In the Age of Information, there is nothing quite like affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make passive income while also pursuing your interests. Advertisers continually rank personal testimony as one of the most effective ways to sell a product, and by participating in affiliate marketing you are becoming an essential component in that marketing engine. But what is affiliate marketing, and how can you get started?
Affiliate marketing is a form of revenue sharing which involves making money by promoting the products of another company. The general idea goes something like this: you promote a company’s product, and if a consumer buys that product based on your recommendation, you receive a commission for the “sale.” This promotion can be in the form of a blog, a YouTube channel, or even live streaming.
The concept is easy enough to understand, but finding a niche for affiliate marketing can be a bit tricky. Ideally, four components will come together nicely in a good niche: a popular topic, popular products pertaining to that topic, great search engine optimization, and a high level of personal interest. If you’re fascinated by a hot topic with dozens of relevant products that many people search for on Google or Bing, you may have already found your niche. Unfortunately, most people don’t have brilliant niche ideas falling into their laps, which is why these steps will help you find the niche you’re looking for and the passive income you’ve dreamed about.
Step 1: Searching for Ideas
The best way to start looking for an affiliate marketing niche is to look at some of the most successful and highly-trafficked sites on the web. While you could look up individual sites or type “popular websites” into a search engine, a nice summary of this information can be found at Quantcast.com. (While you’ll need to sign up for a membership, it’s free and will save you a ton of time.)
On Quantcast.com, you’ll find that some of the most popular places on the web will be search engines like Google and Bing, social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and sites for countries such as China and India that you probably don’t use. However, if you look past the most popular ones, the sites will begin to get more specific. Find a site which is about a topic you’re interested in and see if you can develop a niche from there. Keep in mind there are other sites besides Quantcast.com—Alexa.com for instance—but they don’t provide the analytics Quantcast.com does. Thirsty Affiliates offers great advice for Step 1: “You can always start with your passion if you have it and from there you can then add a few tidbits here and you can always find related products to promote as an affiliate.”
Take this scenario as an example for your brainstorming: past the top 50 results but still on the first 4 or 5 pages you will find Soundcloud.com, a platform for people to upload their originally edited sounds. This may strike your interest and remind you that you’d like to write a blog about music and/or sound effects. Or maybe you want to take your blog in the direction of the music industry. This is a great start, but for something as broad as music or the music industry, you’ll want to continue narrowing down your search for the perfect niche. Step 2 will aid you in this.
Step 2: Narrow Down to Your Niche
The best way to find a smaller niche in a broad category is to go to a crowdsourcing site where the flow of ideas is truly inspiring. Sites like Quora.com or Yahoo Answers will help you in your search immensely. You may find a thread that is in the category you’re interested but is a little off the beaten path.
Take the music example from Step 1. You’ve decided you want to blog about music and sound effects, and maybe even the music industry, but that is such a broad topic that your blog will most likely never get traction or say anything that will stand out. But after a quick Quora.com search using the keywords “music” and “sound effects,” you see an interesting answer from a contributor about filmmaking Foley, the art of creating sound effects in movies. As you think about it, this is a great niche in the music category in which you have an interest. You may be on your way to the perfect niche for affiliate marketing, so you proceed to Step 3.
Step 3: Research
Before you get too carried away and write loads of content for a niche topic, you have to do your homework to see if the subject is profitable—this is affiliate marketing, after all, and not a pet project. Your best resource for this kind of research is Clickbank.com, a marketplace connecting vendors and affiliate marketers. According to Affilorama.com, Clickbank.com is the largest affiliate networks for digital products. Clickbank.com allows you to see what products have been sold through affiliates and the topics they’re categorized under. Using the gravity filter, you can also see which products are successful and which ones aren’t. These tools will give you an idea of what kinds of products you’ll be endorsing.
Searching music on Clickbank.com will likely yield many different results, some of them more relevant than others. You may see products anywhere from instruments to digital sound recording equipment. After adjusting the gravity filter, you see that sponsored trumpet content doesn’t really sell well while popular headphone brands do fairly well. If you find several successful products in your searched area, you may be looking at your next affiliate marketing niche.
Step 4: Utilize SEO
Search Engine Optimization plays a role in good affiliate marketing, although it is not as important as in traditional marketing. You still need to find the right SEO to attract customers to your site, but for affiliate marketing you will manipulate SEO to your advantage in a different way. You may find an interesting niche market that sells product, but you still might not have a winning formula unless your topic is consistently searched.
For instance, if your niche is so narrowed down that almost nobody visits, your traffic conversion rate will not matter—even a 75% conversion rate won’t give you the passive income you’re looking for if it refers to 6 out of the only 8 people who visited your site. To ensure this won’t happen, use Google AdWords to see if your topic is a highly-searched topic. In the example of music, filmmaking Foley isn’t an extremely popular topic, so while you might generate a decent blog following, you won’t exactly be a millionaire overnight. Trending topics might lead you to the kind of SEO you’re looking for.
Affiliate Marketing Examples of Websites that Did It Right
A great example of building an affiliate marketing site can be seen with Datingadvice.com. While dating sites and dating advice is extremely common, Datingadvice.com cuts through the clutter. According to Empire Flippers, this is because “the website takes a different tack on that, and offers good advice while keeping its ethics alive by promoting quality offers that aren’t out to scam those who buy.”
The Wire Cutter is another great example of affiliate marketing done right. Their niche is customer product reviews. According to Authority Hacker, “It’s a simple model: affiliate commissions, primarily through Amazon and BestBuy.” They make money by recommending products, answering questions related to what brands are better, and promoting various businesses.
By narrowing down your niche, sticking to the fundamentals of what makes affiliate marketing work, and following the affiliate marketing examples that are available, earning revenue through websites advertising other business’s products can become an incredibly lucrative venture for you to consider.