Find your niche
STEP 2: Find your niche
To help you find your niche topic, read Ken Evoy's free 150-page Affiliate Masters Course and use the excellent advice in it to find a profitable niche that suits you and your interests.
You'll want to refer to the Affiliate Masters Course again and again, so I strongly recommend you RIGHT-Click and download it to your desktop.
Print out the Affiliate Masters Course, find a quiet, comfortable spot and read it several times.
Spend a lot of time thinking carefully about this and jotting down notes. You're planning a business, so don't rush it. This step is very important.
You'll probably avoid Internet marketing topics, such as How To Make Money Online, because that field is so overcrowded and cut-throat competitive. It's much easier to earn money if you locate a less competitive niche.
Choose a topic that is easy for you to write about.
Even if you've already chosen a niche, I urge you to read the Affiliate Masters Course. It will give you priceless insights which may make you change your mind.
You can follow your passion or chase the money. With luck – and a bit of keyword research – you may be able to do both.
Examine your potential competitors
If you're considering building a site about hiking boots, for example, type “hiking boots” (using quotation marks) into Google and Bing and carefully examine the top 10 sites which appear in the search results.
They're your real competitors. Can you create a better, more interesting, more useful site? Can you think of a new angle, a new approach?
Do those top 10 sites all have high PageRank – say 6 or more? If so, you'll have to work really hard to get in the top 10.
Let's say the top 3 sites in Google are PageRank 8, 7 and 6. If so, you'll probably have to work hard for a couple of years or more to outrank them. I'm not saying it cannot be done, but it will require either a great deal of work, or a very innovative, eye-catching approach.
You may be able to find a PageRank checking tool by doing a Google search, but unfortunately, such free tools often become broken. A slower, but more reliable way of checking various sites' PageRank is to install the free Google Toolbar in your browser.
Study the top 10 search results. Do those sites all have the phrase (for example “hiking boots”) in the title? (The title is the words that appear at the very top of your screen if you visit a site using Internet Explorer. You'll also see the title displayed in search engine results.) If not, you may be able to beat them.
How many links do your potential competitors have?
Do your potential competitors all have thousands of links to them? This is important, because links are important to search engines. You need good, relevant links to your site. To find out how many sites are linking to a site, use the free version of Open Site Explorer.
Type in the URL of the site you want to explore and click “Search”.
If your potential competitors have thousands of links to them, they're likely to be very tough competitors.
Don't decide definitely on a niche topic until you've taken the next two steps…
STEP 3. Choose a PROFITABLE niche
Do some research on Google AdWords and Wordtracker to choose the most profitable niche from among the ones you're considering. (The free trial at Wordtracker is fairly restricted. You need more than that. I find Wordtracker so useful I have an annual subscription. However, you can get a cheap one-week subscription and do an awful lot of research in one week.)
Because you're planning to use AdSense, you want valuable keywords or key phrases, if possible ones that people are paying at least 50 cents per click for on Google's AdWords.
Why? Because when you place AdSense ads on your website, you earn a proportion of whatever the advertisers are paying, simply because people have clicked on links on your site.
Google's AdSense is free to join, and it's the easiest way to make money on the Internet. So I recommend you use AdSense as well as affiliate programs.
You're going to build a site the search engines love, so you also want to find key phrases that many people are typing into search engines. You don't rely on guesswork. (For example, do people search for “sport watches” or “sports watches”. Do they search for “collectibles” or “collectables”? You may THINK you know the correct answer, but you need to do research to make sure.) Doing research will also reveal a whole lot of related phrases you hadn't thought of.
You must do this keyword research BEFORE you start building your web site. This is critically important.
Find out how much advertisers are willing to pay for the keywords or key phrases you're interested in. Here's how.
Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, which replaced the old Google Keyword Tool in 2013.
First, you have to set up a Google AdWords account. That's OK. We're NOT going to spend any money advertising. We're just doing keyword research.
So, set up an account in AdWords. Google keeps changing and improving things in AdWords, so just follow Google's current instructions as though you are preparing to advertise. You want to find an estimate of how much CPC (cost per click) advertisers are paying for various phrases or keywords.
Experiment for a while with the Keyword Planner. It's fairly simple to use, but, while reading the instructions beware: Google is telling you how to prepare an advertising campaign. Ignore any instructions that involve actually doing any advertising.
For example, try putting in a keyword or phrase, such as “harry potter collectibles”.
You'll see how many searches are done each month around the world at Google for “harry potter collectibles” and other similar phrases, which may give you more ideas for a niche site.
Try entering different phrases, for example “toy collectibles”, and watch how the CPC changes for different keywords.
Your Keyword Research Findings May Surprise You
Do lots of keyword research. You can learn all sorts of useful data about the words people are typing into search engines. For example, here's something I just stumbled across…
As an experiment while updating this affiliate tutorial, I entered “collectibles” into the Keyword Planner. I was surprised to see that one set of keywords I found involved “dust collection”. I'd just discovered a little niche and sub-niches I'd never thought of. Take a look…
By accident, I discovered a niche I hadn't thought of, with sub-niches – “woodshop dust collection” and “dust collection bags”.
For your website's niche, you don't HAVE to choose a topic which has expensive keywords. Often topics that have expensive keywords are very competitive. You may do better choosing a less competitive niche with cheaper keywords.
If you use the SBI system to research, build and market your site (which I strongly recommend), you'll find the brainstorming tool in it awesome for helping you come up with ideas and phrases you wouldn't have thought of without it. SBI also helps you find profitable niches.
Beware: If you choose certain topics for your niche, Google will not allow you to place AdSense ads on your site and you'll miss out on a very lucrative opportunity.
Such topics include gambling (except in certain countries), firearms, ammunition, balisongs, butterfly knives, and brass knuckles; beer or alcohol; tobacco or tobacco-related products; and prescription drugs.
See the Content Guidelines for a full list of topics you may wish to avoid.
Google AdWords advertisers can choose to have their ads displayed only on the Google search or also on a large network of websites all around the world. Will AdSense ads you see on Google appear on YOUR pages? To get an idea, use the Google search engine to find web pages that have material similar to the content you're planning to create and look at those websites' AdSense ads.
NOTE: The ads YOU see may not be the ads other people see. Advertisers can choose to display their ads in, for example, only the US, or only Canada, or a combination of various countries. So if you live in the UK, for example, you will often see UK related ads. Don't assume that just because you can see an ad that everyone else can see it, too.
Don't make any firm decision on choosing your niche until you've taken the next step…