Choosing a niche for your online business will be the answer when you’re probably overflowing with creative ideas, but can’t decide which ones to settle on.
Yes, you may be an ‘ideas person’ – but can, or should you– do them all?
Which way do I go?
A Niche is Your Answer
You can focus your ideas by finding a niche market for your online store.
What is a niche, you ask? It is nothing more than a specialized market that attracts a specific audience.
With a niche-oriented business, you’re able to meet the demand of a smaller section of the population. More than likely, their interests aren’t addressed by mainstream retail providers.
Why sell to a specific niche? From a pragmatic point of view, if you start with a niche store, you’ll be able to create much stronger branding. This will play an important role in the long run.
With an established brand, you can build a loyal customer base and expand your product catalog with products that match your brand’s personality and identity.
Finding your niche for print-on-demand is key to your success
How to Find Your Niche Market
What truly separates one niche from another is, simply– the people who are buying these specialized products.
How do you find your niche market? Look at it from an existential perspective before you open a store. That means, giving your products a reason to exist.
As Simon Sinek wrote in his book Start With Why, people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. Find a reason why you’re operating your business, besides to make a profit. Profit is an outcome, and a welcome one of course– otherwise, it wouldn’t be a business. It would just be your hobby.
It will help if you understand you need a deeper reason to go the distance with your online business. That reason should be providing value.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about it from their perspective. As in: “What would motivate me to buy this specific product?”
The content of your store should be united by a single idea that relates to a like-minded community that would buy from you just to support that idea. Think sports, hobbies, and interests.
So here’s how you can begin to identify your niche. You should pick a theme that relates to your passions and personal experiences, and that you know has a like-minded audience.
If you are passionate about your niche, it won’t be a chore to spend the time working your designs around it. You will also be knowledgeable, and that inside track will make your chances of success even greater.
Aligning with your passions will help you choose your niche
Choosing a Niche: The Importance of SEO
You’ll just have to try just remember that if your target audience is everyone, then your niche isn’t defined enough, and your aim is too wide. But if it’s too small, then you won’t attract that many customers or sales.
Identify Your Competitors
It’s also important to find out what’s already happening in the market.
You might find that nobody else out there caters to your niche, which could be a golden opportunity for you, or you might find that your target market is a little crowded. Regarding the latter–don’t be afraid of competition. Not only does it validate the profitability of your niche, but it leads to innovation as well.
New ideas will resonate with your customers and drive them to you. Competition doesn’t mean that you’ll have to work harder to give people a reason to choose you. It might be design quality, outstanding customer service, or the number of products you offer that draws them in the virtual door.
There is a technical layer to getting found in the eCommerce space, and that involves SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
The Art & Science of SEO
How to Determine if Your Niche is Profitable and Interesting
Optimization is the process of making your website rank higher on Google in order to bring in visitors. You need to start by identifying the main keywords that are relevant to your niche.
Keywords are those words that you would use to search for your specific type of product. You then apply those keywords to your product titles, descriptions, and tags.
At the most basic, Google Trends is a useful tool for getting an overall picture of a search term’s (keyword) popularity. That is, how many people are typing a word or phrase into Google’s search engine?
A high search volume on Google Trends that’s maintained consistently on the graph means that there’s a lot of interest in your niche, but there’s also a lot of competition. Again, this is an indicator of potential profitability– and also competition. I would much prefer that to a search term with a ‘flat line’, or only sporadic, perhaps seasonal spikes.
Finding Your ‘What’
Again, do not fear competition at the outset. You will find your own way to stand out, given time and testing.
You may have even heard the term ‘niche down‘. This means breaking your niche down even more and fine-tuning it, in your case to find a very select and hungry audience for your online products.
Still, that ‘holy grail’ of SEO optimization will always be keywords with high interest, and low competition– and that is every seller’s ultimate aim.
Maybe you’ll hit it out of the ballpark early– or, like most people– have to work harder at finessing it. It takes time, tools, and diligence. Either way, optimum SEO will remain part of your strategy for success.
And, SEO is dynamic– so it needs monitoring to see what’s still working in terms of popularity and relevance.
For example, think in terms of seasons for product demand. What do people intend to buy in the run-up to Christmas, compared to June or July? Gear your product offerings accordingly, even only if part of your store is dedicated to seasonal items and the rest are evergreen in their appeal.
I have a lot of fun starting to develop different seasonal lines, much like brick-and-mortar stores– months in advance. You don’t want to miss the (retail) party! It’s especially all happening in Q4 (October 1st – December 31st).
It’s no secret that online sales peak in Q4
How SEO Works on Google
SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization,” is the process of ensuring your website appears in the search engine’s top results when specific keywords are searched.
Implementing good SEO will help your website traffic increase, which can lead to more website visitors and potential customers.
There are many factors to consider when optimizing your website for SEO, including the following:
- Choosing the right keywords for your niche
- Creating effective content by offering in-demand products
- Optimizing your website’s title and metadata as niche-specific
- Choosing the right domain name to reflect your niche
It is important to consider all of these factors when trying to increase website traffic, as each can have a significant impact.
