Day 2 - Choosing a Niche & Direction

Ryuzaki

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#1


This is possibly one of the most frustrating steps you'll take when it comes to building a business. Not because it's difficult, not because it's complicated. It can be overwhelming to feel like everything hinges on this one decision.

And truly it does to some degree, but I've got some tips for you to ensure that you don't box yourself in and screw yourself over. The last thing you want to do is find yourself a year down the road having maxed your growth potential in a niche that's only worth $300 a month.

Things to Consider BEFORE Choosing a Niche

At this point in the game you aren't married to anything yet. This is the best chance to actually sit down and consider the topic from yesterday's guide. There are some critical questions that will direct you in the right direction if you can answer them honestly:
  • What are you passionate about that you are also skilled at that also has gobs of cash flowing through it?
  • What are your short-term goals and long-term goals?
  • What resources, assets, and skillsets do you have to leverage?
Let's look at each of these questions individually:

Determining Which Niche Meets the Criteria of a Good Choice


This image above is a classic about going into business. People screw up and choose a niche that only covers two of the main circles all of the time.

Starving artists are happy but poor. They're really good at painting in the impressionist style and love doing it all day! Too bad nobody buys from an unknown artist and you only get recognition after you die, if at all.

I made the wrong choice once and abandoned it while all of my college friends accepted the jobs. All of them became depressed, overweight, and eventually quit the job. One of them is hanging in there and isn't overweight, but he's definitely depressed. We were good at it, and it made lots of money, but it was ridiculously boring.

Blunder #1: Thinking Small, Thinking Selfishly, & Boxing Yourself In

Here's the typical thought process of someone falling into Blunder #1.

"What do I love? I love money, so that covers all niches. But I'm going to choose the one that makes ridiculous amounts of money, such as selling wind turbines! I don't know jack shit about wind turbines, but I'll learn or pay someone. I know I can't compete with Westinghouse or whoever makes these giant ones, so I'll sell small wind turbines for people to put on their roofs! Yeah! Which keyword should I choose... boom, I got it. "SmallRooftopWindTurbines.com." We in business now."​

The number of problems with this scenario will compound and crush you before you even start. The first problem, this person not only has no passion for wind turbines (no, passion for money will not replace passion for the topic), he knows nothing of wind turbines, and he assumes people will buy small rooftop wind turbines. Then he bought a ridiculous domain instead of branding himself in hopes of getting an SEO shortcut. He never checked to see if anyone manufactures and advertises for these, nor is he ready to float the cost to set up shop and have them built. He didn't validate the niche at all.

Solution to Blunder #1: Don't Choose a Niche, Choose a Vertical

You don't have to validate the big verticals. Health, Wealth, Diet, Fitness, Finance, Automotive, Entertainment, etc... We could go on and on. That's what you choose and that's where you start. These industries generate billions upon billions of dollars annually.

Now instead of having to dominate the teeny tiny wind turbine industry to get ANY slice of the pie, you can get 1% of the pie and ball out of control. That's much easier.

What our pretend thinker above should have done was choose the Green Energy Vertical. Then he should have come up with a brand name that encompassed the entire vertical, such as WeeGreen.com. His site focuses on going green, reducing your impact on the environment, and getting off the grid as much as you can by generating enough energy for your own home using small, accessible types of technology!

Because now, when he realizes tiny wind turbines aren't going to make any money, he could easily pivot right on over to small solar panels. Badabing badaboom. He can change all of his wind turbine content into informational authority content and not worry about selling it at all.

By starting large with a unique angle, you never trap yourself. You'll have infinite room to pivot and promote and expand.

Understanding Your Goals and Choosing a Vehicle That Can Take You There


Let's peek into the mind of our pretend entrepreneur again:

"My short term goal is to generate as much money as I can as fast as I can using any means necessary on my website. I'll write and buy a ton of content, I'll spam that content, and I'll get tons of visitors clicking on my ads! Then after I'm earning money like that, I'll introduce the eCommerce side where I sell my own white-labeled products and I'll have a huge bonafide business."​

Blunder #2: Having Mutually Exclusive Short & Long Goals

Our friend here has zero foresight. He wants to create a micro-niche website on an exact match domain, spam it for advertising, and then sell products. Let's give him the benefit of a doubt and say that he does rank for a ton of terms and starts making $3,000 a month. Cool, not bad.

Now he's ready to source his products and sell them. So he spends all the money he's been saving on 100 units of tiny wind turbines, and stores them in his garage. He builds the store on his site, but can't understand why he's not getting sales... then it dawns on him... people are leaving his website to buy the same product from his competitors, and he's advertising for them! So he pulls down the Adsense blocks.

A month goes by and he's starting to sweat, but finally his first sale comes in! He just made a $50 profit on one sale, and that used to take him 25 clicks. Glory day. Despite his non-branded EMD MFA domain, he starts getting sales due to his rankings. He's up to 10 sales a day and kicking back enjoying his new $15,000 a month profit instead of $3,000.

