Welcome to the Blogging Case Study update number eight. At this point you should now have a list of post ideas that are properly formatted, and you’re following some form of blogging strategy. In this section we’ll be starting to look at how you can start to get more eyeballs on your content.
If you can’t get traffic to your blog then there’s no way that it can be successful. It really is that clean cut. Traffic, in its simplest form, is just visitors to your website. Continuing to publishing excellent content is a great way to keep people on your site, and to get them to come back and even tell their friends about it, but you first need to get those initial visitors to your site to discover that content.
There are literally hundreds of different ways to get traffic — the more creative you are, the more ways you can find to drive lots of visitors to your blog. In the early days of your blog you are going to need to spend a lot of time and effort focused on generating traffic. As your blog gains a bigger audience, authority on your subject and good search engine rankings, your traffic is going to start increasing exponentially and you wont personally have to do as much work.
Of course, not all traffic is created equally. Someone landing on your badminton site from an article written on kitchen interiors probably isn’t going to stick around very long. Similarly, there’s also completely different earnings potential for people landing on your site for the search terms ‘badminton racquet reviews’ and ‘what are the rules of badminton’.
I think one common misconception many new bloggers have is that they need to get tens if not hundreds of thousands of visitors per month in order to make money from their blogs. That’s really not the case at all. In fact, though there are hundreds of ways to get visitors, I like to focus on just a few which are the most efficient and effective use of my time. Any marketer will tell you that it’s better to have 10,000 targeted visitors than 100,000 people who have found you by mistake. Especially if you want to make money.
This traffic section has been divided into a two-part series. I’ll cover half of the most recommended traffic sources in this update and half in the next. Let’s start with what this all comes down to…really getting involved in your niche.
One of the things I love the most about blogging is the genuine connections I’ve built from it over the years. If you’re active in an industry you’re passionate about then it’s only natural that you’re going to meet like-minded people that you ‘click’ with. I’ve met with ViperChill readers all over the world and always have lots of people asking to take me out whenever I announce I’m in a new country or city (which is always appreciated).
I’ve already stressed how important it is that you’re personal on your site because unless you’re running a news or photo blog, people usually want to connect with the person behind the words. One of the best ways of marketing your site is personal too. And it’s really just about getting involved. Squeezing your way into a group of sites that are all probably very familiar with each other and building your own respectable audience.
Some of the most common ways to get involved with other bloggers in your niche is to:
- Comment on their sites
- Link to their blog posts where relevant
- Follow them on various social networks
- Try and ‘give back’ in some way
One example would be to create a blog post where various niche experts comment on a certain topic. When I wrote about personal development I asked some prominent bloggers what message they would leave behind if they found out they were dying today. I admit the topic was a little morbid, but it aimed to inspire people, and with 30,000+ views from StumbleUpon and a lot of other social media traffic, it certainly did that.
This not only works well because there’s a lot of valuable information in one place, but because the people who are involved in the blog post will help to promote it to their audiences as well. I don’t want to give away too many specific examples here because the more creative you can be in this area the better. You’ll see what we did for the case study site on January 1st along with what worked for us, and what didn’t.
I also spent a lot of time commenting on other blogs in the early days, sharing the content of other bloggers and keeping in touch with them whenever I could. If you can get in front of people who are already subscribed to other blogs, there’s a good chance they will subscribe to yours as well after they land on it (providing they like what they see).
I’ll now go into some of these tactics in a bit more detail…
Blog commenting is an effective way of getting yourself out there and making connections with other blog owners. It can be lot of work but it’s often well worth doing, especially in the initial stages of your blogging career.
The principle of this method is simple: Find as many popular blogs in your niche as possible and comment on their articles frequently.
The rule for this method is also simple: Leave original and meaningful comments that contribute to the article or engage the author/other commenters.
Do not leave generic comments like “Nice post” because that is not going to make people interested in who you are, and it’s not adding any value to the initial blog post. When you’re constantly leaving comments on multiple blogs, people are going to start recognizing your face and name and some will start clicking through to your website.
