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Niche Site Duel 2.1.0: My Niche Revealed and What’s Next

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Niche Site Duel 2.1.0: My Niche Revealed and What’s Next

By Pat Flynn on

Niche Site Duel 2.0 LogoIt’s been a long and treacherous road to find that target niche to build a website for, but I’m happy to share that I’ve finally landed on one, and now we’re ready to move forward!

In my last NSD2.0 post, I published an article about a potential keyword and niche that I was thinking about getting into, although I wasn’t 100% committed to it yet.

The keyword: best minivan.

After conducting a few weeks of keyword research, I had a handful of potential keywords that met the requirements and criteria I created, but best minivan was the most interesting and appealing of them all.

I had recently purchased a minivan of my own and remember just how little information there was out there for someone like me – a person with an expanding family and no real interest in horsepower or other engine related features. I just wanted to know what van was right for my family.

Although the search criteria is little rough and the SEO competition (according to the numbers) looks pretty fierce, I think the market could use a top-ranking minivan specialist site or hub, as opposed to what is currently occupying the top 10 in Google, which are simply articles from various auto industry blogs and magazines.

I shared my thoughts and opened it up to you to see what the general reaction would be. Of course, many of you said, “Go for it!” and a lot of you were very supportive of the more challenging keyword. Others, however, expressed some concerns, including:

  • The search volume is extremely low (3,600 exact searches per month) and not worth the fight for the top spots in Google based on the keyword competitiveness. I knew this going into the keyword and was okay with it because of the long-tail keyword potential, and also the fact that if the site were to become the TOP place on the Internet to get any and all information about minivans, Google Search volume would be a small piece of the overall incoming traffic pie. Potential links from other sites, including some of these other top auto magazines, as well as mom blogs and similar sites could provide massive amounts of traffic. The keyword was essentially a way to break into that market, not how to take it over.
  • The content would have to be updated constantly due to new minivan models coming out each year. This is true, and initially I thought of this as an advantage, because more content means more opportunity to be found via Google and more opportunity to make a connection with an audience. The concern is valid though – do I want to feel forced to keep updating the site each year?
  • Some of you voiced concern that the minivan niche would be boring. I can definitely see where those people are coming from because generally speaking, minivans aren’t that exciting. But, I actually geek out about my minivan, and I think people are likely to trust and follow people who geek out about the things they are interested in. That would definitely help me and the site stand out of the crowd.
  • Monetization strategies weren’t exactly clear. I saw a lot of ad and sponsorship potential, but at the same time if I could make it obvious that by spending $200 could save a person $2000 at the dealer, people would do that in a heartbeat, and with a large purchase like a minivan, that’s a scenario that is not out of the question.
  • If I built a site that helped people purchase a minivan, even if I were to give them the best information possible and created a deep connection with them along the way, after they make their purchase they’d have no reason to come back and stick around. 

That last one definitely got me thinking, and it’s the main reason why I decided not to tackle the keyword best minivan for NSD2.0, although the others did play a role in my decision too.

I know some of you are going to be disappointed because it would have been a really interesting experiment to see how I could tackle this niche and what kind of traffic I could get or how much money I could earn from it, especially considering it’s a keyword with relatively low search volume and high SEO competition.

I did have a lot of things planned, including a quiz tool so that potential buyers could answer questions about themselves and their family and it would spit out a few of the best options for that buyer. I also had some really interesting infographics in mind (Neil Patel style), and even a YouTube component with some high quality videos with actual drivers of those vans, and the dealers who would sell them too.

Sticking Around

You can make a lot of money by providing information that people use once and then never need again. My first business was exactly like this, and I did make a lot of money from it  – over $425k. Looking back, however, I wish I had taken a different approach. Let me explain…

My first business can be found at GreenExamAcademy.com. It’s a website that mainly serves professionals in the building and design industry who are looking to pass the LEED exam. It did very well and it still earns a few thousand dollars per month from study guides and practice exams. All of the products are digital and automatically delivered, so all I need to do is spend an hour or two each month to keep it running smoothly.

The thing is, once people read the material on the site and/or purchase a guide and then pass the exam, there’s no need to come back. In fact, the last thing that people want to do after passing the exam is see anything related to it.

I remember helping one particular person through the entire exam experience, from start to finish. He purchased my material and had sent me an email asking me for some additional help because due to circumstances at work, he really needed to pass this exam the first time or else he might be let go. I knew what that was like, so I decided to help.

