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Selecting a Niche: 101

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The most common way to get started with making money online is to start a blog.

Blogs are great as they’re easy to get going, especially with software like WordPress, and can also be monetized and expanded on quite simply as well.

Due to the ease, a lot of newbies start to dive in and pick a random topic and then spend the next few weeks feverishly working away only to find that the site doesn’t take off or worse, they lose interest!

Failures like this can be greatly reduced by taking some time in the beginning to get the niche section done correctly.

What is a Niche?

At its simplest a niche is a topic. It could be dogs, cats, drag racing, writing, furniture, or a million other things.

When it comes to creating a website based on a niche you do need to be a little bit more selective as I’ll discuss shortly, but in general a niche can be pretty much anything you can think of.

Whether it’s a suitable and decent niche is a different matter!

How then do you get started choosing the right niche?

Identify Your Interests & Passions

One of the simplest ways to find an appropriate niche is to look at your own life: what hobbies do you do? Do you participate or watch sports? What’s your favorite thing to do?

By examining your own interests, particularly those you are really passionate about you can find a niche to build your business around.

There are pros and cons to this method though:

Pros

  • You’re interested in it so less likely to end up hating it
  • You may already have a decent understanding of issues and challenges in the niche
  • You may already have an existing community to draw ideas and promote to

Cons

  • You could end up hating the topic after dealing with it day after day
  • It might not be a suitable niche to pursue

Another way to handle niche selection is to simply find some topics that you might be interested in and research them.

A good way to do this is to browse Amazon.com. It sounds silly but Amazon has probably the largest listing of products in the world. These products all relate to different niches so by checking out interesting products you’re actually looking at niche ideas.

See a nice watch, well that’s either a generic watch niche, men’s/women’s watches, sports watches, jewelry in general and so on.

What about that cute picture of a puppy and a baby? Well there’s obviously a furnishing niche there, home décor, or even a site about babies or dogs!

I’m sure you get the idea!

The important thing is to not get carried away and excited at this stage (hard I know!) as no matter whether your niche ideas are form your passions or from Amazon, they need to be studied more.

What problems can you solve?

With a niche idea in front of you (and you should do this and everything below for each idea you have), the next thing you need to think about are problems.

Let me share with you one of the best pieces of advice I got:

Find a problem. Figure out or find a solution. Offer that solution to people.

That in essence is marketing, especially online marketing. People have problems. They might be big problems such as health concerns or financial woes, or smaller problems like finding the right stereo for their home.

Big or small these problems have solutions, and solutions are where the money is.

Examine your niche idea and see what problems there are for it. Think big and small and note down as many as you possibly can.

The more problems a niche has the more potential solutions you can provide, which in turn means potentially more profit!

A niche where people tend to have a lot of questions, issues and problems is infinitely better than a niche with few or no issues.

Research the Competition

While this may seem counter-intuitive, make sure that any prospective niche has competition.

Competition is healthy and it proves a few things:

  • The niche is financially viable as people wouldn’t be in it otherwise
  • The niche is popular enough to support multiple websites

To figure this out, you need to do some google searches. Look for things like:

  • Niche name + blog
  • Niche name + forum
  • Niche name + help/advice/guides

Once you find some sites examine the sites themselves. You’re looking for specific things namely regular and recent content and social media shares/likes and comments.

If a number of the sites still have regular content then interest in the niche is continuing which is a good sign.

Lots of shares and comments suggest that the audience is active and engage with the sites. Obviously this will differ from niche to niche as topics like dogs tend to garner more shares than topics focusing on bowel complaints!

Is the niche profitable?

Figuring out if a niche is profitable or not is sometimes hard, but it is really important – the last thing you want to do is sink countless hours and possibly money into a site that will never provide a return on your investment!

There are several aspects to profitability:

  • Your resources and funds
  • Are advertisers interested in the niche?
  • Are there any products that you can affiliate with?
  • Do others make money?

Your resources are important. If you think that you’ll need a writer to help you create content, it will cost you money, so the potential profit has to decent to eventually cover those costs.