He's planning a nice vacation to Hawaii when he wakes up to find Google slapped him with a manual action for spam links. He removes as many as he can over 3 months and disavows the rest. He's making no cash during this time so he's extremely happy when the penalty is lifted. But now he's literally got zero do-follow links pointing to his site. He just wasted 3 months of time and is sitting on a garage full of product.

Solution to Blunder #2: Having Goals Based on a Focused Business Plan

If your goals are:
  • Short-Term: Money
  • Long-Term: More Money
...you can kiss it goodbye. Sure, our guy had a business plan, but it wasn't focused and it was built on faulty, risky thinking. He tried to turn a scheme into a business. Scheme away all day, but see it for what it is. Separate your knuckle-head money grabs from your actual business.

Your goals should be focused on actionable, definable, and measurable steps set within the parameters of your business plan. Try something like this...

  • Short-Term: Create and populate my new business' website with 500 pieces of content that cover the entirety of the Green vertical. Make sure each mentions my unique "Wee" angle and links into the product review category. This product category will include a review for every relevant product plus secondary products I can find. I will establish relationships with these vendors and set up a commission based earning system by month 6.
  • Medium-Stretch: Now that the static portion of my business is complete, I will create a blog and hire two writers to post 3 articles a day to keep things fresh and entertaining. I will use these silly articles to dominate my vertical on social media. I will grease my competitors and bloggers in the industry through blog comments and social media contact and guest post on their sites to rank better and siphon their fan and customer base. I will create a user-generated-content section and invite anyone and everyone to share their progress and show off their purchased products. I'll hold contests with prizes for the best voted and highest trafficked submission. This is how I plan to expand my reach and become a brand people can return to.
  • Long-Term Goal: Realistically I believe I can generate one million page views per month and funnel that down to a 2% conversion rate. At 20,000 sales a month with an average of $30 commission per sale, my business will generate $600,000 in revenue per month. Depending on how the market is reacting to small green tech at this time, I may create my own line of products to increase my ROI, or I'll consider liquidating the business to a competitor for no less than $15,000,000 and 5% equity.
Now that's sensible and actionable and based on market research and confined to a consistent business plan. They are S.M.A.R.T. goals.

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Relevant
T - Time-Bound

Obviously, you can't flesh out your goals that in-depth yet, but the concept will guide you along as you read and think about the next section where we'll talk about choosing a direction.

Summary:

- Don't pick a niche. Pick a vertical (meaning it's huge and contains billions of dollars).
- Pick a vertical that you have passion for and a complementary skill set and knowledge base.
- You can tackle one sub-niche at a time within this vertical-wide business to create a footing.
- Have a self-consistent plan and S.M.A.R.T. goals.


Choosing a Direction Within Your Vertical


As mentioned, don't even feel like you have to choose a vertical yet. You definitely won't be choosing a direction yet either.

What do I mean by "direction?" You remember how our guy above made himself unique by talking about small and accessible tech for home owners? You need an angle that helps you become a signal in the noise, and that's part of what direction is. Your angle will help you define the entirety of your direction, which also includes your game plan towards domination.

Direction: Your unique angle that supports your product by giving it a marketing edge.​

Your product may be an actual physical product, a digital product, a service, content and information, or anything else that is capable of generating revenue.

Your task includes choosing a vertical that meets the criteria, finding a product within the vertical you can properly manage, creating a unique marketing angle, and promoting it to victory.​

Now listen. You won't get this done in one sitting. You'll need the guidance of tomorrow's topic, Market Research, to validate your product and angle. You might come up with an amazing angle that your demographic rejects and resists because you weren't aware of some random quirk in the culture.

Today is a thought experiment. Practice writing down as many ideas as you can. They don't have to be viable or even within your specific vertical (you should be able to choose a vertical today.) Focus on creativity and being able to generate ideas first. Then after tomorrow's guide, you'll be able to sit down and make a decision. You may need to put a week or two in between day 3 and 4. That's okay. This is no portion to rush.

You won't bog down that hard though, because I'm going to throw some tips at you to help you along.

How to Generate Ideas & Knowing Which to Discard

Your first step towards becoming a successful business owner and operator is to reprogram your brain. You need to step out of the mindset of a consumer and into the role of a producer. As a producer, look at what other producers are doing. Products and niches are all around you.

  • Get those flyers out of the newspaper.
  • Go walk through the mall and various shops.
  • Browse Amazon's main categories and look at the best sellers.
  • Go look at Flippa and see what kind of sites and ideas other people in your shoes are pumping out.
  • Browse the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  • Think about activities you enjoy and the products you must own to successfully engage in them.
  • Think about some complex topic everyone needs to know that you understand very well and can simplify.
  • Copy someone else and bring a new angle to the table while doing everything else better.
  • Look at Quora.com and forums and see what kind of questions people are asking.
If you've done this with a pad and paper, you've got a giant list of potential niches to tackle in various verticals (while leaving room for expansion!).

