This guest post is by Sean Houser of StartByDoing.com.
I hear a lot of talk directed at new bloggers. Things like, “Stay out of competitive niche markets when you’re blogging. Find smaller, less competitive niches, it’s easier to establish yourself and make money.”While it is fair to say that going into a competitive niche market and trying to establish yourself as a go-to source certainly won’t be a cake walk, it’s also important to note that trying to establish yourself in a niche with little competition has its own set of challenges.
Let’s put it this way: would you rather work a year straight on a blog knowing that there’s no ceiling on the amount of income you can generate? Or would you rather work a year straight knowing the best you can possibly do, no matter how hard you work, is $2,000 per month?
Small niche markets have income ceilings—there’s only so much money you can make. Also, don’t forget the fact that a lot of smaller niche markets have high levels of competition anyway, since a lot of “experts” always recommend finding smaller, less competitive niches.
So, in a lot of scenarios when you’re working with smaller niche markets, you’re still looking at an uphill struggle when, ultimately, there’s a lot less money to go around anyway.
Don’t get me wrong: I think working in smaller markets can be a good thing provided you budget your time against the income potential of the niche appropriately. Don’t spend tons of time on a niche that doesn’t provide a lot of earning potential.
Now that we’ve got that out the way, let’s talk about the reasons why going into a competitive niche is a good thing—especially when it comes to blogging and content marketing.
1. Lots of competition means there’s lots to write about
The worst-case scenario for a blogger is realizing that there’s very little if anything to write about in their niche. Especially after buying a domain name and setting up your website!
If there are 50 different blogs in the same niche, and they all have unique and compelling content, that’s a good sign that you can set up a website in this market and have a lot of options when it comes to writing content.
Do a little research when you first enter into a new niche market. Scope out the top ten or 15 blogs in the niche, and make sure they’re consistently putting out unique content, not just rehashing ideas off of each other.
2. More competition means more idea sources
It’s always a good idea to study your competition. Study how they get their backlinks, and how they first promoted their website when they were just getting started.
The good thing about competition is that you can look to them for inspiration for new post ideas. The more competition, the more resources you have to use for new content ideas.
3. More competition means more channels for your content
More players in one market means more online real estate to post your content on. Work to have your guest posts featured on as many of these sites as possible, and you’ll receive more traffic without having to rely solely on Google.
4. More business models to follow
If there was only one site in your niche that got most of the traffic, and you weren’t sure what worked well for monetization in that niche, you would only have one site to use as a reference.
On the flip-side, when there’s lots of competition, you have more people trying different things to monetize their visitors, and more ideas for you to use to monetize your own blog traffic.
5. More opportunities to partner and mastermind with top players
If you can find a way to connect with one of the top bloggers in your market, you have a major resource for information that’s proven—no guess-work required! You actually have someone to talk to who already went through everything you’re going through.
The key point here is to learn from those who have already been through all the ups and downs of blogging and still found success. You can model your blog after that success.
6. More competition means more opinions and points of view
Common knowledge isn’t always a good thing. It can sometimes be bad information and therefore detrimental to your long-term success. The good thing about competitive markets is that people are always questioning the common knowledge in that niche.
Sometimes people question common knowledge just to get attention. But other times it’s actually a valid point that proves common knowledge to be wrong or at least not 100% right.
As an example, if the “common knowledge” on all of the blogging forums was to build backlinks to your blog a certain way, you may believe that strategy to be the best way. However, if one blogger came out with a case study where s/he found that backlink strategy A is ten times more powerful than “common knowledge” backlink strategy B, that would be extremely helpful since you wouldn’t be wasting your time on a weak link building strategy.
By questioning common knowledge and finding out what really works, you will only be working on strategies that created the biggest results for your time spent. This is why many different opinions can be a good thing (provided there is some form of proof to the claims being made).
7. Competition forces you to be the best you can be
Competition pushes you to be more creative and innovate, and to truly master your skill set. A lack of competition may lead to your skills getting stale or hitting a plateau.
Competition sharpens your skills and ultimately helps you achieve long-term success, especially if you jump into a smaller niche down the line, and you’re dealing with marketers and bloggers with lesser skills and knowledge.
