Some questions I often get asked are, “what are some profitable niches?” and “what are some low-competition niches?” While profitability and competition are important, it’s probably not the first question you should be asking. Instead, you want to find niches that are going to set you up for success. It doesn’t matter how profitable a niche is if you can’t succeed.
Now, for experienced bloggers and SEOs, finding untapped niches that they can take advantage of can be a good strategy. For a beginner though, I recommend sticking to niches they are interested in and passionate about.
There are a few really good reasons for this:
- EEAT – Google prefers to rank websites that demonstrate Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This means they want to rank content from experienced experts in their fields. While you don’t exactly need to be an expert in your niche, discussing topics that you have experience with will help.
- Productivity – If you are already familiar with the topic, you’re able to write better articles much faster.
- Enjoyment – This might not seem like a big reason, but blogging burnout is a real thing. Publishing new content every day or week can take a toll. It’s better to enjoy the process.
- Multimedia – While stock images exist, creating real photos and video adds a ton of trust and credibility and boosts traffic. Even quick videos made on your smartphone can bring thousands of visits.
The thing is, too many bloggers are writing about niches they don’t have any experience with. So, if you do have experience in your niche, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.
For those who are more familiar with niche sites, you may be wondering what type of niche site to create. For a beginner, I would recommend a general niche site or a micro niche site. I don’t recommend building product review sites. Review sites can be very profitable, but they are also very competitive. Google has also released multiple updates specifically targeting these types of sites. Today, ranking for product reviews is much harder without demonstrating experience using the product.
With the blogging world becoming more saturated with generic content, the emergence of AI, and the changing SEO landscape, being able to create expert content and branding should be the number one consideration when choosing a niche.— Ben @ Keyword Chef (@KeywordChef) February 10, 2023
Here are just a few hugely popular niche sites that started as passion projects:
- SwimUniversity.com – After Matt Giovanisci worked in 3 different pool stores, he took his pool care knowledge and turned it into a full-time business earning $30,000 per month.
- NerdFitness.com – A self-proclaimed nerd, Steve Kamb started his blog by publishing 1-2 times per week. The website employs a team of 45 and generates $500k per year.
- MrMoneyMustache.com – Started by Peter Adeney who retired at age 30 by living frugally and investing, he started his blog teaching others how to achieve financial independence.
All of these bloggers had one thing in common – they used their unfair advantage to succeed.
Finding your unfair advantage
First, what is an “unfair advantage”? An unfair advantage is a skill, opportunity, or position you have that gives you an advantage over the competition. For example, let’s say you have a travel blog and live in NYC. You decide to write “best free places to visit in New York City”. For this article, you can give better recommendations, create unique insights, share personal experiences, and even take your own pictures and video.
Now, compared to someone else who’s never visited NYC, you have a huge unfair advantage. I’ve personally ranked in top positions by showcasing products firsthand. When I built Keyword Chef, I had a huge unfair advantage as well. I had an amazing Facebook group and I was a programmer. I didn’t have to spend money on development or marketing to get started. This was the unfair advantage that made me successful.
At this point, you may be wondering what your unfair advantage is. While being an expert at something will certainly help, you don’t necessarily need to be one. Instead, you can have what’s called “everyday expertise”. This means you have enough experience to help someone else who isn’t familiar with your niche.
For example, let’s say you are in the camping niche. Lots of people have gone camping before, right? Do you need a ton of camping gear and be a camping “expert” to consider this an unfair advantage? Not at all. Imagine you are going on a camping trip. You can write an article about “how to pack for a camping trip”, then take pictures of the gear you are bringing. This will give you an unfair advantage over 99% of the other articles out there. Heck, in this example, you don’t even need to go camping. If you live near a campground, you can ask to take pictures of other people’s gear.
Niche websites are in a way a numbers game, but quality content is super important too. If you put in some extra effort to make an article really good, there’s a lot better chance it’s going to stay ranking for longer. From my experience, I’ve written reviews years ago that are still ranking in the #1 and #2 spots on Google.
Here are some clues about an unfair advantage you may have:
- Are you near a special area of interest, such as a tourist attraction?
- Do you own any physical products you could review?
- Do you speak a language where you can compete in certain markets?
