For a new online entrepreneur, choosing a niche can be the most intimidating part of the entire business model building process. Get this one step wrong, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a disaster where you don’t earn money, you don’t enjoy the work, and you waste an incredible amount of time putting effort into something that won’t pay off. Many new marketers fall at this first hurdle.
So it’s vital that you understand the correct elements of picking a niche that pairs passion and profits. There are very few marketers who come into this business without the goal of pursuing their passion.
But you hear so much static online about money that sometimes, it seems like passion takes a backseat so that you can focus on money and take the financial pressure off.
“Someday,” you think, “I’ll make enough money at this that I can then do something I love.”
You can start off on the right foot from the very beginning and not have to start from scratch one day with a new niche and a new dream.
There are 4 steps to picking a profitable niche that you’re going to learn. It requires some research, but have fun with this! Don’t do it all in one sitting – let your mind take time to savor the possibilities and engulf you in daydreaming about where all you might take these options.
#1 – Start with a Simple Brain Dump
The best way to get started is to just do a quick and easy brainstorming session. Now is not the time to sort through and analyze your niches – just jot them down randomly – we’ll weed out the ones that aren’t a good fit shortly.
Start by looking at niches you already know you like. For instance, you might like:
* Playing video games
* Playing golf
* Making your own jewelry
* Playing guitar…etc.
All of those are potential niches based on what you know you already enjoy doing. Forget about whether or not you’re an expert – just jot down current passions.
Next, consider what you’ve always wanted to learn but don’t know. For example:
* You’ve always wanted to learn better photography
* You’ve always wished you knew how to crochet
* You find yourself drawn to the idea of living a sustainable lifestyle
All of those “I wish I knew” topics are potential niche markets for you.
Sometimes, you can build a profitable niche based off of experiences you’ve had in life, such as:
* Surviving a troubled relationship
* Enduring a major health crisis
* Flipping a real estate property for a profit
Or, maybe you know someone else who is going through something – it doesn’t have to be directly related to you. For example,
* Maybe your neighbor is dealing with infertility
* You have a good friend who can’t figure out how to meet the right woman
* A sibling of yours suffers from panic and anxiety attacks
There are niche markets all around you. Once you start training yourself to look for them, you start to see a world full of possibilities.
Don’t worry about lacking expertise. Some of the best blogs and leaders are those who track their journey from the very beginning. Sometimes, for an audience, it can be intimidating learning from an expert.
It feels safer and more relaxed learning from someone who knows what you’re going through and who can empathize with you easily. Even if you’re not going through the exact same thing, understand why there’s no such thing as saturation…
People like learning from multiple sources! You have a unique style and personality from other leaders in that niche. When people learn and search for solutions, they typically look in several places, not just one.
#2 – Research Thriving Niche Markets
Another way you can come up with profitable niche markets is to see what’s being talked about by the media and bought in the marketplaces. This is easy because the research is basically completed, just waiting for you to discover it.
Magazine covers at the grocery store can show you a wealth of information. So for example – if you picked up the February 24th, 2014 Woman’s World (or even just glanced at the cover on the newsstand), you would see the following topics being covered:
* Juicing for pain
* Food for Alzheimer’s prevention
* Inflammation and weight gain
* High blood pressure
* End cravings while dieting
* Anti aging tea
* Stress relief
* Body makeovers
* Success tips
Those are a lot of niches that yes, are very narrow in some ways – such as food for Alzheimer’s – but it’s a sign that people are into the memory niche, and you can be, too. Instead of getting so specific as “juicing for pain” you could jot down “pain relief” as your niche.
News sites also provide a wonderful account of what’s being followed in the real world. Let’s take four of the top news and information sites and look at what we can find on there.
On FoxNews.com, in the health section, you discover topics like marriage quality influencing heart disease, obesity and exercise. Under the lifestyle section, you learn about hidden costs when buying a home, the key to online successful dating, and favorite vegetarian meals for celebrities.
On CNN.com, you learn about bitcoin as a currency, comfort food weight loss, and diabetes and dental health. You can separate these combined topics or keep them combined if you want.
