Internet Marketing Starts with Selecting a Niche
If you are starting any sort of business, whether it's bricks and mortar or an online business, the first question you have to ask yourself is "What is my business all about?"
In the online world, it's called choosing your niche and, although it's very important, bear in mind that it may be just the first of many online businesses that you are going to own.
Unlike the bricks and mortar world, it costs very little to start an online business so the chances are that you will eventually own several.
This of course has the advantage that each one only needs to earn a small amount for it to all add up to a decent income. And if just one of them takes off, you can do very well indeed.
But it also means don't hesitate too much.
Avoid "paralyses by analysis" and jump right in, even if it's just for the learning experience.
So How Do You Select a Niche?
There are two ways to select a niche for your online business:
- Choose something that you are knowledgeable, even passionate about.
- Choose something that gets a lot of searches and has a large number of related products.
Familiar Subject as Internet Niche: Advantage
The advantage of 1 is that you are going to be writing a lot of content around the subject and that will be easier if you are already knowledgeable and passionate about it.
The aim of your website is to provide useful and valuable information about your subject to your visitors so that you become an authority in your niche. You can do this by writing articles that address different aspects of your subject (and which also target keywords aimed at getting you ranked in the search engines; don't worry, I'll be covering Search Engine Optimization in articles later.)
You might also write an e-book on your niche that you give away on your website in exchange for your visitor's name and email address so that you can subsequently send offers to them.
And for extra income, you can publish your book on Amazon both as an e-book and a paperback. It's free to do so and can create an extra income stream. I'll explain how to do this in a separate article.
Familiar Subject as Internet Niche: Disadvantage
The disadvantage of this approach is that while you may be passionate about a subject, if no one else is, then you won't get much in the way of visitors so all your good work in writing articles will be wasted.
Just because you're passionate about collecting old bottle caps or mapping the far side of the moon doesn't mean that visitors will flock to your specialized website or that you can make an income out of it.
Popular Subject as Internet Niche: Advantage
By choosing a niche that has a lot of searches and associated products, you increase the chances that, if your business is successful, you can make a lot of money from it.
For example, "weight loss" is one of the most searched for terms on the internet and has a ton of products associated with it, from diet books to treadmills.
So is it a good niche to be in?
For a startup business, probably not.
Popular Subject as Internet Niche: Disadvantage
The disadvantage of a popular subject is, well, its popularity. It means that the competition is intense.
A Google search for "weight loss" will bring up over 1 billion results!
And all of them will have been in business for much longer than you. Every keyword you can think of will already be the subject of other websites.
Your chances of making it to page 1 of Google, Bing or Yahoo through SEO are pretty much zero and if you're not on page 1, you might as well be invisible.
Yes, you can pay for ads, and I'll examine that option in detail further down the track, but for the uninitiated, it's a rapid way to spend money with no return.
What to Do?
Clearly, your best bet is to find something that you're knowledgeable about (or at least interested in) that will have a reasonable number of related searches but doesn't have an insane amount of competition and has associated products that you can sell.
What we are talking about here is selling products as an affiliate. That is, selling someone else's products that are related to your niche and you earn a commission. This is probably the best model for starting out with a money-making blog. Other models are advertising on your blog and, of course, the ultimate of developing and selling your own products for 100% of the profit.
I will be covering all of these models as we proceed through this journey.