There comes a time (maybe a few times :P), where you'll be pondering which niche to enter out of your list of 20.
An excel spreadsheet full of niche ideas that all seem great, but you can only choose one.
It's the same dilemma plenty of us have encountered before, but many don't make it past the 'analysis paralysis' stage.
We recently reached out to a few online entrepreneurs and gathered their best advice on choosing the highest quality niche.
We asked them this exactly...
"what qualities do you want to see in a niche before entering?"
Those are great pieces of advice to build a foundation, however, let's dig a little bit deeper in the one off answers that stood out...
- Narrow your focus at first. Build your site in silo's and then expand once you've completed your first section.
- Beyond passion, another thought is whether you care enough about this niche to build a respectable resource.
- Don't rely on one single tool for your research, they all have blind spots.
- Find a unique angle and offer something that can set you apart.
- Commitment shouldn't be confused with passion, there is no magic solution.
- Are there products in the niche that can pay you over and over again with recurring income.
- Listen to influencers and what they are talking about. Build content around those discussions.
- Finally, are you addressing a problem that people are willing to spend money to solve?
There are a few more nuggets in there and each of the participants all had varying degrees of advice, but in my eyes - the nuances between them all are the golden tips.
Check out the first niche research episode here.
Anyways, on to our experts. Feel free to jump around in this table of contents.
Doug Cunnington - Niche Site Project
Head blogger over at NicheSiteProject.com. Doug's fairly well known for his "go white hat" project - where him and another partner attempt to transition a site from grey hat to white hat. While hopefully turning a profit and selling the site for over $500,000.
I like to see a wide range of three things:
- A wide range of prices.
- A wide range of products.
- Lots of keywords that are Keyword Golden Ratio compliant.
It all starts with keyword research and targeting the right range of keyword search volumes. If you have a range of prices, you'll always be able to review a product that will be attractive to any buyer. If you have a range of products, then you'll be able to expand the site as much as you want.
James Reynolds - SEO Sherpa
James, founder of SEOSherpa.com, has appeared on CNN, Entrepreneur Magazine, and FOX News for his specialized knowledge of what's going on in the world of SEO.
The bedrock of a profitable niche is accessibility, size and spending. If the niche is big enough, full of cash-rich buyers and you can easily access it you are off to a GREAT start. However, the biggest test of a niche is if you are a genuinely passionate about it (or not). An abundance of passion kills competition and a lack of it kills a business. I'd be looking for the following for it to PASS my test:
- Passion - Can you get really excited about this niche?
- Accessible - can you access customers easily through marketing/or your current network?
- Size - Big enough to win 1000 true fans who will buy everything you got?
- Spending - full of cash-rich buyers?
Mark Webster - Authority Hackers
Mark is one-half of the AuthorityHacker.com team and their always putting out top-notch content. If you guys are interested in transitioning your niche site into an authority site, these guys are ones to pay attention to.
There are two answers to this question.
If this is your first site or you have only had limited success before, pick a niche you are interested in. This will help keep you interested and overcome the inevitable desire to quit when you aren't a millionaire by month 4.
If motivation won't be a problem for you, then besides the usual competition metrics, something that heavily brings out people's emotions would be a good choice. For example, every dog owner loves their dog and would do anything for him/her. You can't say the same for office furniture. Both niches can be profitable but, all things being equal, the dog niche is going to win 9 times out of 10 because it's such an emotional topic which people are passionate about.
Stuart Walker - Niche Hacks
I think people over complicate it and overthink it.
A niche is essentially just a specific topic that a set group of people are interested in.
So brainstorm a few topics / things you know about then ask yourself this
Do those people spend money on the internet on that topic?
And if anyone isn't sure on that answer then a sure fire way is to look for signs online that they do,
- Are there products on Amazon with lots of reviews
- Retailers advertising on Google Adwords
- A good selection of retailers on places like CJ.com and ShareASale
- Digital products on Clickbank.
If the answer is yes then it's a profitable niche....for someone.
It might not be profitable for you just on that basis alone as there's obviously a lot of different factors involved in whether you PERSONALLY profit from it.
