Welcome to my first ever blog post in 2015. It comes before I embark on a huge Facebook series which I promise will be worth the premium price I was originally planning to sell the information for. I realised that before I talk about how to utilise Facebook to grow a huge audience and make money, you have to be confident in the website you’re going to promote.
The niche I’m going to reveal to you today is so amazing and something you’ll be so passionate about that I rented out a four-floor office and hired four full-time staff just to build a serious website to cover it. While the name ViperChill still might not really mean anything, this is going to be the most meaningful blog post new webmasters read this year.
I’m going to tell you exactly what this is at the start of this article just to be fair. However, I know that as soon as you read what it is you’re just going to tell yourself, “Ugh, is that it?”. Just promise that in your disappointment you’ll read the ensuing few sentences.
The best topic to build a website about in 2015 is one you truly care about, utilising an angle that has the potential to make you a lot of money.
So this is where you hear me out: It’s no longer enough to pick a website niche, hire some writers to cover the content for you and start building traffic then expecting it to make you tons of cash. For the most part, those days are gone.
Instead, what new websites need is a leader behind them who is so into that topic that he’s willing to go the extra mile to see that the website is a success.
Someone who runs with new content ideas because they’re interesting to them personally and they want to see what the rest of the world thinks.
Someone who gets angry that their website isn’t doing as well as it should because they know they can be better than the competition.
Someone who is willing to spend countless hours figuring out what other players in the field are doing because they ARE going to make money from this passion.
Someone who truly understands their target audience – or is ready to learn – so they can provide exactly what they’re looking for.
Someone who cares a lot more than the guy outsourcing all of the work and is in it just for the money.
I didn’t even get into the fact that building a website around something you love is far more enjoyable and you’re more likely to keep working on it in the first few weeks and months where progress can seem slow and financial success a distant dream.
Now, that isn’t to say there isn’t money to be made from websites you don’t care about. There is actually far more money to be made in industries you don’t care about. How I wish I had dreams about Gold Individual Retirement Accounts.
While it’s possible to make big money from industries that have no interest to you – I’m talking outside of traditional paid ads and affiliate marketing here – it’s rare. Just like how once in a while you might see a poor, ugly man with a beautiful wife or girlfriend, it’s not something that comes along in your reality very often.
I know it’s an overused cliché to simply say “build a website around something you love” and in fact if you don’t want to follow my advice on your niche selection you can still get a lot out of this post but I can only speak with real conviction about my own personal experiences.
And those experiences tell me that the sites I build where I’m primarily focusing on their potential income never really amount to anything.
What I want to show in today’s blog post is how I scour the web to look for opportunities around my passions. It’s my hope that you can take the following advice and insights and apply them to the industry that you personally find the most interesting and exciting in 2015.
When looking for these opportunities, what I’m really hoping to discover is the types of sites that are popular, the platforms that are most popular, the content that gets the most attention and how people are monetizing their websites.
While the aim here isn’t to just copy other successful models, I think it’s very important that you have a very clear and solid understanding of a niche online before you build a new competitor.
To make this post less generic I have decided to choose a niche which has little to do with my own passions and something I know very little about when it comes to online communities: Magic.
I’ve bought some tricks from a Magic shop before – about 15 years ago – but that’s as far as I ever got. I genuinely know nothing about the online state of this industry and chose it so that you can follow me along as I learn about it at the same time as you.
So let’s assume that I want to get into magic again and I want to make money online. Here’s my plan.
What we’re aiming to do first is branch out as far and wide as possible to find all relevant communities and platforms online. You start with the most obvious sources like Facebook and Youtube and so on and then you end up on communities and sites that you had no idea existed just a few moments prior.
That branching out will look something a little like this.
Apologies for the ugly graphic. It took longer than I would like to admit to make in Photoshop but hopefully gets the idea across.
Once you’ve cast a net far and wide we’ll then start connecting the dots backwards and see where these sites have similarities. Similarities in terms of the style of content they’re producing, the traffic generation methods they use and how they’re being monetised.
Let’s get onto platform one, shall we?
Since I am about to start a huge Facebook series (few posts, but far too many words, as usual) I don’t want to give away too much in this section. Consider it a taste of things to come, but still useful enough to give you something to work with.
When I was recording voice memo’s on my phone I planned out this entire article, yet ironically forgot to remind myself that I need to look at Facebook for niche research as well.
After all, popular Facebook pages can be huge money makers on their own. Even without being connected to a website you fully own.
