How I Doubled My Traffic by Finding My Audience

This is a post by Robert Farrington of Beat the Nine to Five.

Believe it or not, I’ve been blogging since 2009 – almost 4 years.  However, last year I hit a plateau.  My traffic growth stagnated – I was hovering around 16,000 visitors per month, and my audience wasn’t growing.  I needed a change – I needed new readers and a compelling reason for them to stay.  So, I embarked a personal journey to find my audience, which resulted in me increasing my year over year audience by 2.5 times.

Traffic Graph

I primarily blog in personal finance and investing, but these rules and tactics apply to every niche.  I simply asked myself the following questions:

  • Where else are readers in my niche?
  • How can I get them to find my site?
  • If I get them to my site, will they stick around or convert?  

Working backwards, I knew I needed something different on my site to get readers to stick around.  Of course, the first thought that came to mind was Write Epic Shit.  Pretty simple, but it was actually harder to do than I thought.

I typically wrote 500-600 word blog posts that in hindsight, were pretty superficial.  I didn’t dive deep.  I just wrote to post an article Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I made a point to change that.  I set a minimum word count at 700 (I’ve since bumped it up to 1,000), and asked myself how or why at every header.  If I could answer that question, I included more in the blog post.

I also made more shareable content by linking more to other blogs and resources, and collaborating more with my peers in the personal finance and investing space.  I also invested time in reading Headline Hacks by Jon Morrow to write better titles and outline better articles.

With a few months of better content on my site, I set out on finding my audience.

The New Forums: Modern Day Q&A

My first stop to find my audience was to identify potential forums and boards where they could be hanging out.  In the personal finance space, there are a few forums, but most of these look down on links to your own website (even in the signature).  Plus, many of these forums were extremely established, and I had no credibility with these guys that had been doing it for years.

However, forum searching led me to an even better solution – I call it the modern day Q&A.  I found sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora.

Three key features set these sites apart from the old forums and boards:

  1. You Know They Are Your Target Audience
  2. The Quick Ability to Build Credibility Through Scoring
  3. The Ability to Link to Your Site in Answers

First, when someone posts a question, you know that is the specific information they are looking for.  These people are letting you know they are your target audience!  If you can answer their question really well, you can easily convert them into loyal followers.

Second, you gain credibility on these forums by answering questions well.  On Yahoo! Answers, the more questions you answer well, the more points you get.  The original poster selects the “Best Answer”, which moves your response to the top, and you get awarded even more points.

Finally, in your answer, you can link to your “source”.  If you have a relevant article on your own website that highlights the information you provide, this can be a great source.  I’d caution on spam answers, since the community is not tolerant to it, but valid sources are always welcome.  Furthermore, as you can see below, the link is hyperlinked for easy traffic to your site.

Yahoo QA

Another great perk of Yahoo! Answers is they are indexed in search.  You’ve probably seen them before, typically near the very top of search results.  Here is another example below where my answer is also the first result indexed in Google:

Google Yahoo Answers

Don’t think these sites are limited to my niche.  On both of these Q&A sites, there are hundreds of sub-topics, and one will most likely match your niche.  

Going Social

Social NetworksAs part of my search to find my audience, I knew I needed to improve my social presence.  However, I didn’t really know how to go about it.  I’ve had a Facebook Fan Page for my site since almost day 1, but it didn’t really do much for me.  I’m on Twitter, but that only gets me traffic when I tweet.

I thought about my lesson from above – finding people who had a genuine interest in my topic.  How could I find them on social media and grow my audience?


Beyond my Facebook Fan page, I started looking for groups that had like-minded individuals.  Similar to the Q&A sites, I looked to contribute to the conversation and help others.

For my niche, I found popular investing groups like Motley Fool Bloggers and others, which are very active.  Then, similar to above, by helping others and building credibility, you build your own brand.


Reddit is another forum-like social media platform I’ve found a lot of success in finding my audience.  On Reddit, the key is to find sub-Reddits that target your niche.  In my case, the sub-Reddit could be /financialplanning or /securityanalysis, or any of a multitude of topics that align with my blog.

There are sub-Reddits for just about every niche.  And if there aren’t, you could always start one as well.

The fun thing about Reddit is all posts from all sub-Reddits have the potential to make it to the front page.  Your post is voted up or down by users, which determines how visible your post gets.

This is where great headlines and epic content really make the difference.  Chances are, by posting in a targeted sub-Reddit, your initial votes will be similar to your target audience.  However, as your article rises on the main site, new readers are going to see your content for the first time.  If you have epic content, they’ll be more inclined to continue to vote it up.  