On DrudgeReport.com, you might see a news story about riots or bioterror and start thinking about the prepper niche. There’s a story about electronics like tablets selling more than toys for kids. You also see a story about the price of electricity rising, so a niche about saving money or becoming self sufficient might be an idea.
On HuffingtonPost.com, you see stories about retiring abroad, the key to creativity, in-office workouts, remembering dreams, habits of mentally healthy people, etc.
Online marketplaces can give you some insight into what sells well with consumers. You can look at top sellers at ClickBank.com, JVZoo.com, and Amazon.com to pinpoint some possible niches.
Let’s look at them one by one.
ClickBank’s marketplace shows some of the top niches as:
* Fat loss
* Men’s dating
* Make money online
* Potty training
JVZoo.com’s marketplace shows some of the following topics selling well:
* Social media mastery
* Kindle publishing
Amazon.com is a great place to research both tangible and digital niche markets. You can go to http://www.amazon.com/bestsellers and look through each category to see what’s selling.
You can also look at hot new releases, top rated, movers and shakers and most wished for. These lists are updated hourly, so they’re as current as you can get, which will serve you well.
Click on a category and you can drill down further. Click on Books, for example and you can look in self-help. You can see that people want to know about:
* Being an introvert
* Marriage help
* Success tips
After you do a quick brainstorm and some fundamental research, you might have a very healthy, long list or a short one of about 5 niche markets you could possibly get into.
Next, it’s time to cut more from your list. Don’t be hesitant about cutting niches. They’re always there if you ever want to branch out and add another income stream, but you have to start somewhere with one niche, so avoid combining them just because you don’t want to give one up – keep in mind that it’s only temporary.
#3 – Weed Out the Wrong Niches
Picking a good niche isn’t something you do in 10 minutes in a flash. It’s a process that you give time to if you’re serious about building a highly profitable business because it’s going to require dedication by you.
Let’s look at some reasons who you would want to weed out a niche. Go through each niche idea you have and see if any of these reasons exist.
You can’t commit to writing, talking and leading the niche day after day. Many newbies hear instructions about keyword volume and price points of available products to promote, so they pick a random niche they personally have zero interest in.
Imagine you’re a man who loves golfing, but you pick the crochet niche because some guru pointed out something about keyword volume and product availability. It happens – and the poor golf lover not only doesn’t know about crocheting, but he can’t imagine writing about it every day. This is a recipe for failure.
Another reason is that there’s not enough monetization opportunity. You want to investigate this. Ideally, you’ll pick a niche that provides both tangible and digital items you can promote (or create).
Examples of this are:
* Weight loss – not only can you promote diet and exercise digital plans, but also food and weight scales, workout equipment, supplements and more.
* Stress relief – not only can you promote digital eBooks on how to combat stress, but you can sell products like aromatherapy machines and home spa products.
One more reason why you may want to cut a niche is if it’s overly trendy. Sometimes something is such a fad that it’s a waste of time trying to build an entire business around it.
It’s much better to have an evergreen topic, like stress, than it is to build a whole site around a trend, like rubber band bracelets. That doesn’t mean you can’t create a page somewhere online to profit from trendy topics – like on Squidoo – but reserve your major efforts for topics that are going to last.
If it’s too broad, you can either eliminate it or narrow it down and see what all you can come up with for it. For example, just tackling the “diet niche” can be overwhelming.
But you might want to build a site about:
* Dieting over 40
* Dieting post pregnancy
* Dieting for diabetics…etc.
Once you whittle down the niches and feel confident that you could write about or lead in this topic for the long-term and that it can easily be monetized with products, you’ll need to make a firm commitment to one (if you’re left with more than one).
#4 – Compare What’s Left Over
This is where some of the traditional guru advice comes in handy. There will be times when your passion for two topics is equal and both provide great opportunities for profits.
That’s when you turn to things like keyword search volume so that you can see how prevalent the topic is online. You want to use keyword tools to see what words and phrases people are using to find information in that niche, and how high the volume is.