But if people are spending money on it, it interests you enough to work on it, and you feel personally you have something to offer in that niche whether that be:
- Experience and knowledge
- Better writing skills than the average person in the niche
- A unique twist to offer
- Seeing signs of a sub-niche or group of people not being catered to
- That you're simply a better marketer than the people in the niche (easy in hobby niches)
Then there's no reason why you can't choose that niche to get involved with.
Of course before you do it's wise to do some more in-depth research on it just to make sure it's viable for you personally to compete and that you have a fair chance of making money from it.
That can be done with this in-depth ultimate guide on Niche Research here:
Ashley Faulkes - Mad Lemmings
Ashley helps businesses get more customers through web design and online marketing - he teaches SEO and content marketing at MadLemmings.com
When it comes to choosing a niche you have to plan ahead. Very narrow niches can be great for ranking (because Google likes to see site focus/topic specialization) but if you go too narrow you run the risk of running out of content options in the future.
So, when starting a new site I would consider how far I am going to take it (ie. how much time I plan to invest - is it a small site I make at night/on the side, or am I going to build a big authority site).
To give you a different example, I just started a niche site in December and it is very very broad. But, to begin with, I have narrowed the focus of the content and built silos to help Google understand that this is my focus, for now. The site name though is very broad and can take me a lot of places in the long run.
The same thing happened with my main brand - Mad Lemmings. I started out on one thing and moved more to SEO in the last few years. My brand name allowed me to change without renaming. So, don't box yourself into a corner when choosing a name for your site.
Another area that is an absolute must is keyword research. This is something I focus a lot of in my latest SEO course and for good reason. If you pick a niche with keywords where your chances of ranking are low, you are wasting your time.
Figuring this out is one of the keys to success with a niche site, especially early on. So, make sure you not only pick a few niches to explore (before you make a choice) but that you also do your research. It's boring, I know, but without it you are dead in the water.
Ryan Biddulph - Blogging From Paradise
If you're interested in a niche you want to be in love with talking about the niche. You want to have fun covering the niche, so the work is play, and the play is the reward. Being armed with this attitude, the profits and site traffic are just extras, or bonuses. This is the energy you want to cultivate to have fun while building a successful online business.
I dove into a digital nomad niche - how to travel the world through blogging - because I have fun blogging and traveling. That "fun" energy fuelled my journey because it detached me a good deal from outcomes, added story telling flavor to my blog and brand and helped sustain me for the long haul.
I never assess a niche based on a niche's qualifications. I always ask myself: "Would I dive into this niche mainly for the fun of talking about it, or working it?", before taking the plunge. Life is an energy game. All the practical tips and step by step actions, all the research, simply follows the energy we cultivate around some niche venture. If you do the inner work, everything happens easily. But most folks work outside in, and create a lot of tension aka "hard work" for themselves. Been there, done that. I'd rather have fun, succeed more easily and have time to sip mango shakes on the beach in Thailand 🙂
Steve Floyd - AXZM
Steve is the founder of Axzm.com, a Pubcon speaker, and growth engineer.
If someone came up to you and said, "Hey, I'm thinking of entering this niche - what do you think?"
My reaction may differ depending on the niche and strategy, but generally speaking - always, always, always start with keyword research. If you are building an authority site, never stop at organic either. Really dig in and compare the Cost Per Click (CPC) in AdWords of all the keywords you are targeting so you have a clear picture of the entire landscape around said niche. If you are utilizing strictly paid media for your affiliate site, this should still be your very first step.
Don't rely on any one tool either because they all have their blind spots.
If you are doing keyword research to target a specific niche in organic search results, I highly recommend using a mix of Term Explorer, Keyword Tool, SEMRush, Ahrefs and (of course) Google Keyword Planner. Again, just compare the results, look for anomalies and document the best keyword opportunities you can and consolidate / prioritize them in one place.
It goes way, way deeper than keywords though when you are considering jumping into a niche.
Keyword research is just to confirm demand and identify the low hanging fruit (so you can prioritize your efforts). Using that data to inform your digital strategy and identify the content your audience wants/needs is just the first step.
Go actually listen to the people in the niche you are targeting on social media. Listen to all the key influencers, thought leaders, gatekeepers and especially your direct competition. Do you really have a clear picture of that landscape, or are you stepping into a field of land mines? Just because there is a handful of profitable keyword opportunities doesn't mean it will always be worth the effort.
