How To Find A Niche When (You Think) All The Profitable Affiliate Niches Are Taken
There's a common belief that all the profitable affiliate niches are already taken. That you’re too late, you’ve missed the bus - and you’ve lost your chance. Jawad offers another perspective on this costly misperception.
There’s a fundamental misconception that stops people from making money with affiliate marketing (or any other way to make money online) despite having all the necessary information.
Can you guess what it is?
It’s the belief that all the profitable niches are already taken. That you’re late, you’ve missed the bus, you’ve lost your chance, and you can’t compete with the early movers.
Because of this belief, most people never take the first step.
But in this myth-busting article, I’ll tell you why most of the profitable niches are still up for grabs, and how to find and evaluate niche ideas to launch a successful affiliate marketing business.
What Is A Niche (In Online Marketing Terms)
Let’s start with the basic question first.
What exactly is a niche?
In affiliate marketing terms, a niche is a small segment (of a larger market) which is distinguishable because of its unique needs and problems.
For example, cooking & recipes is such a huge market you can’t really call it a niche.
Vegan recipes, on the other hand, is a much more defined niche. Indian Recipes For Vegans is an even more specific sub-niche of the same topic.
Similarly, weight loss is a huge industry but if you dig deeper you’ll find sub-niches in it like the Paleo diet, weight loss for new moms, vegan fitness, etc.
You’ll find tons of niches in every broad industry because there are so many different angles from which you can address the same problems or needs.
Why Find A Niche In The First Place?
Why not just create a site about weight loss, online marketing, or any other broad topic in general instead of finding a niche?
The mainstream topics and industries are dominated by multi-million dollar publications that pump thousands of dollars every month into content creation, link building, SEO, and outreach.
They have the capacity and resources to create content about every topic in their niche. For example sites like WebMD or Healthline have dozens of writers who cover every aspect of the health niche.
Plus, they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in paid promotions, link building, and other promotional strategies.
You can’t compete with them.
But you can make a name for yourself and establish a successful site if you focus on a sub-niche of this industry like “health and fitness for basketball players” or “health benefits of veganism”
With this approach, you can target long-tail keywords that the bigger publications don’t focus on, to attract search traffic to your site, and drive affiliate sales.
But is it possible to find such profitable niches anymore?
“All The Profitable Niches Are Taken” - Busting The Myth Of Niche Saturation
Here’s a screenshot of an article published by FastCompany, one of the top entrepreneurship and marketing sites, in 2012 that announced the death of blogging.
Here’s another article from 2012 that told us how Facebook was dead for bloggers.
And here’s one from 2013 that confidently announced that it was too late to make a fortune with affiliate marketing.
It’s 2020 and blogging is alive and kicking.
Jon Morrow makes more than $100K/month from his blog SmartBlogger which he started much later than 2012 in the internet marketing niche which is considered as one of the most saturated blogging niches.
Adam Enfroy started his blog in 2019 and now makes more than $80K per month on the back of exceptional content and high authority backlinks.
Brain Dean entered and dominated the SEO niche (again a very competitive industry) in just a few months because of his outstanding content.
In short, people will always tell you it’s too late to start because they’re just too lazy to work hard enough to achieve success (or they’re smart enough to keep you away from the lucrative niches)
But if you believe you can make a name for yourself in a niche, no one can stop you.
There’s no such thing as an oversaturated niche.
If you enter a crowded niche but create better, more useful, and more valuable content than your competitors, you will ultimately dominate that niche even if it takes a bit longer than a niche with no competition (like Brian and Jon did)
Or you could approach a popular niche from a unique angle and capture a huge market share.
For example, productivity and motivation are among the most crowded niches on the internet.
But by using a different angle and targeting a certain community, ProductiveMuslim became a multi-million dollar business site in just a few years.
It’s the same productivity niche that most people consider impossible to penetrate. But by targeting a more specific subset of this niche, ProductiveMuslim achieved amazing success.
SEO and digital marketing, another niche that appears completely saturated. But ProChurchTools came up with digital marketing services and tools for churches only, a unique angle that instantly made them a successful business.
