There are a lot of factors for success in affiliate marketing. But choosing your niche is by far the most important one.
Your niche will determine:
- What kind of content you create
- What kind of traffic you attract
- What products you promote
- And more
It also has a lasting impact on how much you can earn as an affiliate marketer. And once you pick a niche, there’s no going back.
Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you choose a profitable affiliate marketing niche.
What’s a niche and why’s it important?
“Niche” is a word with a lot of different meanings used in a lot of different contexts. Here’s what it means in sales and marketing:
In other words, a niche is a subtopic. As an affiliate marketer, you’ll build a website around a sub topic so you can promote products related to it. For example, gardening is a topic, while organic gardening or city gardening are niche topics.
People new to affiliate marketing might wonder why having a niche is really necessary. If you choose a broad, popular topic, then you can build a larger audience and earn more money, right?
And that’s because generalized topics have way more competition. Say you wanted to build a website/blog around the fitness niche. Who would you be competing with to get visibility online? Oh only famous fitness blogs and magazines like Shape or Women’s Health Mag. It’s not easy to get traffic that way.
But what if you started a blog around the topic fitness after pregnancy? With that you can attract niche traffic. People who search online are seeking out specialized information. Getting fit after pregnancy is a unique challenge, so women don’t want to follow generalized fitness advice.
So picking a niche topic is how you get visibility online as well as loyalty from your audience. Position yourself as an expert in your niche and your audience is much more likely to buy the products you recommend as an affiliate marketer.
Good, now you’re ready to start.
Brainstorm possible niches
Now that you know what a niche is and why you need one, you’re ready to start brainstorming potential topic areas. Here’s an overview of the most popular affiliate categories out there:
Despite everything explained above, it’s okay to start general at this point. You’ll have an opportunity to narrow down and explore niche ideas later on.
So if you’re a fitness fanatic and know you want to find a sub niche in that area, you can with the help of this post. If you already have a niche topic in mind, you can research it while keeping your eyes open to the other possibilities.
The first step in brainstorming possible niche topics is considering your interests and passions. A lot of people want to jump to the most popular and profitable niche topics out there without having any real background or interest in it. That’s a mistake.
Another common mistake people make is turing skills their day job into an affiliate marketing business. Say you work as a computer programmer by day and want to find an affiliate marketing niche related to computer programming. That’s fine, if you love computer programming. If you hate your day job, then you’ve just doubled your time doing something you don’t like.
Despite having the label of “passive income,” affiliate marketing requires a lot of work. So your affiliate niche needs to be something you’re really interested in and passionate about, otherwise you’re going to burn out soon enough.
So mine your passions and interests, and try to make a list of 2-5 topic areas that you could see yourself building a blog around. Again, these can be broad or narrow topics at this point. In the next step you can research and narrow them down.
Research topic your ideas
Now you’re ready to expand on potential topic ideas. A great tool for this is the question and answer site Quora.com.
Just type in a root topic keyword, such as “fitness.” Before you hit enter, Quora will likely suggest related topic areas, such as “Muscle strength and fitness.”
This is already helping you narrow things down. Muscle strength fitness is a great sub-topic. But if nothing jumps out at you from the suggestions, just hit enter and start browsing through the questions.
Fitness for the extremely busy. That’s another great niche topic.
Another thing you can do is take your ideas over to Google’s Keyword Planner and plug them in. Keyword Planner is a free tool designed to help PPC advertisers research keywords. But it’s also a great way to get niche topic ideas based on what people are searching for.
Hopefully at this point you have a better understanding of some narrow niche topic ideas you might turn into a profitable affiliate marketing business. Your list might actually have more topic ideas on it than before. That’s good! The more affiliate marketing niches you research fully, the easier it is to pick the best one for success.
Research earning potential
The next step in narrowing down your list of potential niche topics is researching earning potential. The truth is, there are a lot of great niche topics out there that don’t have much earning potential at all.
Compare these two very similar niche topics: bird watching and whale watching. They’re both great topics to build a blog around that will attract traffic from an interested audience. You can discuss where to go to find the best birds/whales, details about their biology and habitat, etc.
But after awhile you need to start making money from that blog by promoting affiliate products. That’s where these niches part ways. Bird watching is a well established hobby. It also has a lot of related products people can buy, like cameras, camera lenses, binoculars, etc. These are products you can promote. Whale watching is different. Sure, you could promote camera lenses, but there’s no specialized whale watching camera lens to sell. Your earning potential from affiliate products is quite small.
