As a small business, you spend a lot of time testing new ways to convert sales. That’s no surprise since 63% of marketers say generating leads is one of their biggest challenges.
Yet converting prospects into leads (and leads into customers) is easy for marketing experts who can answer yes to this question: are you being strategic about how you’re targeting whom and when?
These days, marketing to a single buyer persona is far too limiting. That’s why I’m guiding you through the 3 different types of traffic and why you need a different marketing strategy for each.
Want to know a foolproof method for transforming one-time browsers into lifelong fans? Check out this guide for everything you need to know about marketing to cold, warm, and hot traffic.
Cold vs Warm vs Hot Traffic Defined
Cold Traffic AKA the Prospect = they stumble across your advertisements or website but have no prior knowledge of your brand
Warm Traffic AKA the Lead = they know your brand but haven’t purchased anything or engaged with you so far
Hot Traffic AKA the Customer/Client = they know your brand, have made at least one purchase, and are actively engaging with your business
Why Should You Care?
Not all customers are alike. Some know nothing about your brand, some know a lot but are still shy to buy, and some are long-time customers who want to be rewarded for their loyalty.
So you can see the problem with using the same ad campaign for all of them. If you want to get more leads and customers, you must approach the different stages of the buying phase, well, differently.
Understanding cold, warm, and hot traffic helps you create better, more targeted marketing campaigns. That way, you can stop wasting time on expensive ads that just don’t convert.
And here’s how to do it.
How to Target Cold Traffic
The whole point of your cold traffic campaign is to educate prospects about your brand.
You want to introduce your business, your values, and your hopes for your company. And then you have to build enough trust to get that prospect to become a lead.
How do you do that? By showing the value of your brand’s products. Consider this statistic: Search queries in the form of “is [product, brand, service] worth it?” have increased by 80%.
Why have these searches increased? Because customers want to know the value of the product, service, or brand they’re purchasing before they actually shell out the cash.
Going in straight for the sale ignores a customer’s needs. After all, how do they even know they need your product or service until you’ve educated them why they can’t live without it?
How to Move a Prospect from Cold to Warm
Transforming a prospect into a lead is all about information.
One of the best ways to educate cold prospects is with content marketing. Publish educational content on your site or blog and use SEO to get cold traffic to it.
Blog posts are great, but you can also use:
- case studies
While you’re educating your prospects, you should be nudging them toward a lead capture. Ask for email addresses in exchange for free or bonus content.
But remember: this free information should inform prospects about your brand and products rather than trying to make a sale.
How to Target Warm Traffic
Now that you’ve educated your cold prospects and hopefully captured their email address, you’ve got a lead.
A lead is more than a prospect because this sort of traffic signs up for your newsletter or inputs their email for a free sample. Their attention and interest are captured and now they just need a little push.
That push usually comes in the form of an email marketing or retargeting ad campaign.
In this phase, you need to remind leads about the value of your products. You need to send them promotions and special offers. You need to make it so easy to buy, they’re wondering why they haven’t already.
And all this is done with the intention of converting a lead into a customer/client.
How to Move a Customer from Warm to Hot
Converting a lead into a customer/client is all about making the sale. Do this through emails and ads that sweeten the deal.
Deal sweeteners you can send your new leads include:
- product demos
- free tools
- free events
Special offers, discounts, and exclusive sales are also excellent tools for pushing a lead from casually interested to ready to purchase.
How to Target Hot Traffic
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve successfully converted a prospect to a lead to a customer/client and made a sale in the process.
But don’t stop at the sale.
The best customer/clients are the ones that keep coming back for more. They’re the loyal fan base that won’t just buy your products but will market them for you.
How do you target these customer/clients? With follow up ad campaigns and marketing email reminders to buy more products or engage with your brand.
The whole point of the hot traffic stage is to make sure you keep your customer/client hot. After all that work, the last thing you want is to lose a new customer/client because you neglected this very important stage in the buying cycle. .
How to Keep Hot Traffic Hot
Keeping hot traffic hot is all about engagement. This may mean leaving a product review or star rating. Or it might mean tagging your brand on Instagram with a picture of your product.
Here are the content formats you should be using to target customer/clients:
- sales pages
- landing pages
- product pages
- offer pages
- services pages
Send out promotional offers a few days before the general public is notified. Offer birthday rewards and special discounts for being loyal.
Make your client/customer feel special and connected to your brand and you’ll have them marketing your brand for you in no time.
Marketing Campaign Content Writing
If you want prospects to trust your brand, you need engaging and authoritative content they can trust.
But writing high-quality blog articles is time-consuming and frustrating. In fact, 51% of B2B marketers say making the time to create content is one of their top marketing challenges.
Wouldn’t you rather focus on the central aspects of your business that only you can do right? Then you need a freelance writer to help tell the story of your brand. Learn more about my content writing services and subscribe to the blog for more digital marketing insights.
Remember that old saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees”? Contrary to some online opinions, affiliate marketing isn’t a money tree.
You won’t start earning passive income overnight. And you certainly won’t make money if you sit around waiting for your site to grow on its own.
I know the promises out there– “Start making $20,000 a month with affiliate links!” “Make $5,000 in your first month as an affiliate marketer!” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but those numbers just aren’t realistic for a beginner.
BUT I don’t say this to discourage you. The exact opposite, actually. Because when you know what to expect from your first few months affiliate blogging, you can set yourself up for real success.
So, no, affiliate marketing isn’t a money tree. But like a money tree, your affiliate marketer passive income needs a few important things to grow: traffic, tenacity, and time.
We’ve talked about traffic in this series before and I just can’t stress how vital this is to your success. You will never make a dime if you don’t have people visiting your site.
Part of getting traffic is doing SEO. Another part is accumulating backlinks AKA links to your website published on other blogs. This not only increases general awareness about your site but it also makes Google index you more often, which can increase your ranking.
