The Niche Website Challenge: Choosing Your Niche

niche website challenge choosing your nicheChoosing a Niche

As part of my Niche Website Challenge, I am going to be building a website centered on a specific topic and trying to make money as it establishes itself as an authority.

Right up there with Keyword research and creating quality content, choosing the subject matter for your niche website is one of the most important steps of the overall process. The way I am going to approach this challenge means that I will be spending a great deal of time researching this subject and creating huge amounts of quality content for it – so the topic has got to be right! There are many different ways to come up with niche website ideas and throughout the remainder of this post I am going to share with you some of the different methods I have used in the past to create niche websites and the one which I will be using for my own Niche Website Challenge.

As I spend more and more time creating niche websites, I find myself constantly thinking of ways to create online revenue streams and overwhelmed with numerous ideas for my next big project. I am sure that the majority of people reading this post will suffer from the same curse and regularly find them self starting new ventures off the back of a “good idea”.

At the current time of writing this post, I have over 25 registered domain names sitting on my hosting package doing absolutely nothing. That basically means I have had 25 brilliant ideas which by the morning, did not seem that brilliant…One in particular was when I registered www.pkhmusic.co.uk after scanning amazon for potential products to promote – the idea was to create a website which provided affiliate links to musical instruments within detailed product reviews. The next day I was all set to start developing the website when it dawned on me that I knew nothing about musical instruments and really did not want to start learning…Project over!

Over the last year I have used several different methods to decide on subjects for my niche websites. Hearing conversations at work, reading something online or seeing something in the high street have all provided ideas for me to take in to a new online venture. For my Niche Website Challenge, I am going to apply a bit more thought to this decision and try to give myself the best possible chance of succeeding. The following 2 methods have proved them self to be extremely effective and I want to explore them in a bit more detail…

  • The Amazon Method - Internet Giants Amazon operates one of the world’s largest affiliate programs. Amazon Associates is free to join and allows you to create affiliate products to any item shipped by Amazon. Commission on the Amazon program starts off at 5% and rises up to 9% as you sell more items. Some people love the program and others have issues with low commission rates and the commission cap (currently £7 in the UK). Love it or hate it, Amazon provides an easy delivery mechanism for affiliate links which you can effortlessly integrate in to a website to start making some money. I have created the following video to explain how you can use Amazon to help decide on the subject of your niche website if you ever find yourself in need of inspiration. The goal of this method is to identify some potential topics / subjects which you can take forward in to the keyword research process. 

The Amazon Method is extremely effective and will help you to quickly identify potential subjects for your niche website; it is also very good to use as a base to start your keyword research. One thing I will say from my own experience is that constantly using this method to identify target products almost railroaded me in to reducing the quality of my sites. I found myself wanting to move on to the next project without applying the right amount of time and effort to the current project – with all the best intentions in the world, it is very easy to lose focus and get distracted in the IM industry and requires a great deal of discipline in order to manage your own time effectively. Hopefully you are a lot better at this than me because I always find myself getting sidetracked :( …for this reason, I have suspended all of my other projects while I work on my Niche Website Challenge.

  • Striking a Chord – This next method aims to create personal associations with the subject matter of your website. The process starts of with a brainstorming session to find out:
  1. Things that you know about - This will make the content creation process easier and reduce the amount of time spent carrying out research.
  2. Things you would like to do - Anything that you would like to do in your lifetime. Climb Everest, tightrope across the grand canyon or simply get in shape. These subjects make great examples of websites which build huge followings as you progress on your journey.
  3. Things you enjoy doing – Possibly the most important one (for me at least) – if I do not enjoy doing something, it becomes boring very quickly. An authority site will take a lot of time and effort to establish itself on the Internet. If I want this site to be successful, it has got to excite me!
  4. Things you do on a regular basis – I have a full time job and 2 young children so have very little spare time. I already spend up to 6 hours per night (after work) working on SEO / IM projects. If I can incorporate something which I already do on a regular basis in to this project it will be a huge time saver for me.

I would suggest that you carry out this exercise without thinking about making money, the whole point is to find something which is personal to you so it s best not to have your judgment clouded by income. Once you have completed the exercise, the idea is that one or more subjects will appear under multiple categories, indicating that it may be a good subject to base your site around. If you can find a subject which:

  1. You enjoy talking about
  2. Know quite a lot about already
  3. Is part of your daily routine

Then you might be on to something…carry out some basic keyword research and think about whether or not it could be transformed in to a monetised website. Off the top of my head, I would say that there are a couple of subjects which tick all of these boxes for me and they are…Going to the Gym and Graphic Design – each of which I would enjoy creating a website around and may feature in my Niche Website Challenge…

I have created another video so that you can see me carry out this exercise. As with the Amazon method, the goal is to find potential subjects (that are personal to you) that can be taken in to the keyword research process.

