Ask the Readers: What’s the Most Effective Thing You’ve Done to Build Traffic this Year? (Win a Free Website Strategy Session)

Update: after 90+ awesome comments, this contest has ended. Check out all the great traffic-building tips below or see the contest results here.

Something occurred to me today. I’ve asked lots of experts about what they’ve done to increase traffic to their sites recently, but I haven’t asked you, my dear readers, directly.

And if I’ve learned anything from running this blog and reading your comments over the past seven months, it’s that I’m lucky to have some of the smartest, most successful readers on the Internet.

Now that I’ve buttered you up a little, I’d love to make this the best “ask the readers” segment we’ve ever created together. With your input this could become an awesome resource of traffic-building tips. Read on to find out how you can win a free strategy session with me.

Here’s the question: what’s the most effective thing you’ve done to build traffic to your website or blog this year?

If you have more than one traffic-building tip, feel free to talk about more than one, or just pick one. In any case, let’s hear it! I can’t wait to read your responses.

I’m focusing this question on what you’ve done this year because what worked last year or before might not work as well today.

Last Question’s Winning Comment

If you’re new to these “ask the readers” segments, here’s how they work. I run them occasionally, usually once a month or so. This is a way to get a broader opinion on important traffic-building topics.

In each segment, I recap the previous question and choose a favorite comment or two to highlight. Last time I asked: what do you do when someone steals your content?

Using other’s content (especially without permission) is a controversial topic online. There were heated opinions on both sides of the comments.

My favorite comment on the post was from Jill Heijligers-Peloquin of Lash FX. Here’s what Jill had to say about the topic:

Well, hopefully, all of our content is the result of hard work, research (be it literary or life-learned, depending on the topic) and carefully edited etc. I just don’t see the point in getting too riled over it. I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, but not everyone else does. I can’t control them, nor would I want to spend the energy or time trying.

As any kind of artist (writer, painter, sculptor, singer… you name it) can attest – nothing is truly original. I do believe that everything is derivative. Hopefully, each new voice (or brush stroke, etc) brings a new ring of truth to the subject.

If you’re interested in how other people deal with “stolen” content, check out the rest of the comments on that post. There is some really valuable advice and discussion there.

Back to Today’s Question (and Your Chance to Win)

Now it’s your turn. What’s the most effective thing you’ve done to build traffic to your website or blog this year?

To encourage more answers, I’m going to give the person who leaves my favorite comment a free 60-minute blog/website consulting session with me (a $195 value). We can talk about anything you need help with to make your audience grow faster.

And don’t worry, I understand the irony of giving a traffic-building strategy session to the person who leaves the best traffic-building tip.

You might think the person with the best tip isn’t the person in the greatest need of a consulting session. This isn’t about absolute traffic numbers. I’m looking for creative answers and you have an equal shot to win, whether your site’s audience is really tiny and new or bigger and more established.

Don’t limit yourself to promotional tactics, either. Think deeper if it’s important. Content, design, branding, networking and anything else that might have helped you build your audience is fair game.

To win, you simply have to comment below and retweet this post (use the little green button below). If you don’t have a Twitter account, just mention that in your comment. I’ll choose a winner next week.

Oh, and you all leave more than 100 comments on this post, I’ll choose a second winner for another strategy session.

Here we go! Let’s hear your best answer!

Thanks in advance for participating.

Published by

Corbett Barr

Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.

99 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: What’s the Most Effective Thing You’ve Done to Build Traffic this Year? (Win a Free Website Strategy Session)”

  1. For me personally, it has been consistently pump out awesome content while mentioning which superstars my article appropriately featured. For example, I featured Leo Babauta (among others) in an article on dealing with toxic friends and relationships of the awesome content I used to summarized my article. He featured my link on his tumblr site and I got 400 new visitors as a result of it (compared to roughly 30 visitors per day).

    It is getting my links featured on someone else’s site, mainly popular bloggers (guest posts also fall in the same category).

  2. The best thing I did this year to build traffic is making unique and controversial content. I chose a popular topic in my niche and posted the exact opposite of what other bloggers have written in their more established sites. The article is my most read post to date, weeks after I’ve written it.

  3. Hey Corbett,

    Interesting question so I’ll participate. A big source of traffic for me, lately, as been StumbleUpon. No, it hasn’t brought any monetary gains except that it has filled me with a renewed energy (which I think new bloggers desperately need).

    As for how I gained SU views? That’s two parts: one, my networking group was kind enough to RT, stumble and digg my content.

    Another big part has been writing more in-depth articles to actually keep the reader interest. I’m actually happy with my last set of articles and the more specific I get, the more I share my mistakes, the more the readers are loving it (I know thanks to their comments).

    I can only hope that my soon-to-be-finished ebook will interest more readers.

    I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s responses.

  4. Well… not to be glib, but it’s only been 4 weeks, so…

    I talked myself out of being a perfectionist long enough to just launch the @#%&ing thing.

  5. I created a novel, highly visual application and got it featured in a couple of high-traffic blogs in the data-visualisation niche. One very popular blog featured it on the homepage for many weeks and all through that period it received a very healthy flow of traffic and sign-ups. In the first few days in particular it pulled several thousand visitors (huge for a totally new site). A lot of other bloggers picked it up on it after that and wrote their own posts about it so I had back links spreading throughout the Google index for several months. Essentially got a page rank of 4 off of one or two emails. That one tactic absolutely eclipsed everything else I did to build traffic.

    Here’s that app:

    http://apps.babynamebrainstorm.com/brainstormer/

  6. Awesome Corbett,

    This is really a great ask the readers section and I’ll be very happy to read the comments of others.

    My best traffic generation strategy is guest blogging and it accounts for a large percentage of my audience.