I recommend focusing only on organic traffic (i.e. traffic you get from Google rankings) at the beginning. If you want to grow even faster, stay tuned for an upcoming post on types of paid traffic.
Tenacity means persistence and determination– two qualities you need to succeed as an affiliate marketer.
In your first few months, you may be blogging in obscurity. But that can be good if you’re brand new to blogging. That’s because you get to experiment and work out all the kinks before your customers start rolling in.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on your affiliate blog. Because there will be a hundred other more tenacious people who will come in and scoop up your spot.
Earning passive income through affiliate marketing takes time to build into something sustainable. Your affiliate blog is a business. And even the fastest growing companies need a year or two to get off the ground.
SEO efforts can often take four to six months to start bearing fruit. And SEO compounds over time. That means the results you see at 6 months won’t be as robust as the ones you see after a few years.
The best thing you can do while you wait for traffic is to run those A/B tests we talked about last week and hone your writing. That way, once visitors do start tearing down your door step, you’ll be ready for ’em.
The Final Word
The bottom line? Affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a way to build a stream of passive income that will take time, tenacity, and traffic to build, but will benefit you for years to come.
If you’ve stuck with this series the whole time, congratulations! By now you should feel prepared to build your affiliate blog from scratch. You should have realistic expectations and be ready to work.
And you should have all the tools you need to be truly successful. Good luck and happy writing!
Have an affiliate blog and need a writer to help grow it? Contact me to find out about my affiliate blog writing services.
By now, you should know how to use affiliate links in your content.
But simply using affiliate links in your content is not enough to be successful. If you really want to start making money as an affiliate marketer, you need to actually make sales.
That’s why we’re talking all about click-through and conversion rates in today’s post. By the end, you’ll know what they are and how to use that knowledge to make passive income as an affiliate marketer.
Want to know more about being a successful affiliate marketer? Keep reading and I’ll sho you how.
What are Click Through and Conversion Rates?
When it comes to making online sales, CTR and conversion rates are two terms that are vital to your success.
Click Through Rate
Click through rate (CTR) is a way to track how many people are actually clicking on your affiliate link.
Usually, the affiliate you work with will provide these numbers for you. Even if they don’t, you can actually calculate this number yourself.
You only need two numbers to calculate CTR:
- the number of impressions your content has made AKA the number of people who’ve viewed your post
- the number of people who clicked your affiliate link
Once you have these two numbers, divide 2 by 1 or the number of people who clicked your link over the number of people who viewed the post. If you want this rate as a percentage, simply multiple by 100%.
CTR is an excellent way to identify what content is working and what isn’t. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.
While CTR defines the rate at which people actually click your affiliate link, conversion rate is the rate at which people make a purchase from your affiliate link.
Conversion rates are also calculated by your affiliate program. But you can again calculate this number yourself.
To calculate conversion rate, you need:
- the number of impressions your content has made
- the number of sales you make from that post
Again, divide 2 by 1 or the number of sales your made from a single post over the number of impressions that post has made. Multiple by 100% to see this number as a percentage.
Note that conversion rate will always be smaller than CTR. If it’s not, you may need to do a quick recalculation.
The bottom line? Conversion rates show you how good of a job your content is doing at marketing your product.
How to Improve CTR and Conversions
One of the most important aspects of a good CTR and conversion rate is knowing your audience. But if you’ve been following this series, you should already know your niche inside and out.
Good conversion rates and CTR are also influenced by how good your content is. But you already know all about writing engaging content.
Finally, sales come from people who trust your opinion. But you already know all about building trust as an affiliate marketer.
With this series, I’ve given you all the tools you need to set yourself up for success with your audience. *Here are the last few things you need to assure a passive income-making affiliate blog. *
1. Define Your Goal
After all, how will you know your rates are improving if you don’t set a goal?
But there is a right and wrong way to make goals.
Like all marketing efforts, defining a specific and measurable goal is vital to your success as an affiliate marketer.
Goals should be specific
Don’t set a goal saying you “want to make a lot of conversions in 2019.” Make this goal more specific: I want to convert 5 sales in my first month and increase this twofold every month after that.
Goals should be measurable
A bad goal would be one with no time limit or one that is impossible to quatify. The example above is a measurable goal because of the time limit “in my first month.” It’s also easy to quantify since you only need to count the number of conversions you made that month.
Here are some more examples of measurable and specific goals:
- I want to increase traffic to my affiliate posts by 50% before the end of the year
- I want to improve CTR by 2 clicks per affiliate post before the end of the quarter
- I want to make $500 in affiliate sales in 2019
If you don’t meet your specific and measurable goals then it’s time to test some new strategies.
2. Test New Strategies
The beginning of your affiliate marketing journey should be paved with a lot of trial and error.
Ever heard of A/B testing? It’s a tried and true method for figuring out what strategies are working and which ones are failing.
The specific A/B test you run will depend on what exactly you’re testing for. But here are a few examples of things you might test for to help improve CTR and conversions.
Is your CTA strong enough? If not, that may be why you have a poor CTR and/or conversion rate.
To A/B test your call-to-action, try using a different call to action in every other affiliate blog you post. After a few months, take a look at your analytics and see which CTA seems to drive more click throughs or conversion.
If the winning CTA starts to lag a few months down the road, start a new A/B test with a different CTA strategy.
When you’re starting out, write affiliate posts in different styles. Try out ultimate guides, reviews, and product testing videos and see which format drives better conversions.
If you notice that your ultimate guide-type affiliate posts are doing better than your affiliate reviews, you may want to focus your efforts more on the former.
A thing to note here is that A/B tests don’t have to include just 2 test options. A smaller number of candidates makes it easier (and quicker) for you to track and see results, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only 2 post styles per test run.
The title is the first thing your audience reads before even clicking on your post. If an affiliate post is performing poorly, it may just be because you haven’t captured your audience’s attention with your headline.
