Introduction Blogging is the backbone of everything we do in the affiliate marketing business. Since the blogging platform was first developed, well before anyone was actually using it, the idea of a simple to use, plugand-play platform for content creation and management has had marketers foaming at the mouth. It makes nearly everything you do easier and as a result, it makes us a lot of money. But what is a blog?
Simply put, it’s an online journal that you can share with anyone. Using hosted or open source software, you can post new content every day through the backend of the software and it will appear pre-formatted, dated, and linked throughout your site. Pretty much 90% of all the hard work that goes into building and maintaining a website is done automatically behind the scenes. After you install your blog, set up its look and start writing; you can get away with never changing it again and still make a tremendous amount of money. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
And that’s why blogging has become the easiest and most popular method of creating simple affiliate sites. Marketers use blogging to share their thoughts on new products, provide authority sites to build trust, produce viral content, build their lists, and even just have a little a fun on the side.
The best part is that a blog doesn’t even have to be a ‘blog’. All the heavy duty technology that backs up the blogging platforms is ideal for building a simple website and controlling large chunks of data. Instead of trying to sort through page after page of content, you can create your content in the blog’s ready-made content management system and it links up on its own, submits to the search engines, provides links to social bookmarking sites, and gives you data to review about readership.
How Do Blogs BenefIt Marketers? Marketers like things to be simple. It saves us time, freeing us up to do all the fun stuff we’ve been daydreaming about. Instead of spending hours poring over complicated technical details, we can brainstorm new sales funnels, find new products, and generate new content.
So, as you can imagine, blogs are pretty much solid gold to affiliates everywhere. With so much of the hard work already done, you’re free to think purely on the ideas and methods of making all that money. You don’t need to build a site, maintain a site, or worry about little things like submission, updating links, or testing. It’s all done on the backend of a software program that you don’t even have to pay for.
Pretty much the only thing you’ll need to do is focus on your content generation and sales funnel. Everything else is automated. Automation saves time and time makes us more money. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Ways You Can Use a Blog
Before we get going, I want to make a pretty important distinction between “blogging” as a verb and “blog” as a noun. How are they different?, you might be asking.
On one hand you have the software that supports all blogs – the actual platform for a blog. There are dozens of these software platforms, with WordPress standing as the most popular and commonly used. This software allows you to do a LOT of different things. You can automate posts, manage images and videos, remove spam, streamline comments, take payments, gather email addresses, and much more.
While WordPress was originally designed to be used for the act of blogging, it has since become a very common tool for building static websites – the kind marketers use as squeeze pages, authority sites, or pre-sell landing pages.
There are a few reasons for this. First, WordPress makes the creation of a website super easy. You can choose a template, enter your information and a few images and it is set. We’re talking about 2-3 hours of your time to build an entire website. Just try doing that using HTML, even with an editor like Dreamweaver, and see how far you get!
Beyond simplicity, WordPress is completely free – a huge bonus for marketers who build dozens of sites one after another. Additionally, there are thousands of plugins and themes you can download for free (or buy for a small fee) that will expand the functionality of WordPress. Everything from payment processing to list building is easy to do with simple plugins that take 2 minutes to install in WordPress.
On the flip side of things, there is the actual act of blogging. This is where you sit down and write a post every day or two for a regular reader base. These posts might include reviews of affiliate products or your opinions on a hot niche topic. I’m sure you’ve seen at least a handful of blogs in your day and they all follow a similar strategy – write regularly and build readership which you can then translate into sales.
Where We’re Headed
In this particular magazine, I’m not going to spend much time talking about static blogging (or CMS blogging as it is sometimes called). But don’t think I’m leaving you out if your website plan calls for a static blog. In your Premium membership, you’ll find a series of Blog Bootcamp webinars that were created with the express purpose of providing a background for building static websites on a blog platform.
If you’re already thinking that you’d rather go that route, I still recommend you read as much of this magazine as you can, because the fundamentals of blogging and WordPress use are still incredibly important for everyone to learn. Once you are done, head over to the Blog Bootcamp series to find out more about putting together a static site.
For the rest of us, we’ll be focusing on mainstream blogging – the act of writing new posts every day or two for a steady readership base.
What Else You’ll Learn
Blogging is the backbone of so many marketing strategies that it only makes good sense for any prospective money maker to start with the basics of a WordPress blog. So, in the coming pages, we’re going to cover everything you need to know to build a blog, write your posts, and start making money from your efforts. Whether you’ve never heard the word “blog” before or are building your twentieth blog from scratch, you’ll find strategies here designed to help you optimize your money making potential once and for all.
Blogging 101 A lot of people have used blogs before – for personal use, their job, or experimentally. However, even if you have been blogging for years, it’s important to take a close look at everything a blog can do and how it all works. As an affiliate marketer, it’s not only a good idea to have a full toolkit, but a solid understanding of how every tool works.
How a Blog works I won’t get too heavy into the technical details, because, let’s face it, that’s why you’re using a blog in the first place – to avoid all the technical aspects of operating a website. Blogs are for people who don’t have MscIT degrees or years of experience behind the scenes of a computer’s inner workings. But the best part is, if you do have the knowledge or the ambition to get under the hood and tinker with your blog, you can – the option is always there to take a more hands-on approach.
For now, let’s just assume that all the cogs and wheels behind the screen are working as intended, without us needing to go in and tweak anything.
But still, how does it all work? What happens when you post a review of a new Clickbank product or describe your most recent vacation?
In short, a blog is a content management system, commonly abbreviated to CMS. That means you use a hosted tool or install a software package on your server that will take everything you enter and store it in a database. When a user goes to view that content, it is automatically formatted and put into the template you’ve chosen for your site. You don’t need to manually code every page on a website, which makes it much easier to create hundreds of pages very quickly. All you need to do is write the text, upload the pictures and create the links.
When you take out all the technical work behind a website, you create an extremely quick process – one that marketers eagerly adopted as soon as the technology became widely available a few years ago.
But, even though a blog will take care of your posts, images, and links automatically and you never need to recode or change anything, you still need to get it all setup, and there are a few details involved in the implementation of your blogging platform and first posts.
What YOU Need to Do
To start with, you need to decide what type of blogging platform you want. You essentially have two options – a hosted account or a server installed platform. The difference here is pretty big depending on where you are in your marketing career. A hosted blog is as easy as it gets. All you need to do is sign up for an account, choose your settings, and start writing. Instant income source!
However, a lot of the tools and options that you come to expect from a blog are going to be found only in
the server installed software. We’ll get to the options you have in a bit, but for now you’ll want to consider how much you want your blog to do. If you want to use opt-in email forms, upload files, control every aspect of your layout or change images easily, you will likely want to choose a server installed option.
Beyond choosing your platform, you’ll need to determine what your blog will do. Is it going to be a standard blog – where you type up a review or your thoughts every couple of days? Or are you going to use the software to manage a lot of content – developing a huge range of different articles into an authority site or review hub? We’ll go into the details here in a bit, but again, sit down and consider what your blog will be doing.
One of the biggest mistakes I see many marketers making is that they lack a goal and a purpose. You can’t just signup for a Blogger account and declare yourself a blogger. You need a solid, well-developed plan to determine what your blog will be doing, how it will be managed, what type of content you plan on writing, and ultimately, how you will monetize it.
To help make sure you’re doing everything right, here’s a short worksheet. Print this out, or simply think on it for a few minutes and take some notes. Either way, use it to help determine what your blog will be doing and how you want to proceed. The next few sections will be filled with decisions you need to make and it’s a good idea to reflect on your needs before finalizing what you’ll be doing. Blogging Questionnaire
What’s Your Niche?
What Do You Want to Write?
What Do You Want Your Readers to Be able to Do?
What Kind of Sites Do You Like?
Are You Using Affilohost or Your Own Hosting Company?
What’s Your Budget?
What Do You Plan to Market?
Do You Like to Write?
How Much Time Do You Have to Devote?
Yeah, they’re pretty simple questions, but do take the time to answer them anyway. Trust me – having a clearer idea of what you really want to get out of your blog makes the setup process so much easier.
BloggIng PlatforMs Okay, now it’s time to sit down and choose which blogging platform you want to use. It’s a big decision for a few reasons. To start with, it’s not easy to migrate your content from one to the other. It’s doable, but it’s not instant, plus you’ll need to change your URL in the process, which can have an impact on your search engine optimization efforts.
In short, really think of what your blog will be doing 6 months to a year from now. It’s better to over compensate now rather than under compensate and then realize you need to expand later on.
Hosted Blogs
The first type of blog is the one that requires zero investment on your part. These are the blogs you can start with an email address and a few minutes of setup time. The three big players right now in hosted blogs are Blogger from Google, WordPress.com, and Tumblr. There are dozens if not hundreds more options out there, and which one you choose ultimately depends on your preferences. Overall, though, they all provide the same basic services, which in some cases can be very limiting. Advantages of a Hosted Blog
A hosted blog has many advantages, foremost among them being ease of setup and cost. It takes less than 5 minutes to get a hosted blog started and your first posts online. Additionally, they are 100% free and if you can’t afford to invest any money, they will never cost anything. These companies make money in other ways, so they don’t need to charge you for their services.
Google’s Blogger services are particularly easy to use if you plan on integrating AdSense or YouTube into your posts – with one click access to either of those other services. Disadvantages of a Hosted Blog
On the flip side of things, a hosted blog offers very limited control. You can change the color scheme and the columns and if you read up a bit, you can even change the structure of the site with the template editors, but it still takes a bit of effort and you can’t fully change any of those things. Additionally, there are navigation bars added to many accounts that can be distracting when your visitors arrive on your page.
As a marketer, you also need to consider the limitations of putting your site on a hosted account. You can buy a domain name for your blog and attach it to a WordPress.com or Blogger blog, but the default domain name will be USER.blogger.com, making it harder to manage your search engine optimization efforts and limiting things like bandwidth management and installation of additional services.
You’re also bound by the terms of service for those sites. Most people don’t have issues here, but if you plan on marketing anything that might be considered “adult” by nature or simply more mature (e.g. dating content), you might be relegated to the “adult” blog categories, effectively censoring your content within the network.
Server Installed Blog
The other blog platform option is server installed software. There are quite a few options out there for this as well, including Joomla!, b2evolution, Frog, Drupal, Slash, Textpattern, Typo, and Habari. But, my own bias has always tended towards WordPress, which in my opinion is the undisputed king of the open source blogging software world.
It’s written in a programming language that is universal across all platforms, incredibly easy to install, easy to move and easy to update. And it has one of the most robust development communities of any open source software on the Internet. You’ll get updates every few weeks and if there is a bug, someone in the community can help you fix it.
And because so many people use WordPress, the installation process has been made as simple as possible. Your technical knowledge can be incredibly slim and you’ll still be able to find your way around the basics of the platform without banging your head on the computer desk. Advantages of WordPress and Other Clients
First up, they’re free. There are some paid platforms out there or custom made software for blogging, but honestly, why would you bother? It makes zero sense to pay for something when there is a perfectly good open source option available that is updated constantly, works with almost any blogging client, and can be operated on any computer or server almost without exception. In the last two years especially, WordPress has become fantastically easy to use and even quicker to install than before.
If you’re really lucky, your server account will have a service called Fantastico, which will allow you to install a new blog by pressing a single button. But, even if you don’t have Fantastico, the famous “5 minute installation” really only takes 5 minutes and can be done without prior technical knowledge, just by following directions.
Another major plus of open source server-installed software is that you can upgrade it, tweak it and change it as much as you want. Using plugins and templates (we’ll discuss these more in depth later), you can change how everything looks and operates fairly simply. Disadvantages of WordPress and Other Clients
