When I started out online finding an affiliate marketing niche proved to be the most difficult exercise. In fact, when I joined a community of affiliate marketers to get some help with starting my affiliate marketing business, most of the other newbies struggled with finding a niche for their website. To make it easier for you, I am taking you through the process how I select (find & research) an affiliate marketing niche for a website.
The process is simple, there are only 5 easy checks that if you carry out beforehand, you’ll have a niche that is the right size, and you will earn a predictable income. It takes time to do it (but totally worth it), and it takes time until you do it right. The steps are these:
- Pick a niche that you love, passionate about, or at least care about and interested in
- Check if there are affiliate programs available within that niche
- Check the commission structure
- Check the variety of promotable products & services (low and high ticket items)
- Check if there is a healthy level of competition
Actually, I started 3 niche websites and then shortly after, I abandoned them because I realised the niche was not a good choice. I stuck with the 4th and it started earning money just 3 months after I started it.
So finding a niche can be really confusing and sometimes, after being unable to find a niche that fits, many beginners quit.
Don’t do that!
Trial and error is part of the process and every time you ‘fail’ finding a niche, you gain a lot of experience. Every ‘failed’ attempt takes you closer to the one that will be successful. That’s a fact.
I wish had this process right at the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of time…So learn from my mistakes.
What is a Niche in Affiliate Marketing
By definition a niche is ‘denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.’
In other words, it is a small section of a market that interests only a bunch of people.
In affiliate marketing – as you most probably would like to make money out of it – this bunch of people should be big enough to generate the amount of traffic that you can turn into a regular income by earning commissions.
Ideally, everyone would love to create a website in a niche that is;
- about something they truly enjoy working on
- a lot of people are interested in
- there is moderate competition
Pick a Niche You Love
So first of all, you should enjoy working within the niche. You can often hear that your first niche should be something that you practice and enjoy yourself ie your hobby, something you are good at.
It is a good advice as you’d likely will be working on this niche website for the coming months, if not years. If it is about something you know and care about, enjoy doing then it makes it a whole load easier to push through writer’s blocks etc.
You don’t have to do extensive research on the topic and you most likely able to identify at least 5 common problems that other people in the niche need solution for. You will be able to establish authority much sooner: your audience will notice that you actually know what you are talking about.
But there are 2 important things that you need to focus on:
- Size of the niche
Let’s break them further down.
Size of the Niche
The problem is two-fold. If the niche is too small, then there won’t be enough people visiting your site, you won’t be able to make enough sales.
If a niche is too generic, then it is pretty difficult to compete with big authority sites. No-one would ever find your website. Like if my website was about ‘outdoor equipment’, despite the millions of people looking for outdoor equipment, I would hardly make any sales.
But if I, let’s say, targeted people who were interested in inflatable kayaks, then that’s a much narrower niche.
I could narrow down it even further, say inflatable sit-on-top kayaks.
Start Small, Then Expand
On one of my sites I started promoting outdoor equipment. It was a very specialised niche, and although some traffic was coming my way, the actual money I made on that site was zero.
So I decided to broaden my niche and started writing about different types of outdoor products.
In the previous example, if I started a website about inflatable sit-on-top kayaks, that may be too small a niche to build an entire website around them. But I can expand it, and include other types of kayaks and canoes as well, and all sorts of water-sports equipment.
There is much bigger competition in that segment, as you can see. So it is a bit of trial and error until I find the size of the niche.
Over time I would build up an audience and a reputation with Google, so I could expand more. I could include reviews of great rafting locations and promoting specialised adventure travel packages, and so on…
Target a Smaller Segment of a Bigger Niche
The other way to find your niche is if you separate the audience by their sex or age, or any specific attribute of that group of people.
If you were in the ‘Lose Weight’ niche you could narrow it down to ‘Lose Weight over 40’ or ‘Lose Weight After Giving Birth’. There is pretty good chance that you can find a ‘group of people’ whose needs are not catered for.
It’s important that a niche you go after has the potential for you to build a real business behind it. That means there should be multiple products and people willing to spend money on many different things.
Make sure you research how much competition there is in a market, but don’t be too afraid if you find some people already doing what you want to do. That’s actually a good sign, telling you that other people are making money in that niche. The likelihood for you to make money too is pretty high.
If you can’t find anyone, it probably means that it’s not a profitable market.
If you think that you have found your ideal niche, think about, how could you serve that audience. Can you list at least 5 common problems within that niche that needs a solution? That needs an answer?
It is great if you can list more than 5!
It is time to do your keyword research. You should be able to come up with at least 25-30 different ‘low hanging fruit’ keyword. You will target each keyword with a well written post on your website.
These keywords have low competition but sufficient amount of search volume. It means that they are relatively easy to rank for, and there is enough traffic to generate an income through affiliate marketing.
It is important to make notes of your research. If it is in a notebook that’s fine, an Excel spreadsheet is even better. It makes it much easier later when you don’t have to think about what your next post is going to be, start researching it etc. You will have a list of posts, you just have to write them.
