Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that - at zero cost to you - I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and find to be a valuable asset to my business.

How I Create a Strategy for a New Blog or Affiliate Site – Part 2 (Creating Your Sitemap & Wireframe)


  1. Thanks for the info Rae. I truly wish I could afford your services – DIY is a bit overwhelming for someone who isn’t very familiar with the online world.

  2. YES! Finally someone else who prefers to not have blog posts off the root.

    As a bit of a URL junkie it drives me mad to see this. How does one know if this is a page, a post, a category from looking at the URL how does Google know? They don’t. And this is why I also prefer showing the hierarchy in the URL structure.

    Also, someone just turned me on to Balsamiq for wireframing. There’s a free level – it’s ridiculously easy to use and they come out looking great.

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Haha Dan – drives me nuts. Almost nothing is worse from an auditing perspective as well. I just like everything to flow logically. If the way to a post on my site is home > category > post then I want my URL structure to follow the same format. The “root” method though had a purpose back in the early days of pagerank. :)

  3. Rae,

    Been following your work a LONG time. Obviously you bust your ass and know your Sh:;($$t. Appreciate! As always, there is a lot to digest here. Question: if your reader is in multiple niches that are unrelated, how do they create multiple twitter/Facebook/Pinterest… Accounts? Is this a tactic we should consider? If so, do we use IP masking? Other approaches? Not worth the effort? I’m talking about building a presence in highly competitive, unrelated niches for developing recurring revenue streams. Thank you for ALL you do!

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      I think the goal (and the war Google is currently winning with organic search for the non advanced churn and burners) is that Google doesn’t want you running 40 sites anymore. Unless your reason behind the social accounts is to truly build a brand, I wouldn’t bother. It’s pretty hard to “dial it in” in social AND get any traction from the accounts. It’s part of the reason I consolidated my affiliate properties in 2013. :)

  4. Prashant @ Blog Homie says:

    Never thought of so much before starting a blog, but now I have realized that this thought process is definitely worth it. Thanks Rae.

  5. Justin McGill @ Workado says:

    Looking forward to the brand definition piece!

  6. Nice clear concise article. If you fail to plan you plan to fail and all that…

    For me getting the starting point right is a good way to help get to the destination right.

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Thanks Mike – glad you enjoyed it. :) And exactly… there’s a saying that goes something like “goals without a plan are only dreams” or something to that effect. :)

  7. Please continue these. They are very, very valuable and helpful.

  8. I wish I would have read this a few weeks ago when I started my blog. Very useful information.

  9. Do you have any special tools for creating wireframes or do you just draw them out in Photoshop or whatever?

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      I usually use Word as I mentioned above. Powerpoint if I’m sending it to a designer. Xmind if it’s super complicated.

  10. Jon Poland says:

    Rae: This was very educational and a timely read for me. I am putting together a content marketing strategy for my blog for the rest of 2014 and the thought of “brainstorming your sitemap” and planning for “future growth” are things that had not occurred to me.

    Thanks Rae. You’ve just given me a framework on how to move forward with this. Much appreciated!

    I do have one question. I see that you run Genesis and you use WordPress SEO from Yoast. Can you tell me why you prefer this plugin over Genesis SEO? Thanks again.


    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Hey Jon – there’s a few reasons, but the biggest one is because Yoast’s plugin allows you to strip the /category/ slug from your category archive URLs. You can’t do it with Genesis alone. :)

  11. Jon Poland says:

    Rae: I am curious. Why do you want to remove the category / slug from your category archive urls? Is there a SEO benefit to doing this? Or is there another reason? It is certainly a cleaner look for the visitor.

    And thank you for replying to my question about the Yoast plugin. I appreciate your time.

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      I just like a clean, logical URL structure. I like the URLs to very clearly show a topic funnel so to speak.

      Home (marketing blog) > Category (affiliate marketing) > Post (post about affiliate marketing)
      to me is preferred over
      Home (marketing blog) > Random folder (category slug) > Category (affiliate marketing) > Post (post about affiliate marketing)

      I’m not saying it has a huge effect on rankings (if any). But the /category/ folder contains no actual content and has no links to the root (/category/). So it’s just sorta like an orphan folder in the middle of your URL structure. And since I can get rid of it, I do. :) I don’t get why WordPress hasn’t given the option to strip it themselves.

  12. Do you plan to continue to part 3 or not? Look forward to see it soon…

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Working on it Dani – one of the disadvantages of this blog not being “how I make my primary income” is that I can’t treat it as my full time job. But, I’m hoping to do it soon!

