Finding a Profitable Niche: 6 Essential Questions to Guide Your Research

profitable niche

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So you’ve selected an audience to serve, and brainstormed some problems faced by that audience. How do you zero in on the problems that have the greatest chance of making you a profit?

In this post I’m going to cover the key questions that I ask when researching a market. While answering these questions won’t guarantee that a niche will be a money-maker for you, filtering your ideas through them will GREATLY increase your chances of success.

So let’s jump in!

Is the Niche Large (Enough) and Stable?

Niche Size

Now, I’m not saying that “bigger is better” (correct me if I’m wrong, ladies). But when you’re just getting started in internet marketing, having some early successes is extremely important – because success breeds confidence and the will to push forward. By entering a market that is big (enough) and stable, you’ll be setting the foundation for a long-term online business.

So how many keyword searches make a niche “big enough”? That depends on one key factor: the amount of profit you make from a typical sale.

If you’re an affiliate for a product that pays a $197 commission, you’re going to need far fewer sales to make a full-time income than if you’re selling a $17 e-book (even if you’re advertising costs are much higher for the $197 product).

So the key factor you need to balance with the search volume of a niche is how much money you stand to make from an average sale.

Having said the above, if I was forced to come up with a number, I’d recommend you don’t go into a market where the top keyword gets fewer than 30,000 exact match searches per month.

When you look at the numbers that matter (e.g. % of people who will click on your organic listing or paid ad; % of site visitors who end up buying from your site), a niche that gets below 30,000 searches per month will be hard to make work, unless your average order size is large.

Niche Stability

“Niche stability” simply means that the top keywords in a niche get the same amount of search volume over a long period of time.

Here’s a concrete example. Say I’m interested in surfing in Hawaii (which I am, actually), and I’d like to start a site that specializes in surf trips to Hawaii.

************************ Start of digression ************************

How would I make money from a site related to surfing trips to Hawaii? There are a bunch of potential revenue streams:

  • Lead generation for Hawaiian surf charter companies;
  • Cost-per-acquisition revenue from local hotels;
  • Equipment sales – like surfboards – through’s affiliate program;
  • Cost-per-click revenue through eBay and Adsense

************************ End of Digression ************************

One of the first things I do when researching a niche is look at the niche’s top keywords in Google Trends. Google Trends shows you the pattern in search volume for a keyword over a number of years.

Here’s what I got for the term “surfing Hawaii”:

Click image to enlarge

Notice a couple of things here:

1.      The trend since 2004 has been a DOWNWARD one for this keyword. That means fewer people are searching for “surfing Hawaii” today than in 2004.

We could speculate as to why that is: being a surfer, I know that in the past 5 years there has been an explosion in new surf locations (such as the Maldives and the Mentawais) that were previously unknown. My suspicion is that Hawaii simply isn’t as popular a surf destination as it was before, because surfers have so much more choice these days.

2.      If you look just below the graph you’ll see “Regions”. That section lists the countries where most of the searches are coming from. In the case of the keyword “surfing Hawaii”, more people from New Zealand and Australia and typing in that keyword than people from the U.S.

From an advertising point of view, this is extremely useful information. If I did start a website on surfing in Hawaii, I would focus my pay-per-click dollars on those two countries. I would also focus my SEO efforts on getting backlinks from sites that are based in those countries (which would increase my site’s rankings on and

Is There Strong Desire in the Niche?

You’ve probably heard the internet marketing axiom “the money’s in the list”; a close second to that is “find a market that has desperate buyers”.

The benefits of serving a market that has a strong desire for solutions (or a passion for a topic) has obvious benefits. But how do you find such a niche? Here are a few things I look for:

Do people lay awake at night worrying about a problem? This question is particularly appropriate in health and money niches.

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of health problems that people face, and those problems are only going to become more widespread as the populations of developed countries age, and people in developing countries become increasingly overweight.

