So you’ve decided that it’s time to start your own business and spread the news online. You have your product or service figured out, but you have yet to build an online presence. An important first step for staking your claim online is to establish a niche. What is a niche? Essentially, it’s where your specialty lies. As an online business owner, you’ll need to target a specific audience that will most benefit from (and thus be more likely to search for) your product. Not many businesses can survive by offering general, all-encompassing marketing – do you really want to compete with Amazon and Wal-Mart? Instead, you have to focus your SEO. Let’s take a look at a few simple steps you can take to help you find the right niche for your business online to set yourself apart from the rest!
Understanding the Idea of a Niche
Having the right niche is important. If set up correctly, it will be the starting point in the success of your online business. It's the basis for how your customer base will find you. Examples of successful entrepreneurs with a good niche include Tony Robbins in the personal development niche and Suze Orman in the financial planning niche. There are hundreds more like them in every type of area you can imagine. Gardening, self care, baking, pet care, and on and on. The sooner you have a good understanding of what your niche should be, the sooner you will see your business find customers as the customers find you.
You want to find the specific market you will serve over and over again. Do this instead of spreading yourself thin all over the Internet by throwing yourself into too many markets or niches until your find the right one.
An easy example to examine is the online presence of lawyers. Say you have a legal team that dabbles in several kinds of law but with a focus on estate planning. You’d want to develop an estate planning niche for your local area so that you establish a strong claim over that field through SEO. If instead you spread your resources too thinly by advertising as a general lawyer, you won’t be nearly as successful in climbing the search results. There are far more “lawyers” in your area than “estate planning lawyers”!
Identify Your Interests and Passions
Even if this is something you’ve already done in the past, take the time to review your interests and passions again. Make yourself a list of the top 10 topical interests and passions for you and your business before you proceed.
Running a business is not easy, and you will be tested as you expand online. When times get tough, if your business is not something you are passionate about at all, why in the world would you continue stressing yourself out trying to make that business work? Here are some prompts to help you figure out what your passion is, and if it’s a good business idea for you:
- How do you like to spend your free time?
- What types of magazines or blogs do you enjoy?
- What topic do you like to learn the most about?
- What clubs or organizations do you belong to or volunteer with?
These are questions you can ask yourself to get you started in finding your best business and niche. And if you have a pre-existing company that needs to find an online niche, we’re not saying that you should scrap the whole concept as soon as the interest fades. There are many ways you can renew your passion for your business by making some changes to the established company. If you own a local car dealership, but have a passion for writing, maybe you could hire or promote someone to take over some of your other tasks while you focus on providing ad copy.
Identify Problems You Can Solve
With your top ten list of passions for yourself and your business, it’s now time to look at what your business can offer. Knowing your specialty, you can start to assess how you can help your customer base. To start building your online business presence, find some common problems your customers are having, and then determine if what you’re marketing can help them solve any of those problems.
Find online forums related to your niche and get involved in the discussions. This will help you see what the problems are and if you can help solve them. Plus, you’ll get a better idea of how your target market thinks and feels. Set up your own discussion forum with your target market and engage in a discussion on problems and solutions. Make sure you create and ask questions that will uncover trouble points.
You also need to start to research keywords related to your niche. Knowing and having good, strong keywords can help you see what your target customers are dealing with. This helps you determine how to go about setting up your website’s content and SEO to help them solve those problems by finding you. VMA has more information on how to go about researching keywords here. And don’t forget about those valuable long-tail keywords!
Research Your Competition
Once you have your niche and some strong keywords, it’s time to further scope out your online competition. Having some competition online is not always a bad thing, as it can mean you’ve found yourself a desirable niche. However, you need to find and log all of your local competitors to see if you still have a chance to compete among the online crowd.
Things to look for as you research to see if you can stand out in the niche are:
Low quality content. You can easily outrank a site with low content quality. People want detailed content that serves their needs. One great trick you can use to help you stand out is to learn how to create evergreen content!
Lack of transparency. If a site is overly corporate or faceless, you can easily outrank them with an honest and transparent presence in your industry.
Lack of profitability. If your niche has a high search volume, but low conversion rate, this is a prime chance for you to jump in with some good Google Ads and sweep up the competition.
Test Your Idea
Once you have gone through the steps above, it’s time for you to test your idea on the open online market. You can set up a simple landing page for pre-sales of the product you are launching. Then drive some traffic to that landing page with a little paid advertisement.
If you end up with few pre-sales, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your niche is wrong, it could just be the way your landing page is set up or how you used the wording on the page (both on the front and back ends). Take this as a great opportunity to go back to those forums you used earlier to develop your niche more by asking some more questions to help you determine what your landing page or your product needs help with. Also read up on how to do some A/B testing and start that method ASAP. It involves changing variables one at a time and gauging the results, like a marketing science experiment!
The process of finding the right niche for your business is not one you can expect to happen overnight. This will take time, patience, and much research for you to get the right focus for your business. Use the test market as a way to help build your business and develop the right niche to fit your overall goals. With the right niche, you will see your start-up turn into a profitable business over time.