    Thanks so much,
    -Onibalusi

  7. I’ve done two things which have helped my traffic increase by about 75% over the past 2 months. First, I sought interviews with big names in the running space. I was surprised at how approachable they are! All of them RT’d the posts and the biggest blogger posted a link on his website, which sent hundreds of visitors (and still sends visitors today).

    The second thing is finding your ideal reader and going to them. I participate in a few running forums, giving helpful advice and my own personal experiences. Sometimes a thread will blow up and will send hundreds of people to my site, instead of the normal 30-60/day. This tactic sends traffic, but more importantly it sends qualified traffic who are interested in running.

    Cheers! – Jason Fitz.

  8. Hi Corbett,

    Very Interesting question.

    My best traffic generation strategies are guest posting and search engine traffic.

    Why guest posting is my best traffic startergy?
    Guest posting is not just about building links and getting traffic. For me it’s all about building a relationship with other bloggers. It also help to build great brand.

    Why i like search engine traffic?
    To be honest when i first started blogging, i thought search engine traffic is a waste of time but later i discovered how search engine traffic is useful.
    Actually i’m getting great traffic from search engines.

    Why i don’t focus on other methods?
    Now days i have stopped focusing on more methods, instead i only use 1-2 methods. I think focusing on 1-2 methods works much better then focusing on all.

    Thanks!

    ~Dev

  9. Hey Corbett – this was a great idea!

    My site has only been running a month and I really started to see a boost in traffic after I started implementing the tips from your interview with Smart Passive Income. (Jumped 100% – From 10 avg visits/day (week 1-2) to 20 avg visits/day (week 3-4)

    For a newbie like me, I’ve see increased visits when:
    – I make quality comments on at least 4-5 relevant blogs each day (early after they post)
    – Participate in forums
    – I wrote on a ‘hot topic’ that begs to be read (saw 50 visits that day)

    I’m sure I can come back in 2 weeks and say “reading all these comments boosted my traffic” – so even if I don’t ‘win,’ I still win.

    Thanks!

  10. My strategy is pretty strange and involves a lot of spamming, basically what I do is leave comments on every single post on TechCrunch and Mashable with a attractive link below each comment. This was just amazing, I generate about 400 visitors on the day if I work on every single post, surprised??? I’m sure you won’t believe but I can show you analytic proof about my traffic.

    In the past few days I’ve started using Gizmodo which allows the use of HTML tags and turn my links into anchor links ‘Make money online’ and my position increased from 96th position to 58th within 2 weeks. So I’m getting a hell lot of traffic and SEO benefits all at the same time. Thats the main reason why I advice my readers not to do guest posts.

    I also have an advantage of being a 14 year old, so after a bit of online popularity I was featured on 3 leading Indian daily’s

    1. Vishal – If you leave a string of “Nice Post” comments, then you’re spamming. If you leave consistently solid comments your working hard and adding value to their blogs (even if you’re only one in 400 comments).

      Corbett, Since I jumped in here, I’ll give my answer as well – I worked hard this year on building a website with a blog and articles and so on to kick start an online travel business – a niche in which I’ve got more than 10 years experience.

      But, since I was building the blog engine myself, I was testing it on another domain that I already had. I ended up building my own blog engine for a personal blog that I intended to be a punching bag (a place just to empty my head). I didn’t edit, I didn’t promote, nothing. I just let loose, and posted what I most wanted to post. Being in tourism for all these years, I’ve felt that I MUST post about nature and tours and that kind of thing, but when I started posting about blogs and workouts and whatever was popping into my head, it took off.

      The spin off benefit is that I don’t mind doing little tests – I just stuck a ‘Please Retweet’ on the end of a tweet for the first time. All those things I didn’t want to do with my ‘serious’ website.

      It’s not that I wrote naught stuff, nor that I poured my heart out. I just wrote about the stuff I was thinking about, and that was enough to give the blog a touch of sincerity – and give me more traffic than I’ve ever had.

  11. The biggest traffic builder for me was the launch of my free ebook – Finding Peace and Joy. I marketed and publicized it for a week through twitter, email and facebook. On launch day, my traffic skyrocketed from that work and most of the traffic were new visitors. Hopefully, the momentum will stay from the ebook and the visitors will stay!

  12. It hasn’t been two full months since I started, but my traffic is definitely growing. Within the first month I was approached with the generous offer to guest post on a popular blog and had over 500 hits that day. That was a high for me. Then about a week later, someone linked to a different post I had written and I received over 1200 hits in a day. That was awesome but something I had zero control with it happening so I have no clue how to have something like that happen again.

    As far as the things I can control, I just find being authentic and practical makes the biggest difference. I’ve tried to be myself from Day 1 and stick with real practical advice and topics instead of vague cloud-like topics that I see all over the place.

    1. I agree Faith, being authentic and practical does make the biggest difference. If you just be you then you’ll attract the kind of people you can relate to.

  13. My site is less than two months old and while being that new doesn’t bring in a whole lot of traffic (yet), it definitely has its advantages:

    I’m not stuck to any one design choice or feature implementation; I can test without fear of hurting anyones delicate web sensibilities or altering a familiar surrounding someone has come to love.
    I can extend my content divining rod (less sexual than it sounds) and see what crashes and burns and what cracks a home run; all the while making a list of things I need to delve deeper into or branch out into similar topics.
    I can afford to be lazy. This one may seem counterintuitive, with so many pro bloggers preaching the “crush it” rule (thanks Gary V.), but what I mean is: I can take time to develop my content, find my voice, and establish a style without being afraid of it affecting a huge readership. And when I get those things dialed-in, and the traffic begins to roll in quickly, I’ll have already had my “lazy” time and productiveness will reign.
    I can fail. It won’t be the end of the world and I can pick up the shattered pieces of my budding online empire and start again with the pieces that are still intact.

