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When it comes to building niche websites, some steps are more important than others. When you make a mistake on the not-so-important steps, you can usually adjust down the road and recover.
On the flip side, if you screw up one of the more important steps, you can significantly decrease your odds of succeeding. One of those important steps that you don’t want to take lightly is choosing the right niche.
While I truly believe there’s at least some space in just about any niche you may choose, some are much harder than others to break into. For example, good luck getting anywhere in the car insurance niche.
I’ll dive deeper into niches you want to avoid in another post, but for now, let’s focus on finding a good niche with plenty of potential for growth and success.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Niche
Before you go off and purchase the perfect domain name, you want to make sure that your target niche makes sense to go after.
When choosing a niche, I always go through a simple checklist of questions, which I’ll cover below. While you don’t need to necessarily check all the boxes, you’ll feel better moving forward when your niche hits on most of them.
1 – What Are My Goals with My Niche Site?
Before choosing a niche, it’s important to first identify your goals with your site. Do you plan to target affiliate offers? Do you want more of a hands-off approach where your income mostly comes from display ads? How much money do you want to make?
The answers to these basic questions will help you narrow down the initial pool of niches to consider, making the process of identifying a good niche much quicker and easier.
If you plan to make your money from affiliate links, you might consider product-based niches. If you plan to run display ads, you can broaden your search further.
Take the time to sit down and outline your long term goals. This simple process will save you a lot of time down the road and make it easier to find that perfect niche.
2 – Is the Niche Oversaturated?
Next, you’ll want to determine whether or not there’s space for another site in your target niche. While I believe there’s untapped opportunities in just about every niche under the sun, some are much easier to target than others.
Generally speaking, the niches that have the highest advertising costs will be the most competitive. Some examples are insurance, health and fitness, and finance. While it’s definitely possible to carve out some space in these niches, it’s going to take more effort and likely take much longer to gain traction.
3 – Are There Problems to Solve Within the Niche?
If you follow my method for building niche websites, you’ll want to mostly go after keywords with low search volumes. A large portion of keywords that fit into this category are question-based keywords.
With that being said, make sure there are plenty of questions to be answered in your target niche. A quick and easy way to do this is to head over to answerthepublic.com.
On Answer the Public, you can enter a short keyword, and it will spit out a ton of long-tail keywords containing the words that you entered. Many of these long-tail keywords will be question-based, making them great targets to look into.
4 – Is There Enough Search Volume?
Now that you’ve checked off the first few steps, the next one is a big one to verify. Is there enough search volume within your target niche?
While you may have identified a ton of question keywords in your niche in step #3, if those keywords each bring in only 10-30 searches per month, there might not be enough potential volume overall to justify starting a site within the niche.
After all, the goal is to create a site that can bring in a lot of traffic and revenue as it grows. While the specific traffic and revenue goals will differ from person to person, it’s important to identify what goals you’re after and whether or not your niche has the potential to meet those goals.
There isn’t a great way to determine the exact search volume of a keyword. The best you can do is to use some tools and combine them with some common sense.
To start, check out Google Trends to get a general idea of whether or not the niche itself has good volume. From there, you’ll want to test various keyword tools that can provide a general idea of the search volume for a keyword.
My go-to tool is Keywords Everywhere. It’s super cheap and works as an extension in Chrome or Firefox, showing you the volume of various keywords as you type them into Google Search.
You may have noticed that all of the tools I just mentioned are related to organic search. That’s because historically, organic searches provide the most consistent and reliable traffic.
While you can definitely obtain a large amount of traffic from social channels, you simply can’t depend on that traffic being there months or years down the road.
It used to be easy to generate a lot of traffic to your website from Facebook, but that seemingly changed overnight. The same thing happened with Pinterest. While I wouldn’t avoid these traffic sources as a whole, I don’t recommend prioritizing them.
Always base your decisions on organic search traffic. Basing your decisions on social channels will only leave you wondering how long the traffic will last.
5 – Are There Enough Topics?
While you might think a niche with tons of overall search volume will have plenty of topics to cover, that’s not always the case. If a niche has some high-volume seed keywords, but not many questions related to those keywords, you might be left with a short list of topics.
The reason this is important, is because with my method of building niche sites, your goal is to find low-competition keywords to target. In almost all cases, a low-competition keyword will have low volume.
What this means is that you need a lot of these low-volume keywords to build a site that generates serious traffic and income. If you get stuck coming up with 50 or even 100 of these low-competition/low-volume keywords, your niche likely isn’t a good target.
I always target broad niches for this exact reason. By going broad from the beginning, you can deep-dive into a subtopic, then expand into another, then another, and so on.
Basically, if you want your site to grow into a massive authority site, you need hundreds, if not thousands, of potential topics to target on your site.
6 – Is There a Good Sub-Niche Within the Niche?
Whenever my team and I start a new website, we think broad but start small. By that I mean that we target a large niche, but post clusters of articles on smaller subtopics within that niche until it starts gaining some traction.
For example, if your broad target niche is low-carb recipes, pick a domain name that fit the low-carb niche, but start by first targeting vegan keto. Then, down the road, expand into keto recipes, and so on.
By starting with a niche within a niche, you’ll be able to keep your focus narrow to identify all the good keywords within that sub-niche. It’ll also be easier for Google to determine the purpose of your website, which typically leads to quicker organic search rankings.
7 – Are the Topics Evergreen?
The next things to consider when choosing a niche is whether or not the content is evergreen. Evergreen content refers to topics that typically don’t change much over time.
