by Lior Levin
When it comes to business, whether offline or online, the most difficult thing to do is to get started.
Unlike traditional businesses, setting up an online business does not require much in terms of capital investment and labor costs. You just need a website and an idea which you can or would want to sell to potential customers.
Sounds easy but trust me, nothing could be harder. Unless you have a rock solid plan in place and you know how you want your website to be, the idea of a “self funded online business” might not take off at all, rather work and reap profit in the long term.
So in this article, I am going to explain what it takes to have your own startup and start a niche website.
What is a niche?
Before we start, lets understand what a niche is and how we can use a niche website to drive business or profit.
Simply put, a “niche” refers to a small market segment. Every product can be defined by its market niche. So if you consider “garments and apparels” as a market, you can segment this market segment into several niches. For example, women’s garments would be a broad niche while “winter garments for women” will be a more specific niche.
Why stick to a niche? Why not go out and sell all kinds of products, all the garments that you can ever find or think of? The more choices and products you give to your customers, the better is your brand exposure, right?
Wrong. This is because if you do not identify your business with a niche, your customers will have a tough time connecting with your brand and identifying you as an expert in the services you offer. It is a good practice to excel in one niche first and then scale up and expand into other segments gradually. Being average in everything is not going to work, as far as brand exposure and customer engagement is concerned.
So if you’re starting a business of your own, whether offline or online, you now know how critically important it is to focus on a niche, emerge as the leader of that niche and then scale up to other niches to expand and grow.
Now how do you start a niche website and ensure that you can actually convert the website into a profitable business after a given period of time. Here are some ideas for starting a niche website from scratch, this will help you find something to do in your life rather waste your entire life like a moron.
What is your passion?
It all begins with one thing – drive to do something worthwhile.
What is that one thing which you can do on and on and on, without getting bored or losing interest? What is that one thing which you can do better than others? What is that one thing which you can do creatively, probably for years and take that thing to a whole new level? What is that one thing which gives you immense pleasure and you don’t do it for earning your bread?
If there is something which you do with passion, you can actually build a niche website around it. For example – if you’re a good painter, you can have a small niche website and sell portrait paintings. If you charge a small amount for a custom portrait, a lot of people won’t mind having their own portrait done from you.
Similarly, if you’re a foodie and love to cook, why not have a website and post photos, videos and recipes of the dishes you prepare on weekends? If your recipes are different, unique and delicious, your fans will love it. Who knows, they may be willing to pay you for preparing the dishes for their weekend party?
My whole point is that if you do things with passion, you can always turn your passion into an avocation and build a business around it.
Find a gap in consumer needs and fulfill it.
Talking of passion, you might not have clear cut inclination on one specific thing. Precisely, you might not know what your passion is, unless something needs to be done to fix a problem. I will explain this through a personal experience.
When I was in college, i did not have any passion whatsoever. I was a normal guy, with average dreams and I did not felt the drive or need to go the extra mile until one day, an idea crossed my head.
I had many friends who were not very technically sound, they sought my help in fixing their computer problems. Sometimes, it was configuring the browser, sometimes it was setting up IMAP and sometimes it was setting up a personal blog. One sunny afternoon, a random thought struck my mind – “If these people are finding something difficult which I can solve, why not setup a website and post the solution there? That way, I won’t have to do the same thing over and over again, I can point them to my website and they can do it on their own”
That was it. It took me a week to get my technology website live and that was how it all started. In a couple of years, my websites started attracting traffic from all over the globe and I successfully monetized the traffic with online advertising programs such as Google Adsense, BuySellads, Kontera and some more.
I started my website because I could find a gap in the consumer need. Once I filled that gap, I started reaping profit. The takeaway lesson: even if you do not have passion for anything, you can solve problems other people face everyday. Once you start solving their problems, you will develop a passion of solving problems and eventually, your niche website will take off.
Okay but why a niche site? Why not a website which covers everything?
Now this is something you have to be careful about. A niche website which revolves around one problem is more likely to succeed than a “general” website which claims to solve many problems. Also, it is much easier to take a niche website to a level and attract targeted audience than take a “general” website to the same level, with the same amount of time, money and resources.
For example, if you have a website which talks about sports, fashion, health, technology, politics and entertainment – it will be impossible for you to emerge as a voice within a year or two. All these niches are so vast that it is nearly impossible to produce information or services that will pacify your reader’s need.
Instead, it might be a good idea to start a blog on “tech tips for teachers”, and produce content or services which helps teachers and educators solve their day to day tech problems. It will be much easier for you to emerge as a brand for a small audience and convert your niche website to business, after it has a substantial amount of valuable information or when it solves a problem no one else does.
To wrap it up, here is a simple two point checklist which should get you started with a niche website:
1. Find your passion, do the things you love to do all day long. Perceive a unique idea and go for it. When you do things with passion, amazing things happen.
2. If you don’t have a passion yet, don’t give it in. Try to solve problems, offer a service that provides value. It could be small, but that’s all right. If you keep working over it, it will grow and your niche website will bring in rewards in due time.
On a closing note, don’t be too overwhelmed by competition and big names who already provide the service or product you’re trying to build. Remember, every business has competition and most businesses you see around started from scratch, not everyone gets millions of dollars from investors as funding. Most successful businesses started from scratch and made it big, because they either solved a problem or did something passionately.
Lior Levin works for Jive who is the developer of a collaboration software for SMBs worldwide. And he is also a marketing consultant to a shopping cart abandonment startup that works with e-commerce companies to improve their conversion.