Affiliate marketing is a lucrative business but it is definitely not a cakewalk. Though it can be a great source of passive income, affiliate marketing has its own nuances. According to statistics from 2016, almost 80% of brands have an affiliate marketing program. And Statista says that affiliate marketing spending in the U.S. alone is growing annually at a rate of 10% on average, estimated to reach 8.2 billion USD in 2022. With such rapid growth and so many businesses investing in affiliate programs, it is becoming increasingly challenging for affiliate marketers to decide which products or programs to go after. This is where having an affiliate marketing niche helps.
Exploring a large market and trying your hand at everything might seem like the right thing to do as it opens up more avenues. But it is important to remember that the wider your premise, the bigger is the competition. Choosing a niche and concentrating all your efforts on it not only reduces your competition but also lets you create more focused campaigns.
What is an affiliate marketing niche?
A niche in affiliate marketing is simply a smaller part of a larger market. For example, mobile phones are a subset of a larger market that is electronics. Or women’s clothing is a subset of the larger clothing market. When you choose a niche for your affiliate marketing efforts, you not only narrow down the range of products you need to focus on but also cater to a very targeted audience. This is true for both written content like blogs and visual content, like when using images and videos as affiliate marketing content. But apart from these, there are other benefits of choosing an affiliate marketing niche too.
For seasoned affiliate marketers, working on larger markets and multiple niches may be easy. But for beginners and younger affiliate marketers, finding the right niche can make a big difference to their performance. Different niches have different learning curves and demands. So shuttling between niches or joining too many diverse affiliate programs at once can get overwhelming, affecting your productivity.
Benefits of choosing the right affiliate marketing niche
Some of the key benefits of picking the right niche for your affiliate marketing content include –
- Creating highly focused, valuable marketing content for a select audience
- Gaining expertise and authority in your specific market over time
- Creating a content cluster around the niche, giving your site more credibility and improving SEO
- A better understanding of your audience’s interests and needs
- Better chances of generating revenue from affiliate marketing content by focusing on a smaller market segment
Working on a specific niche or market over an extended period will give you confidence in your affiliate marketing efforts. As you carry out extensive research around topics in your niche and start creating more affiliate marketing content around these topics, it is bound to become your strong point. Your audience begins to see you as an authority in your area and has more trust in the content you provide. This trust plays a key role in affiliate marketing success in the long run.
What makes a profitable affiliate marketing niche?
When choosing an affiliate marketing niche, you need to keep in mind that you are aiming for long-term profits. Trending topics or products can get you huge profits while they last, but these usually fade away and then you are left searching again. Having said that, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all answer to what the most profitable affiliate marketing niches are. Every marketer has different areas of interest and expertise which can largely influence their performance. While someone may have seen great success with an offbeat niche, others may have generated tons of revenue with a mainstream niche. What is extremely profitable for someone else may not always yield the same results for you.
But there are some common factors that every affiliate marketer should consider when picking a niche.
For new affiliate marketers, choosing a niche that offers low competition is a safe bet. Your affiliate content will only be found by your audience if you can outrank the already existing content at the top of SERPs. There are some niches where the top-ranking pages are hard to beat. They may be highly authoritative or have extremely strong SEO, especially if they are established and successful websites with huge budgets. Competing in such a niche would be difficult for a new entrant. That is why starting with a niche that has lower competition is essential. You can look for niches where the top-ranking content isn’t as authoritative and where you have a scope of creating affiliate content that can deliver more value to the audience than what the top sites are offering.
You also need to ensure that the niche you select is of high interest, which means that the audience in the target market is interested in it. A niche may be low competition but may also be low interest, in which case your efforts around creating affiliate marketing content will go to waste. So it is important to find out what people are searching for and want to know about in your target market. It is likely that high-interest niches may also have relatively higher competition since all affiliate marketers want to work on these crowd-pleasing areas.
The key here is to strike a balance between competition and interest. Seek something that is low competition but also has a considerably wide audience base. You may also deviate from a popular niche to something closely related. That way you may be able able to generate the same interest in people and also avoid competition as not many affiliate marketers have created content on it. For example, if smartphones are a high-interest, high-competition niche, you can think out of the box and look for something close – say smart home devices, or Bluetooth gadgets which would be relatively low competition yet popular.
The purpose of affiliate marketing is to generate revenue from the content that you create and share. There are thousands of affiliate programs and not all of them are equally profitable. So it is important that you choose a niche that has reputed and profitable affiliate programs. Another important thing to note is the affiliate platform’s conversion rates. A platform with high commissions but low conversions can still be less profitable than one that offers lower commissions but guarantees more conversions.
A good example here is Amazon. Amazon reduced the commissions significantly for its affiliate program members in April 2021, but owing to the high conversion rates of the program, affiliate marketers still find it worthwhile. Being a massive marketplace, visitors may not necessarily buy the product they clicked on your affiliate site but may end up buying something else which earns you a commission too. So ensuring that your affiliate marketing niche has marketplaces and products that can drive traffic and profits is essential.
Now there may be some affiliate marketing niches that are extremely profitable now and may seem like a perfect choice. But how long can these profits last? If you are starting an affiliate marketing business, you have to think for the long haul. Certain products/services/programs are short-lived. As we had mentioned earlier, most trending niches or products have an expiry date. For instance, seasonal goods only last as long as the season lasts. Or holiday promotions for certain products are short-lived. Similarly, if you are promoting an event or event-related merchandise, your affiliate campaigns will only be useful until the event is over.
