The most important and often the most difficult step in building a niche store is deciding on your store’s niche. A niche is a specific area of a more popular or general area. For our niche store, our goal is to find a niche set of products that people want to buy. Again, this can be a bit difficult, but I’ll guide you through the steps I’ve used to find various niche’s for my stores.
Criteria for finding a good niche
Finding a good niche for your nice store is much like finding a good niche for your blog, with one key difference – instead of focusing on a topic, you’ll be focusing on a product. The key criteria for finding a niche for your store are:
- Demand – Regardless of what products you decide to feature on your niche store, you’ll want to insure there is demand for the product you’re selling. The demand could come from the general population or more niche areas like particular sports fans, cooks, car collectors, music enthusiasts, etc. The possibilities are endless. I’ll show you how to research demand below.
- Your interest – I would highly recommend you have a high level of interest in your niche. Why? Well, featuring products on your site isn’t enough – you’ll have to write reviews, product descriptions and to really help drive traffic to your site you’ll want a blog with articles and tips related to the niche your selling products for. Keeping focused on your site and increasing it’s growth will require some time investment from you. If you aren’t interested, doing all these things will be hard and you won’t be motivated.
- Your knowledge – While you can certainly learn about your niche if you don’t already know it, it makes your work significantly easier if you pick a niche where you have some background and experience. Doing so will help you decide on the types of products to feature, when you write up product information, and when writing articles on your blog.
- Is it available on eBay? – While not always a criteria, for the type of niche store we’ll be building together in this series, our store will front-end eBay and use their affiliate program.
Finding the right niche for your niche store
With the criteria above in mind, I’d like you to pull up your favoriate text editor or note taking software and begin brainstorming about various topics. Keep the 3 criteria above in your mind, but don’t let them be a focus. Just write down ideas – Maybe you’re into Football, so think of football related wares: Football Jersey’s, collector helmets, posters, clothing, etc. Maybe you’re into model trains: Engines, cars, scenery, track, and so on. Coming up with a long list of possible ideas sould be easy and shouldn’t take you too long.
After you finish the initial list, do a secondary review and factor the criteria above in again based on what you know. Remove items that don’t meet the criteria. If you aren’t sure, leave it on the list. Demand can be a little hard to know, so don’t worry, we’ll research that further next.
Demand is one of the more critical criteria for your niche store. After all, if nobody wants what you’re selling, you won’t make any money from the zero sales you’ll get. Demand can be really hard to determine, and can ebb and flow based on time of the year, and people’s interests in general. But we’ll use some real data from Google to help us out.
I rely on Google’s Keyword Tool tremendously in my day to day blogging. For example, I use Google’s keyword tool to tweak my articles for SEO and to help decide on domain name’s for blogs. We can also use it to do a little research on demand, here’s how:
- Pull up The Keyword Tool. Tip, if you sign-up for Adwords, you can access the tool without having to put the Captcha in – It’s free and you aren’t required to advertise.
- In the Word or phrase field, enter your niche ideas. Keep it to basic keywords like football jersey, or model train engine.
- Press Search
- Click the Keyword Ideas tab below the Search button.
You’ll be shown a listing of keywords both the same as yours and related. Next to those keywords will be columns indicating the number of searches. The one you want to pay attention to is Global Monthly Searches. While not exact, this is pretty close to the number of people that used Google’s search engine to search for your product idea.
For example, Football Jersey at the time of this writing, receives: 368,000 monthly searches – that’s big. Just think if each one of them bought a jersey! Don’t get too excited though because football jersey isn’t the niche we’re looking for. With that many searches, your new niche store wouldn’t be able to compete with the “big stores”. Keep looking through the list, the first one that caught my attention was “notre dame football jersey” with 2500 searches. That would be a good niche candidate – keeping looking, there are others too. You’re looking for something in the 1000 – 10,000 range. Anything smaller than 1000 might be a little hard to earn money from, anything more than 10,000 and you’re starting to compete with more established and larger stores.
Keep using the tool to research the product ideas you came up with, focusing on demand, interest and knowledge. Narrow your list down to maybe 3-5 ideas. Make sure you keep track of the primary keywords in that 1000 – 10,000 range. A spreadsheet is a great tool for this.
Now, I want you to pull up Google Search and put in the keywords associated with your ideas, and see what stores come up. Navigate over to them, click on the products. Generally when you click on a product, and it takes you to eBay, Amazon.com, or some other merchant, they are a niche stores. If not, it’s generally a “real” online store. There is not real guideline here, but you want to try to find a product where there is little to no competition and if there is any competition, they are marginal – meaning you can make your site better.
Last but not least, make sure your product and associated products are available on eBay. Remember, for this series, we’ll be creating an eBay niche store. So you want your products to be available on EBay and not just a few products, a bunch of them for variety and choice for your visitors. So head over the eBay and do a little digging.
Putting it all together
Now that we have some good data to make decisions from, run through your list and associated data and pick a niche. Keep your list, because you might want it later. While I’d love to tell you that your niche site is going to be a huge success, sometimes they aren’t. I’ve has successes and failures. Some of the failures were my fault, but other variables such as competition, market demand, the economy, and Google themselves played into it. The internet changes constantly, and if I learned anything in this business, it’s that you have to constantly adapt.
The next upcoming articles will walk you through getting your domain name, setting up your site, and getting some affiliates to put on your site. Then we’ll start marketing. Between now and then, continue researching your niche. Get really familiar with your niche, think of some complementary products to your primary product as well. You can research enough.
Well now, I almost forgot – I told you I would be sharing the niche I’m going to use with you. Well, my wife and I like to cook (my wife far more than be, but I dabble). We often use recipes that require herbs, both fresh and dried. Turns out, our local grocery store has some, but not a wide selection. Since we both like to cook with herbs, have some knowledge on the topic, and we know there is a market for herbs, we decided to start a niche store selling Culinary Herbs. I’ll share the URL and the initial site with you in an upcoming article, so stay tuned!
Photo by: Thelonious Gonzo