Hey there sea changers, today we are going to continue our learnings into all things affiliate marketing by running through the process of how to start writing a blog post. This is not a difficult exercise however one that becomes so much simpler once you have a plan to follow. To assist with this plan I have broken the steps down into three main areas:
- Planning your post
- Writing your post
- Publishing your post
There is a lots to go through so let's just dive straight in…
Planning your post
This is the part of the process that is the most critical, but like many things we do in life, the most neglected. I mean how many times have you to started to cook then realised you don't have one of the main ingredients, or burn something whilst trawling through the pantry to find that one herb that is critical to the mix? It is the same when it comes to writing a successful blog post… missing a key ingredient probably won't lead you to burn anything but it can lead such issues as poor search engine rankings, incomplete information or, even worse, fewer affiliate sales. Let's have a look at the critical elements for planning your blog post.
1 Who is the post for?
When you first created your website you probably had a good idea in regards to whom it was that you were writing for – I.e. your target audience – however this does not necessarily mean that they will be the exact target of your current post. For example, you might have a site on fitness for women with young children whom you normally write for. This post however might be aimed at their partners to either get them involved or to give them ideas on how to support the fitness journey of new mothers.
In this case, you may want to write a little differently based on the male factor of the post – or you may not – it is totally up to you but you must keep your target audience in mind as you build your post.
2 What problem are you trying to solve?
One of the key success factors in affiliate marketing (or most online sales for that matter) is to provide a solution to a problem. Your post must be able to address a problem that you think a reader may have, and to provide answers to that solution – even if they do not purchase from you.
That is the critical point, your site will skyrocket in rankings if you are writing posts that provide value without a sale – people will not stay on a page if they feel you are just trying to sell something – you are of course – but that cannot be all that the post is about.
Below are some examples of what you can include in your posts to make sure you are providing solutions:
- Recipes – people can use your recipe with yours, or alternative products.
- How to/instructions – give a guide on how to do something for themselves.
- Reviews – give good, honest information in regards to products – even if the reader goes down the road and buys one from someone else based on your recommendation.
- Experience – If you are an expert in your field – give your war stories and product recommendations based on that experience.
I know this sounds a little like we are going against the whole end game of affiliate marketing but trust me, this is a long game and those sites that provide solid, valuable assistance are the ones that survive and make good money in the long term.
3 How can you monetise it?
Ok, I know we just talked about providing solutions to problems even if the reader does not purchase. But for those that do, we need to give them a clear path to do so. As you plan your post, you need to think about how you plan to monetise it.
Think of this is simple terms – What is it that you are trying to sell and how can you sell it?
To give yourself the best chance of making those sales whilst you have the attention of the reader, ensure you have prepared the following:
- Affiliate links: What affiliate programs are you going to refer to in your post? Make sure that you have covered all of your programs and have your links ready to go.
- Banners/pics: If you are planning to use banners or pictures as a prompt to your readers to purchase from you, make sure that they are ready and appropriate to the post – remember your audience (as we discussed in step 1 above), do not make your promotion banner all pink and lady-like if you are trying to sell to their partners – I know this might sound a little sexist, but in marketing, you have to do what works.
- Calls to action: In the previous section we discussed the fact that a prospective buyer might read your review then head down to their local electronics store to purchase their new HD TV based on your recommendations. This may be because they are someone that likes to ‘see and touch' what they are buying first or simply because you did not give them a clear path to purchase from you. Think about your call to action tools such as:
- A “buy now” banner
- A sweetener such as “get your best prices here”
- A bonus – such as “purchase here and get my free e-book on how to best set up your apps”
- Add-ons – maybe offer those add-ons that may be the reason that they would go to a store – such as cabling for a TV or clothing for exercise equipment – these can be in another blog or in the same post
- A video outlining the product and how to purchase it from your site.
- Landing pages: Another effective method can be to lead the reader to another page such as a landing or products page. This will determine how you write your post and can be very effective in providing a complete solution (especially if you are reviewing just one component.)