There are three other reasons why a competitive niche is a good choice:
- A competitive niche is a proven money-maker. A niche with a lot of competition almost always means there’s a lot of money to be made. Don’t waste your time on markets that haven’t been proven to turn a large profit.
- A competitive niche has proven traffic volumes. If you’re researching a new niche and you see a lot of bloggers with tens of thousands of RSS subscribers and high Alexa rankings (under 30,000) then you’re dealing with a market that has a lot of traffic to go around—always a good thing!
- A competitive niche has proven long-term stability. If you’re researching a competitive niche and you see people with five- or ten-year-old blogs that are still going strong, and still growing steadily in terms of traffic and RSS subscribers, that’s a good sign that you’re dealing with a long-term, stable niche.
There you have it! There are many reasons why dealing with competitive markets is a good choice even for new bloggers. What others can you add? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Sean Houser runs an expert marketing blog over at StartByDoing.com. To read more of Sean’s blog posts subscribe to his RSS Feed or just visit his blog.
Competition is very good… as long as its healthy. It’s what makes one strive to be better. Any niche today is almost overcrowded but only the ones who clearly understand are the ones who rise above the rest. Also competition leads to innovation as it drives one to think out of the box.
Absolutely right competition leads to innovation as it drives one to think out of the box. There is so much of competition that people thinks out of the box because if they think normal they can’t ever win the race.
Man … this was such a great post … I love how you broke it down step by step … and i also love the fact that you said there is a ceiling in small markets because it is so true. All these professionals trying to tell you what can and can’t be done … dream killers are no good for anyone. Just suck it up and bring yourself up to the challenge of a hard market, because in the end who knows maybe in a couple years you can be the top blogger of the topic you want to talk about. *sorry got off track with my comment just got real inspired and hype lol
Ha-ha, it had about the same “amount of inspiration” on me. I decide to read it as the last one before going to sleep and now I doubt I’ll be able to do it… :D
Competition is what keeps a healthy marketplace and new ideas flowing in. Even if its highly competitive if you have the right idea you would be a guru in your new market. I welcome it in the niche I am in as I learn even more from what other people try and test without me having to do it myself. Plus where there is competition there is money.
I agree, competition can be beneficial.
When I first started my blog I was in an Alexa rank competition with another blogger. We were both new and I wound up pouncing his rank.
Hey Justin, that’s a great idea you just pointed out.
I’m sure others have seen some of those niche site competitions that take place on certain blogs (e.g. the niche site duel on Pat Flynn’s blog).
Two or more bloggers will each pick a certain niche and see who can create a profitable site the fastest.
Competition drives you to succeed, even if it’s just a friendly competition between you and a friend.
That’s a very good way of looking at things, Sean.
Lately there has been a fair amount of talk about this topic. Many people are told to do research on the less competitive niches, though the downside to this(What you have spoke of it your post) are often not factored into this decision.
Only recently, I read a very interesting post on this same topic, and it basically ” Flew in the face” of much of the advice being put forth on targeting niches.
That particular article echoed many of your thoughts, as far as outlining all the benefits of targeting more competitive niches.
Competition also means there is enough of a demand within a specific industry.
Wow i was on the train where competition is bad. But now i have a whole new different perspective and i will learn from this.
I love #7. Growing up my father always told me to compete against the cream of the crop. According to my dad, competing against top tier folks always brings up the level of your own game. He was right, of course. Thanks for posting!
Even though competition makes things harder, you at least make your site better trying to compete.
Sean, it is very nice to hear it.
I agree that more competition means more people to learn from. You can go around researching new things to talk about and give your own twist on things. You’ll never run out of things to say if many many others are talking about the same subject. Also, posting blog posts about other blogger’s blog posts helps the other bloggers out and maybe they’ll return the favor. You never know :)
Interesting post here. I am not big on competition as I feel we go against nothing, just our own ignorance. That said, if competition serves you, look at it as a blessing.
Thanks for sharing Sean!
I believe competition is good as it ensures you give your best to your clients. Once you have succeeded you need to realize whom you have been beaten as they won’t take it lying down.
This will ensure you stay on top and your clients wins all the way. We can all learn from each other and there is enough for everyone.
