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If you’ve been following my Niche Site 101 Free Course, you already have a solid understanding of what a niche site is and how to get started.

So now that we have the basics out of the way, it’s time to talk about the most difficult of all topics pertaining to building niche sites…

Which niche should you build a site around?

How to Choose a Niche

how to choose a niche

The question I get asked the most is: “James, what niche are you in?”

My answer is I’m in any niche where I think I can make money.

But really, I don’t stick to a certain niche when creating niche sites.

If I see an opportunity to make money in a niche I will take it.

My standard advice is usually to start your first niche site in a niche that you are passionate about or at the very least interested in.

This makes it much simpler to keep going until you reach your goal and not give up along the way (trust me you want to see it all the way through for the maximum reward).

The best advice I can give is to tell you which niches you should not attempt due to their highly competitive nature.

Here are the main niches I would avoid until you have at least a couple of winning projects under your belt:

  • YMYL (Your Money Your Life) – Anything that has to do with money or health
  • CBD/Marijuana
  • Adult
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Casino/Gambling

The above niches have the highest returns (you could make six figures per month), but they are also the most competitive and are all really expensive to compete in.

What are Sub-Niches/Shoulder Niches?

Before we jump into how to choose a niche for your site, I briefly want to touch on some niche terminology you should understand.

Sub-Niches

A sub-niche is just a drilled-down topic within a particular niche.

For example, bamboo products are a sub-niche of the eco-friendly product niche.

Competing against some of the top sites in the eco-friendly product niche is a daunting task for most, but only focusing on bamboo products is a bit more manageable…especially for beginners.

You could sub-niche even further and only review bamboo bedding products (sheets, pillows, comforters, etc) but sub-niching too far is often unnecessary and will limit the potential revenue of your site.

In the above example, bamboo bedding products would most likely just be a category of your bamboo products website, and the best sheets, pillows, comforters, etc would be your affiliate money pages within the category.

Shoulder Niches

A shoulder niche is one that is loosely connected to a niche.

For example, pickleball is a shoulder niche to the tennis niche.

Both are recreational sports played with a racquet and on a court.

You should identify as many shoulder niches as possible when evaluating a particular niche.

How Broad Should You Go?

You will get a bunch of varying opinions when it comes to the topic of how broad a niche should be.

When I evaluate a niche, I simply group them into 4 types:

  • Impossible Niche – [Sports]
  • Broad Niche – [Water Sports]
  • Narrow Niche – [Kayaking]
  • Micro Niche – [Kayak Fishing]

I’m not usually a fan of building micro-niche sites, because there’s just not enough monetary upside for my liking.

I’ll explain…

Because I’m not only looking to sell affiliate products but also generate revenue from display ads (preferably on Mediavine or Adthrive), I need a niche large enough to generate approximately 75k-100k+ pageviews per month.

If you drill the niche down too far, you’re never going to be able to generate enough traffic to hit that goal.

So, I prefer to tackle niches that are large enough to allow me to publish an almost never-ending supply of content.

Most narrow niches have more than enough search volume to achieve my traffic goals and plenty of sub-niches to create content silos around.

A broad niche site is really just a scaled-up version of a narrow niche site.

On broad niche sites, you will be targeting a multitude of related narrow niche topics.

So in the example, I used above, on the water sports niche site, you could write about boats, jet skis, kayaks, water skiing, wakeboarding, and many other topics pertaining to water sports.

Broad niche sites can make the most money. They are also the most attractive on the resale market, and when you build one that’s successful it will be life-changing.

Unfortunately, they also take the most time and can be quite expensive to build.

💡 If you build a successful narrow niche site you can always scale it up and broaden the niche or add content in a relevant shoulder niche(s).

So for the purpose of this post, I am going to suggest you focus on building narrow niche sites.

How to Brainstorm Niche Ideas

The first step to choosing a niche for your site is to actually start brainstorming potential niches.

This may sound easy enough, but in reality, it can be a very overwhelming task…even for the most experienced site builder.

When you find a niche idea, make sure to open your mind to any potential sub-niches and shoulder niches as well.

Below I’m going to show you a few different tricks for discovering niche ideas.

1. Hobbies/Interests

This one may seem obvious, but it is worth noting.

What are you interested in? Do you have hobbies?

Since you already show interest in a subject, it makes it much easier to create a site around the topic.

Don’t only analyze yourself, think about all of your friends and family and what their hobbies and interests are.

For example, my cousin has a very specific interest in a sub-niche of the micro-farming niche.

I never would have discovered this niche on my own, but it has been wildly successful for me, generating mid 4 figures per month in profit with very little effort.

2. Scan Marketplaces

Check out content site listings on marketplaces like Flippa and take note of the ones that have significant traffic.

Remember we are just looking for niche ideas in the brainstorming phase, so try to think of all the potential sub-niches and shoulder niches for the listing as well.

3. Reverse Engineer Affiliate Links

You need a tool like Ahrefs for this technique, but it is one of the most powerful ways to get a ton of prequalified potential niche ideas.

In the Ahrefs Site Explorer, enter a known affiliate link for an affiliate program or marketplace.

