Picking the right niche is essential for self-publishing success. In this episode, Steve outlines his process for choosing a profitable book niche.
Thom asks, “Do you have a specific step-by-step system in place for determining the profitability of any given niche or title?” People ask Steve this question all the time. Early in his publishing career, he made the mistake of creating books based on what people were already writing about. This was a mistake because it doesn’t add much to the marketplace. Instead of doing the same thing everyone else is doing, target a specific niche and focus on providing solutions for that audience.
[Tweet “Do the 50 Questions Test and come up with topics that help your market. “]
Once you have a niche in mind, think about the problems people in that audience face. In the self-publishing niche, people want to know about writing books, formatting books, selling books, building author platforms, and using social media as a marketing tool. There are five book ideas right there. Really drill down into one niche to come up with a lot of ideas that provide value for readers.
Steve uses the following process to determine if a niche might be profitable.
- Open the Google Keyword Planner and type phrases related to your niche. You want to find at least 10,000 exact matches total, not 10,000 matches for each phrase.
- Find out if there’s any competition. It’s a mistake to find an untapped, hidden niche. You want to see that people are already making money from a topic. Look for podcasts, Amazon books, YouTube videos, blogs, and so on to show that there is a demand. Also look for affiliate products.
- Look to see if there are information buyers in the niche. Look at Udemy and other course sites to see if people are paying for courses on the topic.
- Check iTunes or Download.com to see if there are any software solutions available in the niche. Look at the number of reviews for each piece of software. The more reviews it has, the more likely it is that it sells well.
- Do the “50 Questions Test.” Try to come up with 50 topics related to the market. If you can think of dozens of ideas without stopping, you’ll be able to create a lot of content. If you struggle to come up with a few ideas, you’ll probably struggle to create content for this particular niche.
- Find people who are passionate about the topic. Check Quora, Facebook, and forums to see if people are asking questions or discussing the topic online.
A niche should fit most of the above criteria, but it’s okay if it doesn’t fit all of them. Steve couldn’t find any affiliate products for the habits niche, but it fulfilled the other requirements.
Authors should also use Amazon as a research tool. Steve uses what he calls the “30,000 Rule” to determine if a topic might be profitable. Go to Amazon, type in keywords related to your topic, and see what books are out there. Click on one of the relevant books and check its Amazon ranking. If the ranking is 30,000 or lower, it’s selling at least five copies per day. That’s enough for Steve to say it’s a good idea and move forward with it.
7 Steps to Identifying a Profitable Niche: The article where Steve describes the process he used to identify the “habits niche” as his market.
Keyword Planner: Google’s keyword selection tool
Udemy: A global community of instructors teaching courses in marketing, business, and other topics
Clickbank: Clickbank has tools for digital marketers and affiliates
Commission Junction (now CJ Affiliate):CJ Affiliate connects digital marketers with affiliates
The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed
iTunes:Apple’s digital marketplace
Download.com: Download software for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android
Mind Jogger: Productivity app
Lift.do: Goal-setting app
Quora: A place for sharing content on the Web
SpeakPipe: Submit a question to the Self-Publishing Questions podcast