A lot of people are never really sure how to enter into a new niche or how to start a niche site. There are a ton of things to think about. Is there a ton of competition, how can I monetize this, should I do a blog or a site, etc... The thing is that any niche can work for you, as long as you think it through and do your research. Before I start a new niche site, here are some of the things that I evaluate. Most of these things can be moved around on the list, but here is what I look for before I decide to enter into a new niche.
1. Can I list 30 topics to write about?
It is important to not put a ton of effort and energy into a site only to realize you are out of things to write about. One of the first things that I do when I am thinking about entering into a new niche is write down 30 unique article ideas. If I cannot think of 30 topics to write about in about 10 minutes (Its usually takes less than 5) then I probably don't know enough or am not inspired enough to build this site. That doesn't mean I shouldn't build it, it just means I probably shouldn't do it now. Usually I'll put it on the back burner and maybe buy a brandable url for when I am ready.
2. What is the goal and purpose of this site? Who will it be for?
After I know that I can write enough for the site, its time to think about who it is for. I usually look through the top 30 or 50 results of the highest volume search terms in that niche. I then look to see who everyone else is targetting. Are they going after the super advanced users? Are they appealing to novices or people who don't know much? Is there room to move into the moderate fan and would they come back enough to build repeat visitors? Is anyone going after other uses for these products or cross product uses? Think about 5 or 6 groups of people that would be interested in your niche and look to see which ones are not being taken care of or which groups could have a better resource. If your articles and dedication to that group is strong enough, then you can take over.
3. Is there a search volume for your products or can you build one?
Use search tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Tool or which ever one you prefer and look up the search volume and long tail keywords. Then go and see how much competition there is for those terms. You also have to remember that even if there isn't a search volume, if you can gain enough interest in your site or your topic, you can create a search volume through referrals.
4. How can I monetize this site?
I look for at least 3 Merchants in my niche. The first place I look is Share a Sale. Then I look at Buy.at and if I cannot find them there then I look at in house programs and third tier niche networks like Bridaluxe. If I cannot find enough there then I may log into Commission Junction or another Affiliate Network. When I find the Merchants that I would want to work with there, I then evaluate them based on the possibility of losing sales.
Here is what I consider on each.
- How long have they been around?
- Do they work with coupon sites or adware Affiliates? This way I know what to estimate that I could lose in sales from Adware (Toolbars, Couponware, Reminderware, etc...) and from someone seeing a coupon code box at check out and leaving to find a coupon. At the same time if they do their coupon code box to stop people from leaving, that reduces the amount of potentially lost sales. I'd also like to point out that coupon sites are not all bad and some can be good for Merchants if they work with them correctly.
- How long has the Merchant had a program for?
- Are they on multiple networks or are they smart and on a single network (This is a decision maker for me)?
- What do their landing pages look like and what is their sales funnel.
- Are there leaks on the site (Things that would cause my traffic to leave for other sites like AdSense, Banner Ads, etc...).
- What is the payout and the cookie life and how long will the average person take to make a purchase. (Furniture, Weddings, etc... can take a week or a month because people like to talk about these with their families and friends.)
- Do they have responsive managers?
- Is there a datafeed and how many products are in it?
There are other things I look at but these are the big ones for me.
I look at AdWords and try to see how competitive the terms are. I then use estimated bids, etc... to try and guess how much I could make per click.
If the site takes off, are there enough Merchants buying direct ad space on other sites in the niche that I could reach out to. Selling ad space can be a great way to get income if you are working on finding out how to better convert your other traffic. Selling newsletter space is also a great way to earn extra revenue.
5. Can I find places to guest post or cross promote my site with?
If I cannot find blogs or relevant sites within the new niche, I know my job of getting it launched and some authority will be a bit more difficult. I can use article sites, etc... but finding blogs where you can use one of your 30 article ideas, etc... can be an even easier way to get it off the ground. It also helps to get visitors to come to your site and possibly subscribe to it, not to mention the backlink you get from the article.
6. Is there a good brandable url available?
The days of having to have a keyword rich url are somewhat over. You can argue it out either way, but for long term success, which is easier for your users to remember or for you to promote keyword-rich-url-for-your-site.com or easytorememberurls.com. I'll usually think of slang terms in that niche or anagrams that work and see if any versions are available. If you do your SEO right then you can still rank for the vanity terms.
You have to ask yourself, Do you have time for a new site? New sites take a lot of time and love. You have to think about what you are going to have to give up in order to be able to build out this new niche site. Time is a huge thing because this new site can take away from a site that is already profitable or can take time away from watching tv or relaxing. You have to have a work life balance at some point and new sites can really throw that balance off.
There are a few other things I look at when I am thinking about going into a new niche, but the above are the things that help me make the decision on if I should go into that niche or not. Please feel free to leave a comment below and add what you look for when entering a new niche.