Proven Techniques for Finding a Profitable Niche: Part 2
Written by: Moe Muise, Guest Blogger
This is the second post in a two-part series.
How to Find Gaps in Niches, so You Can Create Your Own Clickbank Products
While being an affiliate definitely has its advantages, to take your income to a whole new level you need to start creating your own products.
With all of the freelance websites out there, getting an info product made is the easy part. The bigger challenge is figuring out what exactly to sell to your niche audience. I use the word “exactly” because you want be certain that your product will be a money-maker, even before you produce it.
Fortunately, there are some proven techniques that you can use to gain deep insight into the needs and desires of your niche. Using these techniques will go a long way in ensuring that your info product makes sales from the get-go.
In this section I’ll describe two techniques for discovering niche gaps: what I call The Private Investigator approach, and The Survey Researcher approach.
The Private Investigator Approach
The first technique won’t cost you a dime (unless you put a price on your time, which you should), and involves you putting on your “private investigator” hat. You’ll be going undercover around the Web to uncover clues about your niche’s problems!
Like a real-life private investigator, you’re going to observe people. Only in this case, you’re going to visit websites where your niche audience will tell you what their biggest problems are.
To gain the best insight into your niche’s pain points, you want to go to the places on the Web where people bare their souls. The best place for this is niche online forums. You can also obtain solid clues by looking at “problems” and “how-to” websites. Allow me to explain each.
Niche online forums
In a nutshell, niche online forums are places where people go to discuss very narrow topics. Back when the Internet was young, message boards used to be about everything and anything. Now we (as Internet marketers) have the benefit of forums that focus on niche topics and attract passionate participants.
Niche forums are an awesome place to gain insight into the pain that people are going through because they offer both the anonymity of the Internet, along with the support of being around like-minded people. Especially in health and relationship related niches, people will pour their souls out in online forums. Many of them will do so in hopes that someone with the same experience will provide a solution to their problem.
Here’s one way to find niche forums, and to use them to research your niche’s pain points:
1. Use a service like BoardReader.com to find forums related to your niche (BoardReader allows you to search by keyword, so you can be as specific or as general as you want). It’s important to pick out forums that have an active and passionate membership – otherwise, the intelligence you gather from it might be outdated. You can tell that a forum’s membership is active and passionate by looking at the quantity and recency of posts in the forum.
2. Once you’ve found a handful of active niche forums, do some searches to see what challenges members need help with. You can do this by entering terms like “problem” or “help” in the forum’s search box.
Here’s an example: I’ve been interested in the stay-at-home mom niche for some time, and was doing some forum research through BoardReader. I came across the forum wahm.com/jobs, which is an employment forum for stay-at-home moms. When I typed the word “problem” into the forum’s search box, here are some of the thread titles that popped up:
• “Need advice”
• “Emotionally drained”
• “PLEASE HELP ME”
All of these threads were rich with ideas for products that could be targeted at stay-at-home moms. Can you see the desperation in the thread titles?
“Problems” and “How-to” Websites
No doubt you’ve come across these types of websites. They exist to help people solve problems, or to show people how to do something. General “problems” websites include sites like Yahoo! Answers, AllExperts.com, and Wiki Answers. On those sites anyone can post a question related to a problem, and anyone can provide an answer.
As you might imagine, the range of questions and answers on these sites is vast (there’s also quite a bit of spamming that goes on, with marketers posting fake questions, then providing an answer to the question themselves, and linking to a product they’re promoting). Then there are niche-specific problems websites, like DoctorsLounge.com, a site that provides advice from medical professionals.
Needless to say, I recommend the niche-specific problems websites over the general ones. While general sites like Yahoo! Answers are okay for getting a sense of the types of questions a niche is asking, there’s just too much junk on there to use it as a serious niche research tool. Focused sites like DoctorsLounge.com are much better sources of intelligence, however.
“How-to” websites do exactly what you would think – they show you how to do something, whether it is fixing the roof on your house, getting rid of your acne, or potty-training your child. Some great general how-to websites include HowToDoThings.Com, eHow.com, WikiHow.com, VideoJug.com and HowCast.com (with the latter two sites focusing on how-to videos). The great thing about large how-to sites like eHow.com is that they spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what solutions people are looking for. You can piggy-back on this research by seeing how they answer the questions that your niche is asking.