There aren’t many, but there are some disadvantages to a WordPress installation. To start with, while the software itself is free, you’ll need to spend some money for a few other things, such as a domain name. A single domain name can be purchased for $10 on average, although many marketers choose to add private registration, which can cost an additional $10. This keeps your name and address private so people looking up the registration information for your website can’t see who it is owned by.
There are also some technical reasons to think twice about WordPress. Even with super simple installation, you’ll need to have a bit of savvy to go in and make any manual changes to your code. If you want to truly personalize how your site looks, you’ll either need to learn how to edit the HTML and PHP or you’ll need to hire someone to go in there and do it for you. This is optional of course, but for control freaks out there, it can become an issue.
The Bottom Line
I’ve been pretty fair to this point, but when you come right down to it, WordPress is the best option out there and most of the strategies I lay out in the rest of this guide will be for those who are using WordPress. But, with that in mind, you’ll find that the majority of the tips I give you will still work with hosted blogging platforms or on other server installed clients if you want to go that route.
For now though, the flexibility, number of features, and sheer ease of use that WordPress offers makes it the standalone best bet for anyone interested in making some money online with their blog.
terMInology anD Parts of a Blog Hopefully I haven’t been throwing too many unknowns at you thus far. A blog is really quite simple, despite all the fancy technical words that go along with it. To show you just how simple your blog will be, here is a quick breakdown of the various parts of it and how they work together. • Header – The header of your blog is usually the name of the blog and whatever tagline you have. Most blogging software will build a header automatically, but if you’re feeling particularly creative on any given day, you can create your own or outsource it to someone with a little graphic design expertise. • Archive – The archive is a listing of whatever blog posts do not currently appear on the front page of your blog. Most blogging software will organize those posts by month and day – providing you with an easy to search database of past content. • Categories – Categories are general slugs (a few words to describe your page) that you can attach to a blog post to organize them. Each post usually only has one or possibly two categories and the main category should be used as part of the URL. • Tags – A tag is a less formal way of describing a post. Tags can relate to the content, field, or focus of a post and most posts have between 5-10 of them. • Blogroll – This is a list of all the blogs you like and will link to on your site. Some blogs have no blogroll and others have a blogroll of 25 sites or more. It will be up to you to decide how many people you link out to. • RSS Feed – An RSS feed allows readers to subscribe to your blog and get new posts automatically delivered to their reader software of choice. • Permalink – The permalink is the URL of a single post. It can be changed using the settings menu on your blog’s dashboard and should be SEO friendly. • Comments – Comments are snippets of conversation left by your readers, either posting their opinion on a given topic or simply asking you a question or responding to someone else’s questions or comments.
• Widgets – A widget is a single block of your blog that does one thing – such as display categories, a tag cloud, or archived posts. These pre-coded segments can be dragged and dropped into place in your visual settings.
Most of the things I’ve listed here are pretty straightforward and for good reason. A blog is not that complicated. That’s why we like them so much. They take almost no time to build, work perfectly from the outset and are free.
ClassICal BloggIng or CMs BloggIng I mentioned earlier that you’d need to choose between a standard, journal style format of blogging or a CMS style of blogging that allows you to create authority sites and manage hundreds of pages of content. You probably wonder how both could be done with the same software.
You’ll see more about that later when I walk you through the actual platform and how it works, but for now, you should sit down and determine how best to put all this technology to use in your marketing efforts.
Classical Blogging
Classical blogging is as simple as it sounds. It’s the guy or gal who sits down three or four times a week and writes a post about something important in the niche. That post might be a review or an opinion piece or a question for readers. But, the blog is ultimately organized by date and category, with a lot of time sensitive information provided in the content.
This type of blog is great for a lot of niches, especially if you plan on being a “news source” for that audience. For example, if you were marketing eBooks about Farmville and Mafia Wars, you could post a news piece once a week summarizing the Podcast that is produced by Zynga. You could also provide a weekly tip for playing those games and intermittent YouTube links to videos of the games. In between all that, you could market the guides with short reviews and banner ads.
You see thousands of these blogs every day and they work very well for a number of reasons. To start with, people are always interested in coming back for more information when they find a steady source of details on a niche they care about. Secondly, search engines love fresh content. If you write niche relevant information, even without keywords, you’ll show up in search engines for dozens of topics in your niche before you know it.
The CMS Blog
The CMS blog is a different creature altogether. In reality, this isn’t a blog as you might think of it. Instead, it’s a website with a lot of content that you just happen to use a blogging platform to manage. For example, say you wanted to create an authority site for Farmville and Mafia Wars strategies and videos. Instead of posting content every week and news updates, you would instead post content in categories and use those categories as links. There are dozens of sites that do this very thing – pretty much just using the WordPress or CMS installation as a basis to control their content.
There are almost no instances when you need to build a site from scratch. It costs money and unless you have a really cool idea, you’re not providing anything unique. You’re just paying cash for tools that a CMS could provide for free.
Before you decide whether you want to create an authority site or a CMS managed website, you need to determine if you have enough content to fill that site. If you only have 10 pages of content, that’s not much of an authority site and the way a blog works can make it look rather sparse. However, if you have 200 pages of articles and links, by all means use a CMS to control it all. The savings from doing this are well worth the installation.
An additional consideration here is the way that people will link to authority sites and how good those links are on a blog. Google and the other search engines love blogging platforms. They’re clean, they’re interlinked and they promote quality content that readers will share and comment on. All that adds up to a site that can get huge benefits from a variety of inbound links, which you will get with that kind of authority content. Choosing Your Site Model
It doesn’t really matter which way you go. It depends more on your site building philosophy. If you plan on maintaining a website for years to come, you may be fully willing to write a classic blog – logging on three or four times a week to update the content. However, if you want to create a hub of information, market it a bit and then move on to another project, a CMS blog might be more up your alley.
In either case, the technology here is fantastic for what you’re doing. As a side note, if you plan on building a CMS blog, hosted blog services like Blogger are not ideal. You will need the flexibility and plugins available with WordPress, Joomla, or other CMS platforms.
MakIng Money wItH a Blog Let’s face it – all the technical stuff, the complicated decisions and the platform options are not important to you right now. You want to know where the money is. Don’t worry my friend – it’s coming. Blogging has become one of the single easiest profit building tools out there and for affiliate marketers with only minimal technical knowledge, it’s the absolute first tool in your kit at all times.
But, the rest of this stuff is still important. Gotta walk before you run and you have to crawl before you can walk and right now we’re all crawling together as we get your first blog up and running. Eventually, however, the opportunities for profit are going to be more than you can count. Here are just some of the many, many ways I’ve seen marketers like you flip a basic blog into an income source: • Review Site – A classic blog with reviews intermittently incorporated can make a LOT of money if the readers are there. The goal for you will be to find a niche in need of solid reviews and a readership that will trust what you have to say about a new product. • Banner Ads – High traffic sites can often make money without having to openly shill anything. Banner ads take advantage of valuable screen real estate and most people expect them to be there.
• List Building – Every affiliate marketing blog should use list building as a money making tactic. A flying popover or even just an in-text form helps get readership on your side and build a long term relationship that can be leveraged for sales. • Squeeze Page – Using a blog as a squeeze page requires valuable, enticing content of some sort, but the platform is perfect for it and requires almost no coding on your end. • Direct Sales – More and more IM sites are using WordPress and other CMS platforms for making their sales. They provide plugins for processing payments, creating memberships, and managing large chunks of content in a membership site. • Viral Hub – Long, link baiting posts, videos, and images make fantastic viral content and as a blog, you are prime bait for other sites seeking fresh content. • AdSense – Any style of blog can benefit from AdSense placement, especially if you can create a true authority site and generate regular traffic.
As you can see, there are a LOT of ways to make money with a blog and this is only scratching the surface. Toward the end of the guide, I’ll touch on everything above and then some as we turn your freshly sprouted blog into a recurring income source. For now, keep in mind somewhere in your head that all this hard work is for a good purpose.
getting started with wordpress WordPress is going to become your best friend very quickly. This dynamic, easy to use software is free, constantly updated, and friendly with thousands of software add-ons that you can get from hundreds of websites and developers – a large chunk of them completely free.
And best of all, it’s pretty darn simple to use. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t have some questions and with so much content out there to expand and improve how WordPress operates, you’ll want to have a solid foundation of what it’s meant to do and how the basics work.
features of worDPress WordPress was developed in 2003 as an offshoot of b2/cafelog – an earlier blogging tool from 2001 that few of us remember well. The software is free because it is open source, which means that anyone from around the world can work on it adding their own features and ideas to the core software. It also means that anyone can add to it with plugins and themes.
That’s great news for you because it means you’ll be able to do pretty much anything you can imagine with your blog. If you’ve thought of it, the odds are that someone else has as well. And if no one has, you can always pay someone to build the plugin you’re considering.
In terms of what you can do with WordPress, the options really are endless. Most people, when they first install WordPress, don’t have any idea how many features are hiding in the code. Here are some of the things that advanced users take full advantage of in their WordPress installations: • User Profiles and Management • Create Your Pages Dynamically • RSS and ATOM Feeds • SEO Friendliness • Easy Communication with Other Blogs • Template Customization • Themes • Plugins • Password Protect Content • Scheduled Posting • File and Picture Management • Categories, Tags, and Slugs • API Friendly Tools • Easy Formatting and Cleaning Up of Text • Searching and Archiving of Posts • Commenting and Moderation
And again, this is only a fraction of what WordPress can do. This isn’t a sales pitch – we don’t really need one, it’s free. It’s me trying to show you just how many amazing things this software can do. It’s important to know how versatile WordPress is. As a marketer, you need to squeeze every ounce of juice out of every fruit on your table and WordPress is a really big fruit.
InstallIng worDPress Installation of WordPress is incredibly easy and won’t require the help of a coder or tech support in most cases. However, you will need to do a few small things before you get started, assuming you don’t already have a domain name and web host. For those of you who will be using Affilorama’s hosting, we’ll cover how to use it as well.
Getting a Domain Name
We can do a lot for you, but you’ll need to go and buy your own domain name. There are quite a few registrars out there, each of them providing a number of options for how you buy and manage your domain names. Simply put though, if anyone wants you to pay more than $10 per domain, don’t go with them. That’s plenty of money to cover registration and storage of your domain data.
The top two registrars are NameCheap.com and GoDaddy.com. The preference is really yours. A little later, I’ll talk about niche and keyword research and how those can affect the choice of a domain name. It’s important to make sure you pick a domain that matches your niche and your potential customers spot on.
When purchasing your domain names, you may want to choose private registration to keep your personal information private. I won’t presume you will do anything illegal or even hazy with your blog, but sometimes site owners just like to keep their names behind the scenes, especially if you own multiple blogs. On the other hand, leaving your registration public shows people that you are willing to stand behind the products you sell and have nothing to hide. At Affilorama we keep our registration details public for that very reason; however, the choice is yours.
Once you’ve purchased your domains, give them 10-15 minutes to populate in the Domain Manager. Once they appear there, click on them and then choose “Nameservers” from the menu located at the top of the screen
Click on the option that says “I host my domain with another provider” and then enter the following for your nameservers:
They should read NS1.Affilohost.com and NS2.Affilohost.com. If they say anything else, they won’t work when you setup the hosting account on Affilorama. Nine times out of ten, these changes will populate in less than an hour, sometimes only in a few minutes, but every now and then there are server hiccups or the information just trickles out slowly, so it can take as long as 24 hours for the nameservers to be populated.
TIP: What Are Nameservers? If you’re wondering what all this technical stuff is and like to know what’s going on behind the scenes, let me explain. Every server has a pair of nameservers that your registrar forwards to when someone types in the domain name. Behind the scenes this means that when someone types in “YOURSITENAME.com” their browser will see the forwarding and then jump over to the server where you’re storing your website. It’s like a telephone number, automatically telling the phone lines where to point a call.