By working diligently to optimize your website for SEO, you can better ensure that your visitors will find your store, and see it as valuable to their needs.
The Benefits of Good SEO
Search engine optimization is the practice of making your website rank higher on search engines. When someone types in a search query, you want your website to be one of the first results that are shown.
Positioning high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) can lead to increased traffic and increased online visibility, which can in turn result in increased website revenue.
Specifically, in print on demand, the most common approach to SEO is to optimize your website content through product titles, descriptions, and tags. This includes adding ‘alt tags’ to product photos, wherever possible.
How to Improve Your Site’s SEO
There are many ways to optimize your website for increased visibility and traffic, so it is important to consult with an experienced SEO professional if you are not achieving your aims. However, this is a more expensive option, and you should carefully consider its worth especially if you are ‘bootstrapping’ it early on.
For beginners with more time than money, there are (free) social media platforms to assist with getting your store found. I recommend Pinterest and Instagram as beginner-friendly. In later posts, I will expand on how to mobilize these channels to the best effect.
Pinterest for the Win!
Pinterest, specifically, has been referred to as the ‘second Google’, for it attracts shoppers with intent. It is a sharing network, and your product photos, or pins, may even go viral.
Pins that contain backlinks to your shop carry a wealth of potential! When networks of users share your pins, you are in essence enjoying free advertising.
Setting up pins can be time-consuming, but also fun, and very well worth it in the long run. If you are pressed for time, again, you can go to Fiverr and find freelancers that can create your pins for you, and sometimes even post them too.
Compared to Facebook ads, which bring in fast traffic that starts and stops at the push of a button, Pinterest is a slow-burner. Your pins ‘live’ on Pinterest and circulate indefinitely. It can take up to six months for the traffic to filter through, however– so don’t be too disappointed in the beginning stages.
Pinterest has its own algorithms too, which means that your pins’ exposure will inevitably reduce over time. That makes it important that you keep ‘pinning’ consistently, to keep your Pinterest profile active and relevant.
Pinterest was made for niches! Exploit this rich traffic source for all that it’s worth.
A Pinterest account will lead buyers to your online store
How Google Searches and Ranks Web Pages
In recent years, much discussion has arisen surrounding the role of Google in search engine results. Essentially, Google is a search engine that gathers results from other search engines, as well as websites on the internet, to serve up as its users’ queries.
All websites, regardless of whether or not they are affiliated with Google, are ranked according to how many other websites link to them.
In order for a website to be ranked in Google, it must be included in one of the search engine’s “components.”
The Technical Bit
The three most common components are the Google Webmaster Tools, Google Maps, and Google AdSense. Each of these components has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed in order for a website to be included.
When a user conducts a search on Google, the first page of results is generated using a formula that takes into account a variety of factors, including the size of the website, the content on the website, and the number of links to the site (backlinks, i.e. from Pinterest).
Google’s algorithm looks at a number of factors when determining what pages should appear on the first page of a search engine. Some of these factors include the page’s title, how important the page is, how well it is optimized, the number of links it has, and the amount of organic traffic it receives.
Making the grade is made easier by optimal SEO
How On-Page SEO Can Help Your Site Rank Higher in Google
If you want your site to rank higher on Google, on-page SEO is a key factor to consider.
On-page SEO includes optimizing your site’s domain name, product titles, descriptions, and tags. All three of these areas impact how users view and search for your site.
Title tags are the most visible portion of your site to search engines. When prospective customers see your title tags, they expect to see information that is relevant to your site’s topic. Make sure to choose keywords that are important to your site’s niche and accurately match them to the title tags you create.
What Is Metadata?
Metadata is information that is hidden from users but is important to search engines. Metadata includes your site’s description and keywords, and it is important to make sure that it is well-written and includes accurate information. This information helps users find your site more easily, and it can help you rank higher on Google.
Your About Us page on your store’s site is metadata– and an excellent opportunity to give a keyword-rich blurb that not only informs your visitors but attracts them in the first place. Make sure that your ‘story’ is thoughtfully told, and peppered with meaningful keywords and phrases to get you noticed. That is the first step in acquiring customers– they need to know that you are there and ready to serve their needs.
As you can see, SEO is a multi-layered and dynamic approach and will be easier to identify within a firm niche. It may at first seem daunting, but it’s really not. It’s about identifying the terminology that people are already typing into browser search bars.
There are tools, tips, and tricks to find out what people wish to buy online. “There’s an app for that!” certainly applies here. In later posts, we will explore some of them in relation to different print-on-demand platforms.
Established Online Community
The online POD community is engaging, informative, and helpful– through Facebook forums and YouTube, especially.
I’ve found that this helps to offset the natural isolation of the ‘solopreneur’ life, adding fun, learning, and value along the way to the building of your online business. Find, and use those connections! They are another invaluable tool in your arsenal for online business success.
When you’ve found your niche– find your tribe!
To moving forward,