Blog topics

21 Warning Signs You Chose the Wrong Topic for Your Blog

by Jon Morrow


You’ve wondered, right?

Back when you started your blog, you were just stoked to be a blogger. You picked a topic that seemed interesting, fired up WordPress, and proceeded to write your heart out, certain you would eventually gather a following, and it would all prove worthwhile.

But now you’re getting a little worried.

You’re not getting much traffic. You’re not getting many comments. You’re not making money, and your dream of using your blog to launch a freelance writing career is becoming more distant by the day.

Not that you haven’t tried, of course. You’ve done all the things popular bloggers say to do, like publishing great content packed with power words and commenting on other popular blogs and getting accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but no matter how hard you work, no matter how many different techniques you try, none of it is working.

So you wonder…

Could you have screwed yourself in the beginning?

Could you have chosen a topic for your blog that never has a chance of becoming popular?

Could you in fact be wasting your time trying to keep your blog alive, when really the only sensible thing to do is junk it and start over?

Well… let’s find out.

Do you recognize any of these warning signs?

I don’t believe anyone can say for sure if a blog topic is bad or not, but there are certainly warning signs. You can get by with four or five, but if you recognize ten, fifteen, or even more than twenty of these, you might be in trouble.

Take a look through the list and mentally check off the ones you think might apply to you:

1. Your topic fails the “For Dummies” test. You’ve heard of the “for Dummies” book series, right? Well, here’s an easy way to test the viability of your topic: go to this site and see if there’s a Dummies book already written about it. If there is, the topic is probably popular enough to support a blog. The company behind the books, John Wiley and Sons, spends millions of dollars researching topics, so instead of trying to duplicate that research yourself, the shortcut is to ride on their coattails.

2. Fewer than 1% of your visitors are commenting. Bare minimum, you should get comments from 1 in 100 visitors. So, if you’re pulling 2000 unique visitors per month, you should receive about 20 comments during that month. At least. More is better, but if you’re not even in the 1% range, you might want to look at your topic. Chances are, it’s not engaging people.

3. Fewer than 1% of your visitors are sharing. The same rule applies to social sharing. For all audiences who are at least moderately tech savvy, 1 in 100 unique visitors should be sharing your posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. The only exceptions are audiences who are either technophobic or over the age of 60, God bless their souls. Your sharing percentage will be lower for those audiences, no matter what you do.

4. You’re writing to incompatible audiences. Let’s say you have a blog about vegetarianism and entrepreneurship. Every time you write a post for the vegetarians, the entrepreneurs are bored, and every time you write a blog post for entrepreneurs, the vegetarians are bored. The two audiences are incompatible. On the other hand, a blog about vegetarianism and fitness could work well, because they both appeal to health-conscious people. In fact, here’s a blog about exactly that.

5. No one else is serving your audience. Lots of bloggers think they need to be unique, so they hunt for an audience no one else is serving, believing the lack of competition will put them on easy street. But really, they are screwing themselves. If there’s no one else around, who will link to you? Where are your readers going to come from? You should absolutely have a unique angle, but trying to build an audience from scratch is suicide for all but the most skilled and patient marketers.

6. There aren’t any blogs with more than 20K subscribers. So, how big do the other blogs serving your audience need to be? My recommendation: look for at least one with 20,000 email or RSS subscribers. Hopefully you’ll find one even bigger, or the dream scenario is you’ll find half a dozen with 50K+ subscribers. Here’s why: if there are lots of popular blogs already in the space, there are lots of people to link to you and send you readers. The more competition there is, the easier it is. Counterintuitive, but it’s true.

7. There aren’t any Facebook fan pages with more than 10K fans. Occasionally, you’ll run across an audience that’s already gathered on Facebook but not yet in the blogosphere. If that’s the case, look for fan pages with more than 10K likes. Again, the more likes they have, and the greater the number of popular fan pages, the easier it will be for you to grow your blog. You just have to convince the owners of those fan pages to link to your content.

8. There aren’t any Twitter users with more than 50K followers. Despite the dominance of Facebook, Twitter is still a great place to get traffic. In fact, most bloggers won’t link to you in their posts, but they will tweet a link. So, use a service like WeFollow to find all of the most popular people tweeting about your topic. If you can’t find anyone with at least 50K followers, that’s a bad sign. Optimally, you want several leaders in the niche who have over 100K each.

9. There aren’t any books with more than 30 Amazon reviews. Another good place to look for signs of life is the largest marketplace of buyers in the world: Amazon. Search for books related to your topic or audience, and look for any that have 30 or more reviews. If there are half a dozen or more, it means lots of people are searching for information on that topic. If not, you may be in trouble. Side note: reading the reviews is a great way to get to know your audience.

