(Transcript continued from the Episode 101 show notes and audio podcast)

Late Night Listener Feedback: Difficulty Choosing a Niche

Daleep writes, “I am really stuck at selecting my niche. I think some of my ideas and then after some time I feel it will not work. Thus, I have almost run out of ideas. If you can give more examples of what are the possibilities of a niche it would be really helpful.”

Thanks for that, I appreciate that feedback. Here are a couple of things to think about in terms of niche selection before we get into some details about how to exactly select your niche, which we will discuss in the main segment today.

The first thing I would say is you absolutely should not stress out about picking your niche, especially if it’s the first time that you’ve tried to get into internet business. One of the things that we see all of the time is that people have a genuine desire to build a small business online and they’ve been told that they need to pick a niche. You would think they were donating a kidney, it’s a crazy high pressure thing where they’re trying to pick the right niche and they’re just not sure what to do.

Let me say it is a really important decision and it possibly is one of the more important decisions that you’re going to make, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t exactly get it right. You can adjust on the fly. We’ve seen lots of people who have selected niches and then understood that they were wrong and started over. It’s not like you’re committing to this for the rest of your life and 45 years from now you’re still going to be working in this niche regretting your choice.

It does help, though, to make a good decision. I think the other way I can take pressure of you is to tell you that there’s not a magical niche. I hear people looking for the low competition, nobody’s ever heard of it niche that they can go out and dominate that’s just magically high profit, kind of like prospecting for gold, because they found this abandoned goldmine that nobody knew about and they can sneak in there and build a $200,000 a year business based on a niche that nobody knows about because they were so clever about selection.

That kind of magic is very unusually rare. That doesn’t happen. We know what’s out there, we know what people are buying. The fact that people are buying means that these niches are not a secret, because people are out there buying the products. While some niches are definitely better than others from a competition standpoint and from a profit standpoint, there is definitely not this magical criteria out there where you’re going to find this thing that just starts dumping money into your bank account. All of this pressure about making a mistake or finding a niche that is good enough, it’s probably best to set that aside.

The other thing that Daleep said was, “I keep running out of ideas for niches. I don’t understand how to come up with all of these ideas.” The simple thing that I can tell you is that from an affiliate marketing standpoint anything that is being sold represents a possible niche. I’ve talked before about my buddy who has a website about helping people work better with their pharmacist in addressing pharmacy questions over at HelpfulPharmacist.com.

We’ve talked about possible niches and there are lots of very interesting things in the pharmacy niche. I’ll just give you one example that I’ve messed with before; blood pressure monitors, these things that you put on your arm and they tell you what your blood pressure is. That’s a very important device for a lot of people who are trying to maintain their blood pressure, track it over time, and talk to their physician about the results that they get on a day to day basis.

When you’re in the doctor’s office that’s one data point maybe once a month or whatever, but if you can track your blood pressure every day, or maybe twice a day, that really can help your doctor understand what’s going on, so these are important devices. And they come in a wide range of capabilities. All the way from the most simple ones that are completely manual that you wrap around your arm and pump up with a little bulb and listen to your pulse with a stethoscope.

By the way, if you’ve never learned how to take blood pressure, you should do that, it’s kind of fun. What the doctor or nurse is doing is listening for your blood pressure to start pulsing and to stop pulsing, that’s the low number and the big number effectively. It sounds like this kind of squishing sound, you can hear the blood start to be restricted when you very first start to hear it and then eventually the cuff gets so tight that the blood can’t get by anymore and those are the two numbers. A little aside there.

These blood pressure cuffs have an amazing range of capabilities and they get very expensive. For example, I have a Withings Blood Pressure Cuff that I’ve been using for a very long time that’s really cool. It’s Bluetooth enabled, it talks to my phone, and it automatically logs its data to the Withings app online. It also talks to Healthkit on my iPhone and it shows up in a bunch of my other apps. If I take my blood pressure regularly, when I go to the doctor I can print that out. If you go to LateNightIM.com/bloodpressure you can see that blood pressure cuff, it’s really cool.

That’s a really good example of a niche. You could build an entire website based on blood pressure monitors. Maybe an even better one would be an entire website based on monitors. You could do reviews of different thermometers that you measure your body temperature with, you could do blood pressure monitors, and you could do blood glucose monitors, and so forth. All of these things are for sale. Most of them are for sale on the internet.

You could write articles that help people learn how to use them, describe what the features are, answer frequently asked questions like how long do the batteries last and what’s the software to use, and give people advice about which ones to buy in different situations. Those are very helpful kinds of topics that you can address and that’s just one of a million examples.