These are a couple of classic examples of finding unique niches from seemingly saturated industries.
I can give a dozen more.
But the point you must understand is that there’s room for new entrants in every niche. You just need to use your imagination and do the necessary research and come up with unique angles and ideas.
Let me give you a few stats to open your eyes to the opportunities that await you:
Fact #1: 41% Of The World Still Doesn’t Have Internet Access
According to the “Digital In 2020” report by HootSuite and We Are Social, global internet penetration stands at 59%.
This means that 41% of the world’s population still doesn’t have even basic internet access.
Millions of new users are entering the global internet population every day. These people fall into different niches with no prior brand affiliations.
Like most of us, they will look for answers, find products, and search for information on Google Search.
All of this means the size of every niche is increasing every day and there’s room for new entrants because people need more information than ever before.
If you can fill this gap, you’ll be able to claim your piece of the affiliate marketing pie.
Fact #2: COVID-19 Has Accelerated eCommerce Growth Worldwide
eCommerce was already exploding when 2020 started but COVID19 has accelerated its growth even more.
Amazon, the world’s biggest retail eCommerce company, reported a 29% increase in sales in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 as compared to Q1 2019.
While conventional business owners are suffering heavy losses around the world because of COVID19, Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) is increasing his wealth faster than ever before.
Just a few days back, Jeff’s net worth increased by $13 billion in one day.
Amazon gets around 30% of its sales from affiliates and referrals which means the increase in its sales has also directly benefited its affiliates.
People are making more online purchases in almost every niche. As a result, product review sites and affiliate sites, in general, have seen a marked increase in traffic.
Again, these are very good signs and show that there’s more demand for high-quality affiliate content that can help buyers make more informed decisions.
Fact #3: Emerging Economies Offer New Opportunities
Almost 60% of all affiliate sales come from the US and Europe. However, this will drastically change in just a few years.
According to the World Bank and IMF, China will become the world’s leading economy by 2024. But there are other countries like India, Indonesia, and Russia that’ll be among the top ten economies in the world.
As a result, eCommerce and affiliate marketing are exponentially growing in these regions as well.
There are local eCommerce companies just like Amazon, not as big but the same business model, in these countries that are making hundreds of millions of dollars and offer affiliate programs as well.
This also presents a great opportunity to tap into region-specific niches and create content around local problems that can be monetized with affiliate products.
Fact #4: Affiliate Marketing Budgets Are Skyrocketing
More companies are hiring affiliates and investing in affiliate marketing to increase sales than ever.
According to research, brands are collectively spending around $6.8 billion on affiliate programs.
Another study shows that the annual spending on influencer marketing, which is similar to affiliate marketing in many ways, has increased by over $8 billion in the last four years and brands are expected to invest $9.7 billion in it by the end of 2020.
Affiliate marketers that are considered an authority in their niches are also categorized as influencers and brands reach out to them with different partnership opportunities.
This is happening even in the non-traditional affiliate niches because brands are realizing the power of affiliates and influencers.
Wrapping Up The Niche Saturation Discussion
The stats, studies, and examples I’ve shared show that there’s massive growth potential not only in new and unconventional niches but also in the so-called saturated markets.
You can still enter a popular niche and make a name for yourself by finding a unique angle and by creating more value than your competitors.
If you look around, you’ll find many new and profitable niches around you.
Your job is to come up with the right niche ideas, determine whether they’re worth pursuing, and then create valuable and problem-solving content that fulfills the needs of your target audience and establishes you as the go-to niche expert.
To make your niche research easier, I’ll share some of the main qualities of profitable affiliate niches and the various methods you can use to evaluate them.
The 4 Main Qualities Of A Profitable Affiliate Marketing Niche
From an affiliate marketing perspective, a profitable niche has four main qualities.
Let me quickly describe each of them.
a) It Is Specific But Expandable
The right affiliate niche is focused on a very specific audience with well-defined needs and problems.
For example, “sports” is not a niche, it’s a very broad industry with lots of different audience groups with different needs and interests.