Setting Up Your Hosting Account
Wordpress installation requires that you have your own web space somewhere that you can install software on. With your Affilorama Premium membership, you’ll have access to our premium Affilohost hosting accounts, and won’t need to pay any additional fees to setup your site.
To start your Affilohost Account, visit http://www.affilorama.com/premium/hosting and choose the hosting link located on the side of the page:
You’ll get access to 2 GB of disk space, 75 GB of monthly traffic and all the email addresses, FTP accounts and MySQL databases you’ll need for your blog per domain and you can host up to 15 domains at one time. You shouldn’t need anything bigger for some time.
After activating your account, enter your domain name to activate it and you should be good to go.
Installing WordPress
There are multiple ways to install WordPress. With Affilohost access, you don’t actually need to use any of them because we can automate the entire process with our built in scripts. But I will still walk you through how to get it up and running through manual installation, in case you wish to know for future reference.
Affilohost Installation
To start, access the domain name you added to your account. The control panel will feature multiple sections. From here, scroll down and find the “CGI Scripts” section and click on the WordPress Logo. Here’s what it looks like:

The only question you need to answer is the “installation directory”. This is where your files will be placed and where someone will see your blog. For most of you, leave it blank. That means the blog will appear when someone types in your domain name without any changes as “SITENAME.com”. However, if you have an existing blog and want to place it in a directory like “SITENAME.com/blog” enter the directory name here.
Once you choose your directory, click on the install button and you should be ready to go. Keep in mind that if you have files already in that account, you will need to delete them before you install WordPress automatically.
After installation, WordPress will walk you through a few additional steps to make sure you’re ready to go. To start, click on the “Configure CGI Script” link.
After this, choose a title for your blog and enter whatever email address you want notifications to come to. Make sure you choose to appear in search engines. You won’t want your blog invisible to Google or other search engines unless it’s private. Finally, install WordPress.
Wordpress will automatically generate a username and password for you at this point. Make sure to write them down for now. After you login for the first time, you can change these to whatever you want, but for now, these are the only way you can login (Don’t worry, they will forward an email to you as well with this information).

