How to Start an Affiliate Niche Website in 2022: The Ultimate Guide
Whenever you do an online search, guess what you’ll find in the search results almost every time?
That’s right… affiliate niche sites!
These specialized websites are dedicated to a product category, industry, audience, or hobby, and they provide useful information seemingly for free. The question is, how do they make money – and more importantly, how can YOU make that money too?
In this ultimate guide on how to start an affiliate niche website, I’ll reveal how niche sites make money, share simple steps for getting started, and answer the most common questions we see about affiliate marketing websites here at Motion Invest.
Ready? Let’s dig in!
What is an affiliate niche site?
Before we can start our own niche site, we need to know what it actually is!
Basically, an affiliate niche site is a specialized website built with the ultimate goal of selling other people’s products or services and keeping a percentage of the revenue they make.
I like to think of an affiliate niche site as solving a very specific problem for a very specific person – whether that’s reviewing relevant products or answering common questions on a niche topic, such as perfecting a golf swing or comparing different water heaters.
What’s cool is, once you have a specific audience visiting your site, it’s easier to sell them tailored solutions that they need and make a percentage on the sale!
For a deeper dive, let’s take a look at each piece of an affiliate niche site:
The “affiliate” in affiliate niche site refers to the person or business who owns and operates the website.
As an affiliate, you are empowered to drive sales for a third-party seller’s products. Affiliates are responsible for sending qualified buyers to other businesses through a special tracking link – and for each purchase, the affiliate gets paid a percentage of the revenue generated, just like a salesperson making a commission!
We’ll talk more about ways to make money through affiliate programs later on.
Next, let’s define “niche.”
To be an effective affiliate, you need to be able to bring visitors to your site and direct them to products and services they’ll be interested in buying. The best way to do this is by building content around a particular niche, or a clearly defined topic that your site serves.
For example, your site’s niche could be travel, parenting, or board games. It could be about water heaters, pet care, or dating after 50. Ultimately, the more well-defined your niche is, the more targeted and relevant your affiliate links will be to site visitors – but also the fewer people your site will appeal to.
A site that is designed specifically for tabletop gaming will be better able to sell expensive gaming tables than a generic game site could. However, there are fewer people searching for table-top keywords than generic game keywords. As an affiliate, you have to strike the right balance between popularity and targeting.
Third, we have the word “site.”
No surprise here: it refers to building your own website. With that said, there are all kinds of ways to build a niche community and promote affiliate links online, such as an email newsletter or a Facebook group. So, why make your own website?
First, your site has searchability. You can take advantage of SEO to grow your monthly organic visitors month after month. With some effort upfront to rank for “money keywords” on Google and other search engines, you can set your site up to passively generate affiliate sales for you.
Second, your site has longevity. If an email newsletter isn’t read within a day or two, chances are it won’t be read at all. But a page that’s ranking well for an important niche phrase on Google today could still rank there next week, next month, or even next year! The content serves as a foundation upon which your website can endure, with most articles you write enjoying a longer lifetime than the content on other digital channels (from emails to social posts).
Third, your site can grow. Because each page of content you create will likely continue to add value for years, you will eventually have a large base of indexed content providing passive income from affiliate sales. The success of each page also stacks onto others, thanks to additional backlinks from other websites and an improved domain rating, all of which bring you increasingly better results as your website gains influence over time.
What kind of income can you earn with your niche website?
Before you ever sign up with a hosting service or even write your first word, it’s important to understand how much income you can expect to earn from an affiliate niche website.
The good news is, here on Motion Invest, we actually have a TON of data on the amount of money that niche sites make, and where they’re making it from!
For example, we have an outdoor niche site pictured below. It’s valued at $101,310 with a monthly income of nearly $2,700.
Of course, some sites make much more than that, and others make a lot less. We currently have another site available for purchase that’s making $18,495 per month, primarily with display ads from a premium ad network called Mediavine – but of course, that’s quite a bit higher than the norm!
At any rate, notice that the above site listing is more than 5 years old. That’s one reason it’s doing so well – it’s had time to rank for a lot of valuable keywords.
