I just wrapped up the 4th month of my journey to 10,000 blog visitors.

In this website traffic report, I’ll share what happen in both April and May.

I was suppose to post my April report last month but didn’t do it as there wasn’t much to report on.

So, I’ve decided to skip one month and write you a report after I’d tested more traffic sources and had more meat for you.

Now let’s dive in:

April 2016 Website Traffic Report

website traffic

In April, I added 3 new blog posts.

I had 2,641 unique visitors.

And let’s take a look at May’s traffic…

May 2016 Website Traffic Report

website traffic

In May, I posted 4 new blog posts.

There were 2,671 unique visitors in May.

You will notice things are not progressing as the traffic hasn’t grown much in the past 2 months compared to what we had in March.

Apart from the Influencer Marketing technique that fueled the growth of Growth Text, I have tested a lot of traffic experiment in the past 2 months; but not one drove sustainable traffic to my blog.

Yes, some of them sent me some traffic, but quickly died out. No sustainable traffic source we can rely on as a part of our overall traffic strategy.

This is the traffic growth people assume when they start a brand new blog or website:

website traffic

Unless you possess a big marketing budget or a proven traffic source you can 100% rely on, the above scenario is not happening in the real world to a new blog.

In reality this is what happens to most new blogs:

website traffic

I started Growth Text with the thought of testing as many traffic experiments as I can to show you what works, and what doesn’t.

During the flat period is when I’m testing new things and have not yet found new traffic sources that I can add to what’s already been working for me.

Once I’ve conducted enough tests and found what works, the traffic will lift up to the next level.

I’ll Show You Both Success and Failures

Most case studies you read about online selectively showcase the best results and hide the failures and flops.

On Growth Text, I’m showing you the successes and the failures all as they occur so that you can replicate what works for your business without wasting time on actions that do not give you a positive ROI.

Now, let’s see where our traffic is coming from (April and May, combined).

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Direct Website Traffic

Direct traffic drove the highest numbers of viewers.

We had 4,424 visits in April and May combined.

It accounts for 57.54% of the total traffic we had.

These visits are from my mailing list and referral traffic when subscribers refer friends to Growth Text.

Social Media Traffic

Facebook and twitter combined account for 18.78% of our traffic.

This is the result of the Influencer Marketing technique I use to drive traffic from the social media.

Every time influencers share my content on social media, I get visitors to Growth Text.

Warrior Forum Traffic

I had 368 visitors from the Warrior Forum within the 2-month period.

The number of visits is around half of what I was getting from Warrior in March.

The epic content I posted on the Warrior Forum in February gradually faded away and no longer brings me as much traffic.

Why am I not creating another epic content to post on the Warrior Forum?

Their new site layout.

They’ve made changes to their site layout which makes content marketing ROI drop to almost zero.

Let me explain…

The secret of driving a ton of traffic from the Warrior Forum in the past was to get them to feature our post in their newsletter.

website traffic

This is the newsletter they sent out to members back in February where my post was one of the featured posts.

By clicking on the “continue reading” link, you’d be directed to the forum post, where I have my forum signature link set up to send traffic to Growth Text.

But recently things have changed on the Warrior Forum…

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One of my posts was featured in their recent newsletter.

When someone clicks on the “continue reading” link, they’re not redirect to the forum post anymore.

They’re directed to a “feed page”:

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That’s the mobile version of the Warrior Forum.

The forum threads still works, but they have created a mobile version to make it easier for mobile devices users.

And their entire newsletter links to their mobile version.

There is no more signature file link on the mobile version. That’s a huge let down if you’re doing content marketing on the forum, there is no where we can insert a link like the past to send traffic back to our blog.

The forum is moderated heavily; they don’t allow self promotion in the content itself. Inserting a link back to our blog will almost guarantee a post close down.

With the disappearing of the signature link on the mobile version, there isn’t any incentive for me to produce high quality content anymore.

The Warrior Forum was originally powered by vBulletin script.

I just don’t understand why they don’t upgrade to the latest vBullentin version to make the site mobile responsive while retaining the signature file link.

Until they do it, I’m not spending anymore time producing content there.

GrowthHackers.com Website Traffic

GrowthHackers.com is a community of experience growth hackers and marketers who share and discuss growth strategies.

As some of Growth Text content falls into their topic, I submitted a couple of my posts to the site and got some traffic.

I had 280 visitors from GrowthHackers.com. That’s it. No biggie.

Feedly Website Traffic

Someone shared Growth Text content on Feedly and got me some traffic in May.

If you’re not familiar with Feedly, it’s one of the most popular RSS readers.

It compiles feeds from a variety of online sources for the user to customize and share with others.

As Google announced the discontinuance of Google Reader in 2013, they gained 500,000 news users within 48 hours.

By the end of 2013, Feedly had 12 million users.

