How to Find a Niche with Low Competition – a Simple and Effective Approach
Whether content or products are sold, start-ups are often being ruined by choosing the wrong niche. Avoid financial downfall with this guide.
by Y. Mladenov a.k.a. ItKnol
Message from the Author
Please keep in mind that the following article is intended for people starting off with personal sites.
Publishing on HubPages actually brings results easier or at least you don’t need to find an entirely free niche.
More on what is a free niche below.
If you are not already, become a HubPages author today.
Understanding What 'Balance' Is
You might wonder what balance has to do with finding the right niche for your content.
Well, isn’t everything in life about achieving balance?
Be productive at work, but don’t loose your private life.
Shower your girl or guy with attention and romance, but leave him or her with good amount of personal space as well.
Don’t be too pricey when offering a service to your clients, but don’t be too cheap as well.
It is always about searching for The Golden Mean.
How Do You Apply This Knowledge to Your Goal of Finding the Right Niche?
Simple – don’t set your goals too high and don’t set your goals too low as well.
You don’t want to write about a super-specific topic such as quantum physics. Since you might not do as well as you think you will, in comparison to your competitors.
But you don’t want to write about a super general term like ‘pants’ as well. Unless you come from a long line of pants manufacturers. Or something like it.
As you might notice below, I will talk more about writing an article rather than creating a product.
However, the theory I address in this article applies to both cases. In the end, it all comes down to selling yourself to the right audience.
Know Your Options - Create a Plan of What You Can Offer
Sit down and write a plan of what types of content or products you can offer.
Don’t worry - you don’t really have to write a business plan. More like a list of grocery store items.
And as a further reassurance, let’s see what Randy Pausch says in one of his amazing lectures on time management (and planning):
“Having a plan doesn't mean you are locked into it. People say – yeah, but things are so fluid! You know I am going to have to change the plan and I am like – yes, you are going to have to change the plan. But you can’t change it, unless you have it.”
Tips for Using Your Know-How, the Right Way
First of all, please don’t forget that you are not a brick-and-mortar store and being a jack of many trades is not helpful. If you are going to offer solutions to a variety of issues don’t forget that the Internet has already done so.
What makes you unique and trust-worthy is being laser-specific in your collection of products or articles.
Be a specialist; offer a number of solutions to issues that fall in the same group.
As for your list, make sure your content or products are not super-specific yet not too general, either. The important thing here is to know your options.
I have automotive experience and knowledge, what niche am I looking for?
Let’s begin with a suggestion that comes top of my head - cars.
Just to clarify – by ‘cars’ I refer to ‘a vehicle to drive around’. Not a specific category of vehicles.
A note on competition:
When it comes to success, every road you embark on is like a pyramid. And just as any pyramid, the higher you climb on, the less people there are. Hence the term ‘it’s lonely at the top’.
When you create your content or product and start promoting it on the Net it will start climbing up this pyramid on its own. The bigger the competition, the wider pyramid it climbs.
Pros and Cons of Targeting a Generic Niche Such as 'Cars'
Fails to address a specific issue, which fails to make it helpful to people – BIG issue
Extremely high potential income
Has super-high competition
Big (but broad) audience
Due to competition, extremely slow growth of income/popularity
Well, mr. Automotive know-how, let’s try with ‘SUVs’. It is a bit more specific than ‘cars’.
Again, fails to address a specific issue, but does target a much smaller audience and range of issues. This will make it easier for you to pick specific issues to focus on.
One Time More Specific Niche
Yields less income than 'cars', because is more specific
Has a smaller audience, because it's more specific
Faster income increase, due to lower competition
smaller list of issues to focus on, increasing the chance of being helpful
Since we got some good results, let’s brainstorm some more on the last example:
How about ‘SUV Start-Stop engine technology’?
Two times More Specific Niche
SUV Start-Stop engine technology
Even less yield in comparison to ‘SUVs’ and ‘cars’
Much more specific topic, even less competition
Will bring in results much faster than ‘SUVs’ and ‘cars’
Narrower field of issues, bigger chance of helping
Would the audience be too small to make any profit at all? It’s up to you to find out.
I hope my last question didn’t startle you. Every adventure has its risks.
Let’s take a last step further ahead and think about ‘SUV Start-Stop engine technology on Nissan Qashqai’.
Frankly, I am not entirely sure the Qashqai utilizes start-stop technology, but that is irrelevant at the moment. As you might have guessed already, the idea this time is to get even more specific.