Installing WordPress Manually
Wordpress’s “Famous 5 Minute Installation” has since been made even easier with single click installations (such as ours), but if you have your own web hosting account and cannot install it using Fantastico or another one-click service, here is a brief rundown of the 5-minute installation instructions.
1. Download WordPress to your hard drive
2. Unzip the WordPress files to a folder on your hard drive and rename the “wp-config-sample. php” to “wp-config.php”
3. Create a new database on your server. This should be doable in CPanel under the MySQL screen.
4. Open your WP Config file in a text editor (right click it and choose “open with”, then choose Notepad).
5. Enter the details for your new MySQL database into the text file where they’re requested.
6. Upload your WordPress files to the server wherever you plan on placing them. If you want it to be your main domain name (SITE.com), upload them to the root directory. If you want it in a folder, upload them directly into that folder.
7. Run the installation script in your browser by typing http://www.SITE.com/wp-admin/install.php
8. Follow any on screen directions to complete installation.
Now you should be finished with installation. It takes five minutes, you’re all good to go and you don’t need to worry about any complicated technical details. And with recent versions of WordPress, you shouldn’t even need to worry about things like updates. They can all be done automatically from the dashboard.
loggIng Into worDPress for tHe fIrst tIMe If you visit your site after you install WordPress, you’ll find a bland, boring looking blog with almost no information and lots of filler. What do you expect? You haven’t done anything yet.

But, just because the blog is loaded with meaningless text doesn’t mean it will take a lot of work to get it up and running. Now’s the time to login to your WordPress installation and start making changes. To get into your backend (where you make all your changes), you will use the following URL:
If you have a directory in which you’ve installed your blog, make sure to put it in the URL between the domain name and the “wp-admin” part, like this:
Use the login information you were given to login to the blog on this page. If you’re on a private computer, I recommend you save the password, or better yet, use a tool like Roboform. Once you have 10-15 blogs up and running, it will be much harder to keep track of all those passwords (and it’s a bad idea to use the same one for all of them).
When you reach the Dashboard, you’ll find a lot of information jumping out at you. Let’s take it a piece at a time so you can see everything you’ll be working with. First, on the left are your basic details, as follows:

On the right side of the screen is a “QuickPress” option that allow you to write a post quickly and upload it without any of the options you’ll normally use. I don’t recommend using this unless you’re in a big hurry and need to get text up fast. It’s just too limiting in how you present your posts.
First, let’s look at your “Posts” menu on the left side of the screen. This is where all the tools you need to add, edit, and delete posts are located, along with categories and tags. New Posts
Adding a new post is incredibly easy. Just click on the “Add New” link located on the left side of your dashboard.
Once you’ve gone to the New Post screen, you’ll be asked for quite a bit of information. Here is a breakdown of each thing you’ll need to provide. Title
The title is first and should be both keyword rich and descriptive. You can be quippy and clever if you like, but remember that this title will appear in search engines and RSS feeds where the joke might be lost on someone who is scrolling through a large chunk of content quickly. If you’re not clear about what the post contains, you may confuse them or cause them to move on quickly.
Post Content
Your Post content will be whatever you want to add to your blog. We’ll talk more about what a post can include and how it should be written later. For now, you can test this out by entering a short “welcome to my blog” or just random gobbledy-gook if you like. You’ll notice on the Text entry form that here are two tabs on the right side – Visual and HTML.
Make sure that the “Visual” tab is chosen when you enter your text. There may be situations when you need to use HTML, but not right now. The rest of the options on the entry form are the same as your Word Processor, including font types and sizes, bullet points, alignment and colors. Additionally, WordPress will autosave your text every couple of minutes in case you lose internet access or your computer crashes.

Tags are located to the right of your post area. These are very important because they both help the reader and add important SEO elements to the site. They will allow users to search through multiple posts to find common threads, linking posts and pages together. You can add as many tags as you want to any post simply by typing them in the box and pressing Add. You can also see the most commonly used tags on your site and choose from them there.
Once you’ve chosen a tag, it will appear in a list beneath the add box. Each tag will have a small grey “x” next to it. Simply click the “x” to remove the tag from that particular post. I recommend creating at least 3-5 tags for each post. You can reuse tags as much as you want later, but always try to think of new ones if they’re applicable. Categories
Categories are located beneath the tags and are equally important. Many people assume one or the other is enough, but categories are also used for navigation and are a separate part of your SEO efforts. Your site will have no more than 20 categories in most cases and I usually recommend keeping it under 10 for simplicity’s sake. Every post you write must have at least one category, though you can choose multiple categories when it fits.

