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• Not Vital – Images add a lot to a post, but they are not 100% vital to the success of that post. I like to use images whenever it fits the post, and always if there is more than 300 words of text, just to break it up a bit, but make sure those images actually add value to the content as a whole. • Use Creatively – Images shouldn’t just be tossed onto the page for the sake of being there. Yes, they add some creative energy to the page, but if it’s just pretty colors for the heck of it, why? I like to think of a creative way to integrate imagery into a post, preferably with something interesting or funny when possible. If it’s an informative post, use images that show the information alongside your descriptions. Some people are visual learners and this can help them get involved. • Get Permission – If you don’t own the image yourself, get permission from the rights holder to repost it. You’d be surprised how many people will gladly say yes when you ask. However, when you don’t ask and just steal images from other website, that’s when you get in real trouble. • Use Captions and Descriptions – When you upload an image to WordPress, the interface will ask for a caption and a description. If the image adds value to the post, create a caption to showcase what in it. However, if it’s a purely creative supplement to the post, captions might be unnecessary. However, still fill in the description tag – this is a highly useful tag for search engine optimization. • Link Out if they’re Big – If the image is large, such as a map or a multi-subject shot with text, you should use a thumbnail and link out to a larger version of the image. WordPress does this automatically, so you don’t need to worry about any coding. However, you do need to remember to change the image size to smaller dimensions when posting.
Images are great and should be added as often as possible to your blog posts. They break up text, make them more visually arresting, and generally drive the reader’s eye down the page. Just remember to follow the rules and ensure each image has a purpose on the page.
Controversial Pieces
Okay, so here’s one that I generally avoid, but can’t keep from talking about because of how often it is utilized. The idea of using a controversial comment or topic to generate interest isn’t new. After all, “all publicity is good publicity”. In reality, however, you have to be careful when treading down this path, if nothing else for your own sanity. You don’t want to end up spending more time moderating comments and chastising readers than you do actually making money.
So, controversial topics should be handled with care. I tend to avoid them completely, not openly, but at least actively. What that means is that I don’t go out and look for a topic that I can use to rile people up on purpose and generate more readers. I might accidentally touch on a controversial topic and not realize it, and if I do I’ll stand by my opinions and have a discussion with anyone that can be civil. But, I don’t intentionally attempt to anger my readers.
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But, if you have thick skin, don’t mind moderating dozens of comments, and can win an argument, controversial topics can drive comments faster than anything else you’d write. After all, only 1 in 100 people will actually leave a comment for something they read. That number jumps up to 1 in 15 if they have a strong opinion about the subject.
When I say intentionally controversial, I generally mean things like politics, religion, social issues, and ethics – topics that two people could disagree on and never come to a conclusion about due to differing world views. These are the real prickly ones because you can’t really debate a topic like this with someone who completely disagrees with you and you’ll likely generate a bit of malice from some of your readers if you push the envelope.
So, if you decide this is your cup of tea, keep a few things in mind. First, don’t intentionally push people’s buttons. Be nice about how you handle the issue and always encourage civility. Additionally, if someone starts saying horrible things about you or anyone on your blog, call them on it and ban them. Don’t allow that kind of behaviour to continue or you’re simply condoning it.
Authority Pieces and Viral Content
An article is a piece of valuable content that your readers can learn from, share with others, and bookmark for later use. However, when you take that idea to the next level, you create something entirely different – a piece of content that bloggers, news agencies, and readers alike will turn to as a central source of valuable information. These are called authority pieces or, in some cases, link bait, and they are extremely valuable to you as a blogger.
So, what does it take to turn a simple article into an authority piece? Volume. To be sure, quality is important but all of your articles should be of the highest quality, but when you make them longer and include huge volumes of content that can be accessed by anyone in your niche, you generate a resource that no one else has.
For example, you could write an article titled “10 Common Dog Personality Traits”. It would be interesting and many people would learn something about their pooch. But, it won’t go viral because it doesn’t offer anything that can’t be had from a dozen other blogs with similar posts.
But, if you pad that article out with a LOT of information and create the “101 Most Common Dog Personality Traits”, you have just generated an authority piece that will draw interest from every corner of the niche – from new dog owners, prospective dog owners, dog writers, and other bloggers interested in finding a source of information for their next post. You might even draw requests for guest posts from people who need that area of expertise represented on their site.
The key here is that you’ve just created a central source of information on a very specific topic that anyone can find on the web and that will be linked to multiple times by other sites.
A site I like that has made a habit of generating Authority pieces over the years is Mashable. Mashable generally focuses on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but over the years has expanded to cover pretty much everything that has anything to do with the two including technology products, business news, and much more.
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But, what really drives traffic to the site is their collection of guides and lists like “60+ Awesome Android Apps”, “20 Essential Social Media Resources You May Have Missed”, “13 Essential Tips for Landing a Job on LinkedIn” and more. Their lists are huge and they have a LOT of them. So, when someone Google’s “top android apps”, Mashable shows up on page one along with tech sites like Gizmodo and Techland.
How to Create Viral Content
There is no formula that turns standard text into “viral” content. It’s more of an idea and the more you blog, the more of a feel you’ll get for how it works. Most viral content is written with the sole purpose of providing the end-user with a highly valuable or highly entertaining product. Some corporations and small businesses pull out viral content on purpose, but most of the time it’s a fluke and it’s because real passion and interest went into the creation of the product.
You need to tap into that passion and generate content that isn’t “good enough” but is excellent and adds something entirely unique and never seen before to your niche. A list of 101 dog personality traits would be huge, just as a list of the top 60 Android Apps is incredibly useful to anyone who just bought an Android.
Blogs look for content like this and link to it, and readers bookmark it to come back to later. Do you think a review of a new affiliate product or your opinion on a news story can do that? Not unless you’re extremely funny and can turn your blog into an entertaining hot spot rather than an information hub.
As you can see, there are a LOT of different things you can post on your blog, and this list is only a start list – the content pieces that I have seen in the last 72 hours or so. There are dozens more out there that creative, interesting bloggers put together on a regular basis. Use your inner artist and think about what you’d like to see in the niche if you were a reader. You’ll be surprised what you can come up with.
struCture of a gooD Blog Post A good blog post is written to entertain and educate. It shows your readers that you are an expert in your field and that you have something unique to offer that no other blogger in your niche could provide. However, it also needs to have some important technical elements to succeed.
People are impatient. They want information now rather than later, so if you write a 1,000 word post without any subheaders, they’ll leave your site before they even start reading, if only because your content looks too intimidating. So, you need to be sure each blog post maintains a handful of important elements: • Catchy, Keyword Rich Title – The title is important for a dozen reasons. It shows up in search engines, gets indexed in RSS feeds, and is used for SEO in your URL. In short, it needs to describe your post, use keywords and be enticing. Oh, and it can’t be too long. • Sub Headings Throughout the Text – If you write 500 words, make sure to break it up with headings and sub headings. This makes the text scannable, plus it tells the search engine what each chunk of your page is about, valuable for indexing.
