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page title icon Tips For Picking a Niche For Affiliate Marketing

Starting a business can be tricky when you’re unsure which market segment to venture into, and the pressure of knowing that the niche you pick can make or break your business doesn’t help. You could create a list of all your passions and still be left struggling to find out what you were meant to do. If this sounds all too familiar, you’re in the right place.

When picking a niche for any business, know your passions, identify the problems you can solve doing what you love, size up the competition, assess potential niche options for profitability, test your prospective niche, and choose a sub-niche.

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Let’s take a more in-depth look at each step.

Know Your Passions

You probably know these already; don’t overthink it. If you don’t, make a list of ten topic/knowledge areas that genuinely pique your interest. It helps to rank them based on how passionate you are about each, so you know which areas to prioritize later on when narrowing down your options.

Once you’ve identified them, you’ll want to align your niche with these topic areas.

Business can be challenging, and you’ll likely be tested at some point down the line. If your business isn’t built around something you’re passionate about, chances are you’ll end up quitting, especially if it’s your first business.

Understand that you don’t necessarily need to find a perfect fit between your niche and passions. The point is to make sure that you’re genuinely interested in some aspect of running the business because this is what will give you the drive to keep going when the going gets tough.

In case you’re having difficulties identifying your passions and interests, here are several prompts to nudge you in the right direction:

  • What occupies most of your free time?
  • What types of activities do you always look forward to when at work/school?
  • What are the knowledge areas of your magazine/website subscriptions? Out of those, which ones do you enjoy reading the most?
  • Do you belong to any clubs or organizations? What are their specialty activities or topic areas?
  • What topics dominate your search history?

Determine the Problems You Can Solve Doing What You Love

Having created a list of 10 topics you can build your business around, you can start narrowing down.

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To set up a profitable business in any niche, it needs to address specific problems or fill certain knowledge gaps in your target market. In marketing, these challenges or knowledge gaps are known as pain points, and identifying them is crucial because for any product or service to sell, the people you’re looking to sell to must need it.

You need to identify your target market segment’s pain points and determine whether you can address them through your business. The latter is crucial because it may help you narrow down your options from the ten prospective niches you identified earlier. As you contemplate how your business can address the pain points in each probable niche, you may find that there are consumer problems that you can’t solve and still be profitable.

Here are a few ways to identify the pain points in each of the topic areas:

Conducting Surveys

Surveying your target customer base can give you great insight into the types of challenges they face. With this information at hand, you’ll be well-placed to leverage it to create value for your business by coming up with solutions.

But while surveys are among the most effective ways to get intimate with your target market, their effectiveness largely depends on the type of questions you ask. If you aren’t asking the right questions, you won’t get actionable information.

But what are these “right questions” to ask when surveying your target customer base?

To demonstrate, let’s take a look at two ways to ask the same survey question:

Method 1: How frequently do you upload pictures on Facebook?

  • Extremely often
  • Slightly often
  • Quite often
  • Moderately often
  • Not at all often

Method 2: I usually upload pictures to Facebook:

  • Weekly
  • Once or twice a month
  • Once every six months
  • Never

As you might have gathered, the first question won’t provide any actionable insights because the potential responses aren’t quantifiable.

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Checking Online Forums

Perusing online forums can be another great way to find out your target market’s pain points. You can use it to complement surveys or as a standalone research method when surveys don’t yield enough responses.

You can use numerous platforms to gain insights into the nature of challenges facing your prospective consumers. Quora and Reddit are great starting points, but you can also search for other forums related to the niche you’re eyeing.

Researching Keywords

Performing keyword research gives you an idea of what phrases people are frequently searching on a particular topic. Typically, the keyword combinations people key into search engines reflect the kind of problems they’re trying to solve.

There are both free and paid platforms you can use for keyword research. Google AdWords is arguably the best free option because it provides data on the search volume and the amount of competition, and an average of what people are paying for a particular keyword. Other such tools include Moz, SEMrush, and AHrefs. These aren’t free, however, but they provide more details than Google Adwords.