When leaving comments I recommend that you have an attention grabbing Gravatar. As many of you will know by now, a Gravatar is the small image that you see next to comments. If you have a Gravatar that stands out (professional image, pretty smile, beautiful colors, funny image etc.) and combine that with leaving valuable comments, you’ll greatly increase the clicks you get to your blog from the comments you leave.
You don’t necessarily need to use your face on the Gravatar, it can also be the logo of your blog.
I suggest that you use the same Gravatar picture consistently across the web (Comments, Twitter, Social Media Accounts etc.) The more that people see your face/image across the web, the more curious they’ll become and the more brand awareness you’ll build.
Commenting is also a great way of establishing a relationship with the blog owners so that you will have an easy “in” for guest posts at a later stage. As your blog gets bigger you will need to comment less and less, but definitely use it in the first few months of your blogging journey.
I’ve found guest posting to be the most sure-fire way to grow your readers and audience. Like commenting it can be a lot of work, but it pays off.
Guest posting is the technique of writing an article that you submit to another blog, in the hope that the blog owner will publish your article on their blog. This is usually a win-win situation for you both, because the blog owner wins by getting quality content that he doesn’t have to write himself, and you win by getting your writing exposed to a new audience with a link back to your site.
The more guest posts you write, the more people you will be exposed to and the more people who will click through to your site (of which a percentage will subscribe).
I recommend doing at least one guest post every week when I started out, but if you can aim for 2-3 guest posts a week for the next couple of months until you build up a sizeable audience. You don’t necessarily need to target big blogs; you can write for as many different blogs as you wish. Some small, some medium and of course try to get on the A-list blogs (this is not so easy but if you have a really good article and a humble approach to the blog owner, it’s very possible).
How to Find Sites
If you’re going to guest blog on other websites in your niche to enjoy some of the benefits that guest blogging has to offer, then you need to actually find websites to write for. After guest posting consistently for over a year, I now have quite a few tactics for helping with this process.
- Google Search – Google is always the place I start with my internet research because it gives quick, accurate results. Depending on what you know about your niche, you can use Google for two things. The first is simply to help you find sites in your industry by searching for things like “niche blog” (changing niche for your industry). Alternatively, you could search for things like “niche blogging” or “niche guest posts” to find sites that want your content.
- Niche Browsing – Many sites in your industry will make it clear that they accept blog posts on their site. Therefore, all you have to do is simply browse around the top sites in your niche and see which one’s do. Look for text like “write for us,” “become an author” and “submit your article”. These are all indications the site wants guest posts so click on these buttons or send the blogger an email.
- Google Blog Search – Google blog search, if the name doesn’t give too much information away, is a blog search engine. Because of this, we can easily find blogs that are accepting guest posts. If you type something you may have typed into the regular Google search box such as “niche guest post” or “niche article by” then you should find some interesting results. If you remove the niche section it’s possible you’ll find a lot of sites that offer guest posting, but few will be relevant.
- Contact Authors – Every blogger should know at least 10 other writers in their community very well. If you don’t, then start finding them now. Most of the guest blogging opportunities I have had did not happen because I found ‘write here’ buttons on a website, but because I simply contacted the author. Get in touch with the influencers in your niche and simply ask if they would be interested in your free content. If they say “No” is that really so terrible? Giving them a chance to say no, also gives them a chance to say “Yes!”
There are other more complex ways to find people to write for in your niche then this should be more than enough. If you think that every article for someone else can take you up to 2 hours to research, write and edit then even just 10 guest blogging opportunities is going to put a lot of work on your plate.
If you would like to learn more on this topic, see my article on Guest Blogging.
The Social Sites
You should have already done a lot of niche research before you get to this point so you should now be well aware of how and where people are operating in your industry. I don’t think you can ever have enough knowledge in this area so definitely check out my niche analysis post if you’re looking for more ways to spy on your ‘competitors’.
