DotNetNuke as well as plain HTML if you ever decide to make a plain, static site. The exporting features do not work, however, unless you pay the full license fee for Standard Edition. The trial and home editions will only allow you to export to WordPress, Blogger and XHTML. This should be enough for most of you, but if you’re using a more advanced CMS tool or if you need a lot of color and font options, you’ll need to upgrade to the full version. Using Web Artisteer
When you get started with Web Artisteer, you’ll need to download the software from http://www.webartisteer. com. Once you have it installed and ready to use, open it up and go to the option for WordPress Template.
Choose to have it suggest a design for you. You can click the button as many times as you like and the software will toss out a different combination over and over again until you get one you really like. It’s pretty simple to use and the result helps you get the most out of your theme. Don’t accept the first one that pops up.
Feel free to make as many changes to the template that appears as you like. This includes changing the layout, the background, the fonts, the header, or the footer. These should all be changeable in the WYSIWYG editor.

Once you’re finished editing your file, choose the Export option from the menu and then choose where to save your theme. This will create a local copy on your hard drive.
Next, go to your web host or open an FTP program such as Filezilla (free) to upload your files directly to your server. Upload the entire theme as it was exported from Web Artisteer to the wp-content/themes folder on your server.
Now, go to WordPress and visit the Dashboard and the Appearances/Themes menu located on the left side. You should see your new theme as an option here which you can then activate and start using.

If you have trouble using your new theme, it may not have been uploaded to the right folder or it may not have been exported properly. Double check to make sure everything is in the right place before you start over.
Aspects of Your New Theme
There are quite a few tools in Web Artisteer that make it easy to edit your WordPress installation’s look and feel. The instant theme samples are great, but most people probably want to at least partially customize their site. • Header – The Header is a big part of your site’s design and you will get a good amount of control over how yours is edited. You can choose to use the built in background images by choosing a preselected template, or you can install your own header by choosing the “header” menu at the top of the screen and inserting a new one. The text tool allows you to instantly add new text to the header as well. There are also a number of image effects available in the editing menu to change how these images look. • Font and Color Options – Every aspect of your theme can be easily changed with the editing features of the software. You can use the main menu’s “suggest” features to choose various things for your theme, or you can go to the specific menus and change those features in particular. At the top of the screen, you’ll see menus for “color and font”, “layout”, “background”, “header”, “menu”, “articles”, “blocks”, “buttons”, and “footer”. • Styles – There are quite a few styles and button types you can use to highlight different parts of your page if you like. For instance, you can set different fonts for different types of posts or

pages. You can also customize the side bars, the background of the page, or the way your posts are displayed. The level of customization makes it possible to make non-classical blog themes as well.
Overall, Web Artisteer is a fantastic tool for anyone interested in developing a custom theme for their site. You will need to play with the tools for a bit to get a good grip on your options as there are so many of them, but the end result is almost always attractive.
Uploading Themes to WordPress
For those that have purchased or found a free theme to upload, you’ll need to install it from the WordPress directory. Once you have found a theme you like and are ready to install it, place the .ZIP file on your PC and go to the Themes menu on your Dashboard. From there, you can choose to “Add New” and then click on “Upload” from the menu atop the screen.
Choose the file on your PC that you want to upload and then click “install now”. After 30 seconds or so, the theme should be installed. Check how your site looks to make sure it installed properly and you can now start fiddling with options (depending on what is available). If your theme has advanced options to choose from, they will be available in your Settings menu or on a separate tab below Settings.
Every theme you upload to WordPress will remain on the server so you can access it later. You just need to activate it from the “Themes” page.
If you do this, however, keep in mind that any customizations or widget changes you made in the old theme will be lost when you switch. Don’t Over Think Your Themes
The theme you use for your blog is not nearly as important as the content you place on it. Much like the frosting on a cake, it can make for a very pretty presentation, but in the end, the cake better taste good, or it was all a waste of time.
So, don’t’ spend too much time worrying about the “perfect” theme or plugins for your site. Sure the functionality is important and you’ll be offering something very cool if you get it just right. But, the majority of your effort should always be poured into generating or finding good, important content that will engage your readers, generate traffic, and most importantly, translate to sales.
