I’ve successfully reached the goal I set for myself 5 months ago: getting 10,000 monthly visitors to this blog.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned:
1. Don’t Start Without A Good Web Hosting
Good web hosting is rare.
Most of the popular hosting companies we’ve heard of over promise and under deliver.
I’ve used so many hosting plans over the years that trust me, if you start getting a traffic spike within a very short period, you will see huge difference between a good host and a poor one that can affect your user experience.
I have experience with most of the popular web host companies on the ‘net, and I’m lucky I have found SiteGround to host Growth Text from the day I launched it.
SiteGround’s built-in WordPress caching gives me peace of mind when the blog is experiencing traffic spikes.
On top of that, their SSD drives give me a fast loading blog.
It’s not just the fast loading servers that I’m after.
Their support response time is bar-none the best hosting support I’ve ever experienced.
The average response time from my previous host (it’s a big name hosting company almost everyone I know uses) was 24 hours.
If I ever received a response from them within a few hours, I was lucky.
When I open a support ticket with SiteGround, 9 times out of 10 I hear back from them in less than 5 minutes.
If you’ve had a brute force attack on your site with no idea how to handle it, quick support turnaround makes all the difference between keeping your site live or completely inaccessible.
Host with a good web hosting company so you can focus on growing your blog with peace of mind. Read reviews, do your research.
2. Tell Everyone Your Goal
One of the best decisions I’ve made growing Growth Text:
I told everyone my goal the first day I launched it.
5 months back, when I aimed to reach 10,000 monthly visitors, I had no idea how long it would take.
Yes, I had some traffic sources in mind to work on and yeah, I know from experience where I can get traffic if I work hard on those sources;
But I had no idea how much traffic and how sustainable those traffic sources were going to be.
Adding to my disadvantage vs. a full-time blogger, time for the blog was scarce.
I have my web design clients to take care of, 2 other web templates websites to manage, plus writing content on this blog
…that’s already a lot of stuff on my plate to tend to on a daily basis.
And I’m the only one who’s responsible for the traffic?
That’s a lot of responsibility!
We’re all human.
I knew if I would have plenty of excuses to give up before the journey’s end.
To make sure I committed to the project, I announced my goal publicly.
When I made that public announcement, I became accountable to everyone I told.
It’s amazing what happens when everyone knows what you are up to – they have expectations.
To meet those expectations, I was forced to stick to my commitment and complete my goal; no matter how hard I had to push myself to reach it.
The sheer power of public commitment is very powerful – if you’re planning an important project, tell everyone your goal.
It’s the commitment that keeps you going.
3. It’s All About Execution
A goal matters; public commitment is powerful; but it when it comes to actually achieving your goal, it’s all about execution.
How do I make execution easier for myself?
I break things down into small bits that are easier to handle.
It’s far easier to take action on small things than trying to swallow the whole project all at once.
Just looking at 10,000 visitors as an ultimate goal to a brand new bog is overwhelming.
But when I break it down to smaller numbers that I capture from different traffic channels, a lot of the stress is removed.
If I can get 5 traffic channels to work, each contributing 2000 visitors, that gets me 10,000 visitors.
By breaking it down further, I only need to bring 60+ visitors for each of the traffic channels every day.
For certain channels, like a Facebook ad, anyone can easily cross the 60/day visits mark once an ad campaign is optimized, and you only need a few days to optimize a campaign.
By paying for traffic, you get a sustainable influx of visitors without having to physically work on it every day.
Yes, you’re still required to monitor the ads, but the time spent on it is almost negligible vs. other forms of traffic channels.
Other activities like communities marketing and influencer outreach require more active participation.
I have to figure out how much time is required for me to work on each channel on a daily basis to meet my goal.
Once I was clear on what needed to be done, I went ahead and planned it out.
I set up a daily schedule and stuck to it no matter what.
I repeated the process, tweaking things along whenever needed.
By having an action plan, by breaking it down into manageable segments that can be attended to with a daily schedule to follow, and by sticking to it every day, I was able to reach my goal.
Envisioning a goals builds excitement and enthusiasm, but planning and execution are what makes the goal a reality.
4. Write Useful Content, Not Just Opinions
Unless you’re a celebrity or a super star in your niche, no one really cares about your opinion.
Want people to pay attention to what you have to say and grow your blog?