A few of the most popular ones are:

  • Amazon – [amzn.to]
  • Shareasale – [shareasale.com/r.cfm] or [shrsl.com]
  • Awin – [awin1.com] or [tidd.ly]
  • Impact – [sjv.io] (Check all subdomains)
  • Pepperjam – [pjtr.com/t/] or [pjtra.com/t/]
  • Clickbank – [hop.clickbank.net]

Once in the Backlinks view of Ahrefs choose the following options:

  • One link per domain
  • Platform Type: Blogs
  • Language: English (or the language you are targeting)
  • Traffic: Min = 1000
ahrefs niche selection settings

I sort them by lowest DR and jot down the sites that seem interesting.

Using this technique I found a site in the wood carving/whittling niche with a domain rating of 1 that gets an estimated 2000+ visitors per month to their Best Whittling Knife money page.

ahrefs niche difficulty

This niche is definitely worth some further evaluation.

How to Evaluate a Niche Idea

There are 3 steps I take when evaluating a niche idea:

  1. Evaluating Earning Potential (Asking Questions)
  2. Buyer Keyword Research (Keyword Volume/Difficulty)
  3. Competition Analysis (Is it Possible?)

1. Evaluating Earning Potential

Only enter a niche when you believe there is enough money to be made to justify your time and resources.

Spend some quality time researching the niche and really evaluating its income potential.

This process will become second nature when you start gaining more experience building profitable sites.

When first evaluating a niche you should be asking questions like:

  • What is the price point of the items people might buy?
  • Is there rising demand/interest?
  • Is the niche evergreen or just a fad?
  • Will buyers make a one-time purchase or continue to spend?
  • Is there also the opportunity to sell digital products?
  • What are the Amazon commission rates for products?
  • Are there lucrative affiliate programs outside of Amazon?

In a perfect world you are looking for:

  • A healthy mix of “higher ticket” items and “lower ticket” items
  • A niche that is trending in popularity
  • An evergreen niche (not a fad like fidget spinners)
  • Buyers that continually make purchases
  • Some demand for paid digital products/ebooks
  • An assortment of higher-paying affiliate programs

Not every niche is going to check all the boxes, but at least ask yourself these questions and think hard about the road to monetization before committing to a particular niche.

To help determine if a niche is trending, how it has performed historically, and to evaluate possible seasonality you should always first check it on Google Trends.

2. Buyer Keyword Research

You should always do proper keyword research on any niche before you decide to take it on.

Identifying the top keywords in the niche and their monthly search volume will go a long way in deciding if there is enough demand to justify entering it.

But the research doesn’t stop there…

You also have to evaluate how difficult the niche is to enter.

When choosing a niche, you want to focus your evaluation on the keywords with purchase intent. These are called buyer keywords.

When people are searching for these keywords they are generally in the final stages of researching and about to make a purchase.

There are plenty of variations of buyer keywords, but here are a few examples of what to look for:

  • Best X (Best Inflatable Kayak)
  • Best X for (Best Kayak for Beginners)
  • Best X of 2022 (Best Fishing Kayak of 2022)
  • Brand Y vs Brand Z (Perception vs Pelican International)
  • X Reviews (Inflatable Kayak Reviews)
  • Brand Y Review (Perception Kayak Review)
  • Brand Y Model Review (Pescador Pro Review)
  • Alternatives to Brand Y (Alternatives to Perception Kayaks)

For our initial research, you are only going to be focusing on “Best X” and “Best X for” keywords.

The first step in buyer keyword research is to identify your seed keyword.

So for the kayaking niche, I assume the seed buyer keyword would be “best kayak”.

When researching, you are going to be looking for all of the top searched variations of “best kayak”.

Open Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and enter “best kayak”

ahrefs keyword explorer sort for niche

What I’m looking for is:

  • Plenty of keywords > 200 Search Volume
  • Most Keywords < 40 Keyword Difficulty (more green scores the better)
  • Total Volume > 25k per month

4. Competitor Analysis

So you’ve found a niche that can be monetized and has good overall buyer keyword search volume.

The last step in evaluating a niche is to get down and dirty with some competitor analysis.

Ahref’s Keyword Difficulty isn’t a perfect metric, so I want to manually search for some of the top buyer keywords and use the Ahrefs Chrome extension to check that there are a couple of obvious niche sites ranking on page one with a Domain Rating of < 40.

ahrefs chrome extension niche difficulty

📒 Make sure to keep a running list of these low DR competitors. It will come in handy for your ongoing keyword research.

If at first look it seems like the buyer keywords on your list are dominated by high DR sites, you may not want to take the niche on until you are at a more advanced level.

However, if you find that niche sites with lower DRs are on page one for a lot of your top searched buyer keywords, you may have found yourself a niche that is easy enough to compete in.

Some site builders are going to want to also analyze the backlinks of their competition before entering a niche.

Personally, I think that it’s a waste of time at this early stage, and can cause “analysis paralysis”.

My reasoning is, that at some point, you are going to be doing backlink building regardless, so if sites with low traffic are ranking on page one, you should just assume that you will be able to do the same.

Just focus on getting the site built, and deal with the backlink analysis later on down the road.

Pulling the Trigger on a Niche

The final step in the niche selection process is…..actually pulling the trigger on your idea.

If you have done all of the above brainstorming and subsequent analysis and feel like you have a good niche picked out, start building the damn thing!

In this free course I’m giving you a total blueprint for success, so trust the process, and let’s dive into mapping out/building your new niche site.

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