And that’s exactly where we’ll be headed in the next few sections – the all-important generation of content for that fancy, shiny new blog you just built.

starting your Blog So, you know where to go to change the format of your blog, have all your plugins and your theme active and ready, and maybe even wrote a post or two to fill out some of your content. Now, it’s time to get your blog up and running, but what kind of content will you write about, where will you get the readers from, how will you optimize it and who are your competitors?
If you’ve read anything else about internet marketing, then you know success starts with understanding who you’re targeting and what they want. That goes the same for your blog, even if you’re not planning on selling anything just yet. You need to know who that target reader is, how to reach them, and what they expect from your finished “product” – the blog.
So, again like internet marketing, you need to get your start with niche research, then keyword research, competitor analysis, and topic selections.
nICHe researCH anD seleCtIon Niche research for a blog starts and ends with knowing exactly what you are selling and how you want to sell it. Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, a lot of guys and gals like you skip this step and think that it will all make sense as they get started.
You cannot start a blog about ‘dogs’ and hope that a good product pops up later on to sell. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do in that niche. Remember, you don’t need to have a product to sell. You can place banner ads or AdSense on your blog and monetize your traffic instead of your product suggestions, or you can build a list to monetize later. However, you need to know ahead of time who your target audience is and how you will reach them. That’s where niche research comes in.
There are quite a few ways to find a good niche when developing a new blog. To start with, ask yourself what you enjoy writing about. You’ll be writing a LOT of content about this particular subject, so if you’re not 100% interested in it, you’d better reconsider your decision. Even if you opt to outsource your writing to a content writer on Odesk or Elance, you’ll still need to edit content, upload it, reply to comments, and stay appraised of the most recent developments in the niche.
In short, it’s a bad idea to blog about something you don’t have a personal interest in. The drive needed to turn a simple blog into a traffic hub will drain out of you before you can say “deadend” and you’ll wonder where everything went wrong.
So, always start by brainstorming topics you have a real interest in. If you want to get ideas, go to a site like Technorati or Digg. These sites gather content from throughout the blogosphere that has been voted on and discussed by readers. You can see what is popular, and more importantly, what you are interested in. If it doesn’t interest you, don’t write about it.
fInDIng a ProfItaBle nICHe Of course, just being interested in something doesn’t get you anywhere if there’s no money to be made. That’s where some market research will come in very handy. To get started here, you’ll need to reach out to the largest marketplaces on the Internet and see if there is money to be made.
Amazon is one of my favourite research tools for a few reasons. First, it’s huge. Name it and Amazon sells it. Even if the main branch of the company doesn’t sell it personally, someone is on there selling a copy on their own. It’s a huge marketplace and it represents millions of daily purchases that are ranked, reviewed, and listed by popularity.
Another very interesting fact about Amazon is that very few people actually write reviews or leave ratings for a product they have purchased. While 83% of online shoppers read reviews about products, less than 1% of shoppers actually leave those reviews. The numbers vary, but industry estimates place it somewhere between 0.01% and 1% – as little as 1 in 1000 people. That means that if you see a product with 20 reviews, it has been purchased at least 2,000 times and as many as 20,000 times.
Now, let me ask you this – if 20,000 people buy a single product, do you think there is a solid market for that product?
Seems like a pretty simple answer when you put it like that, doesn’t it? In reality, there are thousands of products on Amazon right now that have 20+ reviews and they are all solid niches that you could make a profit in.
There are lots of solid info product networks online, but Clickbank is the industry standard and I’ll use it for our example, if only because it’s so easy to review the gravity statistics here to see who is selling what.

Basically, when a product is uploaded to Clickbank, it will receive gravity points for every unique affiliate that sells that product within a certain period of time. So, if a product has a gravity of 30, at least 30 different people have successfully made sales of that product (and possibly more because of how the system is weighted).
So, if you’re looking for valuable niches, aim for anything with a gravity of 30 or higher and you will know that there is plenty of pie to go around for you and your fellow marketers.
AdWords Data
A completely separate way to measure successful niches is by how much money is poured into them every month in the form of advertising. Imagine a niche where people spend $2 per click on AdWords ads. Clearly those people are very eager to make a sale and the value of those clicks must pay for themselves.