Here's the thing. The world doesn't need another plush toy. It doesn't need another line of urban clothing. There are giants in the obvious niches that you aren't going to take down...

UNLESS...

Identify and Solve the Pain Points

You can identify the weakness. You want to find the chink in the armor that you can stab through. Where is that missing scale on the dragon? Where is the gap in the industry that you can slide into?

To answer these questions, you have to immerse yourself momentarily in the consumer side of the industry. What are people bitching and moaning about? What are the pain points in their lives or concerning the products they purchase? You solve those problems for them, make their lives easier by removing suffering or inconvenience, and you're in like Flynn.

However, don't assume you're some kind of idiot savant who looked at a vertical for 10 minutes and is suddenly seeing with a clarity never before had.

Watch Out for Red Flags In Your Ideas


Take this idea for instance...

Vertical: Health
Niche: Medical
Sub-Niche: Nursing
Pain Point: Encountering & Disposing of Biohazards
Cha-ching! Nurses everywhere hate treating patients with communicable and life altering diseases when it comes to using syringes. The danger is poking yourself after being finished. Right now they have carefully place the cap back onto the needle and then throw it into a biohazard container on the wall, which is full of other needles with and without caps. Danger everywhere!

The solution to this problem is this little device I just created in my head of spring-loaded, self-retractable needles. Boom, and they only cost 5 cents to manufacture. We offload that cost, plus stocking and shipping to the hospitals, who offload it to insurance companies, who offload it to the consumer. We mark each unit up for a 100% ROI, sell a two million of them per day, and we are making an easy $100,000 per day after expenses! I'm rich, bitch!

Not so fast, hot shot...

Hospitals aren't about to complicate their lives by buying these, spending money to train their employees how to use them, on top of regular disposal training! They'd have to justify the expense to the insurance companies, and they'd eat costs on private pay patients who can't pay. They don't care if their nurses contract the bird flu, because they already offer them insurance packages as it is. And if they get a long-term illness, the nurses will get treated at the hospitals and the doctors will get a kick-back from selling the newest, hot-off-the-expensive-R&D-table pharmaceutical treatment.

Nice try. In a world that isn't broken you'd be a hero, saint, and billionaire.

Conclusion

Looking for red flags is a part of really thinking through the psychology of your demographic, the acumen of your potential competitors, and the moral orientation of those in control of the money you're going after.

But a red flag isn't the only reason you should discard an idea. Problems exist everywhere, and while you'll never encounter the perfect situation, you can minimize your risks intelligently.

Tomorrow we will show you how by walking you through conducting Market Research.
 
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#2
Mommy Bloggers seem really good at this naturally. They are in big verticals (Parenting, Fitness, Cooking), but always have some smaller angle. I've seen blogs about protecting babies' heads who have misshapen skulls; cardio, weightlifting, and motivation for anorexic girls; and cooking on a budget while being vegan plus eating fish. I made that last one up. But they always inject so much personality into these angles too. They are the perfect models to base ourselves on. I've seen some that keep the personality in the blog itself that runs more like a diary, and then they have other categories that are the authority site style where they can expand without losing their core audience.
 

Andrewkar

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#3
Hmm...

I have a bit different problem right now, and that is going local (my country) or global (English internet). And I'm totally lost at the moment because there are some great cons and pros to both ways. It would be perfect to go in both directions simultaneously but I figured out this is impossible, not now at least.

English market is huge but competition is fierce (also more sophisticated I guess). My local market is much smaller but competition isn't that strong.

Earning in $ seems like a better idea than earning in my local currency (we don't have euro, and won't have any time soon). But there are probably some benefits to earning in my local currency as well.

If I want to do something really BIG than global internet seems like the only way to go (and I'm actually more into something fucking HUGE). On the other hand, it could be better to get dirty in the local market first and get some scars before going global war.

Another thing, English isn't my native language and so it might give me some extra problems while creating content. Solution would be to hire natives to check and eventually polish my content (I've done that before and it was working fine).

Also a number, diversity and quality of offers for global market is a wayyy better than those for my local market. If I go locally I will be limited to one or three shops with dietary supplements (they are dominating market) and some "snake oil" offers (that I won't touch anyway).

So, I'm on the fence and so any suggestions or experiences are welcome guys (and gals :wink: )
 

Ryuzaki

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#4
This is an intriguing question. Here's what I'm thinking...

I said in the OP specifically not to think small or box yourself in. But I also talked about having short-term, middle-term, and long-term goals. Which leads me to say...

It would be perfect to go in both directions simultaneously
The quote above... I would agree but I'd add a few details.

I would create two separate sites, one in English and one in your local tongue.

The English one, I'd get the site installed and designed and populated with the minimum amount of content. I wouldn't worry about traffic. I'd go about getting the dead easy links that every brand should have (that is mentioned in Day 8... that link will activate in less than 12 hours!). Then I'd let the domain, content, and links age. This is you setting the stage and taking advantage of time in the algorithms.

