Still confused about what it takes to succeed with affiliate marketing?
I feel you... For years I wandered around the blog-o-sphere trying to figure out how all the pieces to the puzzle fit together...
And now, I've got 5 separate sites generating 7-figures per year...
And I'm building 2 more...
Why? Because the process works!
So, let's pull it all together in one post here for you, shall we?
Right here, right now... You'll get to answer the question: How does affiliate marketing work step by step?
Which really will cover the big question: How do you write blog articles that get the right traffic and generate affiliate income?
This is the big question.
Obviously you know you need to publish content. But you also need to know how to do it.
My process revealed...
For my team and I, we are now moving into a new system where we start by planning keywords and doing keyword research one month in advance.
And by this, I mean a month before that keyword research is required for the next step.
Why such a large gap?
Well, if you’re doing all of this yourself, you may be able to get away with a shorter turn-around.
But since I’m pretty much contracting all of this work out, and MOST PEOPLE LAG at getting work-product back... (A recurring theme here...) #NotBitterISwear
And since there are so many moving parts, we found out this month that we really need to start each piece of content about a month in advance.
Doing this all on your own you can probably research your keyword in the morning, write your post during the day and publish it at night with no worries because you're in 100% control if you're doing all the work yourself.
The Digital Entrepreneur's Guide To Affiliate Marketing With Content
Let's set the stage here, first...
An affiliate marketing blog post is basically a blog post based on a specific keyword, that is packed with value to help offer a solution for your customer avatar....
It also contains your affiliate links, so that whenever someone clicks on those links to buy those products, the publisher of the blog earns a commission on the sale.
But the #1 goal of your content as an affiliate is to get clicked on from Google, to inform/educate your reader and to build trust with your audience by answering their exact question they searched.
Our affiliate marketing case study has the goal of reaching $3,000 a month in affiliate commissions by the end of the first year.
And 100% of those earnings will be generated by earning a commission on each affiliate product sold through our site.
UPDATE: After 1 year the site is generating $6,000 per month! You can get the full 1 year update here on YouTube.
In order for us to make money off of writing blogs, we are continuing to refine and perfect the many steps needed to publish an article that can generate income.
How To Write Affiliate Content That Converts - From Concept To Published Product
All in all, there are 9 total steps to create and publish and affiliate marketing blog post. Let’s go over them.
1… Keyword research
Keyword research is really where all of this starts.
You know what your niche is, you know what your target audience is looking for… so now, you need to use keyword research tools to plan out the specific keywords for your content.
If for some reason you made it this far but you have not yet found your niche... Be sure to go through the 5-minute Niche Finder Process here.
That said, I'm guessing you've got your niche dialed...
So let's jump in.
For actual keyword research, the most powerful tool is KW Finder.
You can also use tools like SEM Rush if you want to really double down on more advanced features, or use tools like Ahrefs if you really want to get advanced.
But You Need To Do More Than Find A Keyword
Finding a keyword is only the first part of this.
Once you find your keyword, you need to start researching other relevant keywords that you need to put into the content.
You also need to find out what types of posts are ranking for the top, and which ones aren’t doing so great.
Another thing that you would do at this stage is find out what numbers your posts for each specific keyword should include (Top 10, The 13 Best, The 23 Top So And So, etc.).
Basically, you want to put your keyword into an incognito browser to see what comes up for it.
You want Google to show you what to put into your article so that it can rank at the top!
Check out this video, where I demonstrate exactly how to do this. You should be doing this for every piece of content you create!
2… Get Ready To Write Your Content - Crafting The Titles And Metas
At this point, the keyword has been found, and all of the other relevant terms that should be included as H2s and H3s are found and identified.
This is when the content gets delivered to whoever is going to craft the Title and Meta.
This is actually a really crucial step.
In fact, one of the biggest oversights that occurred during this process, leading up to month 5, was that we didn’t put enough time and energy into our titles and metas.
But once we got this nailed down, the content started getting a lot better and more streamlined.
So crush those titles and metas!
