In business, one of the most important pieces of advice you’ll receive is to know your market. If you want to guide your business to success, you’ll need to research your niche first.
But, researching your niche is about more than knowing who your audience is. To profit off your passion, you have to know where there’s potential for success.
You’ll also need to know where you can fail before you reach that point.
This includes knowing aspects of your business such as:
- How much it costs to get started
- Where you need to focus your marketing efforts
- What ROI counts as “profitable” in your niche
That’s where our Niche Marketing Research Guide comes in handy. We’ll point you in the right direction, so you can be prepared for success when you launch your new business.
What is Niche Marketing?
A niche market is a small segment that a product or brand caters to. For instance, the wedding planning market is enormous. If you wanted to stand out in the crowd, you could focus on nontraditional ceremonies, for example.
In the digital world, we usually refer to a niche market as just a market segment or a segment in a sector. For example, eCommerce is a market sector, selling bowties online is a niche.
Niche marketing is the process of defining, honing, and marketing to your niche. The key is to define your market with precision and intent. If you want to turn your audience into raving fans, it’s important to target the right people with the right products.
To that end, let’s jump straight into the first tip of our Niche Marketing Research Guide.
Step #1: Identify Interests and Problems
If you’ve been considering your business for a while, you’ve likely completed this step already. But, if you haven’t, it’s important to know what you’re passionate about.
While not every passion is profitable, it’s still important to work in an area that interests you. Otherwise, chances are that you’ll quit when the going gets too tough.
Once you know what segment of the market you want to work in, it’s time to seek out problems you can solve.
To get an idea of where the problems in your target niche lie, it’s important to dive into the industry.
Let’s check a couple of tips where you can identify ideas:
Your own experience
The basic source of inspiration is your own experience. Maybe you thought of a service that might be very handy but nobody is operating it. Or you were looking for a piece of information that is nowhere to be found.
- Bezos started Amazon because he wanted an “everything store”.
- Brin and Page founded Google because they wanted a better way to search the internet.
These of course are the top examples, but there are many more that are under the radar.
Inspiration is found in the most unexpected places. For example, Reddit has a section called ShutUpAndTakeMyMoney. While it is of course not advised to jump on the first post and start investing time into it – it can give you some interesting ideas on where to do more research.
If you repeatedly see an ad, it probably works. Facebook is a good source of such ideas:
4k likes and 392 comments? This ad is running for quite some time. Meaning it is working well and the product is selling.
See if you can identify new trends and draw inspiration from them. For example, Check Google Trends or Pinterest Trends, write some ideas down for later research. It does not have to be the final market or product idea, just some overall themes that you may develop.
Step #2: Identify Your Market
Once you have a couple of overall ideas about what could be a good niche to have a more detailed look at it is time to estimate the market size.
Here we can have a look at google trends again:
While this does not give you the exact number of searches. It provides you with an overall idea of how big the potential audience may be. You can also check seasonalities:
Sure, “Christmas” may mean any kind of search intent, but with upcoming holidays it might be an indicator that your market idea should have a particular angle.
If you want to take it one level higher, you might want to check some of the SEO tools that are available. Ahrefs is one of the most popular ones so we will illustrate it on it:
Here we can see more details, from this we know the overall search volume and assumed difficulty to rank high in Google search results. There are also many additional keywords that are suggested for further research, which is one of the services that Spiralytics provides to its customers. Let’s compare it to rc models:
With similar difficulty, we see that the search volume is much lower, BUT the term “motion rc” has over 20k searches, that is because they are one of the most established stores in this niche.
It might happen that you find a niche that seems to be easy to get into, so immediately start asking a question why is that so? For example, some niches may be easy to rank for because there are no ways to properly monetize it.
That gets us to step number 3.
Step #3: Determine Your Profitability
Once you have an idea of your industry and audience, it’s important to know what your prospects look like.
You can get started by looking up top products or services in your niche. Then, analyze what it costs to serve your chosen need.
Say that you want to make handknit goodies. You’ll need to know what you can get out of your goods, plus the cost of materials.
Knowing how much time it takes to produce a single item is essential, too. After all, time is money when you own a business.
If you can’t find much about your preferred niche, that’s a red flag. While there may be a market out there, a lack of information indicates a small customer base.
Your ideal situation, then, is finding a small niche with good profit margins. An unsaturated market and limited competition give you the best edge in turning a profit.
