Carly Wood runs the Lovely Blog Academy.
She’s run various blogs and websites for the past 12 years, but only started monetizing her site in 2010-2011 when she discovered affiliate marketing. Nowadays, she considers herself a “semi-professional blogger” and makes roughly three-quarters of her income from affiliate marketing, topping up the other quarter with freelance projects. She hopes to be earning 100% of her income from blogging and affiliate marketing by 2018. We sat down to ask her a few questions about how she approaches Black Friday and the season as a whole.
How do you prepare for the Thanksgiving weekend and the holiday season?
Create a plan! Even if you haven’t even thought about Black Friday before now, it’s not too late. You just need a general idea of what you want to promote, how you want to approach it and when you’re going to fit it in to your schedule.
Use a tool like Asana or Plan to plan ahead. At the moment, I’m planning the offers I want to promote on Black Friday, the gift guides I want to curate for my readers, and the holiday-themed content I’d like to publish.
I’m also planning when I’m going to physically create the content. For Black Friday this year, I want to be really organised. I’m planning to batch create my images, write my content and generate my links throughout this week in order to have everything ready for early Friday morning.
I recommended drafting your Black Friday content ASAP and adding to it throughout the week. You’ll find new codes added to the ‘offers’ tab in Skimlinks every day. I’ll have my posts scheduled to publish on Friday morning at 00:01.
DO spend time on your content and pay attention to spacing and imagery. Use clear call-to-actions for your links and remember to include the end date for voucher codes/offers.
Do you approach the holidays differently to the rest of the year?
I’ve seen Q4 statistics from various affiliate networks, so I know late November and most of December is very lucrative for affiliate marketers. As such, I’m putting aside my freelance work over the next four weeks and spending more time working on my content.
I know that not everybody has the luxury of downing tools, but I’d say definitely consider your priorities over the next two-three weeks. I’ll be watching less TV and publishing more content for sure!
What’s your recipe for content monetisation success?
I have seventeen different ingredients that I’ve shared in this blog post.
In brief, I’d say you should challenge yourself to create the most useful piece of content available on the web. You’ll be surprised how this will increase your linking opportunities. E.g.
- If a product you’ve featured sells out, update the content and provide links to similar products and brands.
- Give your readers options! E.g. different colour options.
- Provide price comparison and shopping details.
- Give older content a refresh.
- Ask your community to submit reviews and images of things they’ve purchased then use it to bulk out older content.
This is a bit of an advanced tip, but those comfortable tinkering with code will benefit: On one of my WordPress sites, I create shortcodes for special offers and sales. As an example, let’s use ASOS. If I’m talking about ASOS a lot, I’ll slot the shortcode into my content. Then, when ASOS run a sale, I’ll amend the shortcode in my functions.php file to include the relevant information and link. If I’ve used this shortcode into 20 posts, I only have to update the sale information once and the change will reflect across all my old and new posts. It gives my readers a better experience too, so its win-win.
There are additional tips and more thorough explanations of the ones I’ve listed above on my blog.
What would you say is the best type of content for this time of year?
This will vary wildly depending on your niche and the type of site you run. However, gift guides are pretty universal and they can be optimised for longtail keywords/phrases for search engine traffic. E.g.) Vegan bloggers can write a post on the “best cruelty-free gift sets”, while a forum for parents can send out an email newsletter showcasing “funny gifts for mums to give to other mums”, for example. I think the key is to hand-curate items and create a list of gifts you’d genuinely like to receive.
Does holiday content change from year to year? Have there been any recent changes that you think made a difference?
I’m not sure about other countries, but I’d definitely say there’s a bigger focus on Black Friday in the UK this year. For example, Amazon has stretched their “Black Friday” across an entire week. Other brands don’t want to be left behind, so we’re seeing more and more starting to take part (which is great for publishers, of course!)
*And lastly, how do you approach social media? Where does it fit into your monetization strategy?”
I use social media heavily. On Black Friday, I’ll use Buffer to schedule tweets ahead of time. One of their inbuilt tools automagically picks the best times to post throughout the day.
I say don’t be afraid to repeat offers throughout the day. Your followers won’t see every tweet!
When you’re posting offers and deals to Facebook, their algorithm will detect certain keywords and limit organic reach drastically. (One of my sites has 80,000 followers and I’ll get 1,000-2,000 reach when posting any kind of offer).
So, instead try getting creative. One of my tactics involves posting images. Briefly explain the offer on the image (e.g. “get 20% off at FAKE BRAND, use code MADEUP1”) and then caption the image with a little bit of generic text and your link. From my experience, I can get anywhere between 4,000 and 8,000 reach using that technique, which is a little better.
I haven’t used paid advertising on Facebook to promote my Black Friday/holiday content in the past, but I’m considering it this year. Word on the grapevine is that the ROI can be good.
_If you want to follow Carly you can find her on Twitter, Facebook and all other channels. With a day to go till Black Friday, make sure you check out our countdown posts on mobile, social media, holiday party posts and get the look guides