LinkedIn is my newest foray into finding my audience.  LinkedIn has Groups, which people can join and you can post content to.  LinkedIn allows you to post the same article to multiple groups, which can allow you to reach a broad audience.

For my main blog, I joined the Finance Club group with has over 300,000 members – a large potential audience for my content.

However, there are a lot of other large groups in a variety of niches as well.  For example, there is a group for Social Media Marketing, which has over 550,000 members.  Plus, similar to Reddit, your content gets voted and could end up on the LinkedIn front page.

Other Platforms

Finally, many niches have unique platforms that can help build an audience.  For blogs that focus on crafts and use lots of pictures, Pinterest can be a great audience builder.

For investing and personal finance, there are a lot of unique sites like StockTwits, which is a combination of Twitter and investing news.  Beyond the StockTwits platform, correctly promoting a stock on social media can get your content syndicated on big sites like Yahoo! Finance or NASDAQ.

This is another way you can leverage the power of social media to build an audience.  

Cultivating an Audience is Key

VisitsMy biggest takeaway from having to find my audience is a reminder many experts preach – promotion is 80% of the game.  You can write epic shit, but if nobody comes to read it, what good does it do?

Spend the time to search out your audience early.  I waited years before I started hunting down where my audience hangs out.  Now that I’ve started getting traction, my audience is growing once again.

The same readers that I find via Yahoo! Answers are sharing my content on Facebook, which is sending more referrals to my site.  Those people are tweeting or liking, and my audience grows.

Writing Epic Shit is the baseline – finding your audience is the key.

Where did you find your target audience?  How have you cultivated them?  Let me know in the comments of this quote.

Robert Farrington is a personal finance and investing blogger from The College Investor who is working to take his passion to the next level.  He recently launched Beat the Nine to Five and his free eBook, The Quitters Checklist: Your Guide to Quitting Your Job, as a blueprint to make the jump to self-employment.

68 thoughts on “How I Doubled My Traffic by Finding My Audience”

  1. I just recently stumbled upon this blog and it has easily jumped to one of my favorites. The content is fresh (or “epic shit”), and I’ve already learned so much!

    This method of actively finding your audience is great! I’ve just added it to my to-dos. Thanks for sharing, Robert!

  2. Still working on cultivating my audience, as my blog is pretty young, but I’ve had a lot of success networking with other bloggers in my industry and with readers on a private forum I’m a part of. At some point, though, I’ll want to expand beyond these primary avenues, so I definitely appreciate your tips :)

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Out of curiosity, I clicked on your website. I suppose you could say that leaving comments on other blogs, or articles like one on ThinkTraffic, is a way to bring attention to your blog.

      By the way, I am actually getting very interested in writing more and more lately, so after this comment, I am going to dig around your site some more. :)

    2. Interacting with others on their sites is a great way to bring attention to your own site. However, just like above, you need to add value to the discussion – it can’t be spammy or people will hate you rather than like you!

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I found it to be super relevant. Recently I had the experience of writing something very difficult. It took a lot of research and time and I poured my guts into the complex issue of rhino poaching. But the rewards in terms of the comments and dialogue created on my blog was like nothing I had experienced before. I knew I had found my audience. Or more to the point I had found what my audience was passionate about. I know you say write “Epic Shit.” But my reframe for that is to write from passion. Thanks again, Lori Robinson

  4. Very good info! I will try yahoo questions and some others. Forums and linkedIn have been a huge source of traffic for my startup blog. My focus is on wealth through real estate. I just purchased 7th rental property yesterday!

  5. My blog is only in it’s infant stages right now, so this post is super useful for me as it grows and expands.

    I’m looking forward to the day when I have 16,000 visitors a month and think that’s stagnant!!!

  6. Since around 4 months ago, I was hovering around 50-100 visitors a day.

    However I’ve found out a great method on how to I typically get traffic from Pinterest. Now I get around 600 visitors from Pinterest a day.

    Search for your niche on Pinterest. In my case it was Design. Add 100 people a day from your niche and upload images from your niche.

    Then on your blog, when you publish a post, be sure to have a great image with the title of your post on it. And simply share in on Pinterest.

    Hope I’ve contributed a bit to this post :)

    1. Great call with Pinterest! It’s something that I’m experimenting with on another site of mine, that caters more towards that audience.

