Simple Business Case Study: How to Become THE Expert in Your Niche (by Making Your Niche Smaller)

April 27, 2018 , 21 Comments

If you want people to pay attention to you, it helps to be an expert.

But as you know, becoming an expert takes time. You must amass knowledge, apply it and then develop a strong record of practical success before the internet will consider you an authority.

It’s hard to shortcut that process, but today we’re going to look at a business that managed to do just that.


How? By keeping it simple.

In our second ActiveGrowth Simple Business Case Study, I'm going to show you an info-product business that rocketed to success by keeping their focus super tight on one small corner of the fitness industry. By becoming THE experts on a singular exercise for weight loss and muscle building, they quickly built a massive audience of true fans.

The Jump Rope Dudes

The Jump Rope Dudes homepage.

The Jump Rope Dudes are a health & fitness duo dedicated to helping people get fit through ONE type of exercise that you can do anywhere – jumping rope.

Dan Witmer and Brandon Epstein are the co-founders of the Jump Rope Dudes and produce jump rope-focused content, offer online training programs and make affiliate product recommendations to their massive YouTube audience of more than 236,000 subscribers...built up in less than 24 months!

The Jump Rope Dudes were both bulky American football players for 10 years before giving up the game and deciding to create more chiseled physiques for themselves (think soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo or Brad Pitt from Fight Club).

By transforming their diets and embracing the jump rope, they discovered a lifestyle that would let them maintain their hard-earned football muscles, but help shed any unwanted defensive end body fat.

Although the jump rope played a feature role in Dan and Brandon’s early content, it wasn’t until around video #53 on their YouTube channel that they pivoted to focus almost exclusively on jump rope fitness. In fact, their original branding was called Zen Dude Fitness in 2015 and changed to the Jump Rope Dudes at the beginning of 2018.

Lesson 1: Become THE Expert in Your Sub-Niche

The old Zen Dude Fitness homepage.

When Dan and Brandon started Zen Dude Fitness in 2015, their content included a much broader range of topics than just jump rope training. Originally, the duo was trying coach corporate bros on how to build shredded physiques through consistent exercise and sustainable nutrition.

If you look through their early YouTube videos, Zen Dude Fitness covered a range of topics including diet, goal setting, exercise motivation, intermittent fasting as well as various types of workouts. Jump rope training was a strong component of their content, but not the cornerstone like it is now:

The first 15 videos on the Jump Rope Dudes YouTube channel. It was originally branded as Zen Dude Fitness. Notice that jump rope videos are a major feature of the original channel, but not the main focus yet.

If you glance at their first 15 videos shown above, notice that the jump rope videos captured significantly more views than virtually all the other content.

That pattern continued as their YouTube channel matured. 5 months after their channel launched, the primary focus turned to jump rope tutorials with nutrition and mindset training taking a secondary content priority.

Here’s what the most recent 15 videos on the Jump Rope Dudes’ YouTube channel looks like. 9 of them are dedicated to jump roping:

The most recent 15 videos published on the Jump Rope Dudes YouTube channel. Notice how the channel is hyper-focused on jump rope training over any other topic.

Specialize Your Way to the Top

Why is specialization such an important lesson to learn from the the Jump Rope Dudes?

Because niching down allowed Dan and Brandon to simplify their business and become THE experts for jump rope weight loss. Jump rope is a fun and interesting sub-niche of the fitness industry and it accelerated the Jump Rope Dudes’ journey to authority a matter of months.

To illustrate how this specialization strategy can make your business way more competitive, let’s do a YouTube search term experiment in a Google Chrome Incognito window.

First, we’ll search for a keyword that resembles Zen Dude Fitness’ earlier, more generic appeal. Then we'll use a more specialized keyword that reflects the Jump Rope Dudes’ specialization strategy:

1) Generic Keyword Search: Upper Body Workout

The top 5 YouTube search results for the keyword "Upper Body Workout". They're all massive channels that dominate the generic fitness topics. Do you really want to spend your time and effort competing against that?

As you can see from the generic Upper Body Fitness search term, only huge channels that have covered such topics to death will appear in the top search results. As a solopreneur with limited time and resources, you just can't expect to compete with that...

2) Niche Keyword Search: Jump Rope Workout

The top 5 YouTube search results for the keyword "Jump Rope Workout". The Jump Rope Dudes dominate the top 5 results.