Using Traffic Travis (more soon), you can review how many people are bidding for hot keywords in a particular niche. You can then search for those keywords in the Google AdWords tool or the free version of SpyFu.com and see exactly how much money they are paying for clicks on those ads. If it is above $0.75/ click, that’s a solid, high competition niche with lots of opportunities for you to make a profit.

Choosing Your Niche
When it comes to blogging, you don’t really need to have a product in mind right away. I like to focus more heavily on the importance of the niche you choose. If you don’t know which niche you want to focus on, you’ll never be able to sell yourself and subsequently whatever products you’re marketing.
However, don’t be afraid to make a list of things you might be able to sell as well. If your niche of choice has a dozen different high quality info products with good $/sale rates, you should keep a list and consider writing reviews. If you know for a fact that your niche is dominated by physical products and you’ll need to place ads and Amazon links on your page, then start making lists of specific products you’d like to sell – this will help with keyword research later.
Right now, you’re not monetizing yet, but by keeping the money part of things in mind as you create a niche targeting plan, you’ll be far better prepared when it comes time to turn all this hard work into a pay check.
keyworD researCH I already mentioned Traffic Travis once – a tool that we’re very proud of and have been working on for quite some time. It’s not only a keyword research tool – it also provides valuable page analysis and PPC data – but when it comes time to start a new website, it can be incredibly useful in pinpointing your target keywords.
With a blog, keyword research is not quite as important as for a static page that will never have new content. You have opportunities to hit on long tail keywords or smaller market phrases on a blog because you’ll be writing new content every week for months to come. However, when it comes to the home page, your categories, your descriptions, and your overall theme, the keywords you select early on will have a huge impact on how the site performs in the search engines.
That’s where Traffic Travis comes in. You’ve already done some basic niche research to determine what you’ll be writing about, which should make it easier to start searching in Traffic Travis for your target phrases.
Brainstorming General Phrases
Start by brainstorming some very general phrases that relate to your niche. If you want to write a blog about dog training, you might come up with a list like this: • Dog Training Techniques • Common Dog Problems • Teach your Dog Tricks • Puppy Training Tips • Dog Training Ideas
These are all relatively general keywords that could be shortened even more so to “dog problems”, “dog training” and “puppy training”. That’s good – but it won’t get you on page one of Google. Those are pretty general keywords and while they may be what your blog is about, you should focus more intently on specifics and ways you can set your blog apart from others. So, start pumping these keywords into Traffic Travis.
Open up Traffic Travis and go to the “Keyword Tools” menu. With the free edition of the software, you will get 200 results for each keyword you provide. The biggest problem here is that the keyword lists are given alphabetically, so if you have something as general as “dog training”, you’ll only get down the B’s. But, even then, you should get a solid return of results to help you choose your dog training topics.
You’ll see results like “aggressive dog training”, “agility dog training”, and “bird dog training”. Those are actually very different areas of the same niche, and you could write an entire blog about any of the three.
Using the data you get here, try to find a get handful of keywords that relate to each other and that you can use to build the basis of your site. I recommend narrowing down to a list of 20-30 core keywords. These keywords should all be generally related and not include too many variations. They should also all be at least three words long to avoid hyper-competitive phrases that you’ll never be able to sell.

For good measure, run your keywords through the Google Keyword tool (http://adwords.google.com/select/ KeywordTool). This will provide you with specific Google search volume to show you how well your words will perform in Google. Look for high search volume and medium competition. High competition is okay too, but try to avoid all your phrases having high competition.
