What you will learn
- How to choose the perfect niche
- When search volume matter and when it doesn’t
- Why competition can sometimes be a good thing
- Why emotions matter
- Examples of good and bad niches
It’s one of the most common newbie questions: Which niche should I choose?
It’s a difficult question to answer as there are a lot of things to consider. In this episode, we explore what those are. While it is true that any niche can be successful, we focus primarily here on niches that make money.
By the end of this episode, you should have a good framework for choosing a profitable niche.
Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business, and finally, live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.
Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast. Today I’m with Mark, how is it going Mark?
Mark: Hey, going great.
Gael: Cool. Today we’re going to talk about something a lot of people are interested in, I think, and these are more basic questions, but I understand that a lot of people still haven’t started their websites etc, and if that’s the case, and a lot of people are paralyzed because they just don’t know what topic to pick. Today we’re going to talk about the attributes of la good niche, and I should put some quotes around “good”, right. Because, the truth is, you can make money from all niches. I mean, any site that gets traffic, you could essentially put ads around and make money, even if it’s not commercial at all, even if there’s nothing special about it, you can definitely make money. But the truth is, you can make more money in some niches than others, and really it’s not like can I make money with this niche, you can kind of make money with any niche, it’s like kind of make good money with any niche.
Not necessarily the case, but as a site owner, you know people’s job is to create a bridge between some kind of interest of someone; let’s say I’m interested in the gym or getting in shape, and bridging that with products and services while offering a good experience to the reader, so it’s like someone’s working on how to get a better grip, then you talk about the exercise they can have and then you mention also the stuff they can buy to actually have better grip like these little hand grippers, and people can click through and buy and then they can buy from your shop, or someone else’s shop and you will make some money out of that.
Another thing I wanted to say is that the topic on its own is really not that important, what is important is where is the money, like, and I think you probably see that as well Mark, it’s like a lot of people they start a website and they have absolutely no idea how they are going to make money, they are just like oh I thought it would be interesting, or I’ve seen a lot of people do that, and so I’m just going to do that.
Mark: I mean, we did that with Health Ambition, to an extent at least. I mean, we really didn’t do too much research into how we are going to monetize it. We just built it and worry about that bit later.
Gael: And that’s a terrible idea, so don’t do what we say- don’t do what we did. But with the new sites that we’re looking at etc, it’s definitely a different story.
Mark: I think there’s also like a lot of, I see a lot of advice out there and sort of like, newbie courses it’s pick something you’re interested in, don’t worry about all these kind of stuff. And I think there’s a reason for that to get people sort of motivation up there. But you’re right, without sort of thinking what’s the endgame here, you’re missing an opportunity.
Gael: I like online games, but if I made a site about online games, I don’t think I would make a ton of money. One of the things that’s sure is you can make money with anything, as I said at the beginning, but it’s like a business decision you’re making, right, it’s not just about what you like, it’s what’s your goal, is your goal to make money or is your goal to build the site that makes you feel better about yourself and if it’s the former, than feel free to make a site about what you like, but otherwise, just try to pick a niche that is monetizable. We are going to talk about all these things, but really, the big thing here is never start a site without knowing where the money is coming from.
And starting with that, the first site we’re going to talk about is, there should be products or services associated to that niche. And, it’s something that you need to think about whether there is an affiliate program with that so a lot of people you know, when we say that they say, “Ok, so I need to have an affiliate program to that niche” it’s not necessarily the case, it just means people can spend money to do it faster, do it better, to do it at all if you talk about ice hockey for example, that would be a good niche, why- because you can’t really do ice hockey without ice skates, without all the equipment, without everything. So it actually costs a bunch of money to even start playing ice hockey for the first time. So that’s why it would be actually a pretty good niche.
Mark: I just want to expand on that a little bit more. If you think about it more broadly, like some of the products and services which are being offered, there’s no way they’ll have an affiliate programs, if you want to do something about under floor heating these companies they just don’t have an affiliate programs, half of them don’t even have websites, and you’ll need to go to these businesses and like negotiate some kind of arrangement or leecher, some kind of agreement, but that’s irrelevant, you don’t need to worry about that right now, just the fact that they have a product and a product or service-
Gael: Something people can spend money on.