      It’s hard to use Pinterest in the Personal Finance space, but on my other site I’ve posted step-by-step recipes that have gained a lot of traffic (and continue to do so) from Pinterest.

      Great call – the same rules apply on this platform as well!

    2. Yeah, I was surprised with Pinterest. I knew it was powerful, but I assumed not in my niche — ed tech and MOOCs — because it doesn’t lend itself to visuals very easily. It so happens I choose a theme with a big slider that essentially demands I find great pix, even though it’s really challenging for our topic. The upside is that those pix look great on Pinterest, so that network is turning out to be more valuable to us than I anticipated.

  7. Question for Robert and anyone else who may be able to chime in….

    When you post to so many different venues, how do you maintain the conversations…reply to comments all over the place? Is there a way to rein that in in one place, or do you just have to keep an eye on each place you post?

    Thanks for your post…great insight.

    1. For off-site conversations, like Yahoo Answers, I just keep track using their systems – they have a little dashboard for you.

      However, for guest posts, such as this one, I’ve found two good solutions.
      1. Use this trick from the Think Traffic archives about using a Google Doc (this is a lifesaver):
      2. Subscribe to comments on blogs – your inbox will get a lot of replies, but if you manage your inbox well (I use Google Apps), you can control it.

  8. There’s a saying that 20% of your effort should be focused on creating your content while 80% should go into promoting it.

    That’s not to say that you should be creating bad content. You need to create epic content and then promote the hell out of it

  9. Thanks for this! This gives me new avenues of promotion to pursue 80% of the time it takes to promote my website. Still finding my audience, but know I can’t rely just on Facebook and Twitter anymore.

  10. Man, I love reading these type of post where the blogger goes out and finds out where their target audience is ‘hanging out’ and puts themself in front of them. A really great example of this would be an up and coming blogger by the name of Matthew Woodward, whos used this same technique to grow his blog pretty large in under a year. You can check out his post here:

    Now, this guy knows what writing Epic Shit! is all about..

  11. Great post Rob! We surely need to hang out where our target audience hang out – there’s no escape lol.

    Recently I’m getting some nice traffic from Slideshare and hence LinkedIn as well (given that LinkedIn is Slideshare’s). Loving to participate in discussions in the LinkedIn groups.

    In fact hanging out in these communities (Q/A, Groups, Social Media etc.) not only does good for traffic but also is great for the bloggers – they can relax and build business at the same time. It is also fun to connect with new people.

  12. Man, this post is Epic! My mind is racing. Some audiences, like my snake niche, are harder to find. I know that they’re there waiting for me to hunt them down :)

    1. May I suggest some FB groups. My brother is a reptile conservationist in Florida, specifically the everglades. He is fighting very hard to get people in Florida to stop labeling certain snakes as nuisances. If you want to find me I can direct you to his FB page which is linked to about 500 snake related groups and pages!

  13. I’ m a very new blogger and have presently very little audience. But I will try out all these strategies and I’ m very impressed – You’ve got 4, no 5 blogs- wow!

  14. Robert, I cant tell you how much this article has benefit me in my search for my audience.

    I have recently started a blog a week ago (yes, I’m that new) and had found extreme difficulties in reaching out to find audience in what I’m doing. I write about web design for beginners and many forums had experts advising these people and I wasn’t able to chip in much with my knowledge. I’m also too new to dabble in guest posting at the moment.

    I started looking into quora a couple of days ago, and I thought it was clever. Little did I know, I wasn’t looking far enough! This article talks about other social media groups, Yahoo! answers, Reddit and other channels which I completely overlooked.

    I really learnt a whole lot today from your answers. Thanks!

  15. Great stuff. I’ve recently started on Quora and I’ve heard a lot about about Yahoo Answers. Outside of surveying your readers these are great ideas to see what people actually want to know.

  16. It’s incredibly rewarding to see something that you’ve put a ton of time and effort into really take off! You suddenly realize you’ve struck a nerve. The goal then becomes – how do you maintain it going forward!

  17. I think that I’ve narrowed down my niche. Since I have been more specific about what I’ll be blogging about, I’ve seen subscriptions to my blog go up considerably. Time will tell.

    I asked the following earlier today on another site, wondering if there any thoughts here:

    We have over 1000 accounts created on our site with about 200 of them subscribed to our newsletter. We only have between 100-150 visits a day, 10-15 of them sign up for an account on our site daily. Out of those, only 2 or 3 sign up for the newsletter.

    My question: Why do most people prefer to create an account and opt out of the newsletter?