“Football news/tips” is a more focused niche that you can target. But you can go even deeper and target the English Premier League only.
At the same time, a profitable niche is expandable which means you can easily transition into other closely related niches when your business grows.
For example, if you brand your site for a niche such as “post-pregnancy weight loss tips for vegan moms in New York” you won’t have any room to grow in just a few months.
In comparison, a more balanced approach is to go for a niche like “weight loss for vegan moms”. It is focused on a small market segment but still has lots of room for growth.
Start with a narrow niche, build authority in it and then gradually use that authority to transition into other closely connected niches.
b) It Is Based On Passions And Problems
A product is not a niche itself.
You can’t create a site about headphones only and call it a niche site. That’s the wrong approach because when the product goes out of demand, your site will die with it.
Any long-term business is based on a set of problems or passions and makes money by solving them.
DigitalPhotographySchool is a great example of a problem-focused niche site with tons of affiliate sales potential.
The site is run by veteran marketer and CEO of Problogger, Darren Rowse. Instead of creating a site that only reviews digital cameras, he created a site around people’s passion for photography.
As a result, he covers the topic from several angles and also reviews different cameras to drive affiliate sales.
The content creation opportunities with a problem/passion focused approach are unlimited.
This quote by Richard Branson, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, should be at the forefront of all your business decisions.
The objective of your site should be to identify a clear problem, create value-driven content that helps your audience, and pitch products that can help people solve that problem.
This way, you can keep promoting different products to your audience without ever going out of business because your site is based on a problem/need.
c) It Has High Commercial Intent
If you want to make money with affiliate marketing, you need to choose a niche where people frequently spend money on buying products and services.
This means you shouldn’t choose a niche just because you’re passionate or knowledgable about it. It also needs to make commercial sense.
How do you find if there’s money in a niche?
I’ll explain this later in the article.
d) It Is Evergreen And Always In Demand
The right affiliate marketing niche is evergreen and in demand throughout the year. It’s not a seasonal niche that only peaks once or twice a year or when a specific event happens.
For example, a site dedicated to Valentine's Day gifts is a seasonal site that only peaks once a year.
A site about relationships, which promotes relevant gift items and products throughout the year, is evergreen because of consistent demand.
How do you find such niches?
Let me share a few ways you can find lucrative affiliate marketing niches
7 Ways To Find Profitable Niche Ideas For Your Affiliate Site
Now that you know the main things to look for in a niche, here are few ways you can find profitable niche ideas for affiliate marketing.
Your hobbies and interests are the best places to start your niche research.
You already love doing them, you only need to find out if they’re worth pursuing as a serious business.
As someone rightly said, “choose a job you love and you won’t ever have to work again”
There are numerous examples of people successfully turning their hobbies and interests into profitable businesses.
For example, according to a study by Statista, fishing is among the most popular outdoor activities in the U.S with nearly 50 million people participating in it in 2018.
Ed Hitchcock, a fishing hobbyist himself, started a niche site to help other fishing enthusiasts by sharing fishing tips & tricks and different useful tools and products they can use.
The site makes a decent income from affiliate sales, Google Ads, and other product sales.
SavvyGardening is a niche site that’s focused on gardening, another hugely popular hobby in the U.S. It’s run by three friends who’ve turned their passion for gardening into a profitable online business.
Their content routinely promotes different affiliate products and also earns via Adsense.
What are your hobbies?
Think about them and write them down on a piece of paper.
You’ll be surprised how many niche ideas you can generate this way.
Flippa is one of the world’s biggest platforms for buying and selling websites and online businesses.
Hundreds of websites from different niches are listed on Flippa and you can view their complete traffic and income stats to find the best-performing sites.
It is one of my favorite ways to find new niches.
Just head over to Flippa and go to the website listings section.
Here you’ll find hundreds of sites monetized with Amazon Associates, Google Adsense, Amazon FBA, Shopify dropshipping, and other methods.
You can dive deep into any site’s performance metrics, study why it succeeded, and find improvement areas that can grow it even further.
How does this information help you in niche research?