Out of the first 5 search results for Jump Rope Workout, 4 videos belong to the Jump Rope Dudes and the 5th result offers a “Subscribe” button to their channel. Now that’s what I call crushing organic search!

As Hanne and Shane like to say... the riches really are in the niches.

In less than 24 months, the Jump Rope Dudes have 236,000+ subscribers on their YouTube channel, 3 online courses and a sweet affiliate marketing deal with their favorite jump rope brand.

If our jump rope duo had continued to be all things zen fitness, they would have struggled to carve out a niche for themselves in an already saturated fitness market.

How To Super Specialize Your Business

Instead of being all things to all people, become THE expert for one particular aspect of your industry.

For the Jump Rope Dudes, that meant niching down to jump rope weight loss instead of the broader zen fitness approach they began with.

If, for example, your online business is in the food industry, you could specialize yourself by niching down to focus on veganism. But even in a narrow sub-market like vegan cooking, you should take the specialization process a step further.

Become THE expert for a subcategory of vegan coconut recipes. This will reduce the time it takes you to become an authority in your market since the scope of what you must master is greatly reduced.

Brainstorm: “What sub-niche can I master to accelerate my climb to authority status within my industry?”

Lesson 2: Use a Super Simple Quiz To Segment Your Audience

Even if you have a tight business focus, should you still try to segment your email list?

Heck yes you should!

Even basic audience segmentation can help boost your conversion rates. The more you tailor your content and products to specific subgroups, the more those people will not just want, but need what you’re selling.

Once again, the Jump Rope Dudes show us how to get this done with a super simple 2 question lead segmentation quiz:

Lead segmentation quiz question #1.

Lead segmentation quiz question #2.

Lead segmentation quiz opt-in form.

Push It! Get Even More Specific

Without adding any real complexity to their opt-in process, the Jump Rope Dudes used a 2 question quiz to learn the gender and primary fitness goals of their new leads:

Question 1: Select your gender - Male or Female?

Question 2: What do you want more? Lose Fat or Build Muscle?

Even these basic segmentations allow Dan and Brandon to create a simple matrix to understand which sub-group of their subscribers resonate best with certain types of content and course offerings:

With just 2 simple quiz questions, you can segment your email list into 4 valuable subgroups to improve your content and product targeting.

Simple segmentation of your already specialized business will lead to better conversions since you can market to your customers more strategically.

Segment Your Email List With a Simple 2-Question Quiz

Keep It Simple. Create a 2 question lead generation quiz to segment your new subscribers and help improve your future conversion goals.

With the Jump Rope Dudes, that meant asking new leads for their gender and primary fitness goal.

If we go back to our vegan coconut expert example from Lesson 1, two important questions they could ask their already niche audience might be:

1. What type of Veganism most reflects your current eating habits?
a) Raw or b) Plant-based / Just Vegan

2. How often do you have time to prepare your own meals?
a) Most meals or b) Rarely

Such simple questions make it easy to segment your already niche audience into 4 sub-groups. You can then offer new subscribers specialized products to boost your conversion rates:

1. Raw Vegan with no time to cook
2. Raw Vegan with time to cook
3. Plain Vegan with no time to cook
4. Plain Vegan with time to cook

Task: Brainstorm 4 important subscriber subgroups for your business. Next, create 2 questions you can use within a lead generation quiz to start segmenting subscribers into one of those 4 groups.

If you need a WordPress plugin to rapidly implement your new lead segmentation quiz, make sure to check out Thrive Quiz Builder.

Lesson 3: Turn Your Specialized Knowledge into an Info-Product Empire

If you become THE expert in a sub-niche, that means you now have the opportunity to create premium info-products teaching others how to achieve proficiency in your specialty.

And guess what?

That’s exactly what the the Jump Rope Dudes did after dominating the jump rope fitness market. Their two premium jump rope training programs focus on serving the primary goals of their target customers: 1) Fat Loss - Shredded Ninja and 2) Muscle Building - Swole Samurai.

The Shredded Ninja (fat loss focused E-Course) sales page.

The Swole Samurai (muscle building focused E-Course) sales page.

Use the Customer First Approach

Here at ActiveGrowth, we encourage solopreneurs to create digital info-products when starting out on their entrepreneurial journeys.

