If I told you that validating a niche went beyond just finding a good keyword, I'm sure you'd nod your head in agreement. The thing is though, a lot of us get so carried away with excitement when we find a kickass keyword, we often dive headfirst into a niche without thinking about the bigger picture.
Or worse still, we're not even sure HOW to go about validating the niche.
This article is going to cover everything that goes into validating a niche, and more importantly, it's going to make you aware of the things you need to consider when looking for the bigger picture.
What You'll Learn Today
What Makes A Good Niche? It's Not About Your Interests
First of all, I'm going to throw this out there and say that you should NOT just ‘do what you love'.
Your interests and areas of expertise sure are a good place to look when doing your first niche research, but there are too many gurus out there saying to people “Just do what you love!” or “Write what you know”.
When you follow that advice at the expense of validating the niche itself, or the NEED for you within that niche, then you are setting yourself up for frustration.
I have two fundamental problems with just doing what you know about, and here they are:
1.) When you try to do what you love, you're trying to do something that a whole bunch of other people probably love too. Since they're doing what they love as well, you're not likely to be adding anything new.
Example: Look at how many fitness trainers and fitness blogs there are. Do we need that many? Probably not.
2.) If you try to do something you love, this also makes you believe that you can't succeed in a niche you DON'T love, or you have no knowledge about. This is absolutely not true, so don't hamstring yourself by only looking in your immediate area of expertise.
Example: Virtually every niche I've made money in, I had almost zero prior knowledge of the niche.
There are many more reasons why it's a bad idea to focus on what you love, and I will dedicate an entire post to it sometime, but for now, just understand that when it comes to picking your niche, literally anything is likely going to be OK for you.
As long as you find something that will work, meets the criteria outlined below and you put in the effort to learn that niche, you'll be fine.
So what DOES make the right niche for you? This is harder to define, but the next sections will shed some light.
Suggested Readings:Counterintuitive Ways to Find Your Niche
My Criteria For An Amazon Niche Site
This criteria is actually applicable to all niches, not just Amazon ones, but it's much easier to use Amazon as an example, because it really makes generating ideas and digging deeper an easy to follow process.
I've actually outlined the entire process in the second video of my free Amazon training course, which you can sign up for today.
To give you a quick summary though, here is the kind of niche I look for:
- Low-Competition (Don't try to find something with NO competition, low is enough).
- Decent interest (This means a certain number of searches per month, AND good evidence of purchases being made).
- Multiple products to sell within the niche. You can make money from single-product niches, but it's better to have more options.
- Questions surrounding the topic. In other words, you don't just have to write product reviews, you can give information about the topic as well. For example, in the Binoculars niche, you can give information about what types of binoculars are suited to what situations, and so on.
- Not too technical. You don't want to have to spend hours researching the different specifications and requirements for certain products, and you don't want to have a site on a topic where you need to be an expert. Something like shaving razors is fine, because you can do the necessary research easily.
Finding Low Competition
As I mentioned in the box above, it's almost impossible to find a zero-competition niche, and if you do, it probably means the niche isn't profitable. On the other hand, there are plenty of low-competition niches, and more being created all the time.
To be clear, ‘low' doesn't refer to the competition score in Long Tail Pro or Google Adwords, it's more manual than that.
For me, low means there are a few affiliate sites ranking well in the niche, but not too many. When you see 2-4 affiliate sites ranking on page one, it means that:
- Google likes ranking affiliate sites for this niche/these keywords
- The niche isn't dominated by too many authority sites or eCommerce sites.
Please note though, that if you see something like 6 or 7 niche sites, it means that while Google loves ranking affiliate sites for this niche, you are also going to have to compete with a lot of others. It's easy to link-build against a few competitors, but when competing with a large volume of affiliate sites, you're going to be competing with more links.
If you're not sure how to identify an affiliate site, Google a few “best” terms like “Best climbing harness”. When you find a site with a simple theme, and a comparison chart or other list of products, you've found an affiliate site. An example in this case is the site 99boulders.com which ranks well for “best climbing harness”.
Again, I go into this in more details in video 2 of my Amazon Training Course.
Gauging Interest And Competition
There are three or four ways to gauge interest, and most people only rely on the first way.
1) Keyword Search Volume
This is a great way of finding out how many people are interested in the niche, but it's not necessarily a great way of proving that people are buying things in that niche.