    So what’s the most effective thing I’ve done to build traffic? I Listen; I’m listening to what people have done, finding out what works and what fails, and I’m implementing the gold. Little by little, the traffic comes…and if I’m not mistaken, that should be at the forefront of my mind, right?…think traffic. 😉

    Thanks, Corbett.

    1. Jason,

      Love this comment! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I spend a lot of time messing around with the layout and gathering all this information about how I’m going to rock it. There’s so many good ideas out there it’s almost suffocating trying to figure out which to implement first! Good luck!

    2. Thanks Adria. 😀

      Preparation and staying fresh is one of my biggest distractions. On one side it’s important, on the other side it takes time and energy away from getting the deed done. We’ll find balance.

      Good luck to you too.

  14. cool thing, Corbett. I’m on it !

    I have just recently changed my blog strategies, as I was NOT happy with the results I got from my posts. The change in tactics got my posts retweeted 35 – 70 times instead of 15 – 25 times. This is what I did:

    Writing epic posts.

    And that means: longer posts – tiny ebooks within themselves – with 100 % value and 150% personality. Writing long-ass, valuable posts and posting them LESS helped me get some awesome traffic spikes.
    They break through the average social media clutter and encourage people to share them with their friends and followers.

    1. A-List Blogging Bootcamps and Blog Mastermind are popular ones (along with Problogger premium site). I’m leaning towards A-List Blogging Bootcamps though.

    2. I happen to know what Baker was referring to. He’s in a small private group, not a big paid thing. These independent 4-person type mastermind groups are fantastic. I’m part of one myself.

  15. I joined a group of bloggers in a $$$ giveaway. It was called $750 Fall Follower Giveaway Tour. Not only did we offer the great giveaway but we got people coming back with bonus entries. http://stillblondeafteralltheseyears.com/2010/08/750fall-follower-giveaway-tour/
    You might say so what? but it increased my PV by 50% for that month, increased my Facebook fans by 80% (yes I nearly doubled them), my GFC by over 120% (yes i know this number is basically useless but it matters to PR firms-so the bigger the better), my Alexa traffic rating changed by +35,000 in the US. This will greatly help my PageRank (again a number that matters to PR firms) which currently stands at 1, but I am hoping for a big adjustment when/if GOOGLE finally adjust those this month (please God!). I also got 200 more email subscriptions. AND all the other 13 blogs which are much bigger than me, got similar results. Yipee for Social Networking!

  16. Hello! The most effective thing I’ve done to generate traffic on my new interior design website/blog (awelldressedhome.com/blog) is this:
    A few weeks ago, I submitted my kitchen makeover project another design blogger, who has over 1200 loyal followers. She loved it so much she featured it on her blog yesterday!
    My blog has only been up and running for about 6 weeks and I have only been tracking the hits for about 4 weeks. On avg I get about 100 hits/day. Yesterday I recieved 1,339 hits!!! I also more than doubled my RSS subscriptions!
    In an effort to continue to get more hits and readers, I am constantly commenting on other “big” design blogs with my web address attached under my name so that their readers will be entised to go to my site. I am also continuing to email other well known bloggers with my work!

    PS – I do not have a twitter acct

    Thanks!
    Emily Hewett
    A Well Dressed Home
    awelldressedhome.com/blog

  17. I’m not trying to get the Free Website Strategy session, all though it sounds awesome, I think others can use Corbett’s knowledge to build something really amazing.

    But, this is no bull-shit, the best thing I’ve done for my budding blog was to hire you, Corbett, for the blog tune-up! Your help has done wonders for my site in just a short period of time, I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in the coming year.

    Eric signing off!

  18. Tho I have had huge traffic peaks thanks to reddit, SU and the occasional forum, I think the steady increase of my base traffic is due to lots of social networking: tweeting and RTing other people, keeping a lively facebook page, and leaving good comments on other people’s blogs with NO LINKS IN THEM.

  19. I interviewed the most successful people in the industry, asked them a single question and included it into a post.

    Once the post went live, they would usually tweet it and their followers would do resulting in viral traffic.

    It drives quality traffic, helps the community and people love it.

  20. Syncing blog posts to publish to twitter and Facebook has helped. Tools like Networked Blogs are helpful for this.

    With Twitter, it’s always possible someone will miss your blog post or not be drawn in by the title. It helps to advertise your blog post with an @ reply on twitter to relevant users who will appreciate the post’s content.

    Good to share the post repeatedly in the week to follow (“in case you missed it”)

    my two cents but enjoy reading all the suggestions!

  21. What turned the corner for my blog was the release of the e-book. It gave me credibility. But more importantly, it gave other authors a reason to invest in my work.

  22. This is easy, all you have to do is look at the highest direct traffic source to my blog. The single most powerful strategy I put into action was building a real relationship with another blogger with a very similar message to my own. This blogger is Tammy Strobel who runs Rowdykittens.com — she’s sent probably 3000-7000 hits per month to my blog for the last 6-months consistently. She sells more of my e-books than anyone else, consistently.

    I’ll take my winnings in beer please.

    Seriously though, building a relationship online is difficult. First you have to let a relationship grow organically, you can’t simply email someone and say “be intimately involved with me for the next year of my blog.” it just doesn’t work that way.

    For every time Tammy linked to me, I linked to her. I don’t care about tracking this stuff, because it isn’t a stat, but we’ve probably promoted each-other’s work on our blogs and other blogs hundreds of times over the last year.