By using the Customer First Approach, you can leverage 1-on-1 coaching to learn exactly what solutions your market needs and then scale your solutions to serve more people by creating online info-products.

The Jump Rope Dudes are a great example at what success looks like after following this approach. They started out by personally coaching clients during their Zen Dude Fitness days and eventually evolved their product to become jump rope fitness online training courses.

You’re THE Expert Now: Create Your First Online Info-Product

If you’re not familiar with the Customer First Approach yet, get started by listening to the Forget Traffic series of episodes on the ActiveGrowth podcast.

In just x4, 45-minute podcasts, Shane and Hanne will lay out the step-by-step formula you should follow to bootstrap your first info-product through a get sh*t shipped, rapid implementation process.

Lesson 4: Create Solid Affiliate Income Through Gear Recommendations

The most important gear for jumping rope is… well... a jump rope.

Part of the Jump Rope Dudes’ simplicity behind their info product business is that they can promote their favorite gear to followers and collect affiliate marketing commissions for their efforts:

The Jump Rope Dudes affiliate marketing sales page for their recommended jump rope: The CrossRope. 

I have no clue what Dan and Brandon’s affiliate commission looks like for promoting the Crossrope, but I’m guessing it’s a respectable chunk of every sale. Their commission is definitely well earned since their Crossrope recommendation video gets you fired up to pull the trigger on what looks to be the world's best jump rope:

Recommend Products You Can Put Your Reputation Behind

If you become known as THE expert within any niche, the most common question you’re going to get from people asking about what gear or tools you recommend.

For the Jump Rope Dudes, their most common question is “What jump rope do you use?” For daily vlogger Casey Neistat, it’s “What camera gear should I buy?” You get the idea...

When you're an internet famous specialist, people are going to want your advice on gear they should use to get your results so why not strike some win-win affiliate marketing deals with the companies you already recommend?

And never create affiliate marketing deals just for the sake of cashing in. Always focus on promoting the best tools in your market so you can help your audience avoid the crap that will hinder their progress and hurt their pocket-books.

Create Your First Affiliate Marketing Partnership

If you’re an expert, recommending your favorite product or tools to people is probably a daily occurrence for you. Why not reach out to the companies that make your favorite products to see if they’ll give you a commission for your referrals?

Many companies have official affiliate marketing programs you can simply apply to online. You apply, get accepted and receive affiliate marketing links that you can embed on your website or message to people. If someone buys your recommended product through your affiliate link, you’ll receive a commission for that sale.

But even if the company doesn’t have a formal affiliate program, you can still contact them to ask if a partnership can be made. The worst they can say is no so you have nothing to lose!

Lesson 5: Learn How To Make Awesome Videos

In just 2 years, the Jump Rope Dudes' YouTube channel grew from nothing to over 236,000 subscribers! That just doesn’t happen unless you learn how to make engaging videos around topics people are really interested in.

The Jump Rope Dudes YouTube channel page showing over 236,000 subscribers and growing every day!

And here’s another thing to consider...

If your online business sells education or info-products, you must master the art of creating explainer videos. How else will customers learn from you if you can’t teach on camera?

In the case of the Jump Rope Dudes, video is their primary content medium. Eventually, that skill became profitable as they produced premium E-Courses to sell on their website.

Turn Video Into Your Competitive Advantage

You don’t need a massive YouTube audience to experience the benefits of publishing awesome video content.

Getting better at video will make your blog posts more engaging, your sales pages convert better and your premium E-Courses more valuable to your customers.

If you can make videos consistently, you’ll not only get better at them, but also create an ever growing library of content that improve your organic reach through time.

The sad truth is that most of your competition will remain camera shy so video can become your competitive advantage. Not only do online visitors prefer video to text these days, but great videos help potential customers trust you and your products much faster than they would otherwise.

Commit to The Grind: Do a 30-Day Video Challenge

One of the best ways to accelerate your development in any skill is by committing to a 30-Day Challenge. Shane calls this The Grind.

To get better at making online explainer videos, your 30-Day challenge is pretty straightforward:

Create and publish 1 explainer video per day for 30 days. Each day, aim to improve one thing from the previous day’s video.

