I get this question all the time with people who are new to online marketing. They would ask me what is a profitable business to start and how soon they can make money. To be honest, the answer isn’t always straightforward and that’s why I’ve come up with these guidelines to make the pathway a bit clearer for everyone.
Before I begin, let me elaborate a bit on the ‘profit’ side, because there are a few theories that go behind it.
Firstly, you need to offer something that people actually want to buy and can do so effectively online. It has to provide them values without having to wait too long.
Secondly, consider the selling price that’s comfortable for people to part with their money. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for customers to spend hundreds on a single purchase.
Next, you want to keep the overhead to the minimum. That’s why I always recommend to start with affiliate marketing because all you need is a functional website. Of course, there’s also the possibility of selling your own products or go into dropshipping, but both of these will incur additional cost to source for suppliers or install eCommerce solution. A lot of beginners pour money into these setups even before knowing how to market their businesses so it’s a bit risky there.
In the explanation that follows, I’ll be using ‘products’ and ‘niches’ interchangeably with ‘business’ as they more or less mean the same thing in this context. So, with those three things in mind, let me walk you through the process.
1 – Google Search
For many of us, there’s not better place to search for a topic than going to the search engines. It’s the encyclopedia of things and can usually yield specific answers if you narrow down the queries. For example, this is the results when I searched for “Profitable Online Business 2018”
The first few results are usually ads that may or may not be relevant, so I tend to look down further where there are more articles that resemble the topic we have in mind. Most of them are articles and videos that can give a good overview with links pointing to people or brands that have successfully built their businesses in respective niches.
From here, you can start to do a bit more research.
2 – Google Trend
This is actually a free tool that can be used to explore what the world users are currently searching and since it’s a visual based data, it’s much easier to understand. In order to get the most effective results, I would recommend using at least two words that are generic names to certain product types. Anything less than that, the result may be too broad or if it contains too many words, nothing will show up.
In the first example, we could see that ‘hair extension’ gets a constant high amount of search over time. That means, this trend is quite stable.
‘Polaroid camera’ on the other hand, has its ups and downs, suggesting that this is a seasonal niche. That means, market demand is likely more on other months.
Something new that’s been populating online for a while is ‘CBD oil’ and judging from the curve, this is an upward trend. That means, going into this business now can potentially generate a lot of profit in the next few months/years to come.
A downward trend like “masticating juicer” is something that you want to be cautious because after reaching a peak at some point, the popularity of the product seems to be fading off. It might still be profitable, just not on a large scale.
If you study closely, all the four products are related to evergreen niches which are beauty, health and technology that are supposedly lucrative businesses. However, within each niche, you still need to filter products that do better than others or don’t do well at all. Such selection process can save you time from promoting the wrong stuff online.
3 – Marketplace Research
Now, let’s go into the real world and see what people are actually buying. The first place I usually like to search is Amazon because it has millions of products across a variety of niches. Obviously, the choices are overwhelming, but there’s a way around it.
Try entering “best sellers in X” (X = shopping departments) on the search bar and Amazon will automatically roll out some of their popular products within a given niche. Pay attention to the prices as well as the customer reviews. You want to search for something that has good reviews and stays within the average customers’ spending zone.
The first thing that caught my eye in the electronics department is the Kindle e-Reader. It costs about $120, comes with Prime and has more than 60K reviews which earn this product a rating of 4.5/5 star. Such number of reviews can provide a ton of insights for people who are thinking of buying one and you can leverage from this information as a marketer too.
The same search technique can be repeated for other departments too, and you’d be surprised that even common items like a knife sharpener or a water float can sell for a high volume of numbers. If you are looking for something more niche specific, you could also try Etsy for those who are into arts and crafts or Home Depot for those interested in home improvement works.
Clearly, finding a profitable niche isn’t that difficult, especially in a marketplace setting. What’s more challenging is how to market them online and that’s where the next step comes in.
4 – Targeted Keyword Research
If you haven’t heard of this, it simply means finding out specific keywords that people are searching online and determining if those phrases are worth promoting or not. Now, we are really narrowing down into things here and understanding the demand and competition is how we are going to decide on a targeted keyword.
Here’s Seth, explaining the concept in layman’s term.
Starting with the Google search bar, enter the generic product keywords and take note of the suggested keyphrases that roll out automatically when you add more words, either from the front or the back. Also, if you look at the bottom of the page, you’ll find more keywords in the “Searches related to…” column too. These are all queries related to ‘drone camera’ that people are actively searching for online.
Are any of these keywords good to use for your marketing? Well, first of all, you need to select keywords that contain at least 4 words, they should make human sense and ideally, has commercial intent. Now, let’s run these 3 examples through Jaaxy, my favorite keyword tool.
The AVG column is the average number of searches per month (demand) while QSR is the number of competing websites. The rule of thumb for beginners is easy – AVG should (ideally) be more than 100 and QSR less than 100.
With the first keyword, the QSR is way over and that means, it will be a lot harder for your site to rank. The second one is actually quite good, but no one is really searching for this topic, so it’s not likely a profitable keyword to use, at least for now. The last one is the best choice and it comes with a product brand name too, so you can easily link this topic to a product page or a review.
And that’s how easy it is. If you have a niche idea in mind right now, simply enter the keywords into the plugin below and see what Jaaxy reveals.
5 – Affiliate Program Opportunities
For those who are choosing the affiliate marketing route, this is an additional step that you need to take. I mean, what’s the point of finding something that is profitable, but doesn’t reward you, right? With physical products, commission rates could vary between 2 % to 10%, while with digital products, you can sometimes expect a huge jump of profit to about 70%.
Depending on what you know so far, you could go to the merchant’s site directly and search the footer area to see if you can find a link to their affiliate/referral program page. From there, they should be able to guide you through the application process.
Or, you could also search on Google using these keywords;
- Product generic name + affiliate programs
- Product brand name + affiliate programs
And that should yield some relevant results.
Alternatively, sign up with any of these affiliate networks and search for potential products or merchants from within. They are free to join and application approval is fairly quick. However, make sure you’ve set up an affiliate website first and get some traffic going because, often times, that will be the prerequisite.
Did You Find a Winner?
Before you venture too far off, remember this. Rule of thumb – don’t select a niche simply because you’ve read or heard from somewhere that people are making a lot of money with it. Follow through with this methodology, research diligently and run them through reasoning based on facts – not fad.
Will you be guaranteed success? Of course not, but at the very least, you are making some educated guess before investing time and money into it. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to try new things. There are billions of people searching on the internet daily, so you’ll surely come across a niche you like and worth pursuing.
I hope after reading this, you’ll be excited to start a profitable business online. If you’re feeling stuck, please drop by my recommended training platform where I can offer more personal guidance.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Question – What kind of hurdles do you face when starting out and how do you overcome it? Please share your thoughts in the comment below so that everyone can also learn.
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