Then I'd crush the local language site completely. I'd build it, promote it, optimize it, and gain insight into this demographics mindset. It'll translate to the English demographic. Once you maximize this site in terms of earnings and links, give yourself a sitewide link to your English "Sister Site".

If I want to do something really BIG than global internet seems like the only way to go... On the other hand, it could be better to get dirty in the local market first and get some scars before going global war. English market is huge but competition is fierce... My local market is much smaller but competition isn't that strong.
What you'd be doing is what I talk about in Day 5. You'll dominate one portion of the landscape first before you expand out horizontally. In this case, it's like you're building a small outpost that will bring in resources (money, links) and ship them back to your main castle (the English site), along with intel that you've collected.

Your monetization options are limited? Good in this case. Less to sort through when it comes time to optimize, as long as the options are reliable (not going to shut down on you in six months, etc.) The local niche sounds smaller and less competitive, the perfect place to start your domination. Then you parlay that into the bigger play, completely condoned by Google. Nothing wrong with Brands having more than one site as long as it's out in the open with nothing shady happening.

Another thing, English isn't my native language... Solution would be to hire natives to check and eventually polish my content (I've done that before and it was working fine).
At this point, you wouldn't even need to write the content. You could use Google Translate to switch it to English and then have someone who knows the niche and English to rewrite it from the translation. You'd have the resources to pay someone to do all of this at this point. Give them a list of your URLs and tell them to drop each one in the translator and rewrite it. That's your base for your new site, paid for by your local site.

This is just one way you could play it. Others might chime in and say "don't bother with the local site," and that'll be just as valid as going for it.

I see it like this. There's a 100 foot wall with stacks of gold behind it that you want. But you can't afford the ladder to climb over and get it. So you either go into the woods and start chopping trees and try to build a scaffold, or you can go over to the 5 foot wall you can climb that has a ladder behind it, take the ladder, and then climb the 100 foot wall much quicker.
 
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#5
Ryuzaki put it well. If the local market is not capped so low it will not provide for you and support your international efforts even if you dominate it, you most likely should (and I most likely will) start local. Especially in the beginning money earned now is more valuable (it will speed your curve) than possible higher future earning potential.

Local success will also be much easier to leverage into a couple relatively easy and not time-consuming, but profitable side gigs (ie. consulting).

And if you´re in the same niche or vertical in both markets, they will support each other. Any content you create in local language can serve as a base or be translated to for English content, or if you outsource content you have much more options in the international market while using versions of same content order in two languages.

But do competitor research first. The established players may be good, too established or run by an international boss-level dude even in small markets and then your lower ceiling may make it not worth it considering the effort required.
 
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#6
@Ryuzaki Thank you very much for this post. Really clears up a good approach and connected some wires that had been crossed in my head. I feel comfortable now that in working an angle for a new project that I would have all the tools I would need to generate the idea and the critically assess it.

I am using the course as a reference for my main project which is a couple years in. I started the project without the proper planning and market research. Based on what I knew from the past and the so often advised EMD advice I've built a brand around the main niche term.

The niche I'm in is pretty large, plenty of money in it. That being said, I see a logical route to expand from a niche brand into a vertical brand like you mention.

What would you watch out for when expanding like this?
Would you recommend creating a new site branded for the vertical and moving the existing niche site into the vertical site?
Would creating a network of similarly branded niche based sites be logical?
 
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Ryuzaki

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#7
What would you watch out for when expanding like this?
Besides the things mentioned in the Day 2 post above, such as Red Flags that defeat your angle, I'd watch out for the delicious trap of trying to be the Catch-All site right out of the gates. Let me explain as I answer the next question below.

Would you recommend creating a new site branded for the vertical and moving the existing niche site into the vertical site?
I'd keep working on the same exact site.

First and foremost, I'd determine if my domain itself (which IS your brand) is suitable as a brand. If it's some kind of EMD term that's not brandable, I'd get a branded domain. I'd copy the current site to a staging environment and rework it. Depending on how it's currently structured, this may be a lot of work or little. Imagine if your entire site as it is now is more suitable in your grand scheme to just act as a silo. I'd move the content into one category. Maybe the content can serve as silo heads or can be sub-pages within other silo's. I'd get that set up, and leave "coming soon" pages wherever I needed. That's okay since this is a non-crawlable staging environment that won't get indexed. I'd then fill in the holes that need must exist for users to be able to flow through the new site correctly. I'm not saying finish each silo or however you build it, but make sure that if they need to go to Page A before B that Page A has content.

Then I'd build an .htaccess file for 301's and I'd map every old article to it's new location on the new site, including all content pages, contact/about/terms, and the homepage.

Once everything was in place, I'd put the improved version live on your new branded domain, delete the old site's files and database, and toss in the .htaccess. I'd then use Google's Webmaster Tools (no reason not to if you aren't being shady) to enter a Change of Address. I'd also create a sub-account for the new branded site too in the same main account. Full transparency.

That's what I'd do if I needed to change domains. If I didn't, I'd still restructure and set up internal 301 redirects for inner pages.

