Deciding on your niche is a super important consideration when starting an online business.

Why is this so important? It’s important because having a particular area of interest, or a product or service that you are interested in building your business around is just one aspect of deciding on your niche.

The other part of this is to determine as best you can if there is a potential market for what you’re going to offer.

This means being very clear about the types of people, or businesses who have a real need that product or service, and who would be willing to pay you for what you are offering.

Where to Start – Step 1

If you’re going to operate an online business it’s going to take plenty of your time, effort, and possibly money to set it all up.

Therefore I’m sure you’d agree that it would make sense to focus your business on something that you have a strong interest in, or are passionate about.

So, step one really is to identify what your business will be about.

One way to do this is to take some quiet time out and do a thorough review of, and make a list of things like your:

  • interests, passions, likes, hobbies
  • areas of professional or technical expertise

You don’t need to identify yet exactly what your product or service is going to be, or even the type of online business you’re going to operate until you complete step 2.

Where to start – Step 2

Step 2 involves conducting some pretty extensive research on whether there is a need for the products or services you could potentially offer.

And further to that, what kinds of people or businesses need what you’re going to offer.

An example..

Let’s say that you’ve always been interested fishing. It’s your favourite recreational hobby, and over the years you’ve learned a lot about fishing.

And you know that lots of people like fishing so potentially you could build a good business around your interest in fishing.

But the questions you would need to find answers for are:

  • “What sort of business should I develop”
  • And…”What sort of needs that people who fish have?”
  • And…. “How can you best provide a way to fill that need”

So let’s flesh some of the options you might have for a business built around fishing:

  • Develop an information business which teaches people how to fish which might involve writing content, and developing ‘how to videos’ and online courses
  • What sort of fishing do you want to most teach people about – fishing from the beach or rocks, salt water fishing from a boat, fresh water fishing from a boat, deep sea fishing….?
  • Is there a particular age group, or other demographic you feel closest to e.g. teaching kids, teaching adults, teaching men, teaching women etc
  • Develop a business which supplies people with the accessories needed to go fishing
  • And so on……

Basically the key thing here in determining your market niche is that your business is destined to fail if you try to market to everyone and to fill all the needs that might exist out there.

It’s essential that from your research you identify a specific target niche to which you’re going to offer your products and services.

Some practical tips

The video below also has some really helpful tips for researching and deciding on your niche. The presenter shows examples of resources available to you to research your niche and the kinds of needs that your business might satisfy.

Keyword research

Given that you’re going to operate an online business another important step in deciding on your niche is to investigate the kind of keywords that people type in when doing Google searches related to your intended product or service.

Looking at key words will help you in a couple of ways:

  • First, by looking at the keywords (search terms) used you can begin to develop a picture of the kinds of problems people have and are trying to solve in relation to your potential products and services
  • Using a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool you can also investigate the most popular keywords and potentially profitable keywords that you can use in your business
  • When looking at keywords using the above tool look for clues as to the profit potential of your business e.g. what is the volume of searches from month to month – is it consistent, and are there enough searches to indicate there is a demand for your product or service?

(Note: to get the Google Adwords Keyword Tool you will need to open an Adwords Account – here’s how to sign up)

Competitor analysis

All successful businesses have competition and you’ll need to research who yours are.

Doing a simple Google search for the keywords you’ll be using in your business is a quick way to discover your competitors who are using similar keywords.

Your biggest competitor will obviously be those who appear at the top of the search results for the search term you entered. What businesses are listed in the top 10 Google results for the keyword. Take a look at their websites to investigate further.

There’s also a very useful free plug in if you’re using Chrome as your browser. It’s called SEOQuake.

Using this plug in you can do a search of competitor websites and obtain helpful data. For example, the kinds of keywords being used on your competitor’s websites. There’s more great data available with SEOQuake which I won’t go into here……but it is worth checking out for yourself.

Deciding on your niche – tying it all together

The key to a successful online business is to find a market that is prepared to pay reasonable prices for what you have to offer. Then you create and/or supply needed products and services to that market.

In an ideal world the products and services you offer will be related to an areas of interest or expertise that you have, so that working in the business is not only profitable, but pleasurable.

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