Having trouble coming up with awesome titles? Check out my 7 Step Guide To Writing 100s Of Catchy Titles And Headlines Fast!
We also use a service called A/B Rankings to split test our titles and metas… and have seen incredible results with it!
3… Product research
After the titles and metas have been crafted, the articles are sent to researchers for in-depth product research.
But this is no small task!
Each item that gets recommended on your site should be thoroughly researched!
This means digging through other online reviews, watching video reviews, reading product descriptions, doing detailed comparisons of products that are similar… and doing your best to actually find the best products to offer and recommend.
This is how you bring true value to your audience… by caring about, stewarding with, what is being recommended on your affiliate site!
Product Link Tagging
During this phase, the researchers also make sure to create real affiliate URLs for each product that is going to be recommended in the content.
If affiliate URLs are not correct, they may not work. Or, they may work… but not credit you with a sale!
So this is a super-important step, and it is handled by our researchers and double-checked in the final editing stage.
4… Write Your Article
A lot of people think that writing is the first step when it comes to producing blog posts.
But as you can see here, this is certainly not the case.
After the keyword has been researched, the titles and metas have been written, and the products have been researched and properly linked/tagged, the content order is finally handed off to the writers.
At this step, we have learned that it is vitally important that the writers have very specific content orders, telling them exactly how to create each piece.
The more time you spend crafting awesome content orders/instructions for your writers, the more money you will save… because everything will just turn out a lot better!
The turnaround time on these orders can vary. In-house writers can sometimes get a single piece written in 2-3 days. But content farms generally take longer… sometimes 10-15 days!
This is why it is so important to schedule things ahead of time.
If you’re stuck waiting on content when you’re supposed to be publishing, you’ll just get set back.
And if no content is getting published, your website won’t progress!
One new tool that we’ve been using to help our writers write optimized blog posts is called Surfer SEO… and it is incredible!
If you want to absolutely crush your blog-writing, it is a must-use!
Our editor goes through each piece of content that gets published and basically does quality-control.
They check for errors and sometimes spruce-up the content a bit if a writer missed something.
Our editor also makes sure that the layout is correct so that when the piece finally goes to the publisher, it can be formatted correctly in WordPress.
6… Layout for Publisher
As stated above, our editor usually performs this step after proofreading/editing the articles.
But we also have someone ‘link and image’ the article at this point as well.
This essentially means that we have someone go through and add the appropriate links that each article is supposed to have in it (affiliate links, internal links, external links, etc.).
This person is also responsible for finding awesome images and videos to embed in the content, where applicable.
If you need an awesome resource for royalty-free, public-domain images, check out my post about 11 Sites For Royalty Free Stock Photos!
After being laid out, linked, and imaged, the content is ready for the publisher.
The publisher puts everything into the WordPress site and publishes it.
We are using a simple WordPress plugin to grab product images, reviews, and pricing safely from Amazon with AmaLinks.
This has given us the ability to automate almost all of the Amazon affiliate product and image stuff by pulling from Amazon's API.
AmaLinks also eliminates almost all of the concerns of violating Amazon's confusing terms and conditions.
8… Quality Check
After the article has been published and goes live on WordPress, our Project Manager reviews it to make sure that everything is correct.
He makes sure that the images are in the right spot, that everything was formatted correctly, that it looks good, etc.
Basically, this is the last line of defense for quality control. If something was wrong, it should get caught in this final step!
9... Internal Links
You can either do internal linking yourself manually, or use an awesome plugin that we use called Link Whisperer. This tool is absolutely insane, will save you dozens of hours every month, and costs less than $70 for a single WordPress site.
It literally does everything by itself. You need to press one, two… maybe three buttons, and boom… it literally does all of your internal linking for you.
It is just incredible. If you’re not using it, you should seriously check it out! It more than pays for itself every month, over and over again.
How Did Month 5 Affiliate Marketing Case Study Go?
The biggest struggle in this current phase, right now, is our writers are pulling ahead of our product researchers.
