The Right Kind of Niche
Probably some of the best (and most over given) advice for anyone starting a business, such as a virtual assistant like myself, is to “find your niche.” Essentially it involves a few tactics:
- Assessing your talents and aligning them with your ideal client
- Determining the market of your ideal client
- Focus all marketing efforts and services on that niche
For me, I’m turning my freelance writing and virtual administrative business into an administrative consultant firm specifically geared towards investigators and lawyers. I’m still offering “generalist” services, but I’m targeting those groups, because the fields interest me and they are underserved.
The Wrong Kind of Niche
Today I decided to do a little quick research on the phenomenon of “micro-niching.” The term itself is a great business tool – drilling down your ideal market to something extremely specific in order to serve as a specialist in that area, generally one with little to no competition. Keeps things simple and turns you into an expert.
However, there was a different kind of “micro-niching” that I gave for a whirl today and was unimpressed with. That is micro-niche marketing web sites. At first I thought I was unfamiliar with them, but then I realized I had run into these a lot.
Take for example, the site I purchased then quickly asked for a refund.
It appears to be your basic WordPress site with blog posts specifically about red dresses. Then you start to read and realize you are hitting either a scam, robot content or bad SEO (search engine optimization) placement. The term “red dresses for women” is inserted into every other sentence, to ensure that when search engines crawl for content, you can find this story in some of the higher pages.
The unfortunate thing is that the content is strange sounding, even without the purposely placed phrase. And, yet there are many people out there willing to sell you e-books, domains and pre-edited websites like that one and saying to duplicate this process. It’s apparently a slow but simple way to make a lot of money through Google AdSense, Clickbank and other affiliate ads on the sites.
A Money Making Web Pollutant
I’m sure there are plenty of micro-niche marketers out there who would be saddened that I requested two refunds today – one for a micro-niche e-book and for that lovely red dress site. I couldn’t believe I almost became what I like to call a web polluter – filling up the internet with bogus and garbage websites for your own personal gain.
I liken this to the folks who bought in on those “online retail store” sites where you basically the change the name and a few design tweaks and you have your own business, but selling the same stuff as the next guy.
The problem with micro-niche sites (and it’s a really “hot tip” they tell you) is that the content is just unique enough to look credible, until you really start reading it. Unfortunately the internet attention span of most people will overlook this and click away, putting another dollar into the pocket of a faceless “marketer” who owns possibly dozens more sites with unusual URLs.
What Are You Selling?
Another element of this that rubbed me the wrong way is venturing into the world of affiliate links. I’ve done them before, and enjoyed it, but Clickbank unfortunately will take any product and list it as one of the products to market. I found “mystery shopping companies”, which makes you pay for information already provided for free, even the Viagra shams that you get in your e-mail spam box. I was dumbfounded: most of these e-books and products sounded like major flim-flams, but that is what I was being asked to sell. I was really saddened by this.
Not to mention the fact that you can “buy” backlinks – which are essentially fake or suspicious blog or online story comments with a link to these micro-niche pages, just to increase page ranking. I’ve even seen dozens of shady job offers for folks who can write a ton of 500-word articles on various topics. It all started coming together.
What I learned from this is that there is a lot of information out there not only intended to deceive you and make a quick buck, they package it as though it is a useful business opportunity.
Update (10/9/2012): So very happy to hear that Google is aware of this issue with these sites and is doing something about it. Here is a blog post regarding the issue.
What are your thoughts on microniching? Are there other internet marketing tactics out there people should be aware of? Speak your mind below.