Once my old site was restructured, gaps filled, and indexed, I'd pound out content to fill in category holes so there's no empty places on the site. This way there's at least the illusion that you're a huge brand. But I wouldn't go further than that. I'd pick one category or silo, and I'd hammer away at it wtih content and promotion till I'd gotten most of the way. I'd go to the point of diminishing returns, then I'd jump to the next category. I'd flesh out the site and be snowballing promotion in this manner so that by the time I circled back around to the first category, it might not even need any more love from me. It might have risen with the rising tide of the other categories. But the main point is to keep the site's focus broad but keep your own focus narrow. One thing at a time or nothing will get the attention it needs.

Would creating a network of similarly branded niche based sites be logical?
Not in my mind. Keep your focus narrow. Why take your 100 units of "Power" and spread them across 10 domains? Then each has 10 units of Power (aka super weak). Your efforts need to be the magnifying glass that takes the broadly distributed rays of the sun and focuses it down on one point - your authority site. The only network of branded stuff I'd be building are peripheral satellites on social networks, such as Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, etc.

One hunk of peanut butter is delicious. One hunk spread across 10 pieces of bread is basically just bread. You won't even taste the peanut butter.
 
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#8
Thank you very much, makes a lot of sense. Right now the domain/brand within the niche is OK. As you mention keeping my focus narrow, I need to keep hammering away at this brand until I reach those diminishing returns, once I'm there then I think I'll do the market research and see which directions I want to expand and go through the re-branding and re-organizing. I think I can even keep an element of my current brand when I re-brand. This will keep my current customers connected with my brand and open the door for expansion. Thanks very much for the reply!
 
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Ryuzaki

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#9
Right now the domain/brand within the niche is OK. As you mention keeping my focus narrow, I need to keep hammering away at this brand until I reach those diminishing returns, once I'm there then I think I'll do the market research and see which directions I want to expand and go through the re-branding and re-organizing. I think I can even keep an element of my current brand when I re-brand. This will keep my current customers connected with my brand and open the door for expansion. Thanks very much for the reply!
If your domain and brand are okay now, why would you rebrand later? Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're saying that your brand is only okay for your niche, but not okay for your vertical as a whole.

If that's the case, then you're losing time by not making the switch now. Age is a huge factor in just about every algorithm, whether that's domain age, age of your incoming links, age of your content, etc. If I thought I was going to make the switch at any point, then I'd act on it now. That way, your future efforts aren't passed through a 301. They can be direct right now. Internal 301's do seem to pass 100% of the metrics over, but in your case it won't be internal. It'll be external, and even while showing Google that you're doing an honest site-to-site move, you'll still lose somewhere from 25% of your page rank or less depending on if they have a modifier for trustworthy 301's.

Also, you're talking about building up brand recognition for a brand you intend on dropping. That's wasted focus and resources. I'm making up numbers for illustration, but let's say you have 100 brand loyalists right now. Would you rather confuse just those 100 by switching brands now, or would you rather keep pumping at a brand you know you're going to remove from the limelight and end up confusing a potential 1,000 or even 100,000 loyalists?

I can't see any benefit in waiting to make the shift if your intention is to shift.
 
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#10
If your domain and brand are okay now, why would you rebrand later? Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're saying that your brand is only okay for your niche, but not okay for your vertical as a whole.
Correct, the brand I have now is based on an EMD. (Think icefishingzone.com) It is fine for my niche but won't be fine for the vertical. I just came out of the cloudy-headedness of a week long cold and thought about this re-branding idea an my brain EXPLODED with ideas. Total excitement about where I could take the project where in the past it felt like I was stagnant. Thinking in the vertical sense I finally understand where I can take the project far beyond a $x,xxx/mo earner.

If that's the case, then you're losing time by not making the switch now. Age is a huge factor in just about every algorithm, whether that's domain age, age of your incoming links, age of your content, etc. If I thought I was going to make the switch at any point, then I'd act on it now. That way, your future efforts aren't passed through a 301. They can be direct right now. Internal 301's do seem to pass 100% of the metrics over, but in your case it won't be internal. It'll be external, and even while showing Google that you're doing an honest site-to-site move, you'll still lose somewhere from 25% of your page rank or less depending on if they have a modifier for trustworthy 301's.
I am on the verge of monetizing my site now. Within the next 1-2 months the site earnings will jump 10x. The traffic/rankings I have now will be instrumental in that initial banking. I am leaning on these initially gained resources to re-invest into the project. I absolutely hear your suggestion to re-brand sooner than later and I know you are right, but my gut tells me to stay the course just a bit longer.

I would hate to get so close monetization wise and then shift gears to re-branding only to drop the ball on the money. I am going to put all my energy there hold off on creating volumes of brand recognition. Once the deals are in place and the money is flowing, I can focus 100% on re-branding and focused, proper planning with some resources behind it. That way when I re-launch I will have 100% focus and money to re-invest to take that 25% drop in pagerank and turn it around as quickly as possible, quickly gaining past that hit.

