Thinking of a blog idea is a real challenge for newbies. Even with my detailed advice about picking niches, there's still a lot of doubt in people's minds. So today, I wanted to start a new series of articles with some easy website ideas you can use to have confidence in your topic choice for your affiliate blog.
Listicles Are A Formula For Success
There are many article formats you can use as templates, or you can use no formatting at all. Writing online, or blogging, is totally free. There are no rules.
However, one very simple recipe for success is the listicle. Those are the “top 10 lists” you see everywhere online. Listicles are a perfect format for newbies because they are easy to understand and execute. The format is already laid out for you:
- Item #1
- Item #2
- Item #3
Add an image for each item and an image on the top of the page that represents your topic, and you're done. Easy.
Not only are listicles easy to write, but they have a number of other advantages as well.
- easy to think of topics
- easy to find images
- easy to format into a YouTube video after publishing
- easy to outsource
- perform well on social media
- not complicated to write short blurbs
- easy to fill out 1500-2000 words of content
- easy to get engagement from readers
- easy to update and keep fresh/relevant to the current year
- work well in any niche
- easy to work in “batches”
- easy to monetize with display ads
The last item may not be clear what I mean. I like to work in batches, meaning I do a big chunk of work in one category at one time, then schedule everything out or move onto the next batch. For example, I publish lots of lists of affiliate programs on One More Cup of Coffee. I've done this for 4 years now.
I also published some lists of top plugins. I did that for six months. Then I moved onto publishing some listicles talking about jobs you can get without a college degree. I have probably 25 articles on the topic.
Working in batches makes it easy to focus on one thing at one time and become an expert at it. This also helps with time management and outsourcing.
You don't have to think much about how to do a top 10 list, and the monetization part is simple too. It's my favorite format to recommend to newbies who want to get traffic fast.
Why Book & Movie Lists Work
A mental framework I like to work with is to think about what I search for online, and apply it to my blogging. When I understand one side of the transaction, I can better implement strategies from the other side.
I noticed that I have my own niche tastes in movies and books, and when I want to read or watch something, I look for information online. When I search, I do so with some very specific ideas in mind.
For example, I love zombie movies. When I first got into zombie movies versus what I like now is slightly different, so let's look at how that transformation went down.
About a decade ago I really got into zombie movies. I think it was the remake of Day of the Dead in the 2000's that really caught my attention. What a cool movie. I also remembered really liking 28 Days Later when it came out while I was in High School. I probably watched it 3 or 4 times in the movie theater.
Anyway, I started looking up things like “best zombie movies”.
That turned up results like Dawn of the Dead and other George Romero films. I think Nosferatu may have been in there as well, although he was technically a vampire. It was pretty much old-school zombie movies that were “classics”, but there were some interesting foreign movies as well.
The classics were cool, but not exactly as scary as 28 Days Later, and I preferred the high quality movies of the current year instead of black and white films. This lead me to two new, more specific searches:
- fast zombie movies
- best zombie movies [year]
Maybe you didn't know, but some zombies are fast, usually the ones infected with viruses. The slow ones are usually the ones who are coming out the grave. They were dead already then revived, so maybe that's why they were slow. That's relevant, because it sent me down another rabbit hole of searches:
- escaped virus zombie movies
- infection zombie movies
- apocalypse zombie movies
These searches were getting pretty specific, and it's not like Hollywood is producing hundreds of zombie movies every year, so I started to run into lots of art house films produced independently. This lead me down yet another set of searches:
- best independent zombie movies [year]
- best foreign zombie movies
Then I came back full circle and started to really appreciate the artistic nature of horror films, and I started to look back at my first searches of the best zombie movies of all time. What was it about those films that made them classics after all these years. Why was Romero such a well known and respected director? As you might have guessed, I started some new searches:
- best classic zombie movies
- best black and white zombie movies
- best George A Romero zombie movies
Somewhere along the way, I ran into a unique genre you may not have guessed existed, but there are actually a good number of zombie comedies as well, like Shaun of the Dead, Cockneys VS Zombies, Fido, Life After Beth, and Zombeavers. I mean, zombie beavers coming from the lake is pretty funny, right?
This was just covering zombie movies. Books tend to be even more diverse and focused, so I could go down a whole book rabbit hole with just zombie stuff as well.
After I covered every type of zombie movie list, and every type of zombie book list (probably hundreds of lists), I think by then I'd be comfortable moving on to some other article formats and have some ideas of where to take the site next.
Examples of Book & Movie Niche Focus
You could apply those same principles from the zombie movie example above to any genre of book or movie. For example, I love sci fi movies. But I do not like fantasy movies, and it annoys me that Netflix and Apple TV generally mix them up. Aliens? Cool. Magic? No thanks. So I need to get specific with my searches before I jump onto the TV.
Sci Fi Movies
- good alien sci fi movies
- alien monster sci fi movies
- apocalypse sci fi movies
- ai robot sci fi movies
- dystopian sci fi movies
- computer sci fi movies
- horror sci fi movies
- romantic sci fi movies
- comedy sci fi movies
- best sci fi movies [year]
- independent sci fi movies
- action sci fi movies
- time travel sci fi movies
- cult sci fi movies
- classic sci fi movies
- [country] sci fi movies
That list is not exhaustive, so you can imagine how many more ideas that you could discover doing some detailed research.
What about books? Could you do the same for books? Absolutely. I talked a lot about zombie movies and sci fi movies because these are passions of mine. I love these categories of movies. I can't say that I love any specific category of book. The only books I really read these days are self help books. For some reason, I get bored with fiction books.
I think we could easily make a blog with listicles about self help books though! Here are some listicles we could start with.
- self help books for young women
- self help books for women entrepreneurs
- self help books for divorced women
- self help books for single fathers
- self help books for business owners
- self help books for african americans
- self help books for college students
- self help books for people with low self esteem
- self help books for first time parents
- self help books for teenagers
- self help books for teachers
Easy, right? Think of a type of person and if they have a group with a similar set of wants, needs, problems, or goals. A niche is a group of people, so the self help category is pretty easy to find sub-niches worth listicles. A self help book for first time parents would absolutely be a different book from a self help books for women entrepreneurs. The problems they face and the advice they need are completely different!
The self help stuff is also cool because you already have path laid out for product reviews. If people are reading books and getting motivated to make life changes, they'll also be ready to buy stuff that'll help them make that change. I think an entrepreneur reading a self help book about how to better manage their stuff would totally be open to buying something like a standing desk or some tax prep software.
You can do site just about movies, or just about books, but I think long term you'll want to do both. The longer you write, the more ideas you need, and if you plan on keeping your site for more than a year or two, you need to be open to lots of keyword options.
I've dug into both of these topics in much further detail in my posts How To Start A Book Blog and 50 Movie Blog Name Ideas, with more context, more detailed niches, more instructions, and more links to send you down the rabbit hole of making money from books & movies (yes, it's really possible!)