A strong niche will have at least 10,000 searches per month for the main keyword and a total search volume of about 50,000 for other related keywords.

Size Up the Competition

After researching the consumer pain points in each of the ten subject areas and determining whether you can leverage them to create value for your business, you’ll likely have eliminated some of the prospective niches. However, you’ll still have several specialty areas to choose your ideal niche from, which is why you need to analyze the competition in each to narrow down your options further.

As you do this, understand that having competitors in a given niche isn’t always bad. Sometimes, it can be a sign of a highly profitable niche. But even then, you’ll still want to stand out from the crowd, so you need to be thorough when analyzing the competition.

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To perform competitor analysis, create a spreadsheet and round up the websites of as many competitors as you can find in each prospective niche. Next, try to assess your chances of standing out from the competition in each specialty area by looking out for the following signs:

  • Low-quality content. Examining the quality of content in a given niche is one of the surefire ways to determine whether you can succeed in it even if it’s competitive. Generally, it’s easier to rank well on search engines when competing sites create subpar content that doesn’t adequately address consumer pain points.
  • Lack of transparency. Gaining consumer trust is now more critical than ever. One way to do so is to maintain transparency and authenticity with your content. If you notice that most of the competing sites in a given niche are ambiguous and overly corporate, chances are you can outperform them by leveraging authenticity and transparency.
  • Little paid competition. If you come across a niche where many of the keywords have a high search volume, but competing sites have little paid advertising, there’s a good chance that you can upset that market segment.

Assess the Profitability of Your Niche

At this point, you’ll likely have narrowed down to one or two options. But before you make the final decision, you need to find out whether the niche you’re eyeing is lucrative. This step is critical because your business’s success will largely hinge on your focus market segment’s profitability.

To get an idea of how much money you can potentially make, use ClickBank to search for the top products or services in the niche you’re eyeing. If your search doesn’t yield any offers, that’s a red flag because it may be a sign of a niche that’s difficult to monetize. If you notice a decent but not overabundant number of products, that’s a good sign.

Another indicator of a profitable niche is the Average Cost Per Click (CPC). Generally, when this figure is high in a particular niche keyword, it means that businesses in that niche are willing to pay more for clicks because they’re making good money off each advert. Thus, a high average cost per click can be an indicator of a lucrative niche.

While on the subject of using ad trends to determine a niche’s profitability, you might also want to take a look at the number of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisers in the niche you’re eyeing. If there are many competing pages for a niche’s main keywords without any PPC advertisers, that’s a sign of a market that’ll be tough to monetize.

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Likely, performing a profitability assessment will help you narrow down to one broad niche. But since this is all theoretical, you still need to test the niche market in real-life, which brings us to the next step in picking a niche: performing a pilot test.

Perform a Pilot Test on Your Niche

While all the research you’ve been doing up to this point is helpful, nothing will give you a better idea of what to expect from your prospective niche than testing it in a real market, in real-time. Performing a pilot study is the best way to go about this because it allows you to test things out before investing too much in the niche. This way, you won’t incur substantial losses if things don’t turn out to be as great as they seemed in theory.

One of the best ways to perform a “test drive” on your niche is to set up a landing page (not a full suite website) to promote a free info-product that’s closely related to what you’re looking to sell. Doing this should be reasonably easy if you choose a tool like Leadpages.

Next, try to use Google AdWords to funnel traffic to that landing page. Doing this will give you practical insights into how much consumers are interested in your product in terms of both downloads and traffic. Understand that if you’re generating lots of traffic but aren’t making many conversions, the problem likely has more to do with the copy on your landing page than the niche.

Consider Specializing in a Sub Niche

If the pilot test results are promising in terms of your desired niche’s potential profitability, you can start building your business around it. But if you’re in a highly competitive niche, it might be a good idea to sub-niche.

