Jul 25, 2021
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 min read

The Queen Bee Role Of An Affiliate Marketing Website

If you want to grow your affiliate website business, solve the Queen Bee Role problem first.

This article will help you understand and solve both parts of the QBR problem. 

The rewards for doing so are enormous. You'll create a moat around your business and free up time from day-to-day operations.

Finally, you can work on the business, not in it. Here's how.

Wait, what's the 'Queen Bee Role'? (QBR)

Mike Michalowicz introduces the QBR idea in his book 'Clockwork: Design Your Business To Run Itself' by drawing a parallel between the world of a beehive and business.

The queen of a beehive makes eggs. When eggs are laid, the colony grows. When no eggs are laid, the hive falls into chaos. Therefore, making eggs is the most important role in a beehive.

Every Bee in the colony knows this. So they protect and serve the queen bee role. When the queen is laying eggs, everyone can relax and focus on their other duties (like collecting nectar or defending the hive).

The important part here is the role that the queen serves, not the queen herself. The queen is replaceable. If she dies or does a shitty job, the colony replaces her. Quickly.

Every business has a queen bee role. Just as the QBR is the most important role in a beehive, the QBR is the most important role in your business.

Solving the QBR problem was the first significant milestone for us at HomeGrounds.co. If you operate a content site and you haven't solved this problem, make it your priority.

It's not an easy fix. But all content sites share the same QBR, so this guide is your roadmap.

Whats the Queen bee role of your content site?

This is obvious. Your websites most important role is creating and publishing amazing content consistently. 

Before you roll your eyes, make sure you realize that there's 2 parts to this equation. And you need to solve them both.

QBR problem part 1 (easy to solve)

The first thing you should do is commit to publishing the best content in your niche. Make it part of your mission. Communicate it to your team. Add it to your content briefs. Everyone in your team should be on board.

Nat Eliason is a leader in the content marketing world. He's a successful blogger and founded an incredibly successful SEO content marketing agency. He reveals the first principle of his strategy on his blog:

"You should only write something if it's going to be the best article on that topic on the Internet. Anything less than that is a waste of time" - Nat Eliason

We hired many writers when growing Home Grounds. Some, but not all, were amazing. Therefore we had a mixed bag of content in terms of quality. Eventually, we noticed certain articles doing really well. They climbed to page 1 and stayed there. They sent us passive streams of traffic. Every single month. For years. Without marketing.

The common denominator was amazing content. So we committed to publishing the best content in the home barista space. I talked about it on the Ahrefs blog.

But the 'best content' is more than the written word. It's the whole experience.

We knew we needed to cover the whole experience. So we created a 'content quality control checklist.' It looked like an editorial checklist but on steroids.

When an article went through our quality control, we were confident that it: 

  • Targeted the right keyword (not just the keyword with the highest search volume)
  • Clearly solved the reader's problem (every keyword = a problem)
  • Was optimized 'just enough' using an on-page SEO tool
  • Had a solid foundation of reliable references
  • It was ruthlessly edited for filler content (Respect the readers time. Get to the point) 
  • Had custom images/media, not just stock images
  • Was kept updated and fresh
  • Included at least 3 relevant internal links to explain concepts that needed explaining
  • Loaded as fast as possible on a website that didn't look like a typical affiliate site

It worked. Every article that survived the quality control gauntlet was terrific.

But there was a problem. It took more time. This was hard to justify because there was no immediate ROI.

But we kept pushing. We knew the reward would be worth it.

This takes a lot of time, yes. Some articles I've written took 40+ hours of work. But they're worth it. That's the difference between an article that can hold a top spot on Google for 2+ years, and an article that gets a little spurt of traffic then gets forgotten - Nat Eliason

We were rewarded when we worked on the other part of the QBR problem.

Visitors returned, and our email community grew sharply. We started landing powerful natural back links. Our articles were shared in forums leading to streams of direct traffic. Coffee brands began reaching out seeking partnerships. 

