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The most important piece of advice I ever give anyone, whether they are a copywriter, consultant, writer, Internet marketer, or retail merchant, is to specialize.

Find an under-served niche that needs what you are selling and become the leading guru in that space.

When I give this reply, the other person invariably says, “I want to specialize, but I don’t know which niche to pick.”

The possibilities are endless:

>> My friend DK specializes in showing small business owners how to rank their websites #1 in Google for local search.

>> FG teaches marketing and customer service to owners of self-storage facilities.

>> GG sells video training programs teaching optometrists how to better manage their practices.

>> Another info marketer, “Mr. Excel” teaches people how to become proficient with Excel.

>> DP shows people how to deal with and care for a relative who is bipolar.

>> PF creates marketing programs for hearing aid dealers.

Fortunately, I’ve developed a simple process that can help you identify and select your niche in about 20 minutes.

To begin with, here are the 10 questions you should ask yourself when determining the niche in which you will specialize.

As you think of the answers, write them down on index cards:

>> What do I like?

>> What am I interested in?

>> What am I good at?

>> What do I have an aptitude for?

>> What is my education?

>> What do I know?

>> What is my experience?

>> What have I accomplished?

>> Which of the above areas has the least competition?

>> Which of the above areas pays high rates?

For the above categories, write down as many items under each category as you possibly can on index cards, one per card.

Once you have completed your lists, look them over, and set aside in a separate stack the cards for any items that look like possible niches.

Next, pick the five most interesting potential niches. Put these cards in order of preference.

Now look at this list of your top five items. Chances are that one or two of these subjects are things people routinely pay to learn about or need help with.

Pick one and you’ve found your niche. As Aristotle said, “Where your passions intersect with the needs of the public, therein lies your vocation.”

What if none of the five items on your list is appealing to you as a niche? Pick the next best five items from your index cards and repeat the process until you have a niche you are enthusiastic about.

Your niche can be broad or narrow. Broad niches have lots of potential customers but also lots of well-established competitors. Narrow niches have far fewer potential customers, but little or no significant competition.

As a rule, the narrower the niche, the better your business. We live in an age of specialization, and people want to hire specialists. They prefer products and services that reflect knowledge of what they perceive to be their unique situations and problems.

In information marketing, the more specialized your topic, the more you can charge for your book or report. A course on “designing distillation towers” can command 100 times the price of a book on “leadership”.

The worry in a narrow niche is not enough customers to support your business. But you really don’t need that many to make a very nice living.

The desire to have a huge mailing list is a laudable goal but not necessary for success. If you have an e-list of only 10,000 subscribers who spend an average of $100 a year, you’ll gross a million dollars annually.

Most experts advise choosing a niche that you are passionate about. I think it’s more important to choose a niche you won’t become bored with. After all, you’ll be living in it for a long time, and to me there’s almost nothing worse than sitting at your PC every day to do work that bores you.

Become a more active participant in your niche. For instance, if your niche is tropical fish-keeping, join and become active in your local aquarium hobbyist club.

People buy from people who are like them—who act the same, believe the same things, live the same lifestyle, or have the same interests.

When you are an active participant in your niche, you can talk more authentically to your market—a crowd of people passionately interested in that topic.

Listen to the problems, concerns, and interests of other active participants in your niche. Then create information products that address those areas.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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