When starting a website, a niche is the first item on your to-do list. Many people struggle with this step and some even spend months poring over every possibility until Analysis Paralysis sets in. I am going to share a quick but sure way of getting off to a good start.
Starting a niche site is really about understanding your market potential. You need to know whether there is a demand and if yes, what kind and level of competition are there. If you did not research clearly, you may just drown in the red ocean because other similar niche sites which are more established and manned by teams of bloggers will simply CRUSH yours’. I have been crushed several times in trying to pit against those giant sites. In this blog, I go through the proven steps that will put you on the profitable track for your niche site.
what is a niche?
A niche is a community of people looking for something. In other words, it is like an interest group and the ‘something’ can be a service or a product. Take drones for example. It is a popular niche and people search online for information regarding drones (models, pricing, benefits, usage etc.).
So your site will need a niche to begin with. Otherwise, it will end up floating to nowhere and you will have little chance of monetising it later.
blue ocean niches
It stands that if you can find a niche that is in demand yet has low competition, you will do well. That is true but it is an idealistic situation and you are unlikely to find such a blue ocean niche unless you are the first or pioneer creating this new blue ocean niche.
Take blockchain technology which was unveiled in 2008. If you have started blogging about it then, it would be blue ocean because so few people knew what it was, much less foresee its tremendous growth.
HOWEVER, you shouldn’t take this as negative news.
There is always demand for a niche, no matter what you think. Golf balls are an example. There is a niche for it and people are searching online for the best golf balls that can improve their game and make them the next Tiger Woods. I was like, “What?”
Yeah, so just because you don’t think there is a demand doesn’t mean there isn’t. On the contrary, we are usually wrong when we assume so.
There is no need to search for that blue ocean niche but there is a way for choosing a profitable niche that will bring in income for you.
how to choose a profitable niche?
To choose a profitable niche, these are the steps.
1. Look around your environment (office, home are excellent choices) and find something you or others are using
This is the fastest way to get some preliminiary ideas for your niche. At the end of day, your niche should lead to a product or products you can monetise from. Therefore, by observing what you or others are using in their daily lives, you can get a feel of the ‘demand’.
2. Research that product using Google Trends and run some sample keyword searches on Google as well
A good way to understand demand is to use a tool known as Google Trends. This is a free tool and you can use it to get an idea of the demand trend for the keyword. For example, let’s say I am interested in starting a niche about desk lamp. I can run a quick analysis on Google Trends and out come the results below.
Let’s understand what Google Trends says regarding desk lamp. First, the results is for Worldwide trend over the last 12 months but you can also set it to a specific country (USA, UK) to focus on a particular country.
As you can see, the trend is pretty stable. This means people generally are searching for desk lamp throughout the year with a spike up in Nov 2017 (peak search) and the lowest point in May 2018.
How is this useful for our niche, you ask?
By understanding trends, you can be sure that your niche is in stable demand throughout the year or if it is seasonal. With that, you can anticipate when sales are likely to happen. Google Trends does not tell you the volume of searches but anything above 75 is probably a good start as it shows a healthy demand for the keyword.
3. If it seems like a niche people would be interested in, brainstorm 30 blog post content ideas that you can write on this niche
Now that you have a niche (Desk Lamp), it is time to consider how you want to work this. Is there sufficient content you can write on it? Before you start registering your domain, it pays to invest some time (an hour or so) to research and brainstorm 30 blog post ideas on this particular niche you have just chosen.
Are you struggling to come up with content? If you are, you may need to assess if this niche is for you.
Often, the lack of content ideas (for a particular niche) can be attributed to a few factors. The first thing to check is if the chosen niche is something along your passion or are you trying to get in because someone suggests it is profitable? A lack of interest in the subject matter can make it very challenging to produce quality content.
However, this does not mean you have to be an expert in the niche. As long as you have a genuine interest to learn about the niche, you can slowly grow your knowledge and be an authority. Many people I know started that way from scratch and are producing profitable niche sites.
To get content ideas for your niche site, try to put yourself in the shoes of your visitor and imagine the type of questions they may ask. Let’s recycle the desk lamp niche. When someone is planning to buy a desk lamp, there are various things they may want to know and these can become your keywords. Each of the keywords below can be a 1000+ word article.