Gael: Because even if you are, there is no affiliate program, nobody wants to work with you, nobody wants your leads, and you are unable to generate them, the fact that there is products associated with that means that the ad cost is much higher, and when the ad cost is much higher just putting AdSense on your site will make you much more money. Therefore, definitely you have to have products in that niche that you’re picking so that you will make more money and you know, that could also be lie for ice hockey, I don’t see there’s an affiliate program for that although I don’t know, but what I know is you can affiliate Amazon for bunch of stuff, and if that works out well you can then sell stuff on Amazon yourself. And link to that from your site and eventually, you’ll make pretty decent money out of that, so all you want to make sure is that there is a product, and so that’s basically the product part.
Now, the second part which can be argued, but for us, I want the niche that have search volume, I want people to search for stuff in that niche, obviously; and the reason why is because search traffic is often for website, what I call the blanket traffic which is the traffic that will come to your site today, no matter what you do, if you’re on the beach, if you are sick, if you can’t work for like six months or something, your search traffic is what will keep your business going, you don’t need the social media, you don’t need all of that, your search is working for you, it’s going to stay for a while, and the way to go from 5,000 to 10,000 visits per day is to actually increase your search traffic, because if you get these 5,000 visits just from search then you just need to do some social media and stuff and that jumps to 10,000 but if you don’t have that search traffic you have 5,000 from zero. So, search traffic is really quite important and it lasts for a while. And, if nobody searches for the stuff you’re doing, you’re going to struggle, so what I actually recommend is that people go on the keyword planner, from Google, it’s free, you can just Google that, Google keyword planner and you can have like a look at popular keywords in different niches you are searching for, so for example maybe I’d be considering going into the ice hockey niche or maybe I’ll be considering going into the horseback riding niche, right, and then I would probably put these two keywords inside the Google planner and I would look at the difference in search volume you know, one is probably going to have a lot more than the other, we’d ice hockey to have a lot more.
And that means that, overall, if you’re selling your hundred dollar product but one niche has ten times the search volume, your opportunities are greater in that niche. So I think that’s pretty cool, you can also use Google trend as well, just we want some search volume and technical terms are also very friendly, very good, because it means you can do a lot of content marketing and target all these long tail keywords.
Mark: How important do you think is search intent, when you’re looking at that, whether someone is looking for information vs to make a purchase?
Gael: It’s funny because it’s actually going to be tied to a point we talked about before, but if it’s something people are passionate about, so let’s say ice hockey or horseback riding like I said, intent is less important, right, because if I write about lie obstacle horseback riding like jumping above obstacles, and people opt in on my email list, I know these people are like horse riders anyway, and if there is something to sell, I can just email these people and if there’s a good promo they will buy these stuff anyway no matter what their initial search intent was, right? So, if it’s something more topical like how to jailbreak my iphone let’s just say that, then that’s very important because people are looking to solve their problem right now, there are people that are passionate about their iphones, it’s probably a bad example, but how to fix my washing machine; nobody is passionate about washing machines, I think, I mean, maybe a few people, if you’re one of them send us a message, but in that case search intent is important but when you’re talking about a life choice or passion, then it’s actually less important, it’s more about how big is the population.
Mark: Yeah, I find it gets more relevant if you’re a story site that you are choosing to build is kind of, it’s not super broad, like you are focusing in on one like specific area, like, I’m just thinking here from like Health Ambition, if I was doing research, I was looking at people looking for recipes versus people looking to lose weight. There’s a massive difference there.
Gael: There’s a lot of people looking to lose weight as well, and there’s a lot of people looking for recipes. It could be like getting rid of cellulite, versus losing weight for example.
Mark: Yeah, sure.