Additional Keywords
This initial keyword list is important, but it’s not the end all of the process. You’re writing a blog and a blog is a search engine’s best friend. With 2-4 new posts a week, you have the opportunity to load up on new keywords every single day you post. So, keep a secondary list of keywords that can be productive in the search engines. Here are keywords that perform the best for me and that hold the highest value as an affiliate marketer: • Product Names – If you plan on reviewing products, the names of those products will need to be well represented on your review pages. A good keyword can be “PRODUCT NAME review” or “best PRODUCT CATEGORY”. Your goal will be to think of what your readers will search for when they’re this close to making a purchase. • Author Names – Author names for info products are great as they get searched for almost as often as the product names. In fact, one of the undiscovered gems of blogging is the author spotlight. So much content about eBook authors is biased in a big way. By writing a spotlight biography of a given author, you can draw anyone in who is trying to learn more about that author’s credibility. If you can land an interview with that author, even better. • Crisis Keywords – Imagine what someone would search for when they absolutely, onehundred percent must solve their problem right now. You now have a fantastic keyword. If someone’s dog just bit the mailman, they might search for “dog just bit someone” or “what to do about dog bite”. Those are fantastic crisis keywords. • Longtail Keywords – Longtails are specific keywords that will target an individual rather than a large group. These types of keywords only work well for a blog if you have the resources and ambition to target multiple sets of them.

For example, you could use “Shetland sheep dog training tips” as a long tail. However, unless you want to focus your entire blog on Shelties in particular, you would want to write a series of posts to supplement it such as “gold retriever dog training tips”, “pitbull training tips”, etc.
One other thing to keep in mind is that with any website, you will be doing a lot of link building later on. You might write guest posts at other sites, comment on blogs or forums, or submit articles to article directories to get links back to your blog. If you do this, you can use long tail keywords like the ones I listed above without skewing the focus of your blog away from the general topic you’re trying to cover.
A blog is a fine balancing act. You want to reach as wide an audience as possible, but you’re also trying to compete in the search results, which requires you to focus on particular keywords and reader needs. Most of your posts will need to find a way to stay between those two target goals. If you can maintain a firm grip on you core audience while also creating content that will make Google happy, you’ll get the traffic you want without sacrificing too much income.
Competitor Analysis
Keywords and the careful balance a blog must walk lead us right into the next topic – your competition. Competition is an issue that most bloggers avoid or ignore. After all, there are plenty of readers for everyone out there, right? To some degree, yes, but you’re not just a blogger – you’re a marketer and as a marketer, you need to know who you’re up against and how to compete with them.
Already, you have a good idea of what your competitors are using for keywords. That’s fantastic because it lets you target words that they are not targeting, or just do a better job of it. However, you also want to know how much traffic they’re getting, how many inbound links they have, and what kind of content they’re writing about.
That brings us back to Traffic Travis, which provides a fantastic set of competitor research tools. There are three ways you can analyse your competitors using Traffic Travis. 1. PPC Analysis – By running you keyword list through PPC analysis, you can see which sites are advertising for the keywords you plan on optimizing for. This is great, because you can then see how well they perform in that position.

To start, click on “Add Project” and paste in your list of keywords and give the project a name. Save the keywords and then run the “Start Update” button on the PPC analysis page.
2. You will now see a list of “ads found” for each keyword. We don’t necessarily care how many ads appear – just who is running them. For this, go to “Top Sites for Keywords” and choose “fetch sites”:
3. Now, you can see which sites are posting ads and how many they are posting for those keywords. If you have 200 keywords on a list and one advertiser is paying for 53 of those keywords in their PPC campaign, that’s a prime competitor. They clearly want the same audience as you.
The trick here is to ignore most of the sites that are selling products directly as you really want to see your blogging competition. Record any blogs you notice and take them to the next step. 4. Page Analysis – The Page Analysis tool will give you details about a single web page and how it performs in a number of categories. Paste all the site URLs into the spaces here and choose “Analyze Pages”. You can now view a grade next to each site between A-D. Click on the site and choose Report Summary to read more about why it got that score. Here are the things you want to look for in this report: a. Google Page Rank – It’s a somewhat arbitrary number, but it tends to represent the quality and age of a site well. If it’s above 2, the site has been around for some time and has done some SEO work. b. Alexa Traffic Rank – The Traffic rank represents how many people visit that site. Total traffic can tell you how much traffic you can hope to generate in this niche.

c. Top Keywords – Look at META keywords as well as the overall density and distribution to see which phrases and word are appearing in their content. d. Links – Internal links are less important than external links and inbound links. Look for how many people are pointing at that site.