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• Paragraph Length and Post Length – The length of your paragraphs should be less than 4 lines. A good paragraph can be digested in less than 10 seconds by someone reading the entire text. Use the white space to your advantage to avoid driving away readers who are in a hurry or intimidated by walls of text. The same can be said for the post. Unless you’re writing something that calls for a lot of text (like our 101 dog personalities), keep it short. • Bullet Points and Numbered Lists – Bulleted lists break up text and make for easily digestible chunks of text. As you can see from this magazine, I’m a huge fan of lists – both bulleted and numbered. Use them whenever you’re listing off content or ideas. • Images Every 300 Words – Images are useful to create anchors in the text for antsy readers. I like to use the 300 rule. For every 300 words of text, toss in one image. This ensures nothing looks too crowded, but that you create a visually arresting post. • Tags and Categories – Use the tagging feature of WordPress liberally to relate posts to one another. The more tags you use for each post, the more often readers can find related posts that will keep them on your site longer. Categories are also important for proper indexing of your pages. • Attractive Social Media Buttons – These days, having buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Google and everything in between is considered a must. It adds depth to your site, an interactive option for happy readers, and a chance to invest additional time into your page.
I know it may seem like there are too many things to remember when putting your blog together, but keep one thing in mind. It gets easier. Sure, when you get started, there are dozens of types of content to write and tasks to remember, but once you’ve been writing for a month or two, it will come like second nature.
How to outsourCe Content CreatIon Content creation is time consuming. And as a marketer, you probably have a dozen things you’d rather be doing than sitting there writing up a new blog post. But, don’t forget that there are quite a few ways to get around the time sink. Like most marketers, I’m a huge fan of outsourcing – finding skilled workers to take on the tasks I either don’t like or simply don’t have time for.
If you’re interested in making a living online doing this type of work, you need to start considering how to outsource as many of your tasks as possible. Yes, it costs money, but the time you save and the overall volume of content you’ll be able to produce as a result is such that you can generally produce far more traffic and revenue while doing less work.
I won’t turn this magazine into a treatise on outsourcing (there is all sorts of content on Affilorama if you’re interested in the topic), but I will tell you that it is a great way to save yourself time. Even if you like to write your own posts, you may consider outsourcing tasks such as link building, commenting, or article creation.
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Finding Contractors
If you decide you need someone else to help produce the content for your site, don’t be afraid to look around a bit. There are thousands of writers out there, and despite what you may have heard from other marketers, a lot of them are fairly well trained in what they do. You just need to be willing to spend more than $3 for an article and have a keen eye for what makes a good writer.
You’ll also need to find the right website to contact and manage writers for your site. There are quite a few sites out there, but my favourite three for outsourcing in general are: • Elance • Odesk • RentaCoder
Each site has between 20,000 and 50,000 writers available at any given time to write your content. Right now, of the three, Odesk has the best project management tools in place and the best filtering options to help you avoid anyone that has low feedback or poor English skills. On Elance, you have to trust that your writer can produce content that meets your criteria. Both sites offer time tracking too if you prefer to pay by the hour.

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RentaCoder is also a very well developed site with a solid corps of trained writers. It is best known for its programmers, but you can find contractors for any position here. I don’t have a specific preference at any one site. Usually, if I need a static amount of content for a relatively straightforward topic, I’ll go to Elance due to the higher response rates, and if I need something hourly I’ll head to Odesk due to their superior implementation. RentaCoder is good if have trouble finding someone on the other two sites.
Who to Hire
I hear a lot of marketers getting upset out there because their contractors “don’t get it”. They receive poor quality work, content that doesn’t match what they requested, or run into writers without proper English skills or poor time management abilities. But, in my experience, if you are careful about who you hire and how you vet them before setting up a project, you can avoid many of these issues. Here are some of the factors I keep in mind when hiring contractors for my own projects. • Be Sure of What You Want- The number one issue I see when someone requests bids on a project is that they don’t know what they want yet. Go to Elance and post a project for “10 blog posts”. You’ll receive bids, but they will be general and it’s impossible to know if the writer would have the expertise or experience in your niche needed to write that content. When you write a project description, know how much content you need, how much you’re willing to pay, how long you are willing to wait, what keywords you need, what style you like, and what titles you prefer. • Ask Someone to Review Your Request – Sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re being specific enough, especially when you’re knee deep in the content yourself. So, instead of sending out a half-written request, have a friend or colleague read through it and comment on anything you might be missing. • Have a Deadline in Mind – Know exactly when you want the work and tell the writers up front. I like to set a deadline at least 3-5 days before I need something to give leeway if they fall flat. But, make it very clear that you’re not tolerant of delays. If they come in late, don’t hire them again and leave according feedback. Many contractors fail to take their jobs as seriously as if they had a real boss. Make sure they understand that you won’t put up with that.

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• Set a Realistic Budget – Budgeting is a big deal for projects like this. We all want a good deal so we can spend money on other things, like advertising. But, if you aren’t willing to pay for something, you shouldn’t expect it to be very good. In my experience, anything less than $0.02/ word will produce suspect quality content. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find a new writer who is willing to prove him or herself for a lower rate, but eventually you’ll need to pay them more or hope to get lucky again. • Review Writers Accordingly – If someone produces low quality, late, or simply poorly planned work, don’t be afraid to leave feedback that reflects that. It’s not your responsibility to apologize for someone who doesn’t provide what they’ve promised. But, at the same time, be fair. If you weren’t clear about what you wanted and the end result doesn’t match your mental image, be realistic about whose fault it is.
When you hire someone to do something for you, there is some responsibility on you to be sure you know what you mean and that you relate those needs to your writers. At the same time, however, you shouldn’t expect that “just because they’re contractors” you have to put up with lower quality work. They’re taking your money, so be willing to ask them for quality in return.
CreatIng a Blog wrItIng sCHeDule Eventually, you’ll want to sit down and map out a schedule of your time, deciding how many hours a week you can spend writing and when your most productive hours are. We’re all built to do something, and for a lot of us, that thing is decidedly not writing, so don’t feel bad if you put it off or loathe those moments when you sit down to write. The goal is to find a time that won’t upset you too much and that will allow you to maximize your creativity.
To start with, you should decide how often you want to post. I recommend at least 3-4 posts a week. For the sake of the search engines, I’ve found that posting at least once in a 48 hour period will keep your site fresh in most indexes. Now, keep in mind that I’m talking about a bare minimum here, not optimal performance. Posting every other day is a good way to make sure you don’t start to drift down in the listings and that your regular readers come back to see what you’ve produced.
But, if you take a look at most top blogs, they have even more content – usually posts once a day with one writer, or multiple times a day if they can afford to outsource content to staff or contractors. It really depends on how much content you have on your site and what your traffic generation plan is. For a straight blog with no other marketing strategies attached, you will want as much content as possible as quickly as possible – hence daily posts.
After your blog has been up and running for some time, it becomes more feasible to reduce your posting frequency to 3-4 times a week.
