Hey there all.
Welcome back to Make that Sea Change, the site designed to help you fund your sea change with your very own affiliate marketing (or online) business. Today we are going to address one of the biggest problems you will face when it comes to affiliate marketing, blogging or the generation of online sales and that is how to find content for a blog post.
As we know, one of the other big hurdles in achieving success online is to get your site ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is critical as it is the way that people can find you, read your content and hopefully make a purchase. And one of the best ways to do that is to continuously post valid, valuable and quality content via recommendations, reviews, instructional posts and the like. The catch here obviously is that the more you post, the harder it can sometimes be to find something new and fresh to write about. Authors call it writers block and it happens to the best of us – I know I often have to do one, or all of the steps below when my mind draws a blank.
So instead of sitting in a room saying “Hi, I am Paul and I suffer from writers block”, have a look at trying some of the following:
What type of post do you need?
In a recent post where we investigated the steps required to write a blog post, we discussed the types of posts that you can write. These include:
- Use lists – list ways to use a product
- Reviews – review a product and make recommendations
- Instructions/how to’s – how to use a product
- Tell a story – tell a story about a product
- Interviews – interview another person about a product
- Opinion/Controversy – ignite discussion or debate about a product
- Ask for help – ask for help from your readers about a product
Sometimes you will not be fully sure of which type you will want, however if you have an idea of what types there are you can run through the steps below with a little more ammunition as to what you are after.
Tip: Have a look through your last few posts. Are there any types from the above list that you are missing, or haven’t done in a while? Maybe start there.
What is hot right now?
Almost all of the suggestions that I am going to give in the rest of this post centre around this topic. Basically, if you have a block you can do worse than just having a look at what else is selling out there and how it is being done. Let’s put this into a basic scenario. If you had a bike shop, you will want to be selling the latest and greatest bikes as that is what the market is doing at the moment. You could fill your shop with Penny-Farthing bicycles, but you will probably only sell one or two as that is not where the market really is in modern times.
By all means you can specialise to that level, but there needs to be enough people interested in that as a hobby niche to make it worthwhile and/or sustainable – maybe there is – that is what we will have to find out… So with that in mind, let’s have a look at the following:
Search engine suggestions
We spend a lot of time in the Affiliate Marketing space discussing the need to have your posts and pages ranked high enough in SERPs that people can find and read them. Search engines such as Google and Bing will actually assist you in this area by showing you suggestions when you start undertaking searches within it. For example, if I am searching on bicycles, Google will show me the following:
If I was an affiliate marketer in the push-bike niche then I might select the Bicycles Online option. This will return all of the pages that discuss bikes online. Now most of these pages are sales sites as we have used high competition keywords but we are interested in what is at the bottom of the page:
These are the most popular searches in google as at this time that are related to bicycles online. I am thinking I might want to write a review so I am going to select Bicycles Online review:
So now we could click on a few of those posts just to see what is being reviewed at the moment, what is popular and what is not. By looking at these sites you can see:
- What other sites are reviewing – are there any gaps that you can see that need to be filled?
- Referral to components, add-on sales etc.
- Any areas that you have not covered on your own site
- And so on and so on
If there is nothing in the first round, then scroll to the bottom and try another link. Trust me, it will not take long for you to find something that sticks out that you can write about.
Note: SERPs are an ever-changing beast so the searches that you undertake today will probably not show you the same results as yesterday. For example, if you do the searches I have undertaken above, you will immediately get different results based on where you live (yep, Google knows where you are!) – m pages show a couple of Australian sites whereas if you are in the UK for example, you will see different localised search outcomes.
Want to know that the readers want to know? Most sites these days accept comments from readers on their pages. These are a goldmine when it comes to finding out what it is that your readers are asking for. An example below:
If I have a read of these comments, I can see a number of topics that I may be able to write about including:
- Riding on trails
- Bikes for dirt jumps
- Dealing with air in brakes
- How to bleed brakes – tips
- Best tools for bleeding brakes
As you can see, there are a number of options here based purely on what the readers are commenting about.
How did I find these comments?
I clicked on one of the online review pages from the previous section and scrolled to the bottom. It did take a bit of searching to find useful comments, but it can be really worth it in terms of finding content ideas.
Searching through keywords is another good way to find ideas and suggestions in the hunt for good website content. There are a number of keyword search programs around but for this example I am going to use my personal recommendation which is Jaaxy. Let’s have a look using the same search options that we used in our search engine above:
So here we can see the types of searches that are currently undertaken – and, more importantly, how many people are searching on that topic and what words they are using. We can also see on the right some more suggestions. Let’s again click on bicycles online:
From here, I can see that there are a lot of people searching for mountain bikes so that is an area I could investigate further. From here then you could:
- Select the Mountain bike option in your keyword search screen to break that down ever further
- Go back to your search engine and see what their recommendations are for “mountain bike” searches
Tip: As you play around in your keyword search tool or the search engines, try not to stop at one idea. Why not take note of a number of options for future posts and build yourself a list. This way, you can work through them rather than having to come up with new ideas from scratch each time.
