Finding Your Niche - Your First Step to an Online Business
Many years ago, I watched a show called the "Ray Bradbury Theater". Every episode began with a narration of Ray saying, "People ask, where do you get your ideas?". It seems this is a question that is on everybody's mind, whether they are creating a story, or creating a business.
Just where do you start when creating an internet business?
Businesses always get started with one thing in common... an idea! Easier said than done though, right? Maybe, or maybe not. You see, a common misconception is that many believe they have to create this great internet store full of all kinds of products in order to meet the majority of peoples needs.
The more you offer, the more people it will appeal to, right?
Not exactly. Several years ago, I built an online gift store that included all kinds of merchandise; anything from home interior, garden décor, to unique gifts. I really felt this kind of a store would appeal to people, and the truth is, it did.
What was the problem then? I was competing with over 3 million other gift store websites! I didn't have a chance. Unless you have deep pockets, you should stay away from generalized ideas such as this.
So, where should your focus be?
Find a niche market!
The dictionary defines a niche as: "a special area of demand for a product or service".
A gift store is too vague to be considered a niche. A gift basket store is a little more focused on an area, but how about gift baskets for pets? Now that would be considered a niche. Not necessarily a good niche, but you get the point.
Think of a niche as, "an opportunity for an average, everyday person to be successful". Most of us have no chance of survival when we are trying to compete with the "big dogs". But fortunately, we can still pick up what they leave behind, and...
They leave behind plenty!
According to the Computer Industry Almanac, Inc., in 2005, the population of Internet users surpassed 1 billion. With most large corporations focusing their products and services on the mass marketing scale (which in all likeliness, we can't even compete with), we are left with marketing to the niches.
Large companies don't care about making a few thousand dollars extra per month. They are after millions a month. So, they leave behind niches that are very valuable to people like us. Would a few thousand extra per month help you? A few hundred would make most people ecstatic!
But are there any unfilled niches left?
Possibly; but you're not likely to find one. But you don't need to find an unfilled niche. In fact, you don't want one! Why try to build a demand for a market, when you can find a market that already exists? Find one that already has people ready to buy, and put yourself right in front of them!
Besides, there are plenty of partially filled niches and even more poorly filled niches. What's more, experts are estimating the internet will double in the number of users by the year 2011. That's 2 billion users! The potential is mind-boggling.
So, how do you decide on a niche?
First and foremost, choose something that you enjoy. Even if you find a niche that has very little competition, it will be very difficult for you to stay interested if it's something you don't even care about.
So, first you need to start by doing some brainstorming to come up with some ideas. Then you need to research those ideas and see if they have potential. Need some help getting started? You got it!
Start by asking yourself a few questions and write down the answers:
- What are your hobbies? (coin collecting, cooking, painting)
- What are your interests? (camping, cars, electronics, gardening)
- Do you have any skills? (speaking languages, instruments, writing)
- Do your friends consider you an expert at something? (computers, repairing, designing, decorating, etc.)
Ok, have you been writing down your answers? This was sort of a self examination. But you also want to get some other view points. You've interviewed yourself, now interview some others. Ask your spouse, some close friends, workmates, or anyone else you can think of some questions about yourself.
Ask each of these people:
- What do you like best about me?
- What would you say I'm talented at?
- What can you always count on me for?
- If you owned every business in the world, what position would you hire me for?
Remember, nobody should choose your niche except for yourself. These exercises are to help you brainstorm the possibilities open to you. You get the idea.
Now, before we go on, I want you to keep in mind the key goal to finding success. Are you ready?
Find a need, and then fill it!
Simple, right? I don't care who you are or what you know, you have something unique to offer. Everyone does. Even if it has already been done a thousand times before, look at it from a different angle, put a spin on it and make it better!
As you are brainstorming all your ideas and possibilities, let me see if I can stir some more ideas up with some facts about the internet and the way we use it.
Do you know what the number one selling product on the internet is?
Drum roll please... INFORMATION! It's the one product we all have in common because we all need it, for one reason or another.
We love free information, but we are more than willing to pay for it if it satisfies our needs. Sometimes we want the best, and we'll all pay a premium to get it. Most of the paid information on the internet is in the form of e-books.
Although a huge seller, I'm not saying that you should just focus on writing e-books. But at the same time, don't eliminate the idea just because it has been done over and over again.
The first e-book I ever wrote brought in well over $3,000 in the first couple months of its release. And this was with very little advertising.
My e-book was nothing new either. Remember the phrase I mentioned earlier? "Find a need, and then fill it." My angle for writing this book was, "better information at a better price". I wrote a more complete e-book with information that I felt others were lacking, and I put a price on it that was much lower than comparable products.