My gut feeling is strong and in my bones it feels right to continue as I have described, but please be blunt with me if I am making a mistake.
 
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#11
Hmm...

Also a number, diversity and quality of offers for global market is a wayyy better than those for my local market. If I go locally I will be limited to one or three shops with dietary supplements (they are dominating market) and some "snake oil" offers (that I won't touch anyway).

So, I'm on the fence and so any suggestions or experiences are welcome guys (and gals :wink: )
I'm glad I'm not the only one who refuses to deal in 'snake oil'. I have a friend who wants to start a business manufacturing a health supplement that he wants to market for curing dementia. Its untested. He'll make up loads of fake testimonials and wants me to be the marketing lead for a % profit share. Its a massive market but the untested part (which makes it seem like snake oil) makes my stomach turn. So, despite the potential, I'm going to have to turn it down.

Not to mention the potential liability issues if someone has a negative reaction to this 'supplement'. Oh and one of the ingrediants is highly addictive. Yeah... I think I'll pass.
 
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#12
^ Yeah. Stay honest. Grant Cardone talks about this. He says his definition of success includes honesty. If you made 500 million through being a scum bag, you aren't successful. You're a chump with a lot of money.

This part about having a unique angle to a site is important. Last year, Google deindexed and penalized countless numbers of sites under the pretense of "Thin Content" whether that was the case or not. The real reason was that the sites were affiliate review sites and nothing more. I suspect they figured it out through analyzing the outbound links.

Having an angle means you can load up a blog full of content and have pillar articles, quizzes, infographics, and a lot more (and stuff them full of OBL's) to avoid being an MFA.

Has anyone encountered this situation besides me? What did you add to your site in order to grow beyond a transparent made-for-advertising website? Seems like the path is to at least build enough content to look like an authority, even if you only build links to your reviews.
 

Andrewkar

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#13
Thank you guys for help. I decided to start with local site first, static content is almost ready (not much of it anyway). Once I have three posts online and promoted I will do the same for English version. So probably I will go kinda both at once (with a bit more focus on English one).

Having an angle means you can load up a blog full of content and have pillar articles, quizzes, infographics, and a lot more (and stuff them full of OBL's) to avoid being an MFA.

Has anyone encountered this situation besides me? What did you add to your site in order to grow beyond a transparent made-for-advertising website? Seems like the path is to at least build enough content to look like an authority, even if you only build links to your reviews.
The best way is to have content that stands out, not just loads of mediocre content. Unfortunately cheap content or even some created by great writers will never be as good as content created by someone who knows what he is talking about (and can write like a 13 year old kid). You can feel experience, knowledge and confidence in copy or whatever content we talk about. Readers can "sniff" it as well. Personality is important also, without some unique angle to it copy reads like 99% of similar content, dull. But once content is cool and different than everything out there, then people will talk and share and they will stick to the source. My 2c.

BTW, Grant Cardone :smile: I remember watching his sales training some time ago. He is badass
 

Apex

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#14
What do you do in the case that nothing you're passionate about is profitable? In that case what would be the criteria to choose a niche?
 

Ryuzaki

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#15
What do you do in the case that nothing you're passionate about is profitable? In that case what would be the criteria to choose a niche?
If you understand how a vertical is structured, some options will naturally pop out for you. Think about how people talk about "niching down" or keeping it broad to take down all the bigger niches within a vertical. It looks like this in its simplest form:


These circles are "holons," each of which encapsulates an entire aspect of a thing, such as the Health vertical. Holons will have holons within them and be encapsulated by other holons as well, which is why it's "nested." And it's a "Holarchy" due to the hierarchical nature.

Of course, within the big blue Health we have other purple circles beyond Fitness, such as Medicine, Mental Health, Addiction, etc. But within Fitness I chose Cardio, while we could have easily chosen Body Building or Strength Training.

The point is, within each circle there are a lot of other sub-circles that aren't pictured, but understanding that they're there is the key to figuring out where to go with your passion that makes little money.

Remix
One thing you can do is take a horizontal step to another holon that exists on the same level.

Consider philosophy. Lot's of people love it but there's no money to be made online regarding it without going into politics, which is what a lot of people do. Another side step would be to move into self-help, where there's gobs of money to be made.

Remixing is to use your current passion and apply it to a sister-niche, which actually gives you a unique marketing angle and a lot to add to the discussion.

Meta
Another option is move upwards to the holon that contains your passion, moving to the next level upwards in the vertical.

An example for this would be comic books, if we are assuming they make little money on an independent level. You can't break through and capture a sizable chunk of the market share, and no consumer cares about your stories and characters. You can step upward and serve the producers as consumers and offer lesson books on drawing, story writing, storyboarding, inking & coloring, etc.

Going meta is to think bigger, moving up the holarchy to serve a lower volume of people with higher stakes at risk, and thus the ability to make up the difference with higher prices. At other times this serves to increase the volume of people you can reach, thus opening up scale and fixing the money issue.