I haven’t found their 2016 user statistics.

No matter, they still have a pool of users, so we’ll get some good amount of traffic whenever a Feedly power user shares our content.

Other Websites Traffic

I had some traffic channel in from 25DollarBlogs.com and Google search.

That’s it… and the rest of the traffic sources are too small to report on and insignificant.

So there you have the traffic sources that brought traffic Growth Text in the past 2 months.

Now, let’s take a look at which are the traffic sources I’ve tested in the past 2 months but don’t work for me (yet)…

Traffic Sources That Don’t Work (yet), and What I Learned

When it comes to traffic generation, you have to be willing to fail.

It’s important to fail fast and then learn from those mistakes.

So I took what I read from various sources and tested out the theories by running actual traffic experiments on them.

Here is what I found:

Inbound.org

Inbound is a community of 140,000+ of content marketers. They share and discuss topic related to content marketing, social media and pretty much everything related to growing an online business.

Just like at GrowthHackers.com, anyone can submit their articles on Inbound.org

They’re hovering between 1 million and 1.5 million monthly visitors.

By getting to the main page of Inbound I could get a surge of traffic to Growth Text.

After I submitted 3 posts to Inbound and getting a small group to upvote those articles, my Analytics show me I had 51 sessions from Inbound in a week.

Not good.

My plan was to get some initial upvotes from a small gang of Growth Text readers;

These initial upvotes would then slowly float my 3 articles to the top where they would be seen by a larger audience.

Once the members of the communities saw my content, the plan was that they would take over, upvoting my articles to push them to the top of the main page.

Once on the main page, I’d be able to enjoy an influx of traffic from Inbound viewers.

My plan didn’t work.

This is a screenshot of the upvotes our small group has gathered on Inbound:

website traffic

13 upvotes, 11 upvotes, and 15 upvotes.

The numbers are too small to boost the articles to the main page of Inbound.

Take a look at the upvote counts of the current top articles on the main page of Inbound:

website traffic

61, 122, 15, 10, 24.

I’m way far away from the number of counts that the big guns gather.

Why do these submissions gain so many upvotes?

Upvote clicks have different values.

After doing some research, this is what I learned: Upvote clicks have different values in Inbound, depending on who’s doing the voting.

Let’s take the Inbound community as an example –

The higher you are on the member list at Inbound, the more upvotes you give with a single click.

For new members 1 click = 1 upvote.

But a single click from a top 100 member might result in 2,3 or …even more upvotes.

No one knows the numbers exactly as Inbound doesn’t reveal it.

There is a saying among those communities, “Share something that intrigues these folks (top 100 members) and you’ll be swimming in upvotes.”

Once an article is upvoted by a few site celebrities, ranking becomes easier because a lot of the people who hang out on these sites will follow their opinion leaders and upvote accordingly.

Just like someone wrote on Inbound: “I upvote based on the CREDIBILITY of others who upvoted previously”.

Apart from upvotes, ranking on Inbound home page also depends on how many comments a submission gets.

Submissions with the most comments win and will out-rank those with fewer discussions going on… it’s just like most online forum work.

If I’m going to have any chance of succeeding big on Inbound, I’ll have to follow this game plan:

Spend time reaching out to top members to see if they can upvote and comment my submissions.

That goes back to Influencer Marketing, which I’m already applying on Twitter.

Will I do it?

In the future, maybe.

But not now as it takes a lot of work.

In the short term, I’ll try out something that’s easier.

Stumbleupon

website traffic

I ran some traffic test on Stumbleupon and learned it’s not a great traffic source for narrow niche like Growth Text is in.

But it’s certainly a great place to drive a lot of traffic for Buzzfeed-type viral sites.

Stumbleupon is a content discovery site. It’s like a search engine and bookmarking site all in one.

It’s one of the top 150 websites in the world and has 22 million visits every month.

I thought it would be a nice site to bring exposure to Growth Text, so I decided to test Stumbleupon out.

To capitalize on Stumbleupon huge audience and start getting traffic, we need 2 things:

#1 Content people are willing to share

#2 Build up a lot of followers on Stumbleupon, and share content with them.

Getting followers on Stumbleupon is just like getting followers on Twitter. You will find users to follow, follow them and hopefully they will follow you back.

It takes a lot of time to build up a strong following that results in substantial traffic.

The best way to do it?

Find power users.

Look for people who are actively sharing content and have a strong following.

When a power user stumbles upon your content and shares it, the Stumbleupon algorithm knows it’s something to pay attention to.

Usually a content will take off when we you 5-6 stumbles from a power user.

So I need to locate the right power user who’s interested in my content.

But that’s still a lot of work to me and I don’t have the time to spend locating and networking with users.

The short cut?

Buy ads.

I decided to test out Stumbleupon’s ads instead.

They called it Stumbleupon Paid Discovery.