To start with, I simply went to the search bar at the top of Facebook and typed “Magic”. Facebook will give you a number of suggestions for pages, but if you go to the bottom of the list you’ll see an option just to do a simple Facebook search for that word:
If your Facebook options are configured like mine, once you click on that search option you’ll see Posts related to magic. From there, click on Pages on the topic navigation since that’s what we’re looking for.
My search was clearly too broad, since the top results here are for Magic the Gathering, Magic Mike XXL and the Orlando Magic basketball team.
Narrowing my search to “Magician” brought more relevant results. However, Facebook seems to show very few results via this search option these days.
As an aside, if you don’t want to go through the search process where you ignore suggested pages, click on the bottom result and then click on pages, just modify this URL:
Replacing the word in bold with whatever you want to search for.
After a bit of clicking I was able to find pages like Dynamo, the UK magician, and Criss Angel, a popular American alternative.
Honestly, the search feature on Facebook doesn’t seem to be that great. I tend to have better luck by searching Google for the relevant pages so “Magician Facebook”, “Magic Tricks Facebook” and so on. Google tends to show higher results for pages which have a lot of likes and activity.
From there I found pages like:
If these numbers seem low, that’s because they are.
Neither of these searches has provided good results when they normally would. And it’s not like Magic is dead on Facebook. Criss Angel and Dynamo have 4 million and 5 million Likes respectively.
At least you can see I’m really doing this as I’m writing as promised. These results surprise me.
Now on to another option.
I really didn’t want to share this until my Facebook series, but it’s a GREAT little trick I discovered after a lot of figuring out Facebook.
You’ve probably noticed that whenever you like a Facebook page, Facebook will show you suggestions on other pages that you might like as well. So if you click Like on the page of my football team, Newcastle United, Facebook suggest that I might like Nike’s Football focused page, and wrongly suggest that I might like Sunderland AFC (our biggest rival).
You can click ‘See more sugggestions’ to see even more options if you like.
If you’re trying to find dozens or even hundreds of relevant pages in your niche, this is going to be a slow and laborious process.
Especially since – unless you have your Facebook profile on lockdown – your friends and family will find you liking a lot of pages just so you can see the Facebook suggestions.
Fortunately, there’s a better way.
Here’s what it looks like:
This simple link (which you have to edit) will show you pages that Facebook thinks are relevant to any Facebook page you choose.
All you need to do is find the ID of that page.
Let’s use an example. If I head on over to the ViperChill Facebook page and Right Click on my profile image and select Copy Link Location I get something that looks like this:
I blanked the other numbers out so the link is clearer. What you want to do is copy the number after the third full stop.
If you replace the ID from the previous link I shared you’ll get this:
And if you go to that link Facebook will show you the most relevant pages to ViperChill. You’ll probably recognise some of them.
You can do this with any page, so here’s me doing one related to magic:
From that simple page with just 30,000 fans I can find more which are relevant to what I’m looking for.
There’s David Blaine with 420,000 fans. Surprisingly, he hasn’t updated his page since October 2014. I will admit that – due to his Facebook inactivity – I Google’d to check if he’s still alive. Relax, he is!
I also found British magician Jonathan Goodwin, who I didn’t know previously, with 28,307 fans. There’s also a number of people who aren’t Magicians but instead UK comedians.
While these are fairly useless in my research period for the moment, they may be useful later when / if you start running Facebook ads so still keep note of them anyway.
If I do the same search for page suggestions from people who like David Blaine, I get better results:
And on the list goes.
For every big page you find (100,000+ likes), run them through this Similar pages “trick” and continue to grow your list of relevant pages. Then, to take it to the next level, start going through their recent posts to find which gets the most engagement from their audience.
Many of these pages – such as The Blue Crown – will also have websites attached to them. Write these down for later as well.
While one of Youtube’s huge features is how much content there is on every subject imaginable, the mass of videos on the site can also be a bit of a drawback. Especially when you’re trying to separate the signal from the noise.
For example, a quick search for “Magic tricks” shows 2.2 million results.
Changing the filter to “Most Views” helps get to the better content on the site but it’s still a little messy.
What I’m really looking for is people who regularly upload relevant content which gets a lot of views.
While the guy who is doing a prank with his legs cut off and getting 20 million views is cool, there’s not really much I can learn from it other than “magic pranks work”. It would be nice to see someone publishing regular videos around a singular topic because if they are, it’s likely they’re making money from them.
Therefore, I have to find Channels.
