Picking a niche is the most crucial step to starting an online business.
Unfortunately it is also the step were the most mistakes by aspiring marketers are being made…
Since picking your market and your niche within it is so important (This actually makes or breaks your business!) and most people screw it up I will provide you with a list of the top 3 mistakes that you have to avoid at all cost before going to show you my step by step process to picking a highly profitable niche!
So here are the 3 most common mistakes:
Mistake #1 – Not selecting a niche at all
If I had gotten a nickel for every time I have met an “internet marketer” that claimed to be doing business online for several years and when asked for his niche went silent in shame I would be a millionaire by now.
This is the biggest mistake of them all! Most guys will just go online read forums, buy product after product never getting anything done. Never taking any action, never even picking a niche to start with…
Don’t be one of those guys!
If you don’t have a niche, or at least a market you have decided to focus on… Well, than you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.
Hint: The same is true if you don’t have a squeeze page or a blog up and running where you are actively collecting leads!
Having a hobby is alright! Nothing wrong with that, but hobbies usually cost money. They don’t make any. So if you want to make money online stop being a hobbyist RIGHT NOW!
Mistake #2 – Picking a market instead of a niche
Weight loss is a market, not a niche.
Weight loss for women after pregnancy however is a niche, since a niche is always a subset of a bigger market.
Basically there is nothing wrong with picking a market, you may still be very successful.
However you are decreasing your chances for success significantly!
Let’s take the weight loss market as an example:
You will be competing with Fortune 500 companies as well as major magazines. They have professional authors, SEOs and media buying experts. Plus their advertising budgets are often in the high millions…
What do you have?
If you pick a market instead of a niche you are making things harder for yourself than they have to be, but in the end it’s your decision.
Mistake #3 – Picking a way to narrow niche
Whether you are into training your hamster or juggling burning cats under water doesn’t really matter. Your passions are your passions.
But please keep in mind that other people also need to be interested in it in order for you to be able to build a business around it.
The following is an easy way to tell whether your passion is actually a viable niche. Go to google and search for your “niche” + “forum”.
If you can’t find at least 2 forums that are dedicated to your niche idea than there is a very high likelihood that there is no audience or crowd actually interested in that particular topic.
Usually your best bet in that scenario is to come up with a new idea.
Ok, so now that you know what you shouldn’t do…
Here is the exact step by step process that I personally use to come up with new niche ideas for my business:
Step #1 – Mega-Markets
You have to realize that there are 5 mega-markets compromised of smaller markets. If you think about it this makes perfect sense since there are only 5 things that keep us humans going.
Besides shelter and food, these are also mega-markets themselves by the way, but not really suited for our purposes so I will ignore them in this article.
These 5 things are attracting and keeping a mate, making money, looking and feeling better, getting rid of or avoiding further pain and hobbies. If you take an even closer look you will come to the realization that most of them are actually at least somewhat about attracting a mate…
Now let’s take a look at these mega-markets and some of the “normal” markets they consist of just to give you an idea:
- Attracting and keeping a mate
- Pick Up
- Getting your ex back
- Saving your marriage
- How to find a girlfriend
- Online dating
- Making money
- Internet Marketing
- Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
- Improving personal sales skills
- Looking and feeling better
- Weight Loss
- Getting 6 pack abs
- Getting rid of or avoiding pain
- Back pain
- Quit smoking
- Eating healthy
- Stop drinking
- Model trains
Step #2 – Time to Make a Decision
Ok, now that we know the difference between a mega-market and a market it’s time to decide, which market, you want to attack. You don’t need to come up with a niche just yet. This step is just about deciding on the market your niche is going to be in!
Before deciding on the market you want to go for always ask yourself the following 2 questions to determine whether entering the particular market is even worthwhile.
Is your chosen market evergreen and will it still be around in 5 years from now? (Mandatory)
Farmville is currently a market within the hobbies mega-market, but is it really evergreen? I doubt that!
This is an example of a market you shouldn’t enter! At any given point in time it could be completely gone and with it your entire business.
