Back To Basics Part 2: Finding Your Niche
The introduction to this series can be found here
A “niche” can be any specific category you aim to market. For example, model cars is one, so is fishing, holidays to tenerife, brain training, the bridges of London, and of course – Internet Marketing.
You can go ahead and start to build a web presence around anything you wish… but you should really take a moment to think about a few key points.
1. Experience and Interest
If the subject you are going to tackle is of no interest to you, why bother starting? You will soon stall due to a lack of interest on your part. It also helps if you have some experience in that subject but that is not necessarily a requirement.
If, for example, you are a plasterer, or a policeman, a traffic warden, or an accountant – you have experience in those and related subjects. If your hobby is fishing, or stamp collecting, or you’re an avid historian, or a big fan of 1960s art decor – then those are other niches you can tackle.
It helps if you have experience or an interest in any niche you decide to tackle, but I repeat – not a necessity. If you happen to discover a hot topic you can learn as you go.
2. Other Peoples Interest
This point is more important. If no-one else is interested in your chosen niche then there is no money to be made. It’s that simple. If you spend a long time researching and developing a site that is TOO niche you’re heading for a dead end. Sometimes you can go more general, and cover your interest as a sub-niche, but otherwise just don’t bother.
For example: If you have a burning desire to create a site about an obscure 1900’s silent-era movie star but most people have forgotten him, why not create a more general site about the silent movie era instead, covering that star on a sub page.
If the niche you chose has a wide interest, but there are hundreds of sites targetting the same niche, you will have a lot more work to do. It’s still possible to succeed by bettering these other sites, or offering something they don’t, but in general it’s worth thinking about first. Some niches are big enough to allow a LOT of competition (think Internet Marketing!).
The ideal niche has a big interest but a low competition. These are hard to come by, so sometimes it’s better to compromise and head for a side niche of some kind. You’re unlikely to make a dent in the Credit Card market – but you could possibly make a go of it in the “how to manage multiple credit cards” or “winning with credit card awards” niches.
Finally, since you’re in this for the money, you need to think about how profitable the niche you chose could be.
Some niches are obvious. Taking Credit Card’s as an example again, it’s easy to see that affiliate programs and maybe ebooks would be profitable. As for that silent movie era site, then DVD sales, posters, books, etc could work. All these sites could support advertising too.
If you target Golf – another big market – then you know that the average golfer is affluent, likes to spend on their sport, and avidly seek to better their handicap.
It’s worth thinking about these various points before you go ahead with your new niche.
But what if you can’t think of an idea at all?
First, there’s the popular news stories of the day. Sometimes you can quickly get a time sensitive site up to catch a buzz, but the site by it’s very nature would be short lived. For example, here in the UK there’s an election – but by the time it’s over any site covering it is long gone. The same for the recent volcano that stopped flights over much of Europe’s airspace. Hot news at the time, but gone right after.
You can also get ideas by looking at the problems people have. Find a problem, provide an answer, and you’re on to a winner. Perennial human problems include how we look, how we feel, our worries about our families, and debt, and so on. More specific problems include those wannabe gardeners who can’t get anything to grow, that fisherman who can’t get a bite, and (again) that golfer who just can’t improve his score.
Provide an answer to a popular problem and you’re set.
Other good sources of niche ideas can be found in the world around you. If you put your marketer’s hat on you’ll seen tons of ideas in your everyday life. Say you cycle to work, and are sick of avoiding cars. Or you spot a billboard advertising some holiday destination, and you start daydreaming about being there. Or you are talking to a neighbour who’s grumbling about the state of his lawn.
Advertising, in all it’s forms, focuses on various niches by it’s very nature. And magazine articles, or even problem pages, cover very specific interests.
There are millions of niche ideas out there. Just keep an open mind and you’ll find one soon.
Note: I’ve specifically avoided Internet Marketing niches in this article because I didn’t want to dilute the message. But this is a good example of a general niche that quickly becomes ultra focused. People have trouble getting traffic, hence the Search Engine niches, sites about Article Marketing, etc. You might want to create more content, so there’s sites about articles, and creating products, and graphics. Or you may want a bigger subscriber list, so – you guessed it – there’s a proliferation of List Building sites…
The quickest way to research a potential niche is to use Google. Google’s Keyword Tool gives you approximate search counts for various terms.
Simply enter some keywords specific to your niche into the tool and you’ll see a list of keywords and their counts.
You can also use Google to find competition. Simply search for a keyword and see how many results are there. This can be deceiving, but it’s a good indication nonetheless.
Finally, Google’s Search Suggestions that pop up whenever you type a search at Google show some of the terms people have been looking for.
We are going to look into Disneyland as a potential niche. No particular reason, except I just – in passing – noticed an article about it. As I type it in, I notice search terms such as “Disneyland Paris” and “Disneyland Florida” come up. Also “Disneyland Paris Tickets” and “Disneyland Paris Packages”. I’m in the UK, so obviously these suggestions are location based.
At Google’s Keyword Tool I get these interesting results (chosen from the myriad provided):
Disneyland discount 90,500
Disneyland Package 49,500
Disneyland Information 5,400
About Disneyland 6,600
Disneyland Video 22,200
Disneyland Videos 9,900
Disneyland Jobs 18,100
Disneyland Discounts 22,200
And so on.
These give you some ideas on what people are looking for. Key amongst them are people want packages and holidays, discounts and information.
I also put in one or two other interesting results. People are looking for Disneyland Jobs, for example. And some search results double up – so About Disneyland and Disneyland Information are the same thing, as are the results for “Video” and “Videos”.
These immediately give me ideas for sites. How about a site showing the jobs available, how to get in, etc? I don’t know much about that – but I could research it, and even interview or work with someone who’s been employed there. I could also throw up a site packed with videos of Disneyland culled from Youtube and others.
In Google’s Keyword Tool you can also click on the magnifying glass icon to get a more detailed view of the results that make up that result in Google Insights. So “Disney Discounts” at 22,200 searches shows some interesting keyword terms such as Disneyland Coupons. Again, an instant idea for a site (where to get these coupons, maybe even provide them from an affiliated travel agent, etc). Insights also shows you “rising search terms”, or what’s hot at the moment.
Google’s Keyword Tool is a wealth of information. Use it well.
Now for the competition. As you can expect there will be a lot of competition for this niche. Clicking a result in the Keyword Tool will throw you right into the search results, but clicking a result in Insights will drill deeper through to even more specific terms.
Disneyland Coupons, for example, has 449,000 results. Many of these are sub pages in general travel sites or Disney sites, but there are some specific ones. There is quite a lot of competition here but I don’t see a *specific* Disney Coupons site. These other results can also, incidentally, give you ideas on how to approach your own site – or even information for your own research.
After this exhaustive look at Disneyland I hope you see how you can select a niche and quickly research it. Next time we will look at ideas for how to approach a site, and monetize it.