By the end of 30 days, you’ll surprise yourself at how much better you are at making videos and feel great about how much content you added to your website!

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you’ll agree that the Jump Rope Dudes are a great example of how profitable an online business can be if you keep your focus super specific.

You not only accelerate your journey to expert status within your niche, but you attract true fans that will become your repeat customers.

How will you niche down your online business to boost conversions and capture your true fans? Let me know in the comments section below!

About ​Matt Totten

Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital nomad. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a high-tech, hunter-gatherer lifestyle within our exceedingly domesticated world. When away from his tech, you can find him studying complex human movement through random play or practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.

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  • Kelly E McClelland says:

    Really good stuff here! Brain is working… Thanks!

  • I just came across these guys in the past month and subscribed almost immediately because of the fact they do just one thing (“Do The Thing”). I also started jumping rope everyday.

    Not surprisingly, people are already following them into the Jump Rope niche making jump rope specific content and it looks like JRD’s will be the experts of this incoming JR trend that I see happening in the next 2-3 years. Being first and best helps.

    • Thanks for your comment Derrick! I also added the jump rope to my workouts after writing this article…it’s an awesome way to Do.The.Thing as a digital nomad traveling all the time.

      Copycats in the market usually signal that a profitable opportunity has been unleashed. Since the Jump Rope Dudes were first movers on the trend, they’ll likely maintain their dominance as long as they continue shipping high value content.

  • Just wanted to say, I super love this series! Please keep them coming!

    • Thanks Hazel…I’m super happy to hear you’re enjoying them as much as I am researching and writing them! Request granted…more to come soon!

  • Matt, you did it again! Thank you for this insightful article. You are right, being super specific and keeping to one niche is the best way to go when you start a business.

    • Thanks Sonia! I totally agree…finding a specific corner of your niche to master focusses all your online business efforts into a powerful spearhead.

  • Great Matt. As a guitarist I notice that many guitarist utubers base their business and revenue on their UT channel and via social media only without a website. I would like to know if you think they should have one, at list as a fifth wheel in order to own their platform.

    • Thanks Roy!

      We definitely advocate that online business owners have their own platform (i.e. website) and email list.

      If your business depends primarily on YouTube and social media revenue, then any algorithm update or sudden cancellation of your account will instantly kill your business. Having an email list means you can still contact your subscribers should your YouTube channel or social media accounts get axed.

  • Badass content again! is the only blog I really need and I soak every little piece of content here.

    Thank you so much for always producing outstanding stuff.

    Could you talk more on how to start from scratch with video content producing?

    Would love pay for a course on that.

  • Super Matt Totten does it again!

    Killer article, Matt! Literally, this is the “Build a Niche Business in a Box” tutorial. Why don’t you turn this into a 6-week course and charge $3,000+ for this?

    • Cheers Martin!

      And thanks for the course suggestion. Right now, Shane and Hanne are using the ActiveGrowth podcast to teach listeners how to build niche businesses from scratch for free, but a premium course offering could be on the horizon!

  • Wow… thank you for this. Not only did I learn about business but also found a beginner workout I can use my jump rope for.

    Thank you Matt.

  • Kholofelo Mogane says:

    Hi Shane
    I love love this it is well written and explained. I have been doing skipping just after the covid 19 lockdown here in South Africa and I actually enjoy skipping. And what you have written here got me excited. So much I’m going to implement and I will definitely update you in six months from now.

    Thank you. If you do offer personal assistance in niching content please do not hesitate to contact me. Your assistance will be highly appreciated.

  • Great article, but it would be helpful if you included dates on the comments. Why do bloggers turn this off???? Makes no sense.

  • I realise this is an old post but I’ve only just seen it.

    There’s a slight nuance to this.

    Yes they grew a massive Youtube Audience relatively quickly, but here’s the thing, certain Niches work on youtube some work just “ok” and most flop.

    Fitness Niche videos will always do well, because Youtube lends itself to that sort of thing.

    Gaming will do well.

    Tech will do well.

    Business and Internet marketing do “ok” fact they’re prett bang average in terms of chennel sizes and video views in other Niches.

    What I’m trying to say is, not ALL Niche’s will work on Youtube.

    Your success on Youtube depends massively on the subject matter.

    • That is definitely true, yes. Different platforms and different media are suitable for different niches.

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