The Criteria for My Niche Website Challenge

I have been giving this decision some serious thought over the last week or 2 as it is the one which will have the most impact on my challenge going forward. Deciding on the topic of my niche site is going to shape the future of the website and the future of this challenge…

For this reason I have decided that the subject of my website will have to meet the following criteria, If I cannot find something that fits the picture, I will just keep trying until I do, it is that important to me! – please note that I am only focusing on the subject matter at this point in time; volume of local search, CPC values and competitor analysis will all come at a later date. It’s just the way I do it :)

  • I have got to enjoy the subject I choose – I want to quit work and make money on the Internet full time…If I wanted to spend countless hours working on projects which do not really engage my full attention, I would  just carry on with my day job. Being able to enjoy this project is crucial to me – the amount of people who grow to hate their own website staggers me, you have the ability to choose any subject in the world for this so why pick one that you do not enjoy (I imagine the most common answer is to make money but you still have a choice).
  • I have got to have some prior knowledge - I am fully prepared to put in the required amount of work to make this succeed but if I can get ahead of the game in any way, I will take it…knowing about my niche will give me a huge advantage and save me a lot of time in the early stages of the project.
  • I do not want to make any drastic life changes – While I would love to take a year out to go Scuba Diving at some of the worlds premier locations and make a blog about it, I will not be doing it anytime soon. I have a full time job and a young family so time is already stretched out as it is. If I can incorporate a regular activity in to this project it will make things a whole lot easier.
  • There has got to be a good revenue opportunity - Up until now I have not really spoken about money and to some extent have intentionally avoided the issue. Having said that, the point of the challenge is to make money so it has got to creep up at some point. It is all well and good me suggesting these methods for you to arrive at the perfect niche and find that there is very little in the way of monetisation opportunity. The area I want to focus my site upon needs to have strong revenue opportunities. If I choose Amazon as my primary monetisation strategy, there needs to be lost of products which tick the right boxes. (Although Amazon say 5% – 9% commission, there is a cap at £7 per sale in the UK. I found this out when I got sales commission from a £1000 watch – only £7 for that when it should have been closer to £60. Therefore I will try and limit my products to no more than £200, this way I never really feel the pinch from the sales cap).

The Next Step

Before deciding on my niche subject and registering a domain name, I want to build up a list of potential subjects which I can take in to the keyword research process – I will be creating a post on Keyword research in the near future and will show you how I go about it. I will also be revealing the exact subject matter for my challenge!

If you are conducting your own niche site challenge to coincide with some of the more popular blogs across the Internet (Pat Flynn’s NSD 2.0 or Spencer Haws challenge etc.) – please feel free to get in touch and say Hi, I would love to hear how you are getting on). Also, to receive latest updates from The SEO Experiment Niche Website Challenge, Subscribe to my newsletter  or follow me on Twitter @Paul_Hill_SEO

You can also check out the Niche Website Challenge HQ for all related posts about the challenge

Thank You for taking the time to read this post and Take Care!

 

  • Rita says:

    You mentioned Amazon in your post. I think that Amazon usage is starting to change a lot. I shop amazon all the time, but I usually go straight to amazon for a product search, and then read reviews from that. If I have a product in mind that I want to purchase, I never do a Google search anymore. Here’s an interesting article on that: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/05/08/godzilla-vs-mothra-the-sequel/ . Basically Google’s main competitor will be Amazon search.

    So how do I get to Amazon via Google? It usually never has to do with a product search. I only get there through a problem search, and then if there is a recommended product or book, I go to Amazon.

    So for a ‘ceiling fan with lights’ … that would be direct Amazon search, thus no commission for a website owner.

    However, I would do a Google search if I didn’t know what I was initially looking for. Perhaps I’m searching ‘how to make a room look more …. ‘. Then, I would go to Google, and perhaps come across a solution where the ceiling fan with lights is the perfect answer.

    May 29, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    • Paul Hill says:

      Hi Rita and thanks for your comment

      I think you have made a great point here and the article makes for a very good read…I agree that it is hard to muscle in on direct product searches so will be focusing on prefixes such as “best” and suffixes such as “reviews” in a lot of my keyword research.

      I figure that people will only venture away from Amazon if they are looking for more information than what is presented. If I can fill in this void I believe there is opportunity

      May 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm
    • Benji Walklet says:

      Great post, Paul! I think many people forget the ever-important “interest” aspect when starting a niche project. I too have wasted lots of money on domains that I thought were going to be my next niche site. The common theme with all of them was that I had zero interest in the subject matter.

      I almost always begin niche KW research with seed keywords that relate to stuff I’m interested in and could see myself creating content for. Even if I plan to outsource the content creation, I will know that I can simultaneously create my own content and enjoy doing it.

      In response to Rita’s comment, I think it’s a great point, particularly for e-commerce keywords. I think lots of people do go by route of Amazon first for these. However, I still think Google gets more traffic for reviews/best/etc. suffixed KWs as you said Paul. Plus, if you see in your KW research that there is data supporting that, you can’t count Google out as your funnel for driving traffic to Amazon.

      I have a review site that converts very well with the Amazon Associates program, where most of my traffic comes through Google first…so I’ll stand by it until something proves itself to be better!

      May 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm

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