Pick the Right Niche

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Not all niches (topics) are created equal. One of the things we discovered when building our network of sites was how competitive some markets were.

Here’s the problem: Lets say you start up a gaming site. You get popular pretty quick, say up to 2000 unique visitors a day an about 20,000 page views a day. Not bad, right? Off to a great start. So you go to get into your favorite ad network and you get turned down. Their minimum is 2000 unique visitors so what’s the problem? The problem is there are so many gaming sites competing for these ads that there just aren’t enough to go around. The gaming industry spends a lot of money promoting online but there are way more sites than there are advertisers. Minimums for gaming sites suddenly become 10,000 unique visitors a day!

That’s not to say you can’t run a successful gaming site, you just have to be prepared to do serious battle with your competitors. You’ll need to have a better site, better content and more visitors. But if you can beat your competitors it is a niche that pays well. If you have a passion for a topic and you put the work into it you be successful. But if you are looking at this purely from a business stand point, like we often do, then there are plenty of less competitive niches.

For example, topics that appeal to women are in high demand right now. There are more advertisers than there are sites right now so there are a lot of ad dollars to be had. This isn’t information that’s published anywhere and we’ve had to learn it by working with our advertisers and ad networks who continue to come back to us and say things like “do you have any more sites targeting women? We have more ad inventory we can deliver if you do” kinds of things.

When picking the topic for your site you aren’t just looking at how hard it will be to out rank them in search engines, but how saturated the advertising market is for that topic. You probably already use Adwords to see how much a keyword is paying and at the Google index to see how many sites you are up against, but now you need to be thinking about advertisers too.

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  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    Good post, Chrispian.

    I guess if you’re going to compete in a highly competitive area like gaming you’re going to need either:

    a). A differentiator or angle that other sites can’t easily counter or mimic. Perhaps ‘big name’ industry insiders posting/writing for you.

    b). A more specific sub-niche, focusing on a real purists approach to one game genre or even one game perhaps.

    c). A big marketing budget to out shine the competition

    Most people are going to be looking at A & B, at least to begin with.

  • binjured

    Funny you should pick gaming as an example, as I am currently developing a gaming web site :) Although ads are not planned to account for more than a very small amount of revenue.

    AlexW: Yep, we’re going for A&B. We feel these two will be more than enough to differentiate ourselves from our competition to the point that the only real similarity is the topic. I think it’s worth mentioning that just because you pick a niche that is very competitive, it doesn’t mean that you actually have to directly compete with your competition on too much.

    Example: When you think of gaming web site, one thing you probably think of is games reviews. There are already a million and a half game review sites out there, so if you make a gaming site you should probably include reviews somewhere on your site, but you don’t have to bother actually competing in that sub-niche if you offer enough other stuff that gives your target audience reasons to come to your site they can’t get elsewhere. I like to think of it as going around your competition, rather than above it.

  • DigitalRealm

    Great article! I think you are right, you really should pick a niche to build upon rather than being a broad umbrella on a topic.

    I think the most important thing to consider is not so much how to be better than another site, but how to be different than another site. Being different can sometimes produce the same results as being better

  • Steve Shickles

    Great article! I have to agree with you Chris.

  • izzmeister

    Great Article! Thanks for the Brain Juice!