It opens your eyes to the different niches people are targeting to make insane amounts of money. For example, I once saw a site about home knitting tips for mothers and grannies. The site was making more than $15000/month from Amazon and Google Adsense combined.
I could never have imagined that so much money could be made in such an unconventional niche.
So spend some time on Flippa and list down any ideas you can find.
Amazon is one of the first places you should visit when researching niches for an affiliate site.
Because it literally sells everything under the sun.
You’ll find so many different product categories and unique products within those categories that you’ll never run out of niche ideas.
For example, here’s what I saw when I went to Amazon-->Pets-->Dogs.
Look at the number of sub-categories in the Dog section (Food, Apparel, Furniture, Grooming, etc.)
But as I said earlier, don’t equate products with niches. If you find a unique product that’s selling really well on Amazon, look at the problem it's solving.
That’s your niche.
In the screenshot above, each of the sub-categories you see points to a unique set of problems. You can dig into those problems to find your unique niche.
You can apply the same approach to any other category and find tons of ideas.
Pinterest is another amazing place to research unique niche ideas.
Because as compared to the other social networks, Pinterest has a lot more eCommerce activity with several million product Pins on it.
If you search for a broad industry on Pinterest, it shows you its sub-niches and other related product categories.
For example, here’s what Pinterest showed me when I searched for DIY (a very broad search query).
Right under the search box, you can see different tags that are actually sub-categories of DIY. For example, DIY Crafts, DIY Furniture, DIY Mother’s Day Gifts, etc.
Let’s see what comes up when I click on “Home Decor”
As you can see, Pinterest shows us several angles from which we can approach DIY Home Decor. You can see tags like On a Budget, Bedroom, Living Room, For Apartments etc.
Each of these categories can be treated as separate niches.
Or in case you plan to start a site about DIY home decor, you can use these angles to come up with tons of different content ideas.
In short, Pinterest is a really useful place to brainstorm niche ideas quickly.
Both Quora and Reddit are goldmines if you’re looking for niche ideas.
Unlike other research methods, Quora and Reddit not only help you uncover new niches but also give you a much deeper insight into how your target audience actually feels about a topic.
Start by searching for any topic on Quora and you’ll see a long list of questions and detailed discussions on it that you can go through to understand what your audience wants.
Let’s see what comes up when I search “vegan” on Quora.
As you can see, lots of interesting discussion threads about veganism.
The one about “vegan diet for cats” looks promising. Maybe we can find a new niche in it.
This thread has 100+ responses and some really strong opinions both in favor of and against veganism.
There’s tons of value in it from a research perspective if you’re interested in veganism and want to start a niche site about it.
Similarly, you can find amazing insights by searching Reddit for any topic.
I personally found one discussion thread about acne really eye-opening because it helped me understand the emotional trauma and social pressures that acne patients can face.
Just look at what this patient is saying.
There’s some really strong language in there but if you read it purely from a research perspective it gives you so much to work with.
If you’re planning to start a site about acne problems, this thread shows you that acne does a lot more than leaving marks on your face
It has long-lasting emotional and social effects on the patients.
This is just one example.
Research any niche on Quora or Reddit and you’ll find tons of first-hand information about it that’ll help you understand the needs of your audience and come up with better niche ideas.
Udemy is one of the world’s biggest platforms of video courses where you can find tutorials and video classes in dozens of different niches.
There are a couple of ways you can use Udemy to find niche ideas.
Firstly, if you go to Udemy and hover your pointer over the Categories button, you’ll see a list of different categories in which you can find video courses.
Each category has several sub-categories and in many cases, the sub-categories are divided further into topics.
For example, when I clicked on the Personal Development category, around a dozen sub-categories came up. I selected one o the sub-categories, Self Esteem, which resulted in a list of 10-12 more topics.
All of these categories, sub-categories, and topics are potential niche ideas that you can note down for more research.
Secondly, when you click on any Udemy course it takes you to the course page where you can see the complete breakdown of the course content and its main topics.
This topic breakdown can help you find new ideas and angles in a niche.