Here’s a more recent site making $156 per month with Amazon:
In this case, we have a microphone niche site in the technology space. It’s 1 year, 8 months old, and it’s monetized strictly with Amazon Associates. The amount of money you can make will depend on the niche you choose, how competitive it is, and of course, how much value you can provide over and above competing niche sites.
But a good rule of thumb is to focus on hitting about 10,000 page views per month before you turn your attention too heavily toward the income side of the equation. After all, you need traffic before you can optimize your site for affiliate link clicks.
How long does it take to earn with your niche website?
It’s definitely possible to earn a three, four, or even five-figure monthly income from your niche website – but it doesn’t happen overnight. The speed at which you can make your first sale depends on two factors:
- How quickly you can become an affiliate; and
- How quickly you can bring engaged users to your site.
First, let’s talk affiliate programs. There are all kinds out there – some require more vetting upfront, but can yield more beneficial revenue splits for you. It’s possible to monetize specific products found on affiliate networks like Share-A-Sale and ClickBank, but if you’re focused on making money soon, one of the quickest ways to get started is with the Amazon Associates program.
Through Amazon, you’re able to create affiliate links for virtually any product listed for sale there – that’s a LOT of options! This means you’ll almost certainly be able to find something that fits your site’s niche, and it makes it a lot easier to do product comparisons and roundup style buying guides.
Once someone clicks on one of your affiliate links, you’ll get a percentage of whatever they buy from Amazon within the following 24 hours, even if the item isn’t what you directly linked to, and even if they buy multiple things! By building up enough traffic to your site, you’ll get more people to click your Amazon tracking links – so it’s almost inevitable that someone will buy something and earn you a quick commission.
Aside from picking an affiliate program for monetizing your affiliate site, the other factor to consider is how quickly you can get visitors to your site.
If you’re like most niche site owners, you’ll be depending on Google to index and rank your affiliate blog content in the search results – and that means your success will depend on the value your content provides readers. Other factors include the site’s on-page optimization, backlink profile, and overall brand awareness/reputation within the space.
Because of all these factors, it’s hard to predict how quickly you’ll start making money from a niche site that you’re building from scratch. Fortunately, there’s a faster, more predictable way to get consistent niche site income: buy an existing affiliate site!
Should you build or buy an affiliate website?
If you want to own your own online affiliate marketing business, the first choice you’ll need to make is whether to build or buy your own niche site. There are plenty of pros and cons to building vs buying affiliate sites.
Obviously, building a site gives you total control in the positioning of your niche. You will have the opportunity to build it from the beginning with no preexisting reputation or baggage. You can choose the exact niche, domain name, target audience, and content plan from day one.
On the other hand, starting from scratch requires a great deal of skill and time. If you’ve never built a site yourself, you’ll have to learn or spend money outsourcing it to a developer. Then, you’ll need to spend a tremendous amount of time and/or money to create the content. Lastly, you’ll need to uncover monetization opportunities through affiliate marketing partnerships or programs. It’s a long process to build a site that brings in passive income.
Your other option is to buy a pre-existing affiliate website on a marketplace like Motion Invest!
Buying a website does limit some of your options: you won’t be able to pivot niches easily, for instance. But it also comes with a lot of advantages. Depending on how successful the site you buy is, you might already enjoy a good reputation with Google, an existing readership, strong domain authority, and most important of all, income on day one!
If you have the time and capability, building your own site is a rewarding experience. But if you want to get started quickly, buying an affiliate site is a great option!
What are the steps to making an affiliate website?
Now that you know about the difference between building vs. buying your own niche site, let’s talk more about what it actually looks to build your own affiliate niche site from the very beginning.
To start off, you’ll have to pick a niche!
1) Niche Research and Selection Process
If you plan on running a site yourself, you should choose something that you feel reasonably competent in. Affiliate sites can often be a slow burn, gradually gaining in traffic and sales each month as new content is added and ranked in Google. You don’t want to choose a niche that you don’t understand or that bores you to death. (I’m looking at you, water heater niche.)