Over time, you will be able to target higher competition (but even more popular) keywords, and you’ll be able to rank for them.
In our example above there are quite a few options to write different types of article that can actually answer some questions.
At first, you can target keywords with less than 100 QSR. This means that the competition is low (there are less than 100 webpages target this specific keyword). The AVG shows that how many searches are run a month on average on the search phrase. You should aim for the higher one, however, in my experience there is often good potential for traffic for neighbouring keywords that are not shown on the keyword tool, yet you would rank for those with this keyword. I hope it makes sense…
If you’d like to know more about keyword research for affiliate marketing, I can recommend the free training course I have written about here: What Is the Best Affiliate Marketing Course for Beginners? or here: Where can you learn affiliate marketing for free?
Also, if you are looking for free keyword research tools, I have listed a few under Resources
Carrying out an extensive research on potential keywords and the posts you can write with them should always be your first step. If you can’t come up with 15-20 ideas for articles, then there may not be enough depth in that niche, you need to expand it.
Think Beyond Amazon Associates – Lucrative affiliate programs within any niche
Although your priority should be finding a niche that you love, there is no point making the effort and putting in the hard work if you won’t be able to monetise it.
Affiliate marketing is not the only way to monetise your website, but it can be the most lucrative one.
The problem with some niches is that the only products you can promote are through like Amazon Associates.
Don’t get me wrong, Amazon Associates is a great program and a lot of people can earn decent money with it. But it pays very small margins, you might only make a few dollars per sale, and it is only getting worse. So, unless you have a good amount of traffic (and a huge amount of content to draw that traffic), then it may not be the most effective way to earn money online.
eBay is slightly better, especially that they pay double the commission in the first three months following signing up.
Go For eBooks, Courses, Software
If you can find a niche where there are info-products such as ebooks, training courses, software or live events that you can promote, these can pay up to 50% in commissions.
It means that with the same amount of work you can earn 10x more money than with Amazon Associates.
The real deal though is finding products / services with recurring commission. You will get paid every time the contract renews, so one sale can generate you a monthly / yearly regular income (as long as the customer pays the fee). You only have to make a few sales per month and those will stack up nicely.
Think about it, if your commission is $25 of a monthly subscription, you get this $25 every month. If you only make two sales a month, by the end of the year your pay-check will have $600 written on it.
Where Can You Find Affiliate Programs?
The easiest way to find affiliate programs within your niche is to search Google [your niche] + affiliate programs or [manufacturer or publisher in your niche]+affiliate program. This should come up with plenty of options for affiliate programs that you can join (probably not with a new website though).
The other way to find affiliate programs is to use a bespoke search hub like the one Wealthy Affiliate has. You can filter down your search by categories or search phrases. It tells you the average commission rates and shows ratings made by other affiliate marketers. It makes life a lot easier.
Conclusion – How to choose your niche for affiliate marketing?
Just to wrap up what I outlined above…let’s recap how to find an affiliate marketing niche.
Before you start your new / first affiliate marketing website, I suggest you try answering these questions;
1. What do you love and care about enough to spend time with it every day in the next year?
Tip: if you don’t have any interesting hobbies, think about what have you searched for on Google the most in last few months? What phrases you googled? What answers did you want to find? Did you find them? There is a good chance that you can easily write 20-30 posts based purely on the research you already have done!
2. Are there any affiliate products in that niche that you can promote?
Amazon and eBay affiliate programs are easy to start with, however there are other platforms like Clickbank, ShareASale or Skimlinks that are simple to join and earn money with.
If you are looking for info-products, then – besides Clickbank – JVZoo and Commission Junction are your go-to places.
3. How much can you make per sale? How much traffic do you need to earn enough commissions? Are there any recurring subscription products you can sell?
Just to brace yourself for the hard work ahead of you, get a pen and paper and do the maths.
If your click through rate is 10%, the conversion rate is 10%, and your commission is $10 per sale than you need 10,000 clicks a month to make $1000.
4. Is there a good range of products or services that you can promote (low ticket and high ticket items)?
While it is tempting to promote high-ticket items for the bigger commission, actually, people are more often spend smaller amount of money first. If you have not got the ‘entrance’ products, you may never make a sale. On the other hand, if you only have low-ticket items and no upsells, then you won’t make much money.
5. Is there anyone else making money within that niche?
If nobody else makes money, then there is a good chance that you won’t make any either. A healthy level of competition is a good indicator of a lucrative niche.
Try to avoid competing with large authority sites within your niche: find keywords that they don’t rank for, narrow down your niche a bit.
I do hope that I could help you a bit finding your niche for affiliate marketing!
Don’t forget, that you have plenty of tools to use, and your very own common sense. Even then, there is an element of ‘trial and error’ and uncertainty that you can’t factor. As they say, you’ll have to cross that bridge when you get there.
Related posts: How to Create a Website for Affiliate Marketing