When starting out, a lot of bloggers think they can just write a blog post, top ten list, or round-up, slap some affiliate links in the post, and start raking in the cash. Unfortunately, there’s more too it than that. (But we all start somewhere, right?!) This ultimate affiliate blog post checklist will help you make sure you’re doing all you can to make your own affiliate blog posts successful!
(And you can get your own free checklist at the bottom of this post to refer back to every time you create your own blog posts!)
1.Keyword Research. Before you get started on any blog post, keyword research is a great place to start.
Say you have a general idea of what you want to post about – we’ll use DIY Halloween Outfits for this example. Your plan to show people easy DIY costumes (with say, affiliate links to Amazon or even Spirit the Halloween Store to monetize it).
I recommend starting your keyword research by using Google and the Keywords Everywhere (Chrome or Firefox) extension (at least for beginners. More advanced users might want to try tools like SEMRush or ahrefs. Both are fairly pricey, but offer free trails.)
When you search “DIY Halloween Outfits” on Google with Keywords Everywhere, you’ll see not just Google’s search results, but Keywords Everywhere will also tell you how many people are searching for that term (the volume), CPC (or Cost Per Click), how tough the competition is for that keyword, and what related terms people search for, etc.
Look at those results and you may find that “Easy Halloween Costumes for Guys” has lower search volume, but also lower competition and CPC, and it still fits your main idea. This may be the actual longtail keyword you want to go after.
2. Title Creation. Based on your keyword research, you’ll choose a title for your post.
Using the keywords in your post title are a boost for your SEO, because it not only becomes your H1 header, but also the “slug” or part of the URL of the post.
So in our imaginary scenario for this post, we’ll use “7 Easy Halloween Costumes for Guys” as the blog post title.
3. Research and write the post. In some cases this will be easy for you! You may already have all the ideas in your head and you just need to get them into a blog post.
But if you’re writing something more in-depth and/or technical, you may need to take more time here. I’ve written posts that have taken 30 minutes and posts that have taken 4 days.
4. Write a 900-2000 word post. Over time you’ll find that a lot of your posts fall into this word count category, and that’s great! But if you really want to make an impact and rank higher in search…
5. Write a 2000-5000+ word post. Yes, these posts are a BEAST to research and write. But ooohhh are they ever worth it! They tend to rank higher and convert your affiliate sales more often.
In doing your keyword research, take a look at the blog posts that rank on page one. Are they these longer types of posts? If so, make yours even longer.
The more you can teach about the subject you’re writing about, the more Google (and other search engines) will see you as an authority on that subject, and will tend to rank you higher. (At least that’s one technique that is working these days. Things change, and if this does, I’ll come update this post!)
6. Have someone edit the post. If that’s not possible, ask a friend or family member to read the post for clarity and typos. If that’s not possible, wait at least 24 hours and then slowly read the post out loud to yourself. I find this helps me catch mistakes I may not have noticed before.
And it should go without saying, but you can always use some sort of spell checker and/or Grammarly in addition to these ideas. Unfortunately the technology isn’t perfect yet, but it will certainly help you catch things you may not have seen, even on a second read.
7. Include appropriate internal links. Internal links are simply links from your blog post (or elsewhere on your site) that link to another blog post (or, again, elsewhere on your site).
These are helpful for a few reasons (like making your site easy to navigate by your readers) but most of all: it’s great for SEO. Moz has a super in-depth post about Internal links, if you want to learn more. But just know that the search engines appreciate your internal links.
The best way to do this is by using keyword rich and appropriate words that tell your readers and Google what the link is about. For example:
8. Include appropriate external links. In this post I’m referring to links you put in your post that lead to other domains (that are not affiliate links). But external links can also refer to links other websites have linked to your website, as well.
According to Moz.com:
In fact, the link above to Moz.com is an example of an external link.
If you love this blog post and decide to link to it from your blog, that would also be considered an external link (and just a really, really nice thing to do! 😉
As with internal links, it’s best to use descriptive and appropriate keywords in the anchor text of your link. You also want to switch up the keywords you use, because otherwise Google might see it as spammy.
9. Use ThirstyAffiliates for any/all affiliate links. There are several plugins like Thirsty Affiliates, but it’s by far my favorite. Basically it cloaks your long (or short) ugly affiliate links. So a link like this:
Ends up becoming:
It not only looks better, but it also makes it easier to include affiliate links anywhere and everywhere on your blog! And you can change/update the link(s) in one place, but the change will update anywhere the ThirstyAffiliate link is used on your site. It’s awesome.
10. Make sure your keywords are in the right places. While you don’t want to go overboard with your keywords, they should be at least in these places:
- the blog title
- the first paragraph
- the “slug” or URL
- sprinkled throughout your blog post (in sub-headers, paragraphs, etc.)
11. Create Images for Your Post. Because I (count on (and LOVE) Pinterest for promoting my blog posts, I always make sure I create (or hire someone to create) Pinterest-friendly images for all of my posts. I definitely make at least one, and sometimes several.
But you may also need to create and/or find other images for your posts, like in the case of the “Easy Halloween…” post you’d want pictures of the costume ideas. Or if you’re writing a post on social media growth, you might want to include an infographic, etc.
12. Set your “Featured image”. This is for WordPress users, as I’m not sure whether or not it applies on other website platforms. But when you set your featured image, you get another chance to include your keywords in the description, title, caption, etc.
I like to use my Pinterest-friendly (600×900 pixels) image for this as well, because it’s generally used as the main image when your readers go to save your blog post to Pinterest using social share buttons and/or the Pinterest Chrome extension.