That’s why the very first step is to think about the passions you have. Brainstorm your hobbies, professional expertise, and experiences. Don’t worry about what’s marketable yet – just consider what topics you actually care about. If you bring something unique to the table, such as credentials or impressive accomplishments within the niche, that’s even better!
Second, you want to choose a niche that’s not too broad OR too narrow! A broad niche will be extremely competitive and untargeted (for example, a site about shoes in general). A narrow niche will have low appeal and traffic (such as an entire site about clogging shoes for men). To start looking for the right niche for you, write out variations on the ideas you’ve had so far. Pick a few of your favorites and go to the next step.
Third, research the traffic potential of your niche. The first place I would look for this is Google Trends! Enter the niche or a popular keyword from within the niche and check out what kind of general interest there is in the topic in the last year, five years, and all time.
This will give you a clear picture of the overall demand for your niche – it’s ideal to pick a niche where more people will be searching over time.
Unfortunately for our “clogging shoes” example, interest is mostly nonexistent. I have no idea why… But at least you know that before you spend two years making a clogging shoes niche site that nobody’s going to visit, right?
When it comes to understanding traffic potential, I highly recommend purchasing access to a quality keyword research tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Longtail Pro. Then, dig into the popular keywords you could target in the niche, including both informational queries (ie how to tie a shoe) and commercial ones (ie best clogging shoes for men).
What kind of search volume do you see? Ideally, you want at least 1K monthly search volume (MSV) per keyword – but you also want to find keywords that you can actually rank for.
Lastly, look at the competition in this niche by actually searching in Google and seeing what comes up. Is this an under-served niche, or is the subject already saturated with sites? Don’t just look at the quantity of affiliate sites you see – consider the quality of the sites you’d be facing. Are they mostly huge, multinational corporations with blogs dominating this topic, or do you see small independent outfits with poor content quality and iffy SEO?
Obviously, the less competition you have, the better, but a good niche is still worth competing for!
Your Homework: Do some niche selection research with Google Trends, a keyword research tool, and some Googling. Then, come up with a shortlist of 3-5 niches with 15-20 keywords you think you could rank for in Google.
At this point, you should have a shortlist of niches in mind for your new niche site. Great work!
Now, before you pull the trigger on a particular niche, I want you to do something that a lot of affiliates ignore in these early stages: validate the financial viability of your chosen niche.
There are basically three parts to this…
First, go look at the competition and see what they’re doing to make money. I mean it. If you haven’t found a list of 10 competitors for your site yet during the niche selection process, you either didn’t do it right or your niche doesn’t have enough interest to be worth entering.
To evaluate how your competitors are monetizing their site, you can actually do something sneaky called “funnel hacking” – tip of the hat to Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels for the idea. In this process, you will browse competitors’ sites, sign up for the email lists, and (gasp!) buy what they’re selling or promoting. In doing so, you’ll get a crystal-clear idea of what’s already working in your chosen niche. You might even find some affiliate products to promote that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise!
Second, go look for affiliate products you can promote. In this case, I literally mean jumping over to a site like ClickBank or Amazon and searching for relevant products. For example, in the case of a shoe niche, you might find shoes to review and promote, but you could also promote accessories like shoe horns, laces, polish, and so on.
Your list of affiliate products could also include digital-only products like ebooks or courses that teach your audience something, such as a full guide on to care for a fancy pair of shoes. (This is just an example, but it’s important to get creative to find possible avenues for monetization.)
Third, think about possible ideas for a product of your own that you could sell. I know, that’s not entirely in the spirit of an “affiliate” niche site, but many of the most successful affiliates also sell their own products. Your margins are going to be much better, but you’ll have to deal with customer service. (No one said it would be easy!)
Monetizing your site is a whole discussion in and of itself, but validating that it’s possible to make money in the niche is invaluable. You don’t want to devote a lot of resources to building your new site if it will never make you back the money you put in!
Your Homework: Write up a list of competitors, affiliate programs, networks, and products for your chosen niche. With some back-of-the-napkin math, estimate how much money you think you could make with a site of 10,000 visitors per month.
