How to Identify a Micro-Niche

How to find a profitable niche to start blogging about on your new mini-site

In a previous post I wrote about how to monetize your blog, but I didn’t mention how to find a niche market to promote. There are many ‘rules’ about this, but while I may point out some, not all are going to apply. One rule you can keep in mind though is that 7 out of 8 attempts may fail. If you’re willing to seek against those kinds of odds, keep reading.

When choosing a new micro-niche, there are three things to keep in mind:

1. Competition for the keyword – when you do a Google search for your keywords, how many root, top-level domains show up in the top ten search results? It’s very hard to break into the pack when competing directly with a home page of an aged domain, but if the search results show deep page listings instead you’ve got a shot.

2. The product – First of all, is there a product to promote? Goods are easier to sell, but some service industries like lawyers and business consultants can make more – much more. Second, what are the commissions on the product? You have to be comfortable with the commission level, which varies greatly between products, to Make sure it is worth your while.

3. Traffic (Visitors) – Even if you have low competition and a great product, if no one is looking for it then you’re dead in the water. You want to have enough traffic to sustain your business and make it profitable, but to not be in competition with the bigger niche market. The sweet spot seems to be around 20,000 daily searches for a given set of keywords. You can find this info out using Google’s External Keyword Tool or Market Samurai.

You want some competition. This is a sign that the micro-niche is profitable. You just don’t want TOO much competition.

How to Start

Knowing how to do the research is one thing, but what if you can’t think of anything to start with? What if you can’t think of any ideas to search for? Some advice I heard once was to browse a magazine aisle and look at the ads in the back. If vendors can afford to advertise there they must be making money and so you can too. Be careful not to chase a niche just because you like it. Do the research and be willing to say ‘no’ to yourself if it doesn’t pan out.

The Monetization Connection

How to make money from a blog or mini-site

Previously I wrote about blogging for profit, but didn’t go into detail about how to monetize the content. In other words, how do you make money from a blog?

There are three primary ways to make money from a blog:

1. Ads – this is the easiest, but lowest-paying form of revenue. However, it can be a good way to get started and prove viability. Popular ad networks include Google Adsense and Chitka. Ads like these are pay-per-click or PPC which means you get paid regardless of if the advertiser makes a sale.

2. Affiliations – Affiliate ads are potentially more profitable, but require a well defined niche or else it is too hard to attract visitors that will actually buy the products you are promoting. Affiliate ads are pay-per-purchase or PPP, which means you only get paid when the merchant advertiser makes a sale.

3. Direct selling – This is when you are directly selling something on your site that you are responsible for fulfilling. This has more potential for profit than affiliate advertising since you can make higher margins, but its more risky and you have to do fulfillment yourself. Examples of this can be anything from ebooks to beef jerky.

4. (Bonus) Transform – the pinnacle of a website is when it can be converted into a book or television show. This means you have hit the big time, but its because your site has the two major ingredients listed below.

What do all four of those revenue sources have in common?

1. Original Content – some estimates say to post up to eight times a day. If you are just starting out, shoot for once a week, then move it up to once a day per blog.

2. Visitors – Don’t stop writing content until you have at least 200 visitors a day (track with Google Analytics). If you already have 50 or more posts, but are lacking in traffic, start promoting your sites.

Promotion

The easiest way to promote your site, like with SEO, is to start with your site. Make sure you are linking to previous posts with appropriate keywords (I call this ‘threading the needle’, but its also known as ‘siloing’) and displaying navigation correctly. Visitors should be able to find more content they want to browse easily, but remember the goal is to monetize by either promoting other people’s goods and services or by selling something yourself so don’t get too carried away in internal self-promotion.

Once you have fixed any issues on your site and made internal linking a habit, begin bookmarking your posts on social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg, and Delicious. After that is done, look to join a relevant forum to join and comment often. Soon you will be able to add a signature that will show up on all of your forum posts with backlinks to your site.

If you do all of these things and you are still not successful, try a different micro-niche.