The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!
It has been just over three weeks since I launched my new authority site.
So far I have chosen my niche, created and optimized my blog for onsite SEO, and written 26 articles. Including setup time, I have probably spent around 20 hours on the site. And as you can no doubt guess from the title of my project, I intend to spend an hour every weekday working on the site for the foreseeable future.
As you will know if you read my first post in this case study series, I plan to document just about everything relating to this project here on Leaving Work Behind. I will reveal my process in its entirety, and share all my successes and failures. I plan for the site to be a long term income stream for my business, and if I can achieve that, I hope that these posts can help you do something very similar.
With all of that said, today I want to focus on an extremely important part of the process — how I chose my niche.
There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!
But before I get onto that, I want to elaborate on why I am doing what I am doing — the motivation behind this project.
This is an experiment. I do hope that it will become a viable part of my business, but I have not entered into this project with wild expectations. This post series is a case study, rather than a “How To” — I wouldn’t want you to think that I am endorsing my methods as a successful system (because I am not). Only time will tell on that front.
I view this whole project as the equivalent of Google’s 20% time:
I typically work around 7 hours per day (not including social media and emailing). Most of that time is spent either on freelance writing, or other income-generating projects such as this blog, or my upcoming freelance blogging guide. I like the idea of taking a 15% (i.e. one hour) chunk out of my day to work on something purely speculative.
It’s a hobby of sorts, in the same vein as my original niche site that I started way back in May 2011. I’m not concerning myself with rankings or income — I’m just following a plan, and observing the results. As I said in the first post, I do have plenty of interesting ideas relating to this site (many of which have nothing to do with Google), but my focus is very much on the present.
So with all of the above said, I would love for you to join me on this journey and try something similar, but only with an understanding of what you’re getting into.
There is very little to report since last week’s initial post regarding this project. Market Samurai’s rank tracking feature (which updates once per week) showed some rotation and movement amongst long tail keywords, but nothing exciting:
Traffic to the site is almost completely non-existent, but I am sure that will change in time. The site is indexed, and Google is seeing my pages and ranking them — that’s all I need for the time being.
The fact is, I don’t think many internet marketers have a great deal of respect for Google’s algorithms. A lot of people get very impatient if their site isn’t ranked after a matter of days or weeks. I used to be one such person.
But the fact is, my site is brand new, and my domain is brand new. I have appeared out of nowhere and started producing content regularly. For all Google knows, I might just as easily disappear tomorrow.
Whilst I would say that the content on my site is of a higher quality and more informative than the majority of what is currently on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the keywords I am targeting, I don’t think I warrant a spot there (yet). I’m a complete newcomer to the niche.
So that’s all the news I have for you at the moment. With that said, let’s take a few steps back in time and explore how I chose my niche in the first place.
How I Chose My Niche
It is an unfortunate necessity that I must not reveal the identity of my website. There are plenty of people out there who would only be too happy to scrape my content, copy my ideas, and generally be complete assholes. For the 99% of you who wouldn’t do that, I apologize for not being able to reveal more.
So, my mystery niche does put a slight limitation on how I can explain my process — but only slight. It may in fact be beneficial that you are not led by my choice of niche, as I have picked something very personal to me. It probably wouldn’t be a good niche for you at all.
There were basically five things I had in mind whilst I was picking and considering my niche. Let’s go through each in turn.
1. It Had to Be Personal
The niche had to be something I knew about — something I had experience in. It needed to be something that I could write endlessly about, and with relative ease. And it needed to be an information based niche — a niche in which I could write content based upon opinion, rather than research (because research-based content takes an age to create). Think Q&A style content, and you wouldn’t be far off.
You’re probably getting the idea here. I picked a passion — something that I wouldn’t get bored of in a hurry. We all have them — there is not a single person reading this who couldn’t think of something.
2. It Had to Be Broad and Specific
I also wanted to find a niche that is big enough so that I would never run out of inspiration, but tight enough so that the blog would have a clear singular focus. Here are a few examples:
|Too Broad||Perfect||Too Specific|
|Sport||Baseball||How to Pitch|
|Health & Exercise||Home Cooking Tips & Recipes||Vegan Lunch Recipes|
|The Arts||Acting for Beginners||How to Get Auditions|
I found a niche that sits in that middle ground really nicely. It is part of an absolutely enormous market, but it is clearly delineated, and a huge topic in its own right. Perfect.
3. It Had to Be Evergreen
Since my strategy is massively content-driven, I had to find a niche for which I could write content that would stand the test of time.
Say for instance I had started a blog on Hollywood movies. The problem with such a niche is that most people are only interested in new movies. As a general and relative rule, interest in movies wanes massively as they age.
Each article I write has to stand alone as a traffic generating cog in the engine that is my blog. And that means that my niche focus must be on evergreen information.
4. It Had to Be Monetizable
When I was picking my niche, I was rather on the fence about the topic of monetization. Of course, being able to make money out of the site is ultimately my number one priority, but you can make money out of any site if you generate enough traffic.
Having said that, it is a damn sight easier to make money if you pick a niche that is particularly commercial. In adjudging commerciality, I considered simple desire. Had I picked a niche where people had a burning desire?
Consider the example niches above. I think that they are all monetizable, in their own ways, and would rank their “commerciality” (based upon desire) as follows:
- Acting for Beginners
- Home Cooking Tips & Recipes
The problem is that judging commerciality is really tough. For instance, there are no shortage of people out there who really want to make it as actors or actresses, but perhaps those people generally don’t have much of a disposable income, and might be unwilling to part with their money.
On the flipside, whilst few people have a real burning desire to be a good home cook in the same way that someone wants to be an actor, there are perhaps more homemakers out there with the kind of disposable income available to spend on related products.
Ultimately, I think you can second guess commerciality and spend weeks (or months) procrastinating. If you just pick something and get on with it, you may get it wrong, but then at least you’ll spend those weeks and months taking action and learning a lot.
Finally, I considered different methods of monetization, namely:
- Affiliate marketing
- Product creation
- Membership site
I decided that my niche could support any or all of those monetization methods, which was certainly encouraging.
5. Competition Didn’t Matter
This may rank as perhaps the most controversial step in my niche selection process — I basically didn’t consider competition. For the purposes of picking my niche, I wasn’t particularly interested in it a factor.
Why? Because my strategy is centered around three things:
- Creating an enormous amount of quality content
- A focus on highly specific long tail keywords (for which there is less competition)
- A longer term strategy that doesn’t just focus on Google
Nearly anyone can make inroads into any niche. Just look at Leaving Work Behind. I had barely even read a blog about 15 months ago, and yet I’ve built up my own little corner of the web in what is an incredibly crowded niche (making money online) in that time.
Competition is overrated (tweet this) – just be consistently better than the competition over an extended period of time.
That’s it folks — the process I went through in order to pick my niche! It may sound quite involved, but it was in fact a pretty easy decision for me — it was more confirming that my decision felt right that took the time.
In the next post in this series, I am going to focus on how I created my site, and the onsite optimization methods I employed (and employ) to make sure that there is a clear path between my content and the search engine results pages.
In the meantime, I’d love to get your feedback on the process I have described above. Do you agree with my approach, or do you think I’ve got it all wrong? Let us know in the comments section!
Creative Commons image courtesy of basheertome