We chatted on the phone every few days when he needed help or guidance, and then a couple of weeks before the exam we did a half hour call each day. I didn’t charge him for this.

Then exam day rolled around, he took the test, and he passed! He called me incredibly excited after he found out his score and he said he would do everything he could to share my website with his colleages at work and anyone else who was interested in passing the LEED exam. I even got a thank you note in the mail the next week from him, which was really really cool.

Since then, I haven’t heard from him. We obviously connected professionally on a level much deeper than most people would online, and even after all that, the relationship didn’t really carry over after the exam. There was no reason for it to. I didn’t give him or anyone else the a reason or an opportunity to work with me further or benefit from any information I had to share.

There are over 12,000 paid transactions made on GreenExamAcademy.com, and a lot more traffic that had passed by. Imagine if each of them had a reason to stick around after passing the test.

I’m obviously very happy with the success of my business – don’t get me wrong – but If I had known better I would have created a business that extended the relationship I had with these test takers after they took the test. There are ways to do that, such as creating a hub for professionals who have passed that exam and are implementing those design streategies on into their building plans, and it would be relatively easy to keep them around and there are a lot of product opportunities there as well. Other websites have already sprung up to serve that part of the market.

Not everyone would stick around, but many people would if they had a good experience and had the opportunity to.

The easiest customer to sell to is a previous one.

If I were to go into the minivan niche, and work really hard to create amazing content and build relationships with my audience, the same exact thing would happen after they purchase a minivan – they wouldn’t care about the content anymore and have no reason to come back. And in this niche, it’s less likely that I could create something to keep them around after purchase. Vehicle maintenance? That’s not something you think about after you purchase a minivan!

A minivan owners membership club? Probably not.

If you selected a niche and it’s not an on-going opportunity with your audience (meaning after a certain point they are done with your site), don’t worry – because like I said, GreenExamAcademy.com has been an amazing, profitable life-changing business for me – but for the purpose of NSD2.0, I’d like to explore a niche that could also keep the audience around for much longer, even after potentially purchasing products and benefiting from the content I produce.

It’s much more challenging but it could also be a lot more rewarding.

So Pat, What Niche Are You Going to Get Into?! Come on!

So now the part that I’m sure you’re all waiting for: the big reveal of the niche that I’ll be tackling for NSD2.0.

There’s no going back now. Well, that’s not true, you can always go back and pivot when you need to. That’s the beauty of all this – but for me and NSD2.0, this is where I’m headed.

The keyword I found is: food trucks for sale.

The local exact match search volume is 12,100 and the keyword competitiveness is only 30.

For comparison, best minivan is 3,600 local exact match search with a keyword competitiveness of 39.

Here’s a chart of the competitor analysis tab for food trucks for sale in Long Tail Pro:

Niche Site Reveal - SEO Comp

My seed keyword was food trucks, which I found after doing a keyword day.

What is a keyword day?

After getting mixed reviews for best minivan, I decided to spend an entire day writing down everything I did, from the moment I woke up, to the moment I went to bed. I wrote down everything I did and everything that caught my attention, and one of the things I did that day was visit the food trucks that come around my neighborhood twice a week.

So, food trucks was on the list (amongest a few hundred other things), which led me to finding food trucks for sale in Long Tail Pro.

After discovering this keyword and getting really excited, when the food trucks rolled around again a few days later, I decided to investigate.

Pat at Food TruckI got there early before the dinner rush so I could have time to chat with people working on each of the trucks. I went up to each truck and started with:

“Hi there! Do you mind if I ask you a quick question about your food truck?”

They all said, “Sure!”

Then, I asked, “Where did you get your food truck?”

All of them had different answers.

A few said they didn’t know because they just worked on the truck, while others said they bought it from someone else who had a different truck and they just re-branded it. A couple of truck owners mentioned a few other places around here to purchase a truck.

One said they purchased their truck in Los Angeles, but then had to gut it out and re-do it because (and this was good information), each county has different health regulations and codes for food trucks.

I asked a few followup questions to keep the conversation going and dig deeper, and this is where it got interesting.

“If I wanted to start a food truck of my own, how would I do that and where would I start?”

All of them hesitated, and I got a lot of mixed answers ranging from “you should work for another truck first to get the experience” to “just do a Google search”.

Then I asked, “If I get started, is there any place online where I could learn how to get better at it. A central place for getting started and marketing tips, learning all the ins and outs and things like that?”

All of them answered “No.”

Then I asked, “If there was a website that had some really good tips for marketing your food truck, hooking up with helpful services, information on food truck gatherings and things like that, do you think it would be useful to you?”

All of them answered with something to the tune of “Definitely!”

Then I followed up with, “If you read about the success stories of other food trucks and maybe listen to interviews with their owners and how they do things, would that be something you might be interested in.”

Again, all of them answered with a definite “Yes!”

I know this was a small sample of food trucks, but after my conversations there and some research online, there doesn’t seem to be any hub for food truck owners to get better at the food truck business.

Also, I found this keyword, food trucks for sale, which are all being searched for by people who want to get into the food truck business. There’s also related keywords like how to start a food truck (1,300 searches), food truck business (1,000 searches), used food trucks for sale (2,400 searches), purchase a food truck (2,400 searches) and a slew of other related terms with similar search volume.

To me, there’s an opportunity here.

Google Trends also seems to be showing an upward trend in searches for food trucks, and although most of the people on these graphs are probably looking to find food trucks to buy from, where there are buyers, there will be also besellers.

Google Trends for Niche

Additionally, I remember seeing a show on Food Network called The Great Food Truck Race, which is a reality type show about food trucks competing for business. They actually tally up the sales and send the lowest earning trucks home each week, and then the survivors move to the next location or challenge. They wouldn’t make a show about food trucks if they didn’t think it was popular, and the show’s popularity means there’s even more opportunity down the road.

There’s a lot of opportunity, it seems, to serve this particular market, and it’s not a one-time “once you get the info and use it, you’re done” type of thing like with the minivans.

Instead of targeting food trucks for sale, I’m using that keyword as a sign that information and products for food truck owners could be a great niche to get into. Plus, a website like this could build a long term relationship with food truck owners, instead of what would have happened with the minivans.

Food trucks for sale could be an entry page on a bigger site, and after a person buys a food truck what are they going to have to do? A lot more stuff to help get their new food truck off the ground, which is what the site could be about.

There’s also a lot of potential for monetization as well. Obviously, people who purchase food trucks have some money to spend, but I think they are willing to spend even more if it means it’s going to help them create a successful food truck business.

If I could create THE #1 online resource for food truck owners, imagine how many other companies and brands would want to be a part of that – from sellers of food trucks and all of the equipment inside, to food and drink suppliers and companies who are hosting events and the companies who paint the artwork on the food trucks to website designers…the list goes on and on!

This is obviously a big undertaking, so like best minivan, I definitely think tackling this keyword would be a fun and interesting challenge for everyone to follow along. This isn’t going to be a 5 page mini-site though, this is an all out brand that must provide value to this particular target audience.

That should always be the goal.

I’m going for it, and I hope you’re ready to come along. :)

Mastermind Learning Group and Leaderboard Update

The leaderboard is complete, it’s just undergoing some final tests right now, but the timing is perfect because once I reveal my url and brand strategy in my next NSD2.0 post, all participants will have access to sign up to the leaderboard.

Also, when you sign up to the leaderboard you’ll get access to a special forum where all participants can communicate and learn from each other.

This is going to be huge!

I decided not to do a Facebook Group like I did for my Kindle book case study simply because I learned that as awesome as a Facebook Group is to build a community and keep people connect, it’s a terrible place for keeping track of previous conversations.

There are going to be a lot of questions asked and experiences shared, and I wanted that to all be easily accessible.

I hope you’re as excited as I am!

Regarding the Mastermind Learning Groups:

I’m 80% through all of the NSD2.0 Mastermind Learning Group applications (there were 600+ to go through). If you applied to the MLG, you will hear from me by Saturday, June 29th whether you are accepted into the group of 5 or not. I haven’t emailed anybody yet.

Again, I wish I could take everyone, but that would be impossible! I hope you don’t take offense if I have to say no this time around. You know I’ll always love you. :)

In the comment section below, let me know what you think of my decision to tackle the food truck owner (or soon to be owner) niche.

In my next post, I’ll cover my thought process for selecting a URL and overall brand strategy. I’m not specifically targeting food trucks for sale initially, but I’d like to target that space which includes that keyword and more.

We’re on the move!

If you’re ahead of me and would like to purchase a domain and hosting account to get your site started, click here for my affiliate link for Bluehost domain and hosting, which is my top recommended host for niche sites when you’re just starting out. I do earn a commission from your purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Currently, there’s a sale for $3.95/month, so it’s a pretty awesome deal.

Thanks, and if you have any questions, please let me know. Cheers!

Pat

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