Gael: But yeah, it’s usually like 10X differences even to a 100X differences and if you can pick any niche than actually broad niches are better than narrow niches, even though you’re like, “oh but there’s going to be more competition” etc, and that’s great because that’s actually our next point, if there’s no competition chances are it’s not that it’s because nobody has thought about it, it’s because it’s not profitable. There are like seven billion humans out there, there is over one billion on the internet, if you think about something there’s a really good chance someone else has thought about it as well.
Mark: I would go as far as to say that if there’s no competition that’s like a massive warning sign and you should actively avoid that.
Gael: It means that essentially the main reason there’s no competition is probably because it makes no money, not because nobody has thought about it and you just had a genius idea. There’s only one Mark Zuckerberg, right? And, one thing I wanted to say about competition as well is I really love competitors, because a lot of the stuff we do is actually reverse engineering our competitors and looking at what worked for them and what didn’t work for them, so if there was no competitors we would have to figure out everything from scratch, but we don’t because we just look at them, we look at like, we check ahrefs and so on and we see what content has worked for them, we see what is generating sales for them, what’s ranking for them, all these things, and that allows us to only work on these things that worked for them, and we do that across ten competitors and that means that we have a really high success rate on content, on review stuff, that kind of stuff because we are looking so close at our competition. So you want competition, if there’s no competition, I would not go into that niche actually.
Another this as well is that competitors can actually be partners, so you can become an affiliate of your competitor, maybe they are much more advanced than you, they do much bigger business and they have an ecommerce shop, then you can just have a deal and say hey, I’ll just send traffic your way and you give me a percentage of the sale. Or they can become your affiliate, or you can do joined ventures, like for example, in Authority Hacker we work quite closely with rank excel, now even though we essentially talk about the same stuff, which is building authority sites, we promote them, they promote us, mostly because we like each other’s products and we’re kind of in the same, but we’re kind of competitors in search anyway, but that we still make money together, so competition is actually a good thing. Do you want to say anything about competition?
Mark: No, I think we covered it, just like, as you said, it’s a very good indicator if there is any kind of commercial intent in that specific niche, but I think it’s also like a good way to how do I explain it- I don’t want to say copy exactly what they are doing, because if I say that people are going to be like ok, I’ll just pick this and copy that, and it’s never as good, but like the way they structure their site you can certainly learn a lot from that.
Gael: Yeah, okay, so and a word about copycats, I am actually going to do a podcast with Perin about copycats because a million people have copied his website, and none of them is successful by the way. But what I want to say is when we say looking at what is successful for your company type, it doesn’t mean making a cheaper version of their logo, taking their brand colors, and copying their WordPress theme, that is not what we mean. What we mean is looking at the concept of what they are doing, taking a piece of content about I don’t know, about a specific topic, maybe like the best obstacle horse riding events in the UK or something, and seeing that this piece of content has worked and maybe create something that doesn’t even look exactly the same, something that’s just about the same topic and gives the same information in a different way, so it doesn’t feel like it’s a copy of the page, it just has been inspired by this other page and that is what we mean by like learning from competitors, we don’t mean copy exactly the logo, the colors, the exact article structure all the formatting elements needs to be the same, and the lead magnet needs to be the same. That is not what we recommend and we see a lot of people do that and to be honest, I have yet to see a successful one.
So, I’ll just close these parenthesis here, but I’m going to talk about- and the thing that we just talked about a minute ago is, people need to, it needs to be a problem people really want to solve, or it needs to be something people are really passionate about, kind of like a lifestyle choice, because one thing I want to say is like not all traffic is created equal, so you don’t give the equivalent amount of attention to like a viral video that was posted by Mashable on your Facebook feed, and information about in my case right now taking a loan to buy an apartment, that is something that you wouldn’t look at the same way and you are going to pay a lot more attention to the second one because you care a lot more about it. And, that is the same here, the more your traffic cares about what you have on your website, the more you can monetize it. If people pay attention to what you do, it’s way more valuable and you can sell them stuff.
