In business, a niche defines a narrow – sometimes a VERY narrow – category in which a business operates. The point of creating a niche is to narrow the competition, become an expert and really understand and speak to just the people who are looking for your product or service.
So, what is a niche website?
- It’s a website that conducts business in narrow segment of a business category.
- The website provides products, services, information or reviews within that narrow category.
- The website makes money with advertising, affiliate links or direct sale of products or services to the people who are interested in that narrow segment.
For instance, instead of focusing a blog or internet store on discussing “extreme sports,” you might focus on “extreme winter sports.” For a site like this, you might ignore kayaks, jump sports and motor sports so you can give extremely valuable information and products to people who are looking for ice climbing and big mountain skiing.
A niche website, then, is created for a specific group of people with specific interests. It might appeal to people in a certain geographic area or a specialty industry. The site might be geared toward a specific ethnic or age groups, or any other particular group of people or interests.
Why would you want to niche your website?
We live in an extremely crowded electronic world. A lot of the time, we are engaging with computers of various kinds rather than with people. Shopping, choosing services, getting information – it increasingly takes place through a computer screen on the internet.
At the last count, there are over 1.7 billion websites on the internet. Every website was created to get attention and make connections for some reason. The reasons vary widely, but every one of these sites is competing for the attention of some of the 8 billion people on the planet.
As a business owner – whether new or experienced – your job is to do what every other website creator is trying to do. You want to capture attention for your ideas, products or services. Only you want – you need to do it better than anyone else. How can you stand out in such a huge crowd?
You stand out by figuring out exactly who, among those 8 billion people, might want to know you and work with you, talk to you or buy from you. You create a niched website with valuable information aimed specifically at those people. You solve their specific problems, answer their specific questions. And you do it in a way that allows you to bump up to the top of search engines so your narrow group can find you.
How can you create a niche?
Your biggest task will be to define your target customer. Let’s say you want to focus on furniture. If you enter “furniture” into Google you will get literally billions of results. There are some very well-funded companies competing for the furniture buyer. They have large marketing budgets so it’s nearly impossible to stand out in that crowd.
So, you will want to narrow your focus. You could try exploring “outdoor furniture.” That’s certainly narrower but it’s still an extremely crowded marketplace. So how about “outdoor furniture for small spaces?” Now we’re narrowing the field quite a bit!
That is what niche building does. It narrows your field of focus down to a specific group of people who have an interest or problem that you can help them with. Now you aren’t competing with homeowners who want backyard furniture for large families or people who want camping furniture. You are talking to people who most likely live in condos or apartments and who want to create a nice outdoor living space in just a few square feet! You’ve just avoided a lot of competition.
Narrowing your focus down to a smaller category allows you to become an expert in all things surrounding that category. You don’t have to be an expert in all things – just the small category you have chosen.
What is the right amount of competition?
The trick in choosing a nice is to find a topic that doesn’t have so much competition that you cannot stand out. On the other hand, if you choose a topic that no one but you is interested in, you won’t find any audience at all!
To find that sweet spot, ask yourself a few questions. Are companies making products in that niche? Do people search for products or services in your niche? Do any problems exist in that niche that you might be able to help solve?
Continuing with our outdoor furniture for small spaces, are there enough products for you to try out, write about, review and link to?
How does a niche site capture attention?
You capture attention for your niche site by taking the time to think through the problems they might have. Going back to the outdoor furniture for small spaces example, what are some of the problems that might need to be solved?
Perhaps this group might need highly specialized shade solutions for small spaces. Those monster umbrellas in the big homeowner stores won’t necessarily work in the confines of a small patio 20 stories up in a high rise apartment building! You can present a thorough survey of all the solutions to that problem and you can link those solutions to convenient places for purchase. Those links, of course, will be affiliate links, so every purchase earns you a commission.
By coming up with the questions your target audience has, you can research and provide answers. You will write comprehensive articles that explore every facet of a question.
Continuing with our outdoor furniture for small spaces example, you might want to explore “outdoor storage for apartment patios” or “balcony planters that don’t leak” or “balcony plants for shade.”
