Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of emails about niche selection and how to choose the right topic when starting a new website or a blog. Most people tell me that all of the good ideas (or keywords) are already taken, that there is too much competition and no more room left for them.
If you feel this way, or you know someone who does, this post will help.
Picking a Niche is Difficult
Because it’s important.
It’s right up there with choosing where to live, who to date, or what degree to get. Your actions and your entire future start the moment you make a decision – and of course, you want it be the right one.
When someone says “the good ideas are already taken” or “there is no room left for me,” what they’re actually saying is this:
“I’m this close to giving up.”
There are an infinite amount ideas that can turn into successful websites and online businesses, even within saturated markets, you just have to spend time to figure it out. It is NOT easy, and if you really want this, you cannot give up.
Selecting a niche is a long-term decision, but if it’s the wrong one, it’s not a long-term loss. You may fail, but as long as you learn it is time well invested.
Of course, it’s always good to start off on the right foot, so here are some tips and strategies to help you during your niche selection process so you can give yourself the best chance.
Forget “Brand-New.” Think “Better-New.”
In order to succeed online, you cannot do what everyone else is doing.
Follow the crowd, and get lost in it.
You know this.
Unfortunately, many people interpret this to mean that they have to create something totally brand-spanking new, something completely innovative that has never been done before, in order to succeed.
This creates a tall mountain to climb because:
- It’s difficult to think of something totally brand-spanking new.
- Even if you do, you are playing in unknown territory.
The more intelligent approach is to forget about starting fresh, and start with something that’s already working, and make it better.
In the early 2000s, the Segway was invented to revolutionize how people walked and how streets and cities were designed.
So what happened?
Segways are now banned on the sidewalks of 30 states in the U.S. and security guards at the mall are taken a little less seriously.
Changing how people walk is a tough mountain to climb.
Now take Tesla Motors, on the other hand. Tesla isn’t reinventing how people get around – the company is still making cars – it’s just making the car better by making it smarter and more efficient.
The Tesla Model S recently won the award for the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
People want better, so give them better.
It doesn’t matter how much competition there is – if you can give them better, and milk it, you’ll win.
So how do you know what’s better?
Simple: Be the market.
Be a consumer, a customer of products within that market, and be conscious of your experience and the experience of others in that market as well. Read comments, reviews, participate in forums and discussions and truly get to know who your potential target audience is by becoming a target yourself, and figuring out, along the way, what needs to be improved.
The only difference between you and everyone else in that market is you’re there on a mission to make things better.
Specialize and Own
Another issue I come across when I discuss topic selection with people is that they think too big:
“I want to start a site about photography, but it’s way too competitive.” or,
“I want to create a blog about cars, but I don’t think there’s any room for me.” or,
“I want to start a site about pets, but the first page of Google is all PR6 and PR7 sites!”
In general, it’s great to think big and shoot for the stars, but when it comes to niche selection you can get more results, faster, by thinking specialized.
Start by picking a market that actually interests you. The competition doesn’t matter at this point – just pick something you like.
Then, you’re going to pick a sub-section within that market, and then keep going deeper and deeper until you can get to a point where there’s a need and you feel like you can create THE GO-TO RESOURCE or become THE GO-TO PERSON for that topic.
Whenever anyone mentions that topic in conversation, your site or your name will surface.
Quick tip: If you’re looking for sub-sections of a particular topic, visit Amazon.com or some of the top websites and blogs that discuss that particular topic. Notice the hierarchy within the categories and menus.
Other people call this “niching down,” and that’s essentially what it is, but when you approach it as a specialization within a larger market, your approach and mindset with your site and the content that you will provide on it becomes much different.
It becomes meaningful. Purposeful.
When you specialize, a few neat things happen:
- YOU become the expert, and as a result, it’s easier to get featured or land a guest post on larger sites with larger audiences.
- It’s easier to get found in Google. The deeper you go, the less competition there is in Google. Plus, think about this: when people search for specific information they don’t search using general terms – they get specific because they want the most direct path to the information they need, which hopefully you can provide.
- It’s much easier to build your tribe. People in your specialized, target audience are more likely to have the same, more specialized interests as you and everyone else in the community. The connections made will be much stronger. The popularity of Mini Car Clubs is a prime example of the strength of community of a niche within a niche within a niche (i.e. car -> brand -> local).
- It’ll be easier to sell something. Since you become THE expert (or your site becomes THE resource), and because you know exactly who your target market is since they are all hanging out on your site, you can more easily (and without force) sell products of your own or products as an affiliate. If the niche enables you to work with clients, then of course people are going to want to work with you.
In photography, dig deeper and specialize in studio lighting for photographers on a budget. Be that person.
In cars, dig deeper and become the person who knows anything and everything there is to know about mini-vans for families with 2 or more children.
In pets, think fish. In fish, think betta fish. In betta fish, think breeding. Breeding betta fish – own that space.
We are at a point now with online business where you can be successful and make a decent living by specializing. You don’t need to own the entire market. You just have to own a specific piece of it, and it doesn’t have to be incredibly big.
Keyword Research and Niche Selection Tips if You’re Still Having Trouble
Below is video that I created for the Niche Site Course that I was going to release last year, but never did because after Google’s algorithm changes and some further tests that I ran, the process (the course in its entirety) only worked sometimes. I was not comfortable selling a course that only worked sometimes, so I scrapped it, even though it was practically done.
That said, I still recorded some valuable content, including this video in Module 1 about what to do if you’re still having trouble with keyword research and niche selection.
If you use a keyword research tool such as Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro, you’ll find the 2nd tip in the video about the Chain Method extremely helpful (at the 8:37 mark). [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through these links.]
I also show you the exact method and seed keyword that I used to find the security guard training niche, which I used to build my niche site that is now earning about $3000.00 per month. In the video, which I recorded a year ago, I mention that it was earning about half that amount.
Please note that this video runs for roughly 50 minutes.
(Or click here to view this video directly on YouTube)
Two Things You Must Do
However you choose to select the topic for your new website or blog, there are two important things that you must do:
- Actually select a topic. You can conduct research until your eyes bleed, but the truth is that until you have something up and running online, until you start producing content for something, you’re not going to get anywhere. It’s more beneficial to pick something that you could be slightly unsure of than to never pick a topic at all. You’ll learn more by doing than not.
- BRING IT. It doesn’t matter exactly how you say it: bring it, own it, dominate, blow people’s minds, go all out, crush it, kill it – whatever phrase you like best, it’s the truth. You must make something awesome – none of these little crap sites that don’t provide any value to anybody – those don’t work anymore. Work on impressing the end user, and Google will eventually figure out what deserves to be where in the search engines.
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Image credit: cytech