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Beginner's handbook Marketing tips

How to Find a Niche for Your Online Store + 100 Niche Market Ideas

By on June 14th, 2022 Reading Time: 9 minutes

So you want to make money from home but aren’t sure where to start. Or maybe you’re already running an ecommerce business, but have a feeling that something’s just off with your storefront.

One of the keys to small business success is targeting the right people and finding a niche.

A niche (pronounced as neesh or nitch) is a specialized market that attracts a specific audience. A niche-oriented business addresses the needs that aren’t being addressed by mainstream providers.

For example, office supplies is a broad niche that can have countless sub-niches like office supplies for left-handed people or notebooks from recycled materials.

Nevertheless, what truly separates one niche from another is the people who buy these products. For that reason, approach the niche-searching process with this in mind:

It’s not the product or service, it’s the people who use it that defines a niche. 

There’s a person behind every purchase, so think of your niche as a group of people who have at least one common interest, problem, or need.

In this post, I’m going to cover the 4 steps to finding a niche for your online store. And if you stick with me till the end, you’ll also get a free list of more than 100 ideas you can use in your brainstorming sessions!

Niche marketing vs. selling everything to everyone

A niche only focuses on a fraction of the market, so you might be wondering, Why would I want to target just a small section of the population? Wouldn’t I get more sales if I targeted everyone?” These are valid questions; after all, there are companies like Amazon and Target that are able to sell everything to everyone, and still be successful.

Learn More: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy

These companies, however, are an exception, not the rule. By targeting everyone, you end up targeting no one as a result, and your sales suffer.

Aim to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a little fish in a big pond.

Consider these benefits of narrowing your niche down:

  • Better search visibility. Targeting a specific niche will get your store in front of online searchers who are almost ready to buy a specific product.
  • Less competition, higher profit margin. If people have less options to choose from, they’re less price-sensitive.
  • Lower advertising costs. Since you’ll be targeting only a specific portion of the population, you won’t have to compete with giants with unlimited advertising resources.
  • More dedicated audience. You’ll get more email subscribers and social media followers because a niche audience is more passionate about the product you’re selling.

Before you start building your online store, you need to know exactly who you’re building it for. This first step will help you understand which niche you belong to as a customer and help you make more informed decisions when you choose a niche for your own store.

Step 1: Draw the niche inspiration from your personal experience

Your personal taste, preferences, and needs put you in several sub-niches, making you a target for countless marketers. Take a look at your favorite brands and the online purchases you’ve made recently. Why did you choose the product from this company, and not from their competitors? What does your preferred brand offer that no one else does?

The Bad Dads Club clothing brand was started by hip dads who felt that the clothing and accessories available on the market did not represent their creative personalities and lifestyle.

bad dads club t-shirt
Source: The Bad Dads Club

Many stores offer custom t-shirts, but very few brands target dads who love motorcycles and tattoos. So if you’ve ever felt limited in the selection of products or services in a niche you belong to, take The Bad Dads Club example and fill that space.

Classic Dad is another brand targeting the fatherhood niche. What sets it apart? Dad jokes. Puns about feeding a baby (and getting thrown up on), doing yard work, grilling, and other typical dad moves quickly found an audience of like-minded “classic dads.”

Classic Dad tshirt designs
Source: Classic Dad

Inspired by childhood memories and the brand owner’s own fatherhood experience, Classic Dad’s designs are personal yet relatable. That’s exactly what a niche-oriented design should be—not for everyone, but just right for the person with a particular interest or experience. In this case, for the “grillin,’ chillin,’ and refillin’” type of dad.

How do you reach an audience as ambiguous as classic dads? If you’re a part of the niche audience you want to target, create fun social media content you personally find engaging. Classic Dad’s founder Daniel Stone started out by posting dad memes on Facebook and Instagram. The strategy proved to be such a success that several years and hundreds of thousands of followers later, it’s still in use.

@classicdadmoves Instagram account
Source: @classicdadmoves Instagram account

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Step 2: Identify your passions and interests

If you base your brand on something you believe in or are willing to fight for, your business will build itself.

StomaStoma was started by Nick and Darlene Abrams. Their son Owen was born prematurely and needing a breathing tube and feeding tube. During the long hospital stays, Nick noticed other families wearing inspiring t-shirts and felt it was a powerful way to bring people together.

A graphic designer himself, Nick soon started creating artwork for his family and friends. Other people started noticing his eye-catching designs, and today StomaStoma has become a close-knit community with families raising medically fragile children.

Stomastoma
Source: StomaStoma

This is an example of a niche that shows how you can build your brand based on something that’s very personal to you or the people in your circle. If you’re emotionally invested in your brand, it will give you the strength to persevere when you face the challenges of running a business.

Take a look at some more examples of clothing brands that turned the passions and personal experiences of their founders into profitable businesses.

Passionfruit is a brand that has tapped into the fashion needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Run by Liz Bertorelli, it aims to create inclusive clothing and accessories that enable you to show your pride all year round. Liz started out by designing shirts that she and her friends could wear to the Pride festival. The brand’s audience gradually expanded from the local queer community to queer people around the world.

