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One of the toughest aspects of building a niche site for most people is selecting the niche itself. There are so many options out there, each with its pros and cons.
One factor I tend to see a lot of people focus on is the potential RPM of a given niche. RPM can be measured a few different ways, but basically, it’s the amount of revenue you make per 1,000 sessions on your site.
This measurement can be based solely on display ads or a combination of all of your monetization efforts. Obviously, the higher the RPM, the more money you make.
Focusing on the money up front often leads to long-term struggles or failures. One way this can happen is by selecting a niche that you know nothing about.
Can You Build a Successful Niche Site When You Don’t Know Anything About the Niche?
In short, yes, you can build a successful site in a niche you’re unfamiliar with. Our first site would fall into this bucket, and that site pulls between 300,000 and 600,000 pageviews/month throughout the year.
For that first site, I remember staying up late night after night, writing 3,000 – 5,000 word posts on topics I knew nothing about. Contrast that to our third site, which I rattled off about 50 1,000 word posts mostly off the top of my head in the first couple of months, and I’m sure you can figure out which one I enjoyed more.
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That first site was a struggle, and it took us a good 18 months to start seeing success with it. We succeeded through persistence and not much else.
While it’s definitely possible to succeed in an unfamiliar niche, it’s not going to be easy. There are several roadblocks you will likely hit, each of which can derail your site and lead to a failure.
Here are just a few reasons why I highly suggest avoiding niches that you don’t know much about.
It’s Hard to Stay Motivated
The first one is the most obvious and that is that it’s more difficult to stay motivated when building a site based around topics that you’re unfamiliar with.
If you’re writing the articles yourself (which you should be when you first start a site), it’s going to take you more time to research each topic. That extra time adds up quickly when you compare it to writing articles about topics you enjoy.
Because it will take longer for you to produce content, the progress on your site will be slow. This of course will compound and make it tougher mentally to churn out each article.
It’s already difficult enough as it is to see little to no traction in the first few months of a site. Slowing down the content production during that initial stretch makes it even worse.
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It’s Hard to Find the Gaps
When it comes to building a successful niche site, finding low-competition keywords is one of the biggest keys. To find those underserved topics, you need to find knowledge gaps.
Over time, I’ve found that those gaps are much easier to find when you have a good feel for the niche. When you know the niche, you know each spoke that needs to be addressed to fully cover each topic within it.
Yes, you can use tools to try to help you to identify these gaps, but even then, these tools are only as good as the data that you feed them. When you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be very hard to find something.
You Might Use the Wrong Lingo
Something else I’ve noticed when writing about topics I’m unfamiliar with is that it’s really easy to use the wrong terminology. People that are familiar with a niche might say something one way, whereas you as a researcher might say something else.
Not using the right lingo can destroy the credibility of your site in a heartbeat, leading to lower user engagement metrics. Lower user engagement means slower and lower rankings.
Unfortunately, you likely won’t know that you used the wrong lingo until you start getting comments on your site from people telling you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. This typically won’t happen until you have quite a bit of content and traffic on your site, anywhere from six months to a year after you started.
Articles Are Harder to Outsource
While most of what I’ve said has implied that you’re writing the articles yourself, you can still run into problems with outsourcing as well.
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For one, when you don’t know the topics really well, it’s hard to know what can and can’t easily be researched by a writer. If a writer can’t easily research a topic, either because no information is readily available or because the topic is too complex, they will either not produce an article or will produce one that is subpar.
We’ve had this happen countless times across all of our sites. And again, you don’t know that anything is wrong until that article starts getting traffic and someone leaves a comment on it telling you how dumb you are for saying this or that.
When it comes to outsourcing, it’s always best to catch these things early on. That’s why it’s important to spot check your writer’s first several articles at a minimum.
When you don’t know anything about the niche or topic, spot checking a writer’s work for accuracy is nearly impossible. The article might not be copied, it might be formatted perfectly, it might even have a nice personal touch, but if you don’t know the topic, you won’t be able to easily determine whether or not the article itself makes any sense.
Can you succeed in a niche you know nothing about? Yes, if you are motivated enough. Do I recommend going down that path, absolutely not.
Building a successful site is difficult enough as it is. Don’t make things more difficult on yourself than they need to be.