10. There aren’t any associations with more than 10K members. A big question you should ask yourself about your audience is, “Do they self identify?” Plumbers call themselves plumbers, bankers call themselves bankers, bloggers call themselves bloggers. The stronger their identification with their group, the more likely there will be an active association, and the better a blog will do targeting that audience.

11. There are no regular conferences with more than 1K attendees. Another way audiences self identify is by attending conferences and trade shows. Ideally, you want there to be at least one major conference or tradeshow every year for your audience, and you want at least 1,000 paying attendees. The more attendees there are, and the more they pay to be there, the stronger your topic probably is.

12. There are no magazines on your topic or audience at Barnes & Noble. Next, head over to Barnes & Noble and browse the magazine racks. If you can find a magazine about your topic or serving your audience, the niche is probably big enough and popular enough to support a blog. If you can’t find any, it might mean nothing, but it should concern you.

13. Google shows less than 100K searches per month. Shockingly, the Google gods are actually willing to tell you how many people are searching for information on your topic. Use the Google Keyword Tool to do a broad match search for keywords related to your blog and look at how many searches those keywords are getting. You want to see one, preferably more, with at least 100,000 searches per month.

14. There aren’t many advertisers on Google or Facebook. You know those ads on the right side of Google and Facebook? Well, those aren’t just there to annoy you. It’s valuable data. If there are lots of advertisers bidding on terms related to your niche, it means you’re probably operating in a profitable space. For extra credit, watch who is advertising for a few months and see who sticks around. If you see the same people over and over again, that’s a very good sign.

15. The ClickBank products have low gravity scores. Yes, some of the products on ClickBank are sleazy, and many use such pushy marketing tactics you want to run away screaming, but it’s still a good barometer for how well courses and software sell in your niche. You can look at the gravity score for the products for sale in your category, and it will tell you, comparatively, how many units those products are selling. If the gravity score is high, you’ll probably find it easy to monetize selling courses or software. If it’s low — or worse, there aren’t any products at all — you may have to find a different way to make money from your blog.

16. There aren’t any products for sale on Amazon. Earlier, we talked about searching Amazon for book reviews, but you should also search for other products your audience might like to buy. Promoting Amazon products via affiliate links is one of the most common ways to monetize a blog, especially if it’s related to a popular consumer category, so you should do some research and figure out what your audience might be willing to buy there. If you can’t find anything, you need to find a different monetization channel, or you could be in trouble.

17. Your topic fails the “Headline Hacks Test.” In my now famous Headline Hacks report, the key exercise involves writing 52 different headlines using the provided templates, one for every week of the year. Well, sometimes that’s a struggle. You can’t find 52 different ideas, so you end up with a collection of headlines that sound roughly the same. If that’s true for you, it probably means your niche is too narrow. You need to broaden it a bit.

18. You’ve run out of new topics to write about. The same goes for running out of new topics to write about. If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, and you already have to rehash the same old topics over and over again, you need to broaden your scope.

19. You own less than five books on the topic. Sometimes, you can find a perfectly viable topic, but it’s not viable for you. The simplest way to tell? Look over on your bookshelf, and count how many books you own on the topic. If it’s fewer than five, it probably means you’re not passionate enough about it. Bloggers who are successful over the long term are obsessed with their topic, and they’ve read everything about it, even books that are out-of-print.

20. You procrastinate because writing is a chore. Ever sit staring at an unfinished blog post, procrastinating, because finishing the post will be about as exciting as mowing the grass? If it happens once in a blue moon, you’re normal — we all have off days — but if none of the blog posts you write get your ticker going, you need to find a different topic, quick.

21. Your topic doesn’t fall into the “Big Seven” categories. Finally, we come to the simplest test of them all. Right now, there are seven categories with bunches of massively popular blogs: personal finance, self-improvement, parenting, social media, business, news, and gadgets. If your blog fits into one (or more) of those seven categories, you have a good shot, because the niches are proven and there are plenty of people to link to you, but if not, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle, not because your topic is bad, but because your niche has not yet matured.

So, does this mean you are screwed?

No, not necessarily.

I’ve hesitated to publish a list like this, because anybody can look at it and find a reason to quit if they are looking for one. I also worried it would discourage beginners who have genuine talent but are just lacking a bit of confidence.

The truth is, many blogs succeed despite being guilty of nearly every warning sign on this list, and some blogs that seem like surefire winners splutter and flop. No one really knows for certain until they work up the courage to give it a go.

So what should you do, if you’re worried you chose the wrong topic?

My advice is to think. Instead of picking a topic willy-nilly and hoping everything turns out for the best, do a little research using the warning signs above as guideposts, and ask yourself what it all means.

