I love business ideas. And even more than that, I love niche business ideas! I of course was able to quit my full-time job over a year ago because of the niche business that I had built (of creating small keyword targeted websites).
However, since then I have both launched and observed several other niche businesses that have also been successful in their own right. I now have a software business, WordPress plugin and theme, and as of yesterday, I also have an iPhone app business!
So, I certainly have some experience in a few different areas, but I am also aware of other niche business ideas that people are trying out…and some are quite successful. But obviously some things that worked a couple of years ago may not be as good an opportunity today. Overall, I want to dive into the question – What's working right now?
To start off, I am going to list the top 7 niche business ideas that are “hot” right now. These are ideas that people are talking about, trying, and overall appear to be what people are pursuing in 2012. This by no means is an indication of what will make you most successful. These just appear to be the ideas that people are trying most right now. If you have a unique idea that is not listed here, even better! The unique ideas that people are not trying can often have the most upside potential.
Now to clarify, the types of ideas on this list had to meet some very specific criteria. I am not looking at all small business ideas as a whole. For the most part, I am concerned with the business ideas that could be started by ONE person and could all be done online. So, in reality these are small internet based business ideas.
So, here is a list of the top 7 Niche Business Ideas in 2012 (in no particular order):
1. Small Niche Sites
Building small niche sites is how I was able to build a nice income for myself and quit my job. I still think this is a great business venture. Even with all the changes that Google has made recently with the Panda and Penguin updates, there is still plenty of money to be made here. In fact, I still have sites that I built years ago that are bringing in a nice passive income. The idea for the business is still the same. Find a keyword that has at least 1,000 exact match searches a month and has low competition in Google. Build a site around that keyword and rank in Google or other search engines. Then you can make money when visitors click your ads or buy affiliate products.
I will say that you can indeed still make money with these small niche sites, but its less “hot” than it was a year or 2 ago. Google is making it more difficult (but far from impossible) to rank, and there is also a lot more people building these types of sites than there used to be, so its very competitive.
2. Blogging (or “Authority” Sites)
Blogging has been a great online business for a long time. But guess what? Its still a great venture! I've been able to do quite well with my blog here at NichePursuits.com. In addition, as I have mentioned a couple of times recently, I am in the process of building a large “authority site” (just a big blog really) outside of the internet marketing niche that I hope to build into a viable business over the next year. (I actually wrote a 15 page guide sharing the exact strategy and plans I will be using to build this branded site, I discuss how you can get it here).
Essentially, the idea is to build a large brand or at least a site that is looked to as a destination location in your niche. Rather than relying solely on search engine traffic, the idea is to build up and audience that will keep coming back for your take on whatever subject you are covering. Now search engine traffic is still a big part of this, and you will still want to target lots of long tail keywords in your posts, but this is very different from small niche sites that essentially target 1 keyword.
If you are passionate about a particular subject, then blogging could be a great way to go! The potential to earn a six figure income is definitely there as many others have shown already. You can make money from advertising, affiliate marketing, creating your own products, or doing joint ventures.
3. iPhone Apps
With the popularity of the iPhone and Android phones over the past few years, mobile phone apps as a business is a very real possibility. Many entrepreneurs have hit it big with iPhone apps already. In fact, I've interviewed a couple of them recently on my podcast: Benny Hsu and Pat Flynn (and I have one more coming this week!). And of course, I have been documenting my process of building my own iPhone app for the past several months right here on my blog.
The draw of this business is that for a couple of thousand dollars (sometimes) you can completely outsource the creation of your app. All you do is come up with the idea, hire a developer, and manage the entire process. The reality is that more and more people are using mobile phones and so the market is a fast growing one. Yes, its a competitive marketplace, but there is still plenty of room for original ideas and useful apps.
I plan on working on additional iPhone apps in the future because I think there is a lot of potential here.
4. Kindle eBooks
This is a business that is growing in “hotness” right now. I've personally never published a Kindle ebook, but apparently its very easy to do and making money here has a huge passive income potential.
When I first heard about publishing Kindle ebooks, I thought people were trying to write best-sellers and essentially becoming a full-time author. But after doing some research, I found that some people are essentially treating this opportunity like small niche sites in a way. Essentially, they are finding a niche topic to write about – usually in the non-fiction category. This could be anything from cooking, gardening, or a how-to guide.
But essentially they write a short (often less than 50 pages) book, effectively title the book, and then upload it to Amazon. People find the book by doing searches right on Amazon and their book shows up that targets the niche topic extremely well. Kindle ebooks are usually priced in the $0.99 to $4.99 range, so each sale won't bring in very much, but the idea to have lots of books. If you can have a dozen books that each make 5 or 10 sales a day, then it really starts to add up.
Anyway, I haven't tried this, but from the chatter going on, its a pretty hot business right now. I don't know if people are actually making very much money doing this (some claim to be), but its certainly an idea that lots of people are trying right now.
5. Software development
Developing a niche piece of software may seem daunting, but the reality is that you can outsource the programming portion of it. I own Long Tail Pro, but I'm not a programmer. This piece of software has done very well for me, so I would be leaving out a great business idea that I am personally familiar with if I didn't mention software development.
The great part about owning a software business is that the return on investment can be very high. If you are able to come up with a small piece of software, you can often have it outsourced and developed for only a couple thousand dollars (bigger ideas can cost much much more of course). Once its developed, you can sell the product over and over again – there is no marginal cost for selling an additional unit – its essentially all profit.
So, if you can think of a niche market that might be able to use a simple piece of software, don't let the fact that you are not a programmer scare you off! You might have the opportunity at a great business.
6. Information products
People selling eBooks or other information products on the internet has become so popular, that their is even a name for it: infopreneur. I have to admit that some of the people selling ebooks or other information products in the internet marketing space can be pretty shady. Many of them rightfully get a bad rap. However, there is also A LOT of great products out there that are nothing more than an ebook, video recording, or audio recording. Many millionaires have been made from selling information products.
Of course if you have an existing audience perhaps through your own blog or authority site, then selling an info-product will be much easier, but it can also be done in other ways. You can form a joint venture with someone with an audience, pay to email someone's list, or pay for advertising.
Even if you are not an expert in your field, you can create an information product by interviewing experts, paying experts to write content for you, or in many other ways. These expert interviews or other information can be combined into a series of podcasts, video tutorials, an online membership site, or basic ebook. Lots of different formats exist in which you can sell information, but the key is to provide true value and find a willing audience.
7. Freelance Services
This may be less passive in nature, but doing freelance work can be a great way to bring money in the door. You can offer your freelance services by writing (article writer, ghost writer, copywriter), programming, design work, proof-reading and editing, Fiverr gigs, and much more.
With the advent of freelance sites such as Elance.com and Odesk.com, you can often find work doing some sort of unique task that can perhaps be your first official business. Sure, you are still trading time for money essentially, but it might be better than having a full-time boss!
So there you have it, 7 great niche business ideas to choose from. Some of these are clearly working better than others right now, and maybe they are not all for you. However, perhaps reading through some of these sparked an idea that you can then take and create something completely original on your own.
Are there other niche business ideas that are working well for you right now that I didn't mention? If so, I would love to hear about them…let me know! I look forward to reading any comments or questions that you have below.