When you think you have found a good blog niche it is worth spending some extra time to really look to see if the numbers work and if you could make money from the niche.
You might want to start a blog for the love of the topic of course but Performancing is all about professional blogging. Let’s take it as read that you will want your blog to generate income. While we have touched on the topic of choosing a niche and niche monetization potential a couple of times before, just recently I have been researching niches for my next new blog. I thought you might find my process I have been going through interesting.
My first step after shortlisting lots and lots of potential topics was to take a big step back and look at each of the candidates with fresh eyes. While looking over my shortlist I realised right away that only two topics were really viable to actually write about on a regular basis. Wishful thinking alone would not generate content so I was left with two choices.
Just using gut instinct there is nothing to choose between the two topics. They couldn’t be more different in nature. Both interest me the same amount, both would probably be as difficult to write about, I have people to rope in to help me with either. Both are very competitive markets in terms of getting a fair share of attention and traffic (no point in making it too easy on myself, heh). All what separates them is how well the score on revenue.
One niche is very heavy on specific product details with lots of data sheets and specifications and suchlike. Brand names are in abundance and product names are easily recognised. This alone is a good sign, while the other topic has products and merchants they are more category generic, commodity items.
Look at forums
Digging around the forums confirmed this is surprisingly a hard-nosed topic. Data data data! Product names are used a lot in discussion, with fans of one product having battles with another for whose purchase was best. Even better the niche is very accessorised, after the initial purchase decision the same people are returning for advice on all manner of accessories at all price points.
Looking at my other niche it is a far different picture. The topic is a bit more fluffy and information heavy. Forums are full of information about the topic but any mention of products is quite low key, mostly audio, book and training courses. Author names do come up often and some of the classes are very expensive, there is obviously money to be made, but less tightly focused. There are no clear winners in terms of merchants names mentioned or specific brand names. Seems people recommend local products and suppliers as much ecommerce stores.
Tip: Search for forums, newsgroups and email discussion lists and look over the message archives. Look out for signs that products are discussed and in how much detail. Are features and brands important or do the niche merchants only deal in commodity, generic items?
I am quickly finding that the product-heavy niche is definitely a rich seam on the affiliate side. There is lots of competition in terms of merchants, a reasonable 5% payout, and lots of scope for affiliate links in the topic. A search on Google shows many ads are affiliates hawking merchants products, they obviously convert too.
My fluffy niche had only one or two merchants of any note outside of Amazon. Searches on Google did bring up affiliates, as did eBay. Commission payouts were low though and the merchants sites unsophisticated. A bad sign is prominent numbers for telephone ordering – guaranteed to kill an ecommerce commission!
Tip: Find merchants with affiliate schemes, think to yourself if you would buy from them. Look at prices, commission payouts and look to see if affiliate marketers are selling using adwords. If they are using their own money then there is likely money to be made.
Taking a different approach the fortunes of each reverse somewhat. Rather than looking at what products are available to discuss but looking at products to sell or produce, my warm and fuzzy touchy-feely topic looks a little healthier. Because there are no clear winners in terms of merchants or products, and the products ranging from very cheap to very expensive, perhaps that is an avenue. Some of the products could be digital also, which does make things easier.
Tip: A lack of information products may mean an opportunity or it might mean there is no market for the information. If there are great forums that tell you everything you need to know maybe the information is already there and provided for free? Some good books and expensive courses hints that there might be an opportunity for customised training, ebooks or audio courses.
Product-heavy means lots of reviews and product comparisons. You just know this also means good advertising opportunity and I wasn’t disappointed. Doing a search for [product name] results in many made-for-adsense spam sites. On the downside this is lots of competition for search traffic, on the plus side they would not be filling the search engines with this spam if it didn’t pay out! Chitika search on [product name] brought up exactly the right result (good price too..). Overture bid tool showed keywords at $0.60, even $4.20 for specific products! It might be because nearly Christmas and they will not necessarily translate into Google Adsense payouts but .. wooah.
Searching for the other niche topics did bring up adsense ads, no spam though that I could see other than some spammy directories. Chitika .. well, Chitika got confused. Not good. Overture prices for this topic were around the $1.50 mark for professional courses, products dropping below $1.
Tip: Good topics for advertising are easy to spot, if the current blogs and websites have so many ads they look like racing cars then you know there is some money to be made. Look to see if there are sites selling text link ads, this will let you know the keyword links can drive a lot of profit.
There is no doubt had I just gone with the topic without looking at revenue potential there is a good chance I would have gone with “warm and fuzzy” just because it is less competitive and so up beat and positive. There is nothing to stop me launching a blog on that topic for fun but the product-heavy niche is definitely going to be a better bet as an income generator providing I can break into the market.