Choosing your affiliate niche is like choosing a color scheme for a room. There's no wrong answers.
One of the most difficult parts of starting your affiliate website is figuring out what topic you will do. It can seem like all the good ideas are already taken, or that you are not an expert in anything.
Some people have the opposite trouble, where they have tons of hobbies and interests, so they don't know which topic is the best to start with. Which topic will make me the most money?
These are all great questions and concerns!
However, the truth is that ANY topic can make money. As a beginner, your goals is not to make your website perfect. You should not care about becoming a millionaire right away. Our goal is simply to understand the process and make a bit of money.
Most likely, you'll find some flaws in your first topic choice, then build a bigger, better website next time. That's been true for me and many success stories I've seen over the years. Alternatively, you may keep your first site, but slightly alter the direction to make it a more viable business. Your “niche” isn't locked in stone.
Whatever happens, I am confident that given enough time, pretty much anyone can turn their website into a search-engine-dominating, massive money generator
What were my first websites? Here's a list of topics I tried out:
- horse care products
- “Asian flush” cures
- home exercises for twisted ankles
- antivirus software reviews
- lose belly fat
- how to make mobile apps
- plants vs zombies plush toys
None of them generated more than a few dollars, but I gained a ton of experience. Eventually, I started a VPN website for expats living in China because I was living in China at the time. We had to use VPNs to access Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix.
The perfect niche was sitting right under my nose the whole time!
Within 12 months I was generating over $10,000 per month promoting VPN subscriptions.
(I'm no longer in that niche. I sold my websites. Feel free to use that idea!)
All that being said, I recommend you spend a few minutes, or a day or two to consider what your first affiliate website will be about. Here's what I'd do differently this time around, and you can read/watch more about how to pick the perfect niche for yourself below.
Table of Contents
- How To Pick Good A Niche For Your Affiliate Blog
- What Is A Niche?
- Can You Really Make Money In Any Niche?
- That's Not A Niche. This Is A Niche!
- Researching Affiliate Products Can Help You Brainstorm Ideas
- What If I Just Want To Make Money & Don't Care About My Niche?
How To Pick Good A Niche For Your Affiliate Blog
What Is A Niche?
A niche is a small area, so people in business always use it to describe a “small area” of the market. Lots of people use the word interchangeably with “topic”. So when someone asks, “What's your niche?” they mean, “What's your website about?”
Why don't they just say it that way then? There's a reason for that.
The reason is that we don't just want to make our website about general topics. When you make your first affiliate website, don't choose something like:
- health & fitness
- weight loss
Those ideas are too broad. There's too much to cover! As a single writer for your website, it's too much work for you. Websites like Buzzfeed or Mashable have a full staff of writers which is why they can write about anything they want.
Also, broad websites like that don't speak to a specific audience. They are harder to rank and harder to grow. That's why big websites write clickbait headlines to catch your attention. We're not doing that. As bloggers, we want to provide value to readers.
For example, health and fitness is not a niche. That's an industry. Here are some example niches within the health and fitness industry.
- weight loss for men over 50
- weight loss for diabetics
- weight loss for kids
- weight loss with keto diet
- weight loss for vegetarians
- protein powder reviews
- vegan bodybuilding
- gain weight for women
- nootropic supplement reviews
- home gym exercises
- stay in shape for busy professionals
- celebrity diet reviews
- myth-busting fad diets
- natural remedies for common illnesses
- yoga for kids
- first time marathon preparation
The main thing to gain from this is to understand that the audiences are different. Someone who wants to train for a marathon isn't trying to gain or lose weight. A man over 50 has different dietary needs than a woman under 30. A person who wants to boost mental health with nootropics doesn't care about whey protein.
Is There a Formula For A Successful Niche?
The good news is that there's no specific formula for how to pick the perfect niche. How is that good news?
It means that ANY idea can work if you try hard enough.
Some affiliate courses will teach you some research tactics, but in my opinion, at this point, that's not really worth your time. The main thing to focus on at this point is picking something you enjoy researching and writing about.
If you pick a topic you don't care about, you chances of quitting increases. If you pick a topic that holds your interest, at the very least you'll enjoy part of the business-building process as you do research and publish articles on your blog.
For example, one time I started a website about motion sensor sprinklers. Cats were crapping in my yard, so I bought some sprinklers that would turn on when they sensed motion. I hated those cats so much for messing up my lawn that I had plenty of mental fuel for writing content even though it took several months to rank and start making money.
- What kind of things do you like reading about?
- Who would you like to have conversations with on your website?
- Which type of person would you enjoy helping?
- What products are you interested in reading about or even buying?
Plus, if you care about what you write, it's easier to make content that engages readers. As a new writer though, it's much easier to write about stuff you care and know about.
Do you have a niche in mind? Want to check with me to see if it's a good one? Leave a comment, and I'll help out! Remember, your first website doesn't have to be a home run!
Is Your Niche A Profitable One?
