Finding Your Niche
Finding a niche is the most critical step of creating a website, and unfortunately people rush through this step and choose inappropriate topics.
If you're creating a website to make money, taking the time to research the right niche is crucial to the success of your venture.
The Net is becoming so saturated and it's important that you put yourself in position to compete -- no matter the topic.
The more defined your niche is, the better. This is because smaller niches have less competition, so you have a greater chance of being found in Google, Yahoo, etc.
I know it may be tempting to create a website on the most popular product or topic, but you have to remember that it will be much harder to break through a saturated market.
Information / Affiliate Sites
As an affiliate, you would make money by building a site or blog with fresh, unique information on a specific theme or topic.
You would build traffic to your site by learning about SEO (search engine optimization). This is the process of creating pages so they stand a chance of ranking high in popular free engines like Google, Yahoo, etc.
To earn money from your site, you join affiliate programs that are related to your topic. Any time a referral from your site results in a sale, the company will pay you a commission for any product sold as a result of your site's recommendation.
In addition you could earn revenue with Google ads (AdSense), provide advertising space for other sites, etc.
Just keep in mind, you need plenty of traffic to succeed with affiliate marketing so your first goal should be to learn how to bring in visitors.
What Kind of Affiliate Sites Succeed?
The great thing about the web is that there are successful affiliate websites in thousands of different niches.
But there's a few things all these sites have in common...
1) The owners are deeply involved and passionate about their niche and content.
2) Updated frequently with fresh information and provide a unique perspective or point of view
3) Focused content around a specific theme (not multiple topics all on one site)
4) They provide a unique feature, service, product or benefit that solves a problem or entertains a specific audience
I cannot stress the importance of the above points. So many people try to build sites with no originality and do what too many others have already done.
They copy someone else's idea and re-word the content, but never establish an identity of their own because they are too busy trying to mimic a site that's already successful.
This is a fatal flaw because most times you aren't going to be as passionate about that topic as the person you are mimicking. Remember, they became successful because of their uniqueness and creativity.
It's hard to maintain a level of creativity when you have no passion for the topic to begin with.
Also, you will be competing for the same audience, and if this site is already popular, it will be difficult to lure their loyal visitors over to your site unless you are offering a significant benefit, information or features your competition doesn't offer.
Think about sites you visit frequently. Why do you visit them? I bet some of the reasons are mentioned above.
Another reason it's important to select a specific niche is that search engines rank sites according to theme and popularity. So the more focused your content is around the topic, the easier it will be to rank for your targeted keywords.
If you try to cover too much ground with one site, the search engines won't rank you well for anything because it is not clear what your site is about.
A lot of people start out creating sites on multiple subjects. Sometimes this can work on a personal blog, but if you're trying to make money then it's best to zero in on a theme.
Search engine traffic is free so you might as well spend time learning and reading up on SEO (search engine optimization) to make the most of this.
I've written some articles about SEO on 2 Create a Website.
The goal is to build a site that targets a specific group of people and allows you to appear as the expert in your niche.
The more you know about the topic, the more credible you will appear to your audience. Also the more likely they will return and/or buy product you offer or recommend.
It doesn't matter if you don't know everything about the topic. You just want to know more than your audience.
Websites and blogs that make money, do a great job of generating loyal followers. So put some thought into your topic before just jumping into this.
Questions to Help You Select a Topic
1. What topics can you talk about for hours?
2. What are your hobbies?
3. Do you have a special skill you perform better than most people?
4. What angers you? Excites you?
5. Have you overcome something in your life that will allow you to educate and inspire others? (depression, cancer, low self esteem, etc.)
6. Are there a lot of sites out here with the angle you plan to take and if so, what can you do differently to set yourself apart?
Problem-Solving Sites Can Be a Huge Hit
Websites and blogs that solve specific problems can go over well if you take the time to plan out how you are going to communicate the solution.
If you think about it, people search the web for solutions all the time. They look for anything from how to manage debt, acne tips, weight loss advice, dating tips, to lawn care, car buying tips, you name it!
So your goal could be to choose a problem and write an informative site that helps people solve it. The more helpful and unique your site is, the greater chance people will bookmark it, tell others about it, buy products you recommend, etc.
Do Your Research
When brainstorming for a topic, spend time googling your potential theme and targeted keywords to scope out your potential competition.
But at the same time, don't expect to find a topic that no one has ever touched. The Net is so saturated you can bet that almost any topic worth going after has been done at some level.
And if you think you've thought of something no one has ever done, also ask yourself why that may be. Sometimes the topic can be so obscure that no one is even searching for it. You definitely want to make sure there is a demand/audience for what you want to do.
These tools will give you an idea for how many monthly searches are conducted for various keywords (demand). You can also get an idea for how many sites currently target those phrases (supply)
Keyword Research Example
Below I've done a keyword search in the AdWords tool for "pet tricks". The Advertiser Competition column shows you there is an average amount of advertisers bidding on this phrase.
This means that if you were to place Google AdSense ads on your pages, there would be a decent amount of relevant ads to display on your page.
The Search Volume columns show you how many times that phrase was searched for in the current and past month. If you see "Not enough data" that usually means there weren't a lot of searches.
If you want to check supply (number of sites targeting the topic), then do a google search for the keyword phrase in quotes and look at the "total number of results" on the top-right hand side of Google. This will give you an idea of how competitive the phrase is. Compare the numbers among all your searches.
Don't Stress Over The Numbers
Be careful. Don't fall into the trap of stressing over the numbers these tools generate. I've found that people want to interpret how successful their site will be solely based on these numbers.
Use these tools as guides. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect topic that has excellent demand (high # of monthly searches) and little supply (sites targeting that topic).
So it's best to research a few potential topics and pick the one that has a decent supply/demand (relative to the other topics you researched), while taking into account how passionate you are about the subject.
In other words, you may find that "penny stocks" has a better supply/demand ratio than "meditation techniques", but you are more passionate about meditation and think you could create a more engaging and informative site due to your background.
So in this case, you might decide to go with meditation even though the numbers for "penny stocks" look better from a supply/demand point of view.
These tools can be very useful while comparing different topics, but remember to also consider your own enthusiasm, knowledge of the topic and the kind of competition you're up against. The numbers are only part of the story.
Remember, successful sites are published by people who are passionate about their subject matter and produce useful information on a regular basis. Don't pick a topic you are not enthused about just because the numbers look good.
Always consider your enthusiasm too. Boredom is a big reason many people give up too early. It takes a while to make money online so you might as well be involved in something that interests you for the long haul.
Learn how to make a living online like me with my book, Niche Website Success.
If you can absorb the preliminary information on this site, you will have a huge advantage because most people rush and don't take the time to plan and educate themselves before they begin.
If your goal is to make money with a website or blog, absorb the content on this site like a sponge.