Basically, anything that keeps your readers at the computer and allows them to purchase without having to get dressed and fight their way into a crowded car park to make their purchase is what you are after. Don't get me wrong, you still have to provide value, but there is nothing wrong with a gentle prod in the right direction.
4 What type of blog will you write?
The type of blog post you write will obviously depend on your answers to the first three points above I.e.
- Who is your audience?
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What are you trying to sell?
Based on the answers to these questions, here is a list of the common blog types that you may want to consider:
- Use lists: This is where you provide information based on a product or problem that the reader probably already knows about but is not sure how to use/fix it… The sky really is the limit with these post types and they rank through the roof on internet search engines – common posts in this genre have titles like:
- 10 best uses for Lavender Essential Oil
- 10 ways to clean your car without using chemicals
- 10 things you can do to exercise at home
- 10 things you didn't know about brown rice
- Reviews: This is another extremely powerful post type, especially if you are trying to promote a product or service. The trick here is honesty, if you like a product, tell your readers from the start and clearly outline why. If not, be clear on why from a practical perspective – don't just say “this is rubbish cos I think you should buy this other product”. Within the post you run through the features and benefits of the product then provide a recommendation at the end that is either:
- Yep, love it and here is the link to purchase.
- Nope – don't bother, but I do have another recommendation for you (with a link to purchase your preferred product – AND the product you don't recommend – you will be surprised how many purchase it anyway).
- Instructions/how to's: These are great posts to assist in your site gaining a higher authority ranking within the search engines as they are providing good helpful advice on how to do things with products that may have already been purchased. These sites tend to have a little less monetisation to them but can certainly be linked to landing or product pages – especially if the instructions highlight a function or service that requires the user the upgrade.
- Tell a story: Everybody loves a good story and these posts help to humanise you, as the owner of the site. People relate to a good story, especially if there was a problem involved. Clever bloggers will use this post to tell a story about a problem and then highlight the product they are trying to sell you as their saviour. The reason I say ‘clever' is that many writers make the fatal error of not including the product as part of their story so the reader will see through their tall tales and see only a sales pitch.
- Interviews: These posts follow the same lines as the story post except told in interview fashion. This brings credibility to the post as the person you are interviewing can be seen as an expert in their field or subject. A problem solving interview will usually work best but they can also be effective as a product review, instructional guide or use lists – I.e. what I do with lemon juice to stay healthy etc.
- Opinion/Controversy: If you can hit the right market, these posts are gold when it comes to attracting interaction and activity on your post/site. When an opinion is given, many readers cannot help themselves but respond with their own thoughts. This is great for product reviews – and is a common approach to selling on gaming type sites and are also good for sites that tend to attract controversy such as dieting, medical marijuana, essential oils and political sites. Search engines LOVE sites with lots of interaction so opinion pieces are good if you want to give your site a little boost. However, you do need to be careful here – these posts can attract negative, emotional or even abusive responses which you will have to deal with. You can obviously reject abusive comments but the negative and emotional ones should be responded to or your site can lose credibility.
- Ask for help: This is another good way to harness the SEO power of comments and interaction. Your post can start with something along the lines of “Hey guys, I have a problem…” and then outline the problem and what you have done to try and rectify it. Again, this process can assist to humanise you and also build a rapport with your readers who are them more likely to return and purchase from you in the future – especially when you use their advice to offer up a new product for sale.
5 What will the keywords be?
Ok, so we know what we are writing about and what our post type will be, now we have to take an educated guess as to what the readers will physically search for to find our content. This is called your ‘keywords‘ and they must do two things:
- Outline the content of your post
- Match the ‘search phrases' that a user is likely to use.