- What type of desk lamp is best for the eyes?
- Will desk lamps cause vision problems?
- How long does the light tube of a desk lamp last?
- How to change the light bulb of a desk lamp?
- Can I change the color tone of the light bulb?
- How much should I pay for a desk lamp so as not to feel ripped off?
- I have a fish tank, can I use a desk lamp to illuminate it at night?
- Is a desk lamp cost efficient or should I just rely on the ceiling lighting?
- I am planning to buy a desk lamp for my 6 year old. Is it hot to touch when in use?
- Is it okay to study/work in the dark with a desk lamp?
- How to position the desk lamp for optimum result (minimum eye strain)?
- 10 Benefits of investing in a desk lamp
- What’s the right wattage for a desk lamp?
- Should I only get a LED powered desk lamp?
- Should I discard my old incandescent desk lamp?
- Understanding the difference between fluorescent vs incandescent vs Led light
There you go, 16 immediate blogging ideas for the desk lamp niche. I did this in 20 minutes while researching online what people are looking for. In case you are not aware, each time you type a keyword into Google search, Google will throw up a list of possible questions. These are questions other people are searching online, which is really great because I don’t have to second guess what kind of questions/topics people are interested in.
Using this method, you can easily put together a list of 30 keywords or more.
4. With those content ideas (keywords), run them through Google again and get a feel of your competition.
With the 30 keywords you have, the last step is to go through them by typing them into Google search and reviewing what comes up. Let’s take the keyword “Will desk lamps cause vision problems?” as an example.
When you type in this keyword, you can see on the first page of Google search results the following top 3 sites, followed by the 4th which is Quora.
This gives you an immediate glimpse of your competition and top of the list is a UK site known as lovechicliving. It is a great site and it is ranking number one for this keyword and before you turn away losing hope and all, let’s understand what lovechicliving is all about. Essentially if you click on the site, it has this one article for the keyword you are trying to rank for and the article is about 600 words in total.
You have a chance to catch up or even rank number one if your niche is singularly on desk lamp and if you write a solid piece of article that provides greater value for your visitors.
You see where I am driving at?
It is possible and with niche sites that cater to a more narrow scope (a singular focus on desk lamp as opposed to interior design which includes desk lamp and many other items), your target is even clearer and chances of you ranking number one in this micro niche is going to be higher.
So here’s the method to do it. Always analyse your competition and see where they are at. If they are providing great value at 600 words ranking number one for the keyword you are aiming for, you have a good shot and would make it to the first few positions at least if you publish quality content which is something anyone can do with a fair amount of effort.
5. If you think you can trump your competition, go for it and register your niche domain
Final step is to register your domain and start publishing your blogs.
Getting a good domain name is very much an art by itself. Unfortunately, on most days, the names we normally want are not available but hey, that’s not the end of the world.
Again, I am going to use the desk lamp niche as an example and show you over the shoulder how I would go about doing it to make my niche site stand out.
My initial idea was to involve the word ‘lighting’ and so I went for lightingdigest.com. A quick check online revealed this url was taken up and actually it is for sale for USD 1995. There is even a 24 month payment scheme available for people who do not want to pay the lump sum.
Unless you really had to have it, I suggest going for another domain instead of forking out that USD 1995. I decided to try desklampreport.com and this time, I hit jackpot. Not only is this domain name available, ‘desklampreport’ is not used by other TLDs (Top Level Domains) such as .net, .org. This is a very good sign because it means you are going to own this unique domain name and it is unlikely your visitors will end up at the wrong site simply because they type .org instead of .com. Some people will simply buy up all the TLDs to ensure no one comes in as a competitor using the same domain name. In other words, I can lock in my domain name by buying desklampreport.com, desklampreport.org and desklampreport.net, making it impossible for anyone to hijack my traffic.
Well, I find this approach a bit…aggressive and I don’t advise it generally as others who see that desklampreport.com is taken are unlikely to go for desklampreport.org or .net since the name itself already is taken up by another blogger.
6. Monetising correctly
Unless you are doing this purely for the sake of sharing information, the purpose of most niche sites is to create some form of monetisation so that your efforts and passion can bring back some commission or ideally a passive income that is recurring.
