Finding a niche you can blog in for profit is often the hardest part of starting an online business. You can spend days, weeks and months trying to find your place on the web and identifying what you can blog about that will generate traffic and hopefully income.
There are many approaches to identifying a niche for yourself and usually it takes a combination of approaches and research techniques to nail it.
1 – Select a niche marketing strategy
Firstly have a think about what your blogging strategy is – Are you aiming to spend all you time and energy on one blog or one niche and develop an authority site in that niche so promote products or create your own products (or a membership site) or are you intending to create a portfolio of micro-niche sites that you’d like to develop and then leave on autopilot?
If you’re going for a high quality single niche that you can concentrate on then choosing the niche carefully and researching it is much more important as you don’t want to find out after months of hard work that you missed something. As you’ll also be spending a lot of time working on this niche then having something that interests you and can keep you fired up will make working on it much more pleasurable.
If you’re looking at developing micro-niche sites to build up a portfolio of different income streams then you can be less choosy. Micro-niche sites take less time and involvement to set up and you’re spreading your risk so you can afford to fail now and then and as you’ll be developing the sites then moving on to the next niche you don’t have to have the same level of personal interest in the subject.
2 – Look at yourself!
What do you already have that you can bring to the table and get a head start at blogging with? List your qualifications, skills, talents, experiences, hobbies, interests and passions and see if there’s any niches in there that you could use. It’s much easier to blog about something you’re passionate and knowledgable about so try and identify if there’s scope for blogging there.
If you can’t identify any skills, or interests you already have is there anything you would like to take a further interest in or learn yourself? Maybe you’ve never built your own garden shed but would like to – you could blog about building your own shed and even though you’re not projecting yourself as an expert in shed building there will be an audience of people out there who maybe want to build their own sheds and will follow your progress and get involved in your blog.
If you’re building a series of micro-niche sites then there doesn’t have to be as much emotional investment in the niche but if you’re planning on choosing just one niche then make sure you ask yourself if you’ll still be as interested or passionate about it in six months time.
3 – Is there an audience for your niche?
This one is quite simple – use a keyword research tool (see our resources page for suggestions) and search for keywords related to your nich and see just how many searches a day are performed for those keywords. Don’t assume that if there’s 100 searches per day that you’ll get 100 visitors per day though!
It’s estimated that the #1 site for any given keyword gets 42% of the clicks for that keyword so if there’s 100 searches per day and you can get your site to #1 in the search results then in theory you’d get 42 visitors from organic search (as a very rough guide).
Think about your promotion methods too. If you’re just relying on organic search results then the number of searches is important, if you can see other sources of traffic (such as an existing mailing list or related site you have) then it’s less important.
Don’t forget the ‘long tail’ keywords too – you might not be able to get a big slice of the ‘iPhone’ searches but you might be able to pick up enough of the traffic from ‘black iPhone leather folding case’ to make a difference so targetting these less competitive words is a good tactic.
4 – Analyse that audience
If we’ve established that there is an audience for your niche then it now becomes important to establish just what kind of audience that is. Are they people simply likely to be browsing or are they likely to be people looking to spend money? Is the niche targetting an audience that are passionate about the subject and willing to spend money or an audience that have a need that simply must be fulfilled or a pain that they would do anything to take away? All these things make the audience much more susceptable to being interested in your niche and eventually spending money.
Think about the longevity of the target audience too – people who own a dog will have that dog for years and probably buy another dog and keep buying dog products throughout their lives. People wanting to pass their driving test will eventually do so and then move on – but then there’ll be new people coming of age and wanting to learn. Both of these audiences can be profitable to you but keep in mind how quickly the audience will turn over.
5 – Economics!
You can establish this by first thinking about your keywords for your niche – so someone searching for ‘iPhone cases’ is much more likely to be spending money than someone searching for ‘iPhone tips’. Your keyword tools should also tell you just how much advertisers are willing to pay for your keywords.
If an advertiser is willing to pay a few dollars on Adwords for a keyword then it’s likely that they’re getting a return for their money. You should also do a Google search for your keyword to see just how many Ads appear down the right hand side of the search results. If the average cost per click for a word is low or there aren’t any advertisers then it’s probably not a very profitable keyword to have.
Consider how you intend to monetize your site too. Are you simply going to show Google ads and earn some Adsense revenue for every click one of your visitors makes on your ads? Are you going to promote affiliate products and take a share of the sale revenue? Are you going to produce your own products for sale?
Your strategy on monetizing your site can change and doesn’t need to be fixed but thinking about how your site can generate income from your visitors is vital. One big mistake often made is creating a site which attracts a lot of traffic but if that traffic does not not generate an income then you’re working for nothing (which is fine if you’re not doing it for the money but if you’re aiming to support yourself by blogging then a big fail).
Look around at what products are available to promote too. Check ClickBank for digital products and Amazon for physical products to start with – make sure there’s enough products available and they either fetch a decent price or have repeat sales to make it worthwhile.
6 – Competition
Wise man says choose your battles carefully! – Check out in Google just how many sites are competing in your niche. Use one of the keyword analysis tools to check the SEO of the top ten sites for your keywords. If there’s millions of sites and the top ones have all been around for years, all have high pagerank and thousands of links to them then unless you’re committed for the long term and can afford to not see a return on your investment for some time then choose some less competitive. This might not mean changing niche though – you could simply choose less competive keywords to target within the same niche.
7 – Opportunity Knocks
Sometimes a niche chooses you! – many keyword research tools let you generate keywords, analyze the search volume, competition and value of any given keywords and show you which products are available to promote for that keywords. Market Samurai (see resource page) especially makes it easy to quickly identify valuable keywords with good levels of traffic and low levels of competition so just spending an hour exploring keywords can easily highlight some great keyword opportunities and lead you to the niche you’ve been searching for.
Check out our resources page for a complete list of keyword and niche finding tools.