Copywriting for Affiliate Marketers: Here’s What You Need to Know

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 01/18/21 •  9 min read

Let me guess, someone told you affiliate marketing would be easy.

You just throw up a WordPress site, add some generic content, a few special links, and then you’ll just watch the big bucks come rolling in!

That’s how it works, right?

Not exactly.

There’s one VERY overlooked skill that you’re going to need to develop if you want to make money affiliate marketing.


The ENTIRE strategy behind affiliate marketing is to create content compelling enough for someone to find it, click on it, and read it.

THEN you have to include links and create content that’s persuasive enough to actually get them to click the link and buy the product.

How do you do this?

By honing your copywriting skills.

And if you’ve never thought of yourself as a copywriter, don’t have a sales background, or simply aren’t sure where to start?

I got you.

Today we’re going to cover the most important copywriting elements you need to know in order to create a successful affiliate niche site.

This will be helpful regardless of if you’re doing an affiliate site, authority site, blog – you name it. If you’re creating ANY kind of content online, watch this video.

At the end, I’m going to share what I believe is the secret to my success with affiliate marketing. It’s something I do, that is often missed by less successful marketers.

Ready to do this? Awesome, let’s go.

My First Affiliate Marketing Debacle (I Was Clueless)

I used to think affiliate marketing was simply all about keywords.

You just had to find the right keywords, throw up some content and links, and money would MAGICALLY flow in.

I started my very first site just a couple months after I began Location Rebel.

It was for a guitar instruction course called Jamorama that had 75% commissions.

So I bought the domain, threw up a site, and waited for the sweet, sweet dollars to roll in…

Man I was so clueless.

I figured all I had to do was create a couple of pages using those keywords, add my affiliate links, and BOOM.

Money in the bank.

To make matters worse, I was too cheap to actually buy the product. How are you supposed to devote an entire site to reviewing a product that you’ve NEVER EVEN TRIED.

Check out: How to Make Money From Product Reviews.

Yep, complete idiot.

If that doesn’t make me sound clueless, then how about this to do list I found in an email to myself in July of 2009

2009 To Do List

Yep! All in a night’s work!

Just add some content, build some links, and find the NEXT site to start.

If only it were that simple.

But aside from, you know, any basic grasp on the reality of affiliate marketing – there was one VERY important skill I was missing.


You see, I could add all the keywords I wanted, and that’s certainly an element of affiliate marketing, but without being able to educate in a persuasive way during the process?

The site was doomed from the beginning.

“Really Sean, you think THAT is why the site was doomed?”

Point is, copywriting is an important part to your success as an affiliate marketer.

Specifically, there are THREE things that you should consider from a copywriting standpoint to help make your affiliate sites successful.

1) Pretend you’re writing an ad with your metadata.

When it comes to an affiliate site, most of your traffic will likely come from search.

But in order to get people onto your site, they still have to be interested enough to click your search result over thousands of others.

One of Google’s ranking factors is CTR, or Click through Rate. This is the percentage of people who see a result, that click on it.

The better the CTR, the higher the likelihood of seeing your rankings increase.

So as an affiliate marketer it’s your job to write the most compelling combination of Headline, Keyword, and Description as possible, to get someone to click through.

You’re essentially using all of the same techniques you’d employ if you were writing an ad.

Here’s an example:

We’re ranking for a lot of terms relating to the Manhattan cocktail on Slightly Pretentious. According to Semrush there are over 600k monthly searches for Manhattan related search terms, so this is a huge opportunity for our site.

Manhattan Cocktail

Over 785k monthly searches for Manhattan related key terms.

So amidst hundreds of recipes and posts about the Manhattan, how can we use copywriting in our metadata to improve our chances of ranking? By creating something compelling enough to get people to click.

Two Dozen Tests Confirmed THIS is the Best Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

This headline has elements of authority, it has good keywords in it, and it piques the reader’s interest.

And the CTR? It’s OVER 20%.

That is a phenomenal CTR. That means 20% of the time this post is shown for this search term, 20% of people are clicking on it!

As such, it’s one of the most successful posts on the site.

By using your copywriting skills to essentially think about every post you write as you would an online ad, you’re going to increase your CTR and your traffic in the process.

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2) Use Copywriting Skill to Increase Time on Site

It’s important to get people to your site, but you also can’t clickbait them. You have to be able to back up the claims you just made in your search “ad”.

Another search ranking factor is time on site.

The longer someone stays on your site, the better the chances of seeing that post rank for the keywords you chose above.

As an affiliate marketer, it’s your job to not just persuade people to buy, but to persuade them to keep reading through your copywriting skills.

One of the best pieces of copywriting advice I’ve received is this:

The whole goal of each line you write? To convince someone to read the next line.

This is most directly related to writing long-form sales pages, but it works for affiliate posts too.

One way to do this is by using lots of compelling headlines and sub-headlines throughout your post to both make it easy to read, and to hold the reader’s interest.

