9 top tips for finding your online business niche

Are you looking for a sideline business to bring in extra income or maybe one you can develop to replace your current job?

If so, the online world is full of opportunities waiting for you. But, how do you know where to start?

We all have some things we can either create for others or teach to others. Don’t worry if you are not a recognised ‘expert’ in any field, we’ll share some tips to help you move past that below. For now, just consider the big picture.

Tom Mullaly - Founder & CE Wage Freedom

Tom Mullaly - Founder & CE Wage Freedom

Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • What would you want to do even if you weren’t getting paid for it? – Having a passion for something is a great business motivator.
  • What skills and knowledge do others turn to you for? – These don’t have to be from your work life. For example, do your friends ask you for cooking tips or gardening advice?
  • Do you have life experience you can share? Maybe you can share your first-hand knowledge about travelling, living with a chronic illness or raising kids on a tight budget?
  • Have you built a successful career in a particular area? Could you become an independent consultant or coach others to follow a similar path?

Tip #1

Start a list of all your potential business ideas. Note anything that comes to mind as sometimes ideas may come out of left field. Don’t rule any of them out just yet – it’s only a list.

Tip #2

Look around you for things that could be done better or needs that aren’t being met. Are there things that could make your life easier? Have you struggled to find information on certain topics? Make a list of these, too.

Tip #3

Is there a business area you know of with high-growth potential? Start to research future workplace and economic trends. We recently covered some of these in our article How the schools of today can meet the workforce needs of tomorrow. (You don’t need to be a school-leaver to take advantage of these trends.)

Tip #4

Go through your lists and notes, then pick 3 or 4 areas that you think you’d like to explore in more detail. You can always come back to the other ideas later.

Tip #5

Match what you love or are interested in learning about to what people want. There’s no use setting up a business only to find that there is no market for it.

Find a profitable niche and do your homework. This is an area that is not oversaturated with either megacompanies like Amazon or with a multitude of smaller players all doing the same thing.

Chris Ducker’s article Finding Your Niche in 20mins or Less, with 3 Simple Steps! outlines how to use keyword searches to test the competitiveness of your online business ideas.

Tip #6

Another way to research your niche is to follow public forums in your preferred areas and find out what help people are asking for. For example, if you are thinking of specialising in an area of investment, look up sites and groups and start to follow the conversations. What are the common demographics of the participants? What questions are they asking?

Tip #7

Decide if you want to offer a physical product such as customised clothing, a professional or informative service, or a combination of both.

Examples of physical products include:

  • Something you’ve made yourself
  • Reselling something made by a local artist or designer
  • Importing products that are hard to source in your country

Examples of professional or informative services include:

  • Instructional videos showing how to do what you do
  • Podcasts on topics related to your niche area
  • Blogs, e-books, and online courses

Whatever you decide, be sure to focus your time and energy on a handful of products or services first and concentrate on making them exceptional. Once you have a loyal customer base, you can branch out into related areas.

Tip #8

You don’t have to be an expert before you start.

Tom Mullaly describes himself as a 'transition engineer' who helps people discover and create the next phase of their professional or personal life. In his second interview on The Mentor List, Tom outlined two ways that you can establish authority in your chosen area.

One is to develop a talent or passion that you already have (such as those you included in your lists). Tom points out that you don’t have to be a writer to convey your expertise. You can use other forms of media just as effectively. He also notes:

“Regardless of how obscure your expertise or area of talent is, even if it is only of interest to a few thousand people around the world, that is enough.”

Mullaly’s second suggestion is to choose an area of interest that you don’t know well yet, but you can learn quickly.

“There are a lot of sub-disciplines that exist today that you certainly don’t require a college degree to do, most of the time universities don’t offer these skills. These are skills which if you are motivated, you could learn in 4-6 weeks well enough to provide value to these small and medium businesses who often know they need these things but don’t know where to turn to.”

These sub-disciplines could include social media marketing or website design, for example.

Tip #9

Study what others are doing successfully online in their chosen niches. We’ve selected a few you might like.

Brian Dean is one of the world’s leading experts in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies. His Backlinko website is the go-to place for everything you want to know on the subject.

Carol Tice built a solid business as a professional freelance writer. Now she teaches others around the world how they can do the same through her website Make a Living Writing.

Neil Creek is an Australian photographer has pursued his love of portraying the world in different ways, including using drones to capture 360-degree panoramas. Neil has also written several ‘How to’ books and developed an online course on night photography.

You won’t have to search far to find other examples of successful online entrepreneurs. Have a good look at what they’re doing and how they are doing it. They might be just the inspiration you need to get started yourself.


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Author and entrepreneur, Tom Mullaly, has been running successful online businesses from Bali for 10 years and now specialises in teaching others the skills he’s learned. These range from ‘How to live in Asia for $1,000 a month’ to ‘How to build an online business with no website’. Tom’s first podcast interview on The Mentor List a year ago was so popular that listener’s questions highlighted the demand for a second interview. Tune in to this recent episode today to hear more of Tom’s story and practical tips for online success.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au Click here now to listen or subscribe for automatic updates. When you like what you hear, subscribe, rate and review!

Finding a mentor has never been so easy. Mentor List is a peer-to-peer social marketplace that provides a platform for mentoring. Every once and a while, we all need a little help.  The best way to deal with this scenario is to access a network of advisors, mentors and coaches that can assist you in the challenges you may face. This marketplace provides you the underlying support structure that will get you through your career and life challenges.

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