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The Importance Of Finding Your Online Niche

Mar 21, 2008
All too often I'm contacted by someone looking to start their own business, but they have absolutely no idea where to begin. Which is perfectly understandable, but they often suggest that they would like to try to get into an area that they know to be successful online, and they want to know how they can set up a website like Amazon or eBay or another website that makes millions or even billions of dollars. That's the kind of success they want.

In the nicest way I can think of, I tell them that they've already failed with their online business. Sites like Amazon have a full staff of people working for them to manage a business that size. It costs a lot to run a website that makes that much money. A cost that you probably can't afford if you're just starting out.

Plus, why would you want to compete with Amazon or eBay when they've already mastered what they do and have a huge customer base, and can basically drown your website in a head-to-head competition. You can't win that battle.

And the most important thing to remember is that even huge sites like that started out small and grew into the giants they have become over time. Which is why internet marketing experts are always telling their people to start small and build a business up over time.

But how do you do that?

Well, the most important thing to do at the very beginning is to find your niche. A small audience of internet users who are looking for a specific item to fill a specific need. Not everyone is going to search through all of Amazon when they're looking for information about making a great sangria for their next party. They'll probably go to a website that focuses on bartender's guides and drink recipes. Someplace where they're more likely to find specific information about what they're looking for (which Amazon doesn't always have). So there's your advantage.

You want to create a site that targets something specific that you can't find at a bigger site. Smaller sites like that have been getting more and more popular online as users' tastes change. Remember that most people go online looking for information, not necessarily to buy something. Your job is to provide them with the information they want, and then sell them something related to that topic.

OK, so hopefully you agree that you need to find a niche to focus on, but you may be asking the next question that I always get, "How do I find my niche?" That's the part that's going to require some work on your part. But don't get worried, it's not as hard as you think. There are only a few steps, and most of them you might already do from time to time.

Start out by thinking about what it is that you have an interest in, or any kind of knowledge about, or would like to learn about. Don't tell me that no such thing exists. I hear that from a lot of people and I always tell them that it simply isn't true. Everybody has knowledge about something, or at least an interest in something that they'll want to learn more about. You don't have to be an expert with a master's degree and years of experience working in a particular field to do this. Just find a few things that you're interested in.

Next, look at some of the search engines to see what comes up under those search terms. Even if it's a broad term like "chess" or "pets", just take a look to see what types of websites there are. This will give you some idea of what competition there is for any given subject, and it might trigger some ideas in your head for smaller niches within these topics.

After you do that, go into some of the online forums to see what people are talking about on your topic. Odds are good that there is a discussion going on right now about any topic you can think of. People love to chat online. And they love to chat with other like-minded people about their favorite subjects. Forums are everywhere. Many of the websites you just looked up in the search engines will have forums for their customer base. Or you can find forums at Google Groups and Yahoo Groups on almost any subject. Sooner or later you'll find a common thread that many in the forum are talking about, and often it'll be a problem that they're all having and need a solution to.

Now you should have some idea about what type of niche you want to get into. Next, try checking out a software tool like Wordtracker or Nichbot to see how strong a niche you have. These tools will give you a number of specific stats for every keyword someone may be searching for online, and how many websites there are already covering that subject and so on. You can also use free keyword tools, like the one that comes with your Google adwords account, but they generally don't provide as many features.

By now you should have a good idea about your niche. Now you just have to find a solution to the problems that exist in that area, which will require some research, and that's what you will want to build your website around. There are a few ways that you can monetize your site. Maybe you'll want to write an ebook that's an instructional guide that solves their problem (or you can get one written for you by hiring a writer at site like Elance). Maybe you can set up an information and instructional site about your subject that recommends other ebooks for affiliate commissions. There are many possibilities.

For now focus on finding your niche, and keep in mind that you may not succeed on your first try. Don't get discouraged, because it won't be your fault. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find that perfect fit. But you will find it if you keep looking.
About the Author
Mark Yarrobino is the president of Maroon Enterprises. One of their websites, Home Business Endeavors ( http://www.homebusinessendeavors.com ) was created to help internet users find the right information about starting their home based business while avoiding online scams.
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