Running a Blog to Promote Affiliate Products

Warning: the following information is for those that know that hard work generates reward, and for those that intend to provide value in the marketplace. If that’s you, there are some nuggets in here for you, dive in!

There are numerous ways to generate traffic to promote affiliate products. In this article I would like discuss a free method which involves getting traffic from search engines (in the organic listings) and directing that traffic to affiliate offers from blog posts, pages, banners, and emails.

This is a follow up to this affiliate marketing intro article that discusses exactly what affiliate marketing is, and many of the best practices for affiliate marketing.

In the article linked above, you can also learn what NOT to do, which will save you a great deal of time by not making the same mistakes many affiliates have made before you. As a prime example, it’s important that you don’t just sign up and promote a giant selection of affiliate products. It will get very overwhelming and will be less fruitful, even for the more organized among us. Not to say that it can’t be done, but I would suggest getting a solid background before attempting to expand your portfolio. My guess is you will actually make MORE money in a shorter time following this suggestion.

If you find a “pocket of people” or “niche” to serve, and you serve them well you can do very well for years to come. Sticking to a topic or niche that you are passionate about can amplify your efforts significantly. I have found though that many that are just entering the online world as an affiliate attempt to sell to that same niche… the “affiliate marketing,” or “make money online” niche. That can and does prove valuable for many people but my personal recommendation is to crawl before you walk. If you have time to “test” before you “teach” then I say go for it, but if you intend to just parrot what others are saying and assume it’s accurate, you might be doing an injustice to your niche, and yourself.

With that said, in this article I will bring you through a real world example that caters to the niche of people that are building a business online, just for the sake of learning. I will walk through the promotion of a product here on Tips and Tricks for this demonstration.

Importance of a Tightly Focused Blog Topic

When setting up a blog to promote affiliate products it’s a great idea to create a tightly focused blog. Not to say that you can’t do well by having a general blog, but in my experience your efforts can be compounded when sticking to a very very tightly focused topic.

When search engines for example, sense an underlying theme about your blog, you will begin to see more traffic for terms that you haven’t even targeted only because it is clear what your web site is about. In the example for those that want to generate an income online, or expand their business online, you can discuss general topics and have different categories like SEO, Blogging, Media Buys, Pay Per Click, Traffic Generation, Affiliate Marketing, Membership Sites, and so on. And that can do very well in the long term. Or you can pick one of those topics, drill down even deeper into it and build a site just around that.

Now, once you narrow down on a very tight topic you can start getting very targeted, buying traffic to your blog when done correctly. Search engines will reward you with more traffic that you didn’t have to chase, and visitors will turn into customers faster when the site caters to their very specific needs.

Getting Free Organic Traffic From Search Engines

The way in which you get traffic is by paying attention to how you formulate the content that you write. I know there is a lot of chatter right now about “fresh,” even “daily” content and I even speak on that myself on occasion. But the truth is that quality is more important than quantity. Now, when you can deliver quality in great quantity, naturally that can be advantageous to you. But spend a week on a post if necessary, you are your own boss after all, so create your own deadlines.

Pay attention to the best practices for search engine optimized content, as well as the behind the scenes factors that affect social sharing. Here is a brief overview of what to consider for each piece of content that you write:

a) Consider the phrases that the people in your niche are typing into the search engines. Make sure to write content that is optimized for one or more of those keyphrases. To keep the process quick and simple I use Google or YouTube Suggest to see what potential longtails are being searched. I pick one main one and sometimes a secondary one and write my content.

I’ll use the exact phrase in the title of my post and that’s as far as I often go in the “manual” sense. I think that when you write naturally after that you are bound to hit on some key terms and phrases without it seeming faked or shoehorned in. I may use a secondary phrase or two as subheadings as well, but that’s generally it.

However, if you follow along with the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress some of the suggestions for SEO is to: have your targeted keyword in the title of the post (which usually places it automatically in the URL and title tag as well), include the phrase in the first paragraph, and include it in the copy as well, perhaps in a subheading. Also, for what it’s worth, including it in the meta description can help but often that description isn’t used in the SERPS anymore. More often the snippet is derived dynamically by pulling in a section of the content based on the search term used. But the meta description still has a place, sometimes in social sharing.

b) Keep the copy relevant and focused. Since it is a blog, allowing your personality to shine through is often very beneficial. Create lots of whitespace to make the article more easily readable. Sometimes break up the text with relevant images.

