Imagine this: Taking your passion and turning it into a profitable online business. Believe it or not, people are doing this every single day and in niches so unique you probably wouldn’t have even known they were a thing. (Spoiler alert: Iron deficiency in goats is a thing and selling courses to teach others how to combat it is a legitimate business.)
What I’m trying to say is that you can create a business on almost any unique idea you have in your head, no matter how obscure it might seem.
It’s not unusual to have an “aha” moment for a unique business idea, but many of us are hesitant to act on them. Maybe you thought your idea was too niche, that you should focus on something more mainstream. Or maybe you were simply overwhelmed by the possibility of failure.
We all have doubts, but letting fear take over might be holding you back from creating a business that could transform your life.
As crazy as it might seem to you right now, here are a few of the pros of acting on your unique online business idea:
- It’s unique. By virtue, you’ll have a lot less competition to fight off in a fringe niche than if you were creating a business teaching people how to blog or program.
- You’re following your passion. People often start the business they think is going to make money rather than the business they actually want to build. Problem is, they burn out before they ever profit because they don’t actually care about their biz.
- You’ll stand out. People remember and talk about unique courses they see. Whenever I’m telling anyone about Teachable I mention courses like Broga (yoga for bros) because it’s memorable.
6 Real Teachable Courses with Unique Topics
Remember earlier how I mentioned that we see so many incredible unique business ideas here at Teachable? Well, I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you to get you inspired. These are people who had what many might consider to be a “crazy idea” and ran with it.
1. Copper Deficiency in Goats
It’s exactly what it sounds like and it’s awesome. Now, most people probably wouldn’t think that you could create a business talking about the care and keeping of goats, but that’s exactly what Deborah of Thrifty Homesteader has done.
Deborah honed in on a niche and filled a need that goat owners everywhere were struggling with. Just because a course topic is super niche, doesn’t mean that there’s not an audience for it.
2. The Lettering Course
We all have those talents that most people might consider useless. For me, it’s juggling. Other people are blessed with beautiful handwriting and lettering skills that come in handy each holiday season, but stagnate during the rest of the year.
People like Veronica of Two Easels, though, took her artistic ability and beautiful handwriting and created a business teaching others how to create stunning lettering. She takes it a step further, too, and teaches people to digitize their lettering for use online.
3. Medicinal Mushrooms
Four Sigmatic created a business on a topic that I had never even heard of until I saw their school: medicinal mushrooms. Most people’s knowledge of mushrooms doesn’t go past the making of shish kabobs, yet here we have an entire business on mushrooms and their benefits.
Sometimes it’s the most narrow of niches and nitty gritty of topics that can create the most significant waves. Starting a business on something as niche as mushrooms has never crossed most people’s minds. But think about the random topics you’re an expert on. Would any make for a great business venture?
4. Alas Travel
You might think traveling is as simple as booking a ticket and hotel and taking a week off work for vacation. And for some of us, it is. Others treat travel as a lifestyle and are always on the road.
For anyone looking to become a world traveler (without breaking the bank), there’s a course for that. Travel Trucos helps people become world travelers and hack airline miles and points along the way.
5. Become a Crystal Ninja
Becoming a crystal ninja and blasting psychic attacks can be as simple as taking this online course. Before discovering Joyce, the creator of Crystal Ninja, those words were like another language to me.
But Joyce understood her niche, saw a gap in content, and created an entire business around it.
6. Fetch Find
When I became a proud cat owner, I also became a chronic Googler. Every meow that sounded off, and any weird habit that Jinx developed—I was all over it. If I knew about online courses in 2008, I’d have been all over every cat owner course I could get my hands on.
Enter Fetch Find: Until you realize that pet parenting isn’t all that intuitive you might not think that pet courses have an audience, but the first time Fido bares his teeth at grandpa you’ll realize pet related courses are valuable, and pet parents are more than willing to pay for them.
7. Succulents and Sunshine
Cassidy from Succulents and Sunshine has been able to build a biz around tiny desert plants, and if that’s not niche I don’t know what is.
She took a passion and ran with it. Something as simple as succulents may seem like they could hardly create a stir, but Cassidy found her audience and built a business.
How to Start Your Own Unique Online Business
If you have a unique business idea, your options are limitless when it comes to actually bringing it online.
Here are several things you can do to grow your unique online business (hint: you’ll probably do more than just one):
- Start a blog
- Write an ebook
- Become a coach
- Create an online course
- Launch a YouTube channel
- Start a podcast
As an example while working through these options, let’s imagine that your unique business idea is all about growing a garden with an indoor greenhouse.