Mark: I just want to add to that, I think to go even further, it’s not just about how much they care about it, but it’s like there’s an emotional thing here, this is why pet sites do so well, because like people really, really, really love their pets and this is why weight loss sites do so well or there is so much money in it because-
Gael: Parenting as well.
Mark: Yeah, people really care so much about how they look and if they are overweight, they want to lose weight, but the thing with weight loss is it’s not just like they care a lot about it, they need the results fast, and so, if you have an urgent problem, like your legs caught under table or something crazy like that, you know what I mean, you will do whatever it takes to solve that problem quickly including throwing money at the problem, so consider this time element as well. Like, for example Gael, you just mentioned about you looking to take a mortgage, it’s never really like a super urgent thing to do that, but that’s not a bad niche by any means, but like this extra layer of consideration.
Gael: It really depends how you are in your marketing, if you are solving a problem right now, right here, then I won’t even bother with an email list for example, whereas, when you are talking about more of the passion, like the horseback riding, the ice hockey I was talking about, probably you won’t just play for three months, so depending on the urgency of what you are treating, you are going to be treating your marketing differently, the way we run things is usually for more like longer term stuff, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t treat shorter terms stuff within your long term passion. So for example, it’s like oh my horse is sick, how do I fix that, well these horseback riders they will care about it and they will care about it right now, and that is something that will get them to take more action because you need them to do something for their pet in that case, even though your whole site topic is about more of the long term passion.
Mark: Yeah, I also want to say never underestimate how strongly people will care about their hobbies, and that doesn’t have to be pets or something, it can be something like model trains to anyone who is not interested in that, it might just seem like a toy or something kind of boring, but for almost every hobby or every interest, there is like a group of people who are just obsessed with it, and like never underestimate how strong those people can be as an audience or customers.
Gael: Yeah, so it really depends on that but like since you don’t give an equal amount of attention to all these things, you need to also consider that when you look at the traffic numbers and it needs to be like ok, there is hundred thousand visitors for these keywords, but how intense is the intent, and if it’s low, it’s kind of a multiplier, right, maybe you multiply it by 0.1 and if it’s high you multiply it by 10 or something and that gives you kind of a number that you can compare.
Another thing I want to say as well about passions is that passions are very socially shareable which is a really good thing, that means that you can do a lot of social media marketing, you can target these people on Facebook very easily because you can target by interest, you can create content that these people will share like crazy because well, that’s all they care about and they want all their friends to know and probably their friends care about that stuff as well. And also if you can pass as a passion person yourself about that topic, actually getting backlinks and getting shares is very easy and we’re doing that a lot on Health Ambition and it’s working like crazy right now, so yeah, that’s why I really like actually passion based niches. Do you want to add something on that topic Mark?
Mark: Yeah, last one is I think that the whole male female split, it can be, you can take like gender into consideration as well when you’re choosing your niche. And one of the areas to think about is Pinterest actually, because I forgot the statistics but it used to be something, the vast majority of people on Pinterest are female and they tend to pin more stuff or something like that.
Gael: Yeah, they share more stuff.
Mark: If you are considering something where your audience is more likely to be female, then you might have more opportunities in those kind of areas, especially in Pinterest, so you know, that’s just another factor to consider.
Gael: Yes, so I think we’re going to close this podcast by talking about a few examples of good niche and bad niche, and see why they are good and why they are bad. So let’s just start with an example of a good one that I am going to pick, and I am going to pick the Yoga niche, I know Sebastian is going to hate me because that’s what he is in, that is a really good nice. Why- well, is there products, there is a bunch of products for you, also if you put together all the ebooks on relaxation, the essential yoga stuff, kind of like the natural medicine side of it and the zen side of it, that is something that you can sell to your audience, it’s very shareable like there is a lot of really beautiful images about yoga, there is a lot of searches, it’s a growing hobby, there is a very distinct female audience which as you said on Pinterest, would work really well, and there is a lot of keywords and very technical terms as well, so I really like the yoga niche for example. That is a niche that you can affiliate on Amazon and later you can actually have an ecommerce store and actually grow that even more. So, that is a niche I like a lot. Do you want to talk about a niche you like or do you want me to do that?