    All of this comes back to one thing: the relationship wouldn’t exist if we weren’t living the life we’re advocating. Tammy owns less than 100 things and encourages people to stop driving to find freedom. I own less than 100 things and I want people to take their car to the center of town and light it on fire.

    Real relationships matter.

    1. Truly awesome response Everett. Now, more than ever, you can create this types of relationships with like-minded individuals throughout the web. I really like this.

  23. Hey Corbett! I started my blog less than 2 months ago, and what I think is giving me a growing amount of traffic is the fact that I offer it in both Spanish and English (each post is written in both languages). This boosts the potential of my message, by opening up the chance to reach to a lot of audience that would be left out if had chosen to write it in one language or the other.

  24. Honestly?

    I haven’t figured it out just yet. I write posts that I think will go far, but then they sit sad and unloved on my front page for a week. I write one post in thirty minutes and then rush off to work, only to find out that it has generated more love than any other one i’ve written.

    I don’t know the secrets. :)

    I did, however, try something different. I tweeted five of my blogging heroes with a simple question (“What’s one of your happiest memories?”) and worked all of their responses into a post. It worked, I think, because it was a question they hadn’t been asked before, and so I didn’t have as much trouble as I thought getting all five to respond (including Mr. Zen Habits himself!). When the post went live, I sent them all a link to it, and two or three were kind enough to link to it either on their blog or on Twitter. It’s been one of my most successful posts so far, and all I really did was ask a single question. :)

    Great idea for a contest, Corbett! Keep up the great work.

  25. I host giveaways along with providing articles and features for Women over 45. All my giveaways are over $50. I try to get the largest giveaway items I can from PR firms (many blogs giveaway $10-20 items). In September, I had a giveaway immediately following Blogmania for Lifetime Brands which owns Pfaltzgraff dishes. I was able to leverage all the new fans from Blogmania (see post above) and then I had one of my biggest giveaways (individual) ever! In Nov. I will be hosting a $450 calf and foot massager giveaway. This is my third giveaway of one of these units. Usually 30-50% of my traffic for the month can be attributed to this giveaway. I will be positioning it to occur over Thanksgiving weekend. I am looking for HUGE traffic from this little gem.

  26. The most effective thing that I have done was do a “case study” write up an unconference where I broke down the events that I occurred in addition to the things that I have learned (where I provided links and videos). As soon as I posted it, I shared it on the Wall of the Unconference’s fan page and tweeted about it where I tagged some of the contacts that I made.

  27. The best thing i’ve done is put out art consistently and started building relationships with other people in the field. I got my work out in galleries and that’s how some people initially found me, but i’ve been getting consistent links from other professionals.

    And i’ve also gotten some traffic through Tumblr.

  28. Focusing on SEO and writing the definitivie guide to X. I have a post on online dating advice that is nearly 6,000 words, it gets viewed a thousand times a month and regularly attracts links. Once that baby is ranking for its keywords not only will it bring even more targeted traffic from search, it should also result in a nice healthy income from affiliate commissions.

    It’s a win win, users get quality content, google gets quality content, and I get traffic and money. I do a lot of other things to generate traffic like interviews, guest posts, etc but this has been by far the most effective strategy for me.

    If I win, I would really enjoy getting to learn from you, since you are where I want to be in a year or so. Good luck to all who comment.

  29. Two things, really. The first was to post a guest blog on two related websites. I wanted those two links for more than a year, and should have asked the other bloggers sooner; they were more than happy to have a guest post.

    The second thing was tweeting every post. Now, every time I tweet, I know the link I tweet is going to get immediate traffic from the right audience.

    Now I’ll read everyone else’s posts. Great blog topic, btw!

  30. One thing that really contributed to a significant traffic was participating in a challenge with two other bloggers to create a niche site. I was one of the first to join and as a result received a permanent set of links to my series of posts about the topic. The second thing that contributed to significantly to traffic was my How To, review and interview posts – all of which we’re retweeted well and seen organic SEO ranking.

  31. The most effective thing for me was to encourage my husband’s enthusiasm to promote my new blog (started less than 2 weeks ago). The majority of my subscribers are from his contacts. These are people who were unfamiliar with the topic of minimalism & may have never read anything on the subject had it not been for my blog. If I inspire only one person, it’s all worth it!

  32. With a relatively new site with VERY small amounts of traffic, it isn’t hard to see boosts, even if I only get 5 visitors! My most effective method thus far was writing a review for a new book. The author linked to the review both on his forum and on his blog and that got me some much needed traffic. So thinking about this strategically (big picture) rather than tactically, the thing I did was help someone else, who in turn helped me. I am going to try and help more people however I can, with no expectation of anything in return. I trust that good things will happen.

    Nice guys don’t always finish last, do they?

  33. I tripled my traffic by writing an ebook and getting it reviewed by several bloggers and then it was included as part of Karol Gajda’s Minimalist Book Sale package. I try to write thoughtful, readable posts about simplifying and minimalism in order to live a centered life on my Minimalist Woman blog and to simplify our relationship to food and cooking on my Minimalist Cook blog. They cross-reference well, which was intended.

    My total traffic numbers are still small, but my readers are very responsive and supportive, and a vital part of what I do. I have another ebook in the planning stages. I want to keep things at a sustainable pace, not turn off my readers with hyper-marketing, and yet grow the blogs enough to make a modest living. It would be so good to have some input on how to get that done :)

  34. I’ve been blogging since April 2009. Around June of ’09 I began reaching out to a big group of bloggers that are very similar to me and asked them to participate in a series on my blog. The posts were personal in nature, so their was a higher chance that their audience would be curious and visit my blog.