For example, here’s the topic breakdown of a Keto diet course on Udemy
You don’t even need to sign up for an account on Udemy to view the course outline and topic breakdown.
I suggest viewing 10-12 relevant courses and analyzing their outlines to see if you can find any niche ideas or unique angles for your site.
Google has more data than any other company or even government in the world. Why not use it to find new niche ideas for your affiliate site?
Two sections in Google Search, People Also Ask and Suggested Searches, are especially useful for niche research.
Just type your main search query in Google without hitting the enter key to get search suggestions by Google autocomplete.
Let me type “vegan diet for” and see what comes up.
You can immediately see different angles from where you can approach the vegan diet niche.
For example, “vegan diet for dogs” is a completely different niche from “vegan diet for weight loss”. Similarly, vegan diet for athletes is a different topic from vegan diet for diabetes.
You can do this for any search query and immediately get ideas that you can research for niche profitability.
Now hit the enter key to any of those search terms and scroll down to the “People Also Ask” section in Google Search results.
When I search for “vegan diet for beginners” and scroll down to the “People Also Ask” section, here are the questions I can see.
These are the most common questions people are searching for on Google about “vegan diet”.
When you click on any question, Google adds several more relevant questions to this list.
For some topics, this section can expand into hundreds of questions.
It’s a goldmine for niche researchers because it gives you amazing insights into your target audience and gives you so many different angles to approach your target niche.
Wrapping Up Niche Research Methods
I’ve given you some really quick but effective niche research methods using which you can find a profitable niche for your affiliate marketing site.
There are many other ways to find new niches that I couldn’t list here because it would take thousands of more words.
But the bottom line is simple. To find a profitable niche, try to identify a problem or need that can be fulfilled by publishing great content and promoting high-priced products or services.
Before I wind up this article, let me tell you how you should evaluate a niche to see whether it’s worth jumping into or not.
7 Ways To Determine If A Niche Is Worth Pursuing
You’ve researched and listed down dozens of unique niche ideas, great!
But how do you know they’re profitable and worth pursuing?
Here are a few ways to determine if you should enter a niche or not.
You don’t want to enter a niche where there’s no competition.
Why? Because lack of competition often means there’s no money to be made in that niche.
I’m talking about niche evaluation right now, not keyword research. In keyword research, you look for keywords with medium to low competition because you’re trying to rank for them
But in niche research, our objective is to get a general idea of whether there’s money in a niche or not.
To start your research, head over to SEMrush-->KeywordMagic Tool and enter your broad niche keyword.
This tool does a couple of things.
- It gives you the search volume, keyword difficulty, and CPC numbers for your target keyword.
- It gives you thousands of other related keywords that you can use to evaluate your niche.
Search volume shows the number of times a keyword is searched on Google Search.
Keyword Difficulty (KD) shows how difficult it is to rank for a keyword-based on the strength and authority of the existing sites that are ranking in the top 10.
CPC (cost per click) is the average amount of money that advertisers are willing to pay for a single click for this keyword.
For now, let’s focus on search volume and CPC only.
In the screenshot above, look at the keyword “vegan chili recipe”. It has a search volume of 14K+ and a CPC of $2.31.
This means the advertisers are willing to pay $2.31 per click to show their ads for this search term. If advertisers are paying $2.31 per click, they’re obviously making a lot more money from it.
It shows there’s money to be made here.
If all the main keywords of a niche have high CPC scores, it means there’s a lot of money to be made in it. Whether you can organically rank for those keywords in search or not, is another matter.
I told you earlier that you don’t want to enter a seasonal niche that picks up only once or twice per year.
How do you find if your niche is evergreen or not? By searching for it on Google Trends.
Let’s search for “valentine’s day gifts” and see what comes up.
As you can see, the search interest in this topic is seasonal and spikes only once a year. It’s not a niche you‘d want to enter.
Now compare this with the search trend for “potty training” (a topic that’s always relevant).
See the difference?
Your niche should have a consistent search-demand so that you can make money from it throughout the year.
I know you’re trying to find a niche to start an affiliate site.