Try out different title templates like the ones I showed you in Post #14 of this series.
One thing to note about A/B tests is that you won’t see significant (AKA useful) results unless you run these tests for a good amount of time. You can calculate how long you should run the test for with this equation:
Test time = sample size / number of people who visited test post A or B
A/B testing can get extremely complicated when you’re doing it right. Start simple and add more components to you A/B testing as you get the hang of the method.
Still not seeing improvements in your conversions? You may not be showing your readers the value of your affiliate product.
3. Show the Value
An expert salesman once told me: People who object to a product’s price often aren’t objecting to price at all. You just haven’t shown them the value yet.
This small point can make big waves for your as an affiliate marketer.
When you’re marketing an affiliate product, don’t tell your audience why they should want to buy it. Instead, show your readers the value of the product you’re marketing so they feel like they need it.
There are two good ways to do this (But, like any good affiliate marketer, you should test out different methods to see what works for your unique audience):
Address readers’ objections
Don’t ignore the negatives or the downsides to the product. Let your audience know that you see those downsides BUT give them reasons that those things don’t matter.
Appeal to readers’ desires
You can do this by framing a product as capable of cutting down on your audiences’ time and troubles. People want efficient products that won’t waste their valuable time. They want easy products that reduce their daily troubles.
Speak to these two desires and you’ll have no trouble showing readers the value of the affiliate product you’re marketing. And you’ll be on your way to making passive income in no time.
You’re almost there, writers! Only one more post in this series and you’ll officially be ready to start making passive income off your affiliate blog.
Next week, we’re talking about expectations. Specifically, what yours should be as a brand new affiliate marketer.
Until then, happy writing!
Do you already have an affiliate blog? Need a high-quality affiliate post to start making passive income off of? Get in touch to learn more about my freelance writing services.
I promised you a series all about earning passive income with affiliate links.
You’ve waited patiently as I’ve guided you through building a website from bottom to top. You were on the edge of your seat as I showed you the secrets of search engine optimization. You’ve worked hard to hone your copy and content writing craft.
But are you ready to get into the nitty gritty of becoming an affiliate marketer?
Of course you are! So let’s get started with this post on the rules of affiliate marketing and how to compare affiliate marketing programs.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
In the digital world, advertising is expensive.
That’s why many companies offer affiliate marketing programs to people who love their products. In fact, 81% of brands use some sort of affiliate program as part of their marketing strategy.
There are big opportunities here for savvy content writers. But before you become an affiliate marketer superstar, you need to understand what affiliate marketing is and what it definitely isn’t.
What it Is
Affiliate marketing is a way for fans of products and services to advertise those products or services in exchange for a commission.
The affiliate brand gets free advertising to your blog audience. You get to monetize your site and make money off your hard work. It’s a win-win.
What it Isn’t
Affiliate marketing is not a way to make passive income on products and services you’ve never used or don’t like.
If you haven’t used and at least liked the affiliate brand you’re marketing, your audience is going to know it. Worse, what if your audience hates the product or service you recommend?
I’ll tell you– they’ll stop purchasing the products and services you advertise and maybe even stop reading your blog altogether. Yikes.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
When you sign up for a brand’s affiliate program, you get special links to post in your content.
These special links are programmed to let the brand know where the sale is coming from. That way, they know when someone buys their product or service through your blog.
And you’re compensated for the referral.
Many people prefer to market higher ticket items like computers, drones, and other pricey tech. But you can still make money off low ticket items if you create the right niche blog.
Affiliate Marketer Code of Conduct
There are rules to affiliate marketing to avoid turning people away before you make the sale.
Here are my top 3 rules for affiliate marketing with class.
Rule #1. Tell People You Use Affiliate Links
When you’re transparent about your use of affiliate links, you’ll be rewarded.
Experts suspect transparency is one of the top affiliate marketing trends of 2019. That’s because affiliate marketers who are transparent about their use of affiliate links build long-term relationships with their audience.
Review products you love, review them honestly, and let people know you’re reviewing them to make a commission.
That way, you’ll avoid being like Warner Bros.
Rule #2. Tell People Why and How You Use Affiliate Links
In 2016, Warner Bros. got in trouble for failing to disclose to the public a massive affiliate marketing campaign.
This, after the brand paid influencers to promote a new product and give it only positive reviews. Warner Bros. started it. But the affiliate marketers who agreed to participate broke Rule #2 of affiliate marketing basics.
Tell people you use affiliate links in your content. But also tell them why and how you use these links.
For example, you might want to tell people that you only review products you love. Tell them you use affiliate links so you can offer them 20% off. Or just be honest and say you’re trying to make money so you can keep posting quality blog content.
Whatever your reasoning is, be transparent with people and they’ll reward you for it.
Rule #3. Tell People How You Won’t Use Affiliate Links
The last rule for being a classy affiliate marketer is to make a promise about what you won’t do with your affiliate links.
I recently signed up for a fellow bloggers’ newsletter. In the very first email, the blogger stated that he would never use his newsletter for marketing purposes.
Since I signed up for the newsletter for information, I found this statement extremely valuable. I understood that I would never get information that was just trying to sell me on something.
Tell your readers the kinds of things you won’t use your affiliate links for (i.e. you won’t sell them products you don’t support) and watch your commissions climb.
How to Find and Compare Affiliate Programs in Your Niche
If you’ve been following this series then you already know your niche audience and the kind of products and services they’ll like.
Finding an affiliate brand to promote, then, should be easy.
To find affiliate programs, simply Google “[product or service] affiliate programs.” eCommerce sites like eBay are excellent places to find a wide variety of products to promote.
Some of the top affiliate programs include:
You can also find smaller affiliate programs in your niche. These usually offer high commissions, long cookie time periods, and discounts for your audience.
