One day, I stumbled upon a baffling little search: “dress up games.” After some research, I learned that tween girls loved to create little characters to represent themselves on instant message platforms. There were dozens of sites, run by hobbyists, that offered “doll makers,” the source of these characters. I didn’t see a business model right away, but the popularity of dress up games was clear. I decided to try my hand at it, hiring a programmer and an artist.
Because I had an edge financially – and perhaps in terms of ambition – over the hobbyists, my doll makers were cooler, and had more customization options. Once I got my site to the top of Google for the keyword “dress up games,” I had visibility.
My website, Cartoon Doll Emporium shook up the “dress up games” vertical by offering higher-quality games than any of our competitors. The kids loved our dolls, and the site took off. Before too long, I had 3 million kids a month coming to the site. Within two years, we were ranked by Comscore as a top 10 children’s destination in the U.S.
Niche Case Study #3: Honest Real Estate Reviews
Running a successful kids website didn’t stop me from starting new businesses.
I had recently bought my first apartment in Manhattan, and during my search I had noticed that there was no place to get truthful reviews of all the new real estate developments going up at the time. So, I decided to start a blog that reported real information about each building, reviewed by college students that I hired to pose as buyers.
I aimed to cover every new condominium development in Manhattan that year. Because there was little else published online about these buildings, it didn’t take long for thousands of buyers of high-end apartments to find my blog.
Since the blog content was refreshingly honest, I got tons of e-mails thanking me. This gave me the idea of brokering the apartments myself (with the help of my older brother who had his real estate license). Why not? I had already earned people’s trust.
Thus went my foray into ghostwriting, dress-up dolls, and real estate.
I will always look for little niches, because I believe that’s where the gold is hidden. We’d all like to be a Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, or Larry Page; but there’s also something pretty wonderful about being the king of a principality so small that you get to make your own rules.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Evan Bailyn is an internet entrepreneur, SEO expert, and the bestselling author of Outsmarting Google. Evan has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.
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