Entrepreneur and Finance Nerd Making Money Online

How to Dominate a Niche You Know Nothing About

Like I mentioned in my June 2011 income report, I’ve stated working on a new niche site. This new niche site has posed a bit of a problem for me though. It is a niche that I know absolutely nothing about. I don’t just mean that I only know enough to write a little bit. I mean I have zero knowlegde on the topic. I couldn’t write one intelligle paragraph on the topic.

Now the people in this niche are passionate about what they do. I mean incredibly passionate. I’m pretty sure they could smell a phony from a mile away. This isn’t like some niches where you could b.s. your way though if you wanted to. You really need to know your stuff.

If you’re a regular reader then you know that I don’t like b.s. (If you’re not a regular reader then you should be! Subscribe to my feed!) I prefer to be a straight shooter and just tell it like it is.

It would go against my nature to just pull a bunch of junk together just so I could fill out my site.

That means I either have to pay someone in the know to write content for my new site or I have dive into the middle of this community and become one of them.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find someone to write for this niche. It’s not like it’s underwater basket weaving. But, I always prefer to at least write the first bit of content on a new site.

I don’t feel like I can give my outsourcers good instructions unless I personally have some experience in what I’m asking them to do.

So…

When I’m Approaching a New Niche, Here’s The 3 Things I Do…

If I’m writing content that targets a demographic that is passionate about a topic I need to dive right into the middle of that group.

I need to understand the community – Who are they? What do they like/dislike? How do they talk (slang, abbreviations, etc?)

Youtube – Get on Youtube and find videos that people in your niche are posting and commenting on. Take your list of keywords and go to town watching every video you can.

Pay close attention to those with a lot of comments and a lot of ratings. These are the kind of videos that were able to engage people enough to generate some kind of response.

Read through the comments. See what kind of stuff people like. Are how-to videos hot? What about vlog (video blog) posts? Who are the key players in the niche? Look at who is posting a lot of video. Look at channel views and subscriber counts.

Try to figure out what makes these people unique. Why are people choosing to watch these videos over all the other videos on the same topic?

Blogs  - Search using very broad phrases that relate to your niche (e.g. ‘cars’ or ‘finance’ or ‘health’). What you are looking for are high-authority sites that are ranking for some of the most competitive terms in your niche.

Most likely these sites will be owned by big media conglomerates. However, if you do come across a blog, try to figure out what makes them so popular.

Then get on a blog search engine such as Technorati or Google’s Blog Search. See who the biggest bloggers in your niche are. Look at the number of subscribers, twitter followers, etc.

Again, the whole point here is to understand what people in your niche are looking for. What kind of content do they like? What type of personality seems to be popular?

Forums – The last place I go is forums. By this point you should have some insight into what people in your niche are hungry for. You’ve been exposed to the big fish in the pond. Now you need to go see what all of the regular Joe’s are talking about.

This is your opportunity to find a hole in the market. Are people talking about things in forums that the big fish aren’t talking about? What about personality? Maybe all the mainstream bloggers seem to have their act together while everyone in the forums have a lot of insecurities.

Look for a USP (unique selling position) that will make your site stand out.

With all of this, you are armed to become an authority in the space. Which is super important if you want to see real success.

You Need to Be Seen as an Authority

In order to market to a crowd you need to be seen as an authority. People will rarely buy something from someone they don’t trust. You can’t be an authority if you don’t know what you’re talking about!

In this new niche I’m doing everything I can to absorb information so I can be sure I know what I’m talking about when I create content. If I talk and talk and walk the walk then I can build my reputation as an authority in this niche.

I’m doing my absolute best to create compelling original content on this new niche site.

In my humble opinion, that is one of the biggest pieces to the puzzle of success in any niche.

You Need to Be Relatable

I think the second big key to success is that people need to be able to relate to you. People relate to other people who are like them. This goes back to the research I mentioned above. You need to understand who your target audience is. You need to be able to talk like they do and talk about the stuff that they talk about.

In this new niche I’m working on, I’ve noticed that proper grammar is kind of rare. So I’ve tried to place some intentional errors in my content. I don’t want these people to come to my site and be put off because I’m too proper or I sound like I have it all together. I want them to see me like they see a good friend. I want them to relate to me.

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Do you think that is being disingenuous or is it smart marketing? Is there a better way to do niche marketing?

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4 Responses to “How to Dominate a Niche You Know Nothing About”

  1. Lewis says:

    Successful marketers, as far as I can see, have a ridiculously solid work ethic, which often manifests itself in a quantifiable goal. The more content you create, the more productive you usually feel. Word count, for me, used to be the be all end all goal. If I pulled the numbers I felt like I was the hot-shot.

    That’s not how authority sites are built, though.

    Nowadays I do pretty much the same thing you outlined. Head first and dive deep into it. I sometimes spend days on background check, surfing products, forums, user reviews, videos, everything I can think of. It also helps me counter one of my permanent birth defects (non-native English isn’t curable yet)

    I’m trying to find product these people would use. Look for caveats, locate bad rep stuff, and try to find out why it got hammered. I look for competitors and browse around.

    Youtube videos don’t always help, some niches are ridden with these auto-generated junk 30 sec clips pieced together from stock photos.

    I also try to figure out if any of my friends could relate to the niche, and think with their heads. Great source of stories. For instance, I’m a dude, but my fiancee is the geekiest geek ever. If I’ve got to write from the women’s perspective, I can always pull up a story or a funny tidbit about her relation to the topic at hand. Helps establish connection with the audience.

    A compelling argument (if my memory serves) was made about Pat Flynn saying you don’t have to be a stiff neck sufferer to be able to provide valuable information on it. You can establish yourself as an authority by being open about it and disclosing where your information comes from. They call it delegated trust or authority. At least that’s what I heard being mentioned.

    Another thing that helps is to be open to suggestions. If someone calls you out in the comments section, you’ve got yourself someone who knows where you made a mistake. That’s the person you want to convert. Gary Vaynerchuk says it’s always better to have a loud naysayer than a silent disappointed visitor/customer.

    Um… that’s all I can think about right now, keep up the attitude and the good work. Even if it doesn’t work, you can stand up straight knowing you haven’t misled anyone.

    [Reply]

    Jeremy Waller Reply:

    A solid work ethic is definitely a must. But like you said, it’s not all about pumping out tons of content. You have to be smart in the work that you’re doing.

    I like your point about leveraging people you know. Anecdotes using friends or family members helps to show personality in your content which really helps to connect with your audience.

    [Reply]

  2. Leo Dimilo says:

    Jeremy,

    I think a lot has to do with networking. Usually, if you are new to a market, you need a “push” from someone who is established (or an outlier) within their social cluster.

    I know that the concept of tribes has been done to death but the idea that you can dominate search without a social element attached to your brand is so last year (in my opinion).

    If I was going to start in a new market, I would:

    Build a platform that was content based.

    Find people who can amplify my content.

    Network with them and build a base from that relationship.

    Rinse and repeat.

    Of course, since search is important, I would cross my t’s and dot my i’s seo wise.

    [Reply]

  3. Hey Leo – I agree that the social element is becoming more and more important. However, I always focus on search traffic before worrying about the social element.

    My process is always:
    1) Find the tribe leaders of the niche
    2) Get an understanding of how the niche works based on these leaders.
    3) Build a site based on a low competition keywords with content that targets what the niche is hungry for
    4) Expand that authority to the social element

    [Reply]

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