Let's talk about the hard part: the other half of the QBR problem.

QBR problem part 2 (harder to solve. Unless you do THIS)

The good news is that creating an amazing piece of content isn't hard. 

This means that occasionally publishing an amazing article won't give you an edge. Your competitors can easily do the same. That's the bad news.

The hard part is publishing amazing content consistently

It takes time, money, and effort. But it creates a moat. Your competitor can't suddenly decide to publish 300+ excellent articles. This is part 2 of the QBR problem. The consistency part. So what should you do?

I could offer you a woke-but-useless quote like "The best time to plant a tree is yesterday. The second best time is today"

But that would be useless advice unless you had a time machine. Instead, do what we did: Make a strategic hire with the intention of improving your editorial system.

A regular old editorial system ain't enough. We had one of those. We were publishing amazing content, but things would fall apart every time I stepped away from the editorial process. 

We had a great team but were missing And so we had bottlenecks. Unless I was around, those bottlenecks would slow us down. I was stuck 'in the business.' 

That all changed once I realized there was one key role I hadn't filled. 

The One hire every growing SEO business needs

My 'AH HA' moment came in 2018 during a business mastermind. 

We sat in a dim-light corner of a gorgeous colonial hotel bar overlooking a brown rushing river in Northern Thailand. Grand whiskey bottles lined the antique mahogany bar shelves. Classy classical music vibrated gently in the background. Waiters dressed in deluxe custom-made uniforms kept our glasses perfectly full with chilled spring water. The aircon pulsed at a perfect 20 degrees.

But I was uncomfortable and sweating heavily.

I must have sounded hopeless as I explained the challenge I was facing. I was already grinding 60 hours per week, and revenue wasn't growing. What was I missing?

Then came the question:

"SEO is just operations. Why don't you have an operations manager?"

Enter, my embarrassment. Which was why I was sweating. I had no answer. Why hadn't I thought of this before?

That's when it clicked. I'd only solved half the QBR problem.

We had committed to creating amazing content. But we hadn't committed to creating an amazing editorial system. Therefore, I was the system. 

I needed someone to build a system to replace me. I needed an operations manager. Otherwise, I'd be doomed to solving bottlenecks for eternity.

How we solved our QBR problem (and how you can solve yours)

We committed to publishing the best content in our niche. Then we hired an operations manager and showed her our system and its bottlenecks and asked her to create the ultimate editorial system. We didn't show her how to do this; we delegated the responsibility to her.

We upgraded our project management tool. Built a new organizational chart. Set up as much automation as possible. Re-created SOPs. 

It took a few months, but we got there. The system was finished. And it was incredible. When we sold the business, the buyer, who already owned a media company with >100 employees, said it was the best editorial system he'd ever seen.

The magic was in its simplicity:

  • SEO assistant filled a spreadsheet with new article ideas, complete with KW data and scores (based on attractiveness of each idea)
  • I would spend 3 hours every quarter choosing topics based on the scoring system (30-45 topics per quarter)
  • Content manager then takes the 30-45 topics and turns each into a project (in Asana)*

*This sounds like a tonne of work, and it is...usually. But all of the heavy lifting was already done. We had pre-made project templates for each article type. These templates were made up of 50-ish to-do items. Each to-do item linked to a video SOP and was pre-assigned to a team member. Our content manager simply had to assign due dates and the ball would be rolling.

Thats it.

Bottlenecks still came up in the beginning. But we had a system for that too. Problems and questions were added to an 'issues list' which I went through once per week during a 30-minute operations meeting. Those issues would then be used to improve the system.

After a few months, I was no longer the bottleneck. Once I'd chosen the article ideas at the beginning of each quarter, I could disappear for 3 months, knowing that 30-45 amazing articles would be published. Hooray!

With all this newfound time I started working on the business. I went deep and uncovered the most lucrative use of my time as an affiliate website operator. This is exactly what you should do once you've solved your own QBR problem.

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