5. SEO Analysis – For more specific SEO data about how a site is performing, click on the SEO Analysis tool on the left of the screen. Here, you will need to search for one keyword at a time, but the data you receive is incredibly valuable.
You will receive a ranking list from Google that displays the top 20 sites for that phrase, along with their age, backlinks, DMOZ and Yahoo! directory status, titles, descriptions, and H1 tags. In short, the more red x’s you see, the more chances you have to perform better than them. If you see high page ranks, lots of backlinks and lots of green checkmarks, expect those keywords to be very hard to rank for. 6. Technorati – Because you’re creating a blog, you should also analyse your competitors based on more blog-based ranking factors. For this, I turn to Technorati – a massive database of blogs and their overall ranking based on inbound links, age, and Google rankings. Technorati doesn’t represent even a portion of all the blogs out there, because for a blog to appear in its rankings, the owner needs to claim their blog and provide data to the site.
However, a lot of sites – especially old ones – have already done that and you can search for your keywords to see what shows up in the listings. Each site will provide an Authority rating which aggregates mostly inbound links, as well an overall ranking in the total listing of blogs for the entire database. I wouldn’t use the data here to determine if a blog is going to be competitive against yours, but you can see what type of content is ranking highly at a glance for specific keywords and tags.
Overall, your competition is going to be massive. There are blogs out there for everything. That’s why we’re researching keywords, topics, and potential products to promote. Most of your edge will come in your content creation (coming up soon), but the data we’ve been gathering will also help to provide a much needed edge over all the other would-be bloggers out there.
gettIng to know your toPIC So far, we’ve done a lot of preparation. You have a website, a domain name, a blog installation, a theme, plugins for that blog, and a whole big list of keywords and competitors to keep an eye on. But, eventually you need to learn some stuff and write about it. That’s where the actual blogging comes in and you’ll want to get started as quickly as possible.
The Myth About Blogging
There are a lot of blogging myths, but probably number one on the list is the misunderstanding that a blog doesn’t need to be as polished or as professional as another website. You’re writing whatever you want on the fly, right? So, why would you need to source your information or worry about grammar?
That’s the exact wrong perspective to take, though. Blogging may not be the same as writing for the New York Times, but then again, neither is your readership. People won’t read a blog that seems to be tossed together by an impatient, unpolished writer once or twice a week. They want interesting, original ideas that you didn’t copy and paste from another blog and that make them think.
So, as a blogger, you’ll need to do three things: 1. Read many other sources in your niche 2.Develop original, interesting ideas from those sources and your own mind 3. Write well-polished, unique content that will draw readers from multiple sources
Too many blogs are copy and paste jobs and too many marketing gurus tell you that it’s okay to create so-called auto-blogs or to copy and mildly rewrite other content to avoid duplication. But, it’s not – at least not if you want to create a true hub of valuable information.
Readers these days are fickle. With more than 150 billion pages of content online in the US alone, readers can easily decide they don’t like your content and go elsewhere, so you need to earn their interest. And to do that, you need to have original thoughts that will make them think. Plus, taking other people’s posts and rewriting them is plagiarism, which comes with its own ethic, moral, and legal issues.
You are absolutely allowed to source other sites, quote other bloggers, or even repost something from another site if it’s that valuable (as long as you give credit where it is due), but you shouldn’t expect people to read copy-pasted articles, 200 word summaries, or grammatical catastrophes you slapped together at 3am.
Okay, now that I have that mini-rant out of the way, let’s move on to the heart of blogging – learning your topic and deciding what to write about.
As a blogger, you should have a collection of blogs that you check each day. Like any good writer, you should have a slew of incoming information to draw from – both for ideas and for content. I like to use Google Reader because it updates easily on my phone and computer, but there are plenty of other RSS readers out there that will keep track of posts from your favourite blogs. Just make sure you use one that will provide at least the most recent 20 posts at a time so you have a solid baseline of information to draw from.
Because you’re an affiliate marketer and eventually you want to cut down how much time you spend on your blog to little or none so you can start other sites, it’s a good idea to keep a long list of potential posts. It can be a simple notepad or Word file with lists of titles and keywords that can be used in the future. This
can make it far easier and more efficient when you do sit down to write, or if you decide to outsource.
