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If you were to open a deli you would find what locals like to eat, when they eat and how much they spend. From there you can offer a menu that suits their tastes. Do they like cold cuts? Roast beef or chicken or vegetarian? What kinds of toppings? Side orders? Dessert? What do they drink with it? What portions? How would you get word out? What do you want your deli to be known for (bean burritos)?
The same is true with an online site. In this example, who buys ship models? What for? How much do they spend? For a start, ship models are upscale, luxury goods. I've seen prices of $20,000 and more (imagine a commission on that)! We sell in more affordable $40 to $1,300 range. Clients buy them as decoration in homes and offices. Or as gifts, especially retirement gifts.
What does that tell us? Our target market is older affluent folks who use Internet (we currently sell exclusively online) who live in US or Canada. The recipient is usually a man, though buyer is frequently female.
Of course, you don't want to pay $0.70 a click for traffic if you can help it. So how would you go about promoting something like this? By thinking of related areas or sub-niches. Using a little bit of lateral thinking, what else are older, affluent men interested in? Traveling? Golf? Cigars? Wine? Vacation homes? Investing?
You could create a mini-site that's strictly about model ships. It'd be like hot dog stand instead of a deli. The bare essentials to service customer needs in a tightly defined area. Or you could focus on related things like maritime history, birthday or retirement parties, interior decorating, gifts, travel to coastal areas, a particular aspect of boating or sailing, and link to a few related affiliate programs. There are many possibilities.
For example, suppose you decide to focus on 40th birthdays for men. Your site might include 40th birthday party ideas, humor, cartoons, birthday cards, and gift suggestions (maybe 40 of them). Among those suggestions could include golfing accessories, wine, vacation packages, and of course ship models.
There are many, many ways to approach this. The goal is to find some combination of supply (targeted traffic) and demand (goods or services) that is favorable and related to topic of your site. Choose affiliate programs that fit well with your niche. Then focus on that niche by developing related content that visitors want, and consistently promoting it.
The reality is that putting up a web site alone just about guarantees that no one will visit your site. And creating a web site takes work. As with bricks and mortar, it's better to build a thriving deli with a line out door than a mega store with an empty parking lot.
Keep that in mind as you look to uncover profitable niches.
David Nguyen is co-founder and affiliate manager of AuthenticNautical.com, Internet retailer of display-ready model ships & sailboats.