Ever wonder how to do content strategy for affiliate marketing?
You and I both know, your affiliate marketing efforts can’t get far without a strategy.
And no, strategy isn’t as simple as determining to publish two blogs per week.
As an affiliate marketer, your content strategy is the whole backbone of your operation.
It’s the map or blueprint that takes you from where you are right now, to exactly where you want to be (your goals).
In this blog, I’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to do content strategy for affiliate marketing.
I’ll show you:
- Why your affiliate marketing efforts will fall flat without content strategy (unless you’re a whiz at guesswork)
- 8 proven steps towards a content strategy plan for affiliate marketing
- What you should do if you’ve already begun affiliate marketing, and it’s not working as well as you thought
- Plus, so much more!
Ready to get started?
Let’s dive in!
Why Is Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Important?
Ok, first things first.
Before getting into the step by step of how to do content strategy for affiliate marketing…
…you first need to believe in it.
Because the truth is, it will take work. It will take persistence. It will take dedication.
Will it be worth it?
So if you’re with me, think of content strategy like the map you took on one of your road trips.
Without your map, you would:
- Probably enjoy the trip, but never arrive at your destination
- Go around in circles
- Waste energy driving and trying to guess where you’re going
With your map, though?
- You’d enjoy the trip, plus be sure you’re on the way to your destination, and how long it will take to get there
- Go in a straight line towards where you want to go
- Spend your energy usefully and never have to play with guesswork
If it sounds overly simple to you, then great.
Content strategy for affiliate marketing is exactly like that.
Without it, you’ll:
- Enjoy (or not) posting random blogs with no clue if they’re getting you to your goals of trust and high revenue
- Post content you have no idea your audience will even care about
- Spend years of energy without knowing if you’ll ever become a successful affiliate marketer
With it, you’ll:
- Post only the kind of content that takes you closer to your goals (building a following, targeting hot leads, increasing revenue)
- Post timely, strategic content your audience craves
- Work hard and persistently, but know that you’re going in the right direction and every step takes you closer to your goals
So, do you need content strategy for affiliate marketing?
If you’re into affiliate marketing just for fun, and you enjoy posting random pieces of content online with zero assurance of ROI…then no.
You can skip this lesson and go back to guessing your energy and life away.
But if you’re a serious affiliate marketer, one who is 100% determined to earn a legion of followers, sell more products, and build a legacy doing what you love…continue reading.
(This is for you.)
A Simple, Proven 8-Step Guide on Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing
A quick word before we dive into the step-by-step of building a working content strategy for affiliate marketing.
Many of you might ask, “What if I’ve already started affiliate marketing without content strategy? Is there no hope for me? Do I have to go back and start from scratch?”
My answer to you: NO.
This lesson is for you whether you’re:
- Just getting started from scratch
- A beginner who’s taken a few steps in the affiliate marketing world (started a blog, signed up for a few affiliate programs maybe)
- An affiliate marketer who’s been at it for a few months or even years, but hasn’t seen much progress and wants to increase revenue
- Anyone who wants to do better at affiliate marketing
It’s not for:
- Superstar affiliates like Pat Flynn, who already earn $100,000 per month
- Lazy people
So, are you ready?
Let’s get started.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 1: Define Your Target Audience and Develop Your Persona
“The customer is always right.”
Sounds cliche, but honestly, cliches are born through popular demand.
This means your customers, or audience, are of crucial importance to your content strategy.
In fact, they’re #1.
So sure, you can craft content that you love and content that you are interested in. It can even be beautiful content.
But ultimately, if your audience isn’t interested…
…you’ll go nowhere with it.
Sounds good, but how do you determine your target audience?
Here are three easy steps you can follow.
1.Reach Out to Your List
Already have a list?
If you already have followers, it’s easy to reach out to them and ask them basic questions about themselves.
A great way to start is:
- Their age
- Their interests
- Where they’re from
However, don’t stop there. Also, ask them about:
- Their pain points
- Their struggles
- Their dreams/fears/desires
When running surveys, a great tool to use is Survey Monkey.
Simply sign up for a free account, and you can start sending surveys to your list.
Don’t have a list?
This next step is for you.
2.Conduct Basic Research
The truth is, in today’s fast-paced digital world, it’s super easy to get to know people.
Sounds scary, but it’s great for marketers like us.
Here’s an easy way to do it.
Hop on Amazon or your favorite eCommerce site.
Type your niche into the search field.
Click the first result you see, then scroll down to read the comments.
Here’s a negative one:
And a positive one.
Notice a trend by now?
Yup. Many of these customers care about the size of the clothing they buy.
Take note of this and move on.
Click on as many products and read as many reviews as you can to get a feel of your target audience.
3.Spy on Your Competitors
Want a super simple way to get to know your audience?
Check out your competitors.
