Creating A Niche Market On-Line
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The biggest mistake an online business can make is being everything to everyone.
Why would you want to compete against the big box chains when it would be more profitable for you to narrow down the field to a specific item that they carry.
You may spend time thinking up or trying to create a niche market but the answer may be closer than you think. We had a chance to sit down with Jeff Meland from Databae Systems and discuss the evolution of our niche market; Bottle Lamp Making. It wasn’t until we actually talked the whole process through that we were able to reflect on how everything fell into place.
Finding the niche market – What’s popular? What will people actively seek and thoroughly engage themselves in? These were just a few of the questions that we were asking when we started looking into establishing a niche market. While all of this was taking place a little hobby of mine was quietly working its way into my daily routine. What started out as a novel Christmas present, my bottle lamp gifts were drawing attention. People were asking me how I made them and what tools I used in the process. Not only were people interested, but they wanted to see more and they continued to ask questions about the specifics of making a bottle lamp.
Do you have a hobby that is unique? You might be looking at your niche market right there! If you found it interesting and you actively pursued it then it would be a safe assumption that someone else will find this interesting as well. Yes, they are out there and now thanks to the internet it is relatively easy to find your like minded audience.
Testing the waters – My wife approached me about making a video that details the steps I used to put the bottle lamps together. I was skeptical and laughed off the idea. “Who would want to watch me put these things together?”, was my only thought. Luckily she was persistent and we shot a video detailing the steps I used and including the tools and materials that went into the final product. The video took off and I was soon answering questions on the video comments section on a regular basis. This was the first sign that we had found something that people were interested in and wanted to engage themselves in.
Could you document a process or product in this same manner? If you are reluctant to give this a try only because you believe that no one will be interested then you’ve already stagnated your own growth. My moment of consent came when I finally said to myself ‘What have I got to lose?’ If this is what it takes for you to take the next step then go right ahead and ask yourself that very question.
Creating a space all your own – The questions and responses were coming in on the video feed and it felt like a buzz was being generated all around. My first instinct was to sell my bottle lamps. In order to do this I would need to find a place to showcase and allow for transactions to take place. My wife set up the Bottle-Lamp website for the sole purpose of selling the lamps. It had pages for the various kinds of lamps that I made and multiple pictures of each one. With purchase buttons and a shopping cart the website started to look like a regular shopping center. We took it a step further and added the blogging section as well. Adding fresh content from time to time always made everything more stable. It didn’t appear as though I just threw my bottles on a website and walked away but that I was actively engaged with the website.
Would you create a platform for your interest? Creating a website for your interest or product is the beginning of your community. You want to have a place that your interested parties can go to and talk about what it is that you offer. Imagine inviting these people to your home for an evening and you were able to all sit around and share your stories and thoughts about it. This is the feel you want to create with your website. Once your readers feel comfortable to share with you then you know that you have a place that a community can grow in.
Evolving your niche market – The website began to change and in a good way. We soon discovered Etsy and found out that it was easier to sell to customers on a website that people came to expecting to buy things. This was a big moment for us. It would have seemed that our website was irrelevant at this point and we could just rid ourselves of it and focus on selling more bottle lamps. This would have left everyone who had sought us out to answer questions about the bottle lamp making process out in the cold. At this point we had made more videos and created more blog posts about the projects that we were making. We received comments and questions on a regular basis and we engaged our readers with a ‘DIY show off’ page that highlighted the projects they had made. Taking the ‘sell buttons’ and the shopping cart away gave our website a whole new purpose and feel.
Can you imagine yourself as an authoritative person about a special interest? This is what you will be in your niche market. You will be the ‘go to’ person for questions and comments about your field of expertise. Do not get hung up on thinking that nobody will ask a question because everything is obvious. All of the information pertaining is obvious to you and that is what makes you the authority! You are sharing your knowledge with others so that they can experience the things that you have as well.
Providing more than one door to your community – We had established the website but we were still trying to generate traffic to it. Creating a bunch of great content and posting it to a website without any traffic is like throwing a party and not sending out any invitations. Nobody knows its there. Enter social media. The whole internet speak of; ‘Like us on Facebook’ propaganda and talking with people who ‘saw something they found interesting on Pinterest’ are just the tip of the many social media vehicles that are popping up almost daily. Creating new avenues for our potential readers to find us was just another way of sending out invitations to our party. By generating accounts on these sites we were in fact letting people in our little niche know about us and offering them an invitation to the party.
Would you be able to promote your niche market with social media? The answer may or may not be simple but the trick is not to get sucked into it. You could spend a whole day on anyone of the social media sites, but at the end of it all you’ll ask yourself “What have I really accomplished?” You need to keep your time spent here restricted to a certain limit. Do not fall into everything that is being put on them but Do try to stay engaged with them. It’s a fine line and one that you will find through time. You will know how much of your time is spent accomplishing your objective and then you’ll know when to move on to something else more productive.
Consolidating content – We had been generating an e-mail list by giving away a free e-book about the bottle lamp making process. It was short and concise and all our readers had to do was give us their e-mail address in exchange for a downloadable copy of it. It was mainly text with a few diagrams that illustrated the process further. We had been writing posts for the blog long enough that we felt a certain sense of comfort when describing the process and the tools that were needed. It was time to take the e-book to the next level. It was then that we discovered CreateSpace. This website allowed us to put our book together with no money down and give our little niche market a much more authoritative feel. On top of all the videos and blog posts we now hand a published book to offer as well.
Could you write a book about your niche? If this question intimidates you then you simply need to asses your own unique situation. If you have created a platform that allows you to engage with your readers and you are already answering commonly asked questions in a well documented and written form, then you are in a position to take it a step further. Self publishing may have seemed daunting awhile ago, but technology has allowed us to embrace this medium and utilize all its potential. It is highly recommended that you have someone proof read your material before you go to publish. 😉
What happens when you move into a niche market and specialise? First, you immediately turn a commodity into an specialty – a unique, differentiated product with a defined target demographic. Instead of just offering a product or service that can be found in stores you now have become the online authority for your own niche. With a defined audience and a specific location that you have created you are facilitating a forum of educated readers about your product or service. Also, you are now a manager and supplier of rare or specialty products or services that may be difficult to locate offline through traditional brick-and-mortar outlets.
Do you have a niche market or thinking about creating one? Leave us a comment below.
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