Becoming a popular blogger isn’t about luck any more than getting rich is about stumbling across a leprechaun in the forest with a pot of gold. The people who make it think strategically, map out a plan, and then work their butt off to make it happen.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but in each and every case you learn something. Even if you do end up scrapping your blog and starting over, you come out of it with a fresh perspective.

And if you think about it, that’s good news.

It means it doesn’t matter if your blog is a flop or not.

It means you don’t have to succeed the first time out of the gate.

It means your confusion is perfectly normal, and you’ll get through it.

So keep your chin up, do some thinking, work your butt off, and most of all, believe in yourself. If you’re determined, and you persevere, you will get there eventually.

And when you do, it’ll all be worth it.

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Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger.


A "cheat sheet" to making 2-5K per month as a writer, even if you're a total beginner.
Photo of author

Written by Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger.

94 thoughts on “21 Warning Signs You Chose the Wrong Topic for Your Blog”

  1. Excellent list, which supports my experience over the last 3 years (especially mixing topics too much).

    I’ve stopped reading a lot of blogs where #18 is in full force. Like the same article gets written over and over again. Boring.

  2. My blog is flunking every test. My niche is beginner quilters and they send me emails, not comments to my blog, no matter how much I ask them too.

    I am currently working on a new blog – still in the same topic that I hope will change all of this. I will incorporate all the info from the other blog into this one. Wish me luck!

  3. My man Jon.

    The BIGGEST tip in this post is #6. “There aren’t any blogs with more than 20K subscribers”

    People think they need to find a unique topic. That’s absolutely false. You need to find a topic that has readers… and then get some of those readers.

    As a matter of fact, the bigger the topi the better. 🙂

  4. Yes! Your list is right on target. I have one blog that fails most of these, and another that is in one of your big categories. This is a great list and I am sharing it on my Facebook page now.

  5. Great post again, Jon.
    “You own less then 5 books on the topic.” Well at least I know I have one part of choosing my topic under control. I have 5 shelves of books all centered around one topic. 😉

    Looking forward to your next post as always!


  6. There isn’t one specific blogger that does what I do, but I chose a topic that infuses all types of blogs. By writing about empowerment for women, I interview bloggers from all genres who are experts on their topics. I had to MAKE my blog relevant by searching for the best of the best in all areas and using their stories to empower women on a multitude of subjects.

    I hope this strategy works. So far, I’ve gotten some interviews with highly successful women who mention me and their readers can all find a common theme in my posts because I teach a common goal- the mental strategies women need to achieve success.

  7. I think I pass all of these except the one on sharing stats. I’ve discovered that my writers are mostly social-media newbies, so shares are harder to come by (but they eat up my training posts on how to do social media!). There isn’t always a huge intersection between your blog’s audience and their level of Twitter knowledge.

    • Hi Carol,

      Although I’m a newbie blogger, I think I pass all these except the sharing, too. I find many of my fellow artists don’t have twitter accounts, and they like on Facebook but rarely share.

      But anyway, I’m still experimenting with my writing 🙂

  8. Choosing the wrong topic for the blog is like opening a non vegetarian restaurant and inviting vegetarian to dine in :-0)

    It’s even worse when you realize it and can’t do anything about it. If the domain name is “specific” to a particular niche.
    So if you want to resurrect the existing blog, you have got to cater to the needs of the audience in that niche. Even if it means, adding vegetarian dishes :-))

  9. A tale of two blogs. . . I have one that I started about a year before the other. The first is a topic I’m passionate about, and there’s definitely a small but growing market for it. That blog has about 4,000 visitors per month right now.

    The second one is a topic I’m certainly interested in, but less passionate about. It’s in the general area of health. I had been letting it languish for months as I became busier with other projects.

    Suddenly, one of my posts started ranking #2 on Google for a particular key phrase. Within 2 weeks my site visitor numbers shot up to exceed what I’d been seeing on my “main” blog, opt-ins skyrocketed, and I saw an incredible amount of activity.

    Needless to say, I’m spending more time with that site now.

    So, yeah, topic may not be everything, but it’s a lot. . .

  10. My site gets 1,000 hit a day, but I can’t sell a thing and I certainly don’t get 1% to comment. Your list is giving me something to go on…thanks!