    From the simple act of reaching out to similar bloggers and asking them to do a guest post for my blog, I got:
    – Content that I didn’t have to produce
    – Access to their audience {which would become my audience, too}
    – Often got me placed on their blogrolls or under their contributions section, which offered more traffic in the long run
    – Weekly inbound links which helped my little blog in rankings
    – A whiole huge list of new blogger friends

    It was possibly one of the best things I ever did and it taught me quite a bit about my readers. The series just came to a close this summer, and I’m still getting consistent new traffic from them.

  35. The most effective thing I’ve done to increase traffic to my blog was to participate with other bloggers in a blogging contest. I wrote several tutorials on how to do certain technical things to enhance one’s blog and make it more visually appealing. These tutorials tripled my blog subscriptions. It seemed my readers were interested in how to make their blog better.

  36. Well, I’m new at trying to get an audience, but I first focused in on one main topic, “Connections.” Then I listed 4 subtopics I love: open-ended travel, location-independence, the ‘diet to live for,’ and serendipity.

    I don’t have a huge audience yet, but what I noticed is I got more traffic on my post about fear. It seems that the key is posting about what others want to know more about, or can relate to. A post ranting about my problems didn’t get too many page views. The title of my post was “How to get past the fear of being seen as (insert your fear here)”. I also mentioned several well-known bloggers in the post, so searches for Everett Bogue and Seth Godin may have helped.

    Erica

  37. The most effective thing I’ve done to build traffic this year? Couldn’t tell ya, honestly.

    I’m just trying to show my gearhead friends how much they matter, how much they have in common with each other around the world, and how much more fulfilling life can be when you can share the whole world with your friends.

    Integrity & Fairness
    Social Responsibility
    Global Understanding

    If traffic goes up, cool. If it goes down, well, it happens.
    Traffic seems like leading the horse to water. I want to make the horse thirsty.

    *light bulb* /gotta go

    1. Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner here in my book: “Traffic seems like leading the horse to water. I want to make the horse thirsty.”

      Me too, man, me too.

  38. Great question! It’s definitely given me some ideas just by reading everyone’s helpful comments, so I commend you for the amazing incentive, Corbett.

    Sometimes I think going back to the simple practice of business development and networking helps a lot. I oftentimes go off the rails trying to think of the most creative ways to attract visitors, going manic over the possibilities, and sometimes becoming disappointed later. However, some of my most simple, quickest attempts have been the most successful. For example, I was researching partners for my “real” job, and I came across this blogger from my area, Seattle. She dealt more with interior design, while my blog deals with fashion, so I brushed her aside. However, I found myself going back to her site over and over again, sometimes for work, sometimes just to see her posts (she was hooking me!). I finally just sent out an email saying something along the lines of, “Hey I love your work and noticed you were from Seattle. I started a new Seattle fashion blog and thought you might be interested in it.” Of course it was a little more personal than that, but that was the gist of it. I just figured it didn’t hurt to throw my blog’s name out there. Turned out she responded the next day, giving me a permanent link from her site and subscribing to my feed. I’ve seen a significant increase in traffic from her established blog and I came to realize that sometimes when you don’t try so hard, you get the best results. I think others can feel your desperation otherwise, so my suggestion is to give yourself a break from all the frustrating brainstorming sessions and get back to your roots, developing relationships naturally.

    This has proven to be helpful to me once again, as I simply wrote a post featuring a designer I really liked. She must have gotten pinged that I wrote about her, because her sales department contacted me asking about boutiques that would be interested in selling her clothes in Seattle. I wrote a thorough email back with suggestions, and scored an interview with this relatively well known designer in the process. I am excited to see what this interview does for my traffic, especially because I plan on implementing some of your tips on “pre-announcing” this post as you did with your manifesto. Just another example that being real and natural, concentrating on good content, and being genuine really helps.

  39. Great idea Corbett!

    I’ve learned one thing about building traffic, unless you know some really shady SEO tricks (which I don’t), you better know some sneezers. And by that I mean people who have a knack for spreading ideas on the internet.

    If you were to walk into a networking event with hundreds of people you didn’t know, what would be the first thing you would do? Well, certainly you’d introduce yourself to people and find a common interest. Before I started my blog, I had been following tons of other bloggers for a couple months, so naturally, I related to them in some way ( or else I wouldn’t read their stuff). The next obvious step was to send these people an email introducing myself and making a connection at some level.

    Introducing myself to dozens and dozens of bloggers within my niche opened so many doors to me. They offered guest posts exchanges, retweets, left comments on my blog, sent traffic my way and best of all became a new friend.

    Building off the idea of relationships, I interacted well with many of my more active twitter followers. I formed close enough relationships with many to bounce ideas off of and share important posts I had published. This is different from spam because these people learned to know me and trust me – my messages were not just from some random guy.

    The key: put yourself out there. to make friends, you have to introduce yourself to fellow bloggers who already have influence and credibility. Be genuine (relationships aren’t just about what you can get), find a connection, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a stranger – that’s how many friendships are made!

    Mike Donghia

  40. Hey Corbett,

    Wow some people have been getting real creative with their traffic building techniques…

    What I did was just do what you and every other person who has been successful in the past.

    Build relationships with:
    Blog Community
    Stumble Upon
    Close friends

    I stuck with that alone and so far I have about 600 people on my list, my site has been around for about 4 months.. it’s not that great. There are many other sites other than mine with bigger results, but so far I’m satisfied with the pace I’m going at.

    Cheers!

  41. Traffic is something we all strive to get so I think this post will help many people. I think the biggest thing I have done this year is be myself and just dish out content. I have been confused and let down by way too many “gurus” claiming that their new revolutionary system will help you get traffic at the push of a button.

    Honestly, heres a secret. To get traffic you got to dish out great content, tell a few people about it and you should see the traffic. It will come, its only a matter of time.

