Whenever I build a new affiliate blog I immediately upload and install a few plugins that my blogs cannot do without. Some of these are SEO related, which is paramount for any blog - old or new. Others like Popularity Contest improve the 'stickiness' of your site. Check out my list.
Must-Have Wordpress Plugins
1. All In One SEO - Easily the #1 SEO plugin available for Wordpress today. You don't want to run a blog without this plugin. All In One SEO allows you to set titles, keywords, and descriptions for your site which search engines will pickup and use. Make your meta description good, you want to entice searchers to click on the link to your site.
2. Wordpress Database Backup - Sometimes bad things happen. Be safe and backup your Wordpress database with this plugin. I have this plugin sending me database backups for all of my sites every single week. Sure it's a lot of email, but better safe than sorry!
3. Link Cloaking Plugin - If you're going to work with affiliates other than Ebay, consider using a link cloaking plugin to cloak your affiliate links. Top affiliates suggest you do this, as it improves conversions and people will be more inclined to click your affiliate links. This translates to more revenue for you.
4. Google XML Sitemap Generator - In the days of old we had to make sitemaps by hand for static websites. This was an annoying task, and as you added more content you had to update the sitemap. With this plugin + Wordpress the workload is completely automated. As new posts are added your sitemap is automatically rebuilt and Google is informed of your changes. Another great plugin for SEO!
5. Popularity Contest - It's always a good idea to have links to your most popular content handy for your visitors - it's going to make your website more 'sticky'. I've noticed my best, most indepth posts get the most comments.
This plugin is helpful in driving more surfers and even more comments to these posts without fumbling up the overall organization of the blog.
6. WhyDoWork Adsense Plugin or Adsense Injection - If you're looking for an easy way to insert Adsense into your posts then consider either of these plugins. The last thing you want to do is tediously insert Adsense code into each of your posts by hand.
Suggested Wordpress Themes for Affiliate Bloggers
Chances are you don't want to stick with the plain default theme that your Wordpress blog comes installed with. You're going to want to make your site more attractive to the eye - if your site is ugly or unprofessional looking then visitors have a bigger chance of clicking off your site and onto something else.
There are also some themes that are ideal for affiliate blogging and some that aren't. Consider some of these themes for your next affiliate blog.
1. Revolution Series - If you want to pay for a really great, professional theme then none of them beat out the Revolution Series of themes. These are top notch magazine style themes which have great features like video, pre-installed adsense and banners, and front-page featured content.
This blog is using the Revolution Music theme, I really recommend these themes if you want to add flair to your site. While they take a bit getting used to, once you get the hang of using this theme you will be glad you put in the extra effort because its a really great theme. There are many Revolution themes to choose form.
If you don't want to spend the money on a premium theme, check out Mimbo or Branford - two very good magazine themes which have a similar feel to the Revolution themes (minus a couple of the features).
2. Cutline - One of the most downloaded themes, I like cutline because it is simplistic yet not too much like the default theme.
You can easily customize the header to match your site, and I like how the pages are displayed between the header and blog name. You can make these pages your "money pages" where they are mostly product oriented and you can get visitors clicking on your PHPBay ads.
Some affiliates say you should keep your pages for earning and converting your visitors into buyers, and use your posts for traffic generation and general content updates. This is probably a good idea if you want to keep your site professional-looking, and not cluttered with ads.
3. Prosense - If you want maximize the adsense earnings from your blog check out some of the themes which are specifically made for getting the most from your adsense clicks.
Prosense is an Adsense ready Wordpress theme that is very simple and highly customizable. You won't need an Adsense injection plugin with this theme, it has a built-in feature that automatically inserts Adsense into your single posts for you.
There's no doubt about it, quality content is one of the big things that makes websites great.
Search for any keyword in Google, chances are the top 10 results will be filled with content that you will find useful. Of course, this is what search enginges are used for: giving searchers the best, most informative information.
As a website it's absolutely imperative that you have good, readable English articles on your website related to the niche which you're promoting. Does your niche store sell cellphones? Write cellphone reviews. Does your niche store sell lawnmowers? Write lawn tips or articles on how to pick the best lawn mower. You get the picture.
Ultra-Important for SEO
Google loves unique, quality content. If you're looking to rank for a specific term, then it's in your best interest to write an article loosely focused around this term. Don't make it a big fluff article that nobody is going to find useful, give it real substance.
Put some time and thought in your articles - write a small outline and present solid points your visitors are actually going to find useful.
Good content is just as important as good links, don't neglect either of these!