Three times More Specific Niche
SUV Start-Stop Engine Technology on Nissan Qashqai
Unpredictable end result in terms of income
Reduces the competition further
See caption below
Even shorter way to the top (smaller pyramid)
Assuming you know more about Nissan, than Mercedes, then you will be even more helpful here
Based on These Examples, What Is the Best Option?
Really it’s up to your personal opinion. Some people might prefer to walk a 10 year path to success.
Others would be happier by just supporting their nifty, little, side project that Mercedes owners love.
And, of course, you can always go for more complex schemas, like releasing a super-specific solution for Nissan Qashqai owners and another on for Mercedes owners.
Once you know which one performs best – release a whole range of products for the brand that shows more demand.
At least, that is what I would have done.
Researching the Right Niche
Again based on the examples, we can conclude that there are 2 types of niches.
General niches have higher competition which lowers chances for success.
But in return they present you a bigger reward if you succeed – big (and broad) audience and a great income.
Those have lower competition and considerably increase your success rate.
They also have smaller audience, which is considered a downside by quite a few people.
Let’s say that we are selling yellow napkins and we become number one in a general niche with a big audience of 1 million people.
For example, only 50 000 of those will respond with a preference to yellow napkins, since a big audience, means a broader one. It can include all kinds of users, enthusiasts and professionals.
A smaller audience on the other hand, lets say 350 000 people, is likely to consist of quite a few yellow napkin fans along just a few other types.
So, you reach the same group of people (40 000 yellow napkin fans) much easier. Since you are not talking to the World, but just a part of it, you might not reach the 100% of your target audience.
Therefore it is safe to say that a small audience allows you to reach the top faster and a good deal of the people there will be interested in what you have to say to them.
An actual downside of specific niches is that reaching the top doesn’t provide the same results as being number one worldwide.
It really is a simple fact.
Another simple fact (that I really enjoy) is that you can tackle this issue by simply expanding to new niches with new content.
The time you need to reach the top in a general niche is rarely worth, opposed to conquering a number of other, smaller niches for the same amount of time.
Searching for Gold with Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Now that we know that we need to find a specific niche with good balance between competition and popularity, all we need is the right tool.
Assuming you are going after the number 1 search engine on the internet (Google) I can only recommend the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
In order to use it, all you need to do is sign up for a free AdWords account and, perhaps, grab a promotional code worth $75.
Now that you have a Google AdWords account, here is the crash course:
1. At the top of the page click Tools and select the Keyword Planner
2. Click on Search for new keyword and ad group ideas
3. In the first field, labeled ‘product or service’ enter the most general term from your ‘grocery store list’
note: Product owners, specify location and language only if you are targeting a local area or audience.
4. Click on the ‘Get ideas’ button.
5. Click on the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab
To a plain-text file, copy the keywords that:
- best describe your field of expertise, and
- have a somewhat mediocre number of monthly searches – remember that we are looking for balance here, so the middle is what we are aiming for
note: Start off with search phrases that contain 3 or more keywords (a.k.a. long-tail keywords).
Thanks to this tool and the keywords collected you now have some info how popular your niche is.
You have the number of searches, now you need to check the competition.
Enter each keyword from the secondary list into Google.com.
note: If loading Google.com redirects you to a local version, click on ‘use Google.com’ at the bottom-right corner of the page.
Have a look at the results on the first page.
If it looks competition-free, then keep this search phrase in your list. If not – remove it.
What Competitive Niches Look Like
The top 10 search results must not be oversaturated with:
- home pages (ex: http://site-about-something.com)
- this means the entire website is dedicated to the topic in question
- authority sites (howstuffworks.com, about.com, etc.)
- way too popular for you to beat
- forums, Q&A sites and others containing user-generated content
- generate way too much fresh content on this or similar topic
These are the top 3 you won’t beat anytime soon. Any keyword that makes these show-up on the first page of results must go off your list.
In the end you need to have a keyword list of about 3-5 keywords that bring up somewhat irrelevant results to the search itself.
This is how your winning niche looks like. Please note that sometimes this takes several hours of keyword checking. But ultimately it is absolutely worth it.
If you are marketing a product make sure to add a well-structured and informative article of about 1200 words, describing your offer.
Assuming you had hit a free niche it will take from about 8 months to reach first page.
Usually it takes me about 5 months to see the results I am talking about. And it will take about 90 days (roughly) for traffic to start rising.
Have fun and if something remains unclear, please feel free to ask me in the comments section. I will gladly provide you with an answer.
Arise for fame and glory!
Bonus Content: An Inspiring Lecture by Randy Pausch on Time Management
Whether content or products are being sold, start-ups are often being ruined by choosing the wrong niche. Avoid financial downfall with this guide.