Are people actively searching for the solution to a problem? People may lay awake at night worrying about a problem, but if they’re not looking for solutions on the internet you won’t be able to reach them. (Unless you’re planning to lay down a few million for a Super Bowl ad 😉

Are there any Yahoo! Groups on the topic? Yahoo! Groups is one of the largest collections of “discussion boards” (i.e. forums) on the web, with around 10 million groups and 115 million users.

The existence of multiple Yahoo! Group in a niche you’re researching is a good indication that there’s passion for the topic – especially if those groups have a large and active membership.

Are People Already Making Money in the Niche?

Let me start off this one by saying this: if no one is currently making money in a niche, that does NOT mean it doesn’t have potential!

I know this from experience, because I operate in a couple of markets where I effectively have no competition (and in one of those markets, there aren’t more than one or two advertisers on Google for any of my target keywords).

Having said that, if you’re really conservative, the existence of people in the market might make you feel more comfortable, because you know that some money is already being made.

Here are some indicators that there’s money to be made in a market:

Is there a “Dummies” book on the topic? The publishers of the Dummies series of books are no dopes themselves. In fact, considering that they’ve grown their business to 200 million books in print in just 15 years, I’d say they’re pretty astute. The existence of a Dummies book is a good indicator that there’s money to be made in a market, because the publisher does thorough research into a market before deciding to launch a new book.

How many books are there on the topic? If there’s a ton of books on Amazon, chances are the topic is either really trendy or it’s an “evergreen” niche. You don’t want to build a business on a trend – what you’re looking for are the evergreen niches. Use the Google Trends tip mentioned above o figure out which category your niche fits into.

Are there products being advertised on Google? If there are lots of different products being advertised on Google in a particular niche, you know there’s a broad base of demand for products in that market. Example: in many health niches (such as diabetes) you’ll find advertisements for medical equipment, pills, information products, etc. That’s what I consider a niche with a broad base – and it’s a pie that you can carve your own slice from.

Will it be Easy to Get Traffic in the Niche?

Traffic is the lifeblood of any internet marketing business. While there are a handful of components of an online business, I think a successful one boils down to this simple equation:

Compelling Offer + Targeted Traffic = Lots of Profit

The availability of affordable, targeted traffic is also a key factor that you need to consider when researching a niche. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself related to traffic:

How hard will it be to rank for my core keywords? If you plan to promote products through your own website, you’ll want to get free traffic from the search engines as quickly as possible.

How to rank highly in the search engines could be (and is) the subject of an entire course, but here’s a quick rule of thumb: if you’re new to IM, you probably don’t want to go after keywords that have more than 50,000 exact match web pages in Google.

For a good, free tutorial on SEO, check out SEOMoz’s Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

How much will it cost me to buy paid advertising? I know a lot of people are enamoured by SEO and getting free traffic, but pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has always been my favourite way to promote products.

PPC is a VERY quick way to get traffic, and if you follow sound niche research techniques, you’ll create (or pick) a product that will convert highly – which means you’ll be able to afford to pay for traffic.

Check out this good introduction to PPC advertising.

Are there sites that you can partner with? This is one of the most overlooked sources of traffic for newbies (and, not coincidentally, one of the top traffic sources for the most successful IMers).

“Partner” sites can take the form of affiliates or JV partners. I have affiliates who promote my Clickbank products, and they’re a great source of traffic that doesn’t cost me a penny.

How Much Competition is in the Niche?

Competition is obviously a hugely important factor in researching a niche, especially if you’re a newbie to internet marketing.

As I said previously, you want to build confidence early in the game – and confidence usually doesn’t come from getting annihilated in your first market.

Here are a couple of questions you can use to explore the amount of competition in a niche:

How many advertisers are on Google? Once you’ve done a bit of keyword research for your niche, pick a handle of keywords that imply intent to solve a problem and type the keywords into

What types of products are being advertised? How many advertisers are there for each product category? Answering these questions will give you an idea of the amount of money there is to be made in a market, and how stiff your competition might be.

What is the quality of free information on If you’re planning to develop your own product, the quality of free information MIGHT be a factor in the amount of sales you make.