However, some topics are time sensitive and a good blog will always remind readers on occasion that you are a real human being with a sense of time who is writing these posts. So, keep an eye out for new developments in your niche that can be written about at any time. If a new dog training book comes out that you want to review, stay on top of it and have an early review – the traffic from early posts on hot topics is always good for your site’s performance.
Along those same lines, subscribe to the lists of any product creators that offer items in your niche. When they have new product launches or special sales, you can then write a blog post about it immediately – one of the hardest parts of being an affiliate marketer is getting the drop on your fellow marketers. If you are ready to write a post as soon as you hear about an opportunity, that extra day or two can have a huge impact on your sales.
tHe fIrst Posts At some point, you’ll need to sit down and write a post or two. I say just go for it. Don’t spend days preparing or researching. Just sit down, write something out and post it. Yeah, you’ll want to fine tune, optimize, and eventually boost your posts with heavy doses of fresh content, but for now, it’s all about motivation.
Those first few posts are designed to start building the content on your site and should be useful and timeless because the odds are that you have no readers yet and a time-sensitive post will be severely out of date by the time you actually do have readers. So, instead of writing about an upcoming convention for dog owners, write about the top 5 ways to potty train your new puppy.
The tone of your blog should remain casual and personal and eventually you’ll want to develop a rapport with your readers, but in early posts, building a baseline of expertise is even more important. In fact, I’ve seen some affiliate marketers who will outsource 10-20 articles to contractors on Elance and post all of those articles over the course of 10+ days to populate their blog with fresh content to start.
This makes it so your first visitors see a prepopulated blog, don’t assume you have no knowledge and will read multiple pages of content. Just be sure not to post too much of your content all at once. Google loves blogs, but when dozens of posts are put up at once, red lights start to go off in Central California and they assume there is something fishy going on. Make it natural and use the scheduled posting feature to choose future dates for your posts.
writing for a Blog All the technical details, research and formatting in the world is meaningless if you don’t have a solid background for how to actually write posts for your blog. That’s where we’re headed next and in my opinion, it’s the single most overlooked part of the process. Why though?
Content is vital to a good website – no one argues that point anymore. Google is seeing to that with each successive update.
And yet, blogs are still churned out with alarming frequency lacking original content or any sort of well balanced approach. They are loaded with rewrites, copy/paste jobs, or just plain poor writing and no one wants to read them.
I’m not pointing fingers here, just telling you what I see whenever I start researching a new site. It’s not pretty and as a result, a lot of people are missing some pretty major opportunities to make money.
So, consider this your crash course on writing. Even if you plan on outsourcing every scrap of text you have on your blog to a trained writer, it’s vital you understand exactly what that text should say and how it should be said.
How a Blog Post sHoulD sounD Blog posts are not informal journal entries that you jot down in your spare time to “get out of the way”. They are important pieces of text designed to entice readers to perform a certain action. In a number of ways, a well written blog post is very much like copywriting for sales and landing pages.
The goal may not be exactly the same. The sale isn’t imminent when you write a blog post about the Top 10 Ways to Craft Model Cars, but it is the same intention. Your goal is to convince your reader to perform a specific action – in most cases to comment, click on a link, or sign up for an email list or RSS feed. You’re building trust and capitalizing on that trust when the time comes to throw out your call to action.
So, your post needs to be polished, well written and most of all personable. It’s not a wiki. You’re not teaching your readers through an invisible shield. You need to create the feeling that everything is hands on – that you’re up there with them making changes and adjusting their perspective on the niche in general. Mostly, you’re making yourself look good by showing off how much you know in a helpful, funny way. Win-win for everyone.
For most people, this tone isn’t very hard. You talk to your friends all day like this. You tell someone you saw something interesting on TV last night without laying out a five paragraph essay. You describe a movie you just saw with jokes and your personal reactions to certain scenes. There is a direct connection between you and your readers and it only exists when you take the time to treat them like friends instead of a distant third party.
The only time I’ve seen writers really struggle with this is when they spend a lot of time writing more formal text. If you use article marketing or your day job was content writing, you may find it tough to loosen up your inner voice and have fun with things.