    1. Everyone prefers to get their content in a different way. I have a lot of subscribers via RSS, others who subscribe via emails, and more who just prefer social media.

      I think your goal should be to put your content where your readers are most comfortable, so that means multi-channel.

    2. Thanks for the input. I guess I just should be happy that they’re coming 😉

      I should have been a little more specific:

      The majority of the users creating accounts on my site are opting out of the newsletters, basically saying, “Here’s my email, for now. I might enable the newsletter later.” According to my terms, I won’t contact them via email unless they select the newsletter. So, basically I’m sitting on hundreds of email address, hoping that they will sign up one day.

      It could also be that they’re just creating accounts just to be able to easily purchase our services in the future as well. I’ll have to dig into the data later on to see what they’re doing.

  18. Good solid advice.

    However, a question on Reddit. I’ve found it to be VERY effective for driving traffic — however, I’ve ALSO found that the community ruthlessly polices self-submitted blog posts.

    Even when I posted an entire article into the subreddit and just included a reference link at the bottom, a few people got snippy. (Many more liked the article, and it even hit the front page of the subreddit). But it seems like in general, posting your own stuff to ANY subreddit is SEVERELY frowned upon.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    1. Yes and no. If all you do is post your own stuff, you’ll get shamed quickly, and banned sooner or later.

      The way to prevent it is to use the ratio 5-to-1 at a minimum, and maybe even 10-to-1 on Reddit. What this means is sharing other content and leaving comments 5 times more than you post your own stuff, or link to your own stuff.

      This works on well on Reddit, Twitter, and just about every social media site.

  19. Thanks for the specific tips, Robert. Like you, I tried forums and found them off-putting. In my niche (anxiety advice/mental health tips) a lot of the members seemed to be interested in venting about their anxiety, rather than actively employing solutions.

    I will try Yahoo! Answers and Quora–thank you for the detailed information about accessing these sites.

    What I’ve found that is working:
    1) You probably know this one, but guest blogging can be huge. The key is to find the blog with an audience aligned to your target. I recently guest posted for a Canadian financial planning site, and while the audience is vibrant and the blog author actively engaged and enthusiastic, I didn’t get too many subscribers or traffic. However, I posted for Tiny Buddha and I’m still getting subscribers and traffic a few days after the fact.

    2) Do this!

    I’ve had huge success with this format. Everyone can apply this to their niche, and it’s a fun way to show people what you know and how your expertise can help them immediately. I received over 500 social media shares (which never happens!) with this model and as a result of Corbett’s credibility, I joined Fizzle, shortly thereafter.

    Good luck with your continued success–your blog is bookmarked for future reading :)

  20. GREAT, timely post – this is at the absolute forefront of my mind at the moment regarding my blog, which is still in its early stages. I feel like I’m writing some good stuff, but sending it out into a void, so my #1 goal right now is to BUILD MY AUDIENCE. Every chance I get, I need to work on this. I’m just finishing compiling a list of great ideas and how-to’s and have already begun implementing some – and the idea of responding on Q&A forums is one of them! I love that idea and will definitely be leveraging it soon. I have a FB fan page and I actively post on that every day – quick posts with quotes, video and article shares that aren’t available on my blog – to keep momentum and interest. I am finding groups to get engaged with and offer answers to questions, opinions, and commentary, etc.

    Thanks for an excellent round-up of some definitely-gonna-try-them ideas!

  21. Hi Robert- Thanks for the wonderful post- full of ideas!

    For those of us just starting out: Do you recommend that we start off just focusing on one or two of the properties (e.g., just Yahoo Answers and one Forum/ or just one Linked In Group and one big blog community) and participate deeply or do you think one should go broad and post fewer communications on a broader set of properties.

    I am excited about engaging in other communities but I wonder how difficult it is to keep up with all the conversations?

    Love to get your thoughts on whether to go vertical or horizontal when first starting out!



    1. Definitely start with a few, and see what you can handle.

      I’ve found that I focus on about 5. That’s as much as I can handle while still maintaining solid interaction. Going with too many will probably stretch you too thin to be effective.

  22. I like that Robert talked about Yahoo! answers, Reddit, and Quora. So many of my clients are focused on the “big” social media sites like Facebook that I often forget that there are a lot of other places to go looking for people!

  23. Great tips for finding more interested audience members.

    I’ve been answering a lot of Yahoo Answers’ questions lately. Not with the intention of building traffic, but to get more experience in consulting.

