Niche Research (An Introduction) – A Lesson in Muse Creation
Getting the ball rolling on your muse is often one of the most difficult parts of the process [what’s a muse?]. Hopefully, your idea to create a muse stems from an interest you have. This is really the most logical way to create a muse and make money. However, general interests only take you so far. If I know I’m passionate about baseball, for example, that still doesn’t give me a direction to take with my muse.
With that in mind, I wanted to write an introduction to niche research for your muse. If you’re already a pro, this may be old news to you, but I still think it’s good to go back to the basics. Even the most experienced entrepreneurs lose touch with the basic concepts that made them successful in the first place. Note: This article applies to online-based muses (even if it’s for a service that you provide offline, but still offer information online to generate leads, exposure, etc.).
There are an infinite number of ways to research and gather information about your niche, because your niche could be ANYTHING and your inspiration for that niche could come from ANYWHERE. As I previously wrote, you can even find valuable niche information through spam. For the purposes of this article, we’re just concerned with taking our interest, narrowing it down to a few specific niches (or sub-niches, if you prefer), and checking the viability of those niches. I’ve bolded the key takeaways in case you’re just skimming this article.
Refine Your Interest
Before you begin checking the viability of your niche ideas, you need to refine your interest into 3-5 potential niches, depending on how specific your interest is. If you’re interested in clothing for small dogs, you might already be specific enough. On the other hand, if you’re interested in food, you have a bit of refining to do.
Assuming food is your general interest, brainstorm some potential niches within that area. Here are a few that I’ve come up with:
- Cooking recipes
- Reviews of local restaurants
- Healthy eating
Check the Size of Your Market
One very easy way to check the potential size of your market is by testing how many times your niche/product is searched for online. Before you can even begin to think about finding potential customers, you absolutely need to make sure they exist. If you have a product in mind that is completely new and unheard of, you’ll want to brainstorm another product or service in that niche so that you can examine those markets for potential customers.
Don’t pursue a niche that doesn’t appear to have a large enough market (this will depend on the niche). It’s not a complete barrier to success, but if it’s something you can avoid, avoid it.
A market that is too small or nonexistent is generally not good for your muse, but a market that is too large may also hinder your success, due to extensive competition. Small niches (vs. niches that are “too small”) may actually be the best targets, because competition is more likely to be minimal, giving you a better chance to stand out and dominate.
Let’s examine sub-niche #1 from above – recipes. Because Google is the largest search engine and handles greater than 70% of the world’s search requests, it’s the place we naturally want to look first to examine the possible size of our market. To do this, I will use Google’s keyword tool. This isn’t the only keyword research tool out there, but it’s definitely my favorite (and very user friendly).
Because I only want keywords that contain “recipes,” I’ll click on “Advanced Options” and select “Show results for ideas containing my search terms.”
“Recipes” is still pretty general, so we have a large number of potential options. Here are some of the top results:
As you can see, even most general types of recipe keywords are extremely competitive. Even ignoring Google’s measure of competitiveness (the middle column), you can see that the above terms are searched very often.
Refine Some More
It’s completely acceptable to go after a competitive niche. If you believe you have an incredible product or plan on writing a groundbreaking blog that captures the attention of everyone, you can definitely compete with the big dogs. It’s going to take a lot more work (and may require some outsourcing for search engine optimization), but can definitely be done.
However, if you’re just starting out and want to get your feet wet, you may want to build a muse around something less competitive. Let’s take a look at some less competitive keywords around the general “recipes” niche.
Now we’re getting somewhere. It looks like if we focus on recipes for appetizers, we may be dealing with a less competitive niche.
Google search competition secret: Because a lower # of searches still doesn’t mean that a niche is less competitive, we can do another check to see how high our website for our muse would rank if we based it on one of the above keywords. Here’s the secret: In the Google search bar, type allintitle: “[keyword]” (including the quotes). Here’s what I found for one of our example keywords:
To me, 47,500 is still a bit too high. Let’s try one of the other keywords.
Incredibly, a keyword string that has the same # of searches per month (14,800) as the first keyword string we checked, with a slight variation, has significantly less websites with the keyword string in the title. What this means is that if our website title is “Recipes for Appetizer,” we have a better chance of standing out from our competition. To make the title more grammatically correct, you can add to the keyword string to make it something like “Recipes for Appetizer Foods.” The key is that your keyword string is positioned at the front end of your website title.
For the “all in title” check, I generally aim for search strings that return less than 10,000 results. With a little bit of search engine optimization (“SEO,” which I can explain more in a later post for those who are less familiar), I have a good chance of ranking on the 1st or 2nd page of Google search results.
If you want a more powerful way to do this kind of research, check out Market Samurai.
Check Domain Availability (Optional)
This is always a step I do, but it’s completely optional and perhaps unnecessary at this stage. It also only applies if your muse will be internet-based. The reason I do it is because domains are cheap, and if I can find a good domain available, I’d like to snatch it up now.
In addition, it’s extra motivation for me. Knowing that I already own a piece of my planned muse (and it’s a big piece – essentially, it’s a large part of your online real estate) forces me to become more committed to the project.
I use GoDaddy for this (that’s an affiliate link, but allows you to get .COM domains for $7.49 instead of $10.69 – you’ll see the discounted price when you get to the last screen of the checkout), since I’ve found it to be the easiest to manage my domains, but there are tons of domain registrars out there that you can use.
If you can get a domain that is exactly your keyword string, it will help you a lot with ranking higher on Google. I’ve found this to be the easiest way to create a high ranking website with minimal SEO.
Personally, my order of preference for types of website domains are ranked in this order:
Let’s see if our target keyword string website is available…
Sure enough, at the time this post was written, the domain for this search keyword string is available.
With the above information, you could create a blog or website for a product centered around “recipes for appetizer” and you could probably fairly easily get onto the 1st page of Google’s search results for this phrase. As we found through our research above, this keyword phrase is searched for on Google 14,800 times per month. That’s a substantial amount of potential traffic you could capture with your website in this niche.
Best of all, this is FREE traffic. You wouldn’t need to spend a single cent on advertisements.
Disclaimer: This method of choosing a domain name is great for smaller muses where your primary goal is to sell a product or generate leads for another product or service you wish to sell (online or offiline). However, if you’re looking to create a powerful brand, recipesforappetizer.com probably isn’t the greatest. Something like amazingappetizers.com is more brand-able, but not as search engine friendly.
Hopefully this introduction to niche research and muse creation will help you get started on the right foot. As always, please feel free to share your comments with me. I’m not an expert on search engine optimization (yet), so I’m open to criticism on the method I’ve explained in this article.
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