But still, you should choose a niche where you can use multiple monetization methods and diversify your income sources.
Why? Because it distributes your risk and makes sure that you don’t go out of business if an affiliate program closes down or shuts your account.
Start by analyzing your competitors and see what methods they’re using to make money.
Search for your main topic on Google, open the top 10-15 sites, and see how they’re making money.
For example, here’s a site I found while searching for the top gardening blogs.
I looked around the site and found that it was monetized with Amazon products, Google Ads, sponsored content, and its own membership section with a monthly fee.
Now head over to Amazon to see what products can you promote as an affiliate in this niche.
The categories in the left panel are full of different products that gardening affiliates can promote to their audiences.
Similarly, check for relevant products on CJ, ClickBank, Offervault and other digital product affiliate networks to make sure there’s a wide range of affiliate products you can promote in this niche.
The more ways you can make money in a niche the better because it means there’s more potential for growth and lesser risk.
This is a really important point.
What are the main traffic sources of the top sites in your target niche? Are they driving traffic from search engines only or also from social media?
Any specific social networks that are more important in this niche? For example, in some niches, the top sites are getting as much as 60% of their traffic from Pinterest and Instagram because they’re visual sites with lots and lots of images.
According to research, only 31% of blog articles are found through Search Engines. The rest are found through social networks, email lists, referrals, etc.
Is there potential for email marketing in your target niche? Can you grow a Facebook group to drive traffic to your site? Are there forums or discussion sites from where you can attract visitors?
These are important questions you need to answer because if there aren’t many traffic sources for a niche site, its growth potential is often quite limited.
How knowledgeable are you about the niche you want to enter? You don’t need to be an expert in it but will you be comfortable creating content about it after research?
Or is it so technical that you’ll struggle to regularly publish articles?
If you plan to create the content yourself, you need to have some degree of familiarity with the niche.
The other option, of course, is to hire niche-specific freelance writers to create content for you if you have the resources for it.
In that case, having knowledge of a niche isn’t necessary for you.
To make money in a niche, you’ll need to create more valuable and useful content than your competitors.
For this, you need to identify the gaps in your competitors’ content and find ways to improve it.
So first of all, analyze the top-ranking content in your target niche to see where it lacks and how it can be improved.
For example, can you make it longer and more comprehensive by adding more step by step guidelines, examples, and case studies?
Can you add more images, videos, or GIFs to make the content more engaging than your competitors?
Or are there any questions about the topic that the top-ranking content doesn’t answer?
A great way to find such gaps is to study the comments on your competitors’ articles.
Another way I identify gaps in a topic is by finding the top-selling books about it on Amazon and reading the 1,2, and 3-start reviews about it.
It’s amazing how much you can learn about your audience’s needs and what they want to learn about a topic by reading those comments.
The third way is scanning Reddit and Quora for relevant discussions which I’ve already explained earlier.
Before you finalize a niche for your affiliate site, there’s one more thing you need to determine.
What’s going to be your unique selling point (USP)? What makes you different from the existing sites? What will you do to stand out?
In the more competitive niches, this question becomes even more important.
For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko entered the SEO niche very late but grew his site into one of the top SEO resources on the back of amazingly detailed content.
Detail and research became Brian’s USP.
Similarly, what separates BestReviews from the other review sites is that you know they thoroughly test products before reviewing them.
You need to find your unique angle or something that makes your blog different from your competitors.
This will make it much easier for you to sell the products you’ll promote
Are You Ready To Find A Niche For Your Affiliate Site?
Choosing the right niche is critical for the success of your affiliate marketing business.
But as I’ve shown you, it’s not as difficult as most people think.
There are still lots of profitable niches that you can dominate by understanding the needs of your audience and publishing high-quality content that answers their questions.
Even in the so-called saturated niches, you can still make money by finding a unique angle or simply providing more value than your competitors.
There’s no reason to feel hopeless.
Just put on your research hat, follow the tips I’ve shared in this article, and start looking for the right affiliate marketing niche.
Trust me, a profitable niche is just around the corner.