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RulesYour head is swimming with ideas, and you know you’ll have to pick just one to focus on but maybe don’t know how to pick which one. Or perhaps you don’t have any specific ideas, just some broad topics you’re interested in. So how do you flush out an idea from those?

Here’s how I do it. I have just ONE RULE for picking an idea. I’ve developed this rule after years of doing random things which lead to limited success long term.

Here’s My One & Only Rule

Find a topic you are personally interested in – or better yet – really Passionate about AND people who visit your site are close to a purchase.

What Does That Mean?

Some people don’t understand what I mean by close to a purchase so let me explain that part.

Let’s say you’re interested in construction. You like to build things around the house – cabinets, tree houses, furniture, sheds or whatever. You have an idea that you’d like to build a site showing people how to build things around the house. Let’s call it the “DIY Homeowner Blog.”

This idea itself is a good idea. However you might have a really hard time generating any substantial income from that idea if all you do is show people how to build things because people are visiting your site for your construction knowledge and guidance instead of to BUY.

Some Bad Ideas in My Opinion

Here’s some ideas I’ve heard that I think wouldn’t be the best ideas because they are much more difficult to monetize.

  • Sports news sites – Sure, it is possible to monetize but this is a very saturated market. If you want to do something about sports, why not pick a sport and focus on helping people get better at it. For example a site about improving your golf game.
  • Political sites – I wouldn’t begin to know where to monetize this other than basic display advertising. Perhaps you’ll be going after campaign money?
  • Daily Photo or Pictures Only sites – sites like this, or like Facebook while they can be profitable when large are usually very limited on income when small because the intent of the visitor is to look at pictures, not look to buy something. You would need A TON of traffic to generate any substantial advertising income. Also consider that advertisers will pay more when they are reaching viewers who are close to a purchase which again wouldn’t be a benefit here.
  • Personal travel blogs – lots of people dream about traveling the world, taking pictures and writing about it. That can be done. However, your own personal travel blog probably won’t earn much income. You could be better off focusing on a site about a travel theme or location and share some of your personal travel experience as it relates to them. So “Bob’s Travel Blog” is out, but “Bob’s Guide to Nantucket” might be better.

You Have to Sell in Order to Earn Passive Income

In order for you to earn more than a meager income from your site, you will need to sell people something. This could be your own eBook, your own physical products or in many cases what is called Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate Marketing means you don’t actually sell anything yourself but you refer the buyer to a business which will pay you a commission or referral fee.

So on your DIY Homeowner Blog, you would want to create content about things people can buy and promote those. Using the affiliate marketing example you could create content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc) about tools where you test various tools and recommend the best tools and where to buy them. If someone purchases those tools, you could earn income from that purchase.

I HATE Selling & Being Sold

Most people don’t like to sell. I get flashing images of sleazy used car salesmen who are out to rip me off, or thoughts of telemarketing calls interrupting my dinner by just hearing the word “selling.”

I definitely don’t want to do anything remotely like that. So how am I going to create income by selling online?

Be Helpful Instead of Selling

I LOVE to help people make good decisions. If someone asks me to help them pick the best of something and I have a product I believe in I am very happy to show them why it’s a good product (or service) and why I think it could be good for them too. For example, if someone asks me about buying a car, I can definitely recommend buying a Toyota because every single one I have owned has been reliable, cheap to maintain and had a good resale value.

Luckily “selling” online doesn’t have to be like those sleazy examples above at all. You can use your experience and knowledge to help people make an informed decision on their purchase.

You are here to help, not pressure or force anyone into anything. If they don’t want to consume your content, they can just leave by closing the browser window or clicking the back button.

Using the construction site as an example, to create content where you are helping people make an informed decision while also giving yourself an opportunity to earn a commission or referral fee, you could write an article on 3 different circular saws called “3 Best Circular Saws for DIY Homeowners” where you list the 3 best saws and detail what makes them a good fit for the DIY Homeowner compared to other saws. It may be price, durability, included accessories, or a combination of all these things.

What Happened When I Didn’t Follow My Rule?

I mentioned earlier that I had done other things without following this rule which lead to limited success. Here’s what happened with them and why they aren’t very successful.

The part of the rule I didn’t follow was “something I’m personally interested or passionate about” so while I built sites where people were close to a purchase, I didn’t want to create the content or run the sites in the early phases. I only wanted the passive income from them.

Some of these sites were of very limited value, and soon began losing traffic. I wasn’t interested in them and had just moved on to building more and more of them instead of making them a great resource. Because of this, I wasn’t motivated to work on them more than I absolutely had to.

From those experiences I learned that if I wanted something to be anywhere near successful, I would need ONLY build sites I was actually interested in running because of my personal interests, even when there was no income being earned from them.

That’s when I developed this one rule that I don’t compromise on.

Do You Still Need Help With an Idea?

If you need some help, I’d be glad to give my opinion. Just post your question in the comments below or get in touch via my contact form.

2 thoughts on “How To Pick A Good Topic For Your Web Site

  • April 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm
    Permalink

    Mike, nice post…..appreciate the comment on my blog too ;) I would post a ton more pictures bro….need some more transparency, and branding…..to generate steady cash flow….lol! I had to zing ya….all the best!

    Reply
    • April 15, 2014 at 4:45 am
      Permalink

      LOL Awesome. Your stay in Fiji sounds amazing. Super jealous! What house sitting site did you find it on?

      Reply

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