When you’re done writing you post, you’ll go to the “Publish” box located in the top right side of the entry page. This is where you can either choose to Publish the post or change the date for the future and publish it later.
One of the most important tools here is the ability to schedule posts for later. Click on the Edit button located next to the “Publish Immediately” text on the third line and you’ll be able to choose a time and date in the future for your posts. If you don’t have time to post every day, this can help you prepare an entire week or month’s worth of blog posts early. Editing
The editing screen will allow you to make changes to your blog posts after they have been written and published. The link is located in the same space as the “add new” in the post menu.
From here, you can view all of your posts that have been written, published or scheduled. They are by default listed in order of their publication date, including the ones not yet published. From this initial menu, you can view the title, author, tags, categories, and comments. You can edit anything that is linked on this page as well.
To do a quick edit, click on the “Quick Edit” link next to a post and you’ll see a drop down menu with a few options for changes, like this:
You can edit your title, post-date, tags, and categories from this menu. If you choose to edit the actual written content of a post, you’ll need to go into the full edit menu and work on it there.
To do a full edit, click on the name of a post from the editing screen and you’ll go back to the original posting page. You can then make any changes you want. When done, just click on the “Update” link in the top right corner to save all your changes.
Deleting Posts
To delete a post, go to your “Edit Posts” Screen and choose the checkmark next to the post you want to delete. Then, go to the Bulk Actions menu and choose to Move to Trash. You can then apply the changes and remove the post from your blog. The post will not be fully deleted until you go into the trash menu and delete it permanently. Approving and Denying Comments
Comments are located on the left side beneath the “Pages” menu and will be a big part of what you do on your blog each day if you’ve been writing content that really captures your readers.
After clicking on the comments section, you can view all existing, pending, and deleted comments from the blog.
When someone posts a comment for the first time, you will get an email to your registered address that will tell you there is a new comment pending. You can then approve or deny it and once that comment is ap
proved, the user can post future comments freely. You can choose to approve all comments automatically as well if you desire.
If you want to approve multiple comments at once, simply check the box next to each comment you want to approve and then choose “Approve” form the Bulk Actions menu on the top of the page.
You can do the same thing in reverse to unapproved comments or delete them.
To add images to a post, you’ll use the visual tab located in the editing screen of your post page. It will have a small line of text that says “Upload/Insert” followed by small icons. The first icon on the left is your “image” icon and will allow you to upload new images.
After clicking that button, you’ll see the above screen. Click the Browse button and choose the file on your hard drive you’d like to upload. You can also use an image that’s already in your WordPress Directories from the Image Library. Make sure, if you download an image to use, that you have the rights or permissions to post it.
After uploading, you’ll see the above screen, which gives you space to describe your image, adding a caption and description. Of the three options here, the Alternate Text is most important. This is the text that appears when someone places their mouse over the image. Search engines can see this text and will use it for indexing both the page content and the image.
Additionally, you can choose the size of your image, using the radio buttons on the bottom of the screen. By default, the image will be its standard size. Most of the time, this will be too big however, so you may want to change it to small or medium. You can also create thumbnails here if you have a number of images you’d like to upload.
Once you’ve uploaded your image, you can make changes to it by clicking on the image in the editing screen and waiting for the following icons to pop up above it.
Click on the image button to the left, and you will be taken to a new screen where changes can be made. On this screen, you can make a number of changes as shown above.

aPPearanCe The Appearance box on the Dashboard is where you’ll find all the options for your themes and widgets. I’ll go into these a bit more in the next chapter when we polish up your blog’s look a little bit. There is also an editor here, but 99% of you won’t ever click on this and probably can’t make any changes anyways due to technical limitations. For now, Ieave it at that.
If you’re interested in adding new themes, you can look through free ones from the link on WordPress’s “Add New Themes” page.
PlugIns Plugins are the heart and soul of a good blog and will be what help your blog really standout. From this menu you can add new plugins, view which ones are installed or activated, and view options for some installed plugins. Again, ignore the editor as you don’t want to accidentally break any of your plugins.
To install a new plugin, click on the “Add New” button located on the screen here. All of the plugins uploaded to WordPress’s plugin directories are now freely available to download directly into WordPress which makes this process much easier. Simply search for the plugin you want, choose install and then follow any directions provided. Most of them will install instantly without any further work on your part. See the next chapter for recommended plugins and settings.

Your users will be anyone that signs up for an account on your blog. By default, membership is open to anyone that wants to create an account. You can change this if you like so that you need to approve all memberships or so that no one can sign up at all. There are few reasons to do this though as membership usually only allows readers to sign in and post under the same name repeatedly.
You might also use this menu to create accounts for other writers or to edit details about yourself. Avatars can be added as well through the “Avatars” menu located here if you install the Gravatar plugin that we’ll go over later.
Authors and Users
Click on this option and you’ll find all of the current members of your blog, including yourself. As an administrator, you can view and edit almost anything here, including permissions on the blog. If you have a member that you’d like to upgrade to an author or an editor, simply choose the checkmark next to their name and then the “Change role to” drop down menu as follows:

Choose which role you want them to take on and you can then determine what tasks they are allowed to complete on your blog. Roles include the following: • Administrator – Can do anything with WordPress (i.e. you). • Editor – Can edit and change posts, as well as write new ones. • Author – Can write new posts. Cannot edit other people’s posts. • Contributor – Can submit content. Will not be posted until approved by an Editor or Administrator • Subscriber – Can login to leave comments and receive emails when new posts are placed.
Generally speaking, most affiliate marketing blogs won’t need multiple writers, but if you get big, get busy, or simply like to outsource, keep these options in mind.
The Settings Menu is where pretty much everything else will fall and where the administrator will get the most mileage out of their installation. I won’t go through every setting in WordPress because there are quite a few, but here are some of the things you can change in each menu: • General – In the general settings menu, you’ll have access to the blog title and tagline, the URL and blog address (don’t change these), your email address, and the membership option. Click this if you want to let people register for your blog at will. Other options include time settings and date formatting. • Writing – The Writing menu allows you to change formatting options, the post size box, and default categories. You can also enable remote publishing (from your phone or email), and provide updating services to ping your blog. We’ll touch on pinging a bit later on. • Reading – These settings refer to what your readers see. You can change what appears on the front page (leave it as “Your latest posts” for now), the number of posts to display, and the encoding (something else to leave alone). • Discussion – Here, you can change the commenting settings. You can decide whether to notify other blogs of links to their content, how comments are displayed, how they are threaded, and whether you are emailed about comments. You can also choose whether a comment needs moderation before posting (highly recommended).
Another good tool here is a comment blacklist if you have common spammers or serial abusers. A new feature that I find pretty nifty is the “Avatar” option. You can provide Avatars for users or let them upload their own here. • Media – Set your defaults for how big thumbnails are, and what defines medium and large size images when they are uploaded.
• Privacy – Only one setting here – allow or disallow search engine indexing. You likely never want to be removed from Google, so don’t change this. • Permalinks – This is one of the most important pages because it defines how your posts will be displayed in the URL. By default, WordPress uses something like “http://www.sitename. com/?p=###” which is not good for search engines, as you’ll soon see. Rather, you want keyword rich text. For that, I recommend using a custom structure. To do this, click on “Custom Structure” and copy in the following:
If you make your category names keyword rich, your post URLs will now be made up of the domain name, category and post name. That’s a lot of keywords if you do it right. • Miscellaneous – Some random settings can pretty much be ignored. You can choose where your uploads are stored (don’t change it) and you can organize how they are uploaded and accessed. Generally, none of this needs to be altered.
Keep in mind, too, that if you have a particularly feature-rich plugin, it might show up in the settings menu as well. One such plugin, the All-in-One SEO tool will appear here with a LOT of settings you’ll want to play with after installation. PuttIng It all togetHer So, we’ve just gone through a whirlwind tour of your blog posting tools and settings. Believe it or not, though, you’ll almost never access most of those menus. Most bloggers will add new posts, moderate comments and occasionally add new pages. Once the rest of the settings are established, you’ll almost never go in and alter them again. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed already, take a deep breath and relax. Most of what I just showed you is for reference alone.
One other note I want to make is about updating. WordPress is updated constantly and it’s very important you update your blogs as new software becomes available. This will help you avoid any security holes, plugin problems, or poor performance with new web technology. Luckily, updating is now easier than ever before. When a new update is available, it will appear atop your dashboard like this:
“WordPress 2.9.2 is available! Please update now.”
Click on that link and login to your hosting account and the rest will take care of itself. Trust me, you’re lucky. Three years ago, updates needed to be done manually every time and it was time consuming and often times damaging to your databases. Now, it takes 5 minutes and no work on your part.
add-ons for wordpress One of the coolest things about WordPress is how much stuff there is out there to personalize how it works. You can do nearly anything with WordPress if you snag the right add-ons from developers all over the globe. And you’ll need to choose a good chunk of them if you’re interested in getting the most out of your site.
There are two major types of add-ons – plugins and themes. Plugins are software tools that actually add new features to your blog. Themes are visual upgrades that will affect how your blog looks and operates. Some themes come with their own plugins, as well as widgets – which are functions you can add to the pages of your blog.
As an affiliate marketer, you should be incredibly excited about how much you can do with plugins. Seriously – there are so many options here, and if you use them right, your blog can be immensely powerful. Themes are equally as exciting as they allow you to personalize your blog in a thousand different ways if you know how to do it right.
PlugIns I already went over the basics of how to install your plugins and get started using them. So now I want to talk about which plugins are best for your blog. Usually, I have to ask a site owner what their site will be used for, but I already have a pretty good idea of what you will be doing, so this is should be a cakewalk.
Over the years, a LOT of plugins have been developed to do a lot of things. Some are updated every time WordPress gets an overhaul and others get outdated and need to be deleted. So even though I’m about to give you a list of recommended plugins, keep in mind that at any time they can become out of date or be supplanted by a better option, so pay close attention to what each one has to offer.
All in One SEO Pack
The single most important plugin for any blog is the All in One SEO Pack. This puppy will do a LOT of stuff for you and can make the difference between a blog that gets search hits and one that sits idly in the ether waiting to be marketed. As search engine friendly as WordPress has become, it still has quite a few shortcomings that need to be addressed by the All in One tool, including: • Title optimization for search engines • Cuts out unwanted duplicate content • META tag generation