Another way you can do this is through a technique called an open loop.

This is where you introduce an idea, concept, or question, but don’t answer it right away. You leave the reader, who is now immensely curious, hanging – and then answer it later in your post.

Good copywriters (and affiliate marketers), will weave numerous open loops throughout a post to hold your interest throughout.

An example of this might be something like this:

“There are lots of ways to make an incredible Manhattan, but there is one secret ingredient I use, that truly puts my recipe over the top and makes people say ‘Wow, this is really good. What did you do different?’ I’ll let you know what that is in a minute, but first let’s look at the history of the cocktail and why it’s one you should consider making in the first place.”

See, you want to know what that secret ingredient is, don’t you?

By waiting to reveal it until later on, you’re keeping the reader engaged with your site.

Oh, and for those wondering? The secret ingredient is chocolate bitters.

3) Use Copywriting to Build Trust and Authority

Now, here’s the real secret to both affiliate marketing and copywriting:

How do you persuade someone to click, then persuade someone to read, then persuade someone to buy?

You build trust.

This might be the most difficult job for both an affiliate marketer AND a copywriter.

Because at any step along the way if they don’t trust you, then they’re gone for good.

But if you can build that trust, then not only is it more likely you’ll make a sale, but you may also turn them into a regular reader, email subscriber, and ideally a true fan.

I’d argue this is the secret to my success. I’ve built my entire brand around being a trust-worthy dude who will be straight with you and not compromise my integrity just to make a few bucks.

How do you build that trust?

One great way is through storytelling.

Adding interesting and relevant personal stories to your writing shows that you’re a real person. It adds points people can relate to. And in doing that, and gaining trust, it becomes easier to sell.

Take my guitar story I shared with you in the beginning.

That’s a pretty embarrassing cringe-worthy story. But by telling you that, I might have gained a trust point with you.

Then I showed you some of the main keys behind one of my more successful blog posts. Another trust point.

Let’s say by the end of this post or video, you find yourself thinking “yeah, I trust that guy. He seems genuine and authentic.”

Then perhaps down the line, you’ll watch a video like my WPEngine hosting review if you decide to start an affiliate site of your own.

Were you to buy your hosting through them, I’d make a $200 commission.

But you’d never do that if you didn’t trust me.

And trust is built through your copywriting.

There are all sorts of overlaps between affiliate marketing and copywriting. But if you focus on the three things I mentioned above, not only will you make more money, but you’ll grow your traffic, authority – and relationships in the process.

And that’s when the whole affiliate marketing and blogging online thing really gets fun.

Want to continue to improve your copywriting, and perhaps even get some freelance copywriting jobs while you pay the bills and grow your affiliate site?

Check out this playlist.

Want help building a freelance writing business of your own? Grab our free six day course.


Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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12 comments on "Copywriting for Affiliate Marketers: Here’s What You Need to Know"

  1. Amy Brown says:

    I always enjoy your way of describing a complex thing in a simple and enjoyable way and as always this article on copywriting guidelines was so much helpful and informative. thanks for the article buddy! keep it up.

  2. Adam says:

    Thanks, Sean, for the important information. You’ve represented this informative content nicely. Affiliate marketing is a key strategy in today’s e-commerce industry. And the majority of e-commerce advertisers are to attest to its value and efficiency. I love the way how you described it.

  3. Priya Sharma says:

    Hey Author, thanks for this amazing article. I was searching for something like this. this is really very helpful for me.

  4. Ashiya Syed says:

    Wow! That was a great piece of advice given the fact that the internet is full of clowns promising 6 figure income from random-affiliate-marketing done just like ‘Jamorama’ there and I have always doubted the credibility . This post has shown me the right direction and I am thankful to you Sir, Sean. 🙂

  5. Leila Jazul says:

    I am an affiliate marketer of different brands.i write it in my blog as discount coupons or “best deals of the year” from popular brands, same headline to the search engine.Later, google stopped crawling on my posts and my posts were never seen in search results.What do you think is the reason? Can I be indexed by Google search console again?what other sites offer such search engine optimization?

  6. Phil says:

    I have three questions.
    #1 My grammar spelling and punctuation totally suck, as you can probably see.
    I have tried using Grammarly but can’t figure out how, not even with their guidance and instruction.
    Even if I could, I don’t know if that would make it professional enough for anyone to pay for my writing.

    So can I still earn money from writing online, or should I understand that it’s not for me?

    I have reasons why I do not want my real name to be published or to ve well known (or known at all, on tbe internet, really).
    Can I be successful at affiliate marketing on the internet, without putting my name out there?

    Must affiliate marketing be done only through blogging?
    Why can’t someone market their affiliates, simply by buying Facebook ads?
    If I am promoting information courses, then the cost of advertising should be easily covered by my commissions, especially if I have properly targeted my audience for my ads, shouldn’t I?

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