Owning a content site is one the internet’s best income generating strategies – if done right. With so many different monetization options (affiliate marketing, advertising, online courses, etc.), all you really need to get started is, well, content.
Rank for high-volume keywords to bring in traffic. And rake in the money, right? Not quite.
Traffic is one side of the equation. But then the content will have to persuade readers to actually click and take the offer. Lots of content sites optimize for bringing in SEO traffic, but are seriously lacking in persuasive copy to convert traffic into revenue.
Here are our tips to help you master the art of writing for content websites, both big and small. So you can stop leaving affiliate revenue on the table.
Have a Clear Objective in Mind & Tailor Offer To Content
Your first step is to identify a goal for each page you create and to tailor each word and page element to help you achieve that goal.
In the world of content websites, goals usually involve:
- getting clicks on affiliate links
- getting clicks on ads
- engaging the audience so that it moves from page to page within the website or further down your funnel
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
This post from The Adventure Junkies about arthritis and hiking does not have a specific call to action at the end of the article. The goal of this page is most likely to draw in high-funnel traffic, to engage the audience with useful content, and to keep their attention long enough to get them to click on one of the ads (with links to an ebook, an app and a Facebook Group).
The article itself does not mention the ads, making it less sales-oriented, which is a plus in this case. But the ads are super relevant for likely readers of this article. Readers interested in combating their arthritic pain on a hike will also likely be interested in a guide on hiking gear. There is also a pop-up for an ebook about hiking for older adults – perfectly tailored to the audience in question.
Get to the Point
You want to write introductions to your posts that are interesting and get to the point as soon as possible.
When composing them, think about the reader’s intent. What do they want to know? What do they already know? Skip anything a reader is likely to be familiar with, and cut right to the chase.
Let’s return to the example about hiking and arthritis. It opens with four paragraphs of a boring explanation on what arthritis is. This is not the way to do it.
A person who is searching for terms related to hiking and arthritis just wants to know whether they can do it and how to set about it properly. They know what their condition is.
This article would be better off starting with the fifth paragraph: “If you suffer from arthritis and you want to keep hiking or start hiking, you’ll be happy to know…” This gets right to the point of what the reader wants and needs from the article, given their starting point.
The same could be said about Newsweek’s post on the best hybrid mattresses. Is it really necessary to tell the reader what a hybrid mattress is? I would argue no. It would be better to just skip to what to look for in a hybrid mattress (i.e. the second paragraph).
Use Emotions to Engage
One of the best ways to inspire a conversion is to play on your reader’s emotions by using emotional language, telling a story, or relying on your sense of humor to engage them.
MedicalAlertBuyersGuide is a great example to look at. Their homepage boasts an emotionally engaging blurb: “Our parents raised us to be independent and self-reliant. Now that they’re getting older, perhaps the best thing we can do for them is to finally return the favor.”
These two simple sentences play very heavily on their target audience’s emotions. Pride of what their parents taught them. Fear of their parents dying. Noble desire to be seen as helpful and grateful children. That’s some deep stuff.
How can you work something similar into your content? Ask why or so what to get down to the deeper layers of emotion.
You also want to write headlines that trigger an emotional response. They may be a bit mysterious, inspire fear or trust, or draw upon a personal experience or story. The latter will lend a deeper sense of authenticity to your content and evoke that feeling of curiosity every writer aspires to start in their readers.
Here is a great example from Dreamgrow of an emotionally engaging headline:
The reader is instantly drawn in and curious. What can this 7-figure secret be? I want to make 7 figures! How can I do that? Using a tactic like this will likely bring in more clicks than a boring headline like ‘Jungle Scout Reviews 2021: Details, Pricing, & Features.’
Be mindful, however, and don’t take your emotiveness overboard, so you don’t come off as too clickbaity or dishonest.
You can use this tool to analyze the emotional impact of your headlines.
As for the sense of humor – there is no guidebook that can tell you how to be funnier or make your audience laugh. You need to understand them and be able to relate. In order to hone your humorous edge, try reading the work of successful comedians. Jerry Seinfeld has a new book out that you can learn a lot from.
Here’s two humor tips that almost always work:
- Color in content with random details
- If you find yourself writing a cliche, ditch it for your own phraser.
For instance, instead of “avoid it like the plague,” replace it with “avoid it like your Uncle Todd after he’s had one too many eggnogs at Christmas.” This uses both tips to add a pinch of humor to your otherwise boring content.
Keep It Short and Simple
You don’t want long, run-on sentences in your content that don’t really get anywhere, yet manage to go on and on, stacking more and more commas against your patience and never getting to the point, even though you think you sound quite sophisticated, but you are probably confusing and boring the reader, who stops reading and starts thinking about what they are going to eat for lunch next Thursday evening, even though you don’t eat lunch in the evening, and they end up going back to the Google results and click on a competitor’s page and your competitor gets that affiliate sale instead of you.