The easiest advice I can give is to pretend you’re describing the topic to your mother. Would you ever sit and talk to your mother like a 12 year old in a class room? Of course not. You’d tell her how the topic affects you and why she should be interested. Unless you have a very tense relationship, it should be pretty laid back.
The same should be true for your blog posts and with a little practice, shouldn’t be an issue after the initial handful of posts.
tyPes of Blog Posts This brings us to our next and maybe most important section – the types of posts you’ll be writing. So many blog writers get caught up in one form of content or another that they forget just how many opportunities there are.
For example, if you write only opinion pieces without interjecting enough content to help people actually understand what you’re trying to teach them, you look more like a ranter than an opinionated reviewer. Your site needs to provide value in those opinions – something you can do easily by interspersing value rich posts like news updates, articles, videos or images.
In general, if you can integrate a little bit of everything into your blog, you’ll draw a regular, interested audience to your site – one that can consist of a much wider range within your niche.
One of the most common blog posts for an affiliate marketer is a review – something that we use to convince readers to click on over to our affiliate offer so we can make a sale. They’re great, they work, and if you’re really quick with a new product you can nail a high Google position early on. But, there are some things a lot of review writers do wrong, including the following: • Too Many Reviews – A review is a good way to draw attention to a product that can make you money, but if you don’t frame them with trust building content, readers will assume all you have to offer is product recommendations so you make a few bucks. That’s not good.
You need to build trust and then capitalize on that trust when you write your reviews. Even on a heavy review site, it’s a good idea to minimize reviews to 1 review per 5 pieces of other content. The one exception is if you are writing a “review only” site that focuses entirely on providing advice on a set of products. In that case, read the following tips carefully.
• Imbalanced Reviews – A review is only useful if it appears to take an impartial view of a product. If you appear to have an agenda going into your recommendation, your readers may not trust you to know whether the product is best for them. There are a few ways to avoid this. First, tell the truth.
Don’t just say “this product is awesome” if it’s really not. Second, make sure you actually read or use the products you review. If you have not used them, you’ll need to disclose that, so it makes sense to give it a shot. Finally, be sure to offer both positive and negative points about the product. Even if it’s the best you’ve ever seen in the niche, frame your praise with some shortcomings. Nothing is perfect. • Copying the Sales Copy – I’ve seen a lot of reviews that simply copy and paste sales copy from the product website and make a few small changes. This doesn’t work a few reasons. Not only does that create duplicate content that will hurt your blog in the SEO race, it presents content that reads like a sales letter. No one wants to read sales copy on a blog. They come to your blog for your voice, which is supposed to be impartial and knowledgeable. If you supplant that with a strong salesy presence, it can undermine whatever level of trust you’ve built with past posts. • Too Short – A review should be more than 200 words. Most blogging gurus advise you to keep your posts short and to the point, but when it comes to a review, you need to offer a comprehensive look at the product – at least 400 words. People are still impatient, however, so use some simple tricks to make the review scannable. Bullet points of pros and cons, a star rating, and a “summary conclusion” can all be very effective in presenting your entire opinion in easily captured data sets without reducing your blog post to nothing. • No Context – Context is important. If your blog is about dog training and you write a review of a guide about raising lizards, you’re missing the very important context that goes with that review. You need to present knowledge and experience in the field you’re reviewing. Without that experience, your readers won’t know whether to trust you in the first place and then when the topics don’t match, they’ll wonder what you’re thinking.
A review on a blog can be extremely powerful – much more so than on a static site without any returning readers. However, you need to be careful of how you review the product, maintaining the trust you’ve developed and being completely honest throughout your reviews.
News Updates
Not every niche can facilitate this, but there are quite a few that can and it makes for easy blog fodder if you’re in a hurry. But, there are a few limitations that you need to take into consideration. First, it’s vital not to just take someone’s news posts and repost them on your site. Yes, it’s legal to quote them and repost a news story, but just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it helps you when it comes to your Google ranking.
The best course in my experience is to aim for comprehensive coverage of a news topic. For example, if you worked on a car blog and a new model was announced by Ford, you might post a sentence or two from their press release, but you could also post images of the new car, links to conversations about it, a video of
the car in action, and a short post of impressions that highlights your own thoughts on the car.