With monetisation, the mistake of many people including myself is to do it too fast too early. Many bloggers populate their posts with affiliate links because they hope visitors will click and purchase through them.
With Amazon Affiliates, the pressure is further felt as their policy stipulates three qualified sales within a grace period of 180 days. If this is not met, your Amazon Affiliate account gets rejected and you have to re-apply and update every single affiliate link on your site because the old links no longer are valid.
Such concerns and expectations mean people try to monetise every single blog post, but I am telling you not to worry about monetisation until you have at least 30 ranking articles (blog posts) online. This may take you anywhere from 2 to 3 months to publish and in that period of time, you should not worry at all about affiliate links. Just leave them and focus on creating the best quality content for each of your keywords.
Why is this so?
When your blogs are published, they take time to be indexed by Google and other search engines. Then they need time to compete with other competitive sites which are ranking for the same keyword. You may have written an excellent article but still it takes time for it to rank and to move up in ranking as more and more people click and visit your site. Google has their unique algorithm of ranking sites and though none of us will ever know what’s in that formula, a common sense approach is to focus on content quality.
Yes, content quality is NUMBER ONE! Social media, SEO are add-ons that help but without quality content, your site won’t move up in ranking significantly.
So here’s the recommendation. Go all out to create your 30 blog posts, making sure they are of the utmost content quality you can possibly write and then publish them.
Then it is months of waiting for them to rank and the thing with ranking is that it is very difficult to say which keywords your website is ranking for. You may think that your blog post title is the main keyword and rightly so, but your entire content will also result in your blog being ranked for other keywords you might not have imagined of.
Thus, ranking is not a linear one-keyword affair. There is more to it and that’s why it is inaccurate to conclude your ranking by just the end of the first month. Over the ensuing months, your blog will earn ranking for other keywords and around the 10th month to a year down, your blog will receive 90% of its full ranking and traffic potential.
To illustrate what I mean, my website received 438 unique pageviews for its first month which is encouraging but nowhere near to the level of traffic to result in any meaningful monetisation. At anything below 1000 pageviews per month, you are not likely to experience strong affiliate sales nor fees from Google Adsense either.
This is the reason why monetising does not hit its maximum impact at the beginning and there is no need to rush in. In fact, rushing in may get you a few sales but often times than not, a heavily affiliate-link populated blog will incur the ‘wrath’ of Google who treats it as kind of spammy and overly-salesy.
Remember, Google is not here to help you sell. Their main goal is to deliver the best content to their customers and if you get this right, you will end up with a win-win situation over time. Google which acknowledges your blogs as of quality content will rank your site favourably and that’s when you can think of how to monetise your site.
Need proof of this strategy? Think Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income who in my opinion, is one of the best internet marketers. His site has affiliate links all over but he is ranking superbly well for the personal finance niche which by the way is a very competitive niche.
Examining his success, what we can learn is that Pat Flynn provides very helpful content and most of that content is free. He monetises his content briefly with a pitch usually at the end and it is brief. Google, YouTube have no problem with that since he is providing lots of value to his visitors.
Do the same and you will see traffic coming in, beyond which you can go about monetising it. Monetising is a by-product of your value to your audience and fan base.
7. Success and repetition
The rule of creating a profitable passive niche site is to focus on one site at a time. Unless you are supported by a team of writers (which you can outsource at Fiverr or Upwork), it is advisable to just stick with one site until you have completed at least 30 blog posts. After that, you can move on to your next (new) niche site.
If you try to tackle too many sites at one go, you can easily lose the momentum and fatigue can set in, even if you are doing this full-time.
Creating a profitable niche site does take time but it is also important to get it right from the beginning. From experience, the best way is to focus on content first before monetising it later. Once you get the traffic rolling at 30-40,000 pageviews per month, you can easily tweak your monetisation strategy whether it is affiliate links or ads. With no or little traffic, the best monetisation effort does not matter.
As a bonus, you are free to use the niche idea mentioned in this blog. As of writing, desklampreport.com is still available and if you like to tackle this niche, you are welcome to take on the keywords and domain name if you want. That’s my gift to you.
I hope this content helps and if you find it useful, please spread the word and share it with your network.