Precisely like this last monster of a sentence.
What you actually want is to break your sentences and paragraphs up. Within reason, of course. You don’t need to write for 7-year-olds. But you should get to the point sooner rather than later.
The Hemingway app is a great way to simplify your writing. It gives your content a readability score. And tells you what needs to be shortened, made more legible, etc.
Focus on the Benefits Not Features.
Ideally, you want to highlight the benefits a certain product, service, item will have for the reader, as opposed to focusing on its features. What’s the difference? Features are what the product/service has. Benefits are why someone should care? How the features can improve someone’s life.
By highlighting the benefits, you’re making a better pitch – I don’t care what it’s made out of, I want to know if it works! If you can clearly demonstrate how a feature will solve a problem or fulfill a desire, the reader will be more likely to purchase.
This does not, however, mean that you need to focus on the benefits exclusively. You still need to talk a bit about the features; otherwise, you’ll be coming off as ignorant, under-informed, or too sales-y.
There is a nice balance in this post about the best skincare products for redness. Yes, the features are mentioned and highlighted, but the benefits of each product are also mentioned. And the entire post is geared towards a very specific benefit.
Use Points of Differentiation
If you are reviewing different products in the same category (for example, different kinds of mattresses), you need to find some way to differentiate between them. Otherwise your reviews won’t be very helpful. And they won’t lead to droves of readers buying and getting you that affiliate money!
Power words are your friend here: best value, high-quality, beginner-friendly. Be sure you mean what you say, and don’t label a product as beginner-friendly if it’s super complicated and user-unfriendly.
You can come up with your own rating system and your own categories. For example: best value for money, best for small apartments, best for cat owners, best for those who toss around in the night (if we stick to our mattress theme).
Find Your Gi is a great example to look at of a site doing this well. They list the best cheap Gi as one that is a great option for beginners. A perfectly sensible piece of advice, taking into consideration that a beginner does not need to invest a whole lot of money in their equipment right off the bat.
Another great option is to include a table of pros and cons for each product/service being reviewed. This post from Twine on the best explainer video software uses this tactic. It does a great job of giving a very quick overview of the benefits and drawbacks. This makes it easy for a reader to click, or else to move on towards something else they might click on. And that means more affiliate revenue for the site owners.
Break it up with Visuals
Content is more than just the words on a screen. The visual experience is super important. Long walls of text are difficult to get through. Breaking up text with headlines, images and other visual elements can greatly improve the overall experience. If you make it easy to consume your content, readers are more likely to do what you want them to do.
If you are comparing a bunch of products, or even if you are just breaking one down into the finest details, a table goes a long way. A simple visual representation of a whole lot of data will get your point across much better than a wall of text.
This post on Appliance Reviewer features an overview table at the top and then highlights the pros and cons for each individual item below. This is great for cutting down on the noise and allowing readers to compare models without having to scroll endlessly down the page.
Or you can do what Charlotte Law did and feature an overview at the top of the page that compares the different options at a glance.
Your aim is to make it easy for your readers to convert (in this case, click on your affiliate link). Visuals can quickly guide them toward what they are and are not looking for. If they need to read several paragraphs before getting to the useful information, they’ll be less likely to click through.
And whatever you do, never add gifs or memes to break up long, boring walls of text. Everything needs to be super serious. And boring. Don’t try to understand and relate to your audience through humor.
Just kidding 🙂
Always Edit Your Writing
As Hemingway may or may not have put it: write drunk, edit sober.
You don’t have to down a fifth of Jack before starting your next toilet paper review. The point is to loosen up. Let your creative imagination run a bit wild as you first write a piece. Turn off your critical brain. And use your clown brain.
But when editing, reverse. Clown off. Critic on. Try to be as rational, logical, and cut-throat as you can be with your own writing.
Ask yourself what you would object to in the article if someone else had written it. Is it too long? Is it too short? Does it provide any real information, or is it just fluff? Does it need more examples? Can it be trusted? Does it flow well? Is it too stuffy?
Go back and fix the flaws. Get it smooth and shiny.
Editing is often the more grueling part of the writing process, and it may require more time than the initial draft. That’s why you should always aim to get your draft on paper as soon as you can. Then later you can worry about tweaking it to as close to perfect as necessary.
Writing for Google is one thing. But writing for humans is another. Your content needs to capture the tiny attention span of readers and keep them engaged. And ultimately get them to conert. It’s no easy thing. It takes research, care, craft and precision.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to better structure, illustrate, and compose copy that gets more clicks, more conversions and brings in more money, baby!