A lot of people try to start an online business as a side hustle, but the failure rate is quite high. Even when you continue to work on your company long-term, it’s still possible that you may never be successful. There is one specific reason why this can happen: competition. After more than 27 years of building my own websites, I’ve learned that this one aspect can make or break your chances at success.
I’m talking about niche competition. How many other people or companies are trying to compete in the same industry as you? This might seem straightforward. Avoid higher competition for a better chance at succeeding. However, there’s actually a lot more to it than that. You need to really understand the entire picture here to guide your side hustle in the right direction from the first day. Keeping reading to learn the #1 most important thing that I believe I can teach.
Attracting Website Traffic
As an online business owner, you should have a website. I really recommend having your own site, but it’s also possible to build a company on a third-party site such as Amazon, eBay or even social media sites. Ultimately, you have a website URL that you would want more people to visit. The more traffic you’re able to obtain, the larger your audience will grow, and the more money you’ll make.
However, you have to consider how exactly you’re going to get that traffic. Simply setting up a social media account or a website can eventually attract traffic without extra work from you, but you’re much more likely to succeed and reach your goals faster if you can bring in extra people.
When you’re targeting a niche that has a lot of competition, this task becomes much more difficult and may even cost more money as well as taking more time. There are actually a number of reasons why this happens, so I’m going to have to discuss this subject in a few different pieces throughout this article.
Marketing & Advertising
One of the main reasons why you’ll want to avoid high competition niches is that marketing and advertising become harder, more time consuming, and even more expensive. Social media websites and search engines can both deliver targeted traffic to a website. This can be done for free with content marketing, or you can pay per click to get visitors by advertising on those sites.
First consider content marketing. If someone searches for websites about your niche, your site will be easier to find when there are a limited number of choices. This is true on both social media such as Facebook and search engines like Google. A similar situation occurs when you want to pay for advertising. When more people want to promote a website about the same subject, they fight each other for the top spots to get the most traffic. The end result is that you have to pay more money for every single visitor when you’re in a higher competition industry.
Let’s say that you’re considering start a blog and you love investing. Unless you’re ready to put in a lot of time and effort, you’ll want to avoid targeting a very large and general niche like investing. Instead, you would find success much faster and with less work by targeting something more specific. A site about options trading would have much less competition, although it could still be rather high. Building a blog centered around company stock news for a specific corporation would have even less competition, especially you picked a newly listed company and not one that’s been around for 100 years like Coca Cola.
Knowledge & Expertise
To be an expert on a niche and have others trust what you say, you need to have a lot of knowledge and expertise about your niche. While it is possible to learn new things as you go, you’ll be able to provide more useful content to your audience when you have years or even decades worth of hands-on experience with the subject.
It is very tempting when you’re starting a side hustle to have a fairly broad focus so you can leave your options open. However, this can lead to negative results. By focusing on too much, you make it harder for others to find you, and more difficult on yourself to truly cover your niche knowledge in it’s entirety.
Maybe you enjoy working on cars in your spare time, so you want to start a website about cars. You likely won’t know everything there is to know about this subject already, so you would need to learn a lot of new information over time to be able to pass it along to others. This can make your job much more difficult than it needs to be. Instead, you could just focus on a specific type of cars or even something like restoration that would drastically reduce competition and the required knowledge.
After you have figured out what industry you want your online business to target, you can give yourself more confidence to proceed with your choice by doing some competition research. Pretend you want to learn information about your niche. First go to a search engine, such as Google, and try to find websites that have the same focus as the site you want to create.
You can also do the same thing with social media sites. Anyone thinking about creating a side hustle blog should search Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and potentially even more sites. See how many other blogs you can find that are about side hustles (it’s a lot). However a site about side hustles for single moms may still have a lot of competitors, but it would be less than the general subject.
Spend a few days trying to research your competitors to find out how much competition you can expect. Search for your general type of website, and even search for some specific topics that you may want to cover to discover other competitors. In general, if you’re going to be up against thousands or even tens of thousands of competing sites, you may need to consider narrowing your niche focus.
Narrow Your Niche Focus
The #1 mistake you can make when starting a new side hustle is to focus on a niche that is much too large for a single person to tackle. Lots of competitors can cause you to have a hard time getting website traffic. You’ll have to create more content, wait longer, and even spend more money to get people to your site. By identifying this situation before you actually begin work, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by narrowing your niche focus.
You have to be careful though. This is a double-edged sword. Too vague of a niche and you’ll have too much competition. If your niche choice is too specific though, there won’t be enough traffic or large enough of a potential audience to make it a profitable business. The real trick and secret to creating your first successful business online is to find the sweet spot here that offers enough traffic while avoiding most of the competitors.
I also want to make it clear that I’m not saying it’s impossible to succeed if your website subject is too vague. It will just be harder to obtain visitors. You’ll find it more difficult to market to attract more people, even when you spend money to do it. All of this will result in making less income from the business. Be smart your choice before you begin for the best chance at success. If you’ve already started a side hustle and are struggling to get popular, this could be the reason why. Examine your business and narrow your niche focus if you think this could be the #1 reason why it’s failing.