Mark: I am looking at your list right now and I remember we actually discussed doing this years and years ago as a site on paintball. That’s one of those ones where I’ve been paintballing maybe three or four times in my life and it’s a great day out or something, but the people who are interested in that niche and people who are going every week or every weekend, they spend thousands of dollars every year on like the latest equipment and it’s one of these things where I don’t know what the margins are in a paintball gun or a mask but it’s just a bit of plastic at the end of the day and they sell for, some of them thousands of dollars, it’s crazy, crazy in a good way obviously, because such people are obviously spending a lot of money-
Gael: There is also like tournaments and teams and a lot of stuff like, there is a real like sports like-
Mark: It’s on TV as well, I saw this like paintball game lasted like 24 hours, some guy was like in a bush for 18 hours, just waiting and then- it was, you’d never believe it but it was on line ESPN or some big sports TV.
Gael: Yeah, so there is a lot of stuff, people that are passionate about it are really passionate, it’s not necessarily the most shareable, although, the people that are really into it they probably share it on their Facebook and all their friends are into it as well and they talk about it, etc, so if you have the latest news of what happened in the latest tournament or something, these people will share around, and also, usually when you’re into that, you are into that for a while so you can build this email list and this audience that you can market to for a long time. And, actually there is quite a bit of drop shipping in that niche so opening a shop in that niche would be a pretty good idea, and I’m not excluding that we wouldn’t do it at some point.
Mark: Yeah. Definitely an easy one to get into, with content, and also an easy one to sort of like the endgame as you said with like drop shipping and even like branding your own products, and stuff.
Gael: Yeah, I mean, it’s also very low competition for SEO, like nobody that does SEO is in the paintball niche, the sites look horrible, they look like they are ten years older it’s a really cool niche to get in actually. I have a feeling there is going to be like ten paintball sites after this podcast, but it is a good niche, right?
Gael: And another one which is kind of a classic is the woodworking niche. So it kind of goes together with these kind of like survivalist and use your hands to do stuff and don’t rely on society essentially. And so yeah, woodworking, a lot of people like buy a lot of tools for this, a lot of people buy plans as well, they buy courses, a lot of like exes as well, people who have been working in an office for twenty years they are like, “oh I need to learn how to use my hands” they have a garage and they start filling it up with stuff and you can sell people new projects all the time, so-
Mark: Yeah, what I really like about this niche is it’s one of those areas where you need to buy a certain like set of equipment in order to do anything; it’s like deejaying in that sense, you know you can’t deejay unless you have some decks, or like a mixer and all this kind of stuff, and even the newest of new person needs this equipment in order to do it and you need to spend a reasonable chunk of money in order to get there. So you have a lot of like newbies spending a lot of money, like that kind of barrier to entry and that’s good, because you always have these new people who are interested in woodworking who are willing to spend money so, yeah.
Gael: Yeah. That’s a good one, and you can sell people new projects, you can sell them the plans or the courses on how to build this and this etc, you can have images that are very shareable on social media like stuff people have done and so on. It is a cool niche and once again, not that competitive in terms of SEO actually.
Mark: Just to add to that point, this is another one of those ideas where it’s more like a traditional topic or interest area, woodworking, there is not that many young people, although there definitely are but it’s just not that many young people who are interested in it, and so the site owner, the people who are current authorities in there they probably don’t really know what they are doing for the most part, I’m sure there are one or two but-
Gael: About their website, not about working.
Mark: Exactly. About marketing I mean, so, that’s something to consider as well.
Gael: Yeah, it’s really easy to enter these kind of area and have a site that looks much better than average.
Mark: Another good one for that actually would be gardening, just thought of that.
Gael: Actually, we have a friend that is in gardening, and yeah, he is doing pretty well actually. He is doing hydroponics so yeah, it’s the same kind of niche. And, a lot of people they are more interested in like tech and everything but the truth is, you make quite a bit less money with the tech site than you would with the wood working or paintball site.