13. Set up your Pinterest Hidden Images in WP Tasty Pins and complete the default Pinterest text. Again, this is for WordPress users, as I’m not sure whether or not it applies on other website platforms. But the WP Tasty Pins plugin makes it easy to optimize your blog’s images for Pinterest, SEO, and screen readers.
Not only can you set up exactly what you want your Pin’s description to be (including your keywords, and even a few hashtags, if you’d like!) but you can create multiple images that are “hidden” from your blog post, but still pinnable from your social share app, the Pinterest Chrome extension, the Tailwind scheduling app for Pinterest, etc.
14. Use Keyword Rich Tags. Most, if not all, blogging platforms will allow you to add tags to your blog post. In WordPress they are on the main edit page, in the right-hand column.
15. Write the post excerpt using your keyword(s). WordPress also offers a section where you can create a custom post excerpt. This allows you to let people know exactly what your post is about in a succinct way, and it’s also good for SEO.
16. Write the Yoast snippet, making sure it’s “green”. Yoast is a free(mium) plugin for WordPress that I could not live without. (Okay, maybe I could, but my blog sure would suffer for it!) You can find it by doing a plugin search in your WordPress dashboard.
Essentially, Yoast checks my post for proper SEO and tells me what I can do to improve my score. (Which comes in the form of a green light for good, yellow light for so-so, and red light for bad.)
The Yoast “snippet” is kind of like the WordPress excerpt, and it should include a short description of your blog post with your keyword(s). Make sure the bar is green for the snippet, too.
17. Check Yoast for an overall greenlight. I always check to see if Yoast has given me a green light for my blog before I hit publish. If not, I read it’s suggestions and make the suggested improvements. But if you use this checklist, you should more than likely already have a green light at this point.
18. Create an Opt-in for the post (optional). While this is optional, it is a great way to build trust and likability with your readers. (Not to mention your email list.)
As I mentioned earlier, I created a (shorter) version of this post as a checklist that you and my other readers can download at the end of this post. That is an example of an “opt-in” that is specifically made for this post only. You certainly don’t have to make a separate opt-in for every post (I sure don’t!) But they are helpful to create from time to time, especially when it will really benefit your readers.
If you don’t make a specific opt-in, be sure to include your more general opt-in at the end of the post, and/or as an exit-intent pop-up. I know some people find those annoying, but big time bloggers find them HIGHLY effective (as do I!)
19. Pre-publish double check! Before you hit publish (and I know that’s the exciting part!) check to make sure: are all of your links going to the correct URL/ThirstyAffiliate link URL? Are all images linked (if applicable)? One more scan for typos or strangely worded sentences, etc., plus check for that green light from Yoast…
20. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Hit publish!
Now, quickly open your new post in a new tab: look it over for anything that looks off: are all of your images showing up? Does the formatting look good? Etc.
Once it looks great, well, then you still have more work to do…
21. Send an email to your list about your new post. I like to tell my email subscribers first about my post, because they are more important to me than anyone else who may follow me on social media, Pinterest, etc. And since I have something new and exciting to share, I want to tell them all about it!
I also suggest that they save it on Pinterest (either for future reading or just as something nice to do for me, because I looove Pinterest!) But if Facebook or Twitter or even a shared screenshot in an Instagram story is what you prefer, don’t be shy to ask them to share it.
22. Save the featured image to your main Pinterest blog board. What I mean by that is your blog board that is named after your blog (like I have a Pinterest board simply called ThrivingAffiliates.com but you could also have a “Best of -YourBlogName-” or something similar.
23. If you made extra pin images, save those to that board as well.
24. Schedule all of those pins using Tailwind. Use the Tailwind Pinterest scheduler to post any and all images to other relevant boards. Those could be your boards, or group boards you are a contributor to.
25. Once all those pins are scheduled, be sure to log into Tailwind and Shuffle your queue. This makes sure you’re not pinning the same pin 15 or 30 times in a row!
26. Share the Pin(s) with any fitting Tailwind Tribes. Tailwind Tribes are groups of pinners who are interest in pinning about similar topics and who (in most cases) agree to re-pin as many (or more) pins than they share.
By the way, you can join the Tailwind Affiliate Program and earn recurring commissions from the sales you refer. This is a great way to earn extra affiliate income, and/or pay for your own Tailwind subscription!
27. Share the post on Instagram. Share it both in your main feed as well as in your stories — even if you don’t have the swipe up feature yet. I suggest that because there will be people who won’t see your story, but they might see your feed, and vice versa.
28. Share the post on your Facebook business page and/or Facebook group.
29. Share the post on Twitter. Yes, there are people who still use Twitter. And even if they don’t see your tweet in their feed, anyone who goes to see your bio can see it!
And really, the point of these last few tips are: share your blog post anywhere and everywhere you feel is relevant. (And then share it some more!)
30. If you’ve featured anyone and/or a blog in your post, reach out to them and let them know. I’ll generally send a quick and friendly email that let’s them know that I know they are a real person and actually have a quality blog and/or website. I might mention something I particularly enjoy about them and/or their blog. Then I mention that I’ve included a link to them (maybe their blog, shop, social media, etc.) I also say that I’m sure they are busy, so there is no need to reply. But if they felt like sharing the post (on social media, in their email newsletter, on their blog, etc.) I would be ever so grateful (though in no way required.)
The funny thing is, I almost ALWAYS hear back from them, with positive comments and saying they will, indeed, share the post! So don’t skip this step. 😊
Whew! That was a lot! You deserve a treat! Why not get a sweet-lookin’ version of this list in a handy little cheat sheet?!