Choosing a good niche is one of the most important things about internet marketing and it’s also one of the most challenging.
Sure, the process of choosing a niche on its own isn’t too bad – after all, there are literally millions of different options out there. But finding out how to choose a profitable niche market is a whole different story.
As you look at niches, there are a few main things that you have to consider:
- How to monetize it
- The amount of interest in the niche
- The amount of competition
- Whether you can be unique
Realistically, there is a huge number of different websites online already and this number continues to grow.
Simply choosing a niche that interests you or that you are passionate about isn’t enough to make money online. In fact, you might put a lot of time and energy into developing a site, just to find that nobody comes.
This is why taking the time to pick your niche right the first time is absolutely critical.
After all, it’s never possible to know whether people will be interested in your site and whether they have money to spend unless you take the time to do the research first.
In fact, getting your niche wrong can be a very bad move.
Setting up an online business tends to be time-consuming and normally costs some money.
You have to develop the content for the site, create a good design, work on SEO so the site and all of your content ranks on Google – and that’s on top of the time needed to learn these approaches to start off with.
On top of that, there is the money associated with paying for hosting, a domain name, training and any services or products that you use along the way.
So, if you don’t choose a niche that you can succeed in, you are likely to end up with a time-consuming and expensive experiment.
Niche websites are all about problem-solving.
By creating a niche website, you are trying to provide your audience with a solution to a problem and earn money for yourself along the way.
Because of this, your audience and what they are interested in is one of the most important things about a niche website. However, it isn’t where you start.
When you look at how to choose a profitable niche market, the very first step is to look at yourself.
But, before we get to that, we need to look at what a niche actually is.
What is a Niche?
In internet marketing, a niche is a specialized area of the market.
Niches come in all shapes and sizes.
Micro-niches are very small niches that have limited traffic and attract a very specialized audience. One such niche would be Winter Coats for Women while another might be Making Steampunk Clothes for Cosplay. Both niches exist and they are very specific.
In fact, the following image is actually from a site that largely tailors for the steampunk micro-niche I mentioned.
Most of the time a micro-niche will result in a relatively small and specialized site.
Because the subject area of a micro-niche is so small, there often isn’t a lot to write about.
This means that micro-niche sites often act as a way to earn some money, but they aren’t a long-term business approach. Additionally, Google and other search engines tend to be favoring content and larger sites, making them much more difficult to rank.
As a consequence, micro-niches tend to be less popular than they used to be.
However, they are still a good way to make money in some cases, and can serve as an introduction to the field in some cases.
At the other extreme are authority sites.
Authority sites tend to cover very broad areas and often have a large amount of content as a result. These sites also often rank well because of the stance that search engines have on content.
The biggest difference between an authority site and a micro-niche site is the amount of content.
Most of the time a micro-niche site might have 10-20 pages although it might be a bit higher in some cases.
However, an authority site can easily have hundreds of pages of content. Additionally, the broader niche of an authority site means that there are many different directions that you can go in for content. This means that you never run out of content ideas.
One example of this approach is the site Wellness Mama:
The overall niche of the site is health, and as you can see, there are a wide range of different categories that the author focuses on, including recipes, fitness, remedies and health itself.
The site is one of many authority sites that seems to be doing well in terms of profit and income. In this case, Google estimates that the site has 1,700 pages indexed.
Google’s estimates on the number of pages indexed aren’t always spot on, but they do offer a strong indication that Wellness Mama is doing well.
An authority site ends up being a long-term investment and something that you can continue to develop and profit from for a considerable amount of time.
In general, websites fall on a scale, with micro-niche sites being on one end and authority sites being on the other.
There are no accepted criteria for working out whether a site is a micro-niche, a niche or an authority site and people often have different opinions about what category a site falls into.
However, that doesn’t really matter.
My point here is that niches span a wide range of sizes and they can be very specific or very broad.
As such, there are also many sites that are somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
An example might be a site on Weight Loss for Women or Weight Loss for Diabetes. Both of these areas have large potential audiences and there are also many different areas that you can focus on for content.
In general, it is best to stay away from micro-niche sites because they don’t rank all that well and it can be frustrating to find one that works. The only real exception would be if you know of a particular micro-niche that has very low competition and is likely to be profitable.
However, we will get into researching niches in a little bit.
Moving Site Types
It’s also very important to note that you are never confined to a specific type of site.
For example, it is fairly common for sites to move from being niche sites or even micro-niche sites to being authority sites.
Take the Wellness Mama site for example:
She could have started out the site as a niche site just focusing on one of those areas, like remedies or motherhood.