    • I’m still checking out blogs before I start blogging, so I thought I’d investigate yours, Jan. I love animal pictures, but your blog seemed to have too many with not enough text – there’s lots of interesting stuff to say about animals, but you’re not saying it yet. Example: you linked doves briefly with Valentine’s Day, then didn’t talk about how doves became a symbol of love, mention the companies who let you release doves at weddings and give your opinion, suggest a dove-related activity your readers could do for Valentine’s Day etc… There were some interesting snippets but they weren’t developed into an opinion or information piece – it was more like a series of gorgeous photos interspersed with, ‘and here’s another dove, isn’t it lovely?’ (not a direct quote). Please don’t take this as a withering piece of criticism, but I thought you’d appreciate some feedback – and I hasten to add that it’s only the opinion of one person.

  11. Your posts have paradoxal effect on me. When I read them I start losing the faith that my blog will ever succeed… and at the same time get the feeling that should not quit… funny huh?

    • Hi Ani, I took a look at your blog and you seemed to have some good stuff. I think you’re doing a great job – please don’t consider quitting. Just a suggestion – it might be wise to use a spelling and grammar checker on your posts before you publish them, as you make a lot of minor mistakes and these may be putting readers off.

  12. Have been talking to other bloggers about comment rate and I think it’s a really hard thing to get your hands on. For example my own comment rate is really low (definitely far less than 1%). However my audience are non-blogging Moms. (Ironically I got CommentLuv premium which is still fairly useful but not to the degree that I had hoped because so few of my commenters are bloggers.) My audience sends me fan email (seriously!) but rarely leaves comments. But I don’t feel the low comment rate is necessarily a reflection of me being in the wrong topic area.

    However if my audience were more technical, blogger types, then yes I would think that a higher comment rate would be a key criteria.

    PS. I would love to see what other people’s comment rate is if anybody cares to share 😉

  13. This was a scary headline, Jon… Seriously!

    I passed on most of it, except perhaps… it depends on the definition what my blog is about. It really is a self-growth blog, with a specific angle on flow and joy. There are some big associations for spiritual seekers, but probably not for “joy seekers”. But then again, who is not seeking joy/happiness? So, I hope I passed. 🙂

    And in any case, after all kinds of blogging adventures in the past, this one feels so right, from a very profound place. In my world, that counts too. In fact, I’d say that there is a #22 sign: Your inner voice tells you consistently and beyond any doubt, that you should write about something else, or not at all. 😆

    Thanks Jon, this was really great, and reassuring.

    Joyfully –


  14. @Alexis – well actually I have comment rate of about 30% – BUT I have extremely low traffic so I get in average 5 comments per post…:( I guess it’s almost the same as having big traffic and silent readers 🙂

  15. This is a great article, Jon. I bookmarked it. What category would you say graphic design falls into? Business? Thanks for this very helpful article!!

  16. Great points here Jon. Many of them are consistent with the world of book publishing. For example, there are a gazillion cookbooks out there, which means there is demand for one more that offers up something new and fresh.

    I was going to differ with you a little on comments, but you qualified yourself by the “technophobe” mention. In my world of mainstream small businesses, they will share posts with a click, but they are too busy to leave a comment most of the time.

  17. While I agree these are good measurements of engagement, I think it’s simply too narrow. A lot of people have niche blogs that don’t make any money, but they write about that stuff because *they like writing about it.*

    This article is basically saying “if you’re not into cool stuff the majority of people like, don’t bother writing.”

    If you have a sea slug blog and you and your 100 readers a month have fun talking about sea slugs, then who cares?

  18. Brilliant stuff, Jon.

    I love the 1% and 10k/20k/50k/100k guidelines, I WISH someone told me that stuff when I started.

    I also love how you encourage people to THINK, and that popular blogging isn’t luck.

    I also offer a fresh perspective, which is this:
    If you want to get really badass-and-ballsy, it is fully possible to succeed independent of topic, and it relies deep principles of “creating demand” and the influence + charisma of faith. (NOTE: I am NOT recommending anyone try this, merely shedding some light on the possibility.)

    Anyway, for this post brings up the question, is there ANY popular blogger who didn’t have a period of trial-and-error / failure before their hit blog?

  19. 2 comments, Jon. You’re right in almost everything you say except as someone of 62 years of age I think you are wrong in your ageist assertion. My other observation is what do you recommend someone should do if for commercial reasons, one had to blog about a subject that actually failed all your tests? I have my own ideas on this, by the way, and am actively applying them to great affect.

  20. Excellent insight into marketing strategy from someone who knows WTF he’s talking about. Thanks, Jon.

    I especially like the ‘coattails’ analogy. It resonates a little more…morally sound, than the OTHER axiom I have used for doing big things quickly. Picasso once said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

    A roundabout caution against reinventing the wheel, which often leads to just spinning your reinvention. This posts helps identify if that’s what we are really doing – with metrics to measure it. Invaluable info, here.