  42. I would say, like many others that networking and guest blogging are the two best ways.

    I like the business card tactic also, I hand them out a lot at convention and exhibitions, great for targeted visits which is the key for me, rather have 50 visits a month with a 20% conversion rate than 1000 visits and a .05% conversion rate.

  43. I’ve increased my daily average visits by about 600% this month from last month. I was averaging around 60 per day, but in the last three weeks I’ve averaged about 450 per day, some days as high as 1000.

    It’s all thanks to StumbleUpon, which has given me sustained boosts in traffic on three separate occasions. I found out that if one of your posts gets just 3-4 reviews on StumbleUpon, this is enough to send you thousands of visits.

    I highly recommend enlisting the help of 3-4 close friends who can give you thumbs ups and good reviews on SU every now and then. I’d love to set up a small network with other beginning bloggers who can help each other out by stumbling and digging each others’ posts so if anyone wants to, send me an email.

  44. I’ve made a point of really listening to my readers and creating posts that address their concerns. There are many excellent bloggers in my niche but few take the time to get specific about information, showing readers how to synthesize it in a meaningful way. I really want to give readers the tools they need to learn on their own. I’m encouraging DIY not instead of codependency. I’m creating a group of empowered, enthusiastic, dedicated readers.

  45. Dude, you’re just blowing it up here………! Somehow my fierce wisdom site keeps climbing in alexa seemingly on it’s own.. i’ve never seen anything quite like it, but hey i just take it as a good sign… my two biggest traffic boosts came from

    1: releasing my “passion maker test” which is an interactive downloadable pdf, which i put together in about an evening in a burst of inspiration.

    2: writing a post about my top 10 favorite online leaders, which drove about 500 visitors when Leo tumbled it.

    Keep in mind, i wasn’t trying to get traffic, as much as just really creating content from my heart that somehow needed to get out. Just getting out of the way to allow that gold to come through — and being generous with sharing that — that’s my biggest traffic-generating takeaway… thanks for giving me the space to see that even more clearly… :)

  46. The best thing that I ever did that drove tons of consistent traffic was…

    -Generate an optional sign up newsletter. I tried to provide bonuses via the newsletter which allowed me to connect via email. Email is stronger than people realize and more people remain members of the newsletter as long as you provide some value (and don’t bug them a lot)

    *Bonus traffic generator…..
    -A schedule. When I first started Lifeexcursion over a year ago, I set a 5 day schedule and people loved knowing “Hey, its tuesday which is minimalism day at lifeexcursion and they would stop by every tuesday)

    Thanks for listening to your readers Corbett

    David Damron
    LifeExcursion

  47. I’ve been guestblogging about once a week. I’ve also been commenting on other blogs.

    The funny thing is, referral traffic is only 25% of my total traffic, according to Google Analytics, but my total pageviews have more than doubled since I started that strategy in June. In other words, I’m getting more organic traffic from search, seemingly as an indirect result of having more inbound links.

    I also send people to my site from my email newsletter, which is my second-biggest traffic source. The good thing about this is that it’s potentially very valuable traffic – it’s people who already know me and what I’m about, and are more likely to be buyers. Especially since I ask my newsletter readers what they want me to write about.

    And on that note, I’ve also been getting more personal and more passionate in my blog posts, and I’m sure that’s lifted response and given me more “thirsty horses”. (Nice image.)

  48. I had a specific problem which I had learned to deal with, and figured that other people in my situation could also benefit from what I learned. So, I meticulously crafted a blog post detailing the problem (and the resolution) and then posted it up on my blog.

    It did well enough at first, but then I reviewed my analytics and saw the main keywords that brought people to the post. After doing some minor editing and SEO type optimization, that post is now my main pillar content and typically shows up in the #1 or top 3 spots in Google search for the typical search queries on that issue.

  49. 47.2% of traffic from one lens on Squidoo.

    Then interviews and high value longer posts work well; long copy always converts better in sales

  50. Corbett-

    My company, OPUS Tours, arranges international performance tours for choirs and orchestras. On several tours (particularly of a high profile client), I would send a professional photographer to document the OPUS tour experience and to post an audio slideshow on our site every day or two. Friends and family of those on the tour were informed in advance that the slideshows would be posted on our site each night. Our photographer was tasked with trying to include every tour member in at least one slideshow shot each day, so the parents and friends would return each day to see them (and tell others).

    By the third night of the tour, our traffic increased 600 percent and by the end of the first week, traffic was up 1,000 percent. It turned out that family and friends of those on tour told others to check it out and they told others, and so on (like that 80’s shampoo commercial!).

    I also notified directors of potential groups and invited them to “Join the group on tour”, by following the postings. We controlled the look and feel of the postings, showing the highlights of the day and showing lots of smiling happy people! It was a perfect way to market our company by bringing one of our tours to their computer.

  51. I think building relationships is key. There’a s glass ceiling for many bloggers that is very difficult to break through (http://www.copyblogger.com/inner-circle/) and unless you “borrow” traffic from bigger blogs it will take a long time to become a high-traffic blog.

    To build relationships, I have been commenting on blogs (like this one 😉 ), making friends on Twitter and participating in forums. Once I’ve established rapport, I intend to submit guests posts and to recruit them as affiliates.

    I also want to experiment with something that Dave Navarro has done – he created a training video for Problogger http://bit.ly/dj62IZ

  52. Wow Corbett, the responses here have been tremendous and the comments have been quite the blog post within themselves.

    I’ll see if I can add a little value….

