I've done a lot of “make money online” courses over the past decade. A lot. Probably more than 50. In all, there are probably less than 10 that I liked. I currently only recommend 2 with enthusiasm.
99% of these courses give out one piece of advice that I strongly disagree with. That bit of advice derails a lot of newbies to the space, and I think a lot more people would see success if they ignored it.
You'll hear it over and over again that you need to pick the “right niche” to make money because not all niches are good. This is WRONG in my opinion, and I'll dig into why right now.
Why Any Niche Blog Idea Can Make Money
Any niche idea can make money because people literally buy everything online. By literally, I mean, literally. You can buy everything online.
If people buy something, you can sell something. It's not like 20 years ago when the only thing you could buy were some digital products. People are buying groceries and custom suits online now!
So why on Earth would you limit yourself to some kind of formula telling you what's profitable and what's not. You can make anything profitable if you connect the right product to the right audience.
Too often I've seen people get stuck in the same old niches like camping or dog toys because they were too scared to branch out on their own and pick something unique. They just followed the instructions and want to do a tester site to see if affiliate marketing works, and then they'll get serious.
Bad idea. Pick something fun. Pick something you love. Pick something you'll stick with because it's interesting even though you aren't making money because it's going to be a bit before you start actually getting some monetary feedback on your front-loaded effort.
At the very least, even if there aren't any affiliate opportunities in a niche, if you care about something, there's probably 10,000+ other people who care about the same thing and are talking about it online. Is there anything in the world where people talk about it in real life, but for some reason don't engage with it online?
So in a worst case scenario where you cannot promote any good affiliate products, you can still make money from display ads. From there, you can expand into closely related topics that may have affiliate opportunities (see below), or you could even explore creating your own product in the space.
For someone creative and passionate enough, there's always an angle for making money. You may need to get creative, but that's the point of picking something you care about.
If you hate camping, you aren't exactly going to get excited about writing snow camping guide, then running YouTube ads about it. If you care a lot about beekeeping and don't see any good affiliate programs, maybe you'll get inspired to run your own beginner beekeeping course on Teachable or similar service.
How To Turn A Bad Idea Into A Good Idea
One of the key points of this framework that any niche can be a good idea is that your initial idea may not be perfect. If you are not confident in your niche, or do some research and find some potential issues, here's what I recommend you do.
Think about the core of what your idea is about. What is the basic element that interests you and other people, then investigate and ideate from that point.
The most famous example of a “dumb niche idea” is underwater basket weaving. This is a non-existent hobby, so using this as a niche idea is basically a straw man argument, but whatever, we can still use it anyway.
Hypothetically, let's say that this was your fantasy hobby and you want to make a niche site about it. After a few months, you kind of run out of ideas, and in your research, you see that there's not a lot of affiliate opportunities either. Is your site dead? No.
Consider what it is that really inspires you about the hobby. Is it the hand crafted basket weaving? What other types of basket making could you include on your site? Is it the underwater sports? What other unique water activities do you enjoy?
From there, you can tweak your site to be more about unique basket weaving techniques or weird water sports. You've broadened your idea to something more viable.
Maybe you go down the basket weaving path and run into another road block. You've learned the basics of many types of basket weaving, and are kind of bored by the more technical things. They're too hard, and you don't want to become a super expert at basket weaving.
Are there other handmade crafts you enjoy? Are there other traditional craft making techniques you want to learn? You could explore those ideas and tweak your niche again.
Your niche doesn't have to be perfect at the start. Hopefully at some point early in the path you have your “aha” moment, and figure out a niche that is both specific AND has long term prospects. It may take some weeks, or it may take more than a year. It just depends on your own mind and how much you think about the life of your business.
I KNOW that people are making tons of money with sports blogs. I KNOW that people are making tons of money with craft blogs. Your successful niche affiliate website will land somewhere between the broad topics of spots and crafts, and the narrow topic of underwater basket weaving.
Ultimately, it's up to you to figure out where it's going to land.
How to Know If It's Actually A Bad Idea In the First Place
I know it freaks people out to actually take action on their idea without first “checking in” with an expert. Nobody wants to waste time, right?
Realistically, you can't know if your idea is good or not until you try, but that kind of tough-love motivation doesn't work on most people, so I have a couple of rules of thumb to share to know if your idea is good (for you), or if you should try something else.
Your idea is probably not great if:
- You think of ideas or start writing articles and you get bored
- You are constantly looking at one specific website to copy them and their success
- You're already thinking about selling this site to earn a profit so you can start on something else you really want to do instead
Basically, know yourself.
If you haven't even gotten started yet and you're already bored, looking for an exit, then you are in the wrong space. Work sucks, so it may seem like life is just like that in general, but keep in mind that the world of blogging is infinite. You can literally do anything you want because there are no limitations online.
Your idea is probably great if:
- You start writing down future ideas and come up with more than a few without thinking too hard
- You can imagine yourself research, writing, and thinking about this topic even after 10 years
- You enjoy talking to other people about this topic
Do something that excites you. Building a business isn't always an easy thing to do. You're going to get frustrated and want to quit at some point. If you're just in this for the money you'll probably quit when the going gets tough. If you at least have an interest in the topic you'll most likely stick it out despite the hurdles you run into.
Why Everyone Is Working Real Hard To Tell You The Opposite Of What I'm Telling You
Now if you buy all that, the interesting question is why is everyone saying the opposite?
I think in most cases, they don't have diverse enough experience blogging, so they haven't proven themselves wrong.
I've been blogging for a long time. I've built over 100 websites in different niches. I've broken rules and been successful over and over again. For every “rule” out there, I've seen it proven wrong by doing the opposite of what standard advice is.
What I've come to realize is that a lot of rules people follow in the blogging space are just things they learned from someone else at some point in time, and they've never take the time to actually test out the rule. In fact, there are sooooooo many variables to consider when looking at how search engines rank things and how each niche topic is infinitely different from the next, that it's probably impossible to have a hard-fast set of rules that apply to all niches in all situations, all the time.
There are just as many exceptions to the rule as there are examples of the rule working, which basically means there are no rules.
Something can be true, but that doesn't mean that the opposite isn't true as well. If tell a dog, “sit” and he sits, you could say that the dog understand the word, “sit”. If you haven't told the dog any other words, then you don't know if he really understands that one word, or if he's responding to some other kind of context, like the tone of your voice.
I'm not saying that you can make money with your underwater basket weaving blog. I'm not saying that there are not some general guidelines you can follow for head in the direction for success. I am saying the idea that there are a limited number of profitable niches out there is just pure insanity. Stop listening to these people.