The Philosopher’s Shirt is another brand built with a particular niche audience in mind: philosophy enthusiasts. The brand sells printed and embroidered apparel with funny philosophy memes, references to famous thinkers, and witty pop culture wordplay.

If you’re more of a foodie, though, you can take inspiration from Vegan Savage. The brand targets vegan lifestyle enthusiasts by offering sustainable clothing with bold text-based designs like “Plant-based athlete” and “You had me at vegan.”

Vegan Savage Instagram
Source: @vegansavage Instagram account

Learn more: How to Start a Clothing Brand: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Step 3: Research your niche market

It used to be that small businesses had no way to compete with big companies. Things have changed, and with the right amount of SEO (search engine optimization) and dedication, you can make your way into your biggest competitor’s space.

Before launching or scaling your store, find out what’s already going on in the market.You might be unaware of a competitor your potential customers are already interested in, or you may discover the market you’re looking to enter is much more saturated than you expected.

Finding niche competitors

These days, you won’t find a niche market that doesn’t have any competition at all. That’s why it’s important to find your niche competitors, note down their strengths, and decide on the competitive advantage that will make customers choose your business over others.

Here are 3 strategies for researching the competition within your niche.

  • Use Google search

If your competitors have optimized their online stores to be better visible to search engines, you’ll have no trouble finding them on Google. The easiest way to search is to combine the name of your niche and a product name. Try typing “labrador t-shirt” or “math hoodie” to get a general idea of how this works. Once you see what’s on the market, you can brainstorm design and marketing ideas that will make your store stand out among competitors.

  • Check online marketplaces

Online marketplaces like Etsy and RedBubble are goldmines for creative content made by artists from around the globe. Successful marketplace business owners, especially in the printed apparel segment, are highly aware of how niches work and use it to their advantage.

Research online marketplaces even if you’re not selling on these platforms. Find businesses that target your niche audience, note down their marketing tactics and top products (it’s easy—just check the Reviews section or see how many people have favorited a product).

  • Search on social media

There are several ways to find your niche market competition with the help of social media.

First, try searching for influencers and public figures that your target audience is likely to follow, and check what kind of brands and products they promote.

Second, search for hashtags on social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. Make a list of hashtags your target audience engages with most frequently, and note down the brands that use them to promote their products. Doing this will not only help you find competitors you should keep tabs on, but will also help you develop your own marketing strategy later on.

Evaluating niche market competition

Now that you’ve found your competitors, let’s evaluate the niche market you’ve chosen and decide whether it’s worth entering.

Some competition is OK because it validates that there’s money to be made in this niche for you as well. Your competitors will keep you on your toes which in turn will help you improve the quality of your products or services.

To keep up with (and, eventually, get ahead of) the established brands in your niche, you need to figure out your competitive advantage—the thing that makes your product stand out from the rest. What problems can you solve better than your competitors? What’s unique about your approach?

Give people a reason to choose you. It might be product quality, outstanding customer service, or the number of products you offer—whatever it is customers in your niche care about the most.

Small business SEO

SEO is the process of making your website rank higher in Google in order to bring in visitors. Here’s an outline of the basic metrics you should be looking at, as well as some great tools you can use in your research.

Search volume and search queries

Search volume is the estimated volume (or number) of searches for a particular keyword in a given timeframe, and it’s one of the most important metrics that can help you evaluate the interest in and profitability of your niche.

Don’t build what you think people want. Build what they ask for. 

Take advantage of the marketing tools out there and pinpoint what is it that people are searching for online. Tools like Ahrefs and Semrush will help you with keyword research and find the data behind Google searches. You can also use free tools like Answer the Public or Ubersuggest to find information about people’s search queries.

If the search volume is high, it means that there’s a lot of interest in this niche. A lot of interest also means a lot of potential—and a lot of competition. Ideally, you should target keywords with the search volume of 1,000 and higher.

If the search volume is very low, it doesn’t necessarily mean the niche doesn’t exist or it isn’t profitable. Low search volume may indicate that you’re about to be a pioneer in the niche. And if the product doesn’t exist, people don’t know to search for it. Use this to your advantage as your business continues to scale—the search volume will increase with the popularity of your niche.

Online shoppers get very specific, so pay attention to long-tail keywords. “Rose gold custom bracelet” will see far fewer searches than “women’s jewelry”, but it’s a search performed by someone who knows exactly what accessory they want.

When choosing products for your online store, keep an eye on what’s trending. Don’t fall for a fad though—use Google trends to help you to find out which of your niche ideas have a steady and growing trend. If you want your store to thrive as fads change, focus it on something that has more staying power than a fidget spinner.

Step 4: Propose a solution to your niche audience’s problem

Now that you’ve done your research, you need to get a better understanding of what exactly your potential customers need.

Create your store for people, not products. 

If you’re going to give your niche audience just another product, you may end up not getting anywhere. What you need to think about is how to solve their problems. Find the issues your target customers might be having, then determine whether you can actually provide a solution.

