Niche Picking – My Successes and Failures So Far

Hi,

Brett from Niche Laboratory here.

As well as building a niche selection tool,  I’ve also built many websites. In this post I’ll share some of my success stories, and my many failures. Hopefully you’ll gain some insight into what are good (and less good) niches.

Software

My first major online business was selling software that I had written myself. It was a pretty good business. If I had known more about advertising and keyword research then it would have been an amazing business!

I did also make a bit of money by affiliate marketing other people’s software. As a software developer I mainly focused on marketing software development tools. I did quite well marketing a website spell checking component.

Sadly software is quite a tough niche these days. I still sell an occasional copy of my software, but my business was pretty much torpedoed around 2011 when all the spammy looking links I had from software directories started to look suspicious in Google’s eyes. My software also got outdated, which is always a particular problem with this niche.

My advice if you’re going into software today? Focus on B2B rather than the B2C sector. Selling to businesses is great because they are much less price sensitive. There are also some insanely profitable niches, particularly in the finance and medical sectors. The best way to find these untapped niches is by working in these sectors, and spinning off an idea from your day job. I did exactly this with my own software business, as I developed a range of tools for documenting application source code. I first came across these tools in one of my jobs, and decided to make my own version for a programming language that was under served in this niche.

Online Dating

Since 2012 this niche has been my main online money earner, although it’s starting to be shaded by my investment income.

Online dating is good because it’s still fairly easy to get traffic, and people tend to click on ads like crazy in this niche. It’s also pretty easy to monetise since there are so many dating sites with their own affiliate schemes, plus you can promote offers through ad networks like PeerFly.

I got started in this niche by simply blogging about it. It’s still a good niche to do this in, however the barrier to entry is higher these days and you need some good quality original content. My sites still do pretty well six years after I started them. My more successful sites have moved beyond being static blogs – there are tools on there which people find useful and they tend to share the links around.

What I also did was to start my own dating site. That gave me a wealth of data and experience to blog about, which was useful when I exhausted my own online dating disaster stories!

I would recommend that if you find success in a niche, always move beyond your blog by adding a forum, or other type of membership site. Or if you’re blogging about products, source some widgets from China or elsewhere and start your own BRAND.

Business Topics

I tried starting a few websites in the business space, namely business software and accountancy.

  • Pluses in these niches: good income possibilities from advertising, and not many people are making blogs about these topics.
  • Minuses: hard to get traffic, especially since 2012.

I still think there are good opportunities in these niches, but you have to add value to your sites, it’s hard to make it with just a blog and a few photos.

Make Money Online / Finance Niches

From 2012 onward I made a move into the make money online/finance niches, with various results.

Blogging about these topics is possible, but it’s hard to get traffic, particularly for things like stock trading and investing.

I’ve done reasonably well in the niche websites niche. Niche Laboratory gets quite a bit of traffic (you can see some stats here). The good thing about having an actual service in this niche (or for any niche) is that it makes it very easy to get natural, organic back links. The site quite often features in “Best Keyword Tools of 20XX” type articles.

Sadly the tool doesn’t make much money. I could make a paid premium version but it’s harder these days given how many other keyword tools there are. I make a bit from advertising, but people don’t go click crazy in this niche like they do with things like Online Dating. Probably the best thing I could do is to add a forum and start competing with the Warrior Forum. Oh well, if you have any other suggestions then post them in the comments below!

The best thing that Niche Laboratory has done for me has been for me to showcase by software development skills at job interviews. People are always amazed when you tell them you make money from your websites – if they only knew how much some of my others have made :).

Property / Real Estate

I had an idea for a site in the property niche. I’m happy to reveal the domain on this one – it’s at BTL Finder. This was a nice idea, but really the property niche is brutally competitive and dominated by cash rich online property portals and the numerous real estate companies out there. All these companies are cash cows and they can spend big bucks on advertising/SEO.

I still think the site has potential, but I would need to team up with a marketing guru to help me get the site better known. The good news is that IF I can get traffic to the site then it will make money. But that’s a pretty big IF.

Oddly enough this site is also mentioned on my resume but nobody seems interested in it. Is this an idea that is only interesting to the inventor? Should I throw in the towel and let the domain expire? Add your suggestions below.

Flippa Buying Spree!

By 2012 I had saved up a lot of my income from my various niche sites and rather than put it in the bank at 0.1% annual interest I thought a far better return on investment would be to use the income from my niche sites to buy more niche sites!

The first site I bought was PlasticResealableBags.com, it was cheap and the subject was boring but it looked like it would have a bit of potential as an Amazon affiliate site. Sadly nothing really happened with the site. However, the Amazon API code I wrote for this site would eventually end up in the Niche Laboratory, so all was not lost.

I fared rather better with CheapBouncyCastles.com. For you Americans out there, bouncy castles are what we Brits call bounce houses. This site actually made quite a bit with AdSense, before Google Panda/Penguin hit and the site lost most of its traffic. It was a good niche and I made a bit with AdSense. It was also a good niche for an Amazon affiliate store. Sadly I had to scrap the site as I had far more lucrative sites to work on.

If I had kept the bouncy castles site then I might have added a directory of bouncy castle hire companies, and maybe a list of horrible and bizarre bounce house accidents.

Disclaimer: I no longer own either domain, so check them out if you like but I don’t know what’s there now.

I’ll also add that I tried buying a website on the Warrior Forum but that ended in recriminations (and a full refund) after the guy basically took my money then failed to build my site. It’s a shame because the niche he chose for me (LED light bulbs) looked quite promising at the time.

OK so I hope you found that history of my niche experiments useful. The best advice I can give is if you have an idea for a niche then buy a $12 domain, install WordPress, write a few articles and see if you get traffic and some good visitor engagement. Start several sites if you want, then grow the winners.

Happy blogging, and if you have any comments or suggestions then write them below.

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