The simple answer is YES. If you are interested in something, there are thousands of other people that are interested in the same topic. No matter how weird you think you are, there are plenty of other “weird” people just like you.
Even if you don't “sell” or promote anything on your website, you can still make money with display ads. With those type of ads, you just need views, so your only job is to get traffic. I'll talk about traffic in another tutorial.
This is display ad revenue only. $5,000-$7,000 per month is just the beginning!
Aside from the bare-bones method of making money through display ads, just think about how many products there are on Amazon. You can order anything from a replacement fridge handle to a $25,000 espresso machine, to a persimmon tree from Florida, to an offensive halloween costume.
Amazon is just one website. There are hundreds of thousands of affiliate programs to choose from, and millions of products within those companies. The opportunities to make money promoting affiliate products are absolutely endless.
Can You Really Make Money In Any Niche?
Yes. You can make money with a website about anything. If you aren't making money, you're doing something wrong. No big deal, you just need to tweak your strategy a bit and keep moving forward.
For some “proof” that anything can make money, I went out and found a bunch of weird and unexpected websites that are making money.
Not all of these are affiliate websites. I just want to demonstrate that you can pick some really odd topics and they'll still get traffic. All you need is traffic to your website and you can make money in one way or another.
hot sauce reviews
tactical airsoft guns
sports gear for dogs
viking replica battle gear and jewelry
In a worst-case scenario, let's say you pick out a really dumb topic that's hard to monetize. For example, let's say you pick a toilet paper review website. You might be surprised to hear that I actually believe there's a way to make money of this topic.
Firstly, are you solving a problem? Yes. Personally, I hate thin toilet paper. You know, the kind you find in a gas station or airport bathroom? Hate it. Can't stand it. I don't want to penny per every square inch of my life and buy cheap toilet paper. I want to have some luxurious, soft, and sturdy product. I can afford it.
My local store only has maybe 4-5 brands. They are okay, but I'd really like to have some quality paper auto-shipped to me on a regular basis. Before I decide what brand to buy, I'm going to do some research online.
Now let's say I'm a toilet paper enthusiast, but discover that there isn't really a huge market for promoting toilet paper online. Maybe you discover that you can only earn 5% on $10 sales, which isn't going to pay the bills.
What next? Should you give up on your site and move on? No. Let's figure this out.
Ask yourself, is there anything related to toilet paper where someone might need to look up reviews? Yes. After my trip to Thailand, I was hooked on bidets, and the good ones are not cheap!
5% commission from Amazon on a $300-$600 item is a lot if you are making multiple sales daily. You could make a full time income just talking about your crapper at home!
One step further, what other comforts people look for in the bathroom? How about listening to music or the news while you get ready in the morning? Amazon Alexa and other wireless speakers would be a great fit.
Now we have a bunch $100+ products to review and promote on our website, plus tons of potential avenues to write content.
Our website has transformed from a toilet paper review website into a home & garden website focused on the luxury bathroom niche. What other luxuries could you promote and talk about as well? You could branch into skin care products, DIY projects, or even local contractor recommendations.
This transformation is exactly what can happen to your website, no matter how bad your first idea is. This is one reason I love affiliate marketing as a business model for newbies. Everything can be changed, tweaked, edited, and updated as you grow your business. Don't be afraid to start with your “best” idea right now, and improve it later on.
That's Not A Niche. This Is A Niche!
One problem newbies have when picking a topic for their affiliate website is going either too “narrow” or too “broad”.
Here are examples of topics that are too broad:
- weight loss
- mental health
- becoming happy
- how to start a business
If you suspect you might have chosen too broad of a topic, think about whether or not you can divide into further “tribes” of people. For example, let's look at technology. An incorrect way to look at it would be to say that my target audience is “people who like technology”.
However, you can very easily divide that into more narrow audiences that can be differentiated from each other.
- beginner app creation
- advanced app creation
- retro gaming console repair
- how to use smartphones for age 50+
- automated sprinkler systems
- making robots for teenagers
- smart technology upgrades for cars
- make money as a graphic designer
- Segway & scooter reviews
- drone photography
- remote work & travel
- cutting cable
- how to make a WordPress website
- cloud storage reviews
- tablets for kids
- kids learning app reviews
As you can see from the examples above, products range from real life scooters and drones, to 100% “in the cloud” products or services like cloud storage and apps.
Someone who wants to know the best drone for their wedding photography business is a completely different person than someone who wants to know which iPad apps are going to make his kid smarter without getting addicted to technology.
Think about how different audiences have different wants, and how you can speak to a specific group of PEOPLE.
Some new affiliate marketers have the opposite problem, and they go too narrow. This can also be a problem, because you will run out of stuff to say! Here are some examples of topics that are too focused to be a “niche market”.
- carrot cake recipes
- coffee mug reviews
- how to make watermelon cocktails
- how to prune citrus trees
- cures for common Boston Terrier illnesses
- organic baby socks
- best matches for cigars
- how to choose the right lipstick color
The problem with most of these examples above is that you'd get bored just a few weeks into building your website. Are there really that many types of matches you can use for your cigars? There's a few carrot cake recipes out there, but can you create hundreds of recipes? Probably not.