Let’s have a look at some ways that you can monetize your niche
When doing your research this is the term that you frequently see. Affiliate marketing is a process where you drive traffic to the offer and if the visitor takes an action (buys, downloads, registers, etc.) you receive a commission. Such programs are organized by affiliate networks.
There is a wide choice of affiliate programs for every niche imaginable. If you check around and there are no affiliate programs for that particular niche you have to consider if it is at all monetizable or looks for other methods of making a profit from it.
If you found a great niche, with fantastic traffic potential from the US, but no affiliate programs that would be a good fit – ad networks are the answer. These networks place advertisements on your website and pay you for each user session.
The most known ad network is Google Adsense, it is widely used as it has no barrier of entry. When you reach 10 000 sessions per month you will want to join a more premium ad network as Ezoic. Over 50 000 there is Mediavine and over 100 000 AdThrive. This can be combined with other methods of monetization.
Possibly you found a niche that requires an online store, that means that you are in ecommerce niche. No problem platforms like Shopify or Sellfy got you covered. You will have your online store ready in a few hours (including all the settings). Then it is just a matter of driving traffic and sending the products.
But what if you do not want to buy inventory or make your own products? Again, the world wide web thought of everything. With dropshipping you just transfer the order from the client to the manufacturer and get the profit margin. This is a great stepping stone into ecommerce as you can test products very quickly without any big financial commitments.
Print On Demand
Online store or dropshipping seems like too much hassle? Check some of the print-on-demand services (like Teespring) chose an item that you would like to sell, add your logo or a full design, and start driving traffic to your print-on-demand store.
Maybe you are a skilled Octobass player (yeah…google it). The term has 9.4k searches globally with very low difficulty. But how to monetize it? You won’t find any affiliate programs, you won’t craft an octobass, reselling from amazon will bring you next to nothing.
Create lessons! A recent study from StuDocu found that 77% of businesses used e-learning in some capacity and 42% of companies that use e-learning generate more income. With online course platforms, you can record your lessons once, and sell it for eternity. This is a great option to scale monetization of skill, rather than a service or a product.
Let’s take a difficulty up a notch. Are you an analyst in a particular market niche, that just finished research that is nowhere to be found? Great, choose any webinar software, and make a paid life event or a pre-recorded webinar for the niche you are in.
As you can see you can monetize anything online. Just keep in mind one thing – if you like something as a hobby, it does not mean that it will be hugely profitable. So “do what you love and you will no work a day in your life” is not completely true.
Step #4: Decide Where You Want to Start
Given the various options that are listed above, you will need to decide where to start.
In fact, plenty of entrepreneurs start by partnering with marketers and creators. These commission-based arrangements provide a source of income for newcomers.
Plus, working with competitors and related businesses lets you learn about the industry. In doing so, you have a chance to decide if this is where you want to be.
You’ll also be able to see where your competitors have flaws through this process. In learning from their mistakes early, you can capitalize on the market in a more effective manner when you’re ready to start selling.
Additionally, a soft working entry gives you an idea of where the market is going. This makes up a “sub-tip” in our niche marketing research guide: you should have an idea of where the industry is headed.
After all, technology and society are evolving faster than ever. Jumping ahead of the curve may be your best shot at thriving in these unprecedented times.
So apart from the market size and potential profit, you must also decide what type of traffic are you going to go after.
The holy grail of traffic sources. It is traffic that you receive organically from search engines based on the visitors’ search queries. Most lucrative and most competitive – dominated by Google.
Every platform with an audience has a paid ads platform. It is a great way to get immediate clicks and see how your offer works. While organic traffic takes a very long time before you can see any results at all, paid ads are instant and you can target the exact audience that you need.
While all the social media platforms are running paid ads, there are many options on how to create a following from which you can profit. It takes a bit more time to build the audience but it is quite loyal to your brand when you do.
There are ways to get immediate results from social media. You can work directly with various influencers, go right after your audience and test ideas very quickly. This is one of the tactics frequently used in combination with dropshipping.
Contests and Giveaways
This would be more in the category of “guerilla marketing” tactics. You can run a referral contest to build your audience more quickly. Gaining visitors, followers, and even email subscribers in the process.
The idea is very simple, you offer a price (service, consultation call, 6month trial) in exchange for your audience signing up with their email, or following your social media account.