I’ve just recently come to this conclusion myself and am in the process of completely changing the direction I use my websites. In my experience niche sites work extremely well for getting initial search engine traffic, something that can be very depressing when you’re aiming at the more broad search topics and are off the first page. However there’s only so much you can cover on these sites and you quickly run out of ideas.
My new theory is that writing niche posts within a larger field is the route to take, allowing you to access this search engine traffic and use it to build up your page rank for the more broad terms… We shall see how this works in the long run!
Stepping into a competitive niche will not thrust you down as long as you know what you are doing. Having a competition to deal with will awaken the urge to excel and this helps in sharpening the mind and will polish the skills and broaden your knowledge. There’s nothing to fear from competition. After all there’s hundreds of others who are in the competition and have made their mark.
I agree that going into a competitive niche will not thrust you down. Competition is healthy and it will open up someone to a new point of view that they may not have considered. To beable to make your view known and if it is the right view you can change the decisions of many people.
Competition is always what we need to be more than good.
Competition keeps yo on your toes and helps you grow,so face it.
Competition is a good way of making good website/blog coz competition is a key to success!!!!!!
Awesome post, it opened my eyes!!
Certainly, levels of competition could be advantageous. :)
The complexity and difficulty of the effort put forth is about the same so one should go for the most rewarding.
Nice post, Sean, and I’ve always agreed. Small niches can be profitable for some, but being a small fish in a big pond can pay well, as long as the fishy keeps on swimming! :)
Our number one goal in blogging is to create something that brings value to the lives of our readers. Helping people is what should drive us. Competition forces us to raise the level of value produced by of our content, which is good for both us and our readers. Our lives will not get better until we get better. Great post. God bless!
Hey, great input guys. Some people have come to me and asked why I also talk about looking for low competition markets (on my blog) to set up mini-sites for… So let me try to clear it up.
First, there’s a huge difference between low competition keywords, and a low competition niche. A competitive niche still may have some low competition keywords (or at least not as competitive as your main keywords).
Sometimes people see me talking about low competition keywords and confuse that with a low competition niche market… I still do talk about finding low competition markets in certain situations (given you’re not spending too much time on one mini-site) but don’t confuse that with trying to find low competition keywords.
I think trying to find low competition markets for a 10 page mini-site is fine given it’s not your end all, be all strategy.
When I was talking about competition in this post, it was in regards to Blogging. If there’s no competition when it comes to blogging, it may mean people aren’t that interested in reading daily articles about this subject.
For example I wouldn’t want to make a 1,000 page blog on registry cleaners as there’s not much to talk about… however a 10-20 page mini site would serve that market well as it’s more of a one off type sale and there’s no real opportunity to build fans in that niche and make them return readers and buyers.
Plus as I said in the post above, competition means more places to guest post on, more more idea sources when you run into writers block, and so on…
Hopefully this clears some things up… I don’t strictly advocate ONLY going for competitive markets. I like to have 1-2 main sites that you’re building up over time with the end goal of having them become authority sites.
Then I like to have small projects to work on from time to time like mini-sites because you never know when one is going to blow up and become popular, either with the search engines or with your readers (here’s to hoping it’s both).
People enter highly competitive niche markets, and then we end up with millions of blogs on how to blog.
I didn’t set out to write a blog on how to blog but it turned into my main interest! Would make more sense to calm down and pick a focused niche.
People enter competitive markets because that’s where the most money is… in a smaller niche, the money runs out much faster, too many competitors = depleting profits… there’s not enough volume (an interested audience) to support a lot of competition.
In bigger markets there’s more money to go around because it’s more of a mass marketable topic. If you want to make a blog on underwater sewing that’s fine, just don’t expect to make a full time income off of it.
Yeah i am agree also that competition is good for rankings.
Low traffic keywords will not pay you heavy amounts, how ever Competitive keywords can pay you high amounts. You just need to start work on back links and then after time and time you will get some thing. Its not about getting rich in one night. Its impossible.
Another reason that a small niche might be empty of competition is because there’s no profit in it – if your blog has a profit motive it’s probably best to avoid. I do think that in certain spheres the voices are so loud any new entrant is going to have a problem being heard – technology opinion sites being a case in point – there’s no sense in being a masochist!