Unlike Facebook ads where you set up an ad and hopefully people will click on it, Stumbleupon sends traffic directly to your site.

Just give them your URL and they’ll show your content to their audience. Simple.

Since this post is the most popular content on Growth Text, I set up a $20 ad campaign on Stumbleupon directed to it.

I was hoping to kick start the exposure of my content with ads, after which my content would be shared and I would be rewarded with free traffic.

That is, if I was lucky enough to show up on the radars of a couple power users who would bring the algorithm into play, pushing the content to a broader audience.

I picked my topic, paid $20 and let the ad run for 2 days.

Here is the result:

website traffic

I had 142 visits to my blog post, and that’s it.

No one stumbled, no shares, no free traffic as I was hoping for.

No Stumblers seems to interested to stumble or share my content.

Maybe $20 isn’t enough to push the content to wider audience to get traction, but this shows me Stumblers are no big fans of my topic.

TopTenz is a Buzzfeed type viral web site that appeals to a large, diversified audience. According to owner Shell Harris, Stumbleupon basically built the site.

If you’re running viral site like they’re doing, Stumbleupon is a great place to drive traffic.

Growth Text is targeting a much narrower audience. Not all traffic sources fit every niche.

Lesson learned 😉

Reddit

website traffic

With 20 million unique visitors per month, Reddit is one of the biggest sites in the world.

It’s an online forum made up of different communities (subreddits), where members share and discuss their interests and can submit links to other websites.

Unlike regular online discussion forums, it’s not easy to understand how Reddit works when you’re new to it.

It takes a whole new post to explain the mechanism of how Reddit works and how to drive traffic from there.

I’m not going into the details here.

I’m just going to share a couple core concept of how it works…

Everything on Reddit is driven by this thing called “karma”.

Every discussion and link on Reddit can be voted by everyone.

The more upvotes you get, the more “karma” you will accumulate.

When you join Reddit, you’ll find the subreddit (a subreddit is like a sub forum of reddit, and is called a community) in your topic and start to contribute to the comments to start accumulating karma.

Subreddits have their own rules and in most subreddits you can post a link or submit an article with a link back to your site once you’ve accumulate enough karma.

For instance, this subreddit required at least 10 karma in order to submit a post.

website traffic

What you’ll do is find a few current submissions to comment on. Wait till your comment receives enough upvotes (which leads to higher karma) to qualify for submitting your own post.

I joined Reddit and found this subreddit:

web traffic

I scanned through some of the discussions there to see if it would be the right fit for my blog topic.

I read the rules of the subreddit and realized there isn’t any minimum karma required to make a submission.

Looks good.

So, I spent a few days joining in the discussion; I collected 16 comment karmas.

And I submitted my first post.

My post didn’t go live, instead I see this:

website traffic

I contacted the moderators but didn’t get any response.

I guess I didn’t hit the minimum karma.

Though they don’t explicitly announce the minimum karma required to post, they must have an algo to weed out new people who are trying to make a submission before they contribute enough on the forum.

It’s still too early to tell; I can spend more time to build up karma on the current subreddit, or find another subreddit and build there.

There is a saying: be a redditor, not a marketer.

To be successful with Reddit, you need to spend time with the community or communities you choose before breaking out with your own posts.

You can’t simply make a comment or two then disappear.

Reddit can be a part of our traffic strategy;

I just need the time to build myself up there and since I don’t have the time to invest.

I guess I’ll have to leave Reddit alone for awhile before I can find time to crack it .

Google+ and LinkedIn Communities

I read somewhere that the Google+ and linkedIn Communities deliver more engaged visitors than Facebook Groups.

I was skeptical, so I went ahead and tested them out.

I located 2 popular Google+ communities and one LinkedIn community to share my posts.

Joined the communities, posted my content.

Here is a Google+ marketing community with 123,000+ members:

website traffic

And here is another with 126,000+ members:

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Here is a LinkedIn digital marketing community with 980,000+ members.

I made 2 posts on those communities but didn’t see any engagement on and no spike of traffic from my Google Analytics record.

When I look at other submissions on those communities, I don’t see any engagement for them, either.

No likes, no comments.

I’m still trying to figure out why people care to post their content on those communities. Maybe just to create backlinks?

So there you have the traffic experiments I’ve been testing for the past 2 months.

Now let’s get to the list building part.

List Building

Here is my main list subscriber growth:

website traffic

According to Aweber, my subscribers grew to 748 in May.

In March, it was 445.

I increased my list 68% in 2 months.

That’s the main list.

My content upgrade offer on this post added another 77 subscribers to my list.

Combined, I have 879 subscribers on my list now.

In conclusion

Over the past 2 months, I’ve tested a lot and learned a ton.

Though the traffic growth isn’t progressing as rapidly as I’d like, those 2 months were fun and opened my eyes to what’s possible and what’s not when it comes to driving traffic to a new blog.