These can be good as a side hustle, but when choosing an affiliate marketing niche you want to go for evergreen ones. Choose products, industries, and platforms that will stand the test of time. If you wish to earn long-term profits from affiliate marketing, the longevity of your niche will matter.
Lastly, the most important factor to consider is what you are passionate about. You could choose the most high-interest, low-competition, evergreen niche there is, but unless you feel motivated to work on it, you can never achieve the results you hoped for. So choosing a niche that truly interests you is any day more important than running after profitability. Even if the affiliate marketing niche you pick is low profit, your passion in the area will urge you to work consistently harder on it and such perseverance will definitely yield results. Affiliate marketing takes time and effort. If you lose interest in your work midway or have to push yourself too hard, creating high-quality affiliate marketing content that converts can be an uphill battle.
How to choose the right affiliate marketing niche?
Now that you know what an ideal affiliate marketing niche should be like, it will be easier to pick one. But again, there is a process to it like everything else. Following these few steps, you can ensure that you make a deliberate and well-thought decision.
1. Start by identifying your interests and expertise
Since your passion in the niche is going to be one of the foremost factors to consider, it is best to start by identifying your areas of interest. Do you have expertise in any particular field? Are your particularly interested in a certain area, owing to a hobby or a skill? For instance, if you have a background in UI/UX design or electronics, you could be good at understanding and explaining gadgets, smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, etc. to your audience. Or say you are an amateur makeup enthusiast with considerable knowledge of products and trends, you could educate your audience about beauty products with honest affiliate product reviews.
Identifying your calling narrows things down and makes it a lot easier to decide from hereon. Also, if you already have some background and knowledge of the chosen niche, creating affiliate marketing content around it will be a lot easier for you.
2. Brainstorm for ideas within these areas of interest
Once you have your area of interest figured out, you can go ahead and start listing ideas. Look for products in your areas of interest that you could create affiliate marketing content for. You need to look for products or services that people would be interested in. There are a few tools you could use for this. Google Trends is a very useful, free tool that you can use for your initial research. It shows you recent trending searches based on keywords or topics you provide. For instance, the topic ‘Mobile phones’ revealed what people are searching in relation to it over the past 12 months, as shown below.
Another way to find out what products there are in your area of interest is a quick search on Amazon. There are numerous categories and subcategories on Amazon product listings. You could go to whichever category best fits your idea and look at which products have good reviews. These are usually products that buyers would be interested in. You can apply filters on price, brand, etc. depending on what you are aiming for.
3. Determine the profitability of the niche
With this initial research, you are already pretty close to finalizing an affiliate marketing niche. But although you know what products/services you can promote, it is also important to find out what affiliate programs they are associated with. Vet your ideas by researching which affiliate networks you could join for each niche. Then you need to find out how these affiliate programs pay. You need to pick a niche that has suitable, reputed affiliate programs giving you a fair chance of earning good revenue.
A Google search with your niche keywords + affiliate program should give you some good results. Check out the example below. You have to ensure that affiliate programs for the niche offer good commissions, have a wide range of products to promote, and have a substantial number of users. A good affiliate program should also have enough resources and tools to help its associates learn continuously.
4. Check for search volumes and competitions in the niche
A simple keyword search tool like SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner can help with this. You can simply search for a broad keyword related to the chosen niche and the tool will show you tons of other related keywords that will tell you what people usually look for in this area. It also shows keyword difficulty, which will tell you how difficult it can be to rank against these keywords in search by surpassing the top sites in SERP. Keyword search volume shows how many average monthly searches the keyword receives. You can see the Cost Per Click (CPC) of the keywords too. CPC is the amount that marketers are willing for one click of the keyword. This means keywords with a high CPC are more desirable.
With all this data at your disposal, you will be able to decide if the niche you are considering is popular enough, can generate enough traffic and earn revenue.
5. Look for gaps in affiliate marketing content in the niche
The last step in choosing your niche is determining if there is a scope to add more value for the audience. If you have chosen a popular niche, there will certainly be already existing affiliate content around it. But even the best marketers are likely to make affiliate content mistakes sometimes. You need to find out the gaps that you can fill. One of the best ways to ensure success with your affiliate marketing niche is by providing the audience with something that no one else does. You will need to create affiliate content that is fresh, unique, and highly relevant.
This will take a little effort though. Go through the content on the top-ranking websites in your niche and note down if there is anything they have missed to deliver. Once you have done that for the top 10 or 15 websites, you can build a strategy around how you can improve over them. It could be some key information, the experience that the content offers, or anything that can be enhanced. If you can’t find any, this probably isn’t the right niche to invest your time in. If you can identify gaps to fill, you will already have a plan by the end of this step.
Choosing the right affiliate marketing niche for your affiliate content may look like a lot of hard work, but it definitely pays off in the long run. If you wish to build your audience’s trust in your affiliate content, it is important that you pick one area of expertise and stick to it for a while. It will help you focus your efforts better and establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information in the eyes of your prospects. As you learn and grow in the process, you can gradually expand your efforts and explore options beyond.