3) Domain Registration and Hosting Setup
Here’s where the rubber meets the proverbial road. Once you register and name your site, it’s no longer just an idea in your head – it’s a real thing! So let’s make it count.
First of all, take some time to think about the name of your niche site. It may seem like a simple thing, but the name of your site matters a lot! Think about it: every time someone sees your site’s domain in a search result in Google, it will either make them more or less likely to want to click.
An exact match keyword for your domain is nice, but no longer strictly necessary. For example, a site is called Improve Songwriting (improvesongwriting.com), and it’s in the music niche – a pretty straightforward name that tells you exactly what to expect.
On the other hand, if I called a niche site something like danielsblog123.com, or musicworld.xyz, then even if I wrote the very best article on chord progressions that there ever was, a LOT of potential readers would be turned off by the domain name and wouldn’t even give my post a chance. Ultimately, the domain name you choose affects how Google ranks ANY of your content!
So, a few rules of thumb:
- Keep your domain name to 2-3 words, if possible.
- Make it crystal clear what your niche site is about within the name. Keywords are optional, but helpful.
- Run it through the T-shirt test (in other words, is your domain name catchy and memorable enough to go on a T-shirt?).
Head over to GoDaddy or Namecheap and start entering some domain name ideas to see what’s actually available with a decent domain extension. As always, the .com extension is your best bet, but it’s getting more acceptable to go with alternatives like .io or .info – only if absolutely necessary.
Once you’ve bought a domain name for your niche site, it’s time to get some web hosting. I’ve used Bluehost for my site without any problems so far, but as you grow, you’ll probably want to look at a more robust solution like WP Engine or Kinsta.
From there, just pay for hosting and follow the steps to get your new domain name pointed to the site. We generally use WordPress for our sites, but you’re free to use any content management system that works for you.
Your Homework: Register a domain, buy site hosting, and start to build an affiliate niche site for yourself!
4) Content Production Schedule For Your Niche Site
But what it REALLY needs is content… Like, yesterday, if possible!
That’s because there’s this semi-mythical concept in affiliate marketing called the “Google Sandbox.” Purportedly, the sandbox is a terrible purgatory where pages on your new site go to languish for months before they even have a shot at actually ranking. I’ve experienced this with my own sites. It’s the difference between an article ranking on page 1 after nine months versus in just a week or two – so yes, it’s definitely a factor.
All that is to say, the sooner you get content published, the sooner your site will actually start ranking for something – and that’s how you’ll start building an income!
So, what kind of content production schedule is necessary to make a niche site successful? You’ll find lots of opinions on this, but realistically, I would aim for a minimum of one post per week if you want to get anywhere with your new niche site. That’s still only 52 articles per year, and successful sites usually have hundreds of articles.
Once per week might sound like a hectic pace, but there’s good news: this isn’t the YouTube algorithm, so consistency won’t make or break you.
In the end, Google values the BEST piece of content for a certain keyword. Even if your excellent article is years old, as long as it’s still more relevant and useful than anything else on the same topic, it will usually continue to rank despite its age, especially for evergreen topics – and often, “proven” articles with good engagement are given the benefit of the doubt by Google, which means new competing content will really have to bring it to knock your winner off its perch!
In other words, feeling like you need to post often on your niche site to please Google’s search algorithm isn’t totally necessary.
But it’s not just about the algorithm – it’s about your income goals. You still need to produce as much content as you can, because more content gives you more opportunities to rank on Google, get more affiliate link clicks, and make more affiliate commissions. The more you make, the more you make (if you know what I mean).
Now, in terms of the actual content, you’re going to want a healthy mix of informational content and commercial content:
- Informational: How-to guides, Q&A posts, tutorials, and listicles.
- Commercial: Product reviews, roundup posts, buying guides, comparison posts.
Your Homework: Start writing! Try to publish 15 posts as quickly as you can to get some traction for your new niche website.
Affiliate Marketing Niche Sites – Frequently Asked Questions
Is affiliate marketing profitable in 2022?
