Find a Niche Step #1: Brainstorm Niches Based on Needs

Have you heard of this cool product called the “iPhone”?

It’s pretty popular. Apple has sold 2.2 billion units of the iPhone from its inception in 2007 to the last quarter of 2018, generating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.

How about the car called the “Edsel”?

The Edsel is considered one of the biggest product failures in history. Four billion dollars in product development costs (in current dollars) - straight into the toilet.

What do those two products have in common, and what lesson can you apply to making a good income online?

  • One product (the iPhone) zeroed in on a strong and evergreen need
  • The other product (the Edsel) ignored the needs of its audience entirely

In the words of one commentator: “Ford managers convinced themselves that they had designed a car to fill a niche that, by 1957, was no longer there”.

In this guide I’m going to explain the importance of focusing on needs when choosing a niche for your website, and how to use needs to choose a niche that will increase your chances of online success.

Let’s get into it...

Four Categories of "Need"

In my experience there are four categories of “need” that people search for solutions to online:

  • Physical needs
  • Utility needs
  • Emotional needs
  • Passion needs

Allow me to explain (1) what each need is, (2) examples of each, and (3) how to use this information to choose a niche:

1

Physical Need

A need is "physical" when a person requires a solution (e.g. a specific product) to live. Sleep disorders contain some great physical need niches.

For years, I owned websites related to sleep disorders. 

In particular, I focused on a health condition called sleep apnea (my wife had symptoms of the condition, which is how I learned about it in the first place).

When a person has sleep apnea, they briefly – but frequently – stop breathing during their sleep. This deprives their body of oxygen, leading to a host of serious health problems - and eventually death.

The standard treatment for sleep apnea involves equipment that blows air down the patient’s airway while they sleep, to keep their throat open (yes, really. See the picture above). Needless to say, many patients hate that equipment.

But there are other, simpler, solutions that can reduce sleep apnea. One of those solutions is a special pillow that encourages the user to sleep on their side (which reduces sleep apnea).

When I started promoting sleep apnea pillows on one of my sites, my Amazon earnings immediately took off. The conversion rate on my review pages was very high – because people physically needed that product to live a better life.

I instantly increased the income of one of my sites by simply placing affiliate links to pillows like this one on Amazon.

Besides maintaining health, another related physical need is the need for safety (which is also an "emotional" need, discussed below).

Here are some examples of physical/safety need niches:

  • Baby car seats
  • Baby safety gates
  • Seniors' walkers
  • Home security cameras

How to use this:

Make a list of all the products/solutions that you personally use to be healthier, to deal with a health problem, and to keep you or your loved ones safe.

2

Utility Need

Made you look. It's estimated that Amazon sold $30 billion worth of clothes and shoes in 2018.

I originally resisted including this in my list of needs, because a utility need doesn’t involve a burning desire for a solution (like a physical, emotional, or passion need does).

But then I looked at the top-selling products on Amazon.com and dug into some of the related keywords in Ahrefs.  

There are a huge number of "daily needs" products that are sold on Amazon every month, and some affiliate sites are killing it selling humdrum items like pillows and mattresses (not to mention clothing - which I find humdrum, but other people consider exciting, for some reason...). 

Sample of Amazon Product Categories with the Highest Monthly Revenue

Product Category

Est. Monthly Revenue

Sheets & Pillow Case Sets

$1.8 billion

Poster Frames

$1.8 billion

Mattresses

$1.5 billion

Area Rugs

$1.5 billion

Wall & Tabletop Frames

$1.5 billion

Jeans (yes, jeans)

$1.4 billion

Running Shoes

$907 million

Pillowcases

$748 million

Quilts & Sets

$701 million

Source: Data accessed from Viral Launch’s Product Discovery database (“Category” search)

It’s clear that the top-selling products on Amazon.com are boring, everyday items that are unremarkable but necessary in people’s lives

That point was made very clear to me when doing research for my guide on the best Amazon affiliate niches – there are a crapload of niche sites that have rapidly gained traffic by focusing on these humdrum product categories.

How to use this:

Make a list of products around your home that you use every day.

