In the first “installment” of the content curation course, I talked briefly about the steps to get a curated blog started.
In this installment I wanted to touch a bit on niche discovery or in plain terms: how to find a niche that may be suitable for a curated blog / authority blog.
Generally speaking, this is how “niche research” is taught (and I teach this to in my micro niche blogging courses):
- go to Amazon.com (eBay Pulse, Clickbank or what not)
- choose a popular product
- use Google Adwords Keyword Tool (or other keyword research tool) and dig up related keywords
- pick the “good” ones (based on some criteria) and move on to content creation / site building
But as far as Content Curation goes…
Ok, so maybe that’s a bit strong… but it definitely is not ideal.
When searching for suitable niches for your new blog (a curated blog / authority site) your approach needs to be NOT on keywords and products, but on finding groups of people that have a common interest.
In other words, instead of looking at products in the sports niche and finding “xyz tennis racket” you should be focusing on the tennis player!
You could even focus in on a specific sub-niche of tennis players, for instance tennis over 50 (I was going to write “over 40″ but that made me feel old so I changed it to 50… lol)
Or perhaps your interest is in scrapbooking… so instead of focusing in on the “Cricut XYZ Machine” (in case you’re wondering “Cricut” manufactures die-cutting machines and templates for scrapbooking), you want to focus on the scrapbooking enthusiast.
Or it could be that you have a big interest in movies… more specifically Chinese Cinema (like those action movies from Hong Kong).
Instead of focusing on a specific movie, you’d talk to people just like you… people who LOVE Chinese Action Movies!
Does that make sense?
In other words, you’re looking for practitioners, enthusiasts, fans of a specific hobby, sport, idea (school of thought) or whatever…
So, the first step of niche discovery is to find “pockets of people”… a “tribe” of sorts.
The 2nd step of this process is to find out whether there is a large enough tribe to speak to.
This means you need a way, or rather several methods, to find out whether your topic holds a large enough interest group.
Here are a couple of ideas you can use to gauge whether your selected niche is sustainable:
Find Active Forums / Message Boards
You can do this very simply by using sites like “BoardReader.com”, “Big-Boards.com” or “BoardTracker.com” (the latter is currently undergoing an upgrade).
Once you do your search, you see whether there are: 1. a lot of forums on the topic; 2. how active these forums are (how many active users there are and how many posts there are in the forums).
Magazines and Books
If there are magazines or tons of books on a topic, there’s most likely a large enough group of people to talk to.
I discussed how I leverage Magazines.com in a prior article on Brainstorming Ideas.
I also talked about how you can use the “Dummies Guide” books to find ideas, although that post was targeted specifically for product creation, you can use these books as a gauge of whether a niche could be sustainable. Chances are pretty good that if they went through with publishing a dummies guide, they felt there was a large enough tribe to serve.
The third and final step in this process is to look for seed keywords and search volume for this niche.
I look at the more general phrases in the niche as well as sub-niches / micro-topics by using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
So, if I was going to create a site aimed at Tennis players I’d start by typing in “tennis” into the tool (go figure).
I generally start by looking at the “phrase match” for the terms, then switch over to exact match to see how the figures vary (Exact Match volume shows me what the initial traffic “could” look like when first starting your blog).
I also have a look at these keywords by sorting them by “Global Monthly Searches”.
This will give you all of the “primary sub-niches” for your niche.
If you look at Tennis, you’ll see keywords like: tennis club, tennis racket, tennis shoes, tennis court, tennis lessons, tennis balls etc.
Obviously you will have to sort out the keywords that do not match your target market.
You can then plug these “seed keywords” into Google Insights for search and see what other keywords pop-up in the rising searches and top searches areas.
Armed with this knowledge, you can go to the next step…