Mark: Yeah, if you start an iphone review site, like, forget about it. Because just people who are interested in technology are good with computers and good with websites and they kind of get all this internet marketing thing fairly, it comes naturally for them.
Gael: And you are competing with cnet and like all these really big sites and your chances of beating them are basically non existent, so yeah, that’s great because we are going to start with bad niches. Tech- bad niche, in general. Also, especially if you do like phone stuff etc the affiliate programs are horrible, I mean, sure, phones are expensive and so on, but you get 4% on the sell on Amazon no matter which phone you sell, which is pretty much half of the commission of anything else you would sell on Amazon. So, that’s pretty low. The Apple still has an affiliate program, it’s also really low paying, so in the end, you need a lot of traffic to make some money. And, it’s not easy to get traffic in that niche just because it’s so competitive. So, I would not go in any tech niche or-
Mark: I would add something to that, the exceptions are something which is kind of like you are a little bit ahead of time, so if you want to get into something like drones or 3D printing, there are maybe opportunities there, 3D printing especially, there is a lot of interesting stuff going on at the moment there.
Gael: Yeah. And it needs to be niched down and not mainstream consumables. Mainstream consumables are way too competitive and they pay too little for you to make it work. Another one that I would probably not going all the way you could argue you could win big money from that is like stuff like viral videos and cute animal pictures, people that are specializing in ads they would say like they can make good money and you can, I mean like site like Viral Nova was like made a single hundred k per month or something, from the site doing that, but actually it’s kind of like passed already and everyone is doing that now, and on top of that, you can’t really sell anything to the audience, so if at some point you get banned from network or something, you essentially done with that site, I don’t know, it’s like it works but you have one revenue stream and if it doesn’t work anymore, then you are done with your site, so it’s not very stable despite the fact you can make some money, I would say.
Mark: I would say it’s not terrible niche but it’s probably not something you want to start with.
Gael: It’s actually competitive, even though it’s easy to get traffic but your revenue is very low, and like, another one would be like something that’s too niched as we said like it’s cool to specialize a bit but something like 19 century poetry in the UK or something, that would be complicated to monetize- why, because there is very little search volume, sure you can sell a book of poetry but you can also google poetry and basically get the same stuff.
Mark: I just want to add something like into that; there are sites making money out of not 19 century UK poetry, I wouldn’t recommend going but something which is quite similar to that, which is I know it’s really popular is like wedding speeches, best man speeches, this kind of thing. There are sites which sell like those in templated versions of those, and do really well out of it.
Gael: Yeah, I mean, they can make some money but you are limited in terms of products, you are limited in terms of traffic sometimes, I mean for best man speeches it can be a good niche but once again, probably very competitive actually. And yeah, once again, once you’ve sold your one product it’s also hard to build a community out of these for the best man speeches, for the 19 century poetry you can, you just won’t get that many people so don’t get too niche. So that’s basically it for me for this podcast, do you want to add anything Mark?
Mark: No, I think we covered all.
Gael: Cool, I hope that inspired you guys and gave you some ideas in terms of what works and what doesn’t, what to look for, what to not look for in a niche, one thing I want to say as well is don’t overthink it once again, as I said the first thing I said in this podcast is you can make money from any niche the question is how much money can you make. And it’s good to spend some time making some strategies on maximizing your income but don’t spend six months thinking of a niche, get started and then figure it out, you can make money from any niche.
Mark: Yeah that’s I think good point to finish on, here is so many people who spend like even years deciding which niche to take, they come to us and they are like oh I’ve been thinking about this, thinking about this but I haven’t been able to find a good niche, and like if you’re trying to find the perfect niche, I’m sorry, it doesn’t exist, it’s just pick one that’s good based on as much good information as you can gather, and then just stick with that and then do the right thing and grow and it will work.
Gael: Yep. So, guys, thanks for listening to this podcast, and see you guys on the next episode.
Mark: Bye guys.
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