  21. Well what about passion? What about your life experience? What if you would never in a million years read one of those dummies books, because you find the titles insulting and you really want to raise the level of discourse that happens on this planet (a friend just today posted this to her Facebook page: “You are the result of 4 billion years of evolutionary success! Act like it!”)?

    I don’t mean to rant. I love this post. But it seems to me that pouring the time and energy it takes to write a blog into a topic that you aren’t all that interested in or passionate about, just because it passes the above tests, is really akin to taking a 9-5 job in an office someplace.

    What’s the point?

  22. Wait, you say, “In fact, here’s a blog about exactly that.” but I don’t see a link to a vegetarian/fitness blog. Now you have me curious.

  23. Hi Jon

    My blog is about fiction writing. There are many websites about this topic in English, and I believe there is a big enough audience interested in the subject.

    But I write in portuguese, and I noticed there aren’t many websites about fiction writing in my language.

    Brazil hasn’t fully embraced content marketing as the US yet, so I was wondering if this is an opportunity or if this is a sign that this particular topic may not have a big enough audience.


    Great post.

  24. “Becoming a popular blogger isn’t about luck any more than getting rich is about stumbling across a leprechaun in the forest with a pot of gold. The people who make it think strategically, map out a plan, and then work their butt off to make it happen.”

    Love this! Unfortunately I still have my backside so apparently I am not working hard enough! 🙂

  25. Hi Jon,

    Good post.

    “personal finance, self-improvement, parenting, social media, business, news, and gadgets”

    What about entertainment? I am launching a blog in that area. Videos/Pictures with comic commentary. Isn’t that a big area of focus too?

    Take Care,

  26. Yes, that 1% is true. For new bloggers sometimes you can feel like you are not getting alot of traffic simply because few people if any are commenting.

    It’s always good to know the numbers/metrics of what you can expect in blogging. It helps with stress, lol.

    Good post.

  27. Derek: Yeah man, it’s quite possibly the most damaging misconception there is. I’m planning to do a whole post about it in the future.

  28. Carol: Yeah, that’s true. All of these are really just rules of thumb. My own blog violates several of them, and it’s obviously very successful. Really, I think someone should be concerned only if they recognize five or more of these.

  29. Kashif: Those people are talking about keyword density, and for the most part, they’re full of crap. Keyword density is not really a big factor these days, and in fact, writing too much about the same topic can actually hurt you with the search engines.

  30. Ani: That’s normal. Most likely, you’re losing confidence in your current blog, and most bloggers do fail with their first blog. But that doesn’t mean you should quit. If your first blog isn’t working, start another one and apply the lessons you have learned.

  31. Alexis: Yeah, the 1% rule is certainly not true for everyone. If that’s the only warning sign you recognize for your blog, you’re probably safe. 🙂

  32. Jon:

    As always your posts are right on. Filled with practical, useable information. Your posts are some of the few I always read.

    I am ramping up a new blog because my first one didn’t take off. I now see some of the problems and I am making sure this time to do the research ahead.


  33. Great points!

    I think I have too many blogs. I need to focus on one or two at the most and develop them. It must be the ‘woman’ in me. Some of us tend to be multi-taskers and think we can do it all. 🙂

    Thoughts on the following…

    What happens when you choose a topic, let’s say personal development (think Steve Pavlina), and still don’t see an increase in subscribers, tweets, likes, and comments? I thought I did my research on personal development and family/teen life coaching. Maybe they’re too broad of topics. Maybe I need to take a break and think of a new strategy.

  34. Jon, another great post as usual. I can relate to all the above. I had to go back to the drawing board since starting my blog about 6 months ago, but I made a decision not to quit. Thanks for the dose of inspiration at the end!

  35. Hi John,

    I am really confused and I can use some help.

    I blog about Google. Only Google and related products. The topic is nice, but there is not a single blog with more than 20K subscribers and Google has become so generic that people are no longer its fan.

    Plus, there are no good products to be sold for the topic. Hence less ad revenue.

    Can you please suggest some strategy for Google niche blog?

  36. Hey Jon,

    I am currently in the process of starting a site based on learning how to play a musical instrument for beginners.

    While this is highly popular, I don’t think I can just create a course and start selling it on the site.

    I have high hopes in traffic and Adsense. And the fact that it won’t be in English.

    Apart from that, I don’t have a clue on what to expect, only time will tell.

    Amazing article man, thanks.


    PS. My niche fails in some of the points here but are less than the 25% and the Clickbank products that currently exist on my topic, couldn’t be any worse (but also have low gravity).

  37. So keep your chin up, do some thinking, work your butt off, and most of all, believe in yourself. If you’re determined, and you persevere, you will get there eventually.

