How to Start an Online Business in the Health Niche
It’s been one of the hottest niches since the invention of the internet… since the beginning of recorded history really: health and wellness. People, no matter what their background, culture, or economic status… want to be happy and healthy. And they are willing to buy products or treatments that will help them do that.
It’s one of the best markets out there for doing business online. In fact, health and wellness is a $4.2 trillion industry globally! That means there’s plenty of room for new businesses. And you can get your piece of that pie now.
Note: A common mistake many budding entrepreneurs make is avoiding going into a market because they feel it's too big or too crowded. The reality is if a market is large with a lot of players in it, it's because it's a healthy profitable market with a lot of money to go around. The health and wellness industry is no exception.
Solo entrepreneurs like you can succeed, working from home or wherever you happen to be with your laptop. There is little or no startup cash needed, and it’s a low-cost business to run… if you do it the right way.
The evidence that this is a profitable market is all around you. What is one of the most popular stores in your local shopping plaza? The one selling vitamins and supplements, right? TV infomercials featuring pills for various ailments are on 24/7. Books about better health are flying off the shelves. There are more health and wellness websites on the internet than you can shake a stick at!
There are so many different markets… so many different sub-niches in the health industry, too. People getting older want relief from arthritis. Folks with chronic conditions like diabetes want to get better and get rid of those needles. Overweight folks facing multiple health issues want to shed the pounds. Those with back pain want to be able to live a normal life. Not to mention people want to extend their life by taking supplements, vitamins, and more with anti-aging ingredients.
Alternative health — which rejects much of the prescription medications and invasive treatments of mainstream medicine — is especially popular and continuing to grow every single day.
You might be asking: I’m not an expert in health… how can I run a health-oriented business?
The great news is whether you're a qualified health professional, someone with an interest in health, or don't have any knowledge of this market at all but are interested in starting a business in this niche, there is an opportunity for you to do just that.
Let's take a look at some of the steps to starting your own online business in the health niche.
Identify the Top Health Niches — Market Research
When it comes to your business’s niche, it should be in an in-demand profitable niche market so you know you’ll sell. Ideally, you’ll find a niche you’re passionate about too. Perhaps a condition you suffer from. Or an issue one of your family members has faced.
Remember, you don't have to be an expert or professional in order to make profits in a market. You can share your own personal experience, do research and publish the information you curate from other sources, and/or interview other experts to provide content and information for your market.
But remember that you want there to be demand. So study industry trends, study the best-seller lists on sites like Amazon, see what’s selling on late night infomercials and on store shelves. What’s on daytime TV talk shows? What are people talking about on Facebook? This should give you a long list of products that are trending right now for you to center your business around.
Let me give you a shortcut. Here are some of the top niches in the health market today:
- Digestive health/healthy gut
- Weight loss
- Back and neck pain
- Hair loss
- Reproductive health
- Healthy eating
One thing you'll probably notice is that these are all topics that aren't going away anytime soon. One mistake a lot of people make when entering the health and wellness market is that they'll jump onto a fad trend (like a fad diet).
You want to be sure that what you're doing is an "evergreen" topic, one that will have staying power and stand the test of time.
This doesn't mean that you can tackle, address, and profit from fad trends as they come and go, you just don't want your entire business to be based around a fad or trend.
Finding Products to Sell in the Health Niche
The great thing about having an online business in the health niche, or really any e-commerce niche really, is that you don’t have to create your own products. In fact, you don’t want to, especially as a newcomer to the industry, because of the time, money, expense, and risk involved. Instead, you’re going to leverage the work and expertise of others. And don’t worry — it’s a good thing.
You have a couple of options when it comes to making money online in the health niche without creating your own products.
With an online drop shipping business model, you promote products through your website and marketing efforts. You take orders from customers. Then you contact your drop shipping partner or partners, usually a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer and order the product at a lower price. They send the product to your customer for a fee. And you keep the difference.
In most cases this is completely automated. You just need to market and advertise the products and generate a sale and the rest of the order and delivery process is handled by the drop shipping company.
The big advantages here are that you don’t have to get involved with storing a big inventory of product or shipping orders to customers. You hand off that responsibility to your partners. This has several advantages of not having to carry the risk of investing in product creation, inventory, and all of other hassles and expenses of creating your own products.