1. Start a blog
To build your audience and drum up interest in your course on growing a garden with an indoor greenhouse, you could start blogging. Your blog niche would be indoor gardening and you could drive traffic with posts recommending the best greenhouses and soil, offering DIY greenhouse options, creating recipes from the produce you grow, and providing tips and tricks for others looking to get started.
How to start a blog
If you’re looking to start a blog, there are a few very basic things that you’re going to need:
- A domain
Here is a thorough walk-through on how to start your own blog covering the nitty-gritty tech side of things.
People often get stuck on the domain part, but that one is easy. If you can’t come up with anything clever and catchy, consider using your full name. It’s automatically going to sound professional and it’s not something that you’ll regret down the road.
Hosting is a little trickier. This is the time where you will decide whether you want to be self-hosted or use shared hosting from a site like WordPress or SquareSpace. If your goals are to take your business full-time, I recommend self-hosting.
A self-hosted site will be your domain without a .blogger or .wordpress on the end and it makes your business look more legit. Self hosting your own website these days is so easy, that it’s just going to take you an extra 40 minutes of set-up, and as a result you’ll be starting your biz with the best foot forward. Check out this blog post to gain a better understanding and compare your options when it comes to hosting.
Now, coming up with content is where some people find themselves falling flat. It’s easy to lose momentum after you’ve taken the time to set up your site and perfect the layout. But, as they say, content is king.
Even the most beautiful website won’t draw an audience without content, so take the time to write helpful blog posts and a social media strategy to drive traffic.
When you’re creating your content, always keep your niche in mind. To stick with our gardening example, everything should relate back to your indoor garden with no more than three or four levels of separation.
For example, sticking with our gardening theme, if you wrote a blog post about your vegan diet, realistically that will only be separated by two levels of separation:
- Indoor gardening
- Vegetable recipes
- How you maintain a vegan diet (by growing your own produce)
But trying to incorporate your tax tips into a blog about vegetable gardening has so many levels of separation that I failed to figure out how to diagram it out. The tighter your niche and the more consistent with content you are, the more your audience will know what to expect from you.
2. Write an ebook
This is the same idea as the blog except it’s a one-time product you’ll create that you won’t have to keep updating. You can sell your ebook on your blog or on Amazon, or you can even use Teachable to sell it.
How to write an ebook
Don’t get too caught up with creating the catchy title or a beautiful cover until you’ve actually created a product that you’ll be proud to sell. Writing your ebook will come in three basic steps:
- Writing and formatting
Even if you know a rough topic you’d be interested in writing about, now you need to come up with an ebook that will benefit people interested in your niche.
We even have a free ebook here at Teachable! Get it here.
For indoor vegetable gardening, this could be a book covering how to source the materials and build your own indoor greenhouse on a budget. It takes people through a specific process and brings them to a tangible result.
When you’re writing your content, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Look back at what you know now and what you wish you knew back when you were just starting out. Things that seem intuitive to you now might be the things you struggled with the most in the beginning. The best online products are the ones that help their audience reach a specific goal.
Write with that goal in mind and don’t hold back any details. On your first draft it’s better to err on the side of writing too much and then refining it on the editing stage.
When you’ve finished writing and it’s time to edit and format your ebook, this is where I recommend outsourcing to a professional if you don’t have the experience or expertise yourself. On sites like Upwork you can find freelancers to hire and see their reviews and portfolios before committing.
If you do decide to take the DIY route (good for you!) here is a great resource for formatting your ebook. And if you're looking to edit on your own, I recommend downloading the free version of Grammarly. It doesn't go in depth, but it finds all of those "doh" mistakes you won't be able to believe you made.
Now, selling your ebook is a little trickier. If you have your own website you can set up a payment gateway and sell directly, but that can put a lot of strain on your website host, depending on your traffic. Another option is uploading your ebook into your Teachable school and selling from there.
It’s great because with Teachable you can create a beautiful sales page and seamlessly integrate your school with your existing brand, but you don’t have to figure out the tech behind selling on your website on your own.
3. Become a coach
You can find coaches for just about anything. Nutrition, self-awareness, money management, and the list goes on. Gardening coaches? Totally a thing. (I know that because my elderly neighbor hosts bi-weekly workshops in her backyard garden each summer and draws a major crowd.)
How to become an online coach
Bringing your coaching business online is great because the scope of people you can reach just went from a 50 mile radius to worldwide. Even better is that if you’re in a small or unique niche, it’s going to be easier to find clients when you’re able to reach all corners of the world.
Online coaching is easy to get started with, again, breaking down the basics you'll need to:
- Build an audience
- Set up a sales page
- Start coaching
Building an audience is always going to be an uphill battle, no matter your niche, but on the bright side, the steps to building your audience tend to be relatively the same for every business.
