One of the best strategies for making money online is content marketing. That is, produce helpful content (information) to potential customers, so you’re a resource not an advertiser.
But what will your content be about?
This is where your niche comes in. A niche is a focused topic or area of interest. Examples of niches are photography, gardening, physics, accounting, DIY, etc. There are thousands of niches.
DO: Pick a niche.
DON’T: Talk about anything and everything. Without a focused topic you will struggle to gain traction online. As Aesop says, “Please all, and you will please none.”
Years ago, when very few people were online, we could write about a smattering of things or life in general, and people could find us. Not so anymore. There is simply too much noise and too much competition. These days, you gotta have a specific niche.
Choose a niche by asking yourself these questions:
- Am I interested in this topic?
- Can I talk about this for months and years to come?
- Do I have a reasonable chance of becoming the the go-to resource for the topic?
- Is there a decent-sized group of people interested in this topic?
- Do they spend money?
The more yeses, the better.
Let’s look at each one closer.
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Am I interested in this topic?
Don’t pick a niche based only on a “most profitable niches” list, or the subjective opinion of a random guru. Pick a niche you genuinely enjoy.
If you’re not interested in your topic, no one else will be either. It’s hard to make money if no one is interested and your content falls flat.
Can I talk about this for years?
Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. A few years at least. If you don’t have a lot to say, it’s going to be hard to sustain.
Test it. Brainstorm a list of article ideas related to your topic. Can you easily come up with 50+ with no signs of stopping? If so, you’re on the right track.
Do I have a realistic chance of becoming the go-to resource for the topic?
Here’s the goal: when someone mentions your niche in conversation, your name should pop up because you own it.
For example, who do you think of when I say:
- Shapewear? Spanx.
- Fixer uppers? Chip & Joanna Gaines.
- Nature photography? National Geographic.
- Trick shots? Dude Perfect.
- Athletic shoes? Nike.
- True crime podcast? Serial.
- Online shopping? Amazon.
You get the idea. They are go-to resources in their niche.
You see the challenge, right? If you’re considering the photography niche, how will you compete with National Geographic? If you’re considering the trick shots niche, how will you compete with Dude Perfect?
Answer: You won’t.
The broad niches are already dominated by others and are extremely hard to break into.
So what do you do? Niche down. Narrow your focus.
Related: How to Niche Down
Is there a decent-sized group of people interested in this topic?
As you niche down, make sure you don’t niche down so much that there’s only a tiny pool of people who share your love for the topic. You’ll exhaust your market quickly.
For example, the niche “living in Monowi, Nebraska” is narrow, but considering Monowi’s population is 1, it’s a bit too narrow.
How do you know if a niche is too narrow?
There’s not a one-size-fits-all number here. It depends. You have to give it a bit of thought.
Test it. Are there Facebook Groups, forums or Reddit threads talking about it? When you type the topic into Google, are there ads that show up at the top of the search results? (People don’t spend money on ads if they can’t make money.)
My advice is to choose a niche that has online activity surrounding it, but lacks clear, dominant players.
Do people spend money in this niche?
If not, you might be helpful to them (that’s good!), but you probably won’t make a lot of money.
Keep in mind, even if the people in your niche don’t have discretionary income, someone close to them might.
For example, maybe your topic appeals to small children, like baby dolls. Obviously kids aren’t going to pull out cash, but moms and dads will.
As another example, Dave Ramsey targets people without a lot of discretionary income because they’re trying to get out of debt. But, companies who want access to his audience will pay to advertise on his YouTube channel or radio show. So, even though his direct audience doesn’t have a lot of money to spend, others close to them (advertisers) do.
How many of these can you say yes to?
- You have an interest in this topic.
- You have a lot to say about it.
- You can become the go-to resource in the niche.
- There’s a good-sized pool of people in your target audience.
- They (or someone close to them) will spend money.
If you can only say yes to one or two, brainstorm other niches.
Avoid this common mistake
Some people try to find the “perfect” niche and end up getting stuck. There is no perfect niche.
Don’t overthink it. You might not be able to answer all 5 of the above questions with a resounding yes. Don’t throw in the towel. Just pick something close and go for it.
A lot of us change niches midstream anyway so you’re in good company!
Tip: When choosing a domain name, keep it general, not super niche. Still niche down your content. But by keeping your domain general, if you decide later to change or expand your niche, you can do so without a lot of hassle.
Now, what are you going to sell? Let’s talk about it.