For the purposes of this article, let me begin by defining exactly what I mean by the terms “marketing niche” and “affiliate marketing.” A marketing niche is nothing more than an opportunity to advertise a product or service to a group of clients who need it or want it and who may be having difficulty locating it. In other words, it’s the law of supply and demand working out to the advantage of the marketer.

What would a canteen of water be worth to a man dragging himself across the Sahara desert at high noon and what would that same canteen of water be worth to a drowning sailor? In the first instance, we have a potent marketing niche for the water salesman and in the second, we surely do not. What we are looking for is high demand for our item with low competition. What we are attempting to avoid is the opposite.

Let’s examine this in terms of actual products. We could market to the “pet products” niche (high demand, high competition), the “dog collar” niche (moderate demand, moderate competition) or the “studded dog collar” niche (low demand, low competition). None of these markets meet our criteria (high demand, low competition). What if, however, purple, studded, poodle collars quickly became “all the rage” because a famous celebrity was seen strolling with her famous poodle with one of these around her dog’s neck and a matching one around her own neck? Say you just happen to own a warehouse full of purple, studded. poodle collars and you are the only factory that does. With successful marketing, you could sell your entire stock in an hour and put your kids through college with the sales receipts.

Now, let’s look at the term “affiliate marketing.” An affiliate marketer promotes other people’s items for them for money. An affiliate marketer does not work directly for the company that has the right to retail the service or product but, instead, as an independent contractor who only gets paid for making a completed sale. The affiliate marketer can elect to promote just one type of item (as a specialty) or a large assortment of various types of products or services. In either situation, the ideal of any thriving affiliate marketer would have to be to vend to a niche or niches that had high demand and low competition. “High” and “low” are relative terms and so, in the real world, the marketer may never discover the “perfect” niche but always hopes to be as near to that goal as possible.

The primary thing an affiliate marketer has to do is to discover a supply of affiliate products to promote and then detect which of those items are aimed at the best niches. “Best”, in this sense, means those niches most nearly approaching an ideal niche as outlined above. To do this, the marketer must initially get rid of all products that aren’t selling very well and concentrate, rather, on services or products that display enough, proven sales volume so as to be deserving of the time, work and funds that it will take the affiliate marketer to promote them profitably. From this listing, the smart affiliate marketer then gets rid of all items that show a lot of competition. If 100,000 purple studded poodle collars are present on the globe and there are one million marketers trying to sell them, this would no longer be a money-making niche because of high competition.

Our example of the thirsty man stumbling across the desert may not represent an excellent niche either, as it turns out, for the reason that there is only one customer and he is located very far from civilization. Putting it another way, the niche is too small to be profitable considering that the expenses to furnish the desired item to that niche are too lofty. If this is sounding like niche affiliate marketing is a bit more complex than you thought at first, you are correct. There’s more:

The conundrum with fad products like purple, studded, poodle collars is that they will 1) all at once go out of fashion and 2) that when the news gets out that they are “all the rage,” every supplier from here to Timbuktu will soon be manufacturing them in sufficient quantities to inundate this single, unique, money-making market, thus drowning it with competition. The affiliate marketer must, therefore, search for items that would seem to possess a long lifetime. Toilet paper and dog food would qualify as products with a potentially long lifetime but they would be eliminated from the list because of high competition. All of these difficulties will rapidly reduce the affiliate marketer’s list to a small number of items, perhaps no more than a hundred to pick from. The good news is that all of these 100 items are, at least, potentially, profitable.

As an Internet affiliate marketer, there are really two, broad merchandise categories to consider: 1) physical products that must be boxed and delivered to the consumer and 2) informational products such as e-books and computer programs that can be distributed immediately over the web at affordable prices with no freight or storage costs. For the purposes of this article, I’d like to concentrate on the second type because of the benefits just stated. The Internet, at its commencement, was called the “Information Super-Highway.” It was not labeled the “Physical Products Superhighway” because, to this day, no one has determined how to push a big carton through a matrix of wires, satellites and fiber-optic cables. So, even though you can promote physical products over the Internet, they lack the price-effectiveness and immediate deliverability offered by informational and software products.

While there are a number of places to unearth informational and software products to sell as an affiliate marketer, I’d prefer to zoom in on only one of them, as an example. That place is and I’ll talk about it for the reason that it has several distinctive benefits to an Internet affiliate marketer. The most valuable benefit of these is the capability to show which of the thousands of offerings listed there are the best sellers. The best tool for this is a number provided by ClickBank for every item called “gravity” which is a quantifiable, ever-changing number showing the quantity of recent sales. The larger the figure, the greater the sales. The clear knee-jerk reaction is that an affiliate marketer should only promote those items with the highest gravity but that strategy fails to consider the truth that everyone and his brother (or sister) is going to be out there attempting to sell those clear winners. It is also frequently true that items at the very summit of the gravity list may just be enjoying their “moment in the sun” of popularity: Here today, gone tomorrow.

Gravity can run from a low of zero to a high of about a thousand. To dodge the competition, I like to sell products that exhibit a gravity figure no less than 10 and no greater than two hundred. These are approximate figures, so if I find a perfect product with a gravity of two hundred fifteen, I am definitely not going to pass it by. Using this system, I have picked out a list of possible affiliate products to retail that are selling quite well and may not have as much competition as those products at the top of the list. My process of elimination is not over yet, though: I still need to find the perfect keywords for those items to use in promoting each of these products. It turns out that each keyword is, by itself, representative of a niche. For example, the keyword phrase “pet supplies” would represent a huge niche with a lot of competition while “purple, studded, poodle collars” (a so-called “long-tail” keyword) would undoubtedly represent a small niche with much less competition.