche and field.

Conclusion: Stay focused and produce content relevant to your niche and do not just write about what is in front of you.

14. Do not write for everyone

To be blunt you need to have the guts to write for your audience.

Do not attempt to water down the content by trying to please everyone.

Start by defining your audience and then be their advocate and speak to their needs. 

This does not mean that no one else can relate.

But it ensures that your real audience will feel like you are speaking to and for them.

Make some decisions and stick to it.

Are you all about budget, luxury or no price segment at all?

Are you focused on single men, single women, families, couples with or without children?

It may of course be that your articles have a universal appeal and speak to more than one group.

Great.

But this doesn’t change the fact that your niche should include a definition of your target audience.

Do not be bland. Make a decision and commit. Your readers will respect it.

Conclusion: Do not try to please everyone. Always write with the intent to address your defined audience.

15. Not understanding user intent

User intent simply means what the user expects to find as the result on any given search.

With this follows that user intent is decided by Google and the other search engines for their specific platform.

And as Google is a dominant factor we will focus on the user internet as defined by Google.

Google arrives at user intent by observing the interaction of real users with the content that Google presents as a result on any given search.

If Google returns a page and everyone looks at the page and leaves in 3 seconds it could mean a lot of things but it is probably not a “plus” vote for

  • that particular website 
  • the content type used by that website

So following our example we can safely assume that it is not a coincidence if all of the top 10 results in Google are YouTube videos.

We can furthermore assume that it is futile to try to compete with a written step by step tutorial as Google has decided that the user expects a video.  

With this whole line of reasoning follows that every niche has a preferred or most often selected user intent.

Conclusion: The lesson to be learned is that you need to make sure that you are prepared to deliver the preferred user intent for your niche to compete successfully.

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.