• Fine tune your features as you want • Backwards compatibility with other plugins
Basically, all the stuff that a blog needs to do to look nice and pretty to Google and its search brethren is done by All in One. I’m surprised it’s not a standard part of the installation yet like Akismet since so many people use it.
Once you install All in One, make sure to activate it in the Plugins menu and then go to the All in One menu located in your Settings widget to make sure you have all the right things checked off. • Home Title – The title for your home page. By default, it’s the name of your site, but you’ll want to include categories and niche keywords as well. • Home Description – This is set by default when you install WordPress, so overwriting it with a more SEO friendly description is a good idea. • Home Keywords – Same thing as the other two. Get a good mixture of keywords here to make sure your blog’s home page gets the attention it needs to perform. • Titles and Formats – A number of title options allows you to set the format that your title will take, using categories, tags, or post names. Most of the defaults are good here. • META Keywords – You can choose to generate META keywords automatically from categories or tags on a given post – something I think is a good idea to make each page unique.

• NoIndex – If you don’t want any of the general, duplicate content pages of your site indexed, click these options.
Most of this content can be left as is, and when you go into a single blog post, you’ll find a new section at the very bottom of the screen, where you can edit your title, description, and keywords if you don’t have them set to automatically generate. The choice is up to you – I generally leave them on automatic generation, unless I know I need specific phrases included in a particular blog post.
XML Sitemap Generator
As a website owner, you’ll need to make sure you are properly indexed in Google at all times. To do that, you need to have a sitemap on file with them that accurately displays every URL on your website so they can see what you’ve written, when it was updated and how much was changed.
That’s where XML Sitemap Generator comes in. This plugin will automatically generate a new sitemap every time you write a new post and submit it to the three major search engines – Google, Yahoo! and Bing. If you decide to update Yahoo! you will need an Application ID from Yahoo! Site Explorer.
The other major search engines do not require you to do this. There are quite a few options for this plugin, but for a new blog without a lot of content on it yet, don’t worry too much about what happens here. The frequency and updating methods are all good as the defaults. Only start messing with options here if you have a good idea of what you’re changing.

Wordpress automatically provides avatar support in it’s current version, but it’s not very good. You have to use defaults and they don’t work well most of the time. So, if you want to have your own avatar or allow your readers to upload one of their own, Gravatar is a good plugin to have on hand.
Once you’ve installed Gravatar, go to the “Avatars” menu on the User section of your dashboard. Here, you’ll find a complete list of all users and their avatar settings. To add an avatar for any one user, click on “update” next to their name and upload a new image or choose one from another website.
Below the user list you will find a series of options that allow you to choose the level of content your avatar can have, the default avatar if they don’t upload one, how users will upload their avatars, and some more complicated technical options that you won’t need to mess with unless you want to place avatars on your site independently of comments.
Related Posts
For whatever reason, WordPress still doesn’t do this automatically, so you’ll need to download a plugin for it. You’ve probably seen it a few dozen times on other blogs anyway – a list of posts that are thematically related to the one you’re reading.
Once you install the plugin, you can change a few settings that will determine which posts appear, including the use of common tags, categories, or keyword matching. I like to use tag matching as most posts with similar tags are related (due to how those particular posts get defined).
Permalink Redirect
For whatever reason, the permalinks for your pages can get crossed up and misinterpreted by search engines, outside sources or even your own WordPress installation. For that reason, you can end up with multiple URLs for the same post, which can hurt your search engine standings and be very confusing for your readers.
That’s why Permalink Redirect is a good plugin to have on hand. It will automatically use a 301 redirect to send your readers to the correct URL for every post they read. That way, no one ever accidentally gets stuck on the wrong URL and Google doesn’t think you have forty pages of duplicate content floating around your site.
Simple Tags
As WordPress stands, tags are pretty boring. You can add or delete them, and with your SEO tool you can use them for keywords. That’s not horrible, but if you want to really get the most out of every post, you want to be sure you don’t miss any potentially awesome tags.
That’s where Simple Tags comes in handy. Once upon a time, WordPress didn’t support tags at all, and these plugins were vital. Today, they are more of a handy booster for your existing tags. You can use them to generate tags automatically using the keywords in a post, you can look up tag suggestions in the search feature, or you can tag your posts on the fly as you edit them. I don’t recommend automatic tagging, if only because it can lead to some pretty bland, and sometimes repetitive tags bordering on spam.
However, the other tools included with Simple Tags allow you to mass edit tags, click on them to see related posts in the dashboard, embed tags in your posts so you can link to related posts, and use tags that will show up on aggregate sites like Technorati. All in all, it’s a very useful tool that provides a lot more ways to insert content into your blog.
This is the one and only plugin that comes default with all WordPress installations and for very good reason. Akismet works to automatically recognize comments on your blog that could be spam. And if you haven’t run a blog before, trust me – there will be a LOT of spam. You might not notice it at first, or even after a month or two, but once your blog starts getting real traffic and is indexed in search engines, expect between 5 and 100 spam comments a day from a variety of unsavory sources.
So, it’s best to install and use Akismet from the start to remove the comments before they can become obnoxious. To use Akismet, you’ll need to go to Akismet’s website and get an API key (you can also get one from WordPress.com). Here’s the link for Akismet:

Once you register, you’ll get an API key that you will then paste into your Akismet options screen. Once it’s installed, go to the Plugins menu to find the Akismet options
From here, you can enter your API key, and set up your spam filters. The default settings are usually good for young blogs, as they will filter out all posts with two or more links or that contain a certain number of numbers. If you are ever uncertain of your spam settings, you can go into you spam folder in the comments menu and remove anything that was inadvertently filtered (much like your email inbox).
Wordpress Popup Scheduler
There are a few plugins for this as well, and while many of them cost money, they don’t need to (unless you want a lot of fancy features). We’ll discuss flying popovers later on so don’t worry if you’re not sure what to put here or how to make it look.
The basic idea is that you want to convince people who have spent a small amount of time on your site to sign up for your list so they can continue getting updates about your site. This plugin will provide all the tools you need to make that happen. Later, when we go over how to create a list for your blog, I’ll go into further detail of how your popover should look and what it should do. So leave this option disabled for now.

