I was a technical writer at one point in my career. I would create lengthy documents that completely and precisely described every aspect of our product. I also co-wrote a lengthy non-fiction book for a major publisher – so writing for blogs and affiliates sites would, of course, be a breeze.
It is a totally different format and audience.
The attention span of a visitor to your blog or affiliate site is very short. They are skimming your content. You also are trying to persuade them to follow an affiliate link, purchase your product, or just not click away.
I had to forget most of what a typical editor would tell me to do.
The good news is that writing for your affiliate site is not difficult. There are some simple rules to follow to create compelling content. Perhaps you won’t be a six-figure copywriter overnight, but you can definitely create copy that ranks with Google and is valuable to your audience. Let’s look at what it takes to make a great online article.
Writing Tips for Bloggers and Affiliates
1) Relevance – Hopefully many of your visitors are coming to you from Google search. This is free traffic and the foundation of most blogs and affiliate sites. Google uses at least 200 factors for determining the pages to present for query results.
Your goal is to have your on-page SEO in order AND to create an article with the most search relevance.
You should start with researching the number of queries for your topic. You can use a free app like Keywords Everywhere to test phrases and see how many monthly searches are performed. These long tail keywords are how people will find you.
Research the top 20 results for the keywords you selected. If you can’t add value to the topic. If you can’t create a better more informative article. Find a new topic.
2) Sentence length – It is definitely best to vary sentence length. Longer sentences allow you to develop an idea more thoroughly. Short sentences are particularly good at one thing. Impact. Mix your sentence length for an article that is easier to read and digest. Don’t be afraid to use truncated sentences. “I like writing.” is often better than “I like writing blog posts.”
3) Paragraph Length – Throw out all your rules about paragraph length and structure that you learned in school. I know I was taught to have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, summarising sentence, and transition sentence. This is not the best formula for online content. Your paragraphs should be 1-4 sentences.
Yes, a one-sentence paragraph is ok.
As soon as a new idea is needed; make a new paragraph.
4) Active vs. Passive Voice – Your content needs to be alive. Active. The active voice is when a subject does an action to an object. The passive voice is when you emphasize the action or verb.
It is best to avoid passive voice when possible. When you write in the passive voice it often feels weak and dull. For example:
“My FaceBook ad was responded to by everyone.”
“Everyone responded to my FaceBook ad.”
5) Address your visitors – A directed conversational tone is best. Yes, I am talking to you. Try to know and relate to your audience. Create a persona of the person reading your article and talk to them.
Don’t be afraid to use slang that will resonate with your target reader. Don’t be afraid to offend 10% of your readers. Be familiar with 90% of them.
6) Vocabulary – I love language. But you should avoid long or esoteric words. It isn’t that readers are stupid they are just in a hurry. You also want a chatty conversational tone. Blog content is not the place for bombastic rhetoric lest you sound pretentious 🙂
7) Visuals – Your readers are hunter-gatherers. They want to know right away if your content helps them. They often first skim the page before reading any content. Images, bulleted lists, pull-quotes creates a more visually appealing page. Visuals provide quick access to import ideas.
8) Focus – Your article should have a single focus. This post could easily discuss on-page SEO in great detail or how to outsource your writing. Both are very relevant to a blog writer’s content issues. But it makes much more sense to have a separate post for each topic. You can then link them in the content to help the user explore the broader subject. This internal linking also strengthens the SEO value of the articles and creates topical authority for your blog. But don’t have multiple articles on the same subject. That leads to keyword cannibalization where you are competing with yourself for Google search result placement.
As long as you can write 1500+ words, the topic is rich enough for its own page. In the case of the writing topic, I have a separate article about on-page SEO. I also have a post scheduled in my editorial calendar about outsourcing writers and content.
9) Call to action (CTA) – Content often leads your reader to take an action. Affiliate content writers want the reader to get more product information. To go to the vendor site. if you have a call to action be sure that you use buttons or other visual cues to entice the reader to take that action. Simply having a link in the body of your text is not enough. Affiliates should A/B test different size & color CTAs to see which converts best.
10) Less is more – After writing your first draft start removing things. The temptation is to increase the word count. Longer articles definitely rank better with Google. But they must be long because of the depth of ideas not filled with content that adds no value. This post at one point had 50 items.
11) Important ideas at the beginning – You need to be sure to draw the reader into the article by giving them the most valuable information early on. If they have an ah-ha moment in the first paragraph they will continue to read. If you have a long introductory paragraph that simply summarizes the post – they will click away. You are not writing an academic essay.
12) Make Good Titles – Great copywriting starts with a great title. It is the hook of your article. It should pull the reader in and make them look for more. Titles are also a key ranking factor so they should include your targetted keyword phrase.
Titles with dates and numbers often convert better. A title like “21 Writing Tips for Bloggers” will convert better than “Writing Tips for Bloggers”, “On-Page SEO tips for 2018” converts better than “On-Page SEO Tips.”
Use trigger words like “how,” “who” and “what.”. Try to use catchy phrases, double meanings (I was tempted to say double-entendre but thought better of it!). Use energetic adjectives like brilliant or awesome. You can also try an automated title generator like Blog Title Generator to get ideas.
13) Develop a voice – Readers need to feel familiar with you and your writing style. Using your reader persona helps with this. A consistent likable voice helps build trust. Trust improves conversions.
14) Use Multi-media -People consume content in different ways. Consider delivering your content as:
These objects also get indexed separately by Google and can generate additional traffic.
15) Emotional Impact – Good art evokes an emotion, so should your content. It might be humor, excitement even anger. But readers will remember a post that gets their juices flowing.
16) Grammar matters – Even though the tone is conversational, you need to use proper grammar. Spelling mistakes, grammar issues, typos all make a reader think you don’t care about your content — or them. Grammarly is a great free browser tool to keep you from making embarrassing mistakes.
17) Quotes and references – Support your ideas with confirming information from experts that will be familiar to your audience. Look at a hugely successful 7-figure blogger like Neil Patel and you will see each post is backed by supporting data. References also help you establish authority. Why should anyone care about your BS? Anyone can put up a blog so you need to give people a reason to value your opinion. External links to high-authority sites also improves the SEO value of your article.
18) Mobile First – You need to be sure that your content is well formatted and structured for mobile users. A post with a visual every five paragraphs is a wall of text on a mobile device. Fonts and margins must also be responsive.
19) Shitty First Drafts & Editing – One of my favorite writing coaches is Anne Lamott. Her book Bird by Bird is a must read for any author. One take away from her book is to write a ”shitty first draft”. Get the ideas down on paper and you can improve them later. Lamott famously said,
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” Lamott
Editing is a separate step. Ideally, you have someone else editing your work. If not, don’t try to edit your freshly created work. Leave it for a day or two and then come back to it.
20) Pre-publish checklist – Like a good pilot a seasoned author needs to have a final checklist. Here is mine for content and style, I have a separate SEO checklist.
- Length – is it at least 1500 words
- Mobile – Is there enough non-text content. Are fonts and margins appropriate sizes
- Paragraph length – Do new topics start new paragraphs
- Readability & Passive Voice – I use Analyze My Writing to check for readability and passive voice issues
21) Create a Style Guide – If you use outside writers, create s style guide. HubSpot has a great style guide with 21 examples. This will save you lots of editing time. You writers will also thank you for creating less rework for them. A win-win.