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When to Blog
I’ve found that blogging first thing in the morning is best. But, I’m a morning person, which means that I can hop up, take a shower and be creatively energized for the day. It only weakens as the day goes on – by the time the sun goes down, I’m ready to plop down on the couch and relax.
A lot of you are night owls though. With families, day jobs, or a late night sensibility, you might like to relax during the day or wake up late, then work in the middle of the night when you have time to yourself. It’s entirely up to you when you post your blogs, but I recommend you set aside a specific chunk of time each day when you can do it.
Simply trying to “fit it in” will lead to procrastination and rushed posts that don’t read as well as the well plotted, planned ones. So, sit down and create a plan that can be followed weekly.
Queuing Blog Posts for Later
If you’re unsure you’ll be able to devote a single time to your blogging each week, you do have alternatives. WordPress has a handy scheduling feature that we discussed back in the section on how to use WordPress. With this, you can write as many posts as you want weeks ahead of time and schedule them far out. I know multiple bloggers who hire contractors to write 15 posts a month and then schedule them on the 1st to run through the end of the month. They don’t have to worry about the posting – it’s all automated.
If you either outsource or simply don’t feel that you’ll be able to sit down multiple times a week to write, this can be a great option for you. Keep in mind, however, that if you schedule ahead of time, you’ll need to avoid topics that are devoted to current events, lest the subjects be out of date by the time you post them.
ftC regulatIons The last thing I want to touch on in this section is a very important set of regulations that went into effect last December from the Federal Trade Commission in the United States. The new FTC regulations effectively make it illegal to create “fake blogs” or reviews that are designed to entice people into buying something when the information used to entice them is false.
More specifically, you need to disclose where you get your information, make truthful endorsements, and admit if you’re sending someone to a product that will pay you for the referral. Additionally, if someone has abnormal results from a product – like losing 100 pounds with a dieting guide, you must disclose that the results are not typical.
Another thing to look out for is the potential for fines and penalties if you affiliate yourself with programs that do NOT follow these new regulations – something that takes a bit more foresight on your part.
The majority of the focus from the FTC is being placed on advertisers but you can expect that affiliates are equally under the scope and could be hit with massive five figure fines if they don’t follow the new rules.
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And if you’re thinking that just because you’re outside the US you won’t need to worry about these new rules, think again. If you do business in the US – including advertising or simply hosting your site there – you’ll need to follow the FTC guidelines. Plus, most countries tend to adopt similar guidelines or enact treaties to follow along with the trade regulations of the US due to the nature of international commerce.
What Do You Need to Do?
So, what does this specifically mean for your blog? It means you need to very clearly disclose the nature of the statement. Endorsements and testimonials (such as a review you write to make a sale), should use generally expected results (as should all testimonials), to the point that you clearly outline what those results are. If you have exceptional results with a product, you have to say what normal results are.
You might be thinking “I don’t have any testimonials”, but it doesn’t matter. If your entire blog is FTC compliant and you link to a vendor site that is not, you’ll still be held liable for directing consumers to a violating site. It’s important to check all of the sites you affiliate with before putting yourself on the line.
Additionally, you need to tell any readers that you stand to gain monetarily from the review or testimonial you just wrote. Even if you don’t get paid for something and just got a free copy of it for making a mention, you need to say “I got this book for free to write this review”. So, to summarize: • Check Your Affiliate Programs • Actually Use the Products • Tell the Reader You Will Get Paid for the Recommendation • Outline Generally Expected Results • Plainly State When Something is an Ad
If you do these things, you’ll be fine. Since 99% of affiliates are legit and honest anyway, this just adds a couple of extra steps to your content creation – not a big deal for most of us. However, if you were using or were planning to use marketing tactics that circumvented these new guidelines, think again. It could seriously hurt your business.
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How to get More readers Everything we talk about in this magazine is pointless if you don’t have readers on your pages, digesting your content and clicking your links. So, I want to look closer at what it takes to get, keep, and grow your reader base – from the first post to the 1000th.
Readers on a blog come in a few different forms. There are the casual readers who might find your blog through a search engine or an article directory and skim through a post or two. They likely had a single question in your niche and are looking for an answer. Then, there are the people who add blogs to their RSS feed readers and return daily to catch up on what you have to say. And finally, there are the readers who interact with the writer, adding comments, bookmarking your posts on social media sites, and sending links to their friends.
As a blogger, your job is to use marketing tactics to generate as many Reader As as possible, then use your writing skills to convert them into Reader B and eventually Reader C. Too many bloggers are content to have 200 readers a day, never thinking that they should try to upsell those readers into becoming loyal followers and commenters. Traffic is traffic, right?
It is if you gain something from raw hits, but with a blog you don’t. You don’t make money if people just show up on your site. They need to be actively engaged with your blog before you make a profit through AdSense clicks or affiliate sales and that means you need to both generate good content and entice interaction.
gettIng CoMMents Comments are the secondary currency of most blogs. While some bloggers will outline their success in terms of raw hits, many high end bloggers will do so in terms of subscribers and commenters. The more people you can get to comment on your blog, the more effective you are at converting raw search into interactive readership.
But, when you first start a blog, it might seem next to impossible to generate comments. People will stop by and read your content; some might even stick around and read a few pages or subscribe, but why aren’t they commenting?
There are a few reasons for this. Foremost, commenting is a very uncommon activity. Know that less than 1% of active blog readers ever really comment on a post. If you see a post with 100 comments, you can wager two bets. First, half of those 100 people are likely repeat commenters, and second, that blog post probably got 10,000 or more hits to generate all that conversation.
This isn’t a set rule of course. Some bloggers can facilitate a conversation with a 200 word post that only gets 30 readers, but most blog posts will sit stagnant until someone drops by to say something.
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What Makes People Comment
Before we can generate more comments, I think it’s a good idea to look at why people comment in the first place. It’s actually a very unnatural reaction. Most people simply absorb and digest information on the Internet. Very few every actually contribute to the conversation. But, with the right tactics, you can get even the digital wallflowers to toss in their two cents. • Strong Opinion – If someone has a strong opinion on something, they are nearly 10 times more likely to post a comment. Your job is to generate strong opinions without generating unnecessary controversy. Our post about bark deterrents from earlier is a great example of this. Many dog owners and advocates are very much against debarking and shock collars and would gladly add their two cents in a conversation on the topic, with few readers taking offense to the subject matter. • Peer Pressure – If someone feels part of a community and the community is involved in conversation, they will feel pressure to represent themselves. This can be hard to generate in a blog post, but if you hit the right buttons, it will work. Your goal needs to be remind people of their social role in that niche and why you need their input. • Existing Comments –Few people want to be the first person to comment on a blog post. However, someone who might have a comment will gladly add it if another voice has already been voiced. This is where subtle comment building strategies like Twitter, Facebook, or trackbacks can come in handy. • Specific Expertise – If someone has knowledge in your field they will generally want to share that knowledge with other people. This comes about from getting lots of backlinks and general traffic. The more people see your posts, the more likely one of them will have an expert opinion to share. • A Question Asked – Some readers simply have questions. Don’t forget you’re putting yourself out there as an expert in your field. For this reason, you need to be willing to respond to questions that your readers have. Scan your comments daily and look for questions you can answer. By interacting with comments, you will facilitate your readers to ask even more of the same. • In Search of an Answer – As I mentioned earlier, a blog post is very similar to a sales page in how it drives actions out of your readers. As a result, you should finish every blog post with a call to action. It could be a call to think on the subject, click on a link, or to sound off in the comments section about the topic. In almost every case, that call to action will relate to interacting with your blog post.