    I am pasting this into a sticky and keeping it on my computer desktop. Seriously!

    My niche passes most of these, though it’s one where sites and forums are more common than “blogs” per se. A huge number of my visitors share (10%+) but virtually nobody comments – but then, it’s not really a discussion-type topic(maybe I should just turn off comments?)

  38. Besides 18, 20, and blog fails at every single one of these!LOL However, I still manage to make a few hundred dollars every month. So this definitely is not the end all, be all of what it takes to have a successful blog.

  39. Hi, Jon!

    I recently switched the focus of my blog because I found myself suffering from #20, procrastinating because the topic just didn’t excite me. Now I’m much happier (productive, too!) and thanks to your list, I can make sure my *new* blog results in more than just “the sound of crickets.”

  40. Hey Jon,
    I thought that your other posts were helpful, but now I think this one is REALLY helpful. good news i just checked, and I am in the “Dummies” – hoorey! bad news, I am reading too much (like this post) instead of writing. Chao!

  41. Well, this is disheartening… But I can’t help but laugh as I fail in every warning sign. But I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m in that learning phase. Thanks for a post that I can go back to time and time again!

  42. Jon, excellent, clear, thoughtful summary for a beginner and, I am sure, for a seasoned blogger. As a beginner, I immediately made a simple evaluation sheet using the criteria for my niche, began to asses, and added simple notes. It is amazing how a new emphasis of my niche evolves! Very exciting. I could imagine that it is an equally refreshing review for a seasoned blogger.
    You made my day and I know I am not alone!

  43. The problem with my topic is I’ve chosen an impossible task….that is to try to unite 3 groups that are fighting with each other, even though we essentially all do the same job. I’m trying to create common ground on my blog. Slowly but surely…

  44. Great post as always Jon!

    I like, prefer and would certainly go with the points that one can use to pre-qualify a blog topic before you even start. It’s like drawing up a business plan and determining the viability before you go through the processes of finding start-up finance, employees, infrastructure, etc.

    I honestly think there are enough mentors one can choose from out there and follow right from the start in order to avoid most of the commonly-made start-up mistakes we all would make without one.

    Oh a mentor…that includes people like you of course 😉

  45. Wonderful tips Jon!

    I also have two completely different blog, one on freelance writing for writers, because I am one, and the other is a blog for family, parenting, self-development etc- with some of my personal experiences shared along with something for the readers.

    You are quite right about saying that we can’t really mix both of them as their readers are different. But yes, choosing the title is always a task that takes a lot of research work, though I am still not sure how some people get away with not doing any such work, yet rank well?

    Similarly, I have often noticed certain blog that rank well though have hardly any SEO or targeted keyword density. It surely does make me wonder how Google really works and what is the ideal norm here, because every post I read talks of something different.

    Thanks for sharing yet another wonderful post. 🙂

  46. I have a new blog and a weekly newsletter which aims to pass on information to anyone who feels their missing something when it comes down to getting seen out there. Today I learned something, so I’ll pass it on. Thanks Jon.

  47. Your blog’s growth may be quite low even while missing any of the criteria on this list. Subscribers might only be trickling in slowly, but this should be expected, and even encouraged for a lot of us just learning the ropes. Many of us have important things to communicate in order to help our audiences, but this may be down the road a bit while we master our craft. When we’re ready, inbound traffic won’t amount to trying to multiply zero!

  48. I totally agree with your position, one should have a plan before embarking on the wonderful but challenging world of blogging and the first step of that plan should be RESEARCH. Nice post…

  49. Jon, how is it that your list of potential fail-signs is more motivational than most people’s lists of motivational crap?

    P.S. My only criteron is this: If I don’t have a relevant “wow-gotta-tell-someone” thought on a given topic pretty much every day, then it’s the wrong topic. (For me, anyway.)

  50. Thanks for the tips i am a new bie who is researching about blogging because i am about to start my signs, i have not yet chosen a topic yet, your tips really helped me.

  51. Always a pleasure popping in to read one of your posts Jon…sure to be something on the menu to chew over :~) I think you make some great points but I also believe there will always be certain blogs that won’t generate high comment rates which in no way diminishes their value or potential for greatness.

    If your focus is conversion, you may need that interaction … for someone like me who isn’t selling anything per se, but rather simply looking to inspire/motivate others, seeing my visitor numbers climb steadily each month is enough to keep me blogging without many comments.

    I know there is a lot of focus on the need to have visible interactions to find true success, but there is a lot to be said about the power of the “invisible” lurkers of a site too {IMO}.