I try to do a thorough SWOT analysis once I know who all the players in a niche are. If what you are offering sucks, no amount of marketing will fix that. Also take the time to build out user and/or buyer personas, journey maps and an audience analysis so you really understand your audience needs. Clear communication that addresses legitimate pain points of your target customer is always the way to win regardless of the business or industry your in.
Finally, I would ask if the cost of acquisition and overhead involved in making the niche successful is worth the margin you are going to make. Simply put: Is the juice worth the squeeze? Try to test and validate your niche at multiple levels and you'll save a lot of time and money in the long run.
What qualities in a niche would you want to see before advising them?
Many that I listed above, but more than anything I'd just want to know if the person asking me for help is actually passionate about it or if it's just a money play. As you know, the churn and burn affiliate sites that are built just to make money seldom lend much value to the people they are targeting.
More often than not, people who actually care about the niche they are in tend to do the extra work that actually makes it successful. They also have a certain level of pride in their website, so they are less likely to associate with affiliate offers that are not reputable. Like any other business, when money is the foundation of the entire idea/niche it never lasts very long.
Sharon Gourlay - Digital Nomad Wannabe
Sharon is the lead nomad at DigitalNomadWannabe.com, where she writes about her various travels and affiliate marketing successes.
It depends on what type of website they want to build. If they are looking at building a small niche site then I would look at the keywords and how easy I think it would be to rank that niche in Google. If they are looking at building a large authority site or a blog then it would more depend on their passion for their area and their plans for monetization.
Tung is the founder of Cloudliving.com, a place where affiliate marketers gather to learn more about increasing their commissions and participate in a thriving community.
I'd have to know their answers of the following questions first:
- Is this something that you're genuinely interested in?
- Do you see yourself working on this niche for the next 2 - 3 years?
- Did you do competitors research?
- If yes, do you feel like you can create better content than your competitors?
- Do you have an edge over them?
- How are you gonna monetize your website in this niche?
- Were you able to find evidence that your competitors are making money?
- What's your plan for growing traffic?
If they can answer the above questions, then it's super easy to give them advice 🙂
If they were not able to answer the above questions, then it'd be impossible to advise because I don't have enough information about the niche.
Andrew Youderian - Ecommerce Fuel
Andrew is the founder of EcommerceFuel.com, a private community of advanced ecommerce shop owners. He's a regular podcaster and a dropship specialist.
The biggest thing I'd look for is a niche with recurring revenue, where the customers are likely to come back again and again. Not all niches are like this. It takes a ton of work to acquire a customer. If you have the world's best product, customer service and marketing campaigns but the customer doesn't need your product again much of your work goes to waste. So looking for a niche with lots of repeat purchase - or a high lifetime value of a customer - is what I'd recommend.
Zac Johnson - Zac Johnson
Zac's been making moves online for sometime now, one of the earliest online marketers to be known as a 'Super Affiliate'. He blogs over at ZacJohnson.com and was an integral part of creating one of the best themes on Thrive Themes - Rise!
Whenever someone asks me about a niche they want to enter, there are quickly a few questions that will follow. Three of the most direct and obvious ones should be:
1 - Do you know who your exact audience is and what they want?
2 - Who is your competition and how can you niche down further?
3 - How are you going to monetize your content and audience?
This is something I break down in detail in my make money blogging guide. In my reference guide, I use "basketball" as an example, which is perfect because so many people want to start a sports blog and think they will make good money with the site. However, no one goes to sites like ESPN because they want to buy sports memorabilia, tickets or clothing... they just want scores and highlights. So this means, if you want to find success within a niche market, you need to know exactly what your audience wants, how you can provide it to them and also make some money in the process. In this example, it would make more sense to start a business around "basketball jump training" versus just "basketball".
In summary, niche down as much as possible, know your audience's needs and provide it to them in a monetized format.
Dominique Jackson - Dominique J
Dominique is a content and social media marketer who is putting his money where his mouth is a blogging over at DominiqueJ.com - check him out!
The very first thing I'd ask them is why they're entering the niche? If it's just because they saw a blogger say it's a good idea, or because they think they can make a quick buck, there's a strong chance they'll fail.
I think this is something that has been happening a lot since bloggers started doing public case studies and revealing sites they own. One of the best examples is when Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits showed his Best Survival Knife Guide site. I can't even tell you how many clones of that site I saw after that, and still do to this day.