You can tell a lot about earning potential for niches using a quick Google search. Just type in “[niche topic] affiliate” and browse the affiliate programs that pop up on the first page of results. Not seeing a lot of relevant results? Then it’s probably not a profitable niche.
Next you can do a more sophisticated search using an affiliate network. An affiliate network is a platform where brands and affiliates can connect. Most will have a list or database of available affiliate products. Refer to these to learn more about the kinds of products you might be able to promote, and their value.
ClickBank and CJ Affiliate are two very popular affiliate networks with a searchable database of products you can check out. Here’s how to conduct a search using ClickBank.
There are two main ways you can use ClickBank’s database: (1) Keyword search, or (2) Search by category.
Then you’ll discover lots of relevant products related to your niche:
Each product listing also comes with helpful statistics like average earnings per sale, initial sale value, average total rebill, etc. These can help you understand the product’s value to you as an affiliate.
Pay close attention to a product’s gravity score when looking at this data. Gravity is a measure of how many affiliates successfully sold the vendor’s product in the last 12 weeks. A high gravity score means it’s a hot product that you can easily start selling now to earn money.
Once you’ve found a product with a high gravity score and good average $/sale, click through to the landing page. This will tell you more of what the product is about and if it’s a good fit for your niche.
Hopefully after some digging around on affiliate networks, you’ll found a range of products relevant to your potential niche. If you only discover generalized products or no products at all, that’s a good sign your niche isn’t profitable.
Other factors to consider
At this point, the only niche topic ideas on your list should be those with a variety of potential products to promote. But before you make a final decision, there are a few other factors you want to consider.
1. Is the niche evergreen?
Before picking a niche and investing in growing an audience, you need to be confident it’s an evergreen topic. Evergreen means it’s a topic that people will always be interested in, and you can always create new, relevant content to attract an audience.
Say you wanted to jump on a new trend like cryptocurrency back in 2011. It’s safe to say cryptocurrency is here to stay in 2018, but creating a blog around that topic in 2011 would be risky. Who’s to say it would stay relevant in the long term?
So make sure your potential affiliate niche isn’t based on a new trend that might fade out of fashion. You don’t want to spend all your time and effort building a business around a topic that becomes irrelevant after a few years.
Great examples of evergreen niches include finance (retirement planning, stock market, etc.), hobbies (gardening, snowboarding, etc.), family (pregnancy, raising kids, etc.). So make sure your topic is something people will always have an interest in.
2. Is there potential for ongoing income from your audience?
At this point you have a good idea of what niche you want and potential products you might promote to your audience. Next you need to consider your ongoing earning potential given the type of products you’re going to promote.
Say you run a niche site about wakeboarding and you’re going to promote wakeboards as affiliate products. Wakeboards are expensive, so there’s high earning potential. But they’re also usually a one-time purchase. So even if you nurture your audience and convince them to buy a wakeboard through your affiliate, you won’t likely earn money from that person again.
Say instead your niche is organic beauty products. If you promote lotions and other makeup, there’s a lot of opportunity to convince your audience to buy various products. They can also repurchase through you when supplies run out.
The best affiliate products that help you earn ongoing income from your audience have a recurring commission. These are usually digital products, such as a software subscription or ecourse. When your audience signs up for one of these through your website, you’ll get a payout every time their subscription renews.
If you want to find products with a recurring commission in ClickBank, just select “recurring” in the search Attributes:
3. Is it possible to generate lots of new traffic?
In general, it’s better to build an affiliate marketing business around products that can earn you ongoing income. But it’s not 100% necessary for success. If it’s a popular niche topic that generates lots of new traffic, then you can build a steady stream of new leads to market products to.
Get an idea of how much traffic your content can attract from search engines using Google Trends. Just type in a niche keyword and set it to see search volume over the past 5 years:
If your keywords have consistent, high search volume over time, then you know you can attract ongoing traffic.
If you followed the steps outlined in this post and conducted thorough research, choosing an affiliate niche is simple.
The next steps include creating content, attracting traffic, and promoting new products. These each come with their own challenges to success. That said, the task is a whole lot easier when you pick a niche with great potential for profit.