Yes! The cost of getting started in affiliate marketing is still remarkably inexpensive. If you tally up the upfront costs for a premium WordPress theme, website hosting, and domain name, you can realistically get started for less than $250.
Where it gets expensive is outsourcing content production – but if you’re willing to write the content for your site yourself, an affiliate marketing website is one of the least capital-intensive businesses out there.
Is there a future in affiliate marketing?
Definitely! Everyone on the team behind Motion Invest has full-time careers in the world of affiliate marketing, and we see blue skies ahead in this space.
In a nutshell, more and more people are going to be buying online in the coming years, including huge populations in developing countries who are getting online for the first time.
While some people won’t need an affiliate niche site to help them make buying decisions, there will always be interest in quality content from experts.
Why do affiliate marketers fail?
There are several potential pitfalls an affiliate marketer can fall into.
You picked the wrong niche: Picking a bad niche is the worst pitfall you can fall into. A niche can be bad for many reasons: It could be too competitive with little room for you to overcome the big players. It could be too narrow, with a very small base of traffic.
In my opinion, the worst situation you can end up with is to choose a niche you know nothing about and have no interest in. If you can’t find enthusiasm for the subject, how will you have the motivation to build a site with valuable information about that niche? It’s very difficult and the downfall of many an affiliate marketer.
You aimed too low: It takes a LOT of effort to grow a successful affiliate site. It makes sense, then, to try to make as much money as possible for your efforts. So pick a niche that can actually pay off!
You might think that low-ticket items are more appealing to visitors than high-ticket ones – and there’s some truth to that. But all things being equal, it’s just as difficult to write an article about the best high-end studio speakers as it is to write about the best cheap speakers. A few good sales on an expensive item can make up for a lot of cheaper sales.
When choosing your niche, make sure you don’t aim too low, as that means a lot of work for not much reward.
You’re adding too little value: The path to success in affiliate marketing is to get many people to visit your site and click your affiliate links. That’s only possible if your content engages readers with genuinely useful information that answers the questions they’re searching for and builds enough trust that they’ll consider buying the products you recommend.
If your site and its content are low-value, not only will visitors click off of it quickly, but Google will take notice and drop you from the search results.
What are the most profitable niches?
I’ll make this easy for you: health, wealth, and relationships will always be the biggest niches.
But Google makes these niches much more difficult to rank for, with a higher bar for any your-money-your-life (YMYL) keywords. If you don’t have credentials or demonstrable experience, you’ll have an uphill battle ranking a tiny niche site in one of these niches. Plus, there’s insane competition from VERY well-established sites like MayoClinic, NerdWallet, and People.
This doesn’t mean you can’t find slivers of sub-niches that work, but a lot of the most successful niche websites are more hobby or product focused. Think sports, pets, technology, travel, outdoors, and yes, water heaters (ugh!). But in the end, the most profitable niches for YOU are the ones you can rank for and monetize better than anyone else.
Is affiliate marketing easy?
Uh, no… Obviously not! If nothing else, it takes an incredible amount of work to produce enough content to make the money you want to make.
There’s no free lunch, but I WILL say that affiliate marketing is among the easiest ways to start making money online! A successful niche site can continue to bring in passive income with little maintenance, at long as its content continues to rank and the products you promote can sell.
The difficult part is growing it to that point. Fortunately, there’s a bit of a “cheat code” there: speeding up the process by buying an existing website that’s already monetized!
Conclusion: Affiliate Marketing Niche Site Next Steps
Congratulations… you read to the end!
If you’ve made it this far, it’s clear you’re VERY interested in starting your own affiliate niche website. And you should be! It’s an exciting option for making money online and building a source of income you can be proud of.
So, what now?
The next steps are simple. If you want to start your affiliate marketing niche site from scratch, then just follow the 4 steps I outlined earlier, starting with brainstorming niches, then monetization, then launching your site, and then publishing content regularly.
On the other hand, if you’re eager to see money coming in ASAP, you might want to buy an existing niche website from Motion Invest! Check out how you can get started buying a site here!