Descend
This movement refers to "niching down" and targeting an even smaller and tighter demographic in order to extract a maximum return on a minimal investment.

Let's say you love knitting, but there's way too much supply of yarn, needles, and books about the topic. The value of these items are incredibly low and many people buy them used and the producers never see a dime. Since this is your passion, you'll be doing it anyways, so you can compress the amount of work a project would take by niching down. You learn that hedgehog fanatics buy tons of knitted bedding for pets, the more options the merrier. So you target these people, which keeps the project contained and small with a closed loop, but provides you some form of income for your hobby.

Descending down the holarchy can be done if you'll be engaged in your passion regardless, and it can be done to reduce competition greatly at the outset. Trying to tackle Health or Bodybuilding as a whole is a job for an entire corporation. Tackling protein powder as a niche is doable, in terms of content and ultimately supporting your own supplement product line.

Fold
We all know what this means. Sometimes you have to know when to call it quits.

The more energy and time you invest into a dead-end, the harder it will be for you to let go later. The moment you realize this is a lost cause you have to pivot or fold. As an example, say knitting sucks as an income source. Perhaps you can go meta and take on sewing and quilting too, but do you care enough to expand your passion, and can you actually do all of the work involved in such a project? Maybe you can, or maybe you need to fold.

Folding is important at times, and the discussion below explains a huge part of why that's not related to money. Sometimes even a passion that can be successful shouldn't be mixed with trying to make money from it.

The Truth About Hobbies
Let me tell you my opinion about hobbies and the trap they provide.

The most important man of the 20th century, Sigmund Freud, said:

"Love and Work are the cornerstones to our Humanness."
Notice that he didn't say {Love|Work} or Love/Work or anything to imply they are the same things. Both are important to our happiness and human experience. But he also went to great lengths to explain how they need to be and remain separated. We all know this, which is why we segment our time the way we do, and segment our households into rooms with different purposes.

Something about our current day entrepreneurs is broken, probably because our Baby Boomer parents wouldn't stop telling us that we could do anything we wanted if we just believe while Disney kept cramming fantasies that magically work out down our throats. We have a problem with "magical thinking" right now.

There's a story about this old man who got sick of little kids playing in his front yard all day. So he started paying them $0.25 per day to play in his yard. A week later he reduced it to $0.10. A week after that he reduced it to $0.05. And finally when he offered them a penny per day to do what they enjoyed doing anyways, they decided it wasn't worth the price.

This is what happens when you try to make money on your hobbies and passions (that aren't realistic). The intrinsic value (raw excitement and enjoyment) of the activity that made you excited to do it is exchanged for an extrinsic value (money). And suddenly it stops being fun.

Something I always tell people in real life when they bring these discussions to me, and the reason I don't try to help out "wantrepreneurs" is this:

"The dream is always tastier than the reality."​
Sometimes hobbies and dreams of making money on a hobby exist only to provide hope and fantasy. That's more than fine. People don't realize the sacrifice it'll take that will zap any lick of fun out of that hobby. There's no such thing as a hobby that brings in money. There's only jobs.

"What about professional baseball players, they love playing baseball." Sure, but they hate traveling all year, practicing all day, never seeing their kids, having their wives leave them, getting addicted to pain pills, having a nice expensive home they never visit or sleep in, never seeing their extended families, etc.

Anyways, this last part wasn't aimed at you, @Apex, but for any of the newcomers who read this and get into the magical, hopeful, fantasy thinking that ensnares a lot of us. This is my view on what to do if your passion doesn't earn cash directly. Remix it, go meta, descend to a sub-niche, or fold your cards and move on to something else.

Note - Let me also emphasize that if you're starting with funding, passion doesn't have to be involved. Passion is there to keep you grinding on the topic, but if you're paying others to grind, then you need to be making your decisions based on more than passion (potential income). You're hiring passionate and skilled workers so all you need to be doing is crunching money numbers.​
 

CCarter

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#16
What do you do in the case that nothing you're passionate about is profitable?
I think a problem with they way the "passion" discussion is setup is everyone equates passion with hobbies. A hobby is something you do in your downtime for fun. A Passion is something that you jump out of bed for.

For example: If I like playing video games - that's not really a passion it's a hobby. Hobbies can be addictive - but it is not really a passion. I don't jump out of bed and rush to the TV and turn on the XBox/Playstation, cause #1 I'm not a kid on a Saturday morning;

#2 there is very little opportunity to make money with video games unless you start some news source for video games like a blog or website; You can become a video game developer BUT you'd better have a passion for programming and/or design. Maybe a video game tester - but you'd better realize being a tester is crazy stressful - and that's not really a "business" you can own.

#3 I like being in the action, not sitting around commentating or doing write ups. Technology has allowed the worlds of hobbies to blur into "potential career opportunities" - and that's dangerous, cause you'll start doing Video Game walk-thrus and posting them on YouTube, and the first couple might be fun, but you'll have to do it for new games that might be bad, and now you've got "work" to do. You ever wonder why people just "quit" those podcasts or video game walk-thrus eventually? Cause it's work now and not really fun.

