Best Home-Based Business, 2014: Online Niche Communities

If there’s one thing the Internet has taught us one thing, it’s that people organize themselves into communities. They crave community. It might be people interested in Star Trek or Breaking Bad, baseball statistics, crafts, a particular religion—it can be anything.

If you build a website that caters to a niche community, you can turn it into a business. You’ll be able to get ad revenue, pay-per-click programs, possible sales of subscriptions to the site or to some of the information, or to adjunct items that spring from your information such as e-books or print books.

Friday Night Social is just one example of a niche community that really took off. It’s a singles site set up by a former therapist about a decade ago that has known success ever since.

Another is CWHM or Christian Work at Home Moms, a home-based business Jill Hart started several years ago. She mentors and blogs to help single mothers find career paths and balance their lives as mothers and businesswomen.

What Niche Markets Can Do for You

Niche markets are very beneficial in:

  • building expertise- you’re probably starting as an expert to some extent, but the community will help with that. They’ll have questions that will spur you on to more and more knowledge, and the Q & A format will establish you as the answer person.
  • bringing in a loyal audience. The subject matter has a built-in audience, and if you are pairing the market with an existing business or line, or if the community itself is the business, going the route of a field with an existing audience is always smart.

How To Succeed with Niche Markets

  • Collaborate- You’ll find so many different perspectives within your community as in everywhere else in life. Value the knowledge that is already out there—don’t try to speak with a bullhorn as though you’re the one with all the knowledge.
  • Be consistent- You don’t have to bomb your community with far too much information, but you shouldn’t go away for extended periods of time, particularly without explanations. Without giving the matter much thought, if people visit your site and find it without recent updates, they’ll be less likely to visit often, and soon they’ll forget about you altogether.

Quantities of Quality

This last tip can be considered a point under the heading “how to succeed…” but it’s important enough to merit its own section. Essentially, when engaging a niche community, you have to have amazing quality. You’re addressing people who know an awful lot about the subject at hand, and who are probably regularly learning more. You can’t give them material that they don’t find inspiring, unique, or interesting, and you can’t rehash material available elsewhere. Here are some ways to deliver dynamic, valuable content:

  • Stats and facts- If you give your community hard and fast numbers, they’ll love you for it. Now, some of these will be available online already—which is how you’ll get them—but if you compile them in an easy-to-read manner, perhaps filtering larger batches of stats to accord directly with what your community is looking for, you’ll be adding solid value.
  • Analysis- Closely tied to this is your analysis. This doesn’t mean simple anecdotes from your experience, but astute, measured analysis. You can be interpreting some of these facts and figures or analyzing a recent news story relevant to your community. Your expertise and knowledge will come in handy here—this is something unique to you and your site that your users won’t be able to find anywhere else.
  • Ties to your community- You may be the only voice online speaking directly to your community, as in making references to some individual posters you’ve interacted with, responding to their questions, etc. Bringing them in and making them feel part of something can be something you give that no one else does.

People are social animals. Knowing what makes people tick is key to entrepreneurs. Put those two together, and finding a niche market can be a great idea for a home-based business.