With every passing year, content is becoming even more important than before. “Content is king” has been iterated to death but it hasn’t made it less true. But as an affiliate marketer, do you REALLY need a content strategy?
Unless you plan on spending thousands of dollars on paid advertising alone, you need to put serious thought into how you’re going to market your site. For most affiliates, this starts with creating good content. But you already know that, right?
The problem is knowing isn’t doing. Most affiliate marketers know they need a good content to truly make their niche site shine. So they start out with a bang, put out some great pieces of content and then slowly it starts dwindling out. Some completely stop while others just do it ad hoc (when or if they have some spare time).
When you’re doing content marketing half-heartedly like this, your results are also going to be half-hearted. Setting out a content strategy from the very beginning will help you stay on track with your content. If you want your niche site to benefit from content marketing, you need a content marketing strategy to back you up.
Here are our top tips to help you get started.
Identify Your Target Demographic
This is the first and most basic step for any marketing plan, so this is where you should start for your content strategy as well. You need to have a very clear idea of exactly who your audience is before you can work on content ideas and how to market it to them.
Sometimes this target demographic is really easy to identify. For example, if you're running a site on yoga for athletes, you know your ideal audience is athletes. However, at other times the audience is not obviously spelled out and you need to spend some time figuring it out. For example, if you run a travel blog, it may not be immediately obvious who exactly your travel blog appeals to.
You need to really grill yourself and answer some important questions about your audience. The more you narrow it down, the better it is for you. Picture them as being one person and your job is to describe this person as best as possible.
To help you determine who your audience is, here are some sample questions to ask yourself about your site:
- What gender are they?
- What age group do they belong in?
- Where do they live?
- What language do they speak?
- Do they belong to a specific ethnic or religious group?
- What is their relationship status?
- What is their income level?
- What interests do they have?
- How do they spend their leisure time?
- Do they have any common problems?
- What type of books do they read?
- What movies do they like to watch?
Obviously, keep adding to this with questions that are relevant to your site and niche.
Answering these questions may seem silly but the answers will help you paint a very realistic picture of a person. Having an actual person in mind will make it easier for you when you're trying to plan your content.
What is Your Goal?
Creating content for the sake of creating content is pointless. From the very outset, your content strategy should clearly outline your goals. What is it that you want to achieve from the creation of this content? You can have one or multiple goals — just as long as you know what they are!
Example of content goals:
- Generating an awareness for the new site
- Sending traffic to the site
- Link building
- Social sharing
- Audience engagement
- Building thought leadership
Knowing your goals will help when you're actually creating the content. Every piece of content will work towards achieving your goals and you won't be wasting any time on unnecessary content.
Do Your Research
Once you have settled on a goal and identified your target audience, it's time to get into some hardcore research.
Check out competitors in your niche to see what they are doing. If you come across competitors doing content well, make a note of it. You don't need to copy them, but if you both share a common target demographic and your audience likes their content, you should find a way to replicate the formula.
Now that you know who your audience is, it's important to research where they spend their time online. By having a clear idea of what your audience is doing online, you will be in a better position to reach them.
So with regards to your audience, how would you answer the following?
- Social networks most used?
- Blogs read?
- Forums frequented?
- News consumed?
- Sites most visited?
- Types of content shared? (e.g. blog posts, memes, news stories etc)
Determine Types of Content
Armed with audience and competitor data, you are in an excellent position to start planning the types of content you will create. If your audience is one that seems to only enjoy visual content, your focus should be on developing imagery that will be appealing to them. On the other hand, if your audience is one that appreciates long form, informative content then you need to spend your energy on creating quality posts. (Check out my post, "How to Never Run Out of Blog Ideas," if you need a little help.)
You will obviously have more than one type of content. In your strategy, you can plan out how often you should be publishing each type of content.
Create a Content Calendar
Finally, with everything in place, it's now time for you to create a content calendar. This is an excellent tool used by newspaper and magazine editors, social media managers and blog publishers alike. It is a calendar that helps you plan out your content in advance.
My advice? Do this once a month and plan out your content for the month ahead. You don't have to publish something every day. So if you're publishing a blog post every Tuesday and a new infographic every third Thursday of the month, mark it on your calendar. Be as specific as possible so put in topics, the person creating the content, due dates and anything else that would be relevant.
Being organized with a content calendar will make sure you regularly produce content and not just when the inspiration hits you.
A content strategy isn't a fancy term for big corporate offices. It's also a real and very useful tool for affiliate marketers like you. Make some time today to put your content marketing strategy into place, and your marketing efforts will start becoming much easier.
Any thoughts? Have you ever created a content strategy? How did that work out for you?