That's the trap I see, when people start using our example of "video game blogging" and now this "hobby" turns into a JOB. A job is something that brings in the money. Once your hobby = your job, it's now work, and it'll create the situations we see where people hate their jobs and hobbies - but keep trudging along until they are burnt out.

I don't consider a hobby a passion.

A passion is something you jump out of bed for - you can't wait to get from sleeping to "doing". The "What you do?" - that's the million dollar question.

Nikola Tesla had a passion for inventing and turning ideas/theories into applications. He had to learn a ton of different sciences to get the basic underlying foundation physics and math - lots of work involved towards his passion.

Other people like helping people - they might become a nurse, doctor, or paramedic - that doesn't necessarily mean it will bring you in lots of money to "do whatever I want, fuck you money", and there are considerable bills/loans to be paid off from schooling to get a lot of those positions. So you have to put in the work to get a certain level in that field as well.

Other people might be really passionate about sales - they like the dance of convincing people to buy a product/service. Now just because you like something doesn't mean you are going to be good at it. I like playing basketball, but doesn't mean I'll make next years' draft. The sales guy might have a passion for making sales - but unless he puts in work to become a better and better salesman he won't be great. He'll make enough money, but won't have "fuck you money".

So we now are here on BuSo, a business building forum - using online channels to generate business. I can tell you that whatever you choose as a niche if you have no desire/drive to run a business it'll seem like work to you. If you have to "trudge" every morning to your office/desk you've just created yourself a job - will not matter what niche you get involved in.

I have a passion for programming - it just so happens that I also have a desire to run my own business (or two). Those two won't mean much if I can't come up with an idea; that idea also has to be profitable; that profitable idea also has to be within my skill level; that skill level would have taken years (decades) to master - a considerable amount of work when into it. And even then if I've got the skills, a profitable idea - it won't mean much if I am unable to market it so I can gain customers/clients. Now if I don't like dealing with customers - either I find someone else to, or I'll be out of business quickly. I didn't even talk about the competition aspect.

Another example: Hunting. Let's say you have a hobby of hunting on the weekends with your buddies. Does that mean you necessarily want to start blogging about hunting? Creating videos about hunting? I dunno - probably not. What about making custom hunting rifles? Perhaps there is a new design that you think would be great or some equipment like deer trapping food (I clearly don't hunt), that you think would get more deer into your hunting ground. Perhaps you can making and sell that deer food as a business - that's an example of where a hobby lead to a business idea - but that doesn't mean you'll be necessarily be passionate about making deer food. It'll bring in the money, and you can love being your own boss and running your own business (perhaps that's the passion part - but not required), but in that scenario your hunting hobby is still separate.

If Nikola Tesla didn't have to work for a living would he still have been inventing things? Yes.

If the person that loves helping people didn't have to do "work" for that living would they still be doing that? Good question - if yes, then it's a passion, if no then it's not a passion.

If you created a video game website, but didn't ever have to blog/create video walk-through cause you don't have to work for a living - would you own and be doing that video game site? If yes, it's a passion, if no, then it's not a passion.

If I didn't have to work for a living would I still be programming? HELL YES.

And the hunter, if they didn't have to make deer food or run their business would they still be doing that? I dunno - perhaps not, but at the end of the day that deer food might be a huge success and they'll love the end business.

The thing that you WANT to do, not the hobbies, but the actually things that you want the world to know you for doing - would you do them if you didn't have to? If yes, it's a passion, if no, it's not. But that doesn't mean your passion will even be profitable or will be enjoyable to do as a business.

In that case what would be the criteria to choose a niche?
What you need to do is look for opportunities that you can sink your teeth into. If it's within a field that you enjoy that's great. But passion about deer food isn't required for the Hunter to run a successful business. But his business is still within the realm of a field he enjoys.

The passion to help people that the paramedic/doctor/nurse has will not gain them "fuck you money".

Then there is Tesla - he died poor - his passion lead to inventions that changed the world - yet he didn't have the business acumen to navigate the business world of his time.

First you need to decide what you want from this life. What's "success" to you. Perhaps Tesla's measurement of success was "changing the world" - not making money - so he would have died happy. Once you define what's success, you need to hunt for opportunities to create a business around it (I assume that business is your end goal since you are on a business forum). If your definition of success is like the paramedic in helping people, then go do that - that's following a passion without it necessarily making "a lot of money".

I'll say this - if my goal was to make an extra $10K a month in pocket change, I'd hunt down opportunities for big ticket items where sales or commissions are sizable enough so less volume of traffic can get me to my goal. Then outsource the work process once I've mastered how to gain and maintain (and grow) the revenue numbers down to a basic science (doesn't have to be perfect, just profitable). Then I'd work on something I enjoy doing while getting the outsource team/employees to run the day to day of the operation.
 
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