Finding a niche in affiliate marketing: the dos and don’ts

Publication date
Author
Imogen Beech
Reading time
7 minute read

If you’re hoping to become an affiliate marketer, one thing that can really make or break your affiliate marketing efforts is your niche. In fact, choosing the right niche is one of the things that new affiliates often struggle with the most.

Some affiliates swear by choosing a niche that you know and love. Others say you should be more tactical and choose a niche that’s highly profitable. We’d say that to become a truly successful affiliate, you’ll want to do a bit of both. Here are 5 questions that you should answer in order to choose a niche that ticks all the boxes.

1. What am I passionate about?

Creating a list of niches that you’re already knowledgeable and passionate about is a great place to start.

Why? Well, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time creating content related to every aspect of your niche – without putting the work in, you won’t be able to build up enough traffic to make money with affiliate marketing. If you choose a niche you know and care about, it’ll be easier to stay motivated and you’ll be less likely to run out of ideas.

On top of this, if you’re passionate about a subject – no matter how far out there and crazy – it’s likely that other people are passionate about it too. There’s your audience!

Not only will it be easier to connect with your audience more authentically once you’re giving out genuine recommendations and advice. But as someone who’s immersed in the subject, you’ll have an understanding of what information people are looking for and will be able to feed your audience what they want.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that anything you’re passionate about would make a good niche. Any niches that you think might be suitable will need to be thoroughly researched to make sure that they have legs and are profitable (we’ll get to that in a bit).

Equally, we’re not saying that you can’t choose a niche you’re not passionate about. If you put the work in, you could (theoretically) become an expert in anything. It’s just that choosing something you’re already interested in will give you a headstart.

Not sure if you have any interests that fit the bill? Start by listing everything from your favourite subjects at school to the magazines you buy; your hobbies to your job (both past and present).

Even if these aren’t subjects you’re an expert in (yet), they are subjects that have brought you enjoyment. Don’t underestimate how important that is when it comes to choosing a niche you’re going to spend potentially years of your life creating content about!

In summary…

Do:

Choose a topic that you can see yourself writing about for many years.

Don’t:

Pick a niche based on passion alone. You’ll need to carry out some checks first to make sure it’s profitable!

2. What competition is there?

Now you’ve got a list of topics you’re passionate about, it’s time to put them to the test. That includes checking out the competition.

Firstly, take a look at the top ten or so sites that appear consistently on page one of the search results for queries related to your niche. Write down what you like and dislike about each of them and ask yourself whether you think you can do better.

If you think you can bring additional value that your competitors are missing, that’s a great sign that you’ll be able to compete with them.

Secondly, check whether your competitors are monetising the niche. Do they sell or promote products? Is there a lot of competition for paid ads?

If there’s a fair bit of paid ad activity, that suggests the traffic is worth paying for, which is a good sign that the niche is profitable.

It can be tempting to shy away from a niche that has a lot of competition thinking that it will be hard to stand out. But it’s actually safer to choose a niche that’s highly competitive than a niche that has no competition at all. Let’s face it: if there’s money to be made then someone’s probably already found a way of making it. And if that’s the case, there’s no reason why you can’t too if you work harder than them.

Do:

Look for areas where you can provide additional value.

Don’t:

Be put off by lots of competition – it’s a sign that your niche is profitable.

Assessing the competition to find a niche in affiliate marketing

3. Is there an audience?

If there’s a fair bit of competition within your niche, you can be pretty sure that there’s a decent audience out there for your content. After all, what is there to compete for if it’s not traffic?!

However, you’ll want to delve a little deeper by doing some keyword research – what exactly are people searching for? Do you have the tools to be able to answer their queries?

As well as looking at search volumes, you’ll need to carefully consider search intent. Just because a keyword has a search volume of thousands each month, that doesn’t mean you can make money off the people searching for it.

Lewis Ogden, author of the blog Cloud Income, speaks about a time early in his career as an affiliate where he tried to get his blog to rank for the keyword ‘How to make French toast.’ It wasn’t until he got to the top three in the SERPs (search engine results pages) that he realised there was no money to be made here.