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Google alerts is another great way to identify what is currently trending in a particular niche. All you need to do is type in your area of interest and the alerts page will return all of the high ranking posts from within that niche on that given day. Again with the mountain bikes, I can see the following:
From here, I can see:
- What people are writing about
- Ideas for what is ranking in Google
- Access articles to see current comments etc.
- Identify potential keywords for my own posts.
Oh look – electric mountain bikes – that’s a new one!
To access, go to https://www.google.com.au/alerts, login in with your Google account and start entering your search words. Or, if you would like ideas emailed to you every day simply click on the Create Alert button to set up your search options and.
Note: I actually get a lot of my ideas from this method. I scour through the list, find a topic that interests me and read it to look for ideas that I had not considered via the post itself or reader comments.
The internet is full of people who have been very successful at this online sales/affiliate marketing game and, sadly, many that have not. What makes those who are successful successful? Well that is the trick isn’t it!
I mean there are the standard processes to undertake such as the constant posting of valuable high quality content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social media management. But there is also that intangible element of what makes a website and its content interesting. I do a lot of competitor analysis myself as a means of trying to ascertain what is working for them and what is not. At the very least, I can get some very good ideas for current and future posts based on what they have included in their sites. This is how I do it:
1. Take note of the sites that pop up in my research.
As we have discussed a number of times on this site, the main challenge to an online business is to get your site to rank on the first page of search engine results. So when I am undertaking my research for a post, I take note of (and often bookmark) the pages that appear on the first page and analyse:
- How their page is set out
- What they are selling
- Their keywords
- The types of posts they write – reviews, How-to’s etc.
- And in the context of this post, most importantly, what it is that they are writing about.
In terms of finding things to write about, competitor analysis, as with Google Alerts, will allow you to see the topics that others are writing about and what is working for them. This will not only give you some good ideas for your own posts but also what types of post may work best in your niche.
2. Enter their website URL here.
I love this tool, not only does it show me how a site attains its first page rankings, but also the pages and topics that it ranks well for. Here is an example from one of the bike pages I found earlier in this post:
We see mountain bikes here again so I would definitely be doing some more searching on that market but there is also another referral to an idea we recently discovered – electric bikes. This site, one of the top ranking in my searches on bicycles online, takes in over 1000 readers per month looking at buying electric bikes online.
Off the top of my head (I don’t have a site in the bike niche) I get the following ideas:
- Electric bike reviews
- How to charge your electric bike
- 10 Best batteries for an electric bike
- Are electric bikes good for the environment
I also checked the keywords – this niche has healthy search numbers and medium competition meaning there is a definite market. But I also found links for folding bikes which I had not thought of – see what I mean, the list just keeps on growing.
Note: And this is something I say in just about every How to post that I write. Never be afraid to model those who are successful in the affiliate marketing world. Never however, copy their content. There may be a billion or so people online at any given time but if you start copying and pasting content, you will be found out quite quickly. Not to mention being absolutely smashed by the search engines for publishing duplicate content.
That’s right – why not go old school and check out what is being written about in print? You see magazine publishers do not have the luxury that us online writers enjoy in that they cannot change their subjects on a daily basis. This means that if they are going to take the time to write, edit and publish an article in their magazines then it has to be something that people will want to read otherwise they are wasting their time and money.
So, if you want some content ideas, pick up some of your favourite niche related magazines and check out what it being written about. From here you can consider the following:
- Write a post about the same subject – maybe from a different angle.
- Provide up to date information – especially if the product has been upgraded or patched.
- Review the product being written about.
- Write an opinion piece on the article.
Keep a notebook
If you are anything like me, you think of things at the most inopportune time, or think you will remember your idea only to sit in front of your laptop and say to your self “Now what was that I was going to right about?”
I got sick of that and started a notebook (well, an electronic one on my phone but that was too hard to put in my heading above). Every time I get an idea I just put in the book. I may never write it but it certainly gives me enough to work with to start the steps I have outlined here.
Trust me, if trying to think of content to write is something you suffer from and starting a note book of post ideas is the only thing you take away from this post, then you will already be ahead of where you are now!
So there you have it, the steps that I take to find good, solid ideas for my posts. And to prove a point, I have outlined these steps using a subject I know little about – Bikes. I mean I rode one as a kid but I am by no means a cyclist. But as you can see over the course of this post I was able to find a good number of ideas to write posts about.
The main thing to remember is to take your time and really have a good look around. The ideas will come I promise. But if not, please comment below and we can explore some together. Alternatively, are there any other tricks that you use, or anything you would like me to try? Then also please comment below.
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Until next time
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