Presell What You're Selling
As your visitor reads your articles, they will become warmed up to your offer. Have you ever visited a website that just has pages and pages of products? Did seeing all these products make you want to buy? Chances are, it didn't. Have you ever visited a website where you read an informative review about a product and then purchased the product after you read the review? I certainly have.
doesn't involve hard sales pitching in any way. You're merely presenting honest facts to your reader, negative or positive. Be brutally honest about the products your niche store offers, customers will appreciate it and will come back to your website because they TRUST you.
Keep Your Visitors Eyes Glued to Your Site
Good content will keep visitors on your site for longer periods of time. Instead of arriving and then leaving quickly because they realize your site has nothing good to offer them, they stick around to read up on something that interests them.
The longer visitors stay on your site then the better chances you have of them noticing and clicking on an ad, or clicking through to your affiliate links and making a purchase.
A nice plugin I like to use on my Wordpress sites is Popularity Contest. It displays my most popular articles on the right-hand site so visitors can get to my best content quickly and easily.
What Not to Do
The absolute worst thing you can do is just load up your niche store script and make your site into just pages of products. Make your website interactive, keep your visitors entertained with good content - make sure they stick around for as long as possible!
These fundamental tips will help you earn online if you're not already, or help you earn more if you're neglecting any of these in the list.
Select a Niche You Know About Or Have An Interest In
This is one of the most common pieces of advice I have seen online. While it's not necessary to choose a topic you know about, a small amount of interest is at least required or you WILL get tired of working on a website on a topic you could care less about.
The benefits of working on a niche you're interested in is twofold. It will be easy to keep yourself motivated to work on the site because you actually enjoy working on it, and when you write content you will be able to call on your expertise to produce quality content that people are actually interested in reading or will find useful.
Banners Just Don't Convert
Slapping up a couple banners on your site is unfortunately not the way to get affiliate sales. Not only will this make your site really ugly if you have a lot of banners, but they just won't earn you much.
You need incontent links and banners where the user's eyes actually are. This is one of the reasons why I like using PHPBay - it's so simple to insert a couple relevant Ebay auctions which my readers are going to see and click on.
Diversify Your Income Streams
It's never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Another easy way to profit from your site is with Google Adsense - personally Adsense earns me roughly 30% of my online revenue each and every month. If something happens with any of my other revenue streams then I can always count on Adsense to bring me money each and every month.
Experiment with other relevant affiliate programs that look promising. Test, test, test - see what converts for you and what doesn't.
Targeted Traffic is Your Lifeblood
Without traffic you will not see any earnings at all.
But, the keyword here is TARGETED. I see too many webmasters participating in things like surf or traffic exchanges, or worse yet outright buying traffic. Whether or not these visitors from these programs are even real at all, I'm not sure. But there's one thing I do know, they are certainly not targeted in any way.
Chances are they have no interest in your site or your topic, so you will see no clicks or sales from participating in these kinds of programs.
Your best bet is either through natural free search traffic from Google, or targeted PPC campaigns.
Quality Content and Links Are Vital
These two aspects will make or break a website. A website can have a great link profile but if it's content is junk it will suffer tremendously. And the sword cuts the other way as well, if your content is awesome but you have very few links don't expect much in terms of traffic.
What you need to do is focus on both of them relatively equally - though some argue you should spend the majority of your time building links. Whatever you do, just don't neglect either one!
Don't Forget Targeted Keyword Research
With keyword research you will be able to find out what you should focus your articles on, and what anchor texts you should be using when you build backlinks to your site.
For the newer sites I build I like to focus my efforts on uncompetitive niche keywords because I strive to get that site earning for me as quickly as possible. I have also noticed by focusing on content which Google has very little information on, often times I will avoid the dreaded Google Sandbox.
See if this also happens to you.
Your Domain Is the First Thing They Will See, Make It Good
While you don't have to spend $1,000+ on a premium domain, I don't advise using .info or domains with 5 hyphens in them. There are plenty of relevant brandable domains still on the market, you just have to brainstorm for them.
If you're stuck for ideas, it might be a good idea to have someone else do the thinking for you. Services like pickydomains.com will send you plenty of domains you might want to register, or you can run a domain suggestion contest on your favorite webmaster forum.
Education Is Never-Ending, This Industry Changes Fast
If one things for sure, the internet is constantly changing and at a fast pace. Read at least an article a day to keep abreast of these changes, the last thing you want to do is keep yourself in a cave. The industry is becoming more and more competitive as time goes on, so keeping yourself educated on these new changes is a must.