How To Find A Profitable Market Niche For Free

Shortly after I first started working online I became a member of Wealthy Affiliate. One of the main players in the forums there was Travis Sago (of BumMarketing) who had a simple rule people should follow if they wanted to succeed online:

  1. Find a starving crowd
  2. Find out what they want to eat
  3. Feed it to them

I would add an extra step between 2 and 3:

2.a) Validate it

Easy to say, but what exactly does it mean..?

Before we get into breaking that down, let’s assume that you’ve already worked out what industry you’re going to be marketing to. Most likely it’s an industry that you’re either interested in or know a lot about.

Within that industry you then need to find a niche that you can dominate. Again – you may already have a clear idea of this just from your knowledge and past involvement.

But let’s say that, although you know your industry, you haven’t yet identified your niche. In this case here are some steps you can follow:

Find a starving crowd.

This refers to finding a market niche, and here are some ways to do that.

Join Forums:

There are thousands of forums online, covering pretty much any subject you can think of. Go to Google and do a search for forums relating to your area of interest – the industry you’re marketing to.

You’ll need to spend some time assessing forums that are worthwhile.  While there are thousands of forums online, only a minority of them will be worth your time and effort. Find them!

They’ll be the ones with a large, active membership, where a reasonable proportion of the posts have a lot of replies, where rules relating to forum behaviour are politely but firmly enforced and where activity is current – meaning lots of activity in the past 24 hours and at least some activity in the past hour (but take the time of day and membership numbers into account!).

When you’ve identified and joined the right forum(s) take time to get to know the key forum members, and make valuable contributions wherever you can to establish a level of credibility and trust.

Find out what they want to eat:

As you come to know the forum you will begin to see a thread of frequently asked questions emerging. For example, Im a member of the Warrior Forum and one of the questions that frequently comes up is about members’ views on the best free autoresponder service.

This was so obviously an area that people new to marketing online were interested in that it prompted me to write a recent post on it. If you had particular skills or knowledge in this area it could provide you with a market niche to consider.

Validate it:

Once you find a niche that looks interesting you need to validate it.

So back to the Big G and type in a search for your niche term (‘free autoresponder services’, for example). See how many results come back. This is the number of pages that contain your search term or parts of your search term – potentially your competition.

To get a more accurate result you should place your search term in quotes: “free autoresponder services”.

Next you should check out the number of searches per month that are made for your term or similar terms.

There are several tools available that will give you both these answers and give you ratios of searches to results, competitive information and so on.

This is a good one and definitely worth a look – there is a free plan as well as premium plans: SEO Keyword research tool.

You can also check out the search results in Google and Yahoo, and using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get an indication of the number of searches per month.

Yahoo also had a publicly available keyword tool, called the Overture Keyword Selector Tool. This was better than the Adwords Keyword tool but it appears to have been taken offline.

I understand that Yahoo is upgrading it, so it would be worth checking for it periodically, because the old version had more functionality and enabled you to get more granular results than Adwords – it was more helpful as a result.

You’re looking for a high number of searches and a low number of results. This would indicate that there’s a lot of interest in the niche (high number of searches) and it’s not particularly competitive (low number of results).

But beware: a low number of results could also indicate that the niche is not profitable!

So how to get an indication as to whether the niche is profitable?

Check the sponsored results on the right hand side of the search results pages.

You don’t want too few – that would imply that the niche is not profitable – and you don’t want too many – indicating too much competition.

I generally feel that if there’s between 1 – 3 pages (11 – 30 ads) of unique sponsored results this would indicate a niche that’s potentially profitable and not too competitive.

You then need to monitor these ads for a week to 10 days.

If the majority of the ads are consistently being displaid over a reasonable period of time this, again, would indicate that the niche is profitable, because these ads would soon disappear if the niche was not profitable!

Feed it to them:

Once you’ve found out what your starving crowd wants to eat, and validated that it’s a potentially profitable niche, you need to feed it to them – which is the easiest step of all.

You can either develop your own product or find an affiliate product that meets the needs you’ve identified, and then set up your marketing campaign.

Setting up a marketing campaign and promoting your product is the subject of another article – today we’re identifying your niche!

Check out eBay:

Another way to identify what people are searching for is to check out the most searched-for items on eBay.

eBay is the biggest online marketplace and people who make searches on eBay are people who are actively looking for something – they’re ready to buy.

Here’s a great starting point for finding out what people are searching for on eBay – it’s an index page of eBay searches.

Once you identify something that’s being searched for regularly on eBay, and within the market industry you’re targeting, you can then go back and do the validation process I described earlier.

Off-line niche hunting:

As with so many aspects of running an online business, don’t limit yourself to online activities and resources. Go off line. And that applies to market research too.

Here’s a great article on how to use bookstores to identify profitable market niches. It’s a guest post by Jason on Copyblogger and very well worth a read. (Off topic, I know, but Copyblogger is the best source of copywriting tips I’ve come across – and it’s free, so I don’t get any commission for saying that!).

So, to summarise:

Find a starving crowd: know what industry you’re targeting and join relevant forums, research eBay or research bookstores.

Find out what they want to eat: become active in the forums and look out for questions that are asked frequently, look for very targeted searches on eBay or magazines focused on a tiny niche within your market.

Validate your niche: check out the number of searches and results in a month, check out the sponsored ads and see whether there’s a regularly published off line magazine focused on your niche.