What I would say is it’s impossible to run out of niches. I think what you’re looking for is the cross-product between something that is available to monetize to help people with and something that you’re at least mildly interested in. That’s going to be the topic of our main segment today is how to narrow down this long list of niches that we talked about in a previous episode and select the one that’s right for you.

Daleep, I hope that’s helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with a follow up question if you have one.

Narrowing Down Your Niche Idea List

I want to talk a little bit about what I teach in the Late Night Affiliate course about how to niche down and select your first niche, or to niche down into a niche in general.

In a previous episode we talked about how to brainstorm niches and I’ll just expand that a little bit and just say if you’re looking for a niche and you need ideas, just go browse around on Amazon. That will give you a zillion ideas from barbecue grills to blood pressure monitors to sewing equipment to lawn and garden stuff to telescopes to hunting knives. There’s just a billion things that are related to something that you might be interested in. Maybe you love to camp. There’s a ton of camping equipment for sale on Amazon. You can go back to Episode 98 to hear all about how to find a niche for affiliate marketing.

Once you have that long list of niches there’s this question of how do you pick one. Because I definitely do not recommend that you go off and start 14 different websites. I have been down that road – I’m still on that road some days. I’ve been trying to narrow that down. That’s something we’re going to talk about in a coming episode about this idea of having the one thing that you’re trying to make work, or as my friend Lynn Terry over at Clicknewz says, “work on something from start to profit,” work on one thing. I recommend that you pick one.

What I teach in Late Night Affiliate is sort of an evaluation matrix that you can use. Without going into all the detail of exactly how to do that, let me just tell you what the idea is here. For every niche I recommend that you evaluate a couple of key areas and then look at all of those areas together. I actually offer a really simple mathematical formula in the course to kind of score these niches in terms of their quality for you personally. That matters here.

One thing that matters is if this is a good niche, and that’s just a question about the commercial viability of the niche. Another question is if this is a good niche for you. Especially for your first website that is a really important question. There are some areas that I think you need to think about.

First level, I think this is really important and this is something that has been debated hotly over the years, but I think for your very first website you need to gauge your personal level of interest on a niche.

I’ll give you the example of a niche that I’ve often thought about getting into, that’s the niche of youth baseball. What’s my personal level of interest in youth baseball? I coach a team of eleven kids that are under 10 years old and we play baseball. I do that twice a week and we play on Saturdays. I’m very interested in youth baseball. My 9 year old son Zachary wants to talk about baseball and he is the biggest Texas Rangers fan that you can possibly imagine. We have a Texas Rangers baseball card collection and all this kind of stuff going on around baseball, and specifically youth baseball. So my personal level of interest in youth baseball is really high.

I think one of the things that you need to gauge when you’re building your first site is what is your personal level of interest.

The second thing I think you need to address is whether or not there is a way to generate content about this site. I would ask two questions.

Can you name some big topic areas that would be relevant for your site?

In my case for youth baseball, there are certainly some big topics that you can imagine on a youth baseball affiliate site. How to run a great practice and all of the topics around that. There are entire books, websites, and magazines around this idea of how to run a good youth baseball practice. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, I will tell you.

Another example you could come up with for youth baseball has to do with how to manage parents, how to manage the team, and the technology around managing the team. For my youth baseball team we use an amazing app called Team Snap. If you are out there in youth sports land coaching and you’ve not discovered Team Snap, I highly recommend it. This is an amazing app. You could write about how to manage the team and how to run it.

The other app that we use for statistics, just like Major League Baseball statistics that you see, we use an app called Game Changer. This whole idea of how to manage teams, the tools and tricks that you can use to manage your team, that’s another example of a big topic in that niche of youth baseball.

The question is do you have big topics in your niche? Another obvious one is going to be the different kinds of things that you need in order to be successful in baseball; gloves, bats, equipment and stuff. That’s where the affiliate relationship is going to come in. Do you have areas in the niche that you’re considering that you can write about? I think once you identify those areas that gets you to the next question and sort of the next level down.

For each one of those areas do you have a handful of topics or questions that immediately come to your mind that fit in that box?

For example, if you were sitting down having coffee with a friend and talking about youth baseball and how to manage the parents or how to run an effective practice, do you have really good ideas right off the top of your head of questions that you either do or don’t know the answer to right now that would constitute really good topics of discussion?

