You’ve likely heard the saying “a big fish in a small pond” and how you might feel like you’re larger than life when you restrict your perspective to such a narrow point of view. The world of blogging can operate the same kind of way.
If you’re thinking about starting a new blog in a new niche or vertical, and the goal is ultimately to generate some decent revenue from this website, then you have to ask yourself whether it will be more profitable to be a small fish or a big fish.
Your gut instinct might lead you in the direction of the big fish. It’s the biggest fish in the pond that will be pulling in the biggest amount of cash. At least that’s what common sense and basic logic may lead you to believe.
However, you also have to consider the size of the pond you are, the size of the other fish in that pond, and whether you may be better off looking at ponds that other fish might not have even considered.
The Big Fish in a Big Pond
When launching a new blog with the objective of making money, it’s easy to gravitate toward the most profitable niches. If you monetize your blog with Google AdSense, for example, each ad click you get in a more lucrative niche will generate more money than one click on a less lucrative niche. Keywords like “insurance” and “mortgage” tend to pay better than keywords like “blankets” and “paper.”
A problem that you’ll quickly encounter is that there are many other bloggers who are chasing after the same advertisers and the same readers. It’s competitive, so you may have a hard time establishing yourself in this space.
Of course, there are some blogs that have done very well in very competitive spaces. Scary Mommy is one of the biggest parenting blogs on the Internet today, despite there being an innumerable number of mommy and daddy bloggers (me among them) online.
Bigger blogs like Scary Mommy will have an easier time attracting the advertisers in this niche. As a result, companies can have their marketing budgets run dry before they even consider advertising on your smaller, newer blog with a more modest readership. Why would they pay you when they can pay someone with more readers and followers, going after the same fundamental audience?
Creating Your Own Pond to Swim
The alternative to going after a very popular, and consequently very competitive niche is to blog about a less popular topic. Your blog may not have as far reaching appeal to the general masses the way a parenting blog or a “make money online” blog might have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t attract a highly passionate audience… even if there aren’t as many of them.
The big benefit here is that you aren’t necessarily competing for the same readers and the same advertisers as larger, more established blogs. These advertisers still want to reach their target audience and you might be one of the very few sites with that kind of readership.
A perfect example of this is iPhone in Canada. It may be incredibly relevant today and there are other blogs in the same kind of space. However, when iPhone in Canada first launched, it was actually the only major blog that covered iPhones in Canada. This is because, at the time, the iPhone was not yet available officially in Canada. It was still an AT&T exclusive in the United States.
So, Canadians who were interested in how they could import an AT&T iPhone and use it in Canada had one authoritative resource. Major news companies who sought out expert insight on using an iPhone in Canada had one major blogger to turn to. Gary Ng, the founder of iPhone in Canada, was the guy. He was the only guy and he has managed to do very well for himself as a result.
If Gary had decided to start a more general blog on the iPhone, one that was targeted at an American audience or even a more global audience, he likely would not have been as successful. If he had decided to start a more general blog about mobile products in Canada, he may have faced more struggles too. If he started his blog after the iPhone was officially available in Canada, he wouldn’t have skyrocketed in popularity quite so quickly.
But he didn’t do those things. He made his own pond. It didn’t matter if, objectively, he was a small fish or a big fish. When interest grew in that pond, he was the only fish to greet the people.
Red Fish, Blue Fish, Hungry Fish
It’s not that making your own pond is any easier, per se, than growing to be a big fish in a big and competitive pond. It’s that you have to get past the mindset that you have to be a big fish in order to be profitable. Be hungry. Be unique. Dare to be different in whatever way you can.