3

Emotional Need

An emotional need causes a person to lie awake at night, trying to think of a solution to a problem.

Personal finances, relationships, parenting, self-esteem - those are all issues that are underpinned by emotion.

If you've ever lied awake in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, your mind racing to try to find a solution to a problem, you probably had an emotional need that you were searching for a solution for. 

These are HUGE markets with lots of opportunity! They’re also perfect niches for info products, because they’re needs that can be met with “how to” guides (many Clickbank niches are based on emotional needs).

Here are some examples of "emotional need" niches:

  • Financial problems, like bad credit
  • Relationship problems, like marriage help and dating advice
  • Parenting
  • Career success

How to use this:
Make a list of your own emotional needs and those of your friends and loved ones, and consult guides on the top emotional needs (like this one).


Which emotional needs strike you as most severe, i.e. that people would gladly pay for a solution?

4

Passion Need

A "passion" need is typically felt for a hobby or sport. Golf is huge online and is a perfect example.

This is a need felt by people who are passionate about a topic, like hobbyists.

Have you ever met a middle-aged man who has a fully-operational model train track set up in his basement (and it’s not for his kids)? Then you’ve met a hobbyist who has a passion need. 

There are literally billions of dollars spent every year on hobbies (Forbes estimates that the “crafting” industry alone is worth $38 billion a year in the US).

Here are some of the top hobby products on Amazon.com:

Sample of Top Hobby Products on Amazon (by Monthly Revenue)

Product Name

Est. Monthly Revenue

Cricut Cutting Machine

$746,000

Singer Portable Sewing Machine

$647,000

Brother Sewing And Quilting Machine

$542,000

Yamaha P-71 Digital Piano

$453,000

Rockjam Electronic Keyboard

$413,000

Alesis Drum Kit

$377,000

Source: Data accessed from Viral Launch’s Product Discovery database (“Product” search)

How to use this: Read through lists of popular hobbies (like this one) and write down the ones that interest you.

Make Sure Your Niche Has an "Evergreen" Need

Have you ever heard of the Acai berry?

Around a dozen years ago it started being touted as a “super food” that has tons of health benefits. Then a diet based on the berry became extremely popular. Then...it kind of dropped off:

Google Searches for the Keyword “Acai diet” (2004 – 2019)

Source: Google Trends search

If you had built an online business around the Acai berry diet, you would have been laughing heartily in 2008. But the following year (as interest dropped off) you might have just been chuckling. By 2013? Grim faces all around, my friend.

That’s why, when brainstorming a niche to get into, the second important criterion to consider (after choosing a niche with a strong need) is whether or not the need is evergreen.

In other words, will the need be around in ten years?

Just like Jeff Bezos, you need to take the long view. At a press event, Bezos made a fascinating comment about focusing on “what’s not going to change”:

 Jeff Bezos says to build to a business around "things that don't change". But it appears  he's changed the size of his pipes...

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one.

I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time."

How Can You Find Niches With Evergreen Needs?

You can find evergreen niches two ways:

  • Choose a niche from an existing evergreen market
  • Run a niche you’ve already chosen through a tool that shows trends in online demand

#1 Choose a Niche from an Existing Evergreen Market

Market vs. Niche


I make a distinction between a “market” and a “niche”. A market consists of niches:


Market > Niche > Sub-niche > Micro-niche


Here’s an example using the "Health" market:

Market = Health
Niche = Dieting
Sub-niche = Paleo diet
Micro-niche = Paleo diet for busy moms

If you think about your own life, most of the activities you do on a daily basis can be grouped into a handful of categories.

And there are three categories, in particular, that dominate most people’s lives…

Three Evergreen Markets You Can Serve for Eternity

The best way to think of evergreen markets is to use a term coined by a seasoned internet marketer named Travis Sago:

Health, Wealth, and Love

Let’s briefly cover each one:

Health Niches

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80 percent of American Internet users (around 93 million people), have gone online to find health information.

What’s really interesting about the Pew is one of the findings: that people aren’t finding the health information they need online.