- Do you have a special skill or talent? Or something you simply enjoy doing?
- Do you have a condition or disability that you’ve overcome?
- Do you have first-hand experience with something other people want to learn about?
Brainstorming niche ideas
Now that you understand what an unfair advantage is, it’s time to start brainstorming ideas for your niche blog. Here are some questions that can help. Think about each question and take notes of whatever niche that comes to mind.
- We also have a list of inspirational niche sites you can view for ideas
What are you passionate about?
- What do you like talking about?
- What gets you excited?
- What have you researched a lot?
What hobbies do you have?
- What hobbies that you had in the past?
- What hobbies that you appreciate or find interesting?
- What hobbies you would have if you had more time/money?
What books do you enjoy reading?
- What books have you read or purchased?
- What books do you browse on Amazon?
- What magazines do you like?
What skills do you have?
- What skills have you learned in your job?
- What skills are on your resume?
- What skills have you taught or helped people with?
What products have you bought?
- What products have you purchased recently?
- What products are you thinking of buying?
- What kind of products would you buy if you had more money?
What problems or challenges have you faced?
- What problems or challenges have you overcome?
- What are your frustrations?
- What problems have you learned to solve?
What kinds of websites do you visit?
- What newsletters are you subscribed to?
- What kinds of youtube videos do you watch?
- What kinds of forums do you visit?
- What kinds of Facebook groups are you in?
- What kind of people do you follow?
Validating your niche
Now that you’ve come up with a list of potential niche ideas, it’s important to validate them. What you want to avoid is picking a niche, writing lots of content, and later realizing the niche wasn’t a good choice.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a niche:
- EEAT – Do you have experience in the niche? Are you able to create superior content? Do you have an unfair advantage?
- Market Size – How many people are interested in the niche? Are there forums, Facebook groups, or other blogs?
- Competition – How strong are other competing brands and websites in your niche?
- Long-term trend – Is this niche going to be around 5 or 10 years from now? Niches around diets, fashion, and technology are constantly changing. Don’t pick a niche that will soon become obsolete.
- Profitability – How will you monetize the niche? Is there enough traffic for display ads? Are there high-priced products? Could you sell your own products?
Let’s dive into each of these…
EEAT – Ability to create superior content
As you probably know by now, being able to create superior content and a brand should be your number one factor when picking a niche. You want to be able to write about topics with authority and show your experience. You want to be able to create content that is as helpful and detailed as possible. Being able to discuss topics in depth with authority will easily set you apart from all the other generic writers.
Another big part of creating superior content is multimedia – that is, photos and video. Some niches like personal finance, programming, and personal development don’t require many visuals. These niches, in a way, are easier to get into. This may seem like a good thing, but it also means the niche is more saturated. On the other hand, niches like art, auto repair, and recipes are going to require a lot of visuals. If you’re able to provide such content, this can be a huge advantage.
Overall, think about your ability to create quality content in your niche.
Market Size – Your traffic potential
There are no hard and fast rules here when it comes to market size. It’s entirely possible to build a micro niche site that makes passive income with just a few thousand or even a few hundred visits per month. For these sites, it’s a good idea to promote expensive products to make up for the lack of traffic.
Most of us though will be building general niche sites. These are sites with a mix of informational articles and product reviews with lots of room for growth. With these types of sites, it’s good to check the search volume.
To see how popular your niche is, you can use Google Keyword Planner for free. After you sign in, click ‘Discover new keywords’ and search for your niche. Here’s an example of searching for ‘camping’ which has 1-10M monthly searches.
For niches you already know are popular, checking the volume isn’t necessary. However, for other niches you aren’t sure about, it’s a good idea to check. You may also find ideas for sub-niches.
So, why is volume important? Well, you want to be careful not to pick a niche that has too little volume. I believe a monthly volume of as low as a few thousand visits per month can be fine depending on the products being promoted. The reason is, with the volume being lower, relying just on display ads for revenue won’t be as profitable. This means you’ll want to target higher-priced affiliate products instead.
Along with checking the search volume, finding online communities about your niche is another great sign. Here are some ways to find online communities:
- Subreddits – Reddit is a very popular internet discussion site that talks about thousands of topics. To check if there’s a subreddit for your niche, head over to reddit.com and type your niche into the search bar. Next, click on ‘Communities’ to see a list of subreddits.