Dig into who they’re serving. Who they’re talking to, and who’s listening.
To do this, simply go on Google and type any keyword you can think of related to your niche. For instance: best sweaters for women.
Here’s an example blog that turned up in the top search results.
By reading this, you get the idea that they’re targeting people who:
- Care about cashmere sweaters
- Buy based on reviews
Spy on as many competitors as you can, then jot your findings down in your notepad.
Once you’ve gathered enough research, sit down to create a buyer persona.
It’ll look something like this:
Remember, be as detailed as you can!
The more facts you can jot down about your persona, the better.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 2: Do Keyword Research
If the terms “keyword” and “SEO” make you want to hide under a rock…
SEO and finding the right keywords sound scary, but they’re actually super simple, especially if you have the right tools in your back pocket.
Two I love to use are Ahrefs and KWFinder.
Both are paid tools, but you don’t need more than $29/month to get started.
Once you’ve subscribed, read my ultimate guide How to Find Good Keywords for Affiliate Marketing (4 Simple Steps to Strategically Plan Your Way to Success).
Remember, don’t skip this step.
Without it, all your efforts at content strategy for affiliate marketing will fall flat.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 3: Do Topic Research
A good rule of thumb is to keep in mind that keyword research and topic research go hand-in-hand.
For instance, you might find the perfect keyword, one that has high search volume and low KD.
But that doesn’t mean the content you write around the keyword will get a ton of likes, comments, and shares.
How do you balance the two?
By doing a little research.
One tool I love is BuzzSumo.
To use it, all you have to do is enter your chosen keyword into the search field. (You can use BuzzSumo for free, or go more in depth with paid plans.)
Let’s say you went on KWFinder and decided to use the keyword “best sweaters for women.” (The data shows 3,800 searches/month and a KD of 45, which is possible to rank for if you own a site with higher DR.)
Now, type this keyword into BuzzSumo and click “search.”
Here’s what you’ll find.
As you can see from the real-life data, 93 people engaged with “The Best Waffle-Knit Sweater for Women.”
24 people engaged with “The 24 Best Cable-Knit Sweaters for Women.”
Now, put both tools together and you can come up with a headline like this:
Best Sweaters for Women: 24 Waffle-Knit Sweaters Women Are Raving About on Amazon
It really is that easy. 😉
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 4: Spy On Your Competitors
It’s what makes the world go round.
Seriously. Imagine how awful any product or service would be without healthy competition.
So if you have competitors, then great!
Get ready to spy on and beat them out.
The key is to check out what they’re doing and what’s working for them.
For this, a tool like Ahrefs will work wonders for you.
First, find out who your competitors are.
Type your keyword into the search field under Keywords Explorer.
Let’s say your keyword is “best sweaters for women.”
After you’ve clicked “search,” scroll down and take a look at the SERP overview for the keyword.
Here’s what it’ll look like.
Here’s a closer look at the top websites ranking for this keyword.
Now, it’s time to spy on the content they wrote around the keyword.
Simply click the link and you’ll be taken there.
Now, does this mean you’ll clone their article and tweak a few words just to escape copyright issues?
Of course not.
This is where tools end and your human creativity begins.
Scroll through the content and read it.
- What makes it good?
- What makes it bad?
- How can I improve it?
- What questions does it answer?
- What questions doesn’t it answer?
Jot the answers down in your notepad, as they will help fill your editorial calendar later.
Next, scroll through the subheaders and ask yourself, “How could I turn this into a separate blog?”
For instance, take a look at this interesting subheader.
Under the subheader, there are only two short paragraphs.
Now, what if you could write a whole blog called “The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Right Sweater Size”?
Of course, you would want to verify with your keyword research tool if this could be a profitable keyword…
…but imagine how many seed ideas you can pull out simply by spying on your competitors.
Ok, before we end this section, here’s a pro tip for finding more content ideas.
Hop back into Ahrefs and head over to the Site Explorer section at the top left of the dashboard.
Type in the URL of one of your top competitors.
Click the search button, then click “Organic keywords” on the left side of your dashboard.
When you do, you’ll see a list like this.
These are the keywords your competitor is ranking for.
The best part is, you’ll get links to the URLs of the content ranking for the keywords, so you can check them out and come up with a host of new ideas for your own content.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 5: Determine What Makes You Special
Now that you know your audience and your competitors, it’s easy to jump on a WordDoc (or GoogleDoc if you’re old-fashioned lol JK Ha.B), and clone exactly what they’re doing.
But hold on a minute.
Think about it.
The world hates thieves and copycats. (Except Mark Zuckerberg, of course.)
So unless you can pull off an amazing stunt, copy everything a popular competitor is doing, and not be hated or ignored for it…
…you’d better come up with something unique.
Now, I don’t mean try to be bizarre and talk about stuff your audience probably never heard about.