Any site/niche I've ever entered solely because I thought I could make money eventually got put off to the side because it couldn't sustain my interest. For example, a few years ago I started a site about USB Hubs strictly based off keyword research and the fact that I could probably make money from it. I went about three months before I got bored and switched to something else.
So my main piece of advice is don't follow trends or chase a quick buck. Think of a niche you can actually build a business around. Ask yourself, if I were to go 12 months without making a single dollar from this site, would I still be willing to work on it?
Nick Loper - Side Hustle Nation
A familiar face with Human Proof Designs, Nick is the founder and podcaster at SideHustleNation.com. A place to learn all about the side hustle with weekly strategies.
I think the biggest consideration is whether or not you care enough about the niche to create a great resource. I've tried to build sites where I thought there might be money to be made but they fizzled before I ever gained enough traction.
The next consideration is whether or not you're addressing a problem people will spend money to solve. The easiest way to test that is to see what else is out there in the space. If there are other established companies, that's a great sign.
Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker, an SEO company in the Philippines and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.
The things that enter my mind are quite simple actually.
1) Is there money there?
2) Is the competition winnable?
3) Is the money going to be at least 3 - 5x the effort you are going to put in?
If the answer is yes to those three questions, I wouldn't be thinking twice and would tell the person to go ahead and start.
Minuca Elena - Minuca Elena
Minuca is a freelance writer specialized in creating expert roundups. Her posts provide quality content, bring huge traffic and get backlinks. She also helps bloggers connect with influencers. You can contact her at her blog, MinucaElena.com.
If you want to start a new niche site, you should select a specific niche. Too many bloggers try their luck at popular niches like health, lifestyle or internet marketing. The competition is too high in these niches and many newbies fail to build a successful blog.
You should do keyword research. Use Ahrefs and see what is the keyword difficulty for that main keyword. Also, check how many searches are on Google for it. Then check all the sites that show up on the first page of Google for that keyword. Check their backlinks profile so you can realize how many links you need to rank.
Essentially, the qualities that I search in a new niche is high demand and low competition.
Giles Thomas - Rise Pro
Giles is a very talented individual with a couple companies under his belt by now, not only has he found time to create these businesses but he's also the head marketing mentor for Google's launchpad in Jakarta.
When selecting a niche it's most important to do the SEO due diligence. You need to understand what SEO opportunities exist and how competitive they are.
The first step is to understand the keyword landscape of the niche. How many mid-tail keywords exist and what are their search intent.
The most important question to ask yourself is do these keywords have buying intent? Is the searcher likely to spend money.
I recently launched a new niche site in the Instagram marketing niche. I ended up finding only 7 keywords with a large enough search volume to consider creating content for.
The longer tail keywords or LSI keywords I simply used in as content headers and scattered them around the posts.
Once I had found all 7 keywords I made a list of all the website that ranked page 1 and checked their domain rank / authority and considered if I could outrank them with time.
For this I use tools like Ahrefs.com.
To recap, do keyword research, understand search and buying intent. Learn who owns the niches mid tail keywords and if you can link build to outrank them.
Once you've done this you can consider how to monetize the traffic. This should be linked to the keyword intent, but as a rule online courses or information products are the best business model as your overheads are crazy low.
And the whole reason we are here is for profits right? 😉
Kanayo is the new face of MonetizePros.com, one of the best resources online for making money from your traffic. Heavily edited high end content we've linked to a few times now.
The most important would be ease of being able to produce relevant content in the niche, more so for the long term. That's because content is perhaps the single most important factor that is going to help any business make money.
Content is what helps you convince people to buy, content is what convinces search engines to put your website in front of people, and if you do not have the ability and stamina to produce that content, for whatever reason, then don't bother entering that niche.
Albert Mora is the CEO and cofounder of Seolution, an SEO agency for shopify e-commerce sites.
Before entering a certain niche, you should respond positively to the following three questions:
1- Do you like that niche?
2- Do you have a differential factor that makes you better than the competition on that niche?
3- Can you make money from that niche?
If you find a type of niche that answers affirmatively to those three questions, you have many possibilities to go in the right way.
Take into account that there are no magic solutions that will make you millionaire in a week. Earning significant money will take months if not years.