Last, but definitely not least. Email marketing is a powerful tool that you should build from the start. It is listed in the last position as you do not have immediate access to a huge email list. Choose any of the email marketing services, put them on your site, and build your subscriber count. Soon it might become one of your most profitable traffic channels and also a way to expand to new projects.
The traffic source is one of the defining cornerstones of your niche. It is easier to find traffic and monetize it than to take a product and think about the traffic after.
Step #5: Find the Right Keywords
Now that you have an idea of what you’re getting into, it’s time to research your keywords.
This is an opportunity to play around with your business and content ideas.
When it comes to keyword research, start by doing a basic Google search. See what results come up and if there’s a particular way your competitors phrase their headlines.
These are their keywords.
Once you have a good-sized list of keywords, you can plug them into a keyword tool. Options such as Google’s External Keyword Tool and Yoast Keyword Expander are free. These invaluable sites can help guide newbie niche keyword researchers to the right keywords.
When using these sites, it’s important to home in on key information, such as:
- How difficult it will be to rank for that keyword
- The number of people who look up and click on that keyword
- If there are any variations of your keyword that perform better
Ideally, you want a keyword you can rank for with little effort. You also want keywords that get at least 1,000 searches per month.
Knowing if any of your keywords tend to be paid for is a good idea, as well. CPC, or cost per click, is a measure of how much your competitors pay to rank for a keyword.
While it’s not impossible to rank for CPC keywords, they’re usually harder to rank for.
But a high number of CPC keywords in your niche also shows there is money to be made.
When looking at keywords as a measure of niche profitability, you’ll want to example metrics such as:
- High CPC for your chosen keywords
- Targeted ads that focus on the main keywords
- Ads in the top 3 positions of your search engine results
Step #6: Research the Competition
It’s rare for a business to have no competition. Even in a tiny niche, there will likely be at least one other company with an overlap in products and customers.
In fact, having a little competition shows that there’s money in your chosen market. While too many competitors can drown you out before you’ve begun, a few decent-sized competitors can keep the audience coming back. In turn, you can capitalize on the existing market.
But, if you want to compete in the market, you’ll need to know what your competitors are up to. This involves knowing what needs they’re servicing, as well as any areas they may be overlooking. (Which may give you an easy inroad into the niche).
First, start by creating a spreadsheet of your known competitors. You may also want to include information such as their products and services.
Then, see if there’s an area of the market your competitors aren’t servicing. Can you rank for your keywords? What else or more could you do?
Look for indications of weak competitors, such as:
- Poor content. Regardless of your niche, content generation, such as a blog or any website is essential to building credibility. If your competitors don’t have high-quality content, you may be able to find your angle there.
- No paid competition. If you have a list of keywords with low competition and high search volume, capitalize on it as soon as possible.
- A corporatized environment. People want authenticity – so much that they’re willing to pay for it. If you want to enter an environment with a strong corporate presence, try doing the opposite.
Test Your Ideas
Now that you’ve done as much research as possible for your niche, it’s time to guide your attention to the testing phase. All this work would be worthless without putting it all into action.
Pick a landing page builder and get your website going, record the webinar, start an eshop, write down your online course, it is time to act. Once your landing page is up, you can start driving traffic as per our Step 4.
While there are a lot of science-like approaches to online business and digital marketing, still there is some “alchemy” to it. So even though after a week of research and two weeks of testing you are not getting any results – do not give in.
The thing is that it is difficult to know when you need to pivot and when to keep pushing forward. To solve this, when launching a new project, set time, and financial limits.
Look for an indication that you are moving in the right direction. Do not look at the ultimate numbers but first, look at percentages in clicks and conversion. If those numbers work you can think about volume.
There is one step that is the most important one “Do it”. No, it is not the slogan of Nike, it is a part of speech by Art Williams: “Do it, and do it, and do it, and do it …until the job gets done.”
There are nearly 3mil. new posts each day just on WordPress. Let that sink in for a minute. The easy way in, creates a lot of competition. If you are starting to be anxious about starting your online endeavor – don’t be. You can try as many times as you want without any notable financial consequences.
With each project that you launch you learn a bit. Maybe your first project will be a success, maybe it will be your 5th. Nobody knows. It takes only that one project for everything to click perfectly together, to pay off for all the struggles both financially and emotionally.
So get to it.