The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Discovering Your Niche [Part 1]
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There are millions of websites and billions of web pages floating around the web. Unlimited products, an ever-growing list of digital downloads, and a constant chatter in the social media universe. What makes you think you can stand out when you’re up against billions of online users?
Going after a broad niche such as fitness is going to be a toughie. Not only would you need to up your game to compete with the big boys but now you’re staring down massive budgets in advertising and online marketing – something you probably don’t have laying around to invest.
The simplest approach to building your online business is to get some altitude and peer into the sub-interests of the web. You want a niche – a small, but focused, segment of a larger industry.
There’s a Niche for You
Niche. Niche. Niche.
You’ve heard it thrown around enough times, that’s for sure. Have you ever truly sat down to fully comprehend what it details, though?
Let’s compare to two:
- An industry, such as fitness for our example, can be anything under this blanket term whether it’s exercise machines or specific diets. The industry pulls in billions of dollars every year which means there are major players in the market.
- A niche, on the other hand, using our example, could go down as far as a specific piece of exercise equipment which you base your entire operations around. Instead of going after it all, you’re going after the community that thoroughly enjoys using something such as an exercise bike.
The differences between the two are astounding.
Larger industries, as a whole, will ultimately give you the greatest amount of flexibility and potential to earn a boatload of money but it also means you need to make an incredible investment (time, energy, and money) to gain any sort of entry.
A niche, no matter how small, doesn’t necessarily have more money in it but it has more engagement.
Just take a look at this infographic to understand the small business “edge”.
Can you guess which gives you the best opportunity when you’re a small business owner?
Yup, a niche.
Instead of trying to be a small company poised as some large corporation, you can focus on the small groups of individuals that are die hard for your products and services; you’re building a real brand. You won’t worry about whether you’re handling thousands of products because the handful that you promote is your main money makers. It’s less about throwing stuff against the wall hoping it sticks and more about carving out a need and desire for specific products already attuned to a customer base.
Some examples of niche businesses include:
- A web design firm that specifically tailors to salons
- A diet routine for women over the age of 50
- A website dedicated to coffee aficionados
I can go on and on. If you want some real world examples just look around at the products sitting throughout your house. Understand that many companies that produce these items only focus on delivering the best possible product in their field.
And it goes the same for skills. You don’t want to be the jack-of-all-trades, instead, you want to offer a skill and service that defines you and it’s something people pay more for because you’re the expert within the field – not some major, outsourced middleman.
In all, going after a niche allows you to avoid overbearing competition while developing a business based around highly passionate buyers. You’ll work less on offering everything (being mediocre at it) and more on delivering the specific experience (around what you know).
Discovering Profitable Niches
The reality is that every niche can be profitable if you position yourself in the correct manner.
Yes, some niches don’t have the full amount of products and services you could be promoting compared to the big ones but you can generally find something out there or, if anything, you can create the market by introducing your product.
I like to explain that finding a niche really comes from your personal preferences and your ability to keep an open mind in your daily activities; pay attention to people, what products they use, services they subscribe to, and what they’re passionate about.
Here are some of the various “observations” you can develop upon:
- Building a business around a personal hobby of yours
- A well-researched niche using online tools
- Digging into an eCommerce marketplace for top sellers
- Offering the required products for an industry
- Doing something you love
Let’s break them down.
- Hobbies. This is an excellent choice because you’re already passionate about the topic (train collecting, RC helicopters, knitting, and more); you already have a wealth of knowledge and expertise. There are millions of other individuals that also enjoy your hobby and every one of them invests in their hobby whether it’s supplies or completed products. All you need to do is make a platform for these hobbyists to share their insights, learn about the topic, and have a place to buy the needed items to further their experience.
- R&D. Proper research and development takes time but will give you the greatest insight about the viability of a niche. Using keyword research tools, forums, social media monitoring, and running small scale advertising tests, you can get a grip on niche business ideas that have potential to make money. A common routine would be to research a keyword, build a small website, populate it with content, market and advertise the site, and track its reception; if it performs well than move forward with bigger plans but if there is little to no interaction than move on to the next idea.
- Top Sellers. Use the Amazon Top 100 and Ebay Top Sellers to see the exact products people are buying and then start offering them. You could build a website around a small group of best sellers or you could take the extra step by finding manufacturers, wholesalers, or drop shippers and opening your own eCommerce store with these products. However, focus on the products you actually enjoy because you don’t want to be five years down the line with products you loathe and hate.
- Required Products. This isn’t your typical business venture because it requires a bit of positioning on your part which you may find difficult depending on product contracts. In essence, you’re selling the “razor blade” to other businesses or consumers such as coffee for the coffee machine, printer supplies for printers, or computer parts to PC repair stores. You’re becoming the middleman, selling products people must buy in order for their products to function.
- For Love. You may not make a whole lot of money depending on what you love but passionate people, working on passion projects, can make a great deal of money if you keep an open mind and end goal for your project. If you got an idea, know how to see it to fruition, than go for it. You may love collecting comic books; open an online comic book shop. In a lot of ways, these items will be very hobby-ish but that’s not always the case. If you love it, you can easily talk about it, know where people are looking for the products/services, and just need to position yourself in the way.
In all, find a niche that’s already making money.
Dig around into your competition, find what products they promote, where they’re dropping the ball, and how you can become one of the players in the niche market. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to jump on the cart.
The Next Step
Already running a small business? Than this post may not be entirely for you (though I’m sure you got some great insights).
I’m talking to you new comer’s to affiliate marketing. You’re just now getting into all of this and you need some guidance on what to do next.
Here’s my suggestion:
- Compile your thoughts and print out this blog post.
- Spend, at least, 2 – 3 hours coming up with a list of potential niches you could use.
- Take one of the niche topics and dig up anything, and everything, about the competition.
- Research affiliate products on the various marketplaces (Amazon, Clickbank, CJ.com, and more).
Don’t act on it just yet.
Allow this idea to stew around in your mind for a week or two (or until the next part of this series).
Jumping the gun, getting setup, just to find out the idea wasn’t viable is going to be a blow in your productivity so keep a level head, for now. Use the next few days to get a strong understanding of niches, discovering them, and determining their value.
In the next part of the series, I’ll be talking about how you’ll begin setting up shop.
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