You might be asking yourself, “What number am I looking for?” There is no set number. You can make a good income from volumes of 1,000 or 10,000. Should you go with a niche where there’s only 10 searches per month?
Probably not. You want to look at typical conversion rates – anywhere from 3-30% – and compare that to the price of what you’ll be selling.
So if you were promoting an average of $100 items on your site, where you earned 50% of the sale (or $50), and you saw a search volume of about 1,000 for a good keyword phrase, then even at a low 3% rate, you could expect 30 sales per month @ $50 commission, which totals $1,500.
Is that a sure thing? Of course not! You have to have everything in place for proper conversion. Online businesses aren’t a “build it and they will buy” scenario.
Reviews on Amazon can provide some insight into whether or not it’s a hot niche. It’s not just the bestseller’s list. You can look at products and tell to some degree. For example, if you start clicking on categories in Amazon, you might see something typical like coffeemakers with hundreds or thousands of reviews.
But keep clicking around and you might stumble on a niche that you didn’t realize was that popular. Click through on “chef tools” and you’ll see a comfort mat that has almost 1,000 reviews and sells for almost $60.
So that might be a niche for you, if you like cooking – not the mat, but maybe “comfort in the kitchen – for people who love the art of cooking” and everything you promote could be digital products about cooking (including ones you create) and tangible items that make things easier.
Available domains will be a factor in your decision, but please take time to play around with synonyms and phrases before you simply cross a niche off because your first domain idea is already taken.
For example, let’s say your niche will be diet for diabetics. Look for other words for diet, such as food, nutrition, diet plans, eating, meals, etc. Diabetics can be used as diabetes, too.
So you begin mixing and matching. You might try:
* DietForDiabetics.com – available at auction for over $1k
* FoodForDiabetics.com – taken
* NutritionForDiabetics.com – available at auction for over $3k
* EatingForDiabetics.com – available at the regular price
* DietPlansForDiabetics.com – taken
* MealsForDiabetics.com – taken
Then go through and switch diabetics to diabetes and see what you get there. Or switch words around:
* DiabeticMeals.com …etc.
Do as much as you can to see what’s available and then if necessary, wait a day or two to see if any other possibilities pop into your head, such as:
* DiabeticMealPlanner.com … and so on
If more than one of your niches meets all of the above criteria, then what do you do?
You ask yourself, “Which audience do I want to serve?”
That’s what online success is all about – rolling up your sleeves and being ready to help people – whether they’re looking for diet help, relationship tips, golf advice or health insight – they need solutions, and they’re relying on someone who cares to help them find it.
This simple requirement – where you feel empathy for your target audience and truly want to solve their problems – is where you develop a loyal fan base who will convert at the upper limit of typical conversion rates for you, instead of the bare minimum.
Remember that if you’re in a rush, you can easily choose the wrong niche, spend weeks or months trying to grow it, and still fail because it wasn’t right for you. It might be right for someone else – and this is why some people hit it big in a niche and others try it and see zero success.
Another thing you might want to do, if you’re still undecided, is spend some time looking at your competition. But only do this if you are the type who won’t succumb to intimidation, thinking, “Oh there’s already someone much better than me out there.”
Always keep in mind that people want choices. That person you’re admiring might be a great joint venture partner for you one day. But your style and voice will be unique to you, and his or her non-audience will be thrilled to find your voice out on the Internet waiting to guide them.
Plus, think about how you yourself learn. When you want to learn online marketing, do you only listen to just one person? Or do you visit a few blogs, read a few people’s responses on forums, and follow different people on social networks who inspire and educate you?
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t pick the right niche the very first time. Even with the best research and intentions, sometimes we get into a niche and just don’t feel it’s right for us.
If this starts happening, make a decision to cut your losses and try again. Remember what it was that you didn’t like about that niche and look for the opposite in your next one.
You have to maintain a fine balance between abandoning niches at the drop of a hat just because you’re not making instant riches overnight, and wasting too much time chained to a niche that just isn’t going to work for you.
Your next step is to build a blog. As a newbie, this is one of the easiest platforms to create and rank in search engines, and it’s the perfect place to let your target audience get to know you as their new niche leader.