Here’s a quote from a Pew executive that shows you really need to start a health-related niche site:

“A lot of people aren’t finding what they need…That points to the need for better health literacy and search engines paying attention to health as (an in-depth) topic.”

Susannah Fox, Associate Director (Editorial), Pew Research Center's Internet Project

The number of people looking for health information isn’t going to change any time soon. In fact, as populations in Western countries get disproportionately old (and internet-savvy), I’ll bet the numbers continue to increase.

But if people look for health information online, do they also buy health products online? My own experience, and that of many other website owners, is a definite yes!

 Here are a few of the top-selling health products on Amazon:

Health Products on Amazon: Sample of Top-Selling Categories

Product Name

Est. Monthly Revenue

Heart rate monitors

$25.8 million

Fitness/activity monitors

$25.6 million

Multivitamins

$24.9 million

Protein bars

$22.1 million

Collagen powder

$13.3 million

Sleep supplements

$10.9 million

Source: Data accessed from Viral Launch’s Product Discovery database (“Category” search)

And there’s also strong demand for information products. For years, I sold sleep-related info products through Clickbank, and health products continue to be one of the top categories on Clickbank.

Here’s a list of health-related Clickbank info products that have been selling since 2015:

Health Niches: Sample of Top-Selling Clickbank Info Products (since 2015)

Product Name

Average Affiliate Commission

Venus Factor (fat loss)

$47.57

Younger Tomorrow (anti-aging)

$30.41

My Back Pain Coach

$31.93

Unlock Your Hip Flexors

$73.69

Organifil (green juice)

$75.87

Precision Movement

$62.36

Cure Arthritis Naturally

$41.53

Psoriasis Revolution

$37.02

Natural Insomnia Program

$41.93

Source: Data accessed from Clickbank’s Marketplace

And here are some other types of health products that sell well online:

  • Vitamins/minerals/supplements. There were $2.4 billion worth of pills sold online in 2017, and the online market is expected to grow to $12.5 billion by 2025.
  • Medical equipment, especially health/fitness monitors, and devices like walkers that allow senior citizens to “age-in-place”.
  • Health membership websites (e.g. for weight loss, muscle-building)

It’s clear that the health market will be going strong online for years to come. If you’re interested in building your online empire around health, start here:

Wealth Niches

“Wealth”, in this case, refers to our seemingly unceasing desire to make more money and improve our financial situation.

Unfortunately, there are a ton of get-rich-quick scams online (including people promising overnight riches selling on Amazon).

But if you’re interested in legitimately helping people make more money, there is a heck of a lot of demand. Consider these points:
  • Books on personal finance regularly top the Amazon.com Best Sellers list. One example: Robert Kiyosaki’s personal finance series Rich Dad, Poor Dad has apparently sold 35 million copies to date (despite one of his companies going into bankruptcy)
  • Of the 200 top-selling Clickbank products that have consistently made sales over the past three years, nearly 20% are related to making money (another ~20% are related to relationships, and ~35% are related to health. There’s that “health, wealth, and love” theme again!)
  • There are a ton of finance-related keywords that get big search volume (but are competitive):

Monthly Search Volume for “Make Money”-Related Keywords on Google.com

Source: Data accessed from Ahrefs

Come to think of it, now I understand why there are all those get-rich-quick scams online!

Besides the evergreen nature of this niche, there’s another reason why “wealth” is a compelling market: because there’s a distinct difference in the “mental accounting” that takes place before a person buys from you.

Allow me to explain:

When a person buys a product that will not help them make more money (like a car or a television), they’ll usually register that purchase as an “expense” in their minds. In other words, they see it as money down the drain.

But when people buy something that will help them make more money, that “expense” turns into an “investment”. This is how people can rationalize paying $5,000 for a weekend seminar on real estate investing, for example.

 So the “wealth” niche has at least three things that make it attractive:
  • A lot of people interested in it
  • Timelessness
  • An audience that can easily justify spending (I mean, investing) money

Love Niches

The “Love” market is more than just those ubiquitous matchmaking websites (like the $1 billion Match.com); there are hugely popular apps (hellooo Tinder), membership sites, info products, dating coaches, and more.