Now I want to hear what you have to say:

What’s the #1 takeaway you got from today’s traffic report?

Leave your comment below.

11 thoughts on “Website Traffic Experiment: What I Learned by Experimenting with 10 Different Traffic Sources on the Internet

  1. Hi Verena

    Your posts are always so refreshingly honest – the reader feels they’re riding your ups and downs. The good news is that your email list is increasing and that’s your most valuable online asset.

    Kind regards
    Mark

  2. Hi Verena, you’re definitely on the right track. Great work!

    If you like some tips and tricks for getting better results on Reddit, check this out: http://www.raultiru.com/subreddits-marketers-social-media

    I’ve struggled too with Reddit (who didn’t). So I’ve looked up articles from people that know how to utilize Reddit great power. You can see the top articles I’ve found beneath the list of subreddits. I hope it works out well for you next month!

    Talk soon,

    Raul

    1. Thanks for the share, Raul. I’ll definitely study those subreddits on your page; it will certainly save me time spent researching. Cracking Reddit takes time; it’s not hard, it just requires time hanging around in the subreddits, getting involved in the discussions, then submitting our own content when the time is right. There is a standard saying that we shall share 1 piece of our own content upon every 10 comments / contributions we’ve made. They purposely make it hard for newcomers so that there is less junk clogging up their site.

  3. Verena you are a star – There’s nobody else writing the way you do right now in this field.

    I love your completely transparent approach and reading your material is always a pleasure, never a chore!

    You articulate yourself as if you were there speaking to us…THAT is wonderful.

    Not to mention all the juicy tips not really spoken of…it’s rare to hear ”this just didn’t work … I received hardly any traffic from this” because usually we just get fed success stories 🙂

    Keep up the great project my friend! We’re with you every step of the way…

    Speak soon,

    Sam

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Sam. Yes, I agree with what you’re saying. When we read online, it seems like what works for the writer will work for everyone reading their content. In reality, that’s not how things work. Everyone has their own edge. What works for a kid who has spent the past 12 months building strong karma on Reddit might not work for people like me who are plain new to the forum. A Facebook veteran might find a Facebook ad 1000% easier than hacking their way through Google searches, and so on. It’s always great to first start with something we do best and use the skill to start building. Once we have a proven system to rely on, we can then move on to test other methods to add to our overall traffic strategy. Some might work, some might not..that’s okay. Spend more time on those methods that work for us and we’ll be reaching our goal. Just sharing my thoughts.

  4. Hi Verena!

    Great post and traffic report!

    I really enjoyed reading this and learned a few new things. You can always keep on learning, right!

    I have some experience with StumbleUpon Traffic and it’s not a very good traffic source for Online Marketer. I had a few of my blog posts on my internet marketing blog go viral for a day or two on StumbleUpon – and got thousands of visitors with very little engagement.

    I wouldn’t recommend to spend money on their paid ads. As you mentioned here, StumbleUpon’s Traffic works best for Viral Type of Content. Content that is currently “Hot” on the net – you get what I mean.

    I do have some good experience with LinkedIn Groups. Every time I publish a new blog post I share it on about 15 LinkedIn Groups and I do see some traffic coming from there. I also got a few likes and comments on some of the posts I have shared. So it is a great traffic source and a lot more targeted. People on LinkedIn are most likely to be very interested in Blogging and Internet Marketing.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your experiences here! .. it helps a lot!

    Keep up the great work!

  5. Hi Verena, found you in Google, nice post! I definitely like your candid style of writing; it’s very refreshing.

    As far as StumbleUpon, I have paid for some traffic there too in various niches and have begun to realize that it’s their set-up that makes their traffic suck.

    A major drawback is that they put all the websites in a frame, so the visitors there can’t even visit your site directly. This is why they end up bouncing like a basketball. It’s like they’re looking at your website through a glass wall and then off to stumble the next site!

    StumbleUpon has in essence trained their visitors to have attention deficit disorder. Not good. I have yet to come across anyone who has gotten any positive results worth talking about from StumbleUpon. I’d just recommend simply syndicating your content there for free and keep it movin! Not worth paying for this type of traffic. You probably can get better results in a manual traffic exchange. At least most every one of those that I’ve come across will showcase a direct link to a person’s website instead of forcing them to stay in a bubble.

    As far as the other communities like forums, reddit, inbound.org are concerned, it takes time to build a reputation in these forums in order to gain any type of traction (as I can see that you recognize). Sometimes it’s not even the quality the posts shared; it’s just that the people are in the “in crowd” and some of them spend so much time and become so popular on particular platform that they can basically spew crap and everyone will still come flocking & jocking to upvote them and hang on their every word. That’s just the way it is. Keep up the great work and keep testing to find out what works best for you!

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