Before you can make your millions online… Before you can have a four hour work week… And even before you’re free to do nothing but eat pizza and watch Game of Thrones… Before any of that… You need an idea.
An idea is the spark that will ignite your dreams of niche site success. Whether you’re planning to build your own site or buy one of our ready-made niche sites, you first need an idea.
Have an idea, and your site will practically build itself. Lack an idea, on the other hand, and you may find yourself unable to get started.
It’s this second scenario, lacking an idea, that we’re going to discuss here. This post is dedicated to you, the online entrepreneur who’s scratching their head trying to get that “million dollar” idea. Right now, the idea may seem as elusive to you as the Loch Ness monster. Or, you may find yourself drowning online in a sea of perpetually appealing ideas.
To break through and get your idea, we’re going to discuss a few of our favorite strategies. These strategies have ALL been used in real life and there is nothing theoretical about them. That’s bad news if you’ve come here looking for another wishy-washy rehashed post by people with no experience. If that’s you, well, you should probably go elsewhere. But if you’re here, seeking an idea and ready for some rugged, battle-tested tactics…You’ve come to the right place.
Enough talk. Let’s cut to the chase now and look at how you come up with your idea. Here are a few strategies:
Find the “dumb” money
You know this guy. He’s a friend of yours. Let’s call him “Jim”. Jim can’t stop talking about “X”. Somehow, “X” seems to find its way into every conversation you guys have. Seriously. “X” has nothing to do, for example, with a recent basketball game. Somehow, though, Jim figures out a way to bring it up. That’s either really brilliant or just kind of sad. What’s not in question, however, is the amount of money Jim is spending on “X”. He happily spends hundreds or even thousands of dollars on this thing.
His willingness to spend extreme amounts of money here is an excellent indicator of vitality in a niche. After all, you want a niche where people are spending vast amounts of “dumb” money.
Not to pick on your friend, though. He’s hardly unique. We all spend money on “dumb” things. Some people spend it on fixing their cars. Others spend it on game systems and home theaters. There’s no limit really to what “dumb” things people are splurging their hard-earned dollars on.
In the context of a niche site, identifying “dumb” things enables you to know the niches where people will actively spend money. You need that knowledge in order to sell your own products and those of your affiliates.
To get the necessary knowledge, let’s take a step beyond your friend Jim. Jim’s example works if we’re just going to talk theoretically. But to really grasp the strategy of “dumb money”, we need to go deeper.
One way to do that is by digging into catalogs. Pick up catalogs featuring non-essential, “dumb” products from companies in various niches. Good examples here are the Sharper Image’s catalog, SkyMall (when you fly), and the Edmund Scientific catalog.
Within these catalogs, look at how many pages are devoted to each topic. In the Sharper Image’s catalog, for instance, there may be pages and pages on drone aircraft. That was an early indicator to the author of this post that drones could be a good niche to build a site around.
Once you’ve found something that dominates a catalog, it’s time to look at prices. This was what led the author here, away from drones and into remote control (RC) trucks. Drones had more pages devoted to them in the Sharper Images catalog. But RC trucks had a decent page volume while also being substantially higher priced. Who knew that an RC truck could cost $700? Or that you could spend hundreds of dollars, fixing up your RC truck – just as people do with their real trucks?
Who knew? People like your friend Jim, that’s who. Look to him and then consult some catalogs. You might just find your idea.
Want a done-for-you niche site? View our ready-chosen niches here.
Kick it “old school”
Remember the yellow pages? It might have been before your time. They were these massive books chocked full of ads and listings for local businesses. Once a year, a copy of the yellow pages would fly from a delivery van, like a missile, and smash against your front door. Yes, those were the good old days…
Today, though, the internet has made the yellow pages largely obsolete. There’s no reason to manually leaf through directory pages when you can do the same search in seconds on Yelp.
Still, despite being a dinosaur today, the yellow pages continue to be printed and distributed. You might not use them, but there are still many people who do. Enough people for yellow page advertising to work (or appear to work) for local businesses. And enough people for those who distribute the yellow pages to continue handing them out.
Ok, so the yellow pages matter. But why discuss them in a post on niche sites?
The answer is that the yellow pages indicate the depth of various industries. This is a continuation, in a sense, of our catalog strategy discussed earlier. Remember how we judged the depth of a niche based on the number of pages devoted to it in a catalog? The same idea rings true here, only we’re talking about businesses now.
Crack open the yellow pages and you’ll notice, for example, that lawyers have pages and pages devoted to them. Locksmith companies, by contrast, are likely to have far fewer listings. This contrast reveals that law is a deeper industry than locksmiths. By deep, we’re referring here to there being more participants in the market. More lawyers in the example, than locksmith companies.
Like our example with the catalogs, however, we can’t discount one niche over another solely on the basis of number of listings. We also want to look at the money being spent in each industry. The yellow pages show this with paid listings. Paid listings in the yellow pages are usually in color and are written, often with pictures, as ads for the business. It’s a far cry from unpaid listings which give only a business’s name and contact details.
Thinking again in terms of niche sites, paid yellow page listings reveal the extent to which businesses in a niche are willing to spend money. A niche like lawyers may be deeper than the locksmiths niche – with more businesses listed. But if there are substantially more paid listings in the locksmiths niche, that would indicate a greater willingness by the locksmiths niche to spend money. You might then choose locksmiths over lawyers, as there was a greater likelihood of the former spending money on your niche site’s products.
Speaking of locksmiths, the example here is based on the actual experiences of this post’s author. Seeking a niche in 2013, the author turned to the yellow pages. He identified locksmiths as an ideal niche, subsequently producing both a teleseminar series and a profitable site with affiliate products.
The takeaway for you then? Don’t be afraid to kick it “old school” and use the Yellow pages. Open this relic and flip through it. Your big idea could be a page away.
Use the elephants
No discussion of finding ideas for websites would be complete without acknowledging the elephants in the room. These “elephants” are the online sites commonly used to find niches. At the risk of rehashing both The Four Hour Work Week and countless blogs, let’s tread very softly here. Our goal in mentioning these niche identification sites is only to ensure you’re aware they exist. Because again, there is no shortage of other sources out there describing these sites in far richer detail.
With all that in mind, here’s a quick review of some of the best-known niche selection sites:
Google AdWords – Look at search volume by keyword, while also considering other factors like the number of related keywords and each keyword’s cost per click.
Clickbank – Check which products are top sellers. Then examine whether a top-selling product is the only one of its type in a category, or whether the category is rife with competitors.
Amazon.com – As the “everything store”, Amazon has plenty of niches to look in. Find a few that meet your personal criteria and then look at what books are bestsellers in these niches. That will reveal which topics people in the niche find most important.
Reddit – Find Reddit communities and determine how active the users in the community are. What topics do they respond to and how often are they responding. Reddit communities can also be good vehicles to use in launching your site, posting links once you’ve gained the community’s trust.
Feeling empowered yet? Hopefully you are. We’ve covered a few strategies here that can guide you past uncertainty and toward an idea for your niche site. This post, though, is just the beginning and there are many other strategies out there for you to use.
To give everyone reading this post even more value, we invite you to share your favorite niche selection strategies. If you have a killer tactic for finding niches/ideas, don’t be greedy. Give it up and post your strategy in the comments below. You’ll do everyone a huge favor and who knows, you might just learn something from someone else’s comment too.