Don’t know what any of those words mean? Let me explain. BONUS: These 3 factors are also the things you should consider when choosing an affiliate program.
A commission is the percentage you earn off each sale you make through an affiliate link.
Avoid programs that offer 10% or less commission. These programs aren’t worth the effort. Instead, choose programs with commissions between 10-50% commission.
Cookies are pieces of data stored on your readers’ computer when they click your affiliate link.
That way, you make commission off anything they buy within the window of time designated by the affiliate brand. That’s right– I said anything because readers don’t have to purchase the exact thing you’re promoting.
They can make any purchase from the affiliate brand and you get paid.
Most programs offer 24 hour cookies, which means the person must make a purchase from your link within 24 hours for you to make a commission.
When comparing affiliate programs, always consider cookies. The longer the cookie window, the higher the chance of making a commission.
Some affiliate programs offer people a discount on the product or service you’re promoting for buying through your affiliate link.
You did all that work search engine optimizing your blog to generate organic search traffic. That means you’ll have a ton of new people reading your affiliate content every day.
Discounts are vital for converting people who don’t know anything about your blog and have no reason to trust your oppinion on a product or service.
You can write the most high-quality, informative content online and still have people who feel wary about purchasing through your affiliate link. For people who are nervous to trust you, a discount helps change their minds.
Why would a random stranger who stumbled on your blog buy from your affiliate link?
Many affiliate programs offer reader discounts for this very reason.
Next Week: Monetize Your Content With Affiliate Links
Affiliate marketing can be an extremely simple way to make passive income off your blog.
As long as you understand how to do affiliate marketing the right way and choose a great program or brand to work with, you’ll start making passive income in no time.
Stay tuned next week because I’m showing you what kind of content you can use affiliate links in and how to do it.
Have an amazing idea for an affiliate blog but don’t want to write the content yourself? Contact me and find out how I can help share your brand story with the digital world.
Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Make Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer! Last week, we learned and then practiced writing engaging content for your blog. This week, we’re discussing SEO again and, specifically, how to do-it-yourself in your blog content.
Did you know affiliate marketers who use SEO in their content see more traffic and engagement than those who don’t?
As an affiliate marketer, you want people to buy products from your links. To get people to buy through your affiliate links, though, you need them to read your blog posts. But to get people to read your blog posts you need them to be able to find your blog posts.
See where I’m going here?
If you want to be a successful affiliate marketer without spending a dime on ads, you need to know how to DIY SEO for your blog content.
Sound good? Keep reading and I’ll show you how.
DIY Your Blog Content with SEO Basics
So here’s the thing. I’ve already shown you all the SEO basics for content you’ll ever need in Post #12 of this series.
That’s right– the methods you’ve perfected using SEO keywords for copywriting on your website are the same strategies you’ll use to optimize your content.
Here’s a brush up of the keyword strategies you need to DIY your blog content SEO.
- in titles and headings
- in the body of your content
- in the URL and Metadescription
These shouldn’t just be your short and long-tail keywords. You should also use the close matches you find bolded in meta descriptions when you search you keyword on Google.
Now that you’re all brushed up on the basics, I’m going share with you my top 3 secrets you need to know for do-it-yourself SEO content writing. Ready? Let’s do it!
There’s a lot of information online about using SEO in your content.
Some of it’s great, some of it’s old, but most of it is way over the top. To get ranked on Google, all you need to do is:
- Create the right niche for your affiliate content
- Use images, videos, and interactive content in your blogs
- Write skimmable blog posts and copy
- Do good keyword and competitor research
- guest post on other blogs
Well, that and use these 3 secrets of SEO content writing to draft blog posts your audience will never forget.
Secret #3. High-Quality over Keyword Quantity
In the days before Google grew from infant to giant, you could stuff a bunch of keywords in your content and immediately rank on the first page of search results. No longer.
Nowadays, Google rewards quality of writing and information over quantity of keywords stuffed into the article.
When you write articles with a ton of free information, your users will appreciate it. Google recognizes when readers think what you have to say is valuable and will reward you for it.
That’s why I encourage a more authentic approach to SEO content writing. Just like building passive income, an authentic SEO strategy takes more time upfront, but it pays off in the long run.
While SEO is all about competition, you should focus more on giving your audience a high-quality, genuine experience than trying to one-up your competitors. That way, you’ll not only attract a lot of traffic with your awesome SEO skills but you’ll also keep all that traffic for years to come.
Secret #2. Blog Frequently and Consistently
Google loves websites that frequently post or update their content.
So do readers.
It’s no wonder, then, that blogging at least once a week on a regular basis is one of the best-kept SEO secrets.
In fact, sites publishing 16 or more blog posts per month see 3.5 times more traffic that sites that publish only 0-4 blogs per month. But that’s not to say you should blow your audience up with content.
Blogging frequently and consistently is about building trust. So the last thing you should do is scare them away with spam-like posting schedules.
Make a schedule (with a reasonable number of posts per month) and stick to it. Your readers will look forward to the days you typically post. And this also makes it easier on you to schedule out your writing sessions.
In addition to posting frequently, you should also update posts regularly. That way, your “How to be an Awesome Writer in 2019” article is still relevent in 2020 and beyond.
Secret #1. Tell Your Audience a Story
While Google may not know the difference between a narrative that speaks to a readers’ emotions and one that doesn’t, your audience definitely does.
Been following this blog for a while? You’ve probably noticed I recently changed my branding. That’s because I read a lifechanging book called Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller.
I learned about the magic of using storytelling in your content and copywriting.
When you offer your audience high-quality content, you convince them intellectually that you’re awesome. And when you blog frequently and consistently, you give your audience proof that you’re reliable.
But when you tell your niche audience a story, you connect with them on an emotional level.
Marketing professionals have sworn by storytelling techniques for a while now. It’s about time we marketing content and copywriters got on board.