What’s the best infield practice? What are the best infield drills? What are the five best infield drills? What can I do with my outfielders? How can I help young players bat better? What do I do if I have a kid who doesn’t throw very well? How can I teach someone who doesn’t know how to throw very well to throw? So on and so forth.

For each one of those big areas are there a handful of questions that immediately come to your mind? If you have that, if you have some big topic areas – let’s call them blog categories for lack of a better phrase – and you have several topics that come to mind right out of the gate that are relevant to those categories, you have this question of content sort of covered, you know that you’ll be able to create content for this niche. That’s important because what we’re typically talking about doing in a niche is creating content, creating value through content, and converting those readers into sales of some sort. You need to be able to generate a considerable amount of content in order to participate in this kind of online space with content marketing.

Once you have a niche selected, you’ve assessed your interest in a niche (I’m interested, check) and you’ve decided that your niche is full of things to talk about (content, check) then the next question you want to ask;

Is it commercially viable? Are there products out there that people are selling online and making money?

Going back to baseball, if you go to Amazon and simply search for the different kinds of products like gloves, bats, training equipment and so forth, you’ll find there is all kinds of stuff.

It’s not enough just to have products, in my opinion. We’ve talked about this a little bit before. I think in the case where you’re doing product research on Amazon your products really need to meet two criteria.

One is they need to be of a price that makes them worth selling. You can sell $2.00 Frisbees on your website and make $0.16 a Frisbee or whatever, but you’re not going to do anything that really matters from a monetary point of view selling $2.00 Frisbees. I think for you to be successful running an affiliate business the products that you’re selling essentially need to have a three digit price tag in most cases. Many times it can be a very low three digit price tag. Sure, there are exceptions. Maybe a $75 or $50 product is great. I think you want to ask the question are there products in the $100 range or above that are for sale on Amazon.

I think the second question is are people buying them. One of the easiest ways to determine whether or not people are buying them is do you see products there that have lots of reviews. We know that a very small percentage of people that actually buy stuff on Amazon leave a review, so if you see a product with 200 or 300 reviews, or 50 or 75 reviews, and they appear to be real reviews, particularly if a lot of the reviews have the Verified Amazon Purchaser sticker on the review, that means that for every person that left a review there’s maybe another 100 people that bought that product and didn’t bother to leave a review.

I shop on Amazon all the time, I bet I’ve left seven reviews in my entire life. People generally don’t review products on Amazon on average, so if you see a product with a lot of reviews that means that a lot of people are buying it.

There’s that kind of test for commercial viability and the other test that you can look at is if you Google some phrases like “baseball bats for young players,” or “youth baseball bats,” or “youth baseball gloves,” or “baseball gloves for kids,” do you see ads on the right hand side and the top of the Google search results? Increasingly they have moved those to the top, but do you see listings in Google that are labeled as ads? If you do, that means that someone paid money for those ads – and as we’ve discussed many times before, marketers only pay for advertising if they are actually making money.

Now you’re going through this list of niches and you’ve identified the niches in your list that you’re interested in, that you can imagine creating content for, and that seem to be commercially viable. If you’ve done those things, I think any of those niches are good places to start. There are a lot of other detailed things that you can do that I talk about quite a bit in the course that can get you to the next level of detail, but if you just really want to select a niche go find something that you’re interested in where there is good content that you can create and where there is commercial products being sold. I think once you get all of those, once you get your list down to only possible niches that meet those criteria, you can pick your favorite one.

I think it really is that simple. Go with your gut and don’t stress out about all of this other stuff about whether or not it’s the right niche. You’re not passing this niche down to your grandchildren generations from now, probably. This is just an online business that you’re trying to go build. If there are other people making money in that niche, you can do it too.

Wrapping Things Up

That’s going to wrap it up for this episode of the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast. Of course you can absolutely go to LateNightIM.com/103 and leave me some comments, tell me about your niche, what’s going on there, tell about your niche selection woes and troubles and I’ll try to help you and we can talk about this episode. You can also find the show notes there, including links to Episode 98 where I talk about how to come up with the list in the first place.

By all means, if you are interested in learning more about building affiliate websites on a greater level of detail my course will be coming out over at Late Night Affiliate. If you just want to sign up to be notified as that goes long, please go to LateNightAffiliate.com, leave your email address, and I’ll be in touch to tell you what’s going on with the course. I’ve been soliciting feedback from those people about what they would like to see in the course, so if you want a little behind the scenes look that’s a great way to do it.

Your homework for this week is to get something done on your business. Go do something productive. Whether it’s picking a niche or working on your existing website, make something happen this week.

I’ll talk to you next week.

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