Once you find an offer that is working well then you may consider looking into creating the product yourself if you're able to make more money than going through a third party.
In the meantime, there are plenty of drop shipping companies that offer products in this space. Doing a simple Google search with "product type" and "drop shipping" will give you plenty of options to review.
Like drop shipping, with affiliate marketing, you hand off the “grunt” work of selling online to others. But there are some crucial differences. In this business model, you market and sell products through your website, blog, Facebook page, email list, or whatever online property you have. But when it comes to making the sale… you’re done - it's completely hands off for you.
Every click on the “buy” link for a product leads your customer to your affiliate partner’s page to complete the transaction. Each link is unique to you. That way, your affiliate partner can give you a commission (usually between 5 percent and 25 percent) for every completed sale. The affiliate partner takes care of order processing, delivery, and customer service, and every single aspect of the transaction. Perfect.
An easy way to think of this is looking at Amazon.com as an example, which is one of the first affiliate networks on the internet.
With Amazon, you can find any product on their website (a book, a health supplement, a fitness gadget) and write a review on your website or run a paid ad to it. Amazon gives you a unique link to track where the sale comes from and if anyone makes a purchase from your link you get credit for the sale and a comission.
In addtion to Amazon there are dozens of affiliate networks and thousands of companies that offer their own affiliate programs in this market.
Another attractive option with affiliate marketing is to promote digital information products, which offer much higher commissions, ranging from 25% to 50% or more.
I recommend white labeling only when you have some experience in your business. In this model, you work with manufacturers who already have a supplement (sometimes you can work with them to create a custom formulation), for example, and put your own label on it.
They’ve done the scientific research to make sure it’s effective. You study their work. And if you feel comfortable, you put your company’s name on it and sell it as your own. White labeling is a great option because it allows you to create a brand and differentiate yourself from everyone else in the marketplace.
Marketing Your Online Health Business
Next, it’s time to market your new online health business. You have a variety of options available to you. And most are low cost or free ways to drive traffic to your website.
Getting high rankings in the Google search results is key to success in online business these days. Back in the old days, you could “stuff” your site full of relevant keywords and get this “organic” traffic.
But now Google wants to see genuinely useful content full of solid information. That means to engage in effective content marketing you have to ad useful advice, tips, and more related to your niche on a regular basis through your website and/or blog.
The content should be closely related to your niche and can be written. But video is also very highly-regarded by Google today too. No matter what type of content you publish, you could offer health tips, review types of supplements, suggest cures for certain conditions… there’s really no limit to what you can produce. They key is to create good quality content on a regular basis to see results.
Social media is huge these days. Your customers are there on Facebook and other social networking sites, so you have to be there, too. You should definitely have a Facebook page for your business. Post regularly about your products, link to related news, link back to your website (when you post a new blog entry, for example), videos, comments on trends, and even personal stories. Let people get to know you and your company. It’ll speed up the process of them coming to know, like, and trust you.
Make sure you post regularly and engage with your customers through comments. And comment on the pages of other companies and organizations in your niche too. Start a conversation!
If you want to drive traffic to your health website faster, and you have some money to spend, you can try the paid advertising route. But I would suggest doing this only when you have your business in place and systems running smoothly, so you can convert as much of that traffic into sales as possible.
With pay-per-click, or PPC, ads you sign up through a search engine; Google has the biggest reach. You write very short text ads that appear on the search results page, as well on the websites of people, known as publishers, who have signed up through Google AdSense. The idea is that your ads appear in the right context based on keywords. So when people are searching for health information related to your specific niche, your ads pop up. You pay every time somebody clicks on the ad.
When the person clicks it should take them to your website, a landing page to collect their email address, or something like that. And be sure to track the origin of each click so you know which marketing channel is getting the best return on investment.
Again, advertising in the health space is extremely competitive and can be extremely costly; so only pursue this route once you have a solid sales funnel and a good converting offer.
Starting Your Online Health Business — Next Steps
If you’re passionate about health and wellness, this niche could be right up your alley. You know the topic, you know the products as a consumer… and now you can use that expertise to create a booming online business.
Even if you don’t have a personal interest in this niche, that shouldn’t be a barrier. You can become familiar enough to make it work… and there’s plenty of money to go around.