How To Find A Profitable Niche for Your Authority Website
June 16th 2018 / by Marco Schwartz
I believe that building an authority website is still the best way to start generating passive income online. However, I know from experience that it can be difficult to get started, and that most people are stuck at the very first step: finding a niche that not only will attract visitors, but also that will be profitable.
Therefore, I really wanted to build a detailed guide on how to find a profitable niche for an authority website. You'll learn how to find a profitable niche for your authority website, using my 6-steps process that I use myself to find niches for my own websites. Let's get started!
The first step in the process is to brainstorm ideas. Indeed, it is generally a bad strategy to just use one idea and then determine if it's profitable, as you might become emotionally connected to this specific niche idea and not analyse it rationally.
What I recommend doing on the contrary is to come up with at least 5 ideas of niches, that you will then eliminate or select, depending on the results of the next steps of the process. The goal at this point is really not to think about if the niche will be profitable or not, it's really just to generate ideas. Let's now see what are the different ways to find niche ideas.
The first way to find niche ideas at this stage is to start by what you are passionate about. This is for example how I found the idea for my most successful website to date, Open Home Automation, which is about DIY electronics projects. So just think about what you are passionate about, what you usually read about for example, and use that to generate your first ideas.
The second way to generate niche ideas is to find an audience you can serve. For example, people passionate about diving, or dog owners.
The third way to generate ideas is to look at problems you can solve using your authority site. For example, creating an authority website about loosing weight.
Once you have at least 5 ideas written down, you can move on to the next step.
Once you have some ideas, you can now start analysing them to find out which one to keep, and which to discard. The first test that I like to run at this stage is to do what is called keyword research. Basically, at least at the start, most of your traffic will come from search engines, and mostly from Google. Therefore, you want to be sure of two things: that enough people are searching for the topic of your future authority website, and that there is not that much competition in the field.
There are many tools to do that, but one that I use and that I really like is KWFinder. It is a paid tool, however they have a free plan that is more than sufficient to make the simple searches we'll make during this process.
Let's now take an example, that I will also use for the rest of this article. Let's imagine that on my list, I have the idea of making a website about coffee makers. I will therefore search for "coffee makers" inside KWFinder:
The results from KWFinder show that for my main keyword, there is a lot of monthly searches (I usually look for above 10,000 searches a month), but that the difficulty (how hard it will be to beat the competition) is also quite high, which is not such a good sign at this point. However, we see that there are other keywords that are more interesting, like drip coffee makers.
Note that this tool also gives us a lot of ideas in the niche, so make sure to keep those results in order to generate articles ideas in the future.
After the keyword research step, the next step is to look at your competition. It's important here to know why we are doing that. Indeed, I see so many people give up at this stage, just because they see there are other websites already existing in the same niche.
On the contrary, the fact that there are other competitors in the niche is actually a good sign. It means that people are actually interested in the niche, and that other persons are running profitable websites in the same niche. You just want to make sure that at least on some keywords you can actually beat those other sites.
To find competitors, the easiest way I know is to simply type your main keyword in Google, followed by 'reviews' or with the suffix 'best'. I am doing that because we will monetise our site via reviews of products in the niche (more about that in the next step), so we want to know if there are competitors that already wrote about that. Here is the result when searching for reviews of coffee makers:
As you can see, the first results from Google show big sites like CNET and consumer reports having reviews on coffee makers. That's a bad sign for this particular keyword and for our niche idea: it will be very difficult to rank well for this keyword on Google, and also that's not websites we want to include as competition as it's huge sites talking about all sorts of products, not only coffee makers.
Therefore, one thing you can do at this point is to decide to niche down to find real competition. I decided to search for 'drip coffee makers', the keyword that we found from the previous step.
Indeed, this leads to much better results, with smaller sites appearing on top of the Google first page. I picked one of them to show you what to do next. Here is the first page of this site:
This is exactly the kind of competition we are looking for: an authority website that looks exactly like the one we want to build. This means that somebody already made something in the niche, and might be profitable. We'll also use this site along with the others we found to find what we can do better when building our own site.
Now, we still need to find out if this website actually gets significant traffic. To do that, I use another tool called SimilarWeb, that basically grabs information about all websites on the web (given that it is big enough), and gives us an estimate of the traffic of the site, as well as other information about the site.
Here is the result when putting the site I found about coffee makers:
We can see that it is a quite recent site, but it already gets a significant amount of traffic (55,000 visits during the past month). This is a good sign, as that's a good amount of traffic to make money in this niche.
Initial Cash Flow Sources
This step is all about focusing on how we are going to monetise the website when we launch. I want to point out here that we are just looking for a way to monetise the site: the purpose of a site should always be to serve your audience, and your monetisation strategies are just a way to do that, not the end result.
There is one way that I really like to monetise an authority website initially: affiliate commissions. Basically, recommending some products to your audience, in exchange for a commission on each sale made of this particular product. And one program that is really easy to use is the Amazon Affiliate program, as there is a ton of products that are available on Amazon.
Therefore, I always start this step by simply making a search on Amazon.com with the main keyword of the niche. Here is one product that I found by looking for coffee makers:
This is exactly the kind of product that I love to find: it is right in the niche, it has plenty of reviews (meaning people will be likely to buy when visiting the page), and it's in the sweet price spot (not too expensive but also not too cheap). Therefore, I definitely like what I am seeing on Amazon for this niche.
You should also make sure that there are decent commissions in the niche you are considering. For example, general consumer electronics goods (like TVs) sound like good ideas for a niche, but the commission on those products is very small and therefore should be avoided. You can find the up-to-date list of commissions here.
At this stage, you can actually estimate how much your future website (or your competitors) will make per month. Let's take again the coffee example, with our competitor has 55,000 visits a month. From my own websites, I see that on a good page reviewing products, about 25% of the persons are clicking on the links and going to Amazon. Then, about 10% of those persons actually buy on Amazon. We also know we have a 4.5% commission on those products, and that the average product is at $50. Therefore, I calculated that this website is making about $3100 per month. Not too bad for a website started just some months ago.
Inside the next step of the process, I like to look at future opportunities for the niche. For example, I love niches where I can actually sell my own products in the future. This can be a digital product like an eBook or video course, a physical product, or a piece of software. For example, in one of my niches I created video courses that perfectly complement the physical products I am recommending on the site.
For the example that we took in this article, it might be possible to come up with an eBook about coffee. However, it might be very difficult to sell your own physical product or to come up with a piece of software to help your audience in this niche.
Note that here I am really talking about future opportunities as I really don't recommend thinking about your own products when you are just starting a site, as you don't know yet what works and what doesn't work.
Selecting the Niche
It's finally time to make a decision and select a niche for your authority website! There are many things you can do at this point, but what I usually like to do is first to eliminate the ideas that I am sure won't be profitable. For example, a niche where there is no traffic to the keywords I want to target, or no way to make money from affiliate programs. After that, I give a mark to each of the niches at each step of the process, over 5 points (for keyword research, competition analysis, initial monetisation, and future opportunities). I then simply select the best niche in my list, and store the rest for future websites.
I really hope that this process will help you find an idea for your next profitable website, and if you have any questions or comments let me know!