I found a need, and then I filled it! Result? More income!
Think about this too...
What do most people want when purchasing any product or service?
They want instant gratification! In other words, they want it now, not later. The internet can offer this in the form of downloading. And I'm not just talking about e-books; there are all kinds of products and services that can be purchased instantly via the internet. To name a few:
These kind of products can give the consumer instant gratification! Not only that...
- Information (e-books, databases, documents, articles, tutorials)
- Software (programming tools, analyzers, calculators, designing tools)
- Audio (music, satellite radio, MP3's, synthesizers, sound effects)
- Video (trailers, commercials, instructional, teaching, entertainment)
- Games (games, arcades, casinos, teaching/learning, prize winning)
- Graphics (designing services/tools, artwork, driver software)
- Services (advertising, locating/finding, auctions, website designing or hosting, search engines, writing, professional services)
Think how much this helps you!
The product can be designed to be delivered instantly upon payment. No orders to fill, no shipping, no products to buy, no materials are needed, and best yet; you have an endless supply!
Don't get me wrong here; you can still be successful at selling physical products on the internet too.
Millions of products are shipped to consumers ordered through the internet everyday. And there are many, many specialty stores owned by private individuals that are extremely successful. But if you are new to selling on the internet, it may take a much larger investment just to get started.
I hope you have begun to get ideas spinning around in your head. Now, let's branch off those ideas into more ideas.
By now you should know what interests you have, even if you haven't thought of a product yet. And please, don't think you have to come up with the perfect product. Remember, your goal is to help just a few people out there, not everybody.
Now that you have some ideas written down, you can use these to create more ideas with a handy little software tool. This free tool can be used for various things, but for now, we are going to use it to stimulate more ideas.
A valuable little tool
Open up your internet browser and type in the following link:
Here you will see a small little box called the "Keyword Selector Tool". Start by looking through your notes, and pick out the key words that are specific to your interests.
For example, you may have written down, "I enjoy camping because I love the outdoors and I'm really good at building tents". So, you could enter words into the box such as, "camping", "outdoors", and "tents". Enter these words one at a time to get their specific results.
Once you enter your word, you will most likely see many results. Take a look through all these results and get some new ideas about what you could do to fill a need. Hopefully it will spark some imagination on the subjects you know and enjoy best.
You can get a further breakdown into more specific ideas by clicking on any of the results in front of you. Then, click on some of those results. The more you break it down, the more specific the subject will be. These results are actual searches done by people all over the world.
See, people want to know what you may have to offer!
The number to the left of each result represents how many times that particular word or phrase was searched for in the last 30 days on the Overture Network (this includes MSN, Yahoo, Altavista, CNN and more).
This number can give you an idea of the popularity for that term. But, you can usually be sure the more popular it is, the more competition there is. But don't worry about this for now. In this article, we are just going to focus on finding a niche of interest to you.
Spend as much time as it takes to come up with ideas. Besides the keyword tool, use search engines to give you ideas. You could even use a thesaurus, such as the one at http://www.dictionary.com/ to help inspire you.
No matter what subject or niche you decide on, you WILL have competition. Competition is actually a very good thing and keeps our economy healthy. So don't be anxious or afraid whether your niche will have any or too much competition.
There will always be a need to fill!
I bet there isn't one niche out there where everybody is 100% completely satisfied. Pick any niche, pick any subject, and you'll find someone complaining about something.
Use search engines, such as Google and Yahoo to not only find what others are selling, but to find what others are missing. What are peoples concerns, suggestions or complaints about? Find online forums on the subject. Find out what people want. Is there anything you could offer them?
Take your time and do your homework. You may even need to make some purchases yourself, just to see what the competition is offering. In fact, I really suggest doing this!
When I was writing my first e-book, I purchased several other e-books from competitors. Each book had something to offer, and each book was missing at least something that the other one had. I created my product by filling in all the "gaps" that were missing from the others and incorporating my own ideas and styles to create a product that was truly unique to all the others.
During your research and while creating your own business, you may even consider purchasing some help or information from an expert. There is so much good content available for purchase on the internet, and many products even come with a guarantee of satisfaction.
Don't be afraid to invest in yourself!
People spend ten's of thousands of dollars on a college education. Why not spend a tiny fraction of that educating yourself on what could possibly bring you into a very successful future on the internet?
There's always room for one more!
The internet is far from being too full. There is plenty of room for you, and with the internet forecast doubling in population during the next 5 years, we've seen nothing yet! Remember, "find a need, and then fill it!"
I hope that this information has been helpful and beneficial to you finding your niche. If so, you're off to a great start!
Enjoy your success,
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