Niche is the ticket!

 

Here at IncomeShops we see all kinds of sites built by our storeowners.  While we’re not in the business of “telling” people how to run their business, we can give some helpful advice.  One of the things we see many of our customers do that we do not agree with is building “online department stores”, i.e. sites with everything from gardening hoses to ladies fashions.  We don’t think this is a good idea for loads of reasons…but probably the most important is that sites like these do not get favourable attention from affiliate networks – why? Because the networks are looking for specialization! 

The networks want affiliates that have a certain level of know-how or expertise, (or at least an appealing angle to a market segment) in a niche where their clients (the retailers) can showcase their products to a target segment.  If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.  Why would a high-end jeweller want to be featured in a store selling kids’ toys?  The only time these kinds of “mega-stores” make sense, is if they already have a lot of traffic. One of the best examples is Amazon.  They are probably the world’s biggest affiliate store, selling products for an extremely large number of retailers and manufacturers.  However, of startup and small businesses, (that do not have “Amazonesque” traffic), niches are the way to go.  So how does one go about establishing a store and picking a niche?  Here are some useful tips:

  1. Pick a niche in an area where you have expertise or a keen interest – the best niches are in areas where you have a passionate interest.  This can be anything.  We have customers that have built sites around their interest in celebrities, or even certain kinds of gardening products, obscure sports, and more.
  2. Look for high commission, high priced items that don’t need a lot of individual transactions to make your store profitable.  Keep in mind that the biggest challenge you’ll have is getting people to come and buy from your store; initially, most stores don’t generate a lot of traffic, so you have to take time to promote key products and do meaningful postings.
  3. Make sure your niche has items that you are either familiar with or that you can get information on; this will allow you to do reviews or share you own opinions, thoughts or ideas on.  For example, a simple sweater can be the topic of much discussion, including suggestions of what kind of situation it’s best suited for, or where it may be inappropriate attire.
  4. If you’ve done the above 3 correctly, then you should be well-positioned to write reviews of products that you believe are of interest to your visitors.  Don’t be afraid to give negatives where they are due – people will want to know your perspective and will become more attached to your opinions if they prove to be useful.
  5. If you can, write detailed reviews, tutorials, stories and opinions on products you carry.  These DO NOT have to be reviews, they can be topic based.  For example, you can write an article about choosing appropriate holiday gifts, and share ideas that your customers may be interested in or find useful.
  6. Keyword searches are another area you should consider.  There are over 500 million new keyword strings typed into google everyday!!!  These are typically what are called “long tail key words”.  For example, “where can I find an ugly sweater as a holiday gift for my dad”- yep!  Believe it or not, these are being made up every day.   So type in searches that you think you would like to be found with, see what comes up and make your key words work for you.
  7. Make sure you buy from yourself!  There are so many people who don’t do this!  It is a “no-brainer”.  Also, make sure all your friends, family, colleagues at work, people you interact with at the cleaners, local supermarket or your favorite bar are aware of your store – and make sure you remind them OFTEN to visit.  If you don’t promote your store – who will?
  8. Facebook, google+ and twitter pages are a must.  Social media is an effective, powerful and reliable way to drum up business and to promote your niche.
  9. Visit online message boards and forums that cater to your target market.  Note though that some do not allow you to post web addresses, but many do.  Find these boards, get your voice heard, and promote your site. 
  10. Keep your site updated.  Once you get approved by the affiliate networks, you will get offers EVERY DAY.  Make sure you’re highlighting these on your site and promoting them to your customers via social media, and via your own mailing list.

Finding the right niche is always a challenge for most starting out in affiliate marketing.  But as we said, find something you’re passionate about and go for it!  Once you’ve picked your niche, following the above 10 tips will go a long way to helping you reach profitability and on-going success.  Good luck!