Wrong Market = Empty Bank Account

written by BlogEx on April 15, 2008 in Blogging and Internet Marketing and Mistakes with 14 comments

Sometimes knowing what not to do is as good as or better than knowing what you should do. This post will hopefully be one of those cases for you…

Do you know one of the top reasons why people don’t make money online?

I’ll tell you. They pick the WRONG market!

Not all niche markets are good business ideas for websites. It’s not that big of a deal. This is the internet, and not everyone in the world is out to make money from their website. Some would rather spend 20 hours a day writing content about rare tropical birds and they could care less if they make a dime from their effort.

The problem arises when you DO want to make money online, and then you decide to spend 20 hours a day writing about rare tropical birds even though it’s almost impossible to make money from that topic.

Don’t Fall In Love With A Topic

I get lots of emails from readers of this site asking for advice about their website or how they can make money, etc. It’s fun because I like to help people as much as I can, but unfortunately the majority of the emails I get go something like this:

Hi Max,

I want to start a website on nature trails (or fill in any hobby here). My family loves to go hiking and there are not enough good websites out there that show where the best nature trails are. My plan is to build a massive resource of the best nature trails in the United States. I want to quit my job and earn my living from this website because nature trails are my passion. I think I can sell calendars with nature trail photos to make money, as well as charge for advertising.

Can you give me any advice to make this happen?

Here’s my advice…don’t do it!

If you want to create a hobby website based on your passions, by all means go for it. If you want to make money on the internet, you absolutely MUST pick a topic that is proven to make money. The amount of money you want to make depends on which topic you pick. The more competitive the topic is, the more money there is to be made.

There’s a reason why you don’t see any advertisers in google for the search term “tropical birds”. It’s because nobody is making money on that topic. If there was money to be made, someone would be advertising for those keywords. Also, what makes you think you can sell advertising on your website if google doesn’t even have any advertisers for this topic?

So that’s one very important lesson when researching a profitable website topic, there has to be people advertising in that market. Let’s take a look at the search phrase “make money” in google. If you click that link, you’ll see there are more than 1,000 advertisers paying for that phrase! Do you think someone’s making money in that niche market?

A huge mistake I made when first starting out was thinking if there were no advertisers in my market, then I would step in and clean up since I would get all the traffic and the traffic would be cheap. And I was right. I WAS able to BUY 2000+ clicks per day in google adwords for the phrase “baby names” at just $0.05 per click. Lots of traffic, cheap traffic, but at the end of the day I was spending $100 a day and not making any money in sales.

Want to know how to find the best niche markets? It’s simple…you steal the research of the experts.

Ok, maybe stealing isn’t the right word, but using their data that is freely available to anyone online can save you a lot of time and headache.

Here’s what you do…

Go to About.com and click on Browse By Topic (or click here to go straight there). About.com is a major information publisher who makes their money by writing about profitable content. So much so, that About.com was acquired by The New York Times for about $410 million in cash back in 2005! Do you think they know what they are doing?

You can be pretty certain if About.com covers a topic, then that topic will likely be a good potential business to start. About.com is written by “guides” and these guides are paid based on how much their content makes for About.com. I’ve read somewhere that there are some guides for About.com that make over $100k per year writing content!

Just looking at the topics listed under the letter N, I see at least 5 topics that could all be a profitable website businesses.

– Nascar
– Needlepoint
– Newlyweds
– Nutrition
– New York City Travel

Picking the topic itself is only one piece of the puzzle though. It also depends on what you do with the topic. For example, if you picked Nascar from above, most people would see that topic and immediately come up with a website idea such as starting a fan club site for a specific driver. Or maybe they would want to write a blog about their views of last week’s Nascar race.

Those ideas to me, are hobby sites that you could do for fun, not for profit. If I were to tackle the Nascar market, I would focus on where the money is. Things like selling the Nascar racing gear, partnering with and promoting the “nascar experience” driving schools, brokering ticket sales for races, or even creating Nascar getaway vacations and sell travel packages including hotels, tickets, pit passes, etc.

What about a monthly membership where you interview one Nascar driver each month by asking the driver questions that were submitted by your members. (note – it’s not as difficult to get interviews with celebrities as you might think, especially if you have a “business” in the industry such as your nascar website.)

One thing you always need to keep in mind if you want to make money from a website is “How is this going to make money?”. That MUST be your first question when doing market research. Without knowing where the money is coming from, you will be driving your business without a map.

You can’t just assume your website idea will be supported by enough advertisers to let you quit your day job.

I just remembered a great quote (I can’t remember who said it), but it’s a perfect fit for this post. It went something like this:

“What does it take to have a successful restaurant, great tasting food or cheap prices?”

Answer – “neither, I just need a crowd of starving people!”

In other words, I think people sometimes get caught up in all the nitty gritty details about starting an internet business. They get so sidetracked on SEO, pay per click, article marketing, etc, rather than just focusing on finding the starving crowd of people and giving them what they want.

When you are able to find these starving markets, it’s so much easier to make money from your website.

Think about it…if you were starving and there was only one restaurant within 50 miles of you, would it matter than the restaurant is charging $15 for a cheeseburger?

That’s the difference between being in the right market (making lots of money) and being in the wrong market (with an empty bank account).

Make sense?