An example of an evergreen topic is lawn care. While there are advances in lawn care like electric mower and self-mowing mowers, as a whole, the basic topics within the niche remain the same year after year.
On the other side of the coin, you have trending topics. Trending topics are ones that spike for a short time, then die out. These days, trending topics often come from a video going viral on social media.
You also have seasonal content, which technically is evergreen, but spikes and dips at certain times throughout the year. Winter sports would fall into this category.
When choosing a niche, it’s much better to target evergreen topics. With evergreen topics, you can write an article, let it rank, and have it bring consistent traffic to your site year after year.
This is a big key in the passive income model. You want to put in the initial effort to produce high quality content, then let that content continue to bring in revenue with little future effort on your part.
Seasonal topics still fit the passive income model, but you need to be aware that your traffic and income will fluctuate throughout the year each year. Some of our sites have some seasonal topics, although we make sure to include plenty of non-seasonal topics on these sites as well.
Trending topics can definitely be targeted with good success as well, but require an active approach. For this reason, I avoid trending topics 100% of the time.
8 – How Is the Niche Trending Over Time?
I just told you not to target trends, so why am I talking about trends again? In this case, we’re not looking at short term trends, that might include a spike that lasts for days or months, but instead, we’re looking at the long term trend of a niche.
The last thing you want to do is to put all of your time and effort into targeting a slowing-dying niche. And don’t trust your instincts on this one. While you may think you know which direction a niche has been trending over the last several years, it’s worth the small amount of time and effort to be sure.
Whenever possible, target niches that are either trending up or simply flat-lining year over year. In some cases, you can justify targeting a declining niche, but just make sure you know what you’re getting into if you choose to go this route.
Check out the trend for Drones over the last several years. Does it look like what you would expect?
9 – Do I Have a Unique Angle?
Let me preface this step by saying it’s not a necessity by any means. However, if you have a unique angle that you can apply to a niche, it can not only help to differentiate you from your competitors, but also help you to rank more quickly in organic search results.
It can be difficult to come up with a different way to approach a niche that’s already been covered to death, but when you do find these opportunities, you can often apply the same unique angle to different niches.
The same concept can be applied to keyword research as well by taking a unique approach and applying it to different keyword topics.
10 – Can the Niche Be Monetized?
While we’re getting toward the bottom of the list, this step is definitely an important one. Since one of the main goals when starting a niche site it to generate a good income from it, it’s important to know whether or not a niche can be monetized well.
When it comes to monetization, you have plenty of options. My two go-to methods are ads and affiliate links, but don’t discount selling digital products, courses, or even physical products.
While most niches can be monetized in one way or another, some are easier than others. Check your potential competitors’ sites to see what they’re doing and decide whether or not those methods might make sense for your niche site.
One thing to look into early on is whether or not the topics on your site are even allowed to be monetized through the major ad and affiliate networks. If your site covers risque topics, you may not even have the option to monetize your site through the high-paying, go-to networks.
11 – Can the Content Easily Be Outsourced?
While it’s always a good idea to write a good chunk of the articles on your site by yourself, if you ever want to scale your business, you’re going to have to outsource some of the work.
When it comes to outsourcing with a niche site, outsourcing the content itself usually makes the most sense to help you scale quickly. The problem then becomes finding writers who are capable of covering the topics in your niche.
Whenever my team and I build out a new website, we always consider whether or not the content can easily be outsourced. If we have to write 100% of the content ourselves or pay a specialist top dollar to write on topics in the niche, it defeats the entire purpose of going into that niche in the first place.
When trying to figure out whether or not the topics in a niche can easily be outsourced, put yourself in the writer’s shoes and determine whether you need specialized knowledge, the topic is highly technical, or the information can’t easily be obtained with a bit of research.
To see who we use currently for outsourced content, see our tools and resources page.
12 – Do I Have at Least a Basic Understanding of the Niche?
While it’s absolutely possible to build an authority site on a topic that you have no interest in, the path to success is definitely going to be more difficult if you don’t have a good feel for the topics in the niche.
We outsource the majority of our content now, but that doesn’t mean you can simply throw keywords at writers and expect them to produce great articles. You need to have enough of an understanding of the niche to give a bit of guidance to make sure your writers deliver content that fits the searcher’s intent.
Without providing some guidance, you can expect to occasionally receive articles that really don’t hit the mark. You’ll figure this out when you get comments on these articles down the road that call you out on the points in the articles that make no sense.
Trust me, we’ve had this happen plenty of times when outsourcing articles on keywords that we didn’t really understand ourselves.
13 – Is There Too Much Overlap with My Existing Niche Sites?
The last step on this checklist to choosing a great niche only applies to those of you who already have at least one niche site. If you already have a website, you should try to avoid creating another one that heavily overlaps the topics of the first one.
While there are some strategies out there that involve targeting the same keywords from multiple sites, in general, it’s better to keep your sites in their own unique buckets to maximize the potential of the keywords that you’re targeting.
By targeting the same topics on multiple sites, you run the potential of diluting the value of those keywords to your business as a whole. And while this might be okay if you’re targeting keywords with high search volume, if you follow the methods listed on passiveincomeunlocked.com, you’re going to mostly be targeting keywords with a low amount of search volume.
As I mentioned above, picking a niche is one of the most crucial steps that you absolutely need to get right in order to have any shot at succeeding with your niche website. While getting this step wrong doesn’t guarantee failure by any means, it will make it much more difficult to get your site off the ground.
Don’t rush this step. Take your time, and go through the checklist above. Once you’ve found a niche that passes most of the checks, move forward with confidence knowing that your niche selection won’t be the thing that keeps your site from reaching your goals.