It’s hard to find anyone who’d pass up an opportunity for earning passive income. Whether it comes from a rich uncle (not super likely) or hard work online (much more likely), the idea of earning money while sleeping is typically a hit.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that affiliate marketing is increasing in popularity day by day. The statistics back this up: according to recent research, “The global market size of affiliate marketing as of 2020 is $17+ billion” and “15% of the digital media industry’s revenue comes from affiliate marketing.”
That’s a whole lot of dough for the taking, assuming you understand the right tactics. This income potential adds up to just over $54,000 per year for the average affiliate marketer, with top affiliates earning as much as $75,000 per year, as reported in 2023 by Payscale.com. Combine that with the fact that it’s a relatively simple concept – promote a company’s products in exchange for a cut of the sale – and it’s easy to see why affiliate marketing is very appealing indeed.
Plus, it’s accessible to anyone with an online platform, from the social media influencer to the blogger. You don’t even need that big of an audience to run an affiliate marketing business, because even low levels of monetization and conversion rates can produce significant side income – if not full-time business. And the higher your engagement, the more you’ll make.
Naturally, it takes some hard work to identify the correct affiliate marketing niche for you. If you’re looking for max income (and who isn’t?) then it’s time to take a look at what an affiliate marketing niche is, how to find the most profitable one, and a few suggestions to consider.
What is an Affiliate Marketing Niche?
An affiliate marketing niche is a specific focus area within a larger category in which you promote applicable products and services to your target audience via social media, email marketing, SEO tactics and more. By working within a specific niche, you can cultivate a platform of people who want to learn more about exactly those products and services. Instead of covering a whole category itself – say, the outdoors – a strategic affiliate would cover one aspect of it, such as biking or glamping.
Finding that niche isn’t always easy, though, which is why our next task is to help you find the perfect niche for your affiliate marketing efforts.
Find the Most Profitable Niche For You in 5 Steps
If you’re still wondering how to select a niche for affiliate marketing purposes, you’ve come to the right place. The best advice is not to be hasty. Take your time to genuinely review your interests, abilities, and resources. From there, you can take inventory of the possibilities and choose the best for you.
The ideal niche will match your existing interests so that you don’t have to do a ton of research before you can begin content marketing – that is, writing blog entries, social media blurbs, and guest posts on the subject. Additionally, an ideal niche will have relatively low competition in any given search engine, so that you can compete for important keywords without killing yourself or spending money on ads.
Ideally, you should choose an evergreen niche. While people can make good money writing about current topics (say, covering a specific presidential election), it’s better if they do so within a niche that will allow them to keep writing once the race is over (like covering apps and tools to stay politically informed).
It’s all well and good to talk about what the perfect niche looks like, though. Here’s how to actually find it.
1. Brainstorm Your Personal Interests
Many people get into affiliate marketing in the first place because they simply love talking about a particular topic. If you already know what you want to discuss, then you’re off to a great start. Even then, however, you might want to hold up for a minute and do a little brainstorming.
Hobbies are a great place to begin. Most affiliate marketers are on a budget to start, and if you begin with your personal passions, you’re more likely to have gear already in place to get you going. This makes content marketing easier because you don’t have to brainstorm completely new ideas for an online business.
However, if you want to explore new opportunities, don’t limit yourself! There are affiliate programs aplenty to match your interests.
2. Identify Niche Monetization and Profitability
A simple love of appropriate sub-niches probably isn’t enough to promise success. You want to make sure that your interests can also make you lots of money.
This is the time to do a little research into the potential monetization and profitability of your idea. You can start by looking up the search volume, traffic, and potential profitability of the niches you’ve identified in Step 1. Research tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends can help you identify a profitable niche as well. If you’re still not sure, try other online SEO keyword and search volume tools to learn more.
Once you’ve created a short list of topics that are worth talking about, check out the commission rates offered by potential affiliate networks in that sub-niche. This can help you really narrow down your list of top contenders.