Twitter is a very useful for building connections and driving traffic to your website.
Twitter often sends me thousands of visitors every single month, and the majority of those people are new to my website. This is purely as a result from me tweeting links to my articles, connecting with other people on Twitter and having others share my articles to their followers.
My own Twitter usage is fairly unorthodox, so I simply suggest that you use the service in whichever way you enjoy the most. Twitter is primarily just a communications tool so make sure first and foremost that you’re engaging in whatever content is being shared there. I follow less than 100 people – who tend to be bloggers I connect with – yet have 11,000+ followers on my personal account.
My usage is unorthodox as I tend to remove a number of tweets that I write. If I’m answering questions or chatting with someone, then I may delete the tweets later. This is simply because I don’t want to clog up the stream of other people with my conversations, and I want people to see valuable tweets when they land on my profile for the first time.
I’m on over 800 Twitter ‘lists’, so it’s clear that some people enjoy what I have to say.
One of the main ways I get traffic from Twitter is having a simple ‘Tweet this’ button on my website. You can see it at the bottom of all articles on ViperChill. You can get the share buttons for your own blog here.
Don’t be afraid to ask your readers to Tweet your content if they enjoyed it. After all, you spent a lot of time writing the article and give it away for free, so people are generally happy to do this. On the odd occasion (about twice in 2 years) I’ve posted or launched something I really care about so I direct message a few users on the site and ask if they would tweet something for me. Since a lot of them have thousands of followers too, I’ve always received a big spike in traffic when doing this.
Just don’t ask for favours to often. If you would like to follow me on Twitter you can do so @viperchill.
Facebook is one of the biggest potential traffic sources on the web since the service is now boasting over 800 million users. Not only that, but each user spends an average of 25 minutes on the site, 40 times per month (!), interacting with friends and fan pages.
As I’ve grown my blog, I’ve placed more and more importance on Facebook. First of all, by creating an attractive fan page and regularly interacting with my readers there. I’ve also included a link to ‘Like’ ViperChill in the sidebar of my blog which actually helped massively in getting more fans on the page and I have a like button at the bottom of all blog posts, for their individual URL’s.
If you don’t yet have a fan page on Facebook for your blog, make sure that you set one up. I recommend the following two resources for learning how to create a fan page:
Another offering from Facebook you can implement is their Facebook commenting system. This replaces the standard WordPress comment system and requires people to log in with their Facebook account in order to leave a comment. The beauty of this is that when someone leaves a comment through the Facebook comment system on your blog, it will automatically post the comment (optional) on their own Facebook profile wall for all their friends to see which gives you even more exposure without doing any additional work.
I use this commenting system on some pages of my site that aren’t regular posts. You can see it in action on some of my video tutorials.
Did you know that Youtube is the second-biggest search engine on the internet? There are around 60 million videos watched on Youtube every single day. Making it, in my opinion, the biggest traffic source which most bloggers are not tapping into.
It’s very easy to create a Youtube account, and it’s very easy to create videos. Tools like iMovie (Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (Windows) are more than enough to allow you to create valuable content.
Some people use Youtube to create videos of themselves and this can work really well if you’re comfortable in front of the camera. A simple way to come up with a lot of video ideas is to personally record yourself going through the posts you’ve written.
For SEO purposes it’s important to give a good description of your video, use a keyword-rich title and to use relevant keywords as your video tags. If you create helpful and useful videos, over time you will build up an audience on Youtube which enables you to receive a lot of traffic from the site.
I recommend putting your blog URL first in the description so people can click through to your blog. I also suggest showing your blog logo for a few seconds at the end of each video to encourage people to visit your site. Do a search on Youtube to see what kind of videos are the most popular in your industry and then experiment with one or two of your own. The great thing about Youtube is that videos can grow naturally so you don’t already need a huge audience to see the benefits; one of my own has over 100,000 views and I’ve done absolutely nothing to promote it.