For a more in-depth look at your niche audience, explore forums on websites like Quora and Reddit related to your niche, then take a look at the discussions taking place. What questions are people asking? What problems do they have?

Iconspeak, a brand selling t-shirts for travelers, is a great example of a niche that has emerged from a problem-solving process. Iconspeak co-founders Georg and Florian came across the idea of their main product by accident. 

During a trip across Southeast Asia, their motorbikes broke down frequently, and they had to find a way to communicate with the locals to find repair shops. Images speak a universal language, so they started drawing pictures of what they needed on paper. Georg and Florian realized that they kept reusing the drawings all the time, so they decided it would make more sense to put them on a t-shirt. And that’s how Iconspeak was born.

Iconspeak
Source: Iconspeak

This is a textbook case of a niche: Georg and Florian discovered a niche (independent travelers) with a specific need (an easy way to communicate when words fail) and provided a unique solution with their niche t-shirts.


Start Your Own Clothing Line With Printful!


100+ Profitable Niche Market Ideas for Your Online Store

As promised, here are 100+ ideas you can base your online store upon. This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to mix and match these topics to create a unique niche for a t-shirt store, art shop, or any other form of ecommerce business.

  1. Fashion (Brand example: District of Clothing)
  2. Wanderlust (Iconspeak)
  3. Parenthood (Classic Dad, The Bad Dads Club)
  4. Rare conditions (StomaStoma, ND Renegade)
  5. Beliefs (PAL Campaign)
  6. Districts and neighborhoods (#muhoov)
  7. Woodworking (Nick’s Wood Shop)
  8. Parks and green spaces (Love MPLS parks)
  9. Workout gear (Kettlebell Kings)
  10. Social media for pets (We Rate Dogs)
  11. Virt ual and augmented reality
  12. Wearable technology
  13. Zero-waste lifestyle
  14. Civil rights
  15. LGBTQ+ (Passionfruit, Queer Ivy, Point 5cc)
  16. Body-positivity
  17. Recycling
  18. Vegan cuisine (Vegan Savage)
  19. Paralympic sports
  20. Stay-at-home parents
  21. Single parents
  22. Expecting parents
  23. Newlyweds
  24. Solo-traveling
  25. Tiny house
  26. Van life
  27. Animal welfare
  28. Dog & cat breeds
  29. Unusual pets
  30. Animals with special needs
  31. Animal sanctuaries
  32. Birdwatching
  33. Pet accessories
  34. Specialty coffee
  35. Homebrewing
  36. Local cuisine and delicacies
  37. Artisan foods
  38. Mixology
  39. Meditation and relaxation
  40. Posture devices
  41. Cycling
  42. Grooming
  43. Internet memes
  44. Demotivational quotes
  45. Hand lettering and calligraphy
  46. Left-handed people
  47. Tech preferences
  48. Sailing and canoeing
  49. Geocaching
  50. Biohacking

If you didn’t yet find the topic that makes your eyes light up, we have 50 more ideas prepared, you can download them below.

Time to pick your niche

We have now covered the main aspects of finding your place in the ecommerce world. To recap, here are the 4 things you should do to find your niche:

  • Find out where you belong as a customer
  • Decide on an area in life you care about deeply
  • Research the interest in your niche
  • Identify a problem and propose a unique solution.

And now it’s time to implement these tips in real life and start building your own niche business. Taking action is the scariest part for any entrepreneur, but fear not: if you go through these steps thoroughly, entering the market will be a calculated risk, not a shot in the dark.

Tell me in the comments how it went, I’d love to hear from you!

Madara is a content marketer for the Printful Blog. Her background in linguistics and belief in the power of SEO come in handy when she’s creating content that inspires ecommerce store owners and helps them grow their business.

Comments

  1. Diana Knapstein

    Many thanks for this well written article. I have a couple of questions though. First off, do you have any thoughts on combining niches, how to research and how to do so successfully? Specifically, I’m thinking about combining Evangelical Christian with dog lover and traveler.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey, Diana, do you want to focus on all 3 niches or is it a really specific niche that focuses on Evangelical Christians that love dogs and traveling? If it’s the second option, I would describe it as narrowing your niche instead of combining. Some research will show you if it’s too narrow or will work just fine. Have a look at step 3 of this article where it explains more in detail how to approach your research.

  2. Adam Morris

    I have choose my niche..,how does one target them. I must be missing something, everything you say I can do, I read a lot of info about it but don’t know how to do it for my own shop. Easy selecting my niche, no so Putting that into place

  3. Lulu

    If you make t-shirts for people who love skateboarding is your niche ‘skateboarding’, ‘people who love skateboarding’, or ‘t-shirts for people who love skateboarding’? (There’s a huge difference in search volume between them.)

    Are your competitors businesses that sell anything related to skateboards, or are they businesses that sell t-shirts for skateboard lovers?

    1. Katherine Karklina

      That’s a valid point, Lulu! That’s definitely also something that needs to be considered. Thank you for your comment!

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