Simple Link Cloaker
There are a few link cloaking tools out there that cost an arm and a leg for no good reason, because Simple Link Cloaker is free and does everything you need it to do. Basically, it allows you to enter affiliate links, then create sterile URLs to use in your affiliate marketing campaigns so that your readers won’t be turned off by a big long, messy link. Here’s an example.
Instead of http://jim342.starworld23.clickbank.net/?32
You can use http://www.YOURBLOG.com/RECOMMENDED
The result looks much nicer and the reader can still be sent directly to the end result page. Now, don’t forget that new FTC rules require you to disclose that your readers are about to click on an affiliate link for which you will get paid, but the conversions are still better with a pretty link like this.
There are other plugins out there that will also track click throughs, but with Google Analytics and your basic analytics tools from Clickbank and the other networks, those bulkier tools aren’t really necessary.
Star Rating for Reviews
Don’t ask me why it is, but people like star ratings. I like to place the blame (or honor) at the feet of Amazon, a website that has acclimated people over the course of the last 10 years or so to associate instant recognition of quality with a star rating.
You can boost your own readership by using that star rating with your posts, doable with this little plugin. The only downside to this plugin of course is that you will need to maintain high quality in your posts if you want to maintain readers. People won’t click on a 1 or 2 star post, so if you write short, grammatically dicey content, this may not be your best bet.
However, since that kind of content isn’t going to help you sell anything anyway, I fully recommend upgrading your content and using this to help increase how many articles your readers peruse when they visit your site.

I fully expect that sooner or later WordPress will integrate its own tools for adding social bookmarking links to your posts as it’s an extremely common request and a very regular. But for now, it does not support this and you’ll need a plugin.
Basically, what it does is add a line of social networking icons to the bottom of each blog post that look like this:
You can change which ones appear in the options menu and even where they appear on your blog post. The rest of the data is automatically entered when someone clicks on any of those links. Keep in mind that many premium blog themes will already have a social networking plugin built into the code. If you are using a blog theme, double check this before installing Sociable, because two different social media tools can interact with each other sometimes and cause all sorts of glitches.
Exclude Pages
Right now, this plugin might sit dormant, not doing a whole lot on your site. But, eventually it will be a good friend that helps keep all that content you’ll be writing well organized. Here’s how.
When you create a new “Page” – the static content that you link to at the top of your blog (image below) – it automatically gets added to that menu.
By default, you cannot control which of the pages appear up there. It’s all automatic and if you have 30 pages, it would become a giant mess that is hard to navigate. Exclude Pages allows you to uncheck a box that says “include this page in menus” when you create it. This way, if you want to create a static page of content, you can do so without having it on every menu of your site, taking up space and making it very confusing to navigate your site. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later for installing this one.
WP Banner Plugin
As an affiliate, you might decide to populate your site with a variety of different banner ads. The problem, however, is that it can be hard to keep track of those banners and where they appear and whether the links are all correct. That’s where WP Banner comes in.
With this plugin, you can easily manage multiple banner options from one affiliate program, multiple banners from different affiliate programs, and the time ranges and impression counts for all of them. In fact, you can even use it to sell ad space to advertisers if you ever become one of the guru bloggers with a million hits a day.

Because banner rotation is so hard to maintain manually, this is more or less a must-have tool. To top things off, it will keep track of clicks for each banner so that you can compare data. It’s an instant split-tester which makes it easy to determine which banner ad deserves more screen time.
Advertising Manager
I already recommended a good plugin for Google AdSense, but there are dozens of other ad networks out there and I wholly recommend you give them all a shot if you’re trying to monetize your content through impression or click-based advertising.
That’s where Advertising manager comes in. This plugin will allow you to manage campaigns from AdSense just like the other plugin we discussed, but it also works for AdBrite, AdPinion, Commission Junction, ShoppingAds, Adify, AdGridWork, AdRoll, CrispAds, Yahoo!PN, OpenX, and WidgetBucks – all solid ad networks in their own way. And other ad networks are constantly being added to the list of supported options.
You can choose ads by category, tags, author, page type, template style, and much more, allowing you to customize content on each page. You can also manage your accounts for the 15 biggest networks through WordPress’s backend instead of through their own sites, making it much easier to have all those accounts running at once.
You’re probably still quite a way from getting this many ads up and running on your blog (content must come first), but install the plugin now and you’ll be ready to go when you start monetizing that screen space.
Choosing Your Plugins
I want to make a quick note here. Just because I’ve listed more than a dozen plugins above doesn’t mean you’ll need all of them. And it doesn’t mean these are the only plugins you’ll want or need for your site either. In reality, you’ll probably think of a dozen other things that you want to do with your blog that require a plugin.
In my opinion, the reason that WordPress is so fantastic is that you can be as creative as you like and someone, somewhere has already thought of a way to make your ideas come to life. So, as you start putting your blog together, sit down and determine which of these features you need and how you would like them integrated into your blog.
wIDgets Another thing you’ll see in your blog’s backend a lot is “widgets”. Widgets are not necessarily installed. Rather, they are little bits of code that you can move around on your blog’s pages. For example, if you have a right side bar on your blog, you can add widgets for categories, recent posts, search, or your picture.
These are all predefined segments in your theme’s code that will automatically update all that information whenever your blog changes. It’s a pretty simple way to manage all that content without having to spend additional time generating content.
So, you never really choose your widgets. Rather, they will be a built in part of your theme. Whatever the theme creator has coded into the design you’re using will be available.
Changing Widgets
When you go to the Widgets menu under “Appearance”, you’ll see something like this:
On the left will be a list of all the possible widgets you have available to place and on the right will be the different modules of your site where widgets can be added. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to show you exactly what your own widgets will look like because I don’t know which theme you’ll be using, but here are a few examples of what widget changes will do to your page.
The Primary Sidebar
For the most part, I ignore any of the secondary sidebars that a blog has. Most blog themes will have a primary sidebar and possibly a left side bar if you have a three column design:
Most of your features should be placed in that right side bar, or below your blog posts, out of the way. Advertising especially needs to be placed in a prominent location, but not supplanting your content. By default, most themes will have “search”, “recent posts”, “categories” and sometimes “meta or login” information in the primary sidebar. How you want it to look will determine what goes there, but I usually remove everything except search and recent posts or categories.
This provides you more space for advertising in the sidebar above the fold. What I mean by this is that you will be able to place ads in a location where your users can see them without having to scroll down. If you place five or six widgets above the fold, they would need to scroll down the page a bit to see your ads, which you don’t want to rely on.
Another important thing to remember about widgets is that you don’t need to use them all – not even close. If you have thirty widgets sitting there as options, you may only use five of them and that’s okay. If you try to jam all that content onto your blog, it will look like a mess. And don’t forget you have things like “bottom content” and “footers” where you can place things like archives and tag clouds.