But don't fret, there are a number of keyword research tools out there that can help you with this – I use Jaaxy myself and it really does make life a lot easier when writing posts. Let's use an example:
Say I am solving a problem for people who want to purchase a smart TV but don't know which is the best to buy. So I have decided to write a review on the best smart TVs available and plan to write about the pros and cons of five types and provide affiliate links to each brand/type that I write about. If we then think about the type of search that someone might type in: something along the lines of “best smart TVs”? Let's check with Jaaxy:
From here I would probably choose a title with ‘best smart TV deals” in the title because:
- Those keywords are entered into search engines roughly 321 times per month (a common keyword)
- There are only 58 other sites with those exact keyword (less competition)
There is obviously a lot more to this page than I have explained here. If you are interested in more details in regards to keyword use and Jaaxy, you can see my Jaaxy my review here.
6 What is your outline?
And finally, you will need to put together a quick outline of what you plan to write about – not the whole article, just some key points and links so that you don't lose track as you start to write. Let's use our TV example again to plan our review post:
- The 5 Best Smart TV Deals for May 2019
- Why you are writing this post
- What you will cover
TV 1 (and repeat 5 times):
- Where to purchase
- What is best and why
- Reiterate best and ask for feedback/opinion
Writing your post
I have seen a lot of people at this point go off the rails as soon as they start to write and realise that their plan is not going to work. It is crucial that you keep in mind that what we have covered so far is a plan only. I often find that as I start to actually write that my plan changes to account for better flow, readability or the post type that I thought would work for my problem/audience is just wrong. Never be afraid to readjust as you go – in my opinion that is part of the fun.
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7 Write your post
This is where you start to write your post. I have one major piece of advice for you here – have fun with it! You are not going to be academically marked on it nor does it have to be a critically acclaimed piece of writing. Just keep the following in mind:
- Use small paragraphs and bullet points – they make information easier to read
- Use compelling headings – this allows people to skip to where they want to read
- Write like you speak – this is much easier for people to understand and for readability.
- Write for your audience – you will obviously use different references and wording depending on your subject and the intended audience.
- Use humor – no matter the subject, it lightens the mood
- Keep it simple where possible – there are word requirements for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO – which we will cover later) however do not use 50 words when 20 will do.
- HAVE FUN – write from the heart
- Swear or use racial, derogatory or offensive terms – EVER
- Use acronyms or ‘in words' unless your niche will know what you are talking about – have you ever read a gamer review? It is like another language but in that context those words will actually gain you credibility – but not if you are writing about baby furniture.
- Get bogged down in specifics – simply provide a link to an information page.
- Get bogged down in editing and re-reading – this is really not the place for absolute perfection – see next section
- Be too hard on yourself – we are often our harshest critics.
Creating websites and writing blog posts is a lot easier than it used to be (and you really don't even need to know much HTML code). You can write your post fairly much anywhere these days. Some programs such as WIX and WordPress contain editors that allow you to write, edit and publish in one spot – I use Content Editor within the Wealthy Affiliate platform. I know some bloggers who prefer to write in notepad as it doesn't load any unnecessary formatting and ‘rubbish' that other programs such as Microsoft Word do – although again, I do know of a few that write in Word as it sets their headings more easily then copy over to their publishing website. – Again, the choice is yours.
8 Edit your post
I did say in the previous section not to get too bogged down in the editing and re-reading of your post and that is true, but you still have to do some of it. There is nothing worse than reading a post that is full of spelling and grammatical errors. Not only will you lose readers, but the search engines will punish you too – yep, they can read that sort of thing. For every post I write, I do the following:
- Write without correction – I don't fix typos or reread until I am finished my first run through – I find that allows me to check flow later on if I proofread in one go – I do know others that do it after each paragraph though so again, do what suits you best.
- Re-read for flow – I fix noticeable typos and add links at this point (see step 10) but I am really just making sure the wording flows.
- Run spell and grammar checks – THIS IS CRUCIAL – I do it about three times.
- Re-read – I give it a final re-read just to make sure and check any rewording I might want.
- ‘Phone a friend' – We often miss things when we are familiar with the content so I always try and get someone else to read it. My wife usually- she is pretty harsh but fair.
- Rerun spelling and grammar checks – Just do it!