It's definitely a good starting point though. If a search term like “Best climbing harness” has a few thousand searches per month, or even just 800, it's probably a good keyword. On the other hand, if it only has 300 or so searches, it might not be worth going after.
Note: Don't just look at the search volume of one particular keyword. Sometimes you find a niche where all the keywords only have a few hundred searches, but they all add up to a decent amount of interest, and if you can rank a site for them all, the traffic volume will come.
You need to look at the whole picture of the niche.
Second Note: Keyword search volume shows interest, but it doesn't show how much people are actually buying. Look at the keyword “Projection screen paint” as an example. It has a few thousand searches, the competition isn't too difficult, but according to our other research, not many people are actually buying the paint.
2) Best Seller Rating
This is why we have to look into more depth than just search volume. For Amazon, we can look at the Best Seller Rank (BSR) for a particular product.
When looking at the products within a niche, look at a few of them and see if any of them have a BSR in their main category of 5,000 or lower. The more products that do, the better a sign it is.
In the picture below, we see a certain pair of binoculars is ranked #252 in the entire Sports and Outdoors category (one of the biggest on Amazon), so clearly this sells well. Note, you want to look at the main category, not the sub-category.
So if binocular related keywords have an OK search volume, and quite a few products have a good BSR, then it could be a good niche, providing other criteria is met.
3) Jungle Scout
Something that not a lot of people do, is use FBA tools to discover a product's viability.
JungleScout is a paid Chrome addon that tells you roughly how many sales a particular item gets on Amazon. This doesn't indicate how many you might sell yourself, but it shows if people are buying this.
For example, looking at what JungleScout shows us for Protector Screen Paint, we can see that despite good search volume, people aren't buying a whole lot.
AMZ Tracker offers a free tool that does a similar job to JungleScout, so if you're not doing enough research to justify paying for JS, then I recommend you use their tool, the wonderfully named UnicornSmasher.
Again, these tools are primarily for FBA users, people who actually sell ON Amazon, but they are good for due diligence for affiliate sites.
Suggested Readings:Doing Keyword Research for Free
4) Number of Reviews
You can also check number of reviews on various products as well. Are there only 5 or 10 reviews on Amazon for most products in the niche? That's not necessarily a bad sign, but it's not something to get excited about either.
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5) Forums, Facebook Groups
It's time to get off Amazon and do some looking around on the internet. Are there forums with lots of activity around the niche? Facebook groups too? Are people discussing things they've bought?
When I did my research for my shaving niche, I found two or three VERY active forums where people were avidly discussing products they'd bought and recommended. These weren't just hardcore veterans who had their own sources for products, they were also beginners buying stuff off Amazon.
Not seeing signs like this isn't necessarily a bad thing either, because some niches don't have room for these kinds of discussions, but if you're unsure about a niche's popularity and you DO find these signs, it's definitely a green light.
This is also a good way of doing niche research for non-Amazon niches too.
As well as researching competition and demand, you should look at the actual products too. It's a misconception that you should always choose a higher priced-item, because these are typically harder to sell.
In my shaving niche, I had the sweet spot product-wise. There were lots of related products, which meant people would often check-out with 5 or 6 products at once, there were lots of products priced in the fifty dollar range, so it was easy to get sales, but additionally there were plenty of products that cost over a hundred bucks, which gave me the chance to earn higher commissions.
A typical day might see me sell one or two of the razors I was actually promoting, along with a whole bunch of shaving brushes, razor stands, oil, soap, and everything else related. When Christmas came around, people bought entire shaving kits.
Your niche doesn't HAVE to be like this, but if it is, that is great. It really makes up for the lower Amazon commissions and the lower price per item. If people are grouping items together a lot, you're not only going to get higher volume (which leads to a higher commission tier), but you're going to earn more full-stop.
So we've learned quite a lot about validating a niche so far. Here's a re-cap of what we covered:
- Find a niche where there are about 3-4 affiliate sites ranking well for several of the good keywords
- Find a niche where there are multiple keywords with good search volume or good combined volume
- Find a niche where products are selling well on Amazon (or whatever market you are using, such as Clickbank)
- Find a niche where there are multiple product types and related products
- Ideally, the pricing would be between 50 dollars and a few hundred dollars, unless there's mega-search volume.
Niche research is more of an art than a science, and it takes experience and gut-feeling as much as it does due diligence, but following the tips above, you should be well on your way to validating your first niche.