Start by figuring out where your audience hangs out. This can be on Facebook groups, Reddit communities, Quora, or online forums. A little hint: They’re likely in the places that you yourself are already spending time. Think about where you go when you have questions or just want to talk about something pertaining to the niche you’re in. If you’re a member of Facebook groups, that’s a good place to start. If you’ve got a forum that looks like it’s straight from 1999, fantastic.
The key is finding where your target audience is hanging out and spending time there. The two things to keep in mind are consistency and authenticity. If you show up every single day ready to help, even if that just means spending 15 minutes answering three or four questions, you’ll begin to make an impression.
Find them and then join them. Become known by becoming a ridiculously helpful presence.
Just about every niche you can imagine is covered on Quora. Check it out and search your chosen topic, chances are you'll find questions.
When people have questions, generously answer them no strings attached. Be the first to offer advice for the newbies, and start building relationships.
The beautiful thing is that the smaller the niche, the less people you’ll be competing with to become an authority. Becoming known in a small niche like exotic butterflies is going to be a lot easier than becoming known in a niche like iOS development.
People are going to start recognizing your name and thinking of you as someone they can look to for advice.
Once you’ve integrated the community, let them know that you offer coaching in an organic way. Spamming every channel you can find with links to your coaching page won’t do you a ton of good, but winning fans and then letting them know what you offer is a better way to go about it.
Again, consider setting up your sales page on Teachable. You can create your sales page and a one module course. On that module have an introduction video and let your customers know what to expect from you and what their next steps should be.
If you’re serious about starting and scaling an online coaching business, this is a good place to start. It takes you through the in’s and the out’s of promoting your business, choosing a software, and figuring out how you want format your programs.
If it’s easier to imagine this way, taking the indoor vegetable garden idea and turning it into a profitable coaching business might look something like this:
Step one: Finding your audience. Now, this isn’t a niche I’m familiar with, but a quick search on Pinterest resulted in a lot of posts. Clicking through I found the blogger on the third or fourth post has a Facebook group.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend promoting your service in another blogger’s Facebook group, but you can establish yourself as an authority there by being active and get people interested in you by being helpful.
Step two: Identify common pain points and offer a solution. If you see that dozens of people in the Facebook group are asking about keeping indoor plant lights, make a resource guide showing people which lights are the best and where you can find them.
Check the rules of the group, but if linking is allowed answer people’s questions with your favorite grow light, but say, “I actually have a guide ranking the different lights at different price points that you can find here.” and dropping the link. Use a program like LeadPages so you can collect people’s emails.
Step three: Creating a signup page for your coaching. This is something you can do easily with Teachable. Outline your offering and who your coaching might work for and add a pricing plan.
Step four: Market your offering to your audience. You can email everyone who has already downloaded your free grow light guide, and also let the communities you’re a part of know that you’re now offering coaching.
4. Create an online course
Like an ebook, you’re going to package everything you know about indoor vegetable gardening up in one place and sell it. Unlike an ebook, online courses tend to include more media. Rather than just selling words and pictures in a digital book, you can include videos, sound bits, downloadables, and more. It may also include interactive elements, like quizzes and comments.
You can sell anything on your Teachable sales page, and with as much flair and beauty as Julia did on her content strategy course!
How to create an online course
You can write and outline your online course the same way you would an ebook. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and build out a curriculum that will help them reach a specific goal within your niche.
Once you’ve got a rough script or a rough idea or outline of what type of content you’re looking to create it’s as easy as:
- Creating the content
- Writing your sales page
Creating the content is going to be the most time-consuming part, and if you’re not used to creating this type of content, it can be a bit intimidating, too.
Most online courses include a video component, but that’s not entirely necessary. You could create slideshows with voiceovers, or go old school and have it be entirely text.
If you do choose to go with video, don’t get too caught up in the technicalities. To get started with video, check out this DIY video guide that will walk you through creating a home studio and actually creating video.
When you’re creating your course content, know that (again) content is king. You don’t have to have the smooth voice of a jazz radio host or Hollywood ready lighting to have a great course. If you can clearly describe the steps your audience needs to take to get from point A to point B they will be more than happy with their purchase.
After you’ve created your content, it’s time to move on to creating your sales page. On Teachable we make setting up your sales page easy and intuitive and anyone can create a beautiful sales page no matter their skill level.
Even if you don’t have experience with code or creating sales pages, you can customize your page to fit your brand with our editor, and even include custom blocks to take your sales page to the next level.
Writing sales copy is another hurdle new course creators tend to struggle with, but my number one tip is to use benefit driven language.
What that means is you’re writing to appeal to the customer and what they’ll gain. They don’t care that you spent 250+ hours creating your course or that you have two masters degrees in horticulture. What they do care about is what that means for them.