Using images and videos to attract attention
Each of the above article ideas can be presented with attractive images or even videos that will appeal to your website visitors. Sprinkle images liberally throughout each article – as many as you need to provide a range of solutions for your audience.
Be sure to use images that you have the legal right to use. If you are presenting product images it’s okay to use the product images from the manufacturer. You can also use pictures you take with your own camera or smartphone.
If you need to find additional images, be cautious about where you find them. Avoid using random searches for an image since many of the ones you find will be copyright protected. Instead use either free sites or buy images from royalty free sites.
Free image sites
The limitation of free sites is that you have a narrower range of images from which to choose.
I have two favorite sources for free images. The photographers who present images on these sites would love you to donate to them. However, if you cannot do that, please be sure to credit their work when you post one of their images.
Pixabay – Pixabay includes loads of free images, but they also list paid royalty free images from Shutterstock to help finance their site. Check out the next section on selling products through affiliate links. Pixabay has affiliated with Shutterstock so, if you click through to Shutterstock and buy and image, Pixabay gets a commission.
Paid royalty-free image sites
There are dozens of sites for royalty free images. Here are a few I have used when I really want a picture that pops!
Adobe Stock Images
How does a niche site make money?
A niche site can make money in a variety of ways, depending on your focus.
- Make and sell your own products. This might be informational products such as books or instructional material. It might be craft or art items – to continue with our outdoor furniture for small spaces example, you could make patio items for small spaces!
- Resell products. For several years I resold high-end crystal and exercise equipment from different stores. I used eBay and Amazon to drive customers to my niche stores. I warehoused the crystal in my garage and shipped it all over the world, but the exercise equipment was sold through a drop ship arrangement.
- Sell products using affiliate arrangements. You can populate your niche site with interesting articles and answers to people’s questions. As you write articles you can link to products that contain your affiliate code. If your visitors buy products after clicking on that link, you are paid a commission.
- Sell your trade services to local users. If you have a landscaping company, a party planning company, a home-organizing service, a realty company or anything that can be performed within a certain geographic area, use your niche site to promote that.
- Sell your non-local services. If you design websites, provide writing services, teach online classes or anything of this sort, use your niche site to promote these services nationwide or, indeed, worldwide.
- Sell consultant services. Much like the above item, if you have an expertise in any business niche, you can turn that into a consultant business so people can hire you to help them learn to do what you do.
- Sell services using affiliate arrangements. You can populate your niche site with interesting articles and answers to people’s questions about products they need for your area of focus. As you write articles you can link to courses or experts using your affiliate code. If your visitors buy these courses or services after clicking on that link, you are paid a commission.
It starts with a URL and hosting
If you are convinced that you have an idea and would like to begin building a niche website, your first job is to pick a name. It doesn’t cost much to create a domain name – or URL – for your niche site.
Several companies sell domain names, but I use GoDaddy. They are the biggest registrar on the web and provide excellent support. I also like the easy access I have to domain name servers, buying and selling help and more. I don’t host on GoDaddy, though for the opposite reason which I’ll get to later.
When I buy a new domain name I always add privacy and protection. I won’t go into the costs involved since that would mean this article would be out of date very quickly. But the domain name with privacy is under $25 per year. At this moment, GoDaddy is a bit less expensive than their major competitor, Hostgator.
Hostgator is a highly reputable company and provides the same basic services you get with GoDaddy. They are also rapidly growing in size through acquisition of other smaller hosting companies.
Both GoDaddy and Hostgator are full service domain and website building companies. You can both buy your domain name and build a website using their tools if you wish.
However, I prefer to house my domains separately from my hosting service. So domains are with GoDaddy but I use SiteGround for all my hosting. In the beginning, no matter which hosting company you choose, start with a shared hosting package. It’s inexpensive and provides everything you need for your site.
Later you might want to choose a VPN or dedicated hosting package, but for now keep the costs low by choosing shared hosting.
Other than SiteGround, hosting companies include: