To succeed in business on the internet, you need to pick a niche and specialize. There simply isn’t a lot of room for more eBays and Amazons out there. There will always be a few of these uber-players in the game; ingowever the vast majority of successful businesses on the internet are specializing in a niche.
I’m going to assume that I don’t need to convince you of the merits of choosing a niche; it is one of the most talked about things in internet marketing. Instead, I wanted to focus on some concrete ways that you can go about identifying a market niche that is going to work for you. This process is well suited to those who are looking to develop a product of their own, though it will work equally well if you’re planning on building a site promoting affiliate products.
Researching a Market Niche
1. Brainstorm. Take a piece of paper and start writing any market idea that comes to mind. The conventional brainstorming wisdom applies – don’t discard any idea – just write it down! Even if you don’t think it is any good, write it down!
Think of your own hobbies or those of your friends. Think of a common problem in people’s lives – is there information out there, or a product, that can solve it? If you absolutely can’t think of anything, go to the public library or a good sized bookstore and have a look at their magazine section. Magazines represent topics people are interested in; topics that people are willing to pay money for more information on. Once you’ve got 25-30 topic ideas on paper you can move on to the next step.
2. Research Keywords. You don’t have to come up with an exhaustive and comprehensive list at this point of every keyword you’ll ever use in the niche. Rather, use this step to get a feel for the highest traffic keywords in your niche. Try to pick around 5. Go to SEOBook.com and use their free keyword tool. Type in what you think is the main keyword for the niche, and see what you can find out. There are likely other common variations or sub-niches you haven’t thought about.
3. Assess the Niche Potential. Ultimately, you want to be able to deeply penetrate your chosen niche. Go through your list and consider whether each niche has the potential for additional products. Would it be possible to create a home study course around it? A membership site? Something you could upsell your customers on after the initial product? How about a monthly newsletter? Is there sufficient depth that people are likely to pay for additional products? Is there a good selection of affiliate products available for that niche? Checkout the usual culprits for this: Clickbank, PayDotCom, CJ, LinkShare, etc. You might need to search around in your niche market to find some good products, then google those products + “affiliate” to see if there are affiliate programs available.
4. Understand the Niche. Now that you’ve hopefully narrowed down your list somewhat, take it to the library and see what kinds of magazines and books exist on your subject. What topics are they writing about? Are there sub-topics that have product potential? Keep your eyes open for complementary niches as well. Once you’ve developed a list of customers, people who have purchased your main product, you’ll want to be able to continue to use that list to sell your customers other related products in the future.
Another idea is to go to Amazon.com and type in your top 5 niche keywords from step 2. See what products come up. Amazon can show you a ton of useful information about your target niche. You can see what people thought of competing products (ie what they liked and disliked), as well as additional products that they purchased. Try to get a feel for the price points as well.
5. Check for a Community of Interest. Go to Google and type in your niche keywords and the word “forum” and see what comes up. Click on a bunch of the results. Are people talking about your niche market, or is it dead? If forums exist on the topic, check them out and see how many active users there are on the relevant threads. Try to get a feel for the topics they are discussing, and the level of participation. Take note of the best forums, as you’ll want to come back to these later on to participate and promote your own product.
Another idea is to go to blogsearch.google.com and search for your niche in there. See if blogs come up on the topic, if so, check them out for content and try to get a feel for their traffic volumes. Are people actively commenting on the posts? Identify the best forums and blogs, as you’ll want to come back to these later to participate and promote your own product. You can also look for article directories.
6. Check out the Competition. Run searches on the main keywords for your niche and see what paid ads come up on Google and Yahoo. What products are being promoted? What are they doing well that you can emulate, and what are they doing poorly that you can do better? Checkout the organic listings as well. Read their squeeze pages and sales letters. Do they have newsletters available? Sign up for them; see what they’re talking about. Keep your eyes open for products you could partner with in the future.
7. Don’t Slack Off! This might seem like a lot of work, and it is. Choosing a niche market is possibly the hardest part of the whole process, and arguably the most important. Put your head down and slog through it. Once you’re established later on you’ll be happy you did.