Teach people useful information they can use to improve their life and business.
The more value you can bring to your audience, the more successful you’ll be.
What if you are just starting out and unsure about what value you can bring to your audience?
One approach always works – run an experiment, show people your results.
Read something and apply what you’ve learned. Record your findings and share them with people.
This is a simple formula that works in almost any niche.
I’m blogging in a highly competitive niche: growing website traffic.
There are 70 million search results from Google with the term “grow website traffic”.
There’s are already too much content, too many blogs, too many “10 best strategies to get all the blog traffic you want” floating around the web.
It ain’t easy for any new blog to compete.
To win the attention of people within my niche, I can’t share another “me-too” blog full of “opinions”.
I had to offer useful and unique information to my readers.
I decided to share my own traffic experience.
I showed people what works for me as well as the failures I had; with stats and numbers… totally transparent.
This content provides a lot of value to my readers.
People can read my traffic case studies, and apply what works for me to their own business.
At the same time, they can avoid the failures I had.
Share real stories, not just opinions and you’ll move you away from 99% of the mass sharing “me-too” content on the Internet.
Do this, and growth becomes easier.
5. Resources Articles Are Powerful Traffic Magnet
When I published this blog post in the 2nd month after I started Growth Text, I quickly discovered resources articles are a powerful traffic magnet.
Once I realized the power of resources, I went on to publish more resources articles.
Now a quarter of my blog posts are resource articles.
Here are links to each of them:
– 100+ Actionable Tips to Increase Your Web Traffic
– 90+ Actionable Techniques to Build Monstrous Email List
– 10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Internet Marketers
– 18 Free Stock Photos Websites
These blog posts were shared the most often on social media by Growth Text readers.
Though my “traffic reports” and “how-to” posts generally offer more value than resource articles, they receive fewer shares than the resource articles.
There is a reason why.
Blog readers are not equal; they’re at different skill levels.
Some are experienced marketers, some are average, and a lot are newbies just beginning to learn online marketing.
A how-to article simply cannot meet everyone’s level.
If a “how-to” article is about something too advanced, it might not resonate with someone who’s new to online marketing, so this group of people just won’t share it.
People love to share information to help others; yet they won’t share something they don’t resonate with.
The same applies to basic content; basic content won’t encourage advanced marketers to share.
People like me, who’ve been using WordPress for years, simply won’t share an article on “how to set up a contact form on a WordPress site”.
You get the idea…
So how-to articles will always get be less as they will always only fit a portion of our readers – not all of them.
Resource articles, however, don’t have that problem.
They appeal to a way larger percentage of readers.
Almost everyone gets something out of a resources article. That’s why they get shared more.
Want to get more shares for your post? Publish more resources articles.
6. Take Advantage of Popups to Build a List
Though popups interrupt the browsing experience, they offer me great opportunities to capture a person’s attention.
They’re an effective way to capture emails and build my list.
The days are gone when you embed a lead capture form on your blog’s sidebar, hoping to get the sign-ups flowing in.
On Growth Text, I use several popups to build my list.
When a visitor lands on any one of my posts, they see a page scroll down from the top of the screen that covers the entire blog.
It asks for the viewer’s email address in exchange for some good stuff.
It’s called a Welcome Mat.
It is the highest converting lead capture form on my blog.
Combined with the exit popups and slide in popup, I had 7% of my web traffic convert into subscribers.
Apart from popups, I also use content upgrades on my posts to build my list.
A content upgrade is an offer on a blog post that provides upgraded value to content as a reward for subscribing.
It’s a powerful way to build a list yet doesn’t affect user experience.
If you scroll down on this post, you will see that I offer to give away 8 more free stock photo sites that are not listed in the post.
That’s a content upgrade offer. At the time I’m writing this, it’s converting at 3.6% for me.
Unlike traditional site-wide lead magnets, content upgrades are unique to a specific blog post.
People are already reading the post, demonstrating interest, when they see an offer for additional, highly related content.
The truly interested will opt-in for the offer. Those are laser-targeted email addresses.
It can take time to create a blog-specific content upgrade every time we publish a new blog, but not so hard if we think in terms of resource lists: we can offer a resource list for a standard article or post, and additional resources for a resource list article.
7. Promote Your Content with as Much Vigor as it Took You to Write it
Produce high quality content and traffic will take care of itself?