I say MIGHT, because many information marketers (myself included) operate in markets where there is plenty of good, free content. So why are those marketers still able to make sales? Because most people hate spending hours online searching for information, and are willing to pay to have all of the information they need delivered to them in a tidy package.

Is There a Unique Position I Can Take in the Niche?

Sometimes it’s good to be a small fish in a big pond. With “macro niches” (like weight loss, personal development, and other huge markets), it’s often possible to carve out a new and unique position. And because the niche is so huge, even a small slice can provide you with a full-time income.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking at macro niches:

– Is it possible to license an existing product and turn it into a different format (for example, turn text content into an audio or video series, or a membership website)?

– Is there a way I can “mash” two niches together, to form a completely new niche? Good (and weird) example: yoga for dogs.

– Can I solve a common problem in a way that is currently not being used in the market? Can I use the following angles to solve a problem: “insider secrets”; solutions from experts; stories of personal triumph.

Summing Up

There are literally thousands of untapped niches on the internet. Some of these are “micro” niches that have never been served by marketers. Others are “macro” niches (like weight loss and personal development) that will continue on for eternity, because there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution for every consumer.

Your challenge is this: to find a micro-niche, or small slice of a macro-niche, that you can dominate. Use the techniques I’ve outlined in this post to get started in finding one!


If this post turned your crank, you will be COMPLETELY aroused by the Niche Sherpa Video Coaching Course, which I will be launching on February 1st (but I’ll only be keeping it open for 72 hours. Then I will snobbishly close the program, like Frank Kern does).

The Niche Sherpa Video Coaching Course will include:

  • Training videos
  • Homework assignments
  • Step-by-Step PDFs
  • A members’ community (formerly known as a “forum”)
  • Some other stuff that I’m keeping as a surprise

Basically, the course will be an A to Z guide to finding a profitable niche, developing a product, figuring out the type of website to put up, and starting to get traffic.

If you’d like to be notified as soon as the Niche Sherpa Video Coaching Course is available, please make sure you’re on my email list (if you received an email about this blog post, you’re already on it).

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  1. says

    Great post Moe with ton’s of advice. One question about PPC advertising (before I go read the post you mentioned): to test an idea do you send traffic to a landing page that would have an opt-in form or would you go all in and set up a sales page for an affiliate offer and send PPC to that? Essentially I’m trying to decide if I should send PPC traffic to a landing page for my ebook or stick with free traffic sources.


    • Moe says

      Great question, Robert. Finally a question about PPC! (It seems that everyone’s into SEO these days.)

      You’re actually touching on two issues:

      (1) To test an idea (whether it be for an information product I’m thinking of developing, or an affiliate product I’m thinking of promoting), I do a PPC survey. How it works: I run a PPC campaign that leads people to a survey page. On the survey page I ask them a few short questions that get at exactly what they’re looking for in that niche. I then use that information to build my information product, or a website for an affiliate product.

      The process is far simpler than it sounds, and I have a process that lets me get a survey up in less than an hour.

      (2) If you already have an ebook to sell, you should send your PPC traffic to an opt-in form AND a sales page (that’s what I do with my information products). Here is how the process works:

      – A person clicks on your PPC ad
      – They’re taken to a page with an opt-in form
      – Once they opt in (i.e. enter their email address and click “Submit”), they’re automatically taken to your sales page.

      Between 2%-3% of people who click on my ads will make a purchase right after they opt in. Then more will make a purchase after they’ve received a few of my autoresponder emails.

      The key to make this work is (1) to know EXACTLY what your target audience is looking for, and (2) to advertise on a well-selected set of keywords.

      Hope that helps,


      • says

        Thanks for the response Moe – that’s exactly what I was looking for, and that’s really bad ass. So obvious once you said it, but obviously not as I have never heard that before.

        Me thinks you and I will need to talk some more sir. I think we can get an awesome exchange of ideas going on, as you seem to be quite scientific about this, which is my approach to a lot of it as well.

  2. Jimmy says

    Synchronicity, Moe! (I must have mentioned the word 2x already). I went over your report yesterday. Your latest post was very, very timely. Can’t wait for Feb. 1.