    I’ve been writing about the web and marketing practices of popular, well-known companies lately. To give you an example, I wrote an article discussing major mistakes Pizza Hut was making on their million-dollar website. This article did very, very well for 3 reasons:

    1. Everybody that works for Pizza Hut probably read it.
    2. It now scores high for a lot of ‘Pizza Hut’ related searches.
    3. Everybody can relate to Pizza Hut and their food, so it’s a fun topic to discuss and debate.

    In another very similar example, I wrote about 8 reasons why Chick-fil-A has the best business model in America. Again, this article has produced major, major results. For example, in the past 2 weeks I’ve received over 100 organic hits from Chick-fil-A related terms. This doesn’t even include the normal traffic to the post. Also, because Chick-fil-A appreciated the article, they gave it a lot of love as well.

    Hopefully I’m making a little sense here. Like Zig Ziglar once said, “If you help enough people get what they want, they’ll help you get everything you want.”……truer words have never been spoken.

    Again, thanks for the great discussion Corbett.

  53. The most effective traffic “strategy” I’ve used is simple: enjoy yourself.

    Sounds weird, but hear me out.

    What I mean is, when I stop trying to get people to come to my site or bait them with an intriguing post title that the content doesn’t live up to, I get the most sticky traffic compared to my other blog posts.

    There are a lot of techniques and tips out there on how to get more people to come to your site or get more subscribers to join your movement, but those tactics aren’t going to build traffic, they’ll simply spike traffic (leading to a typically demoralizing traffic dunk).

    – You can only tell people what you know based on your experience

    Most people will devour technique after technique after technique because they keep seeking results. They don’t test, they just try things one time and move on to something else.

    When you tell someone to do what they love, people won’t see that as advice, but they’ll use it instead as some sort of magic bullet.

    – It’s not enough to tell people ‘do what you love’

    We hear “do what you love” and most people respond like this:
    “Hmmm, do what I love? Hey, maybe I’ll do it everyday (regardless of whether I feel like doing it or not) and get a million bucks! If I don’t see any changes within the first few days/weeks/months/years, I quit, because I’m doing what I love. It’s everybody else fault they don’t like what I’m doing!”
    You have to pick one thing that you really want to work on and keep plugging away on it. People don’t do this anymore. We expect far too much, much too soon.

    – Why I didn’t read your free e-book

    You can tell people exactly what to do, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t do it.

    I’m sorry Corbett (really, I am), but I did not read your probably awesome free e-book. Not because I adamantly never will or I hate you (dude, you f**king rock), but because I know what you’re going to tell me. We all do. Most people just never get the guts to do it.

    I’m sure there are some hidden strategies that you have to share, but for people who’ve been blogging for years, it’s not going to be a magic pill. It’s just more information to devour. Not necessarily a bad thing, but hey, don’t expect millions, folks.

    Reading doesn’t make you money (initially). Action does (in the long run).

    – On building relationships

    Now this is in response to Everett’s “strategy” to build relationships that I read two days ago (sorry I haven’t gone through all the comments, but I was reading this in between classes and I just wanted to read Everett’s because there were a lot fewer comments and his was the only one I wanted to read at the time). To be fair, this is sound advice.
    But too many people can take this advice and try to turn it into a “strategy”, like so:
    “Hmm, Everett said build relationships so I’m going to send out email templates to every huge blogger and show them that I’m their biggest fan and they should send me some traffic because I sent them this email blah, blah, blah, blah”.

    – People can snuff out inauthenticity

    We’re not stupid. We know the difference between an email template and a well-thought out email. We know the difference between someone who’s just trying to use us and someone who’s genuinely passionate about the work we do. In some cases email templates are convenient (when you’re doing a roundup and simply want a bloggers opinion). But when you’re trying to make friends, it’s useless.

    I first got wind of Everett through a retweet and after I read his post (which I still remember to this day) “The Simple Guide to Making Money Online” I immediately emailed him talking about how he inspired me. I actually spent time on that email. I didn’t even expect him to read it. Lo and behold, he responds on the exact same day and ever since then, we’ve kept in touch.

    Now people are going to start strategizing this and think “Longer emails, check! Emails from scratch, check! Spend time on it, check! Care about the blogger’s work, check!”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. I spent time on my email because I wanted to, not because Everett was going to be huge or he was popular. His work resonated with me and I responded. That’s it.

    I didn’t think, “Let’s see, I’ll bait him into joining my mastermind group and then I’ll milk him for his traffic when he gets big, he he he”. I thought, “This guy’s cool. I want him to know that I think he’s awesome”.

    – In conclusion (sort of)

    I just want people to know that there’s a difference between good advice and “strategy”. Now I’m reading Joshua Becker’s comment and he’s saying to release an e-book. That’s excellent advice, but it’s easy to see how someone could read this and misconstrue it to think “time to release an e-book and then I’ll get lots o’ traffic!” This is only good advice when you’re testing (which I’ll get to in a bit).

    Here’s my advice. Have fun. Enjoy yourself with what you do. Instead of thinking “how can I get more people to my site?” think “what can I come up with today? Hahaha, oh, the possiblities…”
    The big businesses are the ones obsessing over strategy. They’re the ones giving people shit to consume and crappy content to read so they can get more eyes on their product. Please understand that this is not to say strategy is bad, because it isn’t. It’s useful, but it should not be a crutch. A great example is Old Spice Guy (google him if you don’t know what I’m talking about). If you know who he is, that’s a sign of a great strategy.

    Stop looking at stats (unless you’re testing something). **Shameless plug alert** I just recently signed up for Erica Douglas’s free newsletter (I’d post a link, but I don’t want to be dropped in the spam folder) and she gave me a great tip on getting more people to sign up for your email subscriptions. The next day, I checked stats and my email readers increased a bit. Didn’t feel a thing. Ta-da, and that is how you use a strategy.