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why someone would leave a comment. Your job then is to tap into those urges and force those readers to release their opinion – something many of them hold very close.
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InCreasIng your CoMMent Counts There are quite a few ways to actively increase your comment counts once you get working on your blog. Some bloggers I know will only use a handful of methods, but I personally like to use as many as possible to generate new backlinks for my sites.
The key to getting comments lies in producing content that is worth reading and generates a rapport with your readers that encourages them to add their voice to the conversation. As we already discussed, there are a number of reasons why someone might have something to add, and many times, if you can get someone to comment first, the rest of the hangers-on will follow suit.
After all, with only 1 in 10 people actively engaging, you need to get every potential commenter you can as quickly as you can to generate that kind of ongoing readership.
The Easy Way
The easiest way to get comments is to ask for them. Simple, right? Not always. I’ve found in many of my blogs that if you just write a “please comment” at the end of a post, most people ignore it. It’s a standard part of most blogs and people tend not to read it.
That’s not really too surprising. People zone out a lot of things. So, your goal as the writer needs to be to integrate your call to action with the rest of the content. This is done by asking prescient questions. Here are two examples of the final 100 words of a blog post:
Example A:
Dogs are, after all, animals. They have expectations based on their animal instincts and you need to train them with that in mind at all times.
Share your thoughts. Please comment below.
Example B:
Dogs are, after all animals. You have probably seen it a hundred times in your own pets, that sudden urge to do something strange that would make perfect sense in the wild. I’d love to hear what all of you have encountered while training your dogs – whether a goofy behaviour or a confused look because of their animal instincts. Comment below with your personal stories.
In Example A, I end my blog post with a thought of my own and then ask people to comment. There’s nothing wrong with the end of the post – I make my point and a lot of readers will likely respond. However, in Example B, I actually engage those readers by turning over the story to them. I flip it around by saying “you probably see it”. But giving the story to the reader, I open them to make a response, as you would in a real world conversation. When I then ask them to comment, they are likely far more primed to do so.
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Being Social
Another very important aspect of blog comments is remembering to interact with the ones left on your posts. If you want more people to respond to your posts, you need to respond to them when they do. The same goes for social media like Twitter and Facebook, so it’s great practice as a marketer to get out there and respond whenever possible.
The problem with this method is not the interaction – most of us are perfectly happy to defend our posts or post answers to questions. The real issue arises when you start getting 10+ comments a day and need to respond to them regularly. How do you decide which ones to reply to and how often to do so?
The key is in remembering that not every comment needs a response. If someone says “nice post”, you don’t need to say anything. It’s a compliment but it doesn’t need a reply. However, if someone adds a counterpoint or simply states something you don’t agree with, you should absolutely reply and offer an extension of your original point. If you write a post about why bark deterrents are inhumane and someone disagrees with you, it’s important to defend your opinion or your readers will think you lack conviction (and fail to respond to comments).
Keep it Simple
Another thing that I see get in the way of many blogs when it comes to comments is how hard it is to comment. This a tricky one for a few reasons, because you do need to have boundaries and you do need to moderate to some degree, but you need to have limits to your control. • Avoid Moderation on All Comments – Here’s what I do. Every time a new user posts a comment on the blog, I require moderation. Once someone has passed moderation the first time, additional comments are automatically approved. Every now and then someone gets through and says something crass or tosses out spam in the second post, but usually if they are good the first time through, they maintain that decorum going forward. This makes commenting much easier. • Avoid Login Systems – Don’t require your readers to register and login to comment each time. Luckily, WordPress turns this off by default, but don’t get tempted to turn it back on. • Place Comment Forms Next to Posts – Place the comment box directly beneath your content. This will make everything easier when it comes time for them to decide whether to reply to your content. If you hide the comment form or require multiple clicks, they might give up before they get that far. • Post Simple Rules Up Front – Often, having a few basic rules about what goes into a comment can help encourage commentators. It alleviates the worry that they’ll be made fun of, and tells them exactly how to format their comments. However, keep those rules simple and to the point. Too many complicated rules and you’ll scare away borderline participators.
Overall, commenting should be simple and straightforward. If you get the urge to make it complicated, you’ll lose whatever interest you had from them after the post has been read.
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return reaDers Commenting is probably one of the single most powerful ways to get someone to return to your blog multiple times. Once they have invested their intellectual energy into a post, they want to know what other people think of their comment and if your blog changes direction or responds to it. With that said, hoping someone comments is not a good plan for getting repeat readers to your blog. Here are a few methods I use to generate long term readership and maintain interest from current readers. • Easy Subscriptions – Every blog should have built in RSS feeds that make it possible to subscribe to the blog and get updates directly delivered to any number of other devices like netbooks, PCs, macs, or phones. Your blog should already have an RSS feed on it since you’re using WordPress. Just make sure the button is prominent and up top so they can subscribe without having to hunt for it. • Regular Posting – The easiest way to maintain return readership is to post on a regular basis. If you write 10 posts one week and then skip the next 9 days, people are going to forget about you, not because they are not interested; just because you don’t bother. It’s a bad precedent to set and it hurts your blog’s overall performance in multiple ways. • Wide Range of Content – Integrate as many forms of content into your blog as possible. This will attract different readers in your niche and keep them coming back on a rotating basis. If you write only about training techniques for small dogs, the big dog owners will quickly decide to go elsewhere. If you mix it up, they’ll all return to see if you write anything they can use. • Integrated Social Media – Get people to signup for your pages on Facebook, Twitter and more by adding buttons to your blog. Additionally, have each new blog post updated to your social media profiles (more on this later), so your friends and followers can see when there is new content to read. • Ongoing Series – Create series of content that your readers can keep track of. Having a Part 1-10 series on a very important topic can keep even casual readers following your syndication as they wait for the next chunk of useful information. • Following Popular Content – Spend some time each week reviewing which pages on your blog are popular and why they are popular. If you find that, despite the content you enjoy writing, something else is doing very well, write more on that topic. Always give the people what they want. The traffic you generate because of it will make up for not getting to write what you want.
Repeat readers are huge. They generate more comments, help boost your position in the search engines, and represent a chunk of people who may click on review links and sign up for your newsletters when you start monetizing.
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lInk swaPPIng anD guest PostIng One of my favourite methods for getting new followers and readers is to swap information with other blog owners. This can be a huge way to generate new readership.