Over time, she could have expanded the site by adding other content or categories.
When it comes to expanding a site in this way, the trick is to expand into areas that are somewhat related to the original topic.
So, if you had a site in the niche of Weight Loss for Women, some areas you could consider would be diets, supplements, time-management, breaking bad habits and nutrition.
Expanding a site into an authority site is very achievable, but it is something that takes some planning and foresight. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a niche that doesn’t have many areas that you can expand into.
The Niche-less Website
The vast majority of websites have some type of niche, but there are some exceptions.
The most common of these is a personal blog.
Personal blogs are everywhere.
They are an exceptionally easy way to start a website, although unless you plan carefully, but making money from them is a different story altogether.
For most people, a personal blog doesn’t revolve around any specific niche or theme. Instead, the blog might focus on what is going on in their life or just what pops into their head on a given day.
It’s challenging to get much traffic or success on this type of site because you don’t tend to be writing about anything that people will search for or anything that actually helps people.
It is possible to make money from a niche-less site, but it is much more challenging and more chancy. In particular, if you make a niche-less site you have to rely on it being discovered somewhat randomly rather than being able to leverage a lot of traffic from keywords.
For example, one successful site that largely falls into the niche-less category is Wait but Why:
The site is kind of a humor site, but it is also a site that puts a lot of work and research into random topics including many that are quite complex.
It is a popular site with a large following – partially due to a lot of sharing across social media.
However, it isn’t a success model that can be easily replicated.
Because of this, it is best to avoid niche-less sites if you want to make money online.
Getting Started in Finding a Niche
Before you do any research about niches, competition or audiences, you have to take a step back and figure out what you want.
It’s tempting to try and figure out what the most profitable niches in the market are and pick one of those, but most of the time that is a very bad idea.
Whatever your niche is, your website is going to consume a lot of time and you’ll probably get sick of it a few times along the way.
Anyone in internet marketing will tell you that there are times where they are really interested in and really passionate about what they are doing, and other times where it simply doesn’t seem worth the effort.
This is particularly true early on in the life of a site and loss of motivation is one of the key reasons why internet marketers fail.
The thing is, if you are trying to build a website based on something that doesn’t really interest you, keeping your motivation gets so much harder.
As such, the best approach is to find a niche that interests you.
It’s so easy to think that who you are doesn’t matter – but people always perform so much better when they are doing something they care about compared to something they don’t.
The thing is – you can probably think of a number of different things that you have an interest in.
To start off with, sit down and ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my hobbies?
- What am I passionate about?
- What do I want to learn more about?
- What am I good at?
- What do I have experience in?
When you’re thinking about the answers to these, don’t focus on niches. Instead, focus on ideas. At this stage, it doesn’t matter whether they are good ideas or not.
For example, in recent years, I have had a strong interest in improving my health overall, including looking at what I eat and learning to cook new foods. I also am trying to remain active and am passionate about a number of different sports. I am also getting involved in gardening and am learning a lot along the way.
So, cooking, health, nutrition, gardening and sports are all very general things that I am interested in and I could pick apart specific areas of them if I wanted to.
These are just ideas and general themes, they aren’t niches as such.
However, you can take any idea and get it to the point where it becomes a niche.
Other Places for Ideas
If you are having trouble coming up with an idea for a niche, there are some other approaches you can take.
One approach is to look at blogs and posts online and see what catches your eye and interests you.
Ideally, you should still be looking for ideas that you have some level of interest or experience in, but looking for inspiration can help you to turn up ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
If you’re completely stuck, sites like StumbleUpon and Pinterest can be great ways to find ideas, because they let you look at things somewhat randomly.
Now, you are looking for a niche that is profitable, but you don’t have to figure that out at this state. Instead, you are just looking for ideas and concepts.
For example, this was the first page that came up with StumbleUpon for me:
It’s actually highly relevant because I love reading, and it suggests all kinds of potential niches. For example, a potential niche might be something to do with book discovery. Whether that is a good niche or not, I don’t really know, but that’s where keyword research comes in.
The second site that came up for me on StumbleUpon was this one:
Again, that suggests a number of possible niches, including a general health and nutrition niche to a more specific niche on foods to meet cravings.
It’s also possible to go in the other direction and figure out niche ideas by looking at products that you could promote.
Amazon is a good place to go for that because the site has a wide range of categories and also provides information about what is selling well.
Coming up with potential niche ideas is relatively easy.
As I mentioned before, I’m sure you can think of dozens of different things that you are somewhat interested or experienced in.
However, the trick is figuring out something that interests you and that has a market.