Yes, there was an audience for the content, but all they wanted was to learn how to make French toast – they weren’t looking to buy French toast or French toast-related products. No matter how many people clicked on the result, he simply wasn’t going to get rich.

This shows just how important it is to balance SEO and affiliate marketing. And of course, it also ties back to the previous question about competition. If he’d checked, he’d have seen that nobody buys Google ads related to French toast and could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble bothering to try monetising it.

Do:

Carry out keyword research to learn more about what your audience is searching for.

Don’t:

Spend hours optimising content for a keyword that won’t convert – search intent is key.

4. What products could I promote?

Next, you’ll want to check what products you could promote that are relevant to your niche.

While you’ll need to promote products that match your audience’s search intent and are likely to be genuinely useful recommendations, you’ll also need to make sure that you can earn money from them. After all, that’s probably why you’ve decided to become an affiliate!

The problem with some niches is that the only products you can realistically promote are through affiliate programs that won’t pay you much money. For instance, although the Amazon affiliate program, Amazon Associates, is great in many ways, it offers low commission rates (a maximum of 12%) and many of the products on there are low-value items. So, you’re not going to make your fortune promoting these products.

On the other hand, if you can promote courses or software, you could access programs that have much higher commission rates. For instance, ClickFunnels (software that enables entrepreneurs to build sales pages and funnels) offers up to 40% commission, while Shopify (a platform that helps small businesses to sell products) pays 200% of a customer’s first bill.

Better still, if you can promote subscription products, you might be able to access recurring commissions. Basically, that’s when a customer pays a recurring fee for their subscription and you get a percentage of their bill every time they pay – true passive income!

Generally speaking, a niche that will allow you to join affiliate programs with higher commission rates and recurring commissions will be more profitable. Just watch out that you only promote genuinely great products that you think your audience will love – otherwise, you just won’t get anywhere. It’s all about choosing a niche that allows you to find the right balance between the two!

Do:

Check for high-paying affiliate programs within your niche.

Don’t:

Promote a product for the commission alone – any products you promote should be genuine recommendations.

5. What value can I provide?

Finally, and arguably most importantly, you should ask yourself what value you could provide people through your niche.

We’ve touched upon it already, but make sure that you look at what your competitors are doing and consider whether you could add any additional value by entering the same niche yourself. Additional value could be anything from more detailed information to a completely unique angle.

For example, think about Money Saving Expert. This insanely successful affiliate website focuses on providing really detailed yet easy-to-understand information about how to save money. It puts its readers first and its commission second (although it does use affiliate links, it’s completely editorially independent).

Or, consider Skyscanner. Another successful affiliate website, Skyscanner has changed the landscape of travel bookings by helping users to find the cheapest airlines, hotel partners and car rental companies.

Don’t worry, we’re not saying you need to become the next Money Saving Expert or Skyscanner in order to earn a living as an affiliate (although why not aim high?!). But we are saying that you should focus on what you can bring to the table. Why should someone read or watch your content rather than someone else’s? What can you give them?

Usually, if you put your audience’s needs first, the rest will follow. Yes, you’ll need to make sure you’ve picked a profitable niche, and yes you’ll need to promote products to earn commissions. But the only reason a niche is profitable is that there’s an audience out there looking for the right kind of content.

If you focus on meeting their needs, providing genuinely useful information, you’ll be able to build up a loyal following that trusts your recommendations and therefore clicks on your affiliate links again and again.

Do:

Put your audience’s needs first.

Don’t:

Choose a niche you can’t add value to.

Finding your niche in affiliate marketing

As you can see, finding your niche isn’t rocket science. All you need to do is list out the niches you’re passionate about and then check to see which are the most profitable and which you could provide the most value with. Once you’ve found a niche that ticks all three of those boxes, you’re well on your way!

Whether you’re still in the research phase or you’re a fully-fledged affiliate already, remember to sign up with Breezy. After entering your keywords and competitors, we’ll recommend hundreds of potential affiliate partners that fit perfectly within your niche. What are you waiting for?

Sign up for free 14-day trial.