On the other hand if we take weight loss as an example we can rest assured that this market will always be around, since there will and always have been people who wanted to lose weight.
Are people currently buying products in your chosen market? (Mandatory)
People are definitely spending money on games like Farmville, some are even purchasing game guides, fan wear and other stuff related to the game. But due to the fact that the answer to question number 1 was negative we are still not going to enter this market, I just wanted to stick with the example from above.
Weight loss is a proven market. People are buying weight loss related products all the time. Even ridiculous ones like the Shake Weight!
Are you sooner or later able to create your own product? (Optional)
Right from the get go you need to keep your endgame in mind!
If you are, for whatever reason, unable to create your own product in a market you might want to reconsider. Because in that case you might never be able to leverage the time, money and energy of others by recruiting affiliates.
That’s again one of those cases where you might be making things unnecessarily hard for yourself!
Some will argue that you could have your product made by somebody else, by outsourcing it… Well, from personal experience I would advise against that since those kind of products are usually of low quality unless you spend a small fortune!
Step #3 – Brainstorming Niche Ideas
Now that you have decided which market you are going to enter it is finally time to start looking for possible niches within that particular market.
The way I do it is I grab pen and paper and do the following 3 things until I have written down at least 5 different niche ideas in the market that I have picked.
Obviously there are different ways to come up with ideas… But these are the ones that are actually working best for me.
Combining two “normal” markets to one niche market.
This sounds abstract at first, so let me give you guys an example.
Yoga is a market and weight loss is a market, if we combine the two we end up with a niche: Yoga for weight loss.
Another example would be bodybuilding and back pain, the according niche would be something like: Build muscle to get rid of your back pain.
It’s important to notice that if you combine markets, one market becomes the vehicle to achieve the goal of a different market. In the above example bodybuilding is the solution to the back pain.
Please, take a moment and think about this, because understanding this is crucial when you end up crafting your marketing message!
Obviously for this to work both markets that you are going to combine must have passed the two questions from above and in the best possible case the third one as well!
Take a look at magazine headlines.
Just head over to magazines.com and type in your market, here are some of the results I got when I typed in weight loss:
Not only are magazine covers a great source of inspiration, but you may also use some of their headlines as USPs.
By the way, above I used weight loss after pregnancy as an example for a niche and I found that one on a magazine cover at a local gas station. That some women would want to lose weight after their pregnancy fast had never occurred to me before…
Look at the bestseller lists of Amazon.
Head over to Amazon and take a look at their bestselling books in your niche. Again, here are my search results within the weight loss market:
Doing a little digging on Amazon can go a long way! As a matter of fact you may find hundreds and hundreds of niches there alone.
A while ago Jay Abraham spoke about utilizing Amazon for your own marketing and coming up with niche ideas. I highly suggest that you watch this video!
Step #4 – Testing viability
By now you should have chosen a market and come up with 5 different niche ideas.
So far we have only been theorizing about any given niche, but now the time has come for some real infield testing to see which of our niche ideas has the biggest potential and is actually worth following through with.
When testing your niche ideas for the very first time you should follow the 3 step testing blueprint from below.
3 Step Testing Blueprint
Step 1: Free & paid traffic available?
The first step is to head over to the google keyword planner and take a look whether there are people searching for a solution in your niche.
In the example above we can clearly see that there are a lot of women interested in losing weight after pregnancy.
Conclusion: SEO traffic is available in that niche. If a niche gets less than 500 searches a month I would consider it not available however.
Next you should head over to Facebook and search for groups and fan pages…
A quick search of mine resulted in me finding half a dozen fan pages with over 500 likes as well as two groups with over 250 members.
Conclusion: Paid traffic is also available on Facebook.
Next I would check sitescout.com for media buying opportunities and after that CPM Mail Drops. This process highly depends on your favorite paid traffic sources and your proficiency in using them!
For example I totally suck at Google AdWords so I’m not looking there at all, but rather check those sources that I’m familiar with.
If you thinking about using solo ads make sure to read this blog post first: Why You Probably Shouldn’t Buy Solo Ads!