To do this, you have to take a closer look at the niche itself, the different ways of approaching it and the market behind it.
Realistically, if you are going to sell anything or get traffic to anything, the demand has to be there first. If it isn’t, then you will spend a lot of time and energy creating something that goes nowhere.
When you are picking a niche, you are also choosing a strategy. You are looking at how you are going to approach your site and how you are going to get people to visit.
This research plays a strong role in how successful your site ends up being.
For example, some people use their sites to promote really good products but fail to make any sales. Often this is because they aren’t targeting their audience correctly, and are attracting an audience that isn’t likely to convert well.
I’ve also seen really bad products sell (over and over again) because the site owner did a really good job of targeting their audience and their niche.
This means that you really do have to take the time to research your niche and to target your audience well. If you don’t, you risk creating something that simply doesn’t see the success that it could have.
Traffic, Competition and Niche Research
Figuring out a specific niche and approach starts with an idea, but the main work is in keyword and niche research. You need to be able to figure out how much competition is in a niche, how many people are looking for terms related to that niche and whether you can do something that will actually be successful.
To illustrate this, let’s step through a practical example – based on the concept of books that I found with StumbleUpon.
To do the bulk of the research involved, I’m going to be using a tool called Jaaxy, which is a keyword research tool. Personally, I like Jaaxy and it is especially good for niche research because of how easy it is to search a large number of keywords.
Say you have a passion for reading and wanted to make a site around that. Your first aim would be to get a bit more specific.
For example, we might start off by looking at a slightly more specific term like best books:
For the term best books itself, there is a decent amount of traffic, a bit over 7,000 searches, but it isn’t a good niche idea.
To start off with, it’s far too broad.
If someone wanted to read a good book, ‘Best Books’ probably isn’t a term they would use to search. The term itself tends to bring up the bestseller lists that are often published like:
Additionally, many of the sites that compile best book lists tend to have high domain authority and tend to be pretty difficult to compete against.
Further down the list of outcomes from the ‘Best Books’ search is one interesting one:
Now, this certainly isn’t a good keyword as it has a QSR of 443. The QSR is a measure of competition and lower numbers are better. Realistically, you want to aim for a QSR of under 300 before you even seriously consider a given keyword.
What’s interesting about ‘Online Books’ as a keyword is the sheer number of searches.
It also makes a lot of sense, because there are so many digital book readers out there now, and many writers are publishing their work electronically first, or even only electronically.
Searching this term itself shows that there is certainly a lot of interest in online books in general:
However, the question is, how do you turn this into a niche, much less a site.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to avoid any niches or topics with the word free.
If people come to your site looking for something free, then it is going to be quite difficult to get them to actually spend money.
The numbers we have so far look nice, but we have to keep digging to find something that will work well as a niche.
Here’s another interesting outcome:
There are a huge amount of searches for this term, and the QSR is relatively good for that many searches.
Additionally, Amazon actually has a huge affiliate program that applies to the vast majority of its products, including books and eBooks.
Instead of picking Amazon books overall, let’s see what happens if we pick a specific genre.
For example, this is the start of the outcomes for the term “Science Fiction Amazon Books”:
The term itself isn’t all that good, but as you can see there are a lot of low competition keywords in and around the topic that could be targeted.
The same thing happens if you look for a different genre:
I noticed many other keywords in the results that followed the same trend, low to middle traffic with relatively low competition.
So far, this suggests the possibility of developing a site around the concept of Amazon eBooks. This could either focus on a specific genre or focus on multiple genres with different sections for each genre.
Additionally, you can always drill down further in keywords or look at other areas to figure out something that works for you.
However, finding a niche that has relatively low competition and good traffic is only part of the story.
A good niche is one that makes money.
If you pick a niche that isn’t going to make money, then there isn’t a whole lot of point in starting a website at all (unless you are doing it for fun that is – but if you are – why are you here?).
This means two things.
- You have to have something to sell
- You have to have an audience who wants to buy
In the case of a site on Amazon books (let’s say science fiction books for the sake of argument), what you are promoting is pretty obvious.
Amazon hosts a large range of different science fiction books and even has a section of the story dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy (genres that frequently cross).
So, there are lots of products to choose from, particularly as new books are released frequently – both from established authors and from new ones.
As an example, you could develop a niche site where you talked about science fiction and honestly reviewed science fiction books. This could include picking out your favorites and discussing why specific books might work well for specific people.
This is a site that could also branch out to talk about products that tie into science fiction books, such as movies based off books and things like t-shirts, accessories and other products.
Google Trends also shows that interest in science fiction books and fantasy books has remained largely consistent over time and doesn’t really show any signs of slowing down.
