Pay-per-click, social media, local SEO, link building, guest posting, directories, banner advertising, cost-per-action – gah!
The amount of traffic generation strategies can grind you to a halt because there are simply too many choices; you find yourself too involved with learning the new methods than actually implementing them.
On top of it all: not all traffic is the same.
The goal of any affiliate business is to convert; content is that driving force in high search engine placement, social media interaction, cultivating a community, and delivering sales.
So forget the endless methods and strategies for building your traffic and sales – stick with content and everything will fall into place.
The Three Pillars of Content
Content is synonymous with traffic generation because the web is built on the creation and sharing of content whether it’s text, audio, video, or any other form of media; it’s the reason people use the web.
As an affiliate marketer, content quickly becomes your most powerful asset because:
- It builds authority
- It forms a community
- It packages your affiliate offers
Authority is built when you share your knowledge and expertise on your particular niche topic/industry.
The community is formed around your website/blog because you’re delivering such wonderful information; them sharing the content brings in even more people to the fold. The affiliate offers are packaged inside the content and become welcomed with open arms and minds because the community trusts your judgment based on their perception of our authority.
The road to these benefits cannot be gained overnight – it requires:
- Content Creation
- Content Curating
- Content Marketing
These three items are wildly different and require an immense attention to detail.
- Content creation is merely the process of developing content for your website.
- Content curating is sculpting and scheduling content so each piece coincides and builds upon another (or the next).
- Content marketing is the act of spreading your content (and message) while attracting the right type of individuals to your community all-the-while building your authority and network.
The goal, of utilizing these three, is to do less work but gain more visibility.
Consider the average website owner pumping out a new piece of content every day in hopes they attract a large audience; it’s a “shotgun” approach to marketing oneself.
The alternative is a careful selection of content that builds and builds; the brand grows, the website owner only needs to focus on the “core” pieces, and the majority of work is networking and marketing.
Note: If you’re able to consistently publish remarkable content, day-after-day, than you’re one of the outliers that’s destined to success – but, for the average affiliate marketer – time is money and not everyone has an entire day to work on their site.
In the end, it’s the combination of these three elements that allows you to work on just a few content pieces but use them to build a wildly popular brand due to the value you’re sharing.
Part One: Content Creation
The majority of your efforts, in using content to attract visitors, are in the creation phase.
You’re in no way limited to the type of medium for your website content.
Here are but a few mediums to consider:
- Blog posts
- Digital downloads
- Online magazines
- Interactive media (like Flash games)
- Live, streaming video
There’s no right or wrong choice in the content medium – simply go with what you feel most comfortable with because, at the end of the day, you will be found if you own your medium.
The creation phase is further divided into two important segments:
- The development (work)
- The content schedule (management)
The two, combined, keeps you consistently producing fresh, valuable content to your community all-the-while keeping sanity to your busy schedule which must account for the other areas in affiliate marketing (like offer selection, community management, list building, and more).
Content, you creation, depends greatly on your overall tone and direction of your website and affiliate business.
You could go a personal route whereas you educate your audience and share important information from your own words which builds a solid personal brand or you could take a professional route whereas your writing is professional in manner and directed at equally professional individuals.
From experience – the following is an outline for creating quick (but powerful) content:
- Brainstorming (1 – 2 Hours)
- Outlining (30 minutes – 1 hour)
- Development (2 – 3 hours)
- Editing (1 hour)
- “Spicing” (1 hour)
Spend some time brainstorming ideas for your website content or use your online research skills with keyword tools to discover what people want to read. Next, outline your content which gives you a mental breakdown of what you will need to produce. Develop your content (depending on your medium) but do so with a free-flowing style to get every idea into the piece. Go back and edit your work to remove any unnecessary elements or introduce items you may have overlooked. Last, “spice” up the work with visual media, links, and other ‘goodies’ to add value beyond the piece.
Here is detailed route via infographic:
Here’s a thought to remember: treat every piece of content as is if it were a product.
You’re operating an affiliate business; your offers aren’t your only product – create your content as “products” and you’ll ensure you’re delivering exceptional value and that the content becomes “sticky” enough to make a name for your brand (rather than being forgotten a week later from all the noise).
The second factor to all of this content creation is how you plan to schedule your content.
Believe it or not: less is more.