We have great writing and publishing systems in place now. They are starting to work together well, and the urgent need for more keywords and more product research is starting to create a ‘bottleneck’ that we are fighting to stay ahead of.
We now see that keyword planning needs to extend to more than a month in advance!
You Need To Have The Right Systems In Place
What this really all comes down to is making sure that you have the right systems in place for everything you need.
If you feel that things are starting to get bogged down in a certain spot, once you pay additional attention to that spot and fix it, a new problem emerges somewhere else in the chain of needed systems.
Finding solutions starts by identifying the problems.
And when it comes to the three big affiliate marketing systems, audience, traffic, monetize, that is pretty much what you’re doing… solving a big set of problems and straightening out your digital marketing framework, so that everything runs as it is supposed to!
In addition to all these system bumps, you run into things like...
Database Connection Error
Another interesting thing that happened this month was a “Database Connection Error. Check it out.
This ended up being a really cool experience though, because all we did was file a support ticket with our host, A2 hosting, and the problem was literally fixed within 20 minutes!
This goes to show why you want an amazing web host like A2. Don’t use those cheap, corporate, greedy hosts! Go with someone who won’t cut corners on customer service!
32-Blogs In Total, Published!
We have published 32 blogs in-total on the website as of this time. That means that we are a third of the way to 100… which is the threshold where you are beginning to turn into a real blog!
It is pretty exciting! We are well on our way to hitting that big 100 blog mark!
First Month To Hit 3-Per-Week - 12 Posts Published In The Last 30-Days
This was also the first month where we were able to hit 3 per week on the blog consistently all month long!
We published 12 blogs in the last 30 days… meaning that we are right on track!
Backlinks Started In-House
We started doing backlinks in-house this month as well… which is super exciting!
We hired a backlink guy, and the site project manager has been working with him on a targeted backlink campaign and keywords. I’ve even been coaching him a bit.
We are using the Authority Hacker system to train most of our people, including the backlink guy… and it crushes it.
200 Organic Search Impressions in One Day!
At this point, the impressions and clicks have started coming in! Check out this screenshot!
We had our biggest search impression results day to-date this month! At one point, we had 5 people on the website from search… and garnered 200 impressions on Google in a single day!
Those have been our biggest organic search results yet!
It just goes to show that when you do the right things in the right places, you get results.
Tasks Done And Money Invested
We hired two new researchers, tried out our 4th writing team, and hired a copywriter for titles and metas this month.
Here’s a breakdown of everything we spent on the site in the 5th month.
- Editor - $498
- Calendar/Scheduling - $274
- Research - $667
- Content Writing Team - 8 Articles - $659
- In-House Writers - 2 articles - $147.47
- Links - $175
- Project Management - $750
- Publishing - $234
As of yet, we haven’t made any money on the site. Of course, we are almost half-way to our one-year goal.
Will be able to get the site up to $3,000 per month in revenue by the end of the first year?
It still remains to be seen. Stay posted! As soon as we start making affiliate commissions… you’ll be the first to know!
What Was The Single-Biggest Decision Made In Month 5 That Will Contribute To Greater Success Down The Road?
We did a lot of title and meta planning this month and worked specifically to get our titles and metas spruced up. We also got started optimizing them with our awesome title split-testing tool, A/B Rankings.
Getting more serious about the titles and metas actually really increased our click-through rate on our highest-scoring blog posts.
It increased the click-through rate from 0.9% to 2% ... which is a pretty big increase!
Doing that work on our titles and metas and reworking them to make them more clickable, literally more than doubled our click-through rate in the span of just 7 days!
Hopefully this post has given you lots of awesome information for following along on this affiliate market case study.
It is absolutely going according to plan… though we also have a long way to go to reach our goal of $3,000 per month by the end of the first year.
We are almost half-way there! Let’s see what the second half brings us!
In the meantime, keep going… keep creating… and keep publishing!
You may be starting to feel the heat, but don’t back down.
This affiliate marketing stuff is hard work. But if you want to make your way to a real, no-gimmicks 6-figure income, this is literally the best way to do it, in my opinion!
See you on the next one!