Later on, when we discuss advertisement placement, I’ll discuss the best places to put those ad blocks. For now, I recommend keeping your search box at the top right with at least one widget below it for finding old posts – either a tag cloud, categories or archived posts.
tHeMes Finally, we have themes, the primary tool you’ll have in changing the look and feel of your blog. Themes are awesome in so many ways because they cut out all that unwanted outsourcing, creative struggling, and design back and forth that goes into choosing the look and feel of a new website. Instead of thinking of something new, you can shop for an existing look and either download it for free or pay for it.
Premium vs. Free
One thing to keep in mind with themes is that they come in two very different categories – free themes that cover the basics and provide a general look or paid themes that include very specific tools and are usually supported by customer service and forums where you can ask questions.
Which one you choose will depend partly on your needs and partly on your budget. So, you’ll want to sit down and determine where you will be headed with your site before you choose what kind of money you want to pay for your themes. Free Themes

Wordpress.org has a number of free themes, or you can search other galleries on Google to see what is out there. For the most part, free themes are very limiting. They provide a specific look, some basic widget controls, and sometimes a few cool effects. The problem with free themes, however, is that they are often designed for artists and hobby bloggers, not marketers.
If you’re only planning on putting together a basic blog where you write posts and people read them without any frills, a free theme may be all you need, assuming you can find one you like the look and feel of. Premium Themes
On the other side of things is the premium theme market. Here, you’ll find themes that are catered to specific styles of websites, including affiliate marketing and as such they come with the widgets and plugins you’d expect and want to make your site fully functional.
An added plus with premium themes is that you can also often get technical support from the programmer through a website or forum that they maintain. In fact, I usually recommend that if you don’t get this kind of support you skip the theme. Why pay hard earned money for something that doesn’t help you when you have problems?
The biggest problem with premium themes is that there are so many of them. You’ll need to sort through hundreds of websites and dozens of themes to land on the perfect one for your needs. It can cost quite a bit of money as well if you don’t know 100% what you want ahead of time.
My recommendation is usually to start with a freebie and once you have a good grasp of what you need out of your blog, start looking for a premium theme to upgrade to. Changing themes is instant and simple as long as you haven’t made any edits to the original, so you can always make changes later.
Capabilities of Themes
Themes do a little bit of everything depending on what they’re designed for. To start with, they make it possible to change how your blog looks to fit your particular audience and style. They also allow you to change specific pages on your blog without having to go in and manually change anything.
Good themes will also provide customization options for things like social networking buttons, tags, categories, and the home page display of your posts. A very basic blog might just have a listing of recent posts, but advanced themes might have sliding windows with recent posts, news-magazine style layouts, or blocks of content that can be interchangeable.
Just visit any of the top blogs online like Boing-Boing or Mashable and see how the content is laid out. Those blogs are almost all based on a WordPress platform, and while they likely have custom themes made for them, they are still using the same tools you have at your disposal.
That’s why it’s such a good idea to spend time investigating which themes will work best for your particular site. Look at their features, the widgets and plugins they offer, and the sites that currently use them. You want to be sure you get the right tools for your particular needs. But, even if a theme you really like doesn’t cover everything you want it to do, don’t forget that you can always use plugins to expand its capabilities.
Customizing a Theme
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s possible to go in and make changes to a theme to add features or insert code of your own into the background. I really don’t recommend you do this. Those themes are custom coded by experts in their field and not every theme will react the same to outside code, even if you have clear instructions. If you really need to change how a theme works, consider a premium theme or hiring an outside coder who can help make those changes. The results are often a lot less dangerous to the integrity of your blog. Getting Help
While custom themes are available in plenty, you never know when you might want to find someone to help you produce content that meets your particular needs. It might be a very specific widget, or a design style that is built for you alone, or your own graphics being placed into the template. Whatever the case, it might come up that you need to outsource a bit of coding for your blog.
First, make sure you find someone who will work at a reasonable rate. You don’t need to spend $300 for someone to add your custom graphics into a blog’s theme. It takes 20 minutes and minimal knowledge and they should charge you accordingly. Sites like RentaCoder or Odesk are good for this because they allow you to find people willing to work based on time investment and at a reasonable rate – especially when overseas.
There’s a lot to be said for outsourcing in general (and a lot that has been said in the past), but I won’t go into it all in detail. But, if you need a very specific piece of code or change to your theme, look for someone who will do it at a reasonable rate. Best Themes for Affiliate Marketers
Out of all the themes on the market, there are a few that stand out as particular powerful options for marketers. They offer specific tools designed for link tracking and cloaking, image incorporation, video posting, list building and more. Beware though that almost all affiliate marketing targeted themes are premium and some of them only offer single license use so you’ll need to purchase them more than once to use for multiple blogs (though most offer unlimited use after purchase).
WP Unlimited
The WP Unlimited Theme costs $59 for a personal license, which isn’t that bad for a premium theme that does so much. This is by far one of the best all-around themes for affiliate marketers because it has only the stuff you need and none of the stuff you don’t. I’m not trying to sell you on anything here, but I will do my little schpeil so you can see what it comes with: • AdSense Generator – The AdSense functionality is very nice because it’s all built into the theme already. Plugins are great but they can have bugs when paired up with a separate theme – something you’ll never need to worry about with WP Unlimited. • Design Customization – Most free themes have a handful of different options for how things will look, but WP Unlimited is loaded with color, font, layout, and size options, allowing you to essentially choose exactly how your theme will look. It’s also very easy to upload custom headers and footers, making it easy to personalize your site. • SEO – A lot of the features you come to expect from plugins like All in One SEO are all here and easily integrated into your layout, which makes for easier to access tools. I won’t say that WP Unlimited offers anything that you can’t get elsewhere for free in your SEO, but it’s already there and you won’t need to set anything up.
In short, a theme like WP Unlimited puts all the tools you need in front of you without the need for any plugins or upgrades. That may be well worth the cost for most of you.

Affiliate Theme
Affiliate Theme costs a bit more than WP Unlimited at $97 for a single user license ($147 for unlimited multi-use package) but it does come with a number of additional features for those that know they’ll be building a LOT of blogs in the near future.
It comes with 6 layouts that allow for a wide array of customization in how your blog looks, and the changes are very easy to make. Additionally, there is a color picker and easy to use layout tweaking tools that make it super easy to change how the theme looks without having to recode anything. The options are surprising robust and if you don’t know anything about coding, it’s a godsend to have it so easy.
Additionally, it is optimized for SEO and PPC, similar to the above themes, allowing you to easily get the right titles, descriptions, keywords, and everything else in place before anything goes out to the search engines. The support for this theme is pretty solid too with quick response customer service and an easy to use forum to ask questions. In short, changing, adding, and tweaking your settings is super simple and you’ll never need to worry about tech problems.
This is only a sampling of possible themes you can integrate into your blog for marketing purposes. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your new IM blog, make sure you find one that has a lot of solid support and people who can answer your questions if and/or when something comes up.
Create Your Own Theme
For those of you that don’t want your site to look like anyone else’s, and have a very clear idea of what you want the graphics and layout to do for you, there is a tool that has become quite popular in recent months. It’s called Web Artisteer and it’s a custom theme editor that allows you to pretty much change anything you want on your site without having to do any coding – a major plus for most marketers who are just getting used to blogging, let alone building a website.
It also works for more than just WordPress, allowing you to create custom themes for Drupal, Joomla,


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