Do other sites show advertisements? Do they offer custom adverts or are they just Google Adsense? If the former then actual businesses are keen on the niche and are willing to pay a premium to advertise there. If the latter, well it’s still viable but advert networks pay pennies per click so a lot of traffic is needed.

Importantly, are their appropriate products that you can promote and make a commission on? You can check places like Amazon.com for physical products and ClickBank or JVZoo for digital products.

Trying to find out if another site makes money or not is quite a difficult task. Unlike the make money online niche, few businesses are willing to share their monthly profits with you! If you can strike up a relationship with some of the people in the niche you may be able to get a ball park figure or even a simple “yes I make decent money”.

Is it a long term niche?

Is your topic a fad? Will it burn out in the next 6 months? If you think it will then it might be best to avoid that niche unless you’re at a stage where you can spin up a site and profit for the short term duration.

Really you want to be looking for long term or “evergreen” niches.

An evergreen niche is one of those that never goes out of fashion (at least it’s unlikely to in your lifetime), such as health related topics, making money, love and romance and fashion.

While elements of them may change, the core ideas don’t.

A longer lasting niche allows you to invest the time and effort needed to reap a reward so unless you have the skills, time and money it’s best to stay away from fads for now.

Is it “Just Right”?

Another common failure point for niches is picking too broad a niche or picking too narrow a niche.

Broad Niche

A broad niche is something like health, wealth or love. These topics cover such a wide range of sub topics that you simply couldn’t compete.

Too Narrow

Dog tricks for elderly cocker spaniels might seem like a great niche but really, how many people are interested in the subject? Not many I’d guess.

Just Right

As such you need to strike a balance between a niche that is narrow enough to weed out a lot of the big competition, make it easier to get found in the search engines but still large enough to have an interested user base that will spend money!

Finding a just right niche takes a little bit of thought, and maybe some experience. If you’re unsure err on the broader side.

Just remember that your niche can be expanded as your site and experience grows, so even if you’re starting out focusing on skateboard tricks you can always expand to include BMX tricks and parkour etc.

Can you do it differently?

The internet is awash with websites covering pretty much every topic known to humanity! Such is the number of sites it becomes quite difficult to stand out.

If your ideal niche is busy with other sites it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be successful in it. Instead it means you’ll need to work at it.

The key to being successful with competition is to stand out, to have your own voice and your own viewpoint on the topic.

Some people make this work just with their personality; others specifically take an opposite viewpoint on a topic, while others still introduce different skills to a niche.

For example say you have a site about self-confidence and work or used to work in a call center. You could use the experience of handling customers and work colleagues alike to tailor your content in a unique voice.

Remember you don’t have to reinvent to wheel or be an extrovert, but you do need to bring something else to the table than what everyone else is already serving.

Test!

Before committing yourself to a niche it’s a good idea to dip your toe in the water.

The best way to do this still requires some work and a little money but it can save a lot of time and energy if the idea doesn’t work.

The basic process is to create a mini site:

  • Grab a domain name
  • Install a basic WordPress site
  • Write 2 or 3 articles – 1 that focuses on a product, 2 more informational but they must help solve an issue in the niche
  • Create a short email series that will last 7 -14 days (depending on how you spread it out that provides value to the visitor so tips and tricks regarding the niche.
  • Make sure the site has an optin form to capture emails.
  • Drive traffic to the site using Facebook ads or another form of paid advertisement – this generates targeted traffic quickly.
  • See how many people buy something or sign up to your mailing list.

If you’re getting a few sales and sign ups with limited traffic then it’s a good bet that if you ramp up content and traffic the sales will also increase.

If you get nothing or virtually nothing you can either knock the idea on the head or try alternative content that may suit the visitors better.

Just remember that if you try 2 or 3 variations and you get nowhere to stop and find another niche.

The Bottom Line

If you really want to be successful with an online business you need to make sure you lay the groundwork before building on it. That ground work starts with your niche selection!

Taking the time to make sure the niche is valid and profitable will save you time, money and gray hair further down the line!

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