Here’s an example: I went to eHow.com and typed into the search box “stay-at-home-mom make money.” Dozens of articles came back with titles like “How to Make Money From Your Stay-at-Home Mom Experience.” These articles have been researched by eHow’s freelance writers, and can often provide insight into what your niche audience is looking for.
An even better source of market intelligence is paid how-to websites. These are sites that require a person to pay (either by the minute, or a lump sum) to ask an expert a question. Here’s a tip: many of these sites don’t allow you to search for common questions, but you can pay an expert to tell you what are the most common questions that people ask them!
(Bonus tip: Once you’ve figured out the topic of your info product, interview an expert from one of these sites to get the content. Now your product has instant credibility!)
Check out LivePerson.com and JustAnswer.com as two examples of paid how-to sites.
The Survey Researcher Approach
In my opinion, surveys are absolutely the best way to deeply understand your niche’s pain points. If you use a properly-worded questionnaire, and target the right people in your survey, you reduce the risk of failure by 99%. (I know this from personal experience – most of my products have been developed using a survey, and they’ve all been profitable as soon as they were launched.)
In the survey, you’ll be honing in on exactly what people’s needs are – a solution that they’ve been desperately looking for, but haven’t been able to find. What makes a survey so powerful is that you’ll hear directly from your niche audience what they want, and they’ll usually tell you in great detail the challenges they’re facing.
This is extremely powerful information. Not only will your survey data allow you to “get inside the mind” of your niche audience, but you’ll be able to use parts of the survey responses in your ad copy, in your sales page copy, and anywhere else you communicate with prospective customers. So you’ll be able to use the exact language that your audience uses when talking to them! Using the language of your audience is essential in converting prospects into customers.
In a nutshell, here’s what the Survey Researcher technique involves:
a. Choose a niche audience and a problem facing that niche
b. Identify the top keywords related to that problem (5-10 keywords, but up to 50). It’s important that your primary keyword has strong search volume, for two reasons: (1) you’ll be able to get a good number of survey responses quickly, and (2) once you’ve had a product developed (or start promoting affiliate products), you’ll have a ready advertising source.
c. Set up a survey page on a domain (4-6 questions is a good amount to ask. If you ask more than that you’ll turn people off).
d. Set up a pay-per-click advertising campaign on Google (Yahoo also works but Bing generally doesn’t have enough volume).
I can hear what you’re thinking at this point: “I don’t have the money to run a survey through pay-per-click”. Well, I can tell you that I’ve run surveys for less than $100 and gathered enough information to launch a product. The key is to make sure that you go through the “Private Investigator” steps I described above, to make sure that you’ve identified real pain points of your niche audience.
If you have an existing email list, you can also get awesome insight by sending out an email survey to them. Lists are especially great for collecting market intelligence, because they’ve already opted-in, which means you’ve already established a relationship with them.
e. Drive traffic from your PPC campaign to your survey page.
f. Analyze the data once you’ve collected enough survey responses.
g. Build your product based on the responses in the survey.
h. Start advertising your new product using the keywords and traffic sources that resulted in completed questionnaires. The reason for this is obvious: if people who were searching on those keywords were willing to fill out your survey, they are also likely to be customers for your new product. Starting out your advertising this way will allow you to quickly make some profits and give you the money to expand into other promotional tactics.
If you’ve never tried the Survey Research technique for gaining insight into your audience’s needs, you need to get on it right away. There are heaps of people in your niche audience waiting to tell you what’s on their mind!
In this article I’ve described why a laser-beam focus on serving the needs of a niche audience is the best way to build a long-term online business. If you’ve been struggling to generate an income online, step away from simply picking products to promote, and look for an audience to serve. Follow the tips in this article to learn the needs, challenges, desires, and pain points of your audience. You’ll be rewarded with their enduring loyalty – and their dollars!
About the Author
Moe Muise, M.A., is a Clickbank vendor and affiliate. He blogs at www.KeywordsBlogger.com. Moe has 10 years experience in niche research, and has been perfecting his online research techniques for the past four years. To download your copy of Moe’s FREE 60-page, step-by-step niche research report, visit his blog at www.KeywordsBlogger.com.