That’s all I have for you today, writers! Leave a comment and let me know if you want to know more about Donald Miller’s Building a Storybrand. Happy writing!
Don’t have time to DIY the SEO for your blog content? Get in touch and let me tell your story to the digital world.
Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer! Last week, we discussed content and few tips on writing great content. Today, we’re doing a deep dive into how to write content that keeps readers coming back for more.
The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Write Engaging Content
Click-Worthy Content Titles
Your title should be targeted toward a specific group of readers. If you target your titles toward a predetermined niche, you’ll have a handpicked audience just waiting to click on your content and devour it.
Your title should contain your short-tail and (if possible) long-tail keywords. Don’t worry if you don’t know how because we’re talking about using keywords in your content next week.
If creating titles makes you a little weak kneed, here are 4 things to include in your titles and 7 eye-catching title templates to get you started.
1. Desired Result
This is the desired result your audience should feel more prepared to achieve after they read your article or post.
This is the amount of time your article suggests the audience can achieve the desired result.
This is whatever your article promises your audience will get out of achieving their desired result.
This is a challenge your audience needs to overcome to achieve their desired result. Your article or post should give readers a solution to this challenge.
Here are 7 foolproof titles that will grab your audience’s attention every time.
- How to (desired result)
- How to (desired result) in (time)
- How to (desired result) without (challenge)
- How to (desired result) so you can (benefit)
- How to (desired result) in (time) so you can (benefit)
- How to (desired result) so you can (benefit) without (challenge)
- How to (desired result) in (time) so you can (benefit) without (challenge)
Here’s an example for template 7.
How to Draft a 1000-word Article (desired result) in 1 Hour (time) so you can Save Time (benefit) and Make More Money (challenge)
Headlines to Capture Attention– and Hold it
In journalism and writing, the headline is the first sentence or paragraph of your article or post. Good headlines inform the reader on the topic and set the tone for your content. Great headlines engage with a niche audience and compels them to keep reading.
Your headline can include a compelling and relevant story. It could state a controversial statement or an interesting statistic. Your headline may also state a conclusion others have reached that you’re going to affirm or deny in your article or post.
There’s no one way to write a headline. Just make sure it does one thing– capture your audience’s attention and never lets go.
Content Headings for an Easy Read
Headings give a short, concise summary about the paragraph or paragraphs that follow. Good headings
Great headings tell readers what the piece is about without even having to read the body paragraphs.
Remember to try and fit a few of your keywords in your headings for maximum SEO. We’ll get more in depth about using keywords in your content next week. Until then, you can brush up on your keyword terminology with Series Post #12.
Engage Readers with your Body… Paragraphs
Aside from your titles and headings, the bulk of your content will be found in the body of your content.
Paragraphs should consist of no more than 3 sentences. They shouldn’t take up too much space, either, since readers tend to skim bulky text. Add bolded words and phrases to make content skimmable, highlight your main points, and improve SEO.
Google loves content with multimedia. Videos are great but so are images. You can find awesome stock images for free on sites like unsplash, pixabay, and FreeImages. You can also pay for amazing high quality photos on sites like Shutterstock.
Bullet Point & Numbered Lists
Break up large chunks of text with bulleted and numbered lists. Lists are great for pros and cons. They’re also great for ranking tips or suggestions.
Reign in Readers with a Closing Pitch
Like the conclusion to an essay or a closing argument in court, the end of your content should:
- wrap up the point(s) you made before
- add something new and thought worthy
Unlike conclusions in other mediums and writing styles, though, your closing paragraph should reign your audience back in.
By this, I mean you should direct readers toward similar articles on your blog or to your product page. This keeps readers from clicking off your site to increase SEO. It’s also an opportunity to convert a one-time reader into a longtime fan.
The Final Touches
If you don’t have the Yoast SEO plugin, throw your content into a phrase repetition counter. That way, you know how many times you used your keyword in your article or post. You can also check for repetitive use of a non-keyword and make your writing more engaging with close synonyms.
If you’re like me, your sentences can get a little wordy. I always check my content with Hemmingway to make sure my articles are as clear and concise as possible.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you probably know I’m a huge fan of Grammarly. Edit and proofread your content with Grammarly everytime and start learning how to write better first drafts.
Practice with our Case Study
Think you got this content writing thing down? Let’s test out your skills on our old book blogger friend’s review blog.
Using the guide above, outline a quick article for a book review blog that targets YA readers who love Fantasy mermaid books.
Done? Awesome! Leave what you came up with in the comments because I’d love to check it out!
Here’s what I came up with.
[headline] Ahhh, summertime. You slide on your sunglasses and head to the beach. While everyone else is splashing in the waves, you’re working on your tan and devouring the latest YA Fantasy novel. If that sounds like your perfect day by the beach, here are 10 mermaid books to add to your summer TBR.
[heading] 10 YA Fantasy Mermaid Tales for your Summer 2019 TBR
[heading] Book Title
[heading] Summary of Book Title
[body] Here, our book blogger friend writes a summary of the best mermaid books to read in summer 2019.
[heading] Reasons Why TITLE should be on your Summer TBR
- [body] Here,
- our book blogger friend
- writes a list of reasons why
- their audience should buy the book
[closing] What are you waiting for? Go an grab one of these awesome mermaid books for your summer TBR right now! I’ll even give you my affiliate link to get 20% your first order with *affiliate link*. [pitch] And don’t forget to check out my list of the Top 3 Mermaid Books of 2019!
So there you have it, writers! Leave a comment and let me know how your content writing practice is going. Happy writing!
Series Post #13: What is Content Writing? PLUS 3 Tips for Beginners
Freelance Writing: A Guide to Getting Started for Beginners (Part 1)
Freelance Writing: A Guide to Getting Started for Beginners (Part 2)
Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!
Last week, we wrapped up our section on copywriting with SEO basics for writing copy. Today we’re talking about a different kind of online writing– content writing.