This is another indication that the niche might be a good one.
In fact, you should always look at the trends in your niche as part of the research process. Google Trends is a good tool for this and it will show you patterns in searches over time.
To look at this, you can search for the specific keyword you are considering or for the niche as a whole.
Overall though, the niche that we are examining here looks like it might be worth the time.
Yet, there are still a couple of things to consider.
As I mentioned before, you need to actually be able to make money from the site.
With this particular niche, you do have a product to promote – however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will buy it.
This niche actually faces a significant issue on that front.
As I mentioned before, many people read books electronically instead of buying the physical version.
The problem with this is that any digital product can be pirated relatively easily.
This means that many of the people who visit your website would choose to pirate the books instead of purchasing them.
It’s likely that you would still get some people making purchases, particularly if your traffic was high enough. However, this issue might be enough to make you rethink the niche entirely.
When you look at how to choose a profitable niche market, another area that you have to consider is the competition.
Most people start by considering how many websites they are competing with. The QSR number that Jaaxy provides gives an indication of this and some other keyword research tools do also.
The number of websites you are competing against is important, but it’s only part of the story.
The other main component is how good those websites are.
For example, it’s normally easier to compete against 500 absolutely horrible websites than to compete against 20 really really good sites. In fact, this is why the internet marketing niche is so hard to compete in because the vast majority of people in that niche know a whole lot about building a successful website.
So, whatever niche you are looking at, you have to carefully consider your competitors.
For the most part, you probably won’t be able to outrank them immediately, but the real question is whether you can outrank them in time.
You can also use your competitors as inspiration as you can look at their sites and figure out what you could do better.
This is actually one of the key things to consider with your niche.
Whatever you do, regardless of how much competition there is in your niche, you have to be offering something that is different than your competitors.
This difference might be small or it might be large, but there needs to be something there to keep people coming back to your site and choosing your site over others.
For authority sites, this difference comes in the form of content.
Authority sites frequently try to offer a large and comprehensive source of information about their niche. This can sometimes involve hundreds of pages of content and trying to answer all questions that people might have about the topic.
One example of this is the following site, which attempts to be a comprehensive authority site on the Paleo diet.
In this case, it is the amount of content that the site has that makes it stand out from its competitors as well as the focus on researched and accurate information.
This isn’t the only way that sites distinguish themselves.
Another approach is by picking a specific audience or theme that can help distinguish the site. One example of this is Nerd Fitness:
In reality, the site is largely a fitness site, yet it gears itself well towards a slightly nerdy and geeky audience.
This really helps the site to stand out – a particularly important thing in a niche that is pretty competitive.
If your niche is less competitive, the things that make you unique and make you stand out may be less significant.
For example, it could be things like actually having a site that looks good and has good navigation or actually having well-written content that people enjoy reading.
In the case of the science fiction books site we talked about earlier, the approach of the site may end up being something that simply hasn’t been done well before.
The biggest thing to remember is that if your site is little more than a carbon copy of sites that are already out there, then you probably aren’t going to do so well.
Niche Selection – Is It Too Much Work?
As you can see, the process of how to choose a profitable niche market can be complex and time-consuming, particularly if multiple ideas don’t pan out in terms of traffic, competition or uniqueness.
It’s pretty easy to end up back at the drawing board time and time again because what you are looking at simply doesn’t seem to work.
You can give up and chance it on a niche, but it will always be a risk.
Yes, there are many people out there with successful websites who never did niche research. There are also many more people who failed because they never did niche research. At the end of the day, success in an online business is a numbers game. You want to be doing everything you can to increase your chance of being successful.
Picking a good niche is so very important because that niche is something that you are potentially going to be working with for a long time.
If you pick a bad niche or one that you don’t enjoy, then the process of making money online is probably going to be much longer and much more tedious than if you had taken the time to pick one correctly right from the beginning.
If you’re struggling with niche selection at all or if you have an idea that you aren’t sure about, one of the best approaches is to simply talk to others. You’re more than welcome to leave me a comment below and I’ll help you in any way I can.
However, a more powerful approach is to get feedback from a range of people. This is one reason that I recommend that people have a look into the Wealthy Affiliate community. Wealthy Affiliate is an online training website, focusing on teaching people how to make money though internet marketing, but it is also so much more than that.
One of my favorite things about the site is the large community of people that it contains. These people come from so many different backgrounds and help support one another, especially in areas like niche selection. So, bouncing your ideas off the people at Wealthy Affiliate can be a perfect way to figure out what niche is going to work for you and make you money.