  3. Claude says

    Hi Moe
    Love this article a lot of good information. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve talked to you quite often (IM meetings) but this is the first time I visit your blog.
    As you know a lot of my business is done around discovering niche markets, too many people get caught up in all the fancy tools when all they really need are the free resources you mentioned in this article it’s what I always return to.

    Another free resource I like to use is the as the data I use from that resource is live. “what is happening now”

    By using some advanced search features on Google. I can search which articles are being viewed hundreds or thousands of times in one month. AND “Article Submitted On: January *, 2011” + “This article has been viewed 1000..10000 Time”

    Something like that will only return articles that have been seen over 1000 times this month you’ll notice that it’s always the bigger niche and sometimes some products that are hot.

    Anyways good luck with the launch on February 1
    I know it will be a great product.


    • Moe says

      That’s a great tip for using Google to search, Claude. Thanks a lot! I find that ezinearticles is a good place to gauge the popularity of a niche or product (in general, the more articles there are on a niche, the greater the opportunities).



  4. says

    Another awesome post Moe! Two questions, what if you receive two different results from Google Insights and Google Trends? Is that indicative of a good or bad niche? Also do you focus any attention on the load time of pages, if so do you have any quick loading WP theme suggestions?

    • Moe says

      Hi John – thanks, as always, for your compliments and great questions.


      (1) You shouldn’t receive different results from Google Insights and Google Trends (vastly different results, anyway). On both sites you can see the trend in search volume for a particular keyword, and my assumption is that both sites use the same data.

      (2) The load time of pages is definitely a factor (both for pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization), but from what I’ve read it’s not an extremely important factor. Most important is to have a site with good-quality backlinks coming into it.


  5. says

    Finally some talking some sense! Great post Moe.

    I am so glad you mentioned the importance of entering a big niche as a beginner. It seems like all the so called “gurus” always tell people the opposite “pick a small niche so you dont have to deal with too much competition”.

    I think while somewhat it may be helpful to a beginner, a bigger niche with more competition has far more advantages than a small niche with less competition. For one thing, if the niche is big enough, you are sure to get a piece of the pie with just a little effort.

    And that success, no matter how small, is the key for any future successes for beginners. It will show them its possible. It will be a strong motivational tool that will keep them going instead of giving up.

    • Moe says

      Thanks for your comment, Satrap.

      Here’s the other side of the “big niche-small niche” argument: small niches tend to have less competition. I know a lot of newbies are worried about getting killed by the competition when they’re just starting out, so I actually advise beginners to start out with a niche that is smaller and less competitive (or a sub-niche of a large niche). It’s true that sub-niches can be less lucrative, but even making a little money is crucial to gaining confidence.

      Of course, most marketers don’t do proper market research – which can give even a beginner a huge advantage in competitive niches.


  6. says

    You’ve done it again Moe.

    And I got more out of the conversation between you and Robert on PPC than I did from a lot of the actual post! Love it.

    need to bookmark this and come back a few times I think.

    • Moe says

      Thanks, Alex – I wish more people would ask about PPC! It seems to be something that terrifies newbies, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an awesome source of traffic.

      Anyhoo, looking forward to our interview!


  7. Jimmy says

    While I am eagerly waiting for your e-course, I’ve been going over some of the previous posts here. For some reason, I got to reading blogs on ‘consumer behavior’ and ‘social marketing’, and ‘social psychology’. I’d never would have thought of being interested in this sort of stuff if it hadn’t been for your blog posts. I’m thinking: there must be a link between Moe’s techniques of finding a niche audience, getting into the consumers’ heads, and the above blogs. Ok, I’ll take things one by one. First, your e-course :-)

    • Moe says

      You can’t go wrong reading blogs on consumer behavior, social marketing, and social psychology, Jimmy! But then again, I’m biased – I love that stuff.

      Marketing is fundamentally about influencing behavior – and all of the subjects you mentioned above can help in understanding how to influence behavior.

      Have you read Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, yet? If not, check out my summary of his book here (then read the book).


