I’m excited to start a new niche website! As announced here, I’m starting Niche Site Project 4…and it begins now!
Before I jump into how to find a niche for your website, I want to remind you of how you can participate in Niche Site Project 4. (Participation simply means that you plan to build a website during the project and may be asked to share brief updates from time to time).
Please fill out this Google form, if you’d like to be an “official” participant.
Update: Reporting for Niche Site Project 4 is closed. Thanks to everyone who participated 🙂 If you didn’t get to, you can wait until the next Niche Site Project 😉
How To Find A Niche
Now that that is out of the way, I want to discuss how to find a niche in order to build a profitable website.
How to Choose a Niche for Affiliate Marketing
I’m going to focus on choosing a niche for affiliate marketing websites, because that is the type of site I plan to build. Overall, here’s some winning criteria I will follow when picking a profitable niche that has lower competition.
How to Pick a Niche:
- Find a niche where there are low authority sites already ranking.
- Find an area that has lots of topics that you could write content on that combined have lots of traffic (you don’t need to find high traffic keywords per se).
- Make sure there are profitable products already being sold.
- Bonus: If you are interested or passionate about the niche that’s ideal, but not required.
That’s it, those 4 simple strategies are what I use to decide if I want to build an affiliate website around a topic or not.
Let’s dive into each of those 4 areas now.
Find Low Authority Sites in the Niche
The strategy behind this is simple: If there are newer or “weaker” sites already ranking on the first page of Google for certain keywords, that should give you confidence that you as a newer and weaker site also have a good chance of ranking on the first page of Google.
If every keyword you look at has high authority websites ranking, you should avoid that niche.
If you are easily finding 10 or 20 keywords that have low authority sites ranking, that could be a great niche.
Finding and Using Domain Authority
I will keep things simple. If I can find a site that has a Domain Authority (a Moz.com metric) below 30, that’s “low” authority.
So, here’s the criteria to use:
- Under 30 DA (Domain Authority) is good.
- Over 30 DA is bad.
You can find the Domain Authority for free on sites by using the MozBar chrome extension and signing up for a free Moz account.
Goal: Find 5 to 10 sites with a DA under 30 that are ranking for keywords in your potential niche.
In my research, I will keep a running list of sites that have a DA of under 30 that are ranking for potential keywords I might want to target. If you can find 5+ sites, that’s a really good sign.
Find Potential Keywords to Target
I like to call this Keyword Sampling. The idea is to see if you can find 10+ keywords relatively quickly that might be easy to rank for and have decent search volume.
Ideally, you can find LOTS of topics to write about quickly. If you are struggling to even find 5-10 keyword that seem low competition, you might not be in a good niche.
In the past, I did an entire training on how to do keyword sampling. As a refresher, please watch this video:
The easiest way to do keyword sampling is to use Long Tail Pro. If you can quickly find keyword phrases that have a KC (Keyword Competitiveness) of 30 or less, chances are you have found a good niche.
However, if you can’t afford to buy Long Tail Pro right now, there are other ways.
Quick Criteria for Keyword Sampling
For sampling, you actually pick a few long tail keywords that you think might be a good fit and start to judge the competition. So, you might find a keyword like, “best survival knife” or “best safety razor” or “easy piano songs for kids”, etc.
Here’s the criteria for keyword sampling to follow and hopefully find 10+ keywords that meet this in your niche relatively quickly:
- Keyword is 3+ words long (longer is better).
- Keyword gets 500+ searches per month.
- First page of Google has 2 sites with both a PA and DA of less than 30.
- 3 or more affiliate sites ranking in the top 10
- There are not more than 4 or 5 eCommerce sites on Google’s first page (less is better).
Protip: If you use SEMrush, you can find lots of great keywords by plugging in a website in your potential niche that has a low Domain Authority. I will use SEMrush alot in my more in-depth keyword research process, but it can come in very handy during this initial niche research phase as well.