  52. Hi Jon! Wow, that’s quite the list.

    It also tells me that:

    1) While the site-building backbone blog to my primary business caters to newbies, it will remain that way (with the occasional off-beat post for fun or filler);

    2) My other blog with pen name and an extremely long domain name that even I hate typing in, but makes me money, really needs a new domain name (but I’m scared to make this move since it’s been around since 2008).

    As an aside, I’m starting your April course. Set my alarm in time for the webinar, and then realized (after a late night and early rise) that it’s tomorrow LOL! So I came to catch up on what you’re doing (follow the winners).

    Can’t wait to see what comes of your course!

  53. My first and only blog is a little over a year old now. I flunk all your criteria, but I am not out to make money with my blog. I started my blog to bring more visitors to my domain and executive search business. Previous to my blog I had a web person maintain my business Web site and never changed anything except maybe once every two years or so. Then I read that even if no one visited a blog or made comments Google would like to see the weekly new pages and this would help the ranking of my domain. Well this indeed has happened. In a year the visitors to my domain have doubled and is growing everyday. But my whole site including my blog only got 1835 visitors last month. So am I a failure or a success? I think I am a success because I am starting to rank well for certain keywords now. And as far as sharing goes most people looking for an executive recruiter are not the sharing type. It is a very conservative business with no product to sell.One added benefit of the blog, which again has no relation to the number of viewers,is that I can direct people who phone me with questions to a particular post and save myself a lot of time explaining matters repeatedly. Your points are well taken but there importance really depends on a blog’s intention. And as a new blogger I think they could be very discouraging

  54. Jon –

    Great post!

    When I first started blogging not too long ago, I think I fell victim to more than a few of the items on your list. I started out blogging about a topic that was so narrowly defined, it bordered on obscurity.

    So when it came time for my second attempt, I made the classic mistake of over-correcting and ended up with a blog that was just way too broad.

    Now I’m in my third iteration, and I’m trying to whittle down the scope of the blog to the “core” that my readers care about. At this stage of the game, that’s still a moving target, but I would love to hear your thoughts on how to determine the optimal level of breadth/depth for the topic of a blog in a future post.

    Thanks for all your help and insight!

  55. To Alexis: I feel your pain!

    I used to get comments on a regular basis but rarely do anymore. HOWEVER (and I wrote it in caps because it’s a big “however”) when I do get comments they are in the nature of “you changed my life” or “you changed how I look at my world” or “you really helped me at a very difficult time in my life.”

    So I think it’s not just the number of comments but also the KIND of comments. If a blog gets a bunch of comments that say “great post” – how meaningful is that? Some people do these “blog hops” and such where they get lots of those kind of “great post” comments, but nothing of substance.

    I had a friend tell me a few months ago that her family uses my blog posts as family devotionals and that she plans to send any potential suitors for her daughters to my blog because she said, “if they don’t agree with what Anne says, they won’t like us.”

    That’s a pretty powerful testimonial. Much more important than a hundred “great post” comments.

  56. I liked lucky #13

    13. Google shows less than 100K searches per month.

    I usually run a quick search via the Keyword tool just to see how popular the primary keyword on my title is. This in addition to running a basic search on the title itself to see who’s who in the zoo (top 10 results) on the topic.

    If I have time I’ll hop over to Google Insights and Trends as well.

    Lately I’ve also been rewriting my titles by scanning the Headline Hacks report against my original title, it’s becoming a good habit.

    Finally I give Alltop a quick glance along the lines of the topic I’m aiming for and see what the A-listers are up to.

    You mentioned frustration and disheartening setting in for some. So much of the process is about creating the right digital habits.

    I’m afraid if you want to be at least somewhat relevant in your topic these days, you can’t cut corners… you’ve got to put in the work and that means developing the right digital habits that will get you there.

    Loved this one … Thanks for ripping into it Jon 🙂

  57. Hey Jon,

    Think there are 8 categories. DIY is getting pretty big. Many approach with a financial , health, or Eco lens but I’d argue DIY should be its own thing.


  58. Jon, I love your posts, they are always insightful and inspiring! I am about to start a new blog about health, detoxification and longevity. My ideas have passed a number of tests, so i’m glad that you have certified that it will be an absolute winner and I will be coming back to you demanding an explanation if it doesn’t do well. Ok, maybe not 😉 but its great to get a feeling for these things. I am reading lots of comments these days (never used to) and lots of bloggers have a hard time getting read, its great to see someone actually providing information about how to get read that isn’t just a guess or copied from someone else who also isn’t getting many subscribers. Thanks bro.