A sub-niche refers to a smaller segment of a niche market. Further narrowing down into a sub-niche makes it easier to succeed as a startup because it allows you to drill down into a smaller segment of your niche audience. If you’re trying to appeal to every consumer on a broader niche market, you’ll face stiff competition from established brands, and you may even struggle to break even if you’re starting small.

To demonstrate the value of sub niching, let’s take a look at two sample scenarios.

Suppose, after doing your research, you realize that there’s money to be made in weight loss and decide to specialize in the weight loss for women niche. This market segment is still quite broad, and you’ll need lots of time and money to effectively speak to the specific pain points of every woman who’s trying to lose weight.

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That’s not to mention the many brands that may already be targeting this group of people, most of which have well-established websites that are bound to outrank your relatively new website. Even if you’re pushing out excellent content, most of the people you’re targeting won’t get to see it, and that’ll reflect on your conversions. You get where this is going.

In the second scenario, suppose you further narrow your market segment and choose weight loss for women who recently gave birth as your sub-niche. This specialty area is more focused, catering to the specific needs of a subsection of the weight loss for women market.

Sure, you may face competition in that sub-niche, but it won’t be as stiff as it would be in the first scenario. Additionally, it’ll be easier to keep up with your audience’s needs because you won’t be dealing with as much data.

Keep in mind that you can sub-niche as much as you’d like. To give you an idea of how much you can narrow down, here are a few examples of ultra-focused niches:

  • Dating > Dating for Women > Dating for Women over 45 > Dating for Women Over 45 and Looking for Younger Men
  • Making Money Online > Online Marketing > SEO > SEO for eCommerce Startups
  • Pet Care > Dog Care > Dog Care for Bulldog > American Bulldog Care > Breeding the American Bulldog.
  • Modern Farming > Chicken Farming > Chicken Farming in the City > Breeding Small Chicken Breeds in the City

As you can see, there isn’t a limit to how much you can narrow down your sub-niche as long as your business stays profitable.

You can use the niche selection process to choose a sub-niche. Alternatively, you can get creative with two sites you probably already use daily: Amazon and Wikipedia.

Keeping in mind that these alternatives work best when you already have a niche, let’s take a look at the steps involved with each site below:

Using Wikipedia to Find a Sub-Niche

Wikipedia can be a gold mine for discovering smaller niches within broader ones if you know how to use it.

To find potential sub-niches within a broader market segment, go to Wikipedia and search your niche (seriously, open another tab on your browser and do it right now). You’ll get a list of what Wiki deems to be the most relevant results. Check that list and select the specialty areas that appeal to you most. These are potential sub-niches.

For illustration, here are three results for the search term “Beekeeping” that could be sub-niches:

  • Precision beekeeping
  • Health beekeeping
  • Urban beekeeping

To take it a step further, click on the main result for your search item. In our illustration, that would be the “beekeeping” result. Clicking on it gives you the Wikipedia information page for beekeeping. Scroll down to the table of contents. Most of what you’ll find (if not all) will be potential sub-niches.

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For someone looking to find a sub-niche in the beekeeping niche, possible options could be the history of beekeeping, traditional beekeeping, modern beekeeping, the formation of bee colonies, and so on. If you want to narrow down your specialty area further, you can apply the same method to each of these sub-niches.

Using Amazon to Find a Sub-Niche

Amazon is another unconventional tool you can use to find a sub-niche. To get started, search your main niche keyword and take a look at the “departments” section on your top left. These are potential sub-niches.

For illustration, here’s what you’d find on that section if you searched “men’s fashion” on Amazon’s search bar:

  • Men’s Activewear
  • Men’s Shirts
  • Men’s Fashion Sneakers
  • Men’s Fashion Hoodies & Sweatshirts
  • Men’s Lightweight Jackets
  • Men’s Running Shoes

These are all sub-niches you could build your business around if you were in the men’s fashion niche.

Final Thoughts

That rounds up today’s post. Hopefully, this six-step process will give you an idea of which niche to build your business around. Having picked a niche and probably a sub-niche, you can embark on developing a full-fledged website and scaling your business. All the best!

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