The easiest way to find a lot of channels is to simply find one. Start going through the relevant search results – in this case a search term for “magic tricks” – and look for usernames which may suggest this isn’t just a one-off magic video on their account you’re seeing in the search results.
Of course, when you’re doing this yourself, you’ll replace magic with your own niche. I initially guessed Youtube would be the best platform to look at because it makes sense to me that the top magicians will be posting their videos there. It may be the case for you that Youtube has very little to do with your industry. That’s totally fine. Later you’ll see other platforms have nothing to do with mine.
When you find a popular channel and click on it, you’ll likely see other related or recommended channels on the right hand side of the page, like so:
Using this method I managed to find a few relevant channels related to my chosen industry:
All you do is simply go through each channel and look at their related or recommended channels as well. In the right niche, this list can get very long.
Finally, to take things a step further, consider sorting each channel’s videos by the most viewed and make a note of which types of videos in your industry that Youtuber’s prefer to watch. This could be invaluable later, especially if you go the video route.
Another source of potential eyeballs that I assumed would have a lot of people using them in the Magic space is Forums. I didn’t really do anything special but use relevant Google queries to find what I was looking for here. As far as building a forum goes, I will almost never choose this for a niche (though there is an exception I’ll cover in a future update).
They generally require far too much work to build and keep active and most industries have too many established forums already that you’ll be competing with.
Here’s some forums I found and the number of posts they have:
Of course, post count isn’t everything. What you really should be looking for when hunting around forums is how many members are online and how recently were their biggest categories posted in. It doesn’t matter if a forum has a few million posts – forums about TV show LOST do – if nobody is checking them out or keeping them fresh anymore.
Remember: From each website you find, continue to branch out. Branch out as far as you can possibly go on the web.
That last forum in my bullet points has clear links to their Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages which can give you more leads to work with. This could take one or two hours or it could be ten or twenty. Whatever the time frame, this part is crucial. Don’t allow research to last forever in place of action but do give it a significant time investment.
I have to say there are fewer popular Magic forums than I thought there would be. At least from the ones I could quickly find. It may be possible that practicing tricks is a dying hobby in the wake of the growing internet or that it wasn’t that big to begin with.
It may be the case that the niche you have chosen has a huge following on other social networks. For instance, if you love programming and teaching it, you’ll find a large audience of fellow programmers in the Reddit community.
If you love cooking or handicrafts then Pinterest will be a place to ponder.
For the “Magic Tricks” niche I think that Reddit and StumbleUpon will be my best options. StumbleUpon should (hopefully) show me content which has been viral in the past and will give me some good ideas to work with. I assume that Reddit has some related sub-Reddits catering to people learning card tricks or other disciplines within magic.
I started out on Reddit with a simple search for “magic” and it didn’t pull back any relevant sub-Reddits. Magic tricks was not much of a better query.
I’m not too surprised here since Reddit is long-known to have a poor search engine. So we continue our hunt by searching Reddit by heading over to Google instead. Similar queries like “Reddit magic tricks” brought better results.
Here are some relevant sub-Reddits I could find:
I could spend more time looking into Reddit but honestly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a magic community on the site. Especially when the core magic sub-Reddit only has 11,000 subscribers. For now, I’ll write it off.
This really surprised me, but that’s the kind of thing you can only learn by doing this research.
StumbleUpon, however, has revealed some real gems.
The Magic Illusions interest (link) has found me articles which have received as many as 3 million views from the site. Even random articles on the page have between 50 and 500,000 views on average. While they aren’t purely magic related, I could definitely see myself using some of these later.
Unfortunately StumbleUpon doesn’t seem to have any search engine these days – as it used to have with StumbleUpon Buzz – and even changing the interests via URL doesn’t really find me anything. /Magic and /Magician return exactly zero results.
I’ll skip a long story short and save you the time I wasted trying to find good sources on Tumblr: It’s also a miss. While there were a few random magicians who seemed to get a lot of likes on their posts, they were often very old users who aren’t active on the site anymore.
Out of these three sources only one interest on StumbleUpon turned out to be a good find. At least we now know what not to focus on which almost as good as knowing what to focus on.
I found so few valuable blogs in this industry that this section barely deserves it’s own H2 headline.
That’s not to say there aren’t magic-related blogs, but like Tumblr they were either dying or hadn’t been updated in a number of years. Or they just weren’t big enough to worth making note of.