9 Add media
For this section, and the next section on SEO, I did debate with myself quite a lot on where to put these in the order of things – remember how I said earlier that plans change? Well welcome to a plan changing master class hahaha. Anyway, let's continue…
Once you are happy with your writing, you can add your media. Images are critical to a good post as they:
- Break up the words and give the eyes a rest
- Can assist with meaning – a picture paints a 1000 words
- Are good for adding links to
- Appeal to visual people.
- Give you the chance to humanise and explain information via video that would take too long to write about.
I like to choose my media after I have finished my writing but I do sometimes add it as I am going – especially if I need to refer to it as I go. Some writers like to choose it all beforehand so that they can write with it in mind (hence my dilemma on where to place in this article) – you will soon work out what is best for you.
The critical aspect on the addition of media to an online post is obviously download speed. Ensure that all pictures are optimised for websites (usually .JPG or .PNG format) and do not load videos directly rather via YouTube or Vimeo.
10 Finish your SEO
Search Engine Optimisation – this is where it is at. As you write a blog post there are a few things that you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of ranking highly in search engine results. Most internet publishing programs contain inbuilt SEO programs to help you with adding the following:
I know I have carried on about writing for yourself and that there are no wrong ways to write, but in terms of SEO, there is one – word count. Make sure your post is at least 1000 words in length. Don't write rubbish for the sake of a word count however. If you are short you could try expanding on an explanation or adding some bonus information such as how to tune your TV once purchased or what to look for in a warranty… that should get you there…
Meta Title and Meta Description
These are the words that you see in the search engine results page. For example:
Keyword in Content
Remember our keywords from earlier – we talked about putting it in the heading but it also needs to be integrated into the first paragraph or so of your content – so, using our TV keywords we might say something like “Today I am going to talk to you about the best smart TV deals I can find so that you can make an educated decision about your next purchase”…
Note: DO NOT over pack your post with your keywords – the title and within the first two paragraphs is fine. Search engines look at keyword stacking in a very negative light.
Alt tag within an image
All publishing programs allow for Alt tags when a picture is added. These mainly provide for blind users as their programs will read the alt text when they hover over a picture but that text also assists with SEO. I usually use my keywords in my alt tag before describing the picture – e.g. Best Smart TV Deals – Samsung 4k Ultra TV.
Search engines LOVE seeing how a website is put together. So if you are writing about a subject and you mention something that you have written about in another post on your site – link to it!
The same goes for external links as they show that you are helping your readers with more information. So if you were writing about Samsung TVS, you might want to put an external link on the word ‘Samsung” to its company website, Wikipedia page or even a news article on any new releases etc.
Video is the way of the future – the more you shoot your own videos and publish them with or posts, the higher you will rank. Videos also give you the opportunity to demonstrate tools that you have written about, give extra information that is too long to write about or simply add extra value. But don't link them directly as they will slow your site down and ruin any SEO advantages you may have gained. Embed from YouTube or Vimeo instead.
Publishing your post
This can be nerve wracking and whilst it gets easier – the checklist below is what I use – the nerves are always there for me a little – which is a good thing as it keeps me disciplined I guess. Anyway, we could ramble for hours (as I think I may have already) and we have already done the work so let's just do it!
Let's just use a checklist here:
Keywords used in title and at least first two paragraphs
Spell check done
Spell check redone
SEO requirements completed
Publish away my friend, publish away!
12 Promote your post
This process will be different for everybody and each will be a subject for its own post so again, let's just go with a checklist. Once I have published my content, I do the following:
- Request indexing in Google Search Console.
- Request indexing in Bing Webmaster tools.
- Share to Social Media – there are so many out there – choose one or two that best relate to your target audience and post there.
- Promote on any other niche specific media – forums, social pages, websites, fan pages – you get the drift.
Wow- that went waaaay longer than I expected and there is really so much more that we could cover so keep an eye on the How to's section of this website as I continue to expand on the topics covered in this post and all things affiliate marketing. Is there anything is particular you would like help with, or anything that you would like me to expand on from this post? If so, please comment below and I will be sure to get something out there for you.
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Until next time
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