How to Select Your Niche

So far on our journey to build the Niche Super-Site we have discussed:

Remember, our overall goal is to build a niche site that returns $2/day in residual income with only a simple investment in cheap web hosting.

I begin today with a warning for all you WordPress users out there. If you edit your post in multiple tabs and use multiple computers, you can get distracted and confused and accidentally save an old version over a new version, losing hours of work. Not that I have any personal experience there….ugh.

That reminds me of my standard disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert on niche site building (and certainly not in WordPress file integrity). I am just trying to aggregate all of the information I can find and run it through my engineering common sense filter. This means that there is no such thing as easy money and that things sounding too good to be true usually are.

One of the most discussed aspects of niche marketing is the selection of the niche itself. Basically, most people will argue that you want to try to find an area to work where there is lots of potential traffic and low competition for keywords. These same folks also say that the niche should also have lots of great long tail keywords with low competition. Best of all, look for keywords that have PPC Adsense ads that deliver $300 per click. ūüôā Sure, that would all be great.

I agree that we should avoid super-high-saturation keywords. “Build a niche website” is a great example of an over-saturated keyword phrase. Other good examples are “weight loss” and “make money online.” To me, focusing exclusively on high traffic, low competition keywords is like asking for something for nothing. Everyone is looking for those tools. Some people are using fancy software to find those hidden niche markets. I know that they are successful sometimes, but counting on outsmarting 1000s of people hungry for easy money is not a great strategy.

I like the way Caroline thinks about this.

  • Start broad and go narrow using a free tool like WordTracker.
  • Use the Adwords tool to check volumes and advertiser competition
  • Use some common sense and focus on meaningful phrases

By way of extension, I will argue that we should pick our niche based on the following criteria:

  • Pick what you care about. Let's go ahead and pick something that we know or care something about. We are going to be working on this for a couple of weeks at least, so why pick “dung beetles” when we can pick our favorite hobby. Notice that I did not say pick something that we know. There is nothing wrong with picking something that we want to learn about. Maybe I want to learn about “dung beetles” even though I don't know anything about them today. If that is the case, pick dung beetles (especially for your first site). That will keep you going when thing aren't looking so great.
  • Pick something that you could evolve into an authority site. If you get lucky or really interested, you may want to evolve your site into an authority site. Just think of the fame that could be yours if you become the world's expert in “dung beetles.” Seriously, you might as well pick something that you could imagine having 100 pages if you find out that there is a market later.
  • Pick something with lots of traffic. If you go to wordtracker.com and find out that there are no searches for your niche, that is probably (although not always) a problem. You need something with high traffic volumes so you can find niches inside that traffic. Stay away from “dung beetle mating habits” — that is a low traffic niche.
  • Pick a niche that has Adsense ads available to be published. Nothing is worse than picking a niche where no one is advertising. One of our stated strategies is to monetize with Adsense ads. If there is nothing to advertise, we'll be in trouble. Note that no ads come up in Google for “dung beetle.”
  • Pick a niche that has products for sale. Check with Commission Junction affiliates like eBay, CafePress, etc. Look for Adsense referrals for your niche. Check ClickBank. Again, one of our stated strategies is to deversify our monetization strategy. A search for “dung beetle” on the Commission Junction site will not return many results.
  • Think about your market. This is just good marketing advice, but there is a twist for niches. I think you may want to stay away from super-techie web savy people. They will not be clicking on your ads and clicking through your links. They will recognize your site as a niche site designed to collect clicks and go elsewhere.
  • Pick your niche. Don't agonize. If you are on a plan similar to mine, you will be doing 10 or 50 or 100 of these. Don't sweat it. Get to work.

There are some great resources on Dosh Dosh to help you pick your own niche.

And now, for purposes of this demonstration, I reveal my case study niche:

DRUM ROLL….

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

Why Elvis, you say? That must be very competitive, you argue.

Well, let's look at the criteria we set:

  • Pick what you care about. I like Elvis. My mom likes Elvis (she shares a birthday with him, too). I can do a bad Elvis impersonation. Really. Elvis is not exactly my top hobby, but he'll do for the purpose of a case study. The Elvis franchise is probably worth billions — and I only want $2/day.
  • Pick something that you could evolve into an authority site. I can think of lots of ways to grow an Elvis site. Elvis fandom, Elvis forums, Elvis sightings (integrates with Google Maps and Twitter), Elvis gifts, history of Elvis, etc.
  • Pick something with lots of traffic. A quick look at WordTracker tells me that there are some decent keywords available with various combinations of trafic and medium competition (competing sites). There are no magical max traffic zero competition free money keywords for Elvis. I am not sure those really exist — and even if they do, they are only temporary.
  • Pick a niche that has Adsense ads available to be published. If you type in “Elvis” at the Google prompt or looks at the Adwords keyword tool, it looks like there are ads. I would expect that, given the number of affiliate products (below).
  • Pick a niche that has products for sale. Commission Junction has 1000 Elvis products and eBay is full of Elvis stuff (this is really good for us as you will see later). Some are really neat.
  • Think about your market. My mom and people of her generation. The are baby-boomers that surf the net at work and have disposable income. Sounds good.
  • Pick your niche. Don't agonize. If you are on a plan similar to mine, you will be doing 10 or 50 or 100 of these. Don't sweat it. Get to work, collect data, learn and repeat.

Tomorrow we will settle on a main keyword phrase, some secondary ones, and a whole bunch of long tail phrases for the niche product part of our strategy.

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