And the market keeps on growing. By 2020 it’s estimated that 10% of internet users will be using online dating products, or ~310 million people.

 The love market is an awesome one for selling info products, for two reasons:
  1. Many people searching in the dating and marriage niches are looking for advice – and an info product is the perfect medium for providing advice
  2. There are no degrees or formal credentials required to provide relationship - unlike the health market and, in certain cases, the wealth market. Anyone can promote themselves as an “expert” in dating, marriage, sex, etc. (of course, there are pros and cons to this!)

As mentioned in the previous section, nearly 20% of the top-selling Clickbank products over the past three years are in relationship niches – how to attract a man/woman, dating advice, marriage advice, sex advice, etc.

Here’s a sample of those info products:

Relationship Niches: Sample of Top-Selling Clickbank Products (since 2015)

Product Name

Average Affiliate Commission

Tao of Badass

$151.75

Respark the Romance

$74.60

Revolutionary Sex

$50.83

Text Your Ex Back

$38.43

Language of Desire

$34.07

Source: Data accessed from Clickbank’s Marketplace

Here are just a few of the niches that you could attack within the Love market:

  • Marriage advice
  • Dating tips
  • Sex advice
  • Physical products (I won’t describe these here – this is a family-friendly blog)

Bonus Evergreen Market: Passion Niches

There’s a fourth market that doesn’t fall into the realm of “health, wealth, and love”: passion.

Passion niches tend to be activities that groups of people have an irrational enthusiasm for, and they’re usually a hobby or a sport (although they can also be “causes” that people are passionate about).

Here are two great things about passion niches:

  • People tend to spend a lot of money on their passions
  • Passion niches are both informational and product-oriented, so a niche site that targets a passion niche can promote both info products and physical products

A few examples of passion niches that are oriented toward both info products and physical products:

  • Playing piano
  • Photography
  • Dog training
  • Woodworking
  • Golf

Want real-life examples? Below I’ve pulled together data from Amazon.com and Clickbank on some top-selling products from each of those niches:

Passion Niches: Sample of Top-Selling Info Products & Physical Products

Passion Niche

Amazon Product

Affiliate Comm.

Clickbank Product

Affiliate Comm.

Piano

Yamaha P71 Digital Piano

$24.00

PianoForAll

$22.23

Photography

Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera

$28.00

Learn Photo Editing

$20.73

Dog training

Dogtra Dog Training Collar

$20.00

Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Trainer

$98.81

Woodworking

Dewalt Table Saw

$46.00

Ted’s Woodworking

$54.71

Language of Desire

Callaway Men's Golf Set

$15.00

Stress-Free Golf Swing

$38.27

Source: Data accessed from Viral Launch’s Product Discovery database (“Category” search) and Clickbank’s Marketplace

#2 Is Your Niche Evergreen? 4 Tools to Check Historical Demand

If you already have a niche in mind, you want an objective way of confirming that it’s going to be around for years to come.

While there’s no crystal ball that can confirm a niche will exist for years into the future, there are tools that allow you to see historical trends in demand.

The idea is this: if demand in a niche has been steady for years, or steadily rising for years, it’s probably going to continue into the future. So you need tools that show demand over a period of years. Here are four:

  1. Google Trends
  2. Viral Launch
  3. Clickbank Marketplace
  4. SEMrush

Let’s dig into each one:

1. Using Google Trends to Get Niche Trend Data

Google Trends is a free online tool provided by Google that shows trends in search volume going back to 2004.


The great thing about Google Trends is that it provides data on search trends straight from the source, i.e. Google itself. It’s also awesome that you can type in a keyword and see a trend line all the back to 2004.

Note: you can’t see search trends for low-volume keywords. Trends data are provided only for “popular” keywords (although Google doesn’t say what minimum search volume constitutes a “popular” keyword).

Tip: Install the Keywords Everywhere extension for Chrome or Firefox and you’ll be able to see search volume in the “Related Queries” section of the Google Trends results page.

