Note from Caleb: A few weeks back I got an email from a reader of Think Traffic that said, “I launched a new blog one month ago, started out with a specific growth strategy in mind, and got over 50k visitors in the first month.”
You could say he piqued my interest a bit.
That reader was Peep Laja of ConversionXL. He used a simple formula to attract visits to his site and used a launch plan instead of just “getting it out there”. Read on to find out why he spent eight hours on each post and how he was able to get over 40,000 uniques to his site in month number one.
Take it away Peep.
One month later, these were my stats:
In addition to this traffic, I got 600 RSS subscribers, a double opt-in email list of 700 and a bunch of new Twitter followers. Not bad for the first month.
Here were the strategies I followed to achieve this.
Write Long, Thorough Posts
Research into which blog posts are most linked to said this:
- They’re long: between 2700 – 3000 words
- Extra visual content attracts extra links: posts with videos, images, and lists will attract almost 6 times more links than a plain text post.
My first strategic decision was to only write long, well-researched posts with lots of links to sources and great visuals. In order to make reading of these long posts a good experience, I focused on readability.
- Font size 16px, since that is what our browsers were made for. That size font on a webpage is equivalent to the way text appears in an average paper book.
- Line height 24px to ensure enough white space.
- I use Georgia font because its beautiful and especially designed for computer screens. People who say serif fonts are harder to read are just ignorant. All standard web fonts are pretty much equal.
- New paragraph every 4-5 lines. Empty line between paragraphs. Lots of sub-headlines.
Corbett says ‘write epic shit‘. There is no way around it. You won’t hit the jackpot every single time, but you should aim to.
Look at the traction some of the posts got (with no pre-existing audience, no relationships, no name recognition):
Okay, but what about user feedback?
I’ve blogged since 2008 and I’ve never gotten such amazing feedback in this short amount of time.
Either comments on the blog like this:
Or people mentioning the blog on Twitter:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, writing long, thorough blog posts would be it.
Distribute Your Content
No epic content will help you if you don’t help the distribution along. People will not find your content by accident or via search if the site is new – lots of case studies show this.
I had 2 key strategies I followed in distribution.
1. Social sharing
Have you read Zarella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness? You should. It demystifies social sharing of content and dispels a lot of myths with real data.
The hierarchy of contagiousness itself is this:
- A person must be exposed to your content to ever have a chance of spreading it. This means they have to be following you on Twitter, fans of your page on Facebook, on your email list, etc.
- The person must become aware of your specific piece of content before they can spread it. They have to read your Tweet or open your email.
- That person must be motivated by something (generally in the content itself) to want to share it with their contacts.
I followed the model to make sure my content spreads.
Here’s what I did:
- Since I only had like 2000 followers on Twitter, I needed additional channels to get more people exposed to my content and share it. In addition to sharing the posts on my Twitter and FB account, I submitted every post of mine to Reddit, StumbleUpon, Sphinn and Hacker News. You can only do so much to spread the word yourself, the content has to be able to carry its own weight. A ton of influencers picked up my blog posts either from these channels directly or via someone else spreading the word, bringing in even more traffic.
- Some people saw my posts, read them and because they were really good, they voted for my stories. That made even more people aware of the content and the content kept spreading.
- Because I worked my butt off to write really useful posts (6 to 8 hours per post), they offered a lot of value and therefore people were motivated to share them.
At the same time I made sure I was actively turning the visitors into subscribers – I added social sharing buttons to all the blog posts, invited the readers to follow me on Twitter, join my email list or subscribe to the rss feed. Oh yeah – 85% of the email subscribers joined via popup. People might hate them, but they sure are effective.
Content is definitely the key to getting spread in social media. Yes, writing these thorough posts is hard work and finding 8 hrs to write a blog post can be tough. But I think John Jantsch said it best:
The secret to success is to be willing to do the things that others aren’t and be prepared to do them for a really long time.
Most people keep on writing those 300 – 500 word personal opinion articles. Fine for them. Great for you. You know better.
2. Names, names, names
Both of the following statements are true:
- The sweetest sound to anyone’s ears is the sound of their own name.
- Entrepreneurs, bloggers and tweeters have (really) big egos.
I don’t remember which book I read this from, but there was a case study of a local newspaper that keeps on growing even when the rest of the industry is going downhill. Their secret? Naming names. They make sure they can add as many names (mentioned in articles, social events commentary, etc) to every newspaper as possible – people want to find their name (or that of their close friend / family member) in the paper and hence they keep buying it. Brilliant.
I decided to use the same tactic and I’d say it’s been a success. I make sure I reference and link to a ton of people and companies in my posts, and then I’ll let them know about it either over email or Twitter. Perhaps half the time they mention my blog post on their Twitter account, on their blog or they’ll just find out about me and start following my blog or Twitter.
The Best Strategies Are the Ones You Actually Follow
What I’ve described here is not rocket science. Allocate time and start doing it. It’s more fun than you think.
- Learn anything? Please share!
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