No matter how cutting edge or original you think your content is, trust me – it’s not new. There are dozens of other blogs and hundreds of other writers out there offering content in your niche and you shouldn’t necessarily view them as competition. They can also be partners, helping you find new readers.
The key here is to find people who can actually help you, and that you can in turn help.
Building a Relationship
To meet and build a relationship with other blog owners, you need to get out there and start interacting with them. There are a few ways to do this, including: • Comment on Other Blogs – If you thought only your readers would be commenting, think again. One of the easiest ways to meet other bloggers and to develop additional readership for your own blog is to comment on other niche blogs with lots of readership.
If you have something interesting to say, people will follow your links back to your blog, including the blog owner. You’ll eventually develop a much larger following as a result. Additionally, when you contact this blog owner, they will already recognize you from your comments. • Link to Them – If you have a story that relates to a post on another blog, or you simply want to give them kudos for a post you liked, link to them. It doesn’t need to be a blogroll link or a prominent link for something else, but a small, basic link can create quite a bit of attention. Most bloggers will know immediately when they get a new back link. • Email Them – You can contact someone directly and ask them for a link swap or guest post opportunity. Many blog owners, assuming they’re not running a small corporation, will be interested in what you have to say. • Follow on Twitter or Facebook – Get on Twitter and Facebook and start looking for these other bloggers and stay in touch with them there. It may seem informal and distant, but you’d be amazed what a few comments and wall posts will do for you when trying to get to know someone. • Offer Guest Posts – If you have quality content on your site, simply offering a guest post to someone can be greatly beneficial to you. However, you will need to be sure to generate a good chunk of content before doing this so they can see what they are agreeing to ahead of time. • Meet them in Person or IM – If the other blogger lives near you, find a way to meet up and discuss your mutual projects. If they do not, use a service like Skype or even an Instant Messaging program to chat with them about the needs of your site.
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Keep in mind that, until you’ve developed a couple dozen posts and a readership of your own, you don’t have much in the way of collateral to offer in exchange for someone’s help. If you go to a blogger who gets 500 hits a day and ask for a link swap, what do they get out of it? It’s important that there is a fair exchange of value happening between you and your fellow site owner. So, build your site, generate value and then start looking for swapping opportunities.
wrItIng a guest Post Guest posting is a big deal and should be taken very seriously. Already, I hope I’ve instilled in you the value of a good blog post. But, with a guest post, you need to notch things up a bit. It needs to present a certain level of value to the readers of that other blog and you need to show that you have expertise in a given field that exceeds what the original blogger could have offered.
Why would another blog owner need you to write a post about “10 ways to train a dog” when they have already written plenty of similar content? Instead, you need to develop a set number of hyper specific niche areas that you can showcase your knowledge in. This will allow you to offer something unique, original, and highly valuable to other bloggers.
Additionally, you should go above and beyond the normal 400 word posts you write for your own blog. If you get 20 hits a day and the blog you’re writing for gets 400, think of your post as being 20 times more important. And if something is that much more important, shouldn’t you spend a bit more time working on it?
otHer fun ways to generate traffIC froM otHer Blogs While guest posting is one of my favourite methods around, there are other ways to generate traffic from other blogs. Here are a few of my favourites. • Blogroll Placement – A blog roll is a list of blogs you like. You can create a list of your own, but in reality, you should try to get listed on as many other blogrolls as possible. Provide regular free content, comment a lot and mention those blogs you’d like to be linked to. You can even ask for a blogroll link and many bloggers will consider you. • Interviews – I do a lot of audio and video interviews with other top niche experts and it has a huge impact on the traffic I generate on a regular basis. People love to hear podcasts of me talking to experts and in turn the buzz it generates on their pages and on Google in general adds a lot of traffic to the site. • Advertising – You can always pay for a posting on someone else’s page as well. This can be costly and sometimes a bit dangerous if you’re not careful about where you publish your links, but if you find the right resource and blogger, paid advertising can generate quite a bit of traffic for your site.
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• Link Swapping – Once your site offers a good amount of content and develops a strong following on a regular basis, you’ll be able to ask other bloggers to swap links with you, either in blog rolls or in a post where you simply mention the other site. This is a powerful SEO strategy and a great way to get new readers. • Comment Linking – Comment on other blogs and if they are nice, they’ll leave your backlinks intact so anyone who reads your comment can click back to your site.
The long and the short of it is this – if you get involved with other bloggers and get to know them and their content extremely well, you’ll be able to take advantage of the traffic and readership they have on a daily basis. And eventually, you’ll have other bloggers coming to you for the exact same thing, and you’ll get traffic just for being the awesome blogger that you are.
soCIal MeDIa If ever there was a topic I could write an entire book on, it would be social media for traffic generation. So, you’ll have to bear with me if I keep this section fairly straightforward and related only to blogging.
To start with, traffic generation as a whole is very much related to the performance of your social media sites. If you have a good following on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll get a lot more traffic to your blog, squeeze page, or whatever other website you’re promoting. For bloggers this is even more true because of the nature of your site.
Marketing Yourself as an Expert
The goal of a social media profile for a blogger is to showcase your expertise and your name as a brand. The difference between this and marketing your blog itself is that when people see a website name they tend to think of a faceless entity that will feed them information. However, when they think of a blog that has a regular author they can interact with, they think of a conversation – an ongoing back and forth that they can take advantage of and learn from.
So, in my opinion, any blogger who uses their own name on their blog should have the full range of social media profiles to keep their readers up to date on all new posts as they become available. However, that doesn’t mean you need to use your personal account. It just means you need to have a page set up for your blog.
Linking to Social Media Sites
Once you at least have a Twitter and Facebook page set up for your blog, you should place links to your social media pages on your blog, preferably beneath your content in a prominent location. Don’t place it next to the social media bookmarking links as it can be confusing. Instead, you should say something like “follow me on…” and then have links to those profiles. Here’s an example:
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As you can see, the intent is very clear. I want my readers to click the link and stay up to date with my recent posts. It goes in both directions, however. On your social media pages, you need to place links back to your blog posts as they become available. There are very easy ways to do this. In fact, both sites have multiple third party options for updating content on the page over and over again.
On Facebook
With Facebook, however, it can now be done directly through Facebook’s interface (recommended).
1. Go to “Profile” and then “Settings”
2. Here, you’ll see a section that lists where you can import stories posted by you. You’ll see a number of options here. Click on “Blog/Rss” and a small box will show up beneath this section for you to enter a URL
3. In this box, you’ll need to enter the URL of your RSS feed. The RSS of any WordPress blog will be http://www.YOURSITE.com/RSS. Enter that into the box and all of your future posts will automatically be posted to your wall as a new “note”. All of your friends will see it in their newsfeed when an update occurs.

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On Twitter
On Twitter, you will need a third party tool, but thankfully it’s incredibly easy to use and very fast – updating your posts on Twitter within a few seconds of posting something new to our site. My site of choice is “TwitterFeed.com”. You’ll need to register for the service, but once you’ve done that, all you need is your Twitter URL and your RSS Feed URL (shown above).
