Risks of Running Affiliate Niche Sites

Sneaker affiliate promotion and deals

From 2014 I’ve always had 5 or so affiliate niche sites running in their various forms. I’ve had wins and I’ve had losses, the ones that fail don’t get spoken about much or highlighted except in retrospect.

One of my buddies has been asking about getting into affiliate niches lately and it’s been refreshing to give an open-book approach to the positives and the negatives of it all.  That’s what prompted this post and me thinking back to all the risks I wish I had known about when starting.

Always chasing shiny objects made me try a lot of side hustles.

One of the most profitable I tried was niche websites. I didn’t earn crazy amounts of money, but it was enough for a college student at the time.

But things don’t always go according to plan.

Here’s what you need to look out for when getting into affiliate niche websites.

Google’s Algorithm

If you are active on any SEO forum or community, you know Google algorithm updates are like Doomsday.

It’s the day you find out if your beloved websites will live or be destroyed. It brings a lot of depression to unlucky SEOs who have their traffic cut in half or more.

After selling my websites, I can relax and grab some popcorn while others…suffer.

The worst part of the algorithm updates is that you can get hit even if you follow the rules. Your website can bounce back. But it takes time, and there will be a while when you have no business. No traffic, no sales.

Copycats & Ripoff Artists

Something I wish I had known sooner was just how bad the ripping off of others was. When I was learning the ropes I would ask those in forums who were higher up the food chain than me at the time for opinions or suggestions. While it seemed to be in good faith I learned that you do not share your money-making websites with anyone!

Trust no one. Keep anything that makes you money close to your chest. 

These people I had asked for suggestions had copied my niche, and my monetization and to some degree ripped off my content and basically taken their seniority to take the niche out of my hands. I still compete in these niches but that shit hurts man.

I used to train digital marketers at various digital agencies how to do SEO, how to run effective PPC campaigns and how to do marketing for eCommerce brands. In those training sessions, I would show various examples of techniques and tactics. I developed what I thought to be some level of trust with some of the students who were excelling and showing great promise. They had asked about affiliate marketing and how it works, so I gave them a private tutorial shared a niche site and gave them some pointers for starting out.

The next time I met that group they showed me what they had been up to and they had 3 copies of the niche site I shared a colour scheme and the same topic targeting as me as their niche sites. Thats a huge fail on my part for sharing the site with sharks. 

Keep your head on the swivel, trust no one and guard your affiliate niche sites. 

Sneaker affiliate promotion and deals

The worst part of the algorithm updates is that you can get hit even if you follow the rules. Your website can bounce back. But it takes time, and there will be a while when you have no business. No traffic, no sales.

Uncertain Future

AI is used everywhere, and search engines will soon rely more on it. This means the future is uncertain for niche websites.

The platforms that run the affiliate marketing like Amazon Associates for example dictate the commission rates. Amazon has dropped from 10% to 2% and changed multiple categories multiple times. It’s a lot of stress changing offers, positions and affiliate platforms when this happens.

Google’s new AI search engine is bugged out right now but it will fine-tune consumer search over time and the space we play as affiliates mainly SEO and some PPC will get smaller and smaller making it an even tougher experience to capture a diminishing audience.

I struggled a lot to make a decision between starting more niche websites and selling them to focus on something else. I wrote the pros and cons on a piece of paper, and this was one of the downsides. Betting on an uncertain future is risky.

According to Hubspot, 31% of consumers use social media to find answers to their questions. This, combined with generative search, is another reason website traffic will decrease.

Niche sites are here to stay, but the ones that will swim in the deep waters are those with real brand power, and real effort put into their content and personality shown in the website.

Traffic will get harder to acquire, pay-to-play will be enforced and the competition will be harder.