So you may be wondering– if this series is all about earning passive income with affiliate links, where’s all the stuff about affiliate links?! Patience, young padawan, we’re getting there.
Before you learn how to use affiliate links, you need to know how to write content.
But, before you write content, you need to know SEO basics and practice using it in copywriting for your site. Before you start writing copy, you need to know how to build your site… See where I’m going here?
Today we’re getting closer to talking about affiliate links by learning all about content writing (spoiler: this is where you’ll use the majority of your affiliate links). Ready? Let’s get started!
What is Content Writing?
Understanding the difference between content writing vs copywriting is the first step to defining content.
Copy is writing that sells. It’s a way to market a business or individual using words the niche audience will latch onto.
Content is writing that engages.
The purpose of content is to start a conversation with its audience. That means good content should have an audience in mind. This is where all that niche audience research we did earlier in this series will come in handy.
Here are a few examples of content writing:
- press releases
- digital whitepapers
Content writing occupies a wide range of writing styles. But they all have one thing in common– they engage with a specific audience with the intent of keeping readers coming back for more.
Content Writing Tips for Beginners
Now that you understand what content writing is, check out my top 3 tips for beginner content writers. And stay tuned next week for an in-depth breakdown of how to write good content.
Content should be well-researched. Here are two types of research you need to know to write good content.
You should do keyword research before you even decide your topic. Sometimes, keyword research helps decide your topic for you.
That’s because keyword research tells you the things your audience is searching for and the terms they’re using to search for them.
Once you have your keywords, you should have a good idea of your topic. Now you need to do a little research on that topic to see what’s already online and what’s not.
This is a lot like niche research in that you should be looking for the tips and topics your audience wants that no one else is talking about.
2. Make it Skimmable
Content should be skimmable. Online viewers don’t want to read every single little word on the page. They want content that’s easy to skim and easy to understand, even if they only read the subheadings.
Here’e how to do that in your content:
- Use images
- Use bullet points and numbered lists
- Use subheadings
- Use bolded SEO keywords
- Use links to your own and others’ content
Part of making your content skimmable is editing and proofreading until its error free.
3. Edit and Proofread
Content should be error-free and grammatically correct. This is extremely important if you want to be taken seriously as a content writer.
That’s because grammatical errors and missing words make your content harder to read. They also make it look like you don’t care about the content you write.
When you’re a beginner, you’re still learning the ins and outs of editing and proofreading. That’s why I suggest beginner content writers use Grammarly.
Editing software like Grammarly doesn’t just make your writing polished, it also helps you learn how to write better first drafts. The more you see the errors you make in your drafts, the more you’ll be able to fix them on your own in the future.
Want to know more about Grammarly? Check out their free and premium plans.
So there you have it! Leave a comment and let me know what kind of content you want to write. Happy writing!
Hey newbie freelance writers! It’s time for the final part in my 9-Step guide to getting started with freelance writing. Today, we’re bringing out the big guns. And by big guns, I mean the three steps that will take you from beginner to professional freelance writer.
Without completing these final three steps, clients won’t take you seriously and you’ll have a hard time trying to get your freelance writing business off the ground.
Are you ready to make your freelance writing career into a full-time business? Then keep reading!
7. Create a Freelance Writer Website
While you can snag jobs off freelance platforms without a website, you’re doomed to fail if you try to start cold pitching (see below) without one.
A personal website showcases your services and skills as a freelance writer.
- where you direct prospective clients when they want to see your portfolio
- where people can solicit your services without you having to find them
- where you can offer free content to prospective clients before they decide to hire you
If you really want to get serious with your business, you can even think about making yourself an LLC. This has many benefits, the main one being separating your personal assets from your business assets.
To find out more about turning your freelance writing into a business, read this thorough article.
8. Cold Pitch Your Writing
Okay, I’ll admit it– cold pitching is terrifying. That’s because cold pitching is when you email or call a prospective client out of the blue and pitch an unsolicited project.
Cold pitching is the best way to land high-paying, repeat clients. It’s also the best way to land a job writing for your dream client.
But all these perks come with a price– you really have to learn to sell yourself.
When it comes to cold pitching, you won’t just market your writing. You’ll also market yourself.
That’s because the clients you cold pitch are clients you want to build long-term relationships with. They’re people who will get to know you as a writer and a repeat freelance employee. For a definitive guide on all things cold-pitching, check out this awesome post.
9. Build Client Relationships
Ah, here we are. It’s the end of your journey as a newbie freelancer. But don’t tune out just yet!
This step is where the money-making magic happens.
Though building client relationships may come last in your introduction to freelance writing, it is absolutely, 100% the most vital step in this guide.
That’s because repeat clients,
- are usually the best clients
- will pay you what you deserve because they recognize your worth
- vibe with your writing style and love how you deliver results
Most of all, they respect how much effort you’ve put into making your writing into a business. They’re not going to scam you or try to pay you less than you’re worth. They’re the clients you need if you want to make a living as a freelance writer.
If you want to know more about the ins and outs of building client relationships, head over to this link.
So there you have it guys! Only 9 Steps and you can start working from home and living your writer dream. Leave a comment and let me know how I can help you with your freelance writing journey. Happy writing!
Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!
For the past two weeks, we’ve been talking about writing copy. We even practiced writing some copy of our own last week. Today, we’re learning about SEO keywords and how you can use SEO in your copywriting to get ranked on Google.
Let’s get started!
What Are SEO Keywords?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just what the title suggests– a way to optimize your content and copy so your site will rank in search results.
You can optimize your website to organically rank in searches by writing good content, creating a clear structure for your site, and having other reputable blogs link to you.
You can also utilize SEO keywords.
You may be wondering, what exactly are these magical little words that make your website rank-worthy?
SEO keywords are words or phrases that best describe the content on a page or post. They also help Google and other search engines understand how and where to rank you in search results. If you want to drive more traffic to your blog or site with very little effort, you need SEO keywords.