It’s important to understand that the graph line in a Google Trends graph does not represent the trend in absolute number of searches; it represents the change in the relative popularity of the search term.

In other words, when Google calculates the trend in searches for a specific search query, it compares changes in the search volume of that keyword with changes in the search volume for all search queries.

How to Get Niche Trend Data from Google Trends:

2.

Enter your search term. Enter the broadest term that applies to your niche, whether that be a product-based niche or a need-based niche

An example of a search term for a product-based niche could be “digital piano”; for a need-based niche the search term could be “lower back pain”.

3.

Set the geographic location. I typically leave it at “United States”, because the largest audiences for the niches I enter are in the U.S.

4.

Set the category (if necessary). You would select a specific category if your search term has more than one meaning or applies to more than one niche.

5.

Set the channel (if relevant). You would only change this if you’re interested in search trends on platforms other than Google search, such as Youtube (which would be useful info for things like content marketing). But because we’re interested in getting organic traffic from Google, we’ll leave it as “Web Search”

6.

Change the time ranges. See how different time ranges change the search trends – set the time ranges to 12 months, 5 years, and from 2004.

Here’s the trend for the term “digital piano” since 2004:

Now, you might think that trend line looks bad because it’s trended downward since 2004.

 But look at the trend line over the past 5 years:

Pretty stable. It looks like the term “digital piano” declined in relative search volume until 2013, then settled into a stable pattern over the past six years.

Notice also the extreme (and predictable) seasonality of the niche – searches really pick up in November and December, then drop down in January and stay there until the following Christmas shopping season.

So if you were to start a website in this niche (disclaimer: I’m in this niche) then understand that the bulk of your money will probably be made in the two months leading up to Christmas.

 If you prefer to watch (naughty!) check out my tutorial video:

Video: How to Use Google Trends to Research Niche Trends

Learn more

  • Ahrefs has an excellent, comprehensive tutorial on using Google Trends
  • Trends Help provides good background info on the tool

2. Using Viral Launch to Get Niche Trend Data

Viral Launch’s Product Discovery tool provides data on thousands of products in Amazon’s Marketplace, including monthly sales revenue, number of units sold, etc.

The way I used Viral Launch to find niche trend data is simple: 


I search for the most-popular products in a niche and see how well they’ve been selling.

How to Get Niche Trend Data from Viral Launch:

1.

Go to Product Discovery > Product search

2.

Choose the relevant marketplace category

3.

Click “Show Products”

4.

Sort the Product Filter Results by “Monthly Revenue” to show the highest-revenue products first

5.

For the first product on the list, click the diamond-shaped icon (when you hover over the icon, it will say “View on Market Intelligence”)

6.

On the “Market Intelligence” page, click “Market Trends”, where you can see sales trends over the past two years

This isn’t a perfect process to see trends in a niche, but it gives you a useful glimpse into how stable the top-selling products in a niche have been (on Amazon). You can also see cool – and useful – info like how many units are sold in a typical month, the price point of the best-selling products, etc.

Here’s a video of me using Viral Launch:

Video: How to Use Viral Launch to Research Niche Trends

3. Using Clickbank's Marketplace to Get Niche Trend Data

Clickbank bills itself as “one of the largest online retailers”, but what it’s most well-known for is its Marketplace of thousands of digital products that affiliates can promote on their niche sites.

I’ve been a Clickbank vendor (product creator/seller) for over a decade, and have also made some money as an affiliate for other Clickbank products.

 So I can confirm – you can make money with Clickbank!

 And you can also use the Clickbank Marketplace as a decent market research tool. Here’s how I use it.

How to Get Niche Trend Data from Clickbank:

1.

In the Clickbank Marketplace, click on “Advanced Search” (to the right of the search box)

2.

Enter a broad search term for your niche. In this case, I’ll use “piano” (“digital piano” is too narrow for the Marketplace’s search function, which sucks)

3.

Under “Gravity”, click the box next to “Show items with gravity”; choose “Higher than”; and enter the number 5 in the text box

(Note: “Gravity” is Clickbank’s metric for the number of individual affiliates who have made at least one sale of a product in the past 90 days.