As a consolation prize, my research into blogs did once again show the power of branching out – spreading as far from your starting point as possible – to find relevant communities online you can utilise later.
I found the Ellusionist.com blog and went through it. I clicked on their homepage and found a huge eCommerce store, beautifully designed, related to magic.
From there I found their Twitter page which had a surprisingly impressive 17,000 followers. Did you even notice that I had forgot to check Twitter in all of this? I never even thought about it yet it’s one of the biggest social networks there is. Stupid? Maybe. But the obvious things are sometimes the easiest to miss.
I also found their Facebook page which has an impressive 217,000 fans. I think it would have taken me forever to find it via the Facebook trick I showed earlier in this post yet by taking a new angle, looking for a new platform, there it was.
I really can’t predict at all what you’ll find when you do this for your own desired industry. When I did this for my current niche project site I found that all of my biggest competitors were using the same traffic stats script and I could literally see how many visitors each of them were getting each day and where they were all coming from.
They had made it semi-public for advertisers, but I found out how to access the information without being one.
The find has been an absolute goldmine to me, but I wouldn’t have discovered it without putting in the hours to really know more about my niche online than anyone else.
Even for the magic niche here, there are opportunities I’ve stumbled across which could mean the difference between getting off to a rocky start or quickly becoming one of the biggest sites in your niche.
Take one of the forums I found. It belonged to MagicianSchool.com. That’s a pretty nice domain if I say so myself. Now even though their forum has over 75,000 posts…it’s DEAD.
Their homepage hasn’t been updated in forever yet they still have links from 76 different domains (via Ahrefs) and 25,000 pages of content crawled.
You never know, the owner might just be happy to see someone else revive the community or at least accept a bid for the domain. A Whois search will find you their email address. Remember, even if a domain is protected by WHOIS the email address available on their records must be operational.
A domain can be removed from the owner if this is not the case.
The illusions I found on StumbleUpon aren’t exactly magic related in terms of card tricks, but they could be used as a great compilation blog post or even a compilation video for my Youtube channel.
Browsing through forums I found tons of link opportunities as well. Look at this thread on Theory11 forums.
On the 5th post some guy called Elias sticks a link into his post which wasn’t really necessary. You don’t see anyone complaining though and while it is no-followed, I would still take it for the traffic potential.
I learned a lot about how people are monetising their websites as well.
The guy from LearnEasyMagic.com is pushing a $27 Clickbank product. A product he claims is the result of removing all of his past Magic-related articles from About.com and giving them away in four amazing books.
FreeMagicTricks4U.com operates in a similar manner, this time selling a $37 product.
The popular Youtube channel, Disturb Reality, recently launched a Kickstarter project to get people to buy their playing cards. Unfortunately they didn’t hit the required goal, but he did manage to show that people are at least $16,000 interested in buying a custom deck.
If I manage to build an audience in this niche and wanted to build my own deck, I now know to set the goal a little lower. Heh.
I found other people selling their own Magic tricks from $2.50 to $200 per item.
The list goes on and on. Not to mention the content style I found works the best and my clear understanding of how important Youtube and forums are, and how unimportant blogs seem to be.
The results of this research have been interesting to me, but not entirely surprising.
I assumed Reddit would have had a bigger community of Magicians (though maybe I just can’t find them) but for the most part, things were as I expected. I had (rightfully) assumed before going into this that blogs on the topic wouldn’t be huge but Facebook and Youtube would be big portals for beginner and advanced magicians.
It also makes sense that there are forums to cater to people who want to discuss their love of performing.
So, based on the original scenario, what would I do?
Well, my answer isn’t in the style of website I would build, but in the angle I would take. Quite simply, I would likely brand myself as The World’s Worst Magician (seriously) and take it from there.
I would document my journey from being literally the world’s worst magician – or as low on the skills ladder as you can get – to actually learning tricks and improving my delivery.
Very recently a video went viral of one man who tried to become “Expert in a Year” by playing table tennis every single day. He tried to rank in the top 250 in the UK within a year. While he didn’t achieve his goal, the video he shared of his journey was very well received:
There were the obvious troll comments, asking why he would waste so much time on such a “shitty” sport, but that 1.2 million view count is impressive on it’s own.
I would love to (hypothetically) take this model with my magic niche. Record myself trying to same trick or move every single day until I had it perfected. Every single day I would publish a 30 second or 1 minute video to Youtube of me performing that act.
Then every 3 months, put together a compilation of me mastering that certain trick and how long it took. I can’t imagine that some tricks would take a year to master, so 3 months (or maybe even less) would be a good enough time to do everything.