Step 2: SEO competition? Paid traffic competition?
Only because there is traffic for a certain niche doesn’t mean that you are able to get a hold of it!
So first we are going to take a look at our competition in Google searches. Here are the results for weight loss after pregnancy:
(BTW. Mind my sick paint skills 🙂 )
We got lots of search results and two authority sites that have already taken the first two spots, which receive most if not all the organic search traffic.
But even worse is the fact that it looks like they are optimized for this search string…
So let’s see whether we can outrank them or not. To check SEO competition I usually check the webpage ranked in the first spot in AHREF, here are the results for the WebMD page:
Bad news… we are not going to outrank that webpage.
Even if we could it would probably take way to much effort considering the potential profit.
Conclusion: We are not going to rank for our major keywords so we will probably not get any organic traffic unless we branch out and try to rank for long-tail keywords or change platforms and try to rank on YouTube.
With paid traffic things are bit different, we will not learn about our competition until step 4. More on that later…
Step 3: Affiliate products or CPA offers available?
Head over to ClickBank and try to find at least two products that target your niche. Even if you are going to create your own product you will want some cross-selling options.
It’s very important that there are at least two products available! If there is only one available and that one doesn’t sell you are screwed.
Next go to your favorite CPA network and check for offers that might appeal to your niche and pay attention to their EPCs to know what to expect.
Step 4: Initial traffic test
By now you have probably ruled out 3 to 4 of your 5 ideas as not viable. In this step we are going to test the remaining ones.
This is actually the most important step when testing the viability of any given niche. Don’t skip it even if you are planning on doing purely SEO!
Now we are going to get a squeeze page as well as a sales funnel up and running in our niche and start driving traffic to it for an initial test.
Setting up a squeeze page can be a daring task if you have no clue about web design like me (just look at this blog 🙂 )… However there is an easy solution for creating guru level squeeze pages using a paid WordPress plug-in called ProfitBuilder.
For the sales funnel I would recommend going with an old-school 7 day autoresponder sequence providing real value, however soft selling in the P.S. section of every single email!
Don’t have an autoresponder? Use the 30-day free trial of Getresponse, it’s the autoresponder I’m using.
The best way to drive traffic for this initial test is to go ahead and buy traffic on your favorite platform, for me this is Facebook, and see what happens.
After you have gotten your first 250 to 500 subscribers and ran them through your sales funnel you will know all the really important things about your niche, which are:
- Is the niche worth pursuing?
- Am I able to turn a profit in the long run?
- Where do I need to start optimizing?
- How fierce is the competition for paid traffic?
- Can I buy enough traffic, can it be scaled?
Important: Don’t expect to make a profit right away from this initial test!
Paid traffic needs testing and optimization to work. Hitting a jackpot right from the get go is very unlikely.
Yet it is super important that you run that initial test otherwise you might be wasting a lot of time and effort probably dumping lots of money on something that isn’t worth it.
However I realize that some of you might be working with a shoe string budget and lucky for you there are other options than paid traffic available.
If you don’t have the money for the initial test your best bet is usually to do forum marketing and to utilize other forms of driving free traffic.
If you are lacking ideas for driving free traffic read this blog post: Top 50 Free Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Site (will be published soon!)
SEO is however a bad choice for an initial traffic test, at least in my mind, because it takes too long to see results, plus you will usually have to spend money on it as well.
Because depending on your competition you might need a private blog network, software or you might have to outsource several tasks…
Step #5 – Entering the niche
Finally, it’s time for the last step.
This is actually the most important step of this entire tutorial.
Time to take action!
I have just showed you how to come up with an unlimited amount of profitable niches that are in fact profitable. Do something with it!
Seriously, if you read the entire post you probably spend at least 10 to 15 minutes of your time.
Remember the beginning of this post? The biggest mistake most people make?
They just read about stuff and never actually put it to use. If you do nothing, nothing is going to change.
Again, don’t be that guy. You deserve success, but you are the only person that can make it happen!
Not me, not some guru, YOU!
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
How do you come up with new niche ideas?