How to Profit in Competitive Niches
There are lots of ways to make money online, and affiliate marketing is one that has a low barrier to entry. It’s not the only way, however; you can also do well by selling physical products, and lots of people do that, too. The problem with selling anything online is that you’re likely to have competition no matter what you’re doing. It’s pretty rare to have a niche all to yourself, and most people gravitate to selling things that a lot of people want. Competitive niches are fine, but you may find yourself struggling against larger, longer-established sellers.
How can you survive in competitive niches? Most people take the wrong approach, by simply trying to do the same thing that everyone else is doing. They’ll try to optimize their Website or blog for the same keywords that their competition is using, and they’ll try to sell the same products at the same price as the leaders in that category. The result is usually a bad one – as a small, or even a newbie, marketer, you’re likely not in a position to compete on price, and targeting the same keywords as the industry leaders isn’t going to help, either, since you’re unlikely to outrank them. Think about it – how likely are you to outrank Amazon in the search engine rankings for any keyword?
Survive in Competitive Niches With Innovation
The obvious answer is – you’re not. I don’t care how well you optimize your site for certain keywords, you’re not going to outrank Amazon or some other well-established marketer, who not only has SEO going for them but likely also has a lot of backlinks pointing to their site. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to outwit your competition by doing exactly what they’re doing, you need to find a way to stand out and make yourself different from them, even if you’re offering the same products or services.
Here are a few ways that you can make yourself stand out so that you can profit in competitive niches.
Use long tail keywords – Most people optimize for keywords that are searched for the most often. If you’re promoting blenders on Amazon, for instance, that might include such terms as “best blender” or “kitchenaid blender”. These are good keywords, and they get tens of thousands of searches per month. They’re also highly competitive, and not words you’re going to rank highly for in the search engine results. Instead of targeting those words, go for the “long tail” phrases – terms that are longer, more specific, and aren’t searched for as frequently. While those terms may be competitive, others, such as “blender soup recipes” or “blender comparison chart”, get fewer searches and are easier to rank for.
While it’s true that these “long tail” phrases get fewer searches, there are many of them, and long tail searches comprise some 80% of all searches on the Web. It’s how most people find what they’re looking for. If you’re good at creating content, you can try to optimize your site for lots of long tail phrases and get your traffic that way, rather than trying to compete on words you’ll never be able to rank for in the search engine results.
Offer something extra – This works well if you’re selling physical products. If you’re working in competitive niches, you’ll likely have a tough time competing on price with the leaders. They’re big, and they have advantages that you don’t, simply because they likely do business in greater volume than you do. Instead of trying to sell for less, which will likely hurt you more than your competitors, try offering some things that your competitors don’t. What sorts of things you offer will vary by niche, so it’s hard to offer generalizations. I have a retail site where I sell rare record albums. I’m aware that many people want to buy on eBay, which tends to be a buyer’s market. I’m not trying to compete on price, so I offer a few extra services. I offer my customers free shipping and insurance. I clean every record on a professional cleaning machine before shipping. Every record gets a new high-quality inner sleeve, rather than shipping in the abrasive paper sleeves that came with them when they were new.
Little steps like this can make a huge difference, and often, they cost less than the amount you’d give up by trying to lower your retail prices. Free shipping is very popular; people hate paying for shipping. You can take advantage of that by offering shipping for free but then factoring the shipping costs into your retail price. Then you can advertise that “Shipping is always free!” It works.
Narrow down your niche – Competitive niches are sometimes rather broad, and it’s much easier to compete if you keep your focus as tight as you can possibly make it. Don’t focus on digital cameras, for example, but focus instead on one brand of digital camera. Or even one part of that company’s product line, if their line is extensive. By focusing on a rather narrow band of products, you can give the impression that you’re an expert in that particular line. Narrowing your focus can often lead to surprisingly good results.
Offer great support – Responding promptly to problems and email inquiries always helps. Big companies and busy marketers sometimes let customer service and support fall through the cracks. Make sure that you always respond to any inquiries or problems quickly. People remember that.
Competitive Niches Summary
There’s a reason that people like to work in competitive niches – they’re popular and therefore usually profitable. But making money in competitive niches can be hard for a small marketer unless you’re prepared to think outside the box and find ways to make you, your blog or Website, and your product offering stand out in a sea of competitors. It’s possible; you just need to find a way to offer something that you and you alone can offer, or target keywords that are searched for less often.
Competitive niches are profitable. You just need to find a way to make them profitable for you.