Feed it to them: Develop your product or find an affiliate product and develop your marketing campaign.

So how do you identify profitable niches? Leave a comment letting us know about useful techniques you’ve used to identify profitable niches!


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Deeter 26 March, 2008, 8:07 pm

    Great tips… Another great source of info on active niches comes from Paypal Shops feature at the bottom of your Paypal account. This lists tons of niche ranked by volume of sales.


  • WealthyDragon 26 March, 2008, 8:28 pm

    Deeter, hi,

    Thanks – I agree – that’s a great source of active niches..!

    Thanks for the heads up,



  • Keith 26 March, 2008, 9:13 pm

    Well said…indeed even the internet is about supply and demand…Economics 101! Thanks for sharing. Regards, Keith Johnson, Author, 365 Great Affirmations.

  • WealthyDragon 26 March, 2008, 9:28 pm

    Keith, hi,

    Many thanks! Glad you found it useful..!



  • AnneMarie Callan 27 March, 2008, 3:01 pm

    Great article with information which is so important to being successful online. This is sadly overlooked too often.

    Hope many people find it, just as I have.


  • WealthyDragon 27 March, 2008, 5:22 pm

    Hi AnneMarie,

    I’m glad you found it useful – and thanks!



  • Good Payday Loans 27 April, 2008, 10:18 am

    Great information I especially like
    “To succeed online:

    Find a starving crowd
    Find out what they want to eat
    Feed it to them
    I would add an extra step between 2 and 3:

    2.a) Validate it”

    Couldn’t agree more on validate it, everytime I have a site that doesn’t take off it is usually becuase I didn’t do validation phase

  • WealthyDragon 28 April, 2008, 7:09 am

    Thanks GPL!

    I’m glad you found it useful,



  • Tim 9 August, 2008, 1:20 pm

    Feed a starving crowd…simple but profound. Thanks for the reminder of what works.

  • WealthyDragon 10 August, 2008, 9:03 am

    My pleasure Tim,

    Although the credit must go to Travis Sago – I just repeated his wisdom!



  • Tom At The Home Business Archive 29 August, 2008, 8:47 pm

    Niche marketing encourages people to be unique and one of a kind, because you are not competing against established marketers.It´s fun to find that small niche that is undiscovered and then run a marketing campaign on it. You get an even bigger kick when you see those sales roll in.

  • WealthyDragon 30 August, 2008, 9:28 am

    Thanks Tom,

    Nothing succeeds like success, huh!?



  • renan 2 September, 2008, 1:45 am

    users conduct an estimated 170 million transactions a year on ebay.
    How are markets identified and formed on eBay?

    i’m a student of STI calamba laguna philippines.
    i’m survey this question to my project please can you help me to answer this question?
    thankyou for your coordination…

  • WealthyDragon 2 September, 2008, 10:44 am

    Hi Renan,

    eBay is, itself, a market. It has various categories which serve to group together similar products so that they can be more easily searched. These would equate to zones or areas of a traditional off-line market – e.g. fresh foods, domestic appliances etc.

    It’s up to eBay sellers to categorise the products or services they’re selling, and it’s in their interest to do so correctly since that will increase the exposure their product gets to targetted buyers (searchers).

    Over time new categories may emerge or a category may be sub-divided into more focused sub-categories, depending on demand.



  • Edwin 7 June, 2009, 11:20 pm

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks a lot. This is what I am looking for to find a profitable niche for free. I just started my online business one year ago and still struggling to become a successful internet marketer with this world situation :).

    This little tips is very important for me… thanks again.


    Edwin´s last blog post..Secrets to Cat Training

    • WealthyDragon 8 June, 2009, 10:24 am

      Hi Edwin,

      You’re very welcome! There are some other posts on here to do with market research if you need some more ideas. Just do a search for ‘Market Research’ and that will throw up some articles. Also, check the ‘Related Posts’ at the bottom of each article.



  • Edwin 10 June, 2009, 2:44 pm

    Hi Martin,

    Me again…. 🙂 I would like to share this story to you and this is true story after read Martin article.

    I follow your step above… with the first step is finding the niches on Ebay Pulse. I always interested with Health products, and then I look at Health & Beauty >> Dietary and Nutrition Supplement category. The top product watched is Acai Berry. OK, I think this is a “starving crowed” you told.

    Then… I joined on of Health forum, and again… found the Acai Berry is the top one searched by people. OK, this is what “people want to eat”… so I would like to “feed them” right? 😀

    Then… I joined CPA offers with one of CPA Network and select the Acai Berry product. I made my landing page (this is the hard part :p ). After that I create my Google PCC campaign with $25 budget. Then “validate it” the Acai Berry keywords.

    The result is…. I was suprised!. I got $75 payout the next day…. just only 3 clicks hit (about $1.9). At they report, I got $50 for CPA flat payout then $25 for re-ordered product which mean 50% commission after leaded. I got $50 profit after reduce from advertisement budget ($75-$25)

    OK Guys… you must try the Martin guide above. Dont give up!

    Thanks Martin you are my man… wish you always success.

    Edwin &

    Edwin´s last blog post..Secrets to Cat Training

    • WealthyDragon 10 June, 2009, 4:04 pm

      YESSS..! I love it when someone puts something into practice and makes it work..!

      Well done Edwin, it’s great to hear your success story. Congratulations, and you deserve all the success you can get because you actually take action on information instead of just looking at it.

      Great stuff 🙂