Don’t pay too much attention to the number of words. I think it’s important that the post is as long or as short as it needs to be to provide the answer to the initial query.

c) Consider the underlying HTML. It’s important that the title is wrapped in H1 tags. Subheadings should use H2 or H3 tags. Also including the correct Open Graph, Twitter, Meta, and Schema.org markup “behind the scenes” can make a big difference. All of these factors affect how the “snippet” or “summary” of your content appears when shared or displayed on Google, Facebook, Bing, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, etc.

Real World Example of How to Run the Blog

There are a few products in the Tips and Tricks store worth promoting as an affiliate. There is the WP eStore plugin, WP eMember plugin, and WP Affiliate Platform. If I was to build a blog to promote one or more of those products I might consider first catering to a niche that wants to “get started.” That would take WP Affiliate Platform off the table, at least for now. That could be suggested to the customers on my list or that are part of my membership site down the road.

Since I am just thinking of this as I write, I am going to make a decision and choose the WP eMember plugin to promote. Therefore my niche will be people that want to launch their own membership site. I might focus more on those that do not already have or may not already know about WordPress. I can still help the others, but I think I will structure my content around those people that know they want to build a membership site, but need the next logical steps.

Now, the first thing I’m going to want to do is buy the WP eMember plugin myself, because frankly, how can I behave congruently if I haven’t used it personally? I can’t. Also, having a membership site will be part of my strategy. You see, I want to offer a tightly focused web site and only answer questions that my target audience is after before they buy. I can then asnwer all of the questions that they want after their purchase within my membership site.

The content in the membership site might be: how to buy a domain name, how to buy hosting, how to setup WordPress, how to keep WordPress secure, how to make WordPress fast, how to setup WP eMember, and on and on getting very specific eventually on how to use WP eMember. I can record videos for this very easily (as I build my own site) using Screencast-o-matic (less than $20 per year last I checked) and provide the videos in my membership site, separated from my blog, so as not to “dilute” the subject matter of my blog.

At the same time I will have built a very valuable resource for my audience. I can put a yearly price tag of say $97 on it, for those who come “off the street” but offer a free bonus valued at $97 to those who buy through my T&T affiliate link. Picking up what I’m laying down here? Those members are also customers, and are also going to be on my list (because the WP eMember plugin ties in with the API’s for 3rd party newsletter companies like AWeber, MailChimp, etc). I can tell them all about WP eStore and/or the WP Affiliate Platform later on.

In This Real World Scenario, What Might I Blog About?

Well, now that my membership site is up and I filled it with content by filming myself as I built it, I now am in posession of a very valuable asset, not to mention real experience with the product that I am promoting. I am already steps ahead of the average affiliate.

And now that I have a blog setup to promote WP eStore, what will I write about? Now, as I stated above I would look to keyword tools and Google/YouTube suggest, but I would also put myself in the shoes of the potential buyer. The first thing that I would do is write a review. And who is more qualified to write a review than the guy or gal who used the product? I know that people like to see comparison reviews but we will focus on what the plugin CAN and WILL do for the user. And if that satisifes their needs, and the fact that they are getting the free training, and great support at T&T, why wouldn’t they buy? At that point, competing products are no longer relevant.

Don’t forget the Schema.org markup when doing the review to help it stand out in the search engines. Target {Product Name} + Review but also look for a long tail in Google Suggest that doesn’t have results in the top 10 where other web pages are using that phrase in their titles.

After brainstorming briefly then going to Google.com and initiating some queries, I found some topics that I can consider writing posts about. Now I didn’t go as far to see if the top results have titles with those exact phrases, but here are some examples:

1) Build a membership based website
2) Sell instructional videos online
3) Sell your training courses
4) Create your own paywall
5) I want to teach people how to cook

You get the idea.

Now for a domain I might go with something like: createapaywall.com to keep it generic enough to talk about “membership sites” in general, even though I will talk heavily about WP eMember. With that said, as you start getting search engine traffic you can start focusing posts around WP eMember terms and direct people to your membership site to get some “how to” videos.

Well that’s it for now. I hope that you were able to pull something from this and you can apply it to another niche that you are passionate about. Please mention in the comments if this was helpful to you and I will come back to write some follow ups based on your questions.

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