There is really no such thing.
Even the highest quality content still needs the initial push to be noticed.
When I published a new piece of content on my blog and didn’t promote it, no one found it.
When I published a new blog post, the first thing I did was announce it to influencers who had already been sharing my content with their audience on Twitter.
If the topic of my new post fits their audience, most of them will Tweet it for me.
Subsequently, I emailed my list subscribers.
I also shared the post in Facebook groups and other online communities where I’m a member.
At the same time, I never stopped growing my subscriber list; this way, I was able to reach more people when I published my next post.
Want to drive more traffic?
Promote your content as hard as you wrote it.
Test as many traffic sources as you can, locate those channels that have had the biggest impact, then focus on those channels to promote your upcoming blog posts.
8. Starting with No Audience? Do Things That Don’t Scale (First)
Just starting out with no contact, no email list, and no money to buy traffic?
One of the best things you can do to get traffic take off:
Do things that don’t scale.
In my first month, I sent out personal emails to people I know announcing my plan to grow my Growth Text blog to 10K visitors/month.
I sent out 200+ emails by hand and had some sign-ups to my email list.
Also, I wrote to influencers in my niche one by one asking them to check out my content and invited them to share my content with their followers, if they liked it.
Some did like my content and immediately shared with their followers.
That got me traffic and sign ups.
Side note: In this post, I shared how I got Sam Hurley to promote my content to his audience, who shared the post 700+ times on social media.
That was how I jump started my blog.
Yes, it takes some effort to find a person’s email address, send a personalized email, and wait for the reply.
But if you do this enough, the numbers add up and you’ll create your audience without having to work on other traffic techniques like SEO and paid traffic, which require higher skills to work.
9. Leverage, Leverage, Leverage
Leveraging somebody’s resources is definitely one of the smartest traffic technique you want to take on.
Communities marketing and Influencer marketing are huge leverage sources to grow our own audience.
Communities like Facebook groups, Reddit, Inbound.org, GrowthHackers.com and other niche-specific online forums are amazing places to drive very targeted traffic to your pages.
People have spent time, energy, and money to build a community composed of like-minded people.
Trust me, just building a Facebook group with a few hundred members isn’t easy.
I’ve seen people paying for ads, offering valuable amazon coupons, and numerous email promotions to get people to join their group
… that’s a lot of work.
It certainly isn’t easy.
Not only that, it costs money to build a thriving online community, too.
I’ve seen Inbound.org retarget me on Facebook with their ads appearing on my newsfeed day after day.
One thing is for sure, driving a members of an existing community to your blog is way easier than building a community from scratch.
The secret of successful community marketing?
Don’t just share good stuff.
Share unique and good staff.
Your own stories, case studies, ideas, discoveries and projects are unique and will win you a lot of attention along with traffic and email subscribers.
Talking about influencer marketing…
Influencers have spent years branding their names and building their strong following.
Once we’ve built relationships with them, we’re able to leverage the association to everyone’s advantage.
Getting an influencer to promote your content to their audience will catapult your blog growth.
The technique works very well for me and is one of the core technique I used to grow Growth Text from day one.
When your content is interesting and valuable, and it’s aimed at the influencer’s followers, it’s a win-win situation:
It makes the influencer look good, it’s passed around by the influencer’s followers – making them look good, and you win opt-ins and your own bank of followers.
10. Embrace The Idea of Non-Perfect
If you want to do more and get results faster; you just have to embrace the idea of non-perfect.
Don’t wait till you finish reading all the traffic tips you can gather online before starting to drive traffic to your blog.
You learn the most when you’re in the trenches.
The kind of experience you gain can’t beat anything you read in a course.
Don’t expect great things happen when you start doing it, ‘cause it ain’t gonna’ happen.
The reality is, everyone’s first try mostly sucks.
Mediocre first efforts are a part of your journey to bigger achievement.
I’ve tested a lot of traffic sources in the past 5 months; most were not successful.
But a few of those that worked for me sent me to my goal.
Make things happen first, and the magic will follow when you’ve run through enough mistakes.
“Done” is better than struggling for the best.
Take lots of actions, perfect what you do as you go, and your future self will be different than what you are today.
I hope you got value out of what I’ve learned over my 10K visitors journey.
What are the lessons you have learned from your own blogging and traffic generation experience that you want to share with me?
Share your thought below.