Why do we need a niche? Why not create an “Everything about golf” website instead of targeting something more specific? More topics = more traffic = more money, right?
Yes and no.
Sites like Mashable, Buzzfeed and Lifehacker cover a huge range of topics and rake in the cash because their “shotgun” strategy. But they have big budgets to hire website developers, writers, and social media managers. These articles are not written by experts, and published just to meet a deadline. The readers are savvy to this, as demonstrated by some recent articles I read about craft beer on Buzzfeed and Business Insider.
I’m a home brewer and know quite a bit about craft beer. After reading these articles, I immediately knew that they was not written by someone who knew what they were talking about, and comments on the post reflected my own feelings.
Buzzfeed and Business insider got what they wanted – their money comes from ad revenue so they just want views, and don’t care if readers like what they see or not. If I hate it and share it with my friends to tell them how stupid it was, these guys still make money!
This is NOT the way to build a trusted brand. I would never buy a ‘how to brew beer at home’ guide from these websites. They need tens of thousands of views to make money from ad revenue on those cheesy articles. As affiliate marketers promoting specific products to a targeted audience, we can make money much more efficiently than the big guys.
The point is, we pick a niche is so that we can develop specialized knowledge on a very specific topic.
Knowing a lot about one thing is much better than knowing a little bit about everything. By becoming an expert, or trusted source of information, people will buy stuff through our site based on our recommendations.
Pare away the competition
Another reason is simply to pare away the competition. You are starting at ground zero here, with nothing on your website. You’ll also be doing all the work yourself. How can you expect to compete with a website that’s been around for a decade and has 1000’s of articles and loyal fans? You can’t.
So we target a very small audience to make our job more manageable.
The extremely specific articles we write make it easier to rank in search engines, and build traffic slowly over time. Once we start gaining traffic from those low traffic, low competition articles, we can begin to expand into broader topics.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to focus on a specific group of people is so we know who we are talking to!
Let’s look at bodybuilding for example. Though you might think of this as a single group of people, there are actually competing subgroups within this arena.
Some guys want to build muscle mass. They love being the biggest guy at the gym and want nothing but ‘gains’ (slang for gaining muscle mass).
There are other guys that want a ‘cut’ physique, and could care less about size. They want to look good in a tank top and be beach-ready all year long. They don’t care about gains, as long as they get the girls.
If you create a website about bodybuilding, who are you talking to? If you write an article about how to gain weight fast, the beach body guys won’t care. If you write an article about how to lose body fat fast, the muscle dudes will worry about loss of muscle mass.
You could even break it down further to ‘natty’ (natural) or ‘juicing’ (steroids) techniques. Include men vs women, and now we have several possible audiences to target our website to.
- natural bodybuilding gains for men
- safe steroid use for bodybuilding women
- lifting techniques to improve physique
- bodybuilding for strength
How targeted you get depends on your level of interest or expertise in a topic, as well as how big of project you want to take on. It’s also nice to leave yourself some elbow room for growth. Doing something like “free-weight gym exercises for women over 50 to gain strength” might be limiting if you run out of exercise routines to talk about.
But ‘strength training for women over 50’ leaves you possible room to include topics like home gym equipment, supplements, human biology, exercise mentality, and so on.