Remember, you still need to stick to popular demand and stay close to real searches your audience is making.
But you want to be different and show your audience you aren’t just another drop in the bucket of boring, “MEH” content they’d be better off ignoring.
Here are three ways you can stand out:
- Nail your tone of voice and POV . This is crucial, and you’d want to do this in the very beginning (before you write your first blog, preferably). Pick your tone, which can be serious, friendly, funny, cynical, warm, professional, or a combination of more than one of these. Then, select your POV (point of view), and decide whether you want to write as yourself, a persona you create, or in general using third person narration.
- Add your own unique flavor into your writing. Tired of seeing long, boring lists of “best sweaters” online? Add spice to your own list. Introduce stories. Add personality. Be surprising.
- Set yourself up as an authority in your field. This one is important, and it will help you stand out in a sea of content. For instance, if you’re a real doctor, more people will read your content than content written by someone who simply did research on medicine.
Keep it in mind to be consistent.
You don’t want to confuse your audience by being overly serious in one blog, then making silly jokes in another.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 6: Create Your Editorial Calendar
By now, you probably have a list of notes that could fill the Great Blue Hole.
But…what exactly should you do with all your information?
At this point, you want to create your editorial calendar.
I know, you’re not a journalist.
But an editorial calendar simply tells you what to post, where to post it, and when to post it.
Here’s a look at Buffer’s editorial calendar.
Now, your editorial calendar can be as simple as the title of the post you’re going to create and when you plan to publish it.
Or it can be more complex, with details such as a list of secondary keywords, the KD and search volume for your keywords, and top competitors for that keyword.
When creating your editorial calendar, keep these three tips in mind:
- If you’re new to affiliate marketing, start with educational content to grow a following. As a newbie, you’ll begin with zero followers and not many affiliate programs interested in you. Don’t worry. Everyone starts somewhere. If you’re at square one, begin with purely educational content. Help your audience with their pain points. Help them achieve their dreams. Make the path to their desires easy. Once you grow a following, it’ll be easier for you to sign up with bigger, more profitable affiliate programs.
- Diversify your content. Even if you already have a large following, avoid sticking to only one type of content. Post product reviews. Post educational content. Post seasonal news. Keep your content rich and diverse to prevent boring your audience.
- Be ready to pivot. It’s true, some of the bigger companies create editorial plans for up to six months to a year of content. That’s great, but remember to be flexible. For instance, let’s say you’re promoting cheap plane tickets in your content. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, would your audience still read content on “where to get cheap tickets”? I don’t think so.
Or simply open up Google Sheets or Google Calendar and start there.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 7: Set Your Plan for Creating, Promoting, and Maintaining Your Content
Now that you know exactly which keywords to target, what to write about, and when to publish it…
…it’s time for the fun part.
Creating your content.
If you have a team, a digital workspace like Trello will help you assign each piece of content to the right person. (Don’t worry, it’s completely free.)
If you don’t have a team, add yourself to the Trello cards, along with deadlines for completing each piece of content. You can also add the keyword you’re targeting, its KD and search volume, and competitors ranking for it.
Next, set your plan for promoting your content. Will you post about it on social media? Which platforms will you use? How often will you post? If you have an email list, will you send them a teaser of any new content you publish?
Lastly, set a schedule for maintaining your content. Check old blogs at least once a year to fix broken links, update stats and facts, and add recent trends and stories to spice things up. If you feel like it, you can even do a major rehaul and restyle your blog.
However, don’t delete your blog and start a new one from scratch. Just like wine, content gets better with time, and aged pieces often rank much better than brand new ones.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing Step 8: Rinse and Repeat
Now that you have your content strategy for affiliate marketing down to a T…
…it’s time to buckle up and prepare for the long haul.
Remember, affiliate marketing is not a sprint.
It’s a marathon.
But don’t worry.
With a working strategy in place, you won’t be going around in circles. You won’t be wasting your hard work on guesswork and happenstance.
Instead, you’ll be making sure progress.
So go on.
Keep working on your strategy. Rinse and repeat. Keep going.
In a shorter time than you think, you’ll find yourself looking at huge results.
Content Strategy for Affiliate Marketing: Why It’s Worthwhile
I know, affiliate marketing isn’t easy.
In my case, it took 12 whole months of hard work to get me to the point where I was earning $2,000 a month.
And depending on your niche, it can take you longer than that.
But here’s the thing.
It’s worth it.
For me, affiliate marketing is the reason I’m living the life of my dreams, earning $40,000 a month on autopilot, and traveling wherever I want to go.
It can be the same for you.
But you have to start somewhere.
So if you ask me what step one is, I’ll tell you this.
Nail content strategy for affiliate marketing.
Only then will you have a sure path towards your goals.
And let me tell you this.
I can’t wait to see you achieve them!
All screenshots taken by the author, July 2021