  13. William Daher says:

    Excellent post. Very well explained and very didactic way. You should write an ebook and sell on Amazon. Would sell much. :))))

  14. Danoress says:

    “… Defining Your Brand (which I’ll hopefully get around to posting sometime early next week).”

    You should definitely erase (or change) that sentence.. I’m no expert, but it’s not very pro to say something to your audience and then ignore it – almost half year…

    I’m your fan, and feel sorry for writing this bad opinion… but you must admit I’m right…

    • Rae Hoffman says:

      Fair enough – however, unlike most bloggers who cover my topics, my blog is not my full time job. I do my best to sit down and write info – and offer it up for free – when I can in my free time.

      • Danoress says:

        Tnx for that. I think your blog is great..very helpful..and I appreciate your free help.. That was just a suggestion..no hard feelings.. :)

  15. Lee @BaldThoughts.com says:

    SugarRae, this is some great information for blogging strategy. I came across your site because I’m also attending the blogger meeting at ASE14. This is my first year, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people, like you, who I can learn from. See you in NYC.


  16. Hi Rae, many thanks for sharing your knowledge and all about you (in another post). Can I ask something about url structures… do you type this in yourself (as a permalink) when creating each post? I’ve disabled the /category/ out of the URLs with Yoast (as you mentioned) (thanks for that!) but my posts are still showing as being off the root (blog.com/post-name). Any idea what where I’m stuffing up?

  17. is part 3 out yet?

  18. If I could just force our affiliates to read your stuff everything would be so much better… Great article, really.

  19. Danoress says:

    I don’t know am I the only one who think that you should change that last paragraph of your post. It’s been one year and one month and there still stand that you hope to continue next week. Erase my comment but please – change that paragraph. ☺

  20. Unprofessional… And not nice to just ignore that… You should know better ☺

  21. Hey Rae,

    Thanks for all the info you share on your blog. I am about to start my own blog related to health and wellness and all your posts have given me a roadmap on how to go ahead. I have been waiting with bated breathe for the ‘Defining your Brand’ post.. Is it likely that you will post it anytime soon?


  22. It seems to me that in addition to the intended lesson given in this post, there is secondary lesson to be learned here as well.
    You linked to this from your Sept 26,2015 issue of Sound Bites, yet you don’t care that this 18-month-old article promises a next-installment follow-up in a week or so, which you didn’t publish back in 2014 & haven’t apparently ever done so since? And when your commenters press you on it, you say, “I do my best to sit down and write info – and offer it up for free – when I can in my free time.”
    Obviously your Sound Bites effort is done for profit, and apparently your efforts are working based on your “amazing house on acreage” story. Which makes this all look like a simple example of over-promising and under-delivering. Sad.

    • “Yet you don’t care that this 18-month-old article promises a next-installment follow-up in a week or so”

      You are correct. I do not. This article provides awesome information, which was why I linked to it in my newsletter and why it is still published on the site. And I don’t need to explain to you, or anyone else, why I haven’t published something. Nor do I need to let you dictate how I spend my time.

      “Obviously your Sound Bites effort is done for profit”

      You mean my free newsletter? That despite all the audacity you’ve displayed in this comment, you were still subscribed to? The key word there being “were.” Since you’re so offended by my lack of updating this post, I’ve done you the favor of unsubscribing you. Additionally, you make a lot of (incorrect) assumptions on what pays my bills for someone who doesn’t know me.

      Make no mistake, this blog is MY house. And if you don’t like something about it, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

      Joy, it’s asshats like you that destroy my desire to use my little bit of free time to teach other people how to do what I do, for free.

      • Frank Watson says:

        Yes how dare you take pride in fixing your house and not spend all your waking moments writing tips and providing free valuable information that virtually everyone else charges large amounts of money for….

        Screw the asshats – I will gladly take whatever you find time to share

    • Todd Farmer says:

      “Over promise and under deliver”. That’s some funny shit, Joy.

      Good luck finding another source of high quality, free content like this. Perhaps you can complain about their free service too?

    • Joy, since you obviously like to communicate at the personal level, were your parents keenly into irony after your christening too?


      There’s an old saying “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”. Spend some time trying to figure out what it means.

  23. Rae –

    I’m setting up an affiliate site right now and have been searching for some logical advice that I could follow and connect with and was so happy to come across this article. As I’ve paid for a lot of information related to affiliate marketing – I do appreciate solid, actionable blog posts and hope that some of the feedback you’ve received here does not deter you from providing that.

    There’s some of us out here who appreciate that fact that your information and expertise is valuable and you are giving it to us for free.

    Thanks for that – it’s GREATLY appreciated!

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