Within seconds, you’ll have the Twitter account setup to post all new blog posts with a tinyurl back to your blog. If all that sounds like Greek to you, don’t worry – it’s so easy to setup that it doesn’t matter how it works. In short, people on your Twitter follower list will see when you have new blog posts available.
Maintaining Your Social Media Profiles
One of the major benefits of having a direct link between all your profiles is that it automates everything. You really don’t need to go into Facebook or Twitter very often to add content when you have blog content being blasted there three or more times a week. However, if you’re serious about adding followers to your social media sites, you’ll need a lot more content than just your blog posts. People expect value, and syndication is not value (it’s too easy).
Proper maintenance of a good social media profile can be time consuming and require new content every day, but trust me in that you’ll get your time’s worth out of it. The higher levels of fans and followers will almost instantly provide you with the added level of readership your blog needs to be successful.
tHe Value of a strong followIng for your InCoMe Your income is directly tied to how successful your blog becomes (at least in this endeavour). If you are serious about making a substantial amount of money, you need to have readers on your blog devouring that content. Part of your readership will happen naturally, if only because you have a lot of quality content to offer. However, a good chunk of your income will need to be built up by you through commenting tactics, social media, viral marketing, and link swapping with other bloggers.
Never be satisfied with just a handful of comments and readers. Always aim for more readership and more responses to your content on a daily basis. The greater you can perform, the better your overall results will be when it comes time to cash in on all that hard work.

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adsense on your Blog Thus far, everything we’ve discussed has related directly to creating, maintaining, and getting traffic to your blog. I’ve only barely mentioned how you’ll be making money with this site, but trust me, there is plenty of money to be made. Before I get knee deep in how affiliate marketing integrates with your blog, I want to touch on probably the easiest money making method with a blog – AdSense advertising.
How aDsense works Google AdSense is a program provided by Google in conjunction with their paid advertising service AdWords. It allows content sites to join the content network, where advertisers pay to have their ads placed. If someone clicks on one of the ads that an advertiser places in Google’s listings, you get paid a share of the money the advertiser spends on those ads. Google’s cut varies, but usually you’ll receive between $0.01-$1 per click depending on the niche and the bid values of those clicks.
Luckily for you, most of the niches that you’ll be marketing in are high volume, high price niches that will allow you to make a hefty profit, but only if you generate content and traffic in a way that will optimize the ads that appear and the number of people that click on those links.
How aDs are PlaCeD Advertisements from Google’s partners are placed using a number of different algorithms and while no one has a blueprint for how to manipulate those algorithms effectively, we can discuss what Google looks for from your content and the ads to place them. Why does this matter to you?
Because, if you want to make a lot of money with AdSense, you want ads that have high click values. Some ads are only worth a penny or two when clicked. Others are worth a dollar or more. If you can manipulate your content to attract ads that get those $1 clickable ads, you’ll have a much better chance of making money with an AdSense blog. You would only need 100 clicks to get your first check, and that isn’t all that hard to do. Here are the factors that indicate which ads are placed:
• Publisher Preferences • AdSense Context Filtering • Advertiser Choices
In short, other than what you set in your options (which are minimal) and the format the advertiser chooses, the majority of filtering is done according to your site’s content. In recent years, Google has also grown more adept at measuring how well the ads on your site convert to clicks. Google then optimizes further to match what has proven successful in the past.
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aDDIng aDsense Once you’re sure you want to place ads on your website using AdSense, it’s as easy as signing up for an account through Google. You should already have AdSense management tools in your blog from the themes and plugins we discussed earlier in this issue. You can alternately choose to manually place your ads, but beware of the technical issues related to doing this.
Signing Up for AdSense
If you don’t already have a Google AdSense account, visit http://adsense.google.com and click the “Signup now” button to get started. If you have ever started an account with Google, you must use that account as you’re only permitted to have one account per name and address. Google will dig through its records and see you already have one and you’ll be out of luck in starting a new one.
After clicking the “Signup button” you’ll be taken to the basic information page where you can get started.

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Google wants a few pieces of basic information to get started. Like most of these signup screens, if you’re unsure of the answer or you need to change it later, that’s fine. You just need something to put in there right now. • Website URL – Enter the URL of your new blog. Make sure it is up and has content on it first or you could get declined. • Website Language – Choose a primary language for your blog. • Disclaimers – You must also click on both links that state “I will not place ads on sites that include incentives to click on ads” and “I will not place ads on sites that include pornographic content”. These are both against the Terms of Service and Google wants to make extra sure you have read them. • Account Type – There are two account types – individual or business. It actually doesn’t matter which one you choose unless you have a business name you’d like them to write your check to. For now, choose individual if that’s not the case. • Country or Territory – Choose where you’re located and where your checks will be sent. • Payee Name and Address – This should be your name and address and should be 100% unique to the system. If you already have an account, you’ll be rejected. • Telephone Numbers – Google requires a number on record in case there are complaints or issues with your site. • Policies – Finally, you need to agree to all of Google’s rules and regulations. Note that you’re not supposed to click on your own ads, and should not already have an AdSense account approved with Google.
Once you’ve completed this page, your application will be submitted for approval and you’ll need to wait for a short while for Google to approve and send out verification of your new account.
Once you’ve been approved, you’ll receive an email with your Publisher ID and a login to AdSense. Now, you can get started creating your ads and placing them on your blog.
usIng aDVertIsIng Manager If you have a custom theme or a premium theme with AdSense Management, you should refer to the documentation that comes with the theme. Most paid themes will have detailed instructions for how to use these features. However, for Advertising Manager, I’ll give a short walkthrough on how to integrate ads into your posts.
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Creating an Ad
To create a new Ad, go to the “Ads” menu located on the left side of your dashboard screen. You can either “edit” or “create new”.
Advertising Manager will ask you to past in your ad “code” which you can generate from AdSense by creating a new ad there.
To do that, return to AdSense and go to the “AdSense Setup” menu located at the top of the screen

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From here, choose the “AdSense for Content” option. Next, you’ll need to choose which type of ad you’d like to create. Your options are Ad Unit or Link Unit. I generally recommend the “ad unit” option so that you can also receive image ads.
Choose the format of your ad (the size you’d like to place on your site) as well as the colors. Most of the time, the default Google colors are fine, but if you have a specific layout you like, it might be a good idea to match them up here.
Next, choose your fonts and corner styles. These are all aesthetic options and I generally leave them as the default. However, if you want to split test later to see what works best, these are options worth checking.

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Next, choose what to display when there are no relevant ads for a given page of content. You can show non-Google ads, which I recommend, or you can leave the space blank. There is also an option to display Public Service ads, for which you will not make any money from clicks.
The next step is to choose Ad Channels, which allow you to track certain ad units on your site. When you review you earnings, the channels are used to show you which types of content are generating you the most income. I would recommend you create channels for the name of the website and at least one or two for the niche topic.

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Finally, submit your ad and get the code which you can paste into the Advertising Manager back in WordPress.