Let’s look at a few examples of the different types of keywords.
Head and Focus Keywords
These keywords are only one or two words. They’re usually pretty generic but they have the potential to drive a ton of traffic to your site.
Head keywords are also known as short-tail keywords and they tell search engines what your entire site is all about. For example, the head keyword for my site is “content and copywriter.”
Similarly, focus keywords tell search engines what a specific page is about. Two examples of focus keywords in this blog post are copywriting and SEO Keywords.
Though head and focus keywords are vital for your copy, they are extremely difficult to rank for. That’s why you should also include mid- and long-tail keywords.
Mid- and Long-tail Keywords
Mid-tail and long-tail keywords consist of anything from a couple words to an entire phrase. They are much less common than are head keywords, which means they’re also much easier to rank for.
An example of a mid-tail keyword in this blog post is use SEO in your copywriting and a long-tail keyword is use SEO in your copywriting to get ranked on Google.
Note how the focus keyword is included in both the mid- and long-tail keywords. That’s key SEO optimization right there, folks, and is exactly what you want to do with your own SEO keywords.
SEO Keywords for Copywriters
Now that you know what SEO keywords are, let’s look at how to use them in your copy.
Titles and Headings
Including keywords in your titles and headings is like a giant neon sign telling search engines exactly what each page and post on your site is abou. Here are a few pointers when using SEO keywords in your titles and headings.
- Include keywords in your title and one other heading on the page or post
- Try to use your long-tail keyword in your title but, if you can’t, at least make sure your focus keyword is in there somewhere
- You should also include your focus keyword in the headings throughout your posts including <h2>, <h3>, and <h4>
We’ll talk more about that last one when we get to the section on SEO basics for content writing in a few weeks.
Sprinkling keywords throughout the body of your text is another way to let search engines know what your page is about. Here are some qualities of good body keywords.
- Keywords should be bolded in body text so search engines know which words are important
- Keywords should be placed in the body text at a density of about 2% of your word count
- Use multiple phrasings of your mid-tail keywords to rank in different but related searches
Part of knowing which keywords to use in the body of your page or post is learning how to do keyword research. Here’s a link to an excellent video describing how to do keyword research for free.
Using keywords in your page URLs is another great way to get your site ranked on Google. You should definitely try to include your head keyword in your homepage URL. How? By choosing a domain name that includes your head keyword.
Here are a few other tips for using SEO keywords in your page URLs.
- Use the title of your page as your permalink
- Include keywords in your page and post titles
Metadata, or meta descriptions, are those little snapshots of what a page is about you see in Google search results. Not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s some metadata from the homepage of my website:
Notice how my site’s head keyword pops up in the meta description? If you don’t stuff your head keyword anywhere else, make sure you get it onto your homepage. Here are some more tips for using keywords in metadata.
- Metadata should be page-specific and summarize exactly what users can find in the page or post it describes
- Use only one focus keyword per page and include this keyword in the page’s meta description for optimum SEO results
So there you have it! Leave a comment and let me know your favorite part of this series so far. Happy writing!
Welcome back newbie freelance writers! Today we’re moving on to part 2 of 3 in my 9 Step guide to becoming a freelance writer. If you need a refresher from last week, here’s the link to Part 1.
If not, here’s a quick summary anyway.
Last week, we talked all about the prep work. The research and writing you need to do before even thinking about applying for a freelance job.
The three steps we’re learning this week should look familiar. That’s because the process of finding and applying to freelance writing jobs is super similar to “normal” jobs.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started with Step 4!
4. Fix Your Resume
Not all freelance jobs require a resume. Some do, especially high paying jobs and technical writer positions. So just in case, make sure your resume is polished.
As a writer, you should already be pretty good at typing up a stellar resume. If not, here’s a quick guide for drafting the perfect freelancer CV.
For newbie freelancers, the most important part of resume writing will be to highlight the aspects of previous jobs, volunteer work, and education that contribute to your success as a freelancer.
You can do this by including targeted keywords to catch your prospective employer’s attention. Employers usually list targetted keywords in the job description– only they cleverly disguise these words as job qualifications.
For example, freelancers in general should:
- be self-motivated
- have excellent time management skills
- require little to no supervision
- have great communication skills and
- have flexible schedules
Freelance writers in particular should:
- be excellent writers
- have a writing niche
- be decent self-editors
- have flawless proofreading skills
Using these keywords to target your resume toward the specific job or opportunity you’re applying to.
Don’t let your lack of experience hold you back from creating a killer resume. Even if you haven’t worked in writing before, prospective clients will recognize your potential if you optimize your resume.
Need more help creating your freelance writer resume? Here’s a post that tells you how to optimize your resume. It’s specifically targetted toward marketers, but works just as well for any industry.
5. Join a Freelance Platform
Upwork, Fiverr, and other platforms are excellent places to find freelance writing jobs when you’re first starting out.
If you haven’t heard, these platforms let you make a profile and upload your portfolio and resume. You find clients by applying to jobs and get paid through the platform’s escrow.
If you want to know more about freelance platforms, here are some pros and cons of using freelance platforms.
- an escrow to protect your intellectual property and income
- a quick and easy way to find and work with new clients
- gain experience while you get your name out there
- up to 20% of the money you make goes to the platform as a service fee
- you may have to take some low-paying jobs before you can land the good ones
- you will run into scammers and schemers
That last con may scary. Yes, there are scammers on freelancing platforms, just trying to take advantage of your beginner status.
But if you know your worth and adhere to the freelancing site’s policies, you’re in the best position to avoid getting scammed.
Freelance platforms are the best way to get experience as a newbie freelance writer before you jump into the frosty trenches that are cold-pitching. We’ll learn more about cold pitching in Part 3 of this guide.