3. Search for Market Deficiencies
This stage of niche research goes hand-in-hand with Step 2. After finding highly searched niches, you should then look for which of those niches have lots of unanswered questions. When users are searching for answers, you have a better shot of catching their interest, because they have unsolved pain points.
Review a few online forums like Quora, as well as social media. Is there a lot of conversation about this topic? A lot of questions going unanswered? If so, this is a perfect opportunity for an affiliate to come in and provide solutions while promoting their affiliate partner. Using your knowledge, you provide answers in the form of step-by-step guides, tutorials, FAQs, and so forth. While reading through your expert content, your audience can’t help but scroll past your helpful affiliate links – et voilà, that’s income potential for you.
4. Research the Competition
It’s always a good idea to research the competition to assess if your interests make for a good niche opportunity. There exist high-competition and low-competition niches out there, and it’s better for your exposure, revenue, and opportunity to stay in an underserved niche.
However, that’s not to say that search volume should necessarily preclude you from participating in a certain community. No matter what kind of picture your keyword research and results for monthly searches paint, if you can genuinely contribute quality content, go ahead. Oftentimes, this is true if you’re an expert – say, you were an outdoor guide for 10 years before turning your attention to affiliate marketing in the glamping space.
Either way, you can find out more about the competition by doing a Google search or paying attention to what pops up on Google ads after you start doing your research.
5. Join Best-Match Affiliate Programs & Start Selling
Now that you’ve chosen a niche that will hold your interest and has good potential monetization, you’re all clear to identify and join affiliate programs that fit your niche. This can seem daunting if you’re a beginner, but don’t worry. Once you have the right affiliate marketing niche, participating in the e-commerce game isn’t as hard as it seems.
Look for affiliate programs that match your interests closely. If you love writing about high-altitude glamping, affiliates such as REI, Dick’s, and Patagonia will do nicely. Any program that offers a decently high commission rate and offers quality products that you can stand behind is a good option.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to affiliate products within your sub-niche exclusively. Many readers will love a referral to a related service. For example, if you’re promoting the outdoors, you might also sign up for AAA’s affiliate program to help people stay safe as they make their way down the road less traveled.
eCommerce Categories to Consider for Your Affiliate Marketing Business
We’ve gone over a lot already—but if you’re not quite ready to begin, that’s all right. Even with the above advice, many newbies often find themselves at a loss for niche ideas, or simply can’t decide which is the right niche for them. We’re here to help with some subcategories that will assist you in identifying potential niches and affiliate website options for you.
Read through some of the best niche ideas below. If any of the following feel right and you’d enjoy talking about related products, consider starting an affiliate marketing business within one of them.
Online Learning & eCourses
Online learning and eCourses are an unassuming but excellent way to make money as an affiliate marketer because it can be paired with any subcategory or sub-niche at all. Even if you’re more interested in promoting actual products for your affiliate marketing gig, you can still encourage your followers to share their own knowledge on the topic—and earn a commission while you do it.
How does this work? Well, as an influencer, your audience follows you because you consistently provide products, ideas, tips, and hacks for a particular niche—and a portion of your audience is incredibly knowledgeable about this niche as well. If the right affiliate (that’s you!) can convince those followers to sign up for an online learning tool, that’s commission in your pocket.
Need an example? Consider ThriveCart Learn, which provides knowledgeable content creators the ability to create online courses in minutes and monetize their expertise. Through ThriveCart’s affiliate program, you can promote ThriveCart Learn to your audience and earn a commission for each course creator who signs up.
The takeaway is that platforms such as ThriveCart are waiting for affiliate partners like you to promote their products, and are willing to pay handsomely for your help getting the word out. So no matter your sub-niche, don’t forget about the power of online learning.
Online shopping has become huge in the past several decades and is still growing. This is even more true for mobile, also called m-commerce.
According to Forbes Magazine, “In 2021, retail m-commerce sales in the United States exceeded 360 billion. This figure increased to 431.4 billion in 2022. And it’s expected to grow even further to 511.8 billion in 2023, 604.5 billion in 2024 and 710.42 billion in 2025.”