    My website helps young adults define their career paths, based on their innate talents and interests.

    Answering the questions gives me ideas for blog posts and also tells me the things potential clients are most concerned about.

    But I’ll start using Quora also, since you’ve shown me how both sites can build traffic.


  24. I used to use LinkedIn Answers to connect with my audience, until they did away with it. Now my new found fav is Quora for sure. I’ve already made some great connections, and found some great answers, using that site. I never thought about Yahoo! Answers but that’s brilliant. And they’re indexed all Google — awesome! Fantastic tips here Robert, and I also love your new site. Can’t wait to hear more about your freelance journey!

  25. Great post. Very actionable tips. The lesson I’m learning, one which is under emphasized in my opinion, is that promoting your content and getting people to link to it is probably 95% of the game. Seems kind of odd, as it’s not necessarily about having the best content but about having the best content promotion infrastructure. But that’s the way it is in the land of Google.

  26. Thanks for the article. I could relate to the part about writing posts that were superficial just to get them out. Now I nit pick everything too much and procrastinate when I think something isn’t deep enough. Maybe I’ll find a happy medium.

    I find my targeted audience by getting out and meeting them face to face wherever they congregate. Yes, I know it takes a LOT of time and energy, but it works.

    1. That’s a great way to do it! It’s something I’m going to try to do more later this year and into next year. First step for me is going to be more video and engagement, and then I’d really like to go out and meet them more!

  27. I found your blog through Pat Flynn and so glad I did.

    This is something I’m working on right now to get some traffic and the right audience looking at my blog. Using Yahoo answers is a great idea and I will look into that for sure.

    The hardest part in the beginning is getting the ball rolling, but I think once you start seeing traffic and getting comments and questions, it can grow really fast.

    I’ll be working on visiting a few of these sites to help others and in return get a little traffic :-)


    1. There’s never an easy way to automate engagement with your audience. Remember, you are building a connection. Automating that is something that takes away from the “personal” aspect of it.

      Sure, you could outsource simple Q&A with a virtual assistant, but then it’s not really you going out and building an audience.

  28. I completely agree with you on Yahoo answers. In the first months of my blog it was really helpful.
    However, I think that you should take into account the numbers you come from.
    If you have a small amount of visitors, you can see a good increase.
    I don’t know instead how much it helps when you already have several tens of thousands of visitors per month.

    1. It totally depends on the answer. I had over 1,100 visitors from Yahoo Answers last month. I wouldn’t disregard it as a traffic source.

      Furthermore, I think I get higher conversions on certain posts, simply because I have an answer to their question, and it is mutually beneficial.

  29. Robert, thanks for the helpful post. My blog has been active for over a year now, but I have very few followers. I also look forward to the day when being stuck at 16,000 seems stagnant. However, your advice is exactly what I need. I will pursue Quora, Yahoo!Answers, Linkedin and will continue searching for other forums in my niche. Thanks again!

  30. I was messing around on Quora but I’ve never thought about Yahoo! Answers. Thanks for inspiration and making plans for my few upcoming evenings in advance 😉

  31. Thanks for sharing your insights. When I started around two years ago I did not know what a blog, so I tried only to focus on what I believed was my strongest force content, content and content. So for me trying to establish a base of followers is the essence and your post so far gives me a lot of ideas and wisdom. For me, LinkedIn is a natural social media where I find my colleagues around the globe (fashion design), and it is building both credible readers and position my blog as a blog for sustainable fashion design. I am a member in a few of the fashion groups on LinkedIn, and it has really created a lot of interest for me as a designer and my knowledge about the field of sustainable design. Furthermore, as fashion is visual, I started using Pinterest to see how it was received and surprisingly well I get followers almost daily. I have no experience with Reddit so thanks for sharing valuable info with us. Kenneth

  32. So, my blog is just a wee little baby blog right now but I’ve been researching, researching, and researching about how I can make the most of it. This is definitely one of the best and most detailed articles I’ve found yet about HOW to reach out to your target audience. I really appreciate the information and I feel like I have a better grasp of what I should be doing now.

  33. My blog is still pretty knew and I’ve been struggling to find out who my target audience is. I’ve been searching the internet for ways to find my target audience and how to reach them. This post has shared so much information that I know feel as though I have an idea of where to start and how to progress down the line. This is a great article and I appreciate you sharing this information with us.

  34. Robert, wouldn’t twitter have helped in building traffic as well, I think there is a much bigger target audience on twitter as well.

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