6. Get Freelance Writing Experience
You need experience but, before applying to your first job, you should determine your rates as a freelance writer.
As a beginner freelancer with little to no experience, you’ll have to accept a lower wage for your work.
At least at first.
Once you have some good client reviews of your work, you can start raising your prices. In the meantime, read this post for an in-depth breakdown of how to determine your rates.
You may also benefit from doing some jobs pro-bono for reputable companies.
Yes, it’s frustrating when you work hard on a piece of writing and don’t even get a dime to show for it, but these pro-bono jobs have the potential to do more for your career than any paid job could.
Not only do you get to build up your portfolio but the best clients (the ones you want coming back for more) will also recognize your value and willingness to work hard for future success.
So there you have it! Be sure to tune in next week for the final part of this guide to getting started as a newbie freelance writer. Leave a comment and let me know if you want to read about my experience with Upwork and Guru as a novice freelance writer. Happy writing!
Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!
Last week, we looked at examples of good copywriting from around the web. Today, we’re going to practice writing copy in preparation for learning the basics of SEO copywriting next week.
Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!
If you’ve been keeping up with this serious then you’re familiar with our book blogger friend who has a blog for reviewing YA mermaid books. We’ll use our friend’s site to practice writing copy. Specifically, we’re writing Homepage copy, About copy, and Product copy.
Need a refresher? Here are the three components of good copywriting we defined last week:
- Advertise with words, including a CTA
- Speak your niche audience’s language
- Reflects your brand platform
These are very specific examples in a very narrow niche, but your copy doesn’t have to be exactly like the examples below.
Your copy can be located wherever you like on whichever page you want. It can be long or short; simplistic or complex. Copywriting technique should change a little bit every time you create a new site. Heck, even when you create a new page.
The key take away here is that using the 3 components of good copy and a little bit of practice, you can write copy for any niche on any site.
1. Homepage Copy
First, our book blogger friend wants to create a niche-specific name for their site. What better than a reference to the most famous teen mermaid of all?
Whozits and Whatsits Book Reviews
This site name is on brand, referencing both mermaids and book reviews. It also speaks the niche audience’s language since “whozits and whatsits galore” is a famous line from The Little Mermaid.
Next, our book blogger wants to write copy for the main body of the page. Specfically, they want to speak to the site’s brand platform.
Honest reviews to help you save money on YA mermaid books.
In smaller font beneath the brand statement, our friend expands on this platform a little and speaks a bit to the site’s mission.
Are you tired of shelling out too much cash for hyped YA books, only to be disappointed after reading? Swim over to the Whozits and Whatsits blog for always honest reviews to help you save money on books.
Beneath this, our book blogger friend adds a bright blue button with bolded font declaring:
Read the Blog!
Our book blogger friend also wants a message to pop up on the homepage, prompting visitors to sign up for the newsletter. The pop-up comes into view as soon as a visitor clicks on our friend’s site.
First, it declares our friend’s vision statement:
I’m writing a YA mermaid book!
If the visitor is interested, they can scroll down a little further, where they are prompted to take an action:
If you want more information about my book, extra content and reviews, and discounts on YA books about mermaids, sign up for the newsletter!
Finally, a clickable blue button blinks at the bottom of the pop-up, encouraging the visitor to respond to the CTA.
Join our undersea community!
Once the visitor clicks the “Join” button, they will be redirected to the newsletter signup form located on the About page.
2. About Copy
Our book blogger friend decides to style their About page like the pages of an open book, with a left and right side.
On the Left Side
Our friend wants to explain the purpose of this site (the brand statement) and a little about the author (About Me).
A few weeks ago, we helped our book blogger friend write their brand statement: This blog is devoted to posting only the most objective and honest reviews of YA Fantasy books about mermaids so you’re in the know before you buy.
Beneath the brand statement, our friend includes some information about them that is relevant to the site, such as:
- what prompted them to start the site
- how long they’ve been reading books about mermaids
- a few favorite books about mermaids
A note regarding “About Me” statements: these statements should be written in your voice. Voice is something I can’t necessarily teach you. So you should About Me statements until you get down the right tone and voice that fits you.
On the Right Side
Our book blogger friend wants to tell their audience about the book they’re writing.
The right side of the About page contains a synopsis of the book. This is also a great page for adding images of characters, aesthetic boards, or cover art. As you’ll learn next week, search engines love pages with media content and tend to rank them higher in search results.
Below the synopsis is a CTA prompting visitors to:
- sign up for the newsletter for more information about the book before it’s published or
- buy the book once it’s already published.
This leads us to our third exercise: writing Product copy.
3. Product Copy
A note regarding product copy: A CTA to buy the book once it’s published could be separated onto a Products page. For our purposes, the product information will be included on the left side of the About page.
Pro tip on writing product copy: you want to advertise your product both before and after release.
Advertising before a product release builds up anticipation and, especially in the case of book publishing, increases those vital pre-order sales. Advertising after release keeps you relevant and allows you to convert sales
Product Copy Before Release
Before their book is released, our friend uses the following copy.
Want to know more about my book?
Sign up for the Newsletter!
The copy is followed by a newsletter sign-up form for visitors to input their name and email address. Not only does this give people extra special content (and who doesn’t like feeling extra special?), our friend is also gathering a proven audience to market to once the book is released.
The newsletter sign-up form is also where the CTA “Join our undersea community!” redirects.
Product Copy After Release
After the book is released, our friend changes the copy to reflect that fact. They use a different CTA that prompts the audience to buy the book rather than learn more about it.
The eBook is on sale now for $.99 in the Kindle store!
Our book blogger friend also decides to include a link to a third-party review of their book to show how high quality the book is. That way, their thrifty, mermaid-loving audience will know the book has value.
So there you have it guys! Stay tuned next week because we’re talking SEO basics and how to use them in copywriting. Leave a comment and let me know how your copywriting practice is going. Happy writing!