A Word About Search Volume
I’ve seen great success with low search volume keywords, even less than 100 searches a month sometimes. I used to say only find keywords with 1,000 searches or more per month, but I’ve adjusted that over the years.
So, for just verifying the niche, try to find several with over 500 searches a month. But when you actually do your keyword research and are ready to write content, you very well may be looking for and accepting keywords with less than 500 searches per month.
However, every niche is different. You MIGHT be able to find lots of keywords that meet the keyword sampling criteria and have over 2,000 or 5,000 or more searches per month and that’s great.
On the other hand, you might just see a ton of keywords in the 200 to 500 searches per month range and that can work too! The main idea is to hopefully find LOTS of keywords and topics that are low competition. That’s a great sign.
But if you are struggling to even find 10 or so keywords throughout the keyword sampling process…you might need to find a different niche.
Is the Niche Profitable?
Having weak competition and lots of topics to write about isn’t everything, you also need to make sure you can make some money in the niche.
If you are looking to monetize your site with Amazon Associates, it’s a pretty simple process. Just go to Amazon and see if there are lots of products in your chosen niche that are selling well.
I don’t have a magic number here, but if you can only find 5 or 10 products that are in your “niche” then you are either focusing too narrow or you are in a bad niche. However, if you can easily find 30 products or more in your niche (again there is no exact number, just a rough estimate), then you probably have found a profitable niche.
So, if my niche was flyfishing, I could easily find hundreds of fly fishing rods, reels, string, bait, and more. This would check the box of a profitable niche. People are buying lots of products.
On the other hand if was looking into the niches or “Dad quotes” or “Best way to pick your nose”, I’m not going to easily find very many products selling. This would be a big red light for me.
Be sure to do some poking around on Amazon to make sure there are lots of products selling before you pick your niche!
Bonus tip: If you look at the bestseller rank of products on Amazon, you can see how well they are selling (lower bestseller rank means they are selling more). Once you start writing articles, it might make sense to feature products that are selling well, since you know they already convert well. Jungle Scout is a tool you can use to also see how much products are selling each month on Amazon.
Brainstorming and Example Niches
When brainstorming for potential niches, you can go to all sorts of places:
- Find lists of hobbies
- Research on Amazon, eBay, or Walmart
- List your passions or interests
- Look around your house
- See what other websites are doing
- Look at brokerages (Empire Flippers, FEinternational, etc) and see what sites are selling that make good money.
So, doing some of that I’ve come up with a short list of example niches. I’m not saying these are low competition or great niches, I’m just saying these are the kinds of things you could build a website on:
- Raising teenagers
- kitchen appliances
- Backyard landscaping (and tools to help with that)
- Car accessories
- Raising chickens
- Home electronics
- outdoor games
There are thousands of different potential niches that you could go into. Notice that the focus is on something that you could potentially have hundreds of articles written about (all of the above niches could have hundreds of articles). Ideally, you will find a niche that can continually expand over time.
How To Find Your Niche
Now that we’ve looked at the steps you can take to find a niche, I want to get more personal. Let’s discuss how you can find your niche.
- Who has your money? Are there people buying what you want to sell?
- What’s a problem you can solve?
- How steep is the competition?
- Do you like it?
Who Has Your Money?
The most important (and should be first) step in finding your niche is figuring out who has your money. You want to make sure that you’re going to be able to make money before you ever go into a niche.
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Now this is pretty easy to do; almost all niches can sell something. But can it be sold easily?
For example, there are a ton of people who would buy a Kleenex. But can you sell a Kleenex? I bet not. Customers are happy with what they already have.
So that’s not a good niche.
You should be asking what you can sell in any niche you go into. Can you refer affiliate products? Can you sell ad space? Are there info products you could market? Can you make your own product?
Before you go into any niche, ask the question: Who has your money? Who can you sell to, and what can you sell them?
A great niche has LOTS of products that you can sell! My niche site project 4 has been revealed now and it’s in the outdoor niche. Right now I have almost 200 posts on the site, about 50% of which are affiliate posts. They’re all recommending different products.