Setting Up Your WordPress Ads
The ads feature is pretty much automated once you’ve installed it so that you can add a widget to any part of your page in the “Widgets” menu. The “advertising” option should appear at the top of the list now, allowing you to place your ads anywhere you like on the screen.
Drag and drop your Advertising unit to wherever you want to place it on your blog. Each section of the page should be labelled accordingly. You may need to do some plug and play to see where each one appears (sometimes the labels don’t match up right because of the theme you’re using).

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After placing your ad unit, give it a title, and choose which type of ad you’d like to place. Right now, you want to choose Google AdSense, but if you decide you’d like to use another service like AdBrite, the option is here as well.
Your ad should be established now and will run automatically in that position. The Plugin will track impressions, clicks, and overall performance on its own, and you can get reports from Google AdSense as well, allowing you to analyse how your ads perform overall.
Placing Your Ads
I would like to go into detail on the actual placement of your ads – something few bloggers pay much attention to.
There are quite a few places you can put ads and there is no perfect answer for where that should be – it really depends on your blog and your testing results. Here are some of your options: • Banner at the Top • Side Bar • Between Post and Comments • Before Post • Navigation Bar
These are all viable locations, but in many cases, only one or two locations will prove effective for your particular blog. So, it’s a good idea to test your positioning.
If you want to make money with AdSense, they need to be in the right place. That means two things. First, you need to ensure every visitor at least sees the ads. However, you also need to be sure your readers see your titles and read your posts, otherwise they have no reason to click the ads before leaving the site.
In my experience, the following locations have proven effective for placement, based on testing and a decade of experience: • Above Post Content • Below Nav Bar • Above Page Footer • Side Bars
There are plenty of other locations to put your ads – in banners, in the footer, on the right side of the page, or at the bottom, but these four locations have proven most effective for me. It could be for any number of reasons.
Readers read top down and left to right, something that my ad positioning takes advantage of. Additionally, placement of ads beneath the nav bar ensure that the content is never upended by ads – a psychological no-no that tells your readers your ads are more important to you than what you’ve written.
I recommend you test each position multiple times. For each testing session, spend at least 2 days gathering data to see what kind of click-through rates you’ll enjoy. If you get better results in one location but have not tested every location, don’t stop. You never know how a small change can affect your overall earnings.
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aDVanCeD aDsense tIPs For most people, AdSense seems rather straightforward, but it can be a lot more complicated if you let it. Here are some tips that help improve the ads that appear and how they convert to clicks. Content Rich Sites
A good AdSense site is content rich in a way that will not only attract ads, but that will keep readers on the page. It doesn’t mean anything to have the right ads on your page through content targeting if your readers don’t stick around long enough to read those ads. You need to focus on longer on-screen time, then worry about which ads appear. Maintaining Your Theme
It’s easy to become distracted and start writing about off-topic ideas. And for the most part, there’s nothing wrong with this. But, the vast majority of your blog should stay on topic and utilize specific keywords that will draw the right ads. Just by staying on topic, you can generally guarantee that your ads will remain as you need them to be. Popular Formats
We already discussed placement of your ads, but format is equally important. The format you use will vary depending on your audience and your test data, but for the most part, the most popular options are the ones that are compact and easy to read, including the 336×280 rectangle, the 300×250 rectangle and skyscraper ads (any size). They present an easy-to-read chunk of text and it sits beside your content easily. The Number of Ads
Google only allows you to place three blocks of ads on any one page. That’s fine because you can easily adjust how large those blocks are and how they are placed. However, don’t let yourself be worried into not placing enough ads. If they are out of the way and you don’t place enough, not every reader will even see the ads. Your goal should be to maximize exposure with at least 2 ad placements, and probably three. Images with Ads
Placing images near or beside your ads can have a dramatic impact on how many people click on them. The human eye is attracted to images, so if you place an ad next to an image, you’ll guarantee more people see that ad and consider it. This is a fantastic way to boost your overall click-through rates. Tracking Your Ads
Use whatever tracking tools you have at your disposal. Google AdSense gives you channels you can use for tracking, with up to 200 options. These channels can be used to track ads on a per-page basis if you like, though with a blog your ads will usually appear site-wide. Additionally, Advertising Manager will provide you with data on how many impressions and clicks each of your ads receives per day.
No matter what kind of advertising you’re doing, the data you receive from tools like AdSense or Advertising manager is vital. It’s not enough just to place an ad unit on your blog and wait for clicks to come in. You need to be active, providing content that will draw readers, ads that draw the eye, and incentives to keep coming back. Do that and your ad units will start generating far more income that you ever expected.
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otHer aD networks A point of major frustration for me is when writers and bloggers assume that the only viable advertising option is AdSense. Google would be happy to hear it, but I’m not, because there are so many other options out there – many of which can make you a pretty penny.
Ultimately, what works will depend greatly on what you write and how well it performs on your site. But, until you start testing, you won’t fully know the potential of your content. Do you attract visual readers who respond better to banner ads? Or do you have more cerebral, text-based followers who want basic ads from Google? Do they spend money more often or are they likely to signup for something?
AdBrite is probably the largest competitor to Google AdSense, providing a wide array of ads that match you up with advertisers by demographic, space and ad type. In short, it’s a much more direct, one-on-one style of ad syndication whereas AdSense is all algorithm based.
The big benefit of AdBrite is the breadth of ad options you can install as well, with keyword targeting, full page ads and in-line text ads. I don’t recommend the in-line ads for a blog due to the nature of the content, but full page ads can be effective and the ability to generate content based on your preferences, not the keyword breakdown of your content, is very much welcome.
Although AdBrite and AdSense are the two biggest and most common ad networks on the internet, don’t be afraid to look around. There are dozens more that all offer simple integration and that are supported by Advertising Manager in WordPress.
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Affiliate Marketing with Your Blog All the AdSense strategies in the world won’t get you to the plateau you’ve been dreaming of – the big numbers and hefty profits that you have heard about from other super affiliates and Internet Marketers. Sure, you can make a nice profit from your blogging with just ads, but if you’re interested in real profits – the kind that come with $27 commissions on info products – you need to turn your attention toward affiliate marketing.
I won’t say there are any problems with affiliate marketing on a blog – it’s a very effective place to do it after all. But, it’s not exactly straightforward either. You cannot just put up three basic posts and then write a review that says “buy this book so I can get a new TV”. People won’t do it. They need to trust you and they need to know that they actually have a reason to buy that product.
It’s entirely your responsibility to show and tell them those things. If you want your readers to follow your advice to buy a certain ebook, you had better give them a good reason to do so. That’s where the following strategies will come in.
MaIntaInIng QualIty The first thing every blogger must do when they start trying to make affiliate commissions is to maintain the quality of their blog. I’ve seen a lot of marketers start off strong and then start copy-pasting marketing copy from a product’s affiliate page without personalizing or polishing it one bit.