Strive to create a handful of remarkable content pieces that “wows” your audience than bombarding them with a new piece which doesn’t give them enough time to truly absorb the information.
It all comes down to your content scheduling.
Your content schedule will keep you on track with new content production but it’s also used to release each piece at the optimal time to make the greatest impact within your community and social network.
Generally speaking, a Monday, Wednesday, Friday content schedule is the most popular; posting once a day is very viable but can quickly lead to burn-out on your end (and with your readers). An increasingly popular choice is to publish just once a week and use the other days to build your network through guest blogging, interviews, and social media interaction.
The schedule depends on how much work you want to put into your content and how you can distill that information into pillar, evergreen content.
Remember, you’re better off releasing a solid piece of content than rushing one out for the sake of a schedule so form one that works in the best interest of your community and your efforts.
Once you’ve landed on the timing, use tools like Excel or Google Docs to make a minimal schedule.
Part Two: Content Curating
This section will be short and sweet.
Curating only requires you to keep two things in mind:
- What results you want from your content
- How each piece interrelates
Your results should reflect your overall goals in your affiliate marketing business; it may include converting visitors on affiliate offers, building an email list, increasing your social media presence, or selling your own product/service.
The content becomes a vehicle for your message.
With that being said, always craft your content in a fashion that ultimately drives people to your goal.
Include call-to-actions, stories, questions, links, and media that create fascination and engagement with your readers which leads them to take action.
The way content interrelates matters greatly because your content becomes a story.
Regular readers will return to see the next part of the ‘show’ whereas newcomers will have something to dig through when examining past content – every piece of content is symbiotic in driving people to your goals or deeper into your message.
Creating your content with this interrelation in mind will allow you to easily interlink pieces (which builds your site authority and ranking). It also allows you to increase conversions because of the repetition of the affiliate tools, products, and services commonly mentioned between each piece
This repetition implants the idea that the reader could greatly benefit from its purchase since they continually see your success with such product/service.
Tying the Two
So, with your results and interrelation in mind – expand your brainstorming session, create a mind map of your content, and develop a schedule which allows each piece of work to relate with one another all-the-while keeping your desired goal as a driving element behind each piece.
Part Three: Content Marketing
This last section is one area of online marketing that has grown exponentially within the last few years.
Past link building practices, advertising methods, and other forms of exposure has seen a dramatic drop in popularity and effectiveness because of many search engine tweaks; however, content remains a tried-and-trusted method of building a brand-worthy website.
In short: search engines love content but, more importantly, people need it.
Content marketing, like other forms of online marketing, can be done in a very simple approach:
- Create great content people want to read and share
- Push the initial shares to your most devoted followers
- Send out reminders to your network about these new content pieces
- Guest post and comment on other websites to point back to your own
- Submit content to social media platforms
- Release a newsletter/update to your list
- Repeat and learn from your efforts
The reality is that you already know how to market content (even if this is your first time building an affiliate business or website). Sharing is instinctual; every time you share a link on Facebook, link a cool article to a friend, tweet a link to your followers – you’re marketing content whether or not it’s yours.
Need a visual method to understand the marketing aspect of content?
The big difference here, overall, is that you have an end goal with why you’re sharing this content.
You’re spreading it as far as it can go – hoping it will get picked up and spread virally – but it’s there to convert visitors on your affiliate offers (or your own products). Yes, you’re sharing incredible information for free but you’re using it as a passive vehicle for your marketing efforts.
When you combine everything up to this point, you’ll create a system which allows you to readily publish, curate, and promote new content in a quick-and-easy fashion which doesn’t require a lot of time and energy.
Then, once your content spreads, it’s just a matter of responding to feedback and learning what made its distribution so effective (such as noting the topic, length, who promoted it, and what offers you had running) – much like analyzing your website traffic data for new opportunities.
Finale: Moving Forward
This post is part three of the Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing; at this point you’ve learned how to discover your niche and to setup a website.
Content is not one of those elements that you should disregard when launching and operating an affiliate marketing business because it’s a powerful tool for building an audience and brand.
Before you get caught up, starry-eyed with the ideas of Internet riches – ensure you’ve taken enough time to start your affiliate business the RIGHT way by planning for the future.
Affiliate offers come and go, advertising budgets get drained, community members will move on, but your content will remain and that’s what keeps your affiliate venture in the game for a long time to come.