  8. says


    Some absolutely wonderful information on Niche sites. Well researched with tons of good links. A few ideas that had never occurred to me, but make some great sense looking at it (like seeing if there is a “dummies” book for the topic.

    An Awesome reference, thanks!

  9. Ana Ferrufino says

    I know that there are variables to take in to account but what would you say are good ball park figures for “exact match searches” and “competing pages” (in the USA market)?

    • Moe says

      You said it, Ana – there are many variables to take into account. Which I why I always hesitate to give ballpark figures.

      But if I had to, I would say that a minimum of 30,000 exact match searches per month are necessary for a good market (again, that depends on many variables, including the profit you make off each sale, the amount of competition in the market, etc).

      And in terms of organic competition, I recommend that newbies stay away from keywords that have more than 50,000 “allintitle” results. That’s an arbitrary number, though…

  10. Ana Ferrufino says

    Hi Moe

    I just read your e-book “Finding a Niche. It Doesn’t Have to be a Bitch” yet again.

    I have a few questions:

    1. You give the example of registering but the keywords you targetted were “moms jobs”, “jobs for moms”, “mom jobs” etc. Should I deduce from this that an exact match between targetted keyword and domain name isn’t essential, so long as the keywords are in there somewhere?

    2. Is it an SEO advantage to have the keyword at the front of the domain name?

    3. You chose this niche, keywords and domain name despite there being an almost 100% Advertiser Competition. What was your reasoning?

    4. Other niche marketers use a system of calculating the average PR of the top competitor sites in a niche. Do you also evaluate the quality of competitors as well as the quantity?


    • Moe says

      Hi Ana – great questions. Here are some quick answers:

      1. When choosing a domain name, having an exact match with your target keyword will usually give you a little boost in terms of organic rankings. The other keywords you mentioned were keywords I would target for specific pages of my site.

      2. I’ve read that it’s an SEO advantage to have the keyword at the front of the domain name, but haven’t tested it myself.

      3. By “100% Advertiser Competition”, I assume you mean the level of competitiveness that shows up in the Google Keyword Tool. That metric refers to how competitive pay-per-click advertising is for a particular keyword. I usually don’t pay attention to PPC competition when determining how hard it will be to rank organically, and am not sure if there’s any connection between the two.

      4. I don’t factor in Page Rank when looking at organic competitiveness. I have a few sites that have a PR of 1 or 2, and yet they rank higher than sites like WebMD and (which have PRs of 7 or 8). To me, PR is not a useful indicator of competitiveness.

      Hope that helps,


  11. says

    As always Moe, great responses. Got time for a few more? :)

    This is a block for me – I see niches that have low quality/quantity competition and, invariably, when I check them out there are 5, 6 or 7 huge, well-established sites that are dominating the whole niche. What would you do?

    There is one other thing that annoys be about the concept of niche marketing – the time it takes! I’ve spent HOURS going through prospective niches and, so far, every one of them is a negative. How long does it take to find a profitable niche?

    Last question for now… (cheeky one) Outsourcing – do you have any intention to of letting us see your instruction manuals and process maps that you give your outsourcees? Again, for a full-time mom designing these things is an impossible task – all the niches will be taken by the time I finish them!!!

  12. says

    This post makes me more determined in improving my adsense earnings since I only earned very little these days figuring what niche to pursue aside from all around blog that I have. Can you take a look at my blog and advise what I’ve missed?

  13. Vince says

    “I’d recommend you don’t go into a market where the top keyword gets fewer than 30,000”
    I’m not 100% sure what you mean with top keyword.

    Is that the main keyword you want to rank for or is it just the main top level ‘group’ of keyword?

    Let say you want to create a niche called ‘bodybuilding programs for men over 50’. Do you mean that this keyword has to have at least 30K exact searches per month? or is it the word ‘Bodybuilding’ that must have at least 30K exact searches per month?

    • Moe Muise says

      By top keyword I mean the highest-volume keyword. But it depends on the type of keyword – a “buyer” keyword could get far fewer searches and be very valuable.


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