  59. Jon
    great topic. It’s often hard to keep writing and coming up with new content and keeping both the long term and new readers happy at the same time. As you said, having a plan is very important. Don’t wander aimlessly. This topic was refreshing and very insightful. Thanks

  60. I was on your webinar last night Jon, just because I wanted to ‘hear’ your thoughts. I really liked how you have a no-BS hype style and you were qualifying us all on the call. Such great posture and something to re-learn for me.
    I have a question – do you use a particular WordPress plugin for your comments here? I like the way they are neat and clean looking.
    Caroline 🙂

  61. Very interesting list Jon, certainly gives food for thought! With one blog in its infancy (less than one year) and the next already at the research stage this really has given me something more to think about!

  62. Maybe you should add a point: how many comments you get from ‘gurus’. As I can see quite a few big names in the comments section of this post including Derek, Carol, John Morrow, Ali (ok, I wasn’t serious when I wrote the last one;)

  63. My blog fails about every one of your tests… but I’m not giving up, no never.

    Because I’ve finally understood what my passion really is, after about eight years of a meandering blog/journal of nothingness. What has been my life-blood for the past decade of my life – not just online, but in the actual real world.

    In fact, I’m inspired.

    Tagged onto one of your paragraphs you said: “because your niche has not yet matured”

    That excites me. I get to pioneer the way; I get to define, explore and craft. And I love my topic enough that that hard work seems worth it for my end goal.

  64. Jon, I couldn’t resist reading this post when I saw the title. This is indeed something that I bet everyone thinks about from time to time.

    I guess the best thing to do would be to go through all of the points and weigh the overall picture rather than relying on one indicator alone. I lik having this list handy for the future.

  65. a bout no. 4
    Do u think it’s OK to write in 2 languages
    In the same blog or should I start 2 different
    blogs, knowing that it’s the same subject

  66. Uh oh, looks as though my planned mixed site on vegetarianism and bullfighting might fail. Awesome post and an inspiring message about learning from failure, Jon. Yes try and learn. Just FYI, in your author links it says “Gor” instead of “For.”

  67. I think this has already happened on my own domain name. I started on a topic but 10 posts later, I decided that it was suited for something else. It’s not that I was not getting any comments or traffic, it was that I got bored with the topic. Now I am working on some articles and will be changing the topic very soon. But I still plan to keep the posted off topic articles already posted as it drives some traffic.

  68. I just recently re-branded my blog (with new domain name) and is currently struggling in order to find the right editorial angle. The blog still features the main categories of the old one (as ll the old content is still there) and I guess that this needs to be sharper.

    Again I don’t want to alienate my old readers so it’s a thin line to walk.

  69. As a new blogger, all theses tips are very helpful for me.It is first time, I am visiting here…….I appreciate you if you make post related to increase adsense cpc and ctr..Thanks

  70. Thank you SO much! You probably have no idea how much this means to me! I’m a new blogger and currently blog about a kids game and am a kid. I don’t like the topic so much but I do it because I really wanted to start a blog. So I started looking around at some other blogs and realized: These people are extremely passionate and determined. I need to be more like them. A couple of minutes of thinking, I realized that I AM like them. I just needed to put myself together so I could put my blog together. But I needed one more thing: this information.

  71. Excellent post, Jon. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I think it’s best to write on popular topics and put a fresh spin on them, so readers don’t feel as though you’re just rehashing the same points. Again, great post.

  72. Great list to help in self evaluation, especially when trying to choose between projects to budget time for. Totally confirms my decision last week to unload a site I had felt like I was doing CPR on. Now I can articulate why the site seemed like it was taking up time and energy while pushing projects with greater potential to the back burner.

  73. Hey jon,

    What do you think of the personal development niche? There are a lot of sites out there about personal growth but the niche is pretty broad. Do you think it’s going to have success in the near future, or do you think a lot of people are going to be selecting a topic from that niche?

  74. Hi

    I am a Cisco Certified Network Professional in routing and switching and have a passion for networking. I have been searching for a good and specific blog topic but after many days of struggle, I am unable to find one. I know it would be something about networking, but what exactly, I don’t know. My two major options are:

    1. About studying CCNA, if yes, what different would I offer to the audience? There are too many blogs about every aspect of CCNA already.
    2. About solving people’s networking assignments, but I think its life would be very short as all the teachers would change their assignments when they come to know that my blog offers help for his assignments.

    Any suggestions or guidance? I am looking forward to hear from your side and I am very thankful to you all for your support.

    Thank you very much in advance.

  75. Maybe it is a great article, but I felt a bit skeptical reading it
    The most obvious flaw is….
    >> Your topic doesn’t fall into the “Big Seven” categories
    How about fashion? Where does it belong to? But it is a huuuge topic to write about!

  76. What you saying was the right thing that I was needing to listen, because I wanted a change of topic o to quite. But I will think about all your adviser. Thanks a lot.


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