This consumer reliance on eCommerce is a huge opportunity for small business owners to open an online shop—and for affiliate marketers to point entrepreneurs toward the tools they need to do it.
What kinds of tools, you’re wondering? Consider options such as:
- Social media integrations
- Shop optimization tools
- Media creation apps
- Sales tools
Any software tools in these spaces with an affiliate program is a prime opportunity for earning. If you’re passionate about technology or digital marketing, eCommerce is the perfect opportunity for you to join an affiliate network, share your favorite recommendations, and win big.
Travel & Tourism
Both travel and tourism are areas of high competition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in them. To find the most profitable affiliate marketing niches in this category, think about what you know well. Ask questions such as: Where have I lived that gives me a foundation of expertise? Where have I traveled? Why do people come to my area? What do they want to know when they get to my country or town?
The truth behind successful affiliate marketing is that whichever way you can drive traffic, that’s a good strategy. As long as you’re answering questions other people can’t answer, then you’ve got a good shot at making it.
In the travel space, the best recommendation is to go small. If you try to cover everything, Conde Nast Traveler will beat you every time. But if you focus on revealing the hidden natural beauty in your own county, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Health & Wellness
Again, this is not an area of low competition. However, if you provide excellent product reviews that people are looking for, you can make lots of money through affiliate marketing.
Start by asking yourself what you would want to know. Questions include: What do I struggle with? What are my health pain points? What is a health victory I’ve experienced? What do I rely on in my life? Essential oils, supplements, kombucha?
The more specific you can get, the more likely people are to come to you as the single source of truth on a subject. So for health and wellness, you want to niche down as far as possible. Focus on an aspect of the body (gut health) or lifestyle (low-impact movement) rather than taking a total-body approach, and you’ll do better.
Fashion & Accessories
Fashion and accessories are huge. They always have been, whether we’re talking about the daisy chains of the 60s or the velvet chokers of the 90s. The only difference is that you can now find anything you want online … and link to anything you want via affiliate marketing programs. Win-win-win!
Today, fashion is more niche-able than ever. For instance, there’s the office wardrobe, the vacation wardrobe, the lounge wardrobe, and the date night wardrobe. There are accessories for the car, for walking your dog, for the workplace, and for the club. If you love talking about style, then choosing one of these sub-niches could prove very profitable indeed.
Some fashion and accessories niches you might consider include:
- Athleisure items for gym fanatics or home workout folks
- Casual workplace attire
- Upscale clothing for special events (e.g. weddings)
- Vacation wear: everything from tropical getaways to ski trips
- Cute around-the-house outfits for parents
- Gardening attire
Note that any of these niches can be profitable in its own right. However, you can also dip into these from another sub-niche. For instance, if you write about being a digital nomad on your blog, then tropical vacation wear might make for a great blog post – and expand your access to affiliate marketing networks at the same time!
The Bottom Line
Finding the right niche or affiliate marketing program for you is a multi-faceted decision. You’ll need to consider niche activity and conversion rates, commission rates for each potential affiliate site, and your own interests, then narrow them down from there. You’re looking for the best niche to match your affiliate program opportunities with high commission potential and a low barrier to entry.
This research and decision process will—and should—take some time. If you find the right niche, however, you will enjoy considerable opportunities to make money as a side hustle or a main gig.
The best way to become successful as an affiliate is to cast the widest possible net while still staying within your narrow niche. In addition to products and services, it’s always smart to include academies and courses in your promotions.
Think ThriveCart, for instance. It’s an ideal way for small businesses to set up their own affiliate programs and for you to add another strategically important affiliate opportunity to your own arsenal. With commissions up to 50 percent, affiliate perks such as promos and contests, a VIP affiliate community, and a truly great product to boot … you’re almost guaranteed to love the results.
Interested in becoming a partner and broadening your affiliate marketing strategy today? Sign up with ThriveCart now!