A lot of gurus will tell you to go for high gravity, because it shows that a product is a winner – because a lot of affiliates are making sales. That’s wrong.

My own products on Clickbank have never had a gravity higher than 12, and one of the those products has sold over $200k – at an average price point of $60. So gravity is not the best indicator of how well a product is selling.

But it is a decent guide of whether or not a product will sell at all. Which is why I stick with a low gravity (5), to ensure that a product is making at least a handful of sales.

4.

Under “Vendor Activation Date”, click the box next to “Vendor was activated”; leave the next setting at “Before”; then choose a date sufficiently far in the past (e.g. three years ago).

The purpose of doing this is to choose products (via their vendor ID) that started selling years ago.

This is not a perfect way to measure the longevity of a product, but I know from my own experience that it’s a decent proxy. When I scan the results of this search, I see products that I personally recognize from years ago – so I know they’ve been consistent sellers.

Here’s the result I got from that search:

So the search returned two results, one that’s directly relevant (Pianoforall) and another that’s kind of relevant (Singorama).

Tip: try doing an Advanced Search using the same parameters, but without entering a keyword. That will give you a list of all of the Clickbank products that have been selling for years (or you can just check out my Clickbank evergreen niches report).

 In the video below I show you how to find Clickbank products that have been selling for years using the Clickbank Marketplace:

Video: How to Use Clickbank to Research Niche Trends

4. Using SEMrush to Get Niche Trend Data

SEMrush is paid SEO software that’s comparable to Ahrefs, in that it offers keyword research, backlink analysis, and competitive analysis tools.

Apparently SEMrush has a historical database for its keywords going back to January 2012. But I haven’t used it, because I’m a hardcore Ahrefs fanboy. (If you’ve used SEMrush’s historical database to check keyword trends, please let me know!)

Will Evergreen Markets Always Be Around?

There are many reasons why you should focus your online business on evergreen niches (including the huge traffic they get on the web), but one of the most compelling is that there will always be a demand for products in these niches.

And that means you can build a sustainable business around them.

Here are two reasons why evergreen markets will ALWAYS be around:

  • There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to the problems in these niche markets.

    If you think about it, we all have different body types, emotional problems, and financial problems. And because our individual circumstances are unique, so are the potential solutions to those problems.
  • Evergreen problems are timeless.

    As long as human beings have different metabolisms, eating habits, and exercise habits, there will always be overweight and obesity…

    As long as people are imperfect, they will always have self-esteem and relationship problems…

    And as long as our economy (and social status) is based on money, people will always want more of it.

Interestingly, Eugene Schwartz, in his classic book Breakthrough Advertising, refers to weight loss as an “old” industry. That’s not too surprising – until you remember that Breakthrough Advertising was written in the 1960s!

 So weight loss was “old” even 50 years ago – and I’ll bet the “wealth” and “love” industries were old then, too! And they will continue on into the future, until science progresses (or regresses, depending on your perspective) to the point where people become robots.

Found a Need That’s Strong & Evergreen? Broaden Your Perspective to the Audience

At this point I have to put in my obligatory plug for thinking about your site in terms of a niche audience - as opposed to thinking only about the need or the products/solutions to meet that need.

Remember that behind every search on Google or click from Facebook is a person. Ultimately, your online business is about serving people.

So once you’ve found a niche based on a need, make sure you back up and ask yourself this question:

“What is my target audience for this niche?”

All of the evergreen markets I’ve described in this guide contain many different target audiences (young mom, middle-aged white male, etc.), because most people are in need of health, wealth, and/or love help at some point in their lives.

The key to breaking into these niches, though, is to know how to position your site – and your offers - in the most targeted way.

In other words, a young mom will probably need different relationship help than a middle-aged male.

How are you going to design your website, and craft your messages, to convince your target audience that you’re the one to help them?

About the Author Moe Muise

I've been making money online since 2009 and have a passion for research. My focus is niche research: finding profitable niches, keyword research, and competition analysis, as well as creating outstanding content.

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