This angle also allows me to market myself in a unique way.
Forums would surely be fine with the personal promotion because I wouldn’t be selling anything from the start and in their eyes I’m really just a “noob” magician.
The relevant sub-Reddit’s would surely be happy to give me advice on what I’m doing wrong and enjoy my final compilation videos of practice to perfect.
More importantly than that, I think the videos (and related blog posts) would be able to reach a much wider audience outside of magic. Granted, I would reach a lot of people who would never come back to my site, but then there’s the chance of meeting people who enjoyed the video and want to get into magic themselves or people who used to be into it and the magic of the videos (pun intended) would charm them back into the hobby.
Just imagine it: A cool timeline style compilation video of all of the biggest tricks in magic. Card shuffling, levitation, making items disappear and whatever else I can conjure up (pun intended, again).
As an added bonus, I would actually get better at magic.
The trust that I would get from people who see my own journey from beginner to intermediate to expert would also enable me to sell more products. I could set up a cool online course sharing all of the tips and tricks I learned along the way to speed up my progress.
I could share which tricks I learned that impressed people and those that were just too difficult I gave up on.
I could follow the path of other magicians and – if I put enough time in – probably figure out other ways to pull off popular tricks and sell my variations, props included!
Now, it may be the case that even after reading this post you still don’t know what style of website or angle to take for the industry that you love. That’s OK. The only reason I could come up with this idea in the first place is because I knew which niche I wanted to operate in and I was open to what people on the web respond to (even if that involves totally different industries).
I promise that if you put in the time like I have for any industry the answers will start coming to you. If you have a nice in mind and an angle then that’s great too. I hope you’re taking action with it.
…to remember is that you don’t need to have your end goal or perfect plan in place before getting started.
That office I rented? I’m still unsure of the business model I’ll be utilising my staff for. I’m not sure if I’m going to be selling physical products, digital products or focusing on advertising. There’s far more income potential on the physical product side, but it would take a bigger time and financial investment to get off the ground.
I’m not sure but my experience tells me it’s imperative I do something. So, I started a blog / news website for that particular field. As far as content goes, let’s say that if my niche was Football then 60% of my posts are transfer and player related, while 40% are looking back at classic goals, great matches of the past and funny memes.
I don’t know if it’s what I’ll be doing forever, thought it has started very well. After three weeks we’re averaging a little over 6,000 visitors per day (record day was 16,000) and I don’t need to spend more than $20 per day on ads to keep this going.
ScamSchool, another popular magic related Youtube channel I found run an online e-Commerce store called ‘Scam Stuff‘ which sells their own products. I bet when they started out they didn’t think they would be running an online store and featuring in TV shows for National Geographic.
These things tend to happen as a by-product of doing what you love, consistently, over a period of time.
If you keep working at it, and believe that things will figure themselves out, they usually will.
As mentioned in the intro, I had planned to kick off a huge Facebook ads series. As I was explaining to my brother recently, it wouldn’t be able to help everyone unless you had a niche and website angle in mind before you get started.
My hope is that the information I’ve provided here is enough to give you a start and direction if you don’t know where you’re heading. If you have an established website in mind, the following posts will help you take that to the next level.
While Facebook is far from the only source to focus on, I feel it’s better for me to cover at least one platform in a lot of detail. Especially when my current niche project is utilising that platform more than anything else.
I’m still an SEO guy, but it’s hard to ignore the potential of something like Facebook, with ads, events groups and other opportunities to help you grow your brand and reach people that other communities and ad platforms simply can’t reach.
Just don’t tell me the opportunities are not out there. Keep looking. One day it may just hit you like a Basketball to the face.
(Great work Mr. Neter!)
He clearly has a personal interest in basketball and when the right angle came around for him to utilise that passion, he took it.
I had this magic idea in mind for a while and when I found that Expert in a Year video, it gave me an idea to do something similar for the magic community. The lesson: Always be open to angles and ideas, just make sure they’re around a topic that really interests you.
P.S. Diggy and I are on the verge of revamping our email series here and are planning on reviving “Cloud Niche”. Meaning, we want to be sending you cool niche ideas once or twice a week that we would be building ourselves if we had more time.
Unlike previously, I want to cover each topic in a lot more detail. If it’s something you would be interested in please let me know in the comments. If it gets a good response, I can push on with it sooner rather than later.
I’m back. I hope you’re all still here!