    You don’t emotionally attach yourself or place your self-worth on your stats. If I lost all my subscribers, I wouldn’t stop writing. I’d most likely keep doing it because it’s fun to write (and I’d also curse Feedburner to hell).

    Be human. Be transparent (or opaque, if you’re still too shy to do that). Don’t put up a thick, brick mask and expect people to keep coming.

    Why am I saying all this? Because I’ve made all these mistakes! I’ve published shitty blog posts and sent email templates and tried to befriend people for their influence. In the past, I’ve added people on Twitter just to see if they’ll follow me back (I’d also immediately unfollow if they didn’t add me within the next two days… regardless of whether I’d spoken on Twitter at all or not). I’ve written awful guest posts for people just so I can get more eyes to my content.

    I’ve connected for the sake of connecting.

    Here’s the kicker: this WILL get you traffic… but it won’t be sticky. It’ll be loose. It’ll be StumbleUpon traffic.

    Phew… I’m done. I was planning on adding a lot more, but, maybe I’ll post a very short part two to my blog later in the week.

    There’s a lot of advice here I really like so I’m reposting this to my own blog as well.

    1. Haha, sorry, it’s just that I had so much to say. I literally couldn’t stop.

      But that’s okay. Win or lose, this post has plenty of good tips to get traffic. The fact that I could contribute is a win :)

    2. John

      Superb post!

      Yep you are so right !

      I just did some interviews with some massive names in Traffic and they pretty much said one traffic strategy for all is crazy.

      You need to do what you enjoy and what is tailored to your skills and what fits with your business.

      So this idea really fits in with your enjoy yourself.

      Great post nice to see someone else enjoying it just like me!

      Phill Turner

  54. “The most effective traffic “strategy” I’ve used is simple: enjoy yourself.”

    Probably the best advice there is… and that means enjoying yourself even when it’s no fun.

    Everytime I get in a real bind about “How this is going to make me money?” I get out by turning it right around with “What do I have to do to keep this train rolling?”

    1. That’s awesome! But be careful not to think of it as, “What do I have to do to keep this train rolling? Put in an interview? Write something off-topic? Come on people, tell me what to do!”

      I’d use it as an experiment. I think “What can I write about this time? What’s been on my mind? What am I passionate about right now?”

      Random, but don’t try and replicate success of past blog posts. Sure, you’ll get lots of retweets, comments, and links, but if none of those people come back, what does it matter?

      If you have nothing new to say (interesting to YOU is probably a better way to say it), why would people return?

    2. I didn’t make myself clear enough… a better way to say it is “Do I need to dig any ditches or flip any burgers today to make sure this thing keeps on keeping on?”

      Rethinking my answer from further above (where I state commenting helps drive my traffic most), the biggest driver of traffic on my site has probably been personal engagement. And that’s rough because engagement doesn’t scale.

  55. My best source of traffic comes from (or used to lol) commenting and guest posting really. I’m now doing article marketing a lot more but I’d still have to say commenting and guest posting because over time, that’s how relationships are built and what holds the site together much stronger.

  56. Hi Corbett,
    i got a hike in traffic when i got 12 bloggers to share information about how the get blog post ideas.
    it was a round up type of post.
    i plan to do more of this in future.
    Commenting on some blogs has also been good with bringing in traffic.

  57. Honestly, the best thing I’ve done this year? Create the site. Because there’s no point in reading about traffic driving strategies if there isn’t any place to drive traffic to.

    After that, the best thing I’ve done (and this was just last week, so I’m hoping the surge of traffic continues) was to create a long-term project that people find interesting enough to follow. Over the next year I’ll be creating a novel in full view of and with the participation of my audience. Voting is open now on the prompt, and I’ll be engaging the audience for every step of the process.

  58. Corbett,

    Twitter and commenting on posts have generated a lot of traffic in the second month of my 2 month old blog!

    I’ve also discovered cool bloggers like Joel Runyon and Mark Powers who were gracious enough to comment on my posts.

  59. Hey Corbett,

    Great question!

    My traffic has been skyrocketing after doing interviews with experts in my industry. They are happy to send our video interviews out to their lists so each week I get a flood of people.

    This is promo and traffic from people that you couldn’t buy advertising with so its invaluable.

    Secondly, I get the interviews transcribed which ads up to 5000 – 6000 words per post. Great unique content for SEO with no work and little cost.

    Hope this helps!

    ~Sean

  60. It’s all about creating that one, two, three or a set of pillar posts that really explodes the traffic. How so? You find a huge void within a niche and fill it – just like any business.

    For example, I started a DJ blog almost two years ago because I was beginning to become annoyed by the lack of information around how to setup a DJ system (turntables, mixers, etc) so I spend hours upon hours asking friends, going through forums and reading countless posts until I had enough information to write a nearly 4,000 word post about the entire processes of setting one up.

    The result? Each month the post, alone, pulls in nearly 10k visitors. Seriously.

    From there, it basically grew over and over again because that one post began to build backlinks. The backlinks built PR. The PR helped other posts become ranked and each new post built upon the last.

    So in point: Create pillar content within your niche. I could be a series. It could be some amazing product that others would charge for you give away for free. It could be a monumental round-up related to your niche. Every niche has the possibility to do this – you just need to put the time into it.

  61. I am getting some 6-8K visitors from long tail keywords. Targeting long tail keywords is really good sources of traffic for startup blogs. Most important question is not how you get traffic it’s how to retain that traffic. :)
    Thanks!

  62. If you are constantly adding organic (read natural) content to your website, it shows you really care for what you present on your website that shows you take interest in your business and that further shows you are really there to do business and have not just created a website on a whim. Organic content also manifests your deep-rooted knowledge of what you are involved in.

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