- Facebook groups – Facebook groups are great. I advise people to join a dozen Facebook groups in their niche to keep up with industry news.
- Forums – Forums are from the earlier internet days, but they still exist. Simply google ‘[niche] forum’.
As a bonus, browsing through online communities can be a goldmine when doing topic research.
Long term trend – is the niche stable?
Along with checking the niche popularity, knowing the long term trend of your niche is important. You don’t want to build a site around a topic that will quickly decline in popularity. The best and easiest way to check trends is with Google Trends. To start, head over to Google Trends and search for your niche. Then, you want to view at least the past 5 years or more.
Here is the Google Trend for “camping”. As you can see, while the niche is popular during certain times of the year (called seasonality), the overall long-term trend is steady. What we don’t want to see is a niche that has a downward trend.
Competition and YMYL – Is it hard to rank?
I believe for most niches, there’s always room to compete. This will depend on your overall strategy and content quality. It’s not a bad idea to try to find 50 low-competition keywords in your niche before entering it. An easy way to check the competition in your niche is to google various keywords and look at the top-ranking sites. If you find keywords that have forums like reddit and quora ranking on the first-page search results, that’s a great sign of low competition. You can use Keyword Chef to automate the entire process for you.
However, there are some niches that you should be careful about entering. These niches are what Google calls YMYL niches – that is, “Your Money or Your Life”. Google describes YMYL as “types of pages that could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users”. Basically, topics where wrong information could have a drastic impact on someone’s life.
These pages include:
- Finance – including taxes, investments, retirement planning, home purchases, paying for college, and buying insurance
- Medical – including health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, and nutrition
- Legal – including divorce, child custody, creating a will, or becoming a citizen
- Other – other pages like child adoption or car safety information
So what does all this mean? When it comes to YMYL topics, Google will give preference to websites that are considered more authoritative. For example, if you are searching for information about taxes, Google will more likely rank government websites first. Does that mean you should avoid all topics related to taxes? Not quite. Some topics may still be low competition. For example, if you search for “why are taxes on hotels so high”, you’ll see quora ranking #1. So when it comes to YMYL niches, certain topics are harder to rank for, but low competition keywords may still exist. You just need to be more careful about the specific topics you write about.
Profitability – Will you make money?
Profitability may seem like an obvious consideration, but this was a mistake I made with my first two sites which both failed. My first site was about the barefoot lifestyle (call me a hippy). My 2nd website was about an author who I’d been reading at the time. These niches didn’t have many products to promote, nor did they earn a lot of commission. For example, by promoting a $20 book on Amazon at a 4% commission, I was earning just 80 cents. Instead, if I promoted a $200 product at the same 4% commission, I would earn $8, a huge difference.
Now, there are people who are successful in earning with just display ads, but it’s always good to take advantage of multiple monetization methods.
Generally, there are two kinds of products to promote:
- Physical products
- Digital products
Physical products are products you can go to the store and buy. I like to find niches with products worth $200 or more. This is because physical products have lower commissions, so you’ll need a higher priced product to earn more. For physical products, I consider anything over 10% commission to be pretty good.
One important thing to keep in mind is while your niche may have expensive products, you want to make sure people are actually buying them online. I good way to check this is to make sure the product has reviews and that the merchant has an affiliate program.
Digital products are products like software, online courses, and paid memberships. Because these products are digital, they have huge profit margins and therefore can afford to pay higher commissions. It’s not uncommon to find commissions as high as 50% or more.
Another thing to look for is reoccurring commissions. Recurring commissions happen when you promote recurring subscriptions. Recurring subscriptions are something people pay for every month, such as Netflix, software, and even some physical products like meal delivery services.
Take some time to browse your niche and become familiar with the types of products. Browsing Amazon is a great starting point.
Finalizing your niche
When picking your niche, make sure you aren’t just picking the first niche you are excited about. You want to make sure there is a market for it and that it will be profitable.
Remember the following list when picking a nice:
- Do you have experience in your niche?
- Is your niche popular enough?
- Are you able to compete?
- Will the niche be around for a long time?
- Are there good products to promote?