Envision Your Daily Research And Writing
Once your website is set up, your day to day tasks will be mostly doing research and writing content for your website. You can make really good money just writing for your website every day!
While you're picking the niche topic for your affiliate site, try to think about potential things to write about in the future. Will there be enough to write about? If not, broaden your topic.
For example, we figured out that no matter how hard we try, we just can't think of a new carrot cake recipe every month. What about a new cake recipe every month though? Yeah, we could do that! Cake recipes could be a great niche website idea.
Other potential niche websites could be:
- keto cake recipes
- no-bake cake recipes
- cake-making for kids and parents
There's no “perfect” answer. ANY website can make money as long as you commit to it.
You don't have to make a detailed business plan of your content topics for the next year. Brainstorming on your niche is just a mental exercise to help you feel secure in choosing a niche and taking action to build your website. Discovering new topics will be a natural progression for your business, especially considering in the meantime, you'll be becoming an expert as you research your topic.
There's a lot of potential ideas you can't envision right now, but may discover years down the road.
Researching Affiliate Products Can Help You Brainstorm Ideas
One concern I hear from a lot of new affiliates is that they worry about picking a niche where they can't make any money, or that they don't know if there are actually any products to promote in their niche.
Checking out some initial affiliate offers related to your niche is a good idea if you want to take the time to do the research. You do not have to apply yet! At this point it's enough to just see what's out there and available.
Plus, you'll find more opportunities as your site grows. As you learn more about affiliate marketing and become an expert in your niche, you'll think of more and more ways to monetize your website.
For example, when I started my homebrewing website, I planned just to make money by promoting homebrewing supplies. I didn't know that there were beer of the month clubs you could promote! Now I make money promoting both beer clubs and homebrewing supplies.
Finding products to promote is pretty easy. I have a whole lesson on this later on in your training, but for now, here's the basics.
Go to Google and type “My Niche + Affiliate Program”
In 2 seconds I found six potential companies to work with
Another option is to go to Amazon and type in stuff related to what you're promoting. If Amazon doesn't do their affiliate program in your state or country, you can pick a place like Walmart or Target, both of which have popular affiliate programs.
You can see in the screenshot below that homebrew beer items on Amazon range from $10 to $800, so there's plenty of options to choose from.
I'll talk about product reviews in a future lesson. Keep in mind that writing about things you don't own or don't know much about can be challenging to new affiliate marketers, but it's possible to do it in an ethical way, so don't stress about having to invest 1,000's of dollars into your business to purchase and test stuff for product reviews.
Here's the full list of affiliate programs we've covered, so there are plenty of ideas to work with over there. At the end of each blog post I give 2-4 different potential niche website ideas for the topic.
What If I Just Want To Make Money & Don't Care About My Niche?
In general, most legitimate training programs will have you focus on something you care about for your first website. They do not have you focus on money, because flashing dollar signs in your eyes can be the worst enemy for a beginner niche marketer.
Chasing money is a great way to end up doing unethical things like promoting junk products simply because they are expensive and earn you lots of money. Over time, this hurts your brand, and it's not a long term strategy for building an authority website that will generate income for many years.
However, you should also consider the fact that you can develop a passion for a topic over time. Was I super-duper in love with VPNs? No! VPNs are not even in my Top 100 of things I would say I like.
So how did I grow my VPN websites to generate over $10,000 per month? After I made my first couple sales I was very inspired to see that this my blog was actually making money, even if it was just $5 here and there. It was very motivating, and I threw myself into the research so I could create better, more interesting content.
During my research and blogging, I discovered some very cool things about VPNs, that I didn't know before. Things like their online privacy enhancing features, and how different VPN apps worked on your smartphone.Over time, I became an expert on how VPNs work and who needs to use them. My interest in the technology didn't start strong, but it grew over time.
If you're making money, anything can be interesting!
So, if you do not have a strong passion for any topic right now, don't stress. You can still do this.
Finding A Profitable Niche You Are Not Passionate About
If you seriously can't think of anything at all, I do have some suggestions for you. When I'm doing research on a new website, I like to check trends on the big social media and shopping websites. It's not a perfect method, but it's a place to start. Amazon Best Sellers works really well to see what's selling.
Twitter Search is another resource where you can look up trending hashtags and see what people are saying online.
I also like to check out Google Trends to see the general direction of public interest. It looks like Crossfit interest is dying out, and it's a highly seasonal niche, so it's not something I would get too excited about in terms of affiliate marketing.
Smart home related topics on the other hand look like they're rising in popularity! You could make a website about home automation in general, or dig deeper into a niche like DIY home security or surround sound speaker systems.
YouTube's trending home page could also be a source of ideas.
So what do you think? Do you have a topic in mind you know you want to start with, or will you do some research beforehand and try to pick someone based on that?
The next lesson is to pick out your domain name and hosting package to get your website launched ASAP.