Instead of saying, “I spent 250+ hours creating this course for you.” you should say, “In the nine hours it takes you to complete this course, you’ll learn what it took me six years and tens of thousands of dollars to figure out.”
This language will appeal to them because you’re saving them time and money and now they know more about what to expect. For more on creating copy for your online course sales page, check out this post.
Selling your online course will largely be the same as selling your ebook or coaching packages. Integrate yourself into the communities where your audience hangs out, build relationships and establish yourself as an authority by providing value, and gently let your peers know you’re selling.
If you already have a pre-existing audience and email list, even better. You can launch using our Crazy 8 Launch Strategy and sell while you sleep.
5. Create a YouTube channel
YouTube is a great way to build an interested and engaged online audience. You can even create a YouTube channel and a blog in conjunction to one another and use your blog posts as scripts for your YouTube videos.
YouTube is great for people in smaller niches because it’s so popular. YouTube is one of those sites where you can start by watching videos on putting together Ikea furniture and 45 minutes later you’re watching ballroom dance competitions.
What I’m trying to say is, YouTube makes it easy for people to accidentally stumble upon your content.
And, if you’re lucky, fall in love with it.
YouTube is a great platform for people who love talking and being on video or want to practice being on video. Plus, if you have a smartphone, laptop, and internet connection you can get started for free keeping three basic steps in mind.
- Create content
Recording content will probably come with a bit of a learning curve. Figuring out how to sound natural, look at the camera lens, and organize your thoughts takes time. Don’t feel bad if your first few videos fall flat, keep at it and practice. The more you film the more natural you’ll feel.
And like creating content for your blog, consider your niche. If you want to teach people to garden, your parenting tips will be hard to naturally integrate into your channel. Creating niched and focused content helps build a stronger brand.
Editing your videos is another learning curve entirely. You can use iMovie or Windows Movie Maker (both free and already on your computer depending if you’re Mac or PC) and are both fairly easy compared to more expensive paid programs.
When you’re getting started, I recommend looking to YouTube for editing tutorials. There is a video for every capability that any program will have, and if you’re new to editing it will be easier to actually see it be done than trying to maneuver dozens of tutorials.
Once your videos are recorded and edited, it’s time to upload them to YouTube. Make sure you’re optimizing them for SEO by writing thorough descriptions and using tags.
YouTube is a search engine like Google, and they figure out how to rank your content by your titles and descriptions and your videos popularity. SEO optimizing your content is as simple as writing exactly what it is your video is going to accomplish and who your video is for.
Now, when you’re in a unique niche it can be extra scary to put content out there and have to deal with the fear of falling flat. But trust me when you
6. Start a gardening podcast
Some people will find that their audience doesn’t feel like they can’t justify the time it takes to sit down and read a blog or peruse YouTube, but podcasts are something your audience will be able to enjoy while doing something productive like making their morning commute or cleaning. If you find your target audience isn’t interested in the other options, podcasts might be a better choice for you.
Podcasts are an enigma for many people, because unlike the other options I’ve mentioned, there aren’t a ton of resources for getting started. Despite that, creating a podcast business is fairly simple at it’s roots.
- Set up your studio
- Record content
- Find your audience
Podcasts are purely auditory, so sound quality is so important. You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars on soundproofing and equipment, but you should consider DIY-ing a mini studio space even if that just means dedicating a large closet to recording.
Setting up curtains and cushions on the walls and other hard surfaces will help negate any echoes, and investing in a nice microphone can help your audio quality sound very crisp.
When it comes to actually recording, a full length podcast tends to be somewhat scripted so you can stay on topic and not go off on a tangent. The level of pre-writing you want to do is up to you, but make sure each episode has a point.
For extra interest, you can invite experts in your niche to guest host episodes of your podcast. It’s a win-win because they get exposure to your audience, and you get their super fans on your site listening to your podcast and hopefully becoming a fan of yours.
Guests aren’t the only way to find your audience, though. You’re probably tired of me saying this by now, but by integrating yourself into the communities where your audience hangs out you’ll automatically have a built-in fanbase eager to hear what you have to say.
Now, again, it might feel like if you're in a unique niche that you won't be able to find an audience. Let me assure you, if you build it and promote it, they will come. You aren't the only person in the world with your unique interest, it's just up to you to find your people.
Luckily, with the help of the world wide web, it's not too hard to find people who share your interests. Like I said, looking on Quora or Facebook is a good start, but you could even use the YouTube search bar to find people making similar videos to you.
Once you find them, start engaging like you would on any other social channels. Don't be spammy, nobody likes getting the, "I make videos like this, too! Check out my channel!" comments, but genuine compliments will go a long way.
What type of online business would you most like to start? Have any crazy ideas you want to bring to life? Tell us in the comments! And, as always, if you have any questions let me know. I'll be sticking around to answer them.