Ready to start blogging? Even if you have a good idea of what you'd like to cover, you should spend some time researching and focusing your topic. Try to get a sense of what you're aiming for and what you're best positioned to cover. And you want to know what the existing landscape of coverage for that topic looks like.

Here are some questions to sharpen your focus.

  • How much is this topic getting covered today? There's no magic number for what constitutes saturation on a topic. But if every big development is independently covered by multiple sources, the landscape may already be pretty crowded.
  • Where do coverage and conversation coalesce? Look for robust hubs that could be considered authoritative on the subject. When you find a site working to pull together information around a topic, look for signs of life — timely content, comments and other community activity.
  • Does this topic have online niches? Most topics encompass a few different storylines — industries evolving, scientists exploring, politicians jousting and, in all cases, families and individuals adjusting. Scour the web for evidence that people in all these areas are having online conversations that you can tap into.
  • Ask more questions. How will your site be different from existing ones in focus or ambition? Do you have the resources to do a better job?

Taken from Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog, a self-directed course by Matt Thompson at Poynter NewsU.

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