Personalize the news that you do post and you’ll be much more successful in generating repeated readers. If you think of it, it’s pretty simple. Those readers are interested not just in getting news from you. They’re interested in finding opinions and breakdowns of that news from an expert in the field.
By presenting those opinions, you create a position for yourself as the expert with their ear to the ground.
By far the most common and, in my opinion, valuable blog posts you’ll see on any site are the articles. This is content that provides direct value to your readers in a way that a review or news piece never could. I know you’ve read a few of these yourself (they appear on Affilorama all the time). Examples include:
• Top 7 Ways to X
• X Newest Tools for Your Y
• How to Do X
This kind of content is popular because it provides a specific set of valuable information to your readers in a format that is easy to read, easy to scan, and easy to repeat to other people. They feel like they are learning, and if you’re a good writer, they should actually learn something.
The goal of this type of post should be to provide valuable, informative content. It should be to the point, scannable, and interesting to as many people in your niche as possible. These posts often provide an opportunity to land some solid keyword associations as well. If you’re writing about dog training, having posts like “10 Ways to Potty Train Your Puppy “How to Stop Dog Barking in 5 Easy Steps” will load you up with backlinks and Google hits.
When I say opinions, I don’t mean reviews – I mean general opinions within the niche. This might fall into the category of an editorial or a rant on a given topic. For example, if you wrote an article asserting that you don’t believe in bark deterrents, that’s an opinion piece.
The reason opinion pieces are so high on the list is that they are generally very effective in eliciting comments from your readers. Notice how I put Controversial Pieces down a couple spots as a separate category? That’s because I like to think of my opinion as non-controversial most of the time.
There are situations when you’ll say something that others will honestly disagree with. But, most of the time, with a niche blog, if you write something based on a simple opinion, you won’t elicit that kind of dissent out of the box. Controversy for the sake of controversy is something else entirely.
If you do have a strong opinion, keep a few things in mind. First, not everyone might agree with you. So,
don’t denigrate anyone in your posts. Don’t discount anyone who disagrees and never say anything negative for the sake of being negative. You might alienate more people than you expect by doing this.
Videos are awesome because they’re easy and they’re popular. People like video content and you don’t have to write anything. However, you still need to come up with the video, and that can, at times, require you to sit down with a camcorder and create new content. Linking to other videos on YouTube is an option – one that I’ve seen many bloggers use effectively to generate interest in posts.
However, keep in mind that modern search technology doesn’t reward you for embedding videos into your blog with no text to accompany it. Even if you find a good video that sums up your point wonderfully, it’s a good idea to write up a short post of 100-200 words to accompany the video.
If you’re creating your own videos, I still recommend you post them to YouTube or Facebook and link back to your blog. Most hosting accounts are not designed to handle the bandwidth requirements needed to upload and broadcast videos to a wide readership.
Guest Posts
This is a fantastic option, but it does require you to get out there and network with your fellow niche experts. Just having someone else write on your blog does not automatically constitute a “guest post”. Generally, a guest post is when you get someone with specific expertise in one area of your niche to write about that expertise. This way, you don’t subvert your own status as “expert” – you just supplement it and maybe even add to it by having the wherewithal to find an expert to share with you.
When it comes to finding guest posters, you should start by building a relationship with fellow bloggers. Even as a new blogger, you can build your credibility in the niche by creating valuable, original content and then sharing that content with other bloggers. Comment on their posts, email them directly and contact them on Facebook or Twitter. These gestures can help build a rapport between you and other bloggers.
Most bloggers are happy to provide guest posts to people they respect. It builds their readership too because your readers will follow links back to their sites. And if you can build a strong mutual respect, you might potentially post guest posts on their blogs as well, increasing the volume of traffic you can get from niche related blogs.
Images shouldn’t necessarily be a post to themselves, but they can add quite a bit to your blog if you know where to put them and how to use them. WordPress makes it very easy to add images directly from your hard drive, as we went over earlier, and you should take full advantage of the opportunity when you can. Here are some notes on the use of images to spice up your blog posts:


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