There are a dozen things wrong with this, but primarily, it’s a wasted opportunity. Not only will you fail to get it indexed in Google where reviews of popular info products do very well for bloggers, but your readers will immediately know that you didn’t write it. Every blogger has their own style and when you take content from somewhere else because you’re too lazy to rewrite it, they’ll know.
Imagine if a stranger called you up and said they were your best friend Jim and that you should buy a new Dell computer because they really like theirs. Not only would you ignore the recommendation, you’d probably try and find a way to complain about the message.
Maintaining voice and quality are the two most important things you can do as an affiliate marketer with a new blog. Otherwise, you’ll lose your readers and potential customers, negating the purpose of your blog immediately.
To make sure you’re not “selling out” your readers, have a friend take a look at any plugs you write before you publish them. This will give you a good idea if the content crosses any lines that might hurt your site’s readership.
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affIlIate MarketIng MetHoDs There are quite a few ways to make a sale as an affiliate marketer, but we need ones that will work in conjunction with your blog. Luckily, many of them do just that – allowing you to integrate standard marketing tactics with the content you’re already writing.
But, just like any marketing method, those tactics need to be specifically crafted to match up with the tone and purpose of your blog. If you’re not writing a “review blog”, you won’t want to suddenly start posting 20% of your content as reviews of other products. Your readers won’t like it. So, let’s take a closer look at how to integrate these affiliate marketing methods, as well as how to ensure they fit in with the content you’re producing.
Reviews
The easiest way to reach your readers on a blog is to write a post that promotes a particular product. This is a tricky practice, however – as we discussed back in the section on writing your posts. At any time, you could cross the line from “advice” to “shameless promotion” and most people don’t like it.
That’s why a review always needs to be properly framed. The biggest problem I see with affiliate marketing blogs is that the blogger tries to make the sale too quickly. They write two or three posts and then post five reviews for products, all with hard sells and a lot of urgency. It’s what they’ve seen on similar blogs and they assume it works just as well.
The truth, however, is that your blog shouldn’t be about “selling” anything. Rather, it should be about providing valuable information to your readers and they should always see it like that.
NOTE: You must disclose to your readers that any review you write could result in you receiving a commission from the sale. They need to know that you benefit monetarily from what you’re writing and that you have in-fact used the product.
That’s why a good review needs to be comprehensive. Include screenshots, outline pros and cons, and provide a detailed rundown of what the product includes and how it is used. When you spend 300 words raving about how amazing a product is, you’re not giving your readers any value. You’re just selling to them and they can tell.
On the other hand, if you offer an impartial review of a product that is actually good, they will see yet another useful, informationally rich post from a blogger they know and trust and they will consider checking out the product in question.
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Affiliate Links
Another common tactic for a niche blog is to simply post a link on the front page or within the content that directs to a vendor pitch page or even to a squeeze page of your own. There are a few things to consider here. 1. Do You Have a Presell? – Without some form of presell, a link is as good as invisible text. Few readers will click on a link that has no context or perceived value. You must at least write a post that references the link and outlines how it can provide value to the reader. 2. Does Your Prospect Have Background? – If your blog is about dog training and you post a link to a book about how to make your own dog food, you may think that your affiliate product is related to the same niche (and it is), but without any context, your reader has no idea why you’re showing them the link. What value do they gain by clicking and how does it help solve their problem? In this particular instance, a blog post about a dog’s behaviour being improved with proper diet would be a good presell tactic. 3. Do You Disclose the Purpose of the Link? – Don’t forget your FTC obligations. If you link to a vendor site where your reader is asked to spend money, you must tell them ahead of time. It’s an ad and it needs to be disclosed, along with your monetary gain.
As you can see, a lot needs to go right for a link to be effective. But, it can be done. Do yourself a favour and take a look at articles posted on EzineArticles.com. The bio boxes at the bottom of each article do a fantastic job of providing context and a strong call to action that frames any links to vendor products. A lot of those links go to the author’s own sites, but not always. The idea is the same and it will give you a good idea of how to frame your own links.
Enticing Your Readers to Click
As you’ll see from those article links, most of them don’t just toss a link at the end of their content and expect someone to click it. They frame it with a sentence and a call to action that explains to the reader why they should take the next step and go to that website. Here are some things to consider in a good call to action with your affiliate link: • Frame Your Argument – Always provide a basis for your recommendation. Don’t just say “you should buy this”. Tell them you want to help them solve Problem A or Issue B. They need to feel like you’re actively trying to help them, not just out to make money (though you’ll need to admit you are gaining a profit from their clicks). • Provide Tangible Benefits – Don’t just say “This Dog Training book has chapters on X, Y, and Z”. Outline what those chapters will do for the reader and how they will specifically benefit from them. People like to hear what’s in it for them, and many of them are not imaginative enough to figure it out on their own. • Create Scarcity – The idea that something is only available for a limited amount of time or that the problem may soon outgrow a solution is a scary thought for many people. If someone thinks they have 30 days to make a purchase, they’ll often put it off for a few days.
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If they think they have 24 hours, they’ll act now before they forget and miss out. Even if a product is not necessarily something they need, the thought that they only have a limited amount of time to make a move will hurry them up. It also has a nice little side effect in that they’ll feel more exclusive because of the limited availability of the product. • Use Envy and Social Proof – If anything works better than a limited time period to act, it’s the thought that their neighbours could have it when they don’t. Whatever the Ten Commandments tell us, we all tend to covet that which our neighbours have.
It’s human nature. If you can’t have it, it becomes much more desirable, especially if you’re faced with it on a regular basis. So, use that to your advantage. Adding a simple “dog owners in your area are already benefiting from this new training method” has a profound impact on click-throughs. • Generate Interest Based on Context – Everything must be contextualized. If you’ve never discussed a particular problem with your readers before, they might not even realize it’s something they should address, similar to the dog food book example we discussed earlier. Before you recommend a product, write a couple of contextually related posts to get their minds framed up to listen to your mini-call to action.
When done properly, a call to action can be placed in any blog post and provide your readers with just enough reason to click those links. These same strategies will also work fantastically well for your email marketing campaign when you get to that point.
Graphics
One of the few ways you can throw out a link without a lot of context is with a banner ad or small graphic on your page. Don’t expect exceptionally high click through rates when you place ads on your pages, but don’t be surprised if you get a few commissions just from placing a graphic on the right side bar or below your posts.
There are a few things to keep in mind when posting graphics on your WordPress blog. First, you want to avoid overdoing it. Too many ads is always a turnoff. Existing readers may not mind, but newcomers to the page will be overwhelmed by the clutter. Second, search engines don’t always respond well to ad-heavy content, unless there are plenty of backlinks to offset them. As a new website, having that many backlinks is unlikely, so you should start slow with your ads.
I usually recommend you choose one or two banner ad campaigns for your site and stick with them for a short while to get an idea of how they perform before swapping out. Don’t put 20 banner ads up on the fifth day your blog is live and expect to make sales right out of the gate.
What Kinds of Graphics to Use
Most affiliate programs will provide banner ads to you for free. They’ll usually be on an affiliate tools page, or come in a package of content provided by the vendor. In this

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