You want to avoid niches where there isn’t that much to sell. Just from experience, I think it’s a good idea to start in a niche with physical products. Info products can require a bit more trust between you and the reader, so they can be more difficult to sell.
The self-help niche might have a ton of info products, but there aren’t a lot of physical things to sell.
The home decor niche has tons of physical products. You can sell couches, beds, kitchen gear, chairs, televisions, washing machines, and more.
Your niche selection doesn’t matter without this step. You’ll just be spinning your wheels without earning a large income. Make sure you know who has your money.
What’s A Problem You Can Solve?
This is the cornerstone of any good business. There has to be a need that you can solve.
We do this step in the keyword research that I mentioned earlier. We look for places on the internet where there aren’t reliable, trustworthy sources distributing information. When the first page of Google has websites with low Domain Authority, there aren’t enough trusted sources.
We can fill that need.
Maybe you just need to write a few articles on how to construct a kayak. Maybe you’ll be giving some kitchen design ideas or talking about the best ways to type faster.
Sometimes you’ll see that not many people are talking about the best paintball helmets, the best lawnmowers, or the best compression socks for runners.
That’s the need. Now go fill it.
How Steep Is The Competition?
If you’re going into the facial wipe niche, you’re going to have to face off against some serious competitors. If you start up a health site or a website on dogs, you’ve got some competition ahead.
A website on the best kitchen knives, maybe not so much 😉
The beauty of websites is that the keyword research figures this out for us. We’re looking to find websites with a need and low competition. The keyword difficulty score in the best keyword research tools gives us those measures.
This is a good place to evaluate a need for your business as well. What are the competitors doing that you could do better?
If it’s a website, maybe it’s not very pretty. Maybe it looks spammy or has ads all over the place. Maybe they’re missing tons of possible keywords!
These are all places that you can take advantage of weak competition. If you can serve visitors better with a faster, more attractive, more helpful website, then you will get traffic.
It’s just a matter of beating the competition.
Do You Like Your Niche?
This step is the most and least important part of process. A lot of people get this wrong by following their passion. They start businesses based on what they like, not what the customer likes.
You shouldn’t start a business based on your passion.
But you should be passionate about your business.
Here’s what I mean:
I love running, but the competition for running sites is enormous. There’s just not a need for another site in the running niche. If I started one, I would be following my passions, but I wouldn’t be solving a real need.
So I shouldn’t start a business based on my passion, because it might not end up working out. If I’m not solving a real need, then I’m not helping anyone other than myself
(and that doesn’t pay the bills)
Instead, I should be passionate about my business. I saw a need in the yard niche. Now I’m not the biggest fan of yard work, but I do like knowing that I’m using the best tools and that my family has the right toys and games to enjoy the yard.
So I’m not passionate about yard work, but I do enjoy owning a site about the yard.
That’s what I mean when I say that you can’t start a business based on your passion, but you have to be passionate about your business.
The biggest mistake I see in businesses is that people start without following through. If you aren’t interested in your niche, there’s a good chance that you’re going to burn out and give up. The simple fact of the matter is that with enough time and hard work, you can crack almost any niche.
You just can’t give up before you get there.
So don’t start a business based on your passion. But do be passionate about your business.
Revealing My Niche?!
Now that you have seen the exact process I am following to find my niche for my project site, perhaps you are wondering when I will reveal it.
I’ve actually been looking at niches over the past week or so, and I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on one. However, I don’t plan on revealing the niche just yet until I’m 100% sure. I’ll also may want to get a couple of weeks ahead before revealing too much so I can get a head-start.
I hope you are okay with that!
[Update: My niche is revealed! I even give my exact domain name 🙂 check it out here]
If you are in the process of trying to pick your niche, feel free to ask any additional questions below. Or join my private Facebook group here, and ask the entire community about finding a niche.
Have you found your niche yet? I’d love to hear in the comments below.