Introducing Monthly Reports: Find Out Exactly How This Blog is Building Traffic

  • April 19, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 28 Comments

It’s been one month already since I launched Think Traffic, and I want to introduce an ongoing series of monthly reports here today.

Part of my plan for this site has always been to use its own growth and the techniques I use for growing it as a case study. What good is a blog about traffic if I don’t share all of the nitty-gritty details about how Think Traffic is growing?

So, I’m going to be completely transparent about Think Traffic’s traffic and publish a detailed report every month. The monthly report idea has been inspired by Glen and Pat who are both doing a fantastic job growing an audience and giving you an insider’s view of exactly how they do it.

Since Think Traffic launched on March 16th, I’ll be giving you a report each month from the 16th to the 15th. This month’s report covers the period from March 16th to April 15th.

My Goals for Think Traffic

I haven’t yet set any specific traffic goals for Think Traffic. I primarily want to help you build high-traffic websites and blogs, and connect with some great people. Since this blog is all about building traffic, I will of course be working to build its traffic each month, but I’m not going to set any hard targets just yet.

Speaking of traffic targets, I should say a few things about measuring traffic. If you’re focused on building traffic to your site, you should beware of directly comparing numbers like visitors per month or subscribers. This is because when it comes to building traffic, quality of visitors matters much more than quantity.

For example, I wrote about how out of 127,000 visitors from StumbleUpon, only 116 became subscribers to my other blog. On the other hand, a guest post from a big relevant site like Zen Habits which sent around 3,000 visitors increased my subscriber count by nearly 400.

Then there’s the issue of comparing traffic across niches. If you’re relying on Alexa or Compete stats, there can be wild differences in how accurate they are, depending on the topic a site is about.

For instance, Think Traffic already has a higher monthly Alexa ranking than my other blog, even though that site received about three times more visitors last month. If you’re comparing sites that are both about similar topics, Alexa should be more useful. Sites that are on topics related to marketing or tech will have higher rankings because visitors to those sites are more likely to have the Alexa toolbar installed.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up when comparing how your site is doing to how another site is doing, especially if they aren’t on similar topics. Depending on the niche or topic you chose, you may have much different ability to build traffic than other blogs or sites. In some topics it will just be easier to find new visitors and keep them coming back.

OK, Just Give Us The Results Already!

Think Traffic Stats - Month 1

As I mentioned in my post How to Launch With a Bang, I’ve been happy with the growth of Think Traffic in its first month. The site has attracted far more visitors and subscribers than my other blog did, although this should be expected because I was able to leverage some of my existing audience.

Other Stats:

  • New Subscribers: 370 (29% email subscribers)
  • Comments (including my replies): 262
  • Post Retweets: 334

12 posts published here this month (including 3 guest posts):

Top Traffic Sources

Note that after direct traffic, StumbleUpon was the biggest source of traffic, but consistent with my previous article about StumbleUpon, that traffic also stuck around for the least amount of time of any traffic source.

Twitter has been an especially strong source of traffic this month, accounting for nearly 10% of all traffic (maybe more – I think the owl.ly and hootsuite referrals are also really from Twitter). Note that I’ve worked for the past year to establish myself on Twitter, so you might not get the same results if you’re just starting out.

Guest Posts I Wrote For Other Blogs:

Other Promotional Efforts and Notables:

  • I started interacting in forums / social media at Problogger.com (subscription required), Sphinn, BlogEngage and Third Tribe Marketing (subscription required). Problogger and BlogEngage have sent especially high-quality traffic so far.
  • Think Traffic was included in Top Rank’s BIGLIST of best online marketing blogs on the net. Read my post about the honor.
  • I submitted Think Traffic’s design to The CSS Gallery List, which submits your site to hundreds of CSS design galleries for $20. If you have a nice looking design, this can be a great way to get traffic and links from some well-established sites. Think Traffic was featured in at least 10 design galleries through this submission.
  • Pat Flynn included us in a list of 10 Killer Reads From Around the Web, and 372 visitors stopped by here on Pat’s recommendation. That shows you how much traffic a popular site like the Smart Passive Income blog can drive to relevant links.
  • You might also notice that the blog Man Vs. Debt set a number of readers this month. That comes from a footer link Adam Baker added to his site after I did some design work for him a few months ago.

Top Search Terms:

  1. think traffic: 46
  2. thinktraffic: 16
  3. linkdomain:thinktraffic.net -site:thinktraffic.net: 14
  4. 101 site traffic: 7
  5. high traffic website: 5
  6. where does your traffic come from: 4
  7. how to launch my website for proper traffic in initial stage: 2
  8. post to stumbleupon: 2
  9. thinktraffic.net: 2
  10. *thinktraffic: 1

Search traffic hasn’t been a focus for Think Traffic yet, but it will become important over time. We’ll keep an eye on things from month-to-month until later.

Top Content

You all should take some time each month to examine which content on your site has generated the most interest. It’s useful to know what’s doing well and what isn’t, by measuring total visitors, comments, tweets, and time on page. You can also measure more goals like subscription rates by using more advanced features of Google Analytics.

For Think Traffic, the most popular post overall was the 17 Traffic Tips from top bloggers post I ran on launch day. That post did well because it was tweeted 120 times, and because many of the bloggers included in the article helped to spread the word.

You can see that “list” type posts have done very well overall, as the top 4 posts this month are all used a list format. List posts are highly digestible, shareable, and give the reader a sense of accomplishment in reading them. The danger in writing too many list posts is that you can do well in social media, but have a hard time converting those members to subscribers because the posts lack depth. I will try to vary the content formats next month and include other “deeper” posts as well.

Goals for This Month

OK, I know I said I didn’t have any goals for this site earlier. That isn’t completely true. I do plan to set some monthly goals, but they aren’t based on results.

Instead, I plan to set goals for the actions I can take that will help build traffic. I can’t specifically control the results (# of subscribers, visitors, etc.), but I can control the things I do that I know contribute to growing traffic (writing quality content, guest posting, interacting on forums, etc.).

If you’re seriously trying to build traffic to your site, I would suggest you do the same. Invest in the process of building traffic, not the results. Worry about the things you can control. If you pay too much attention to the results (checking stats every day for instance), you’ll just discourage yourself unnecessarily due to the day-to-day fluctuations, and you’ll waste time that you could be using to connect with people and create valuable content.

That being said, here is what I want to accomplish this month:

  • Publish 2-3 high-quality posts each week that provide excellent value to you.
  • Write two special post types I have planned (stay tuned to see what I’m referring to).
  • Have two guest posts published at other blogs.
  • Answer nearly every comment left here at Think Traffic.
  • Run two high-quality guest posts at Think Traffic from up-and-coming bloggers.
  • Read fewer blog posts, but comment on far more of what I read.
  • Spend more time interacting with people in the forums I mentioned above.

Questions? Ask Me Anything

My biggest goal for this site is to help you build traffic to your own sites. Hopefully using this site as a case study will help accomplish that. To that end, if you have any questions about what I’ve written or done so far, feel free to ask anything. I’m more than happy to answer in the comments.

Remember as always: if you want to build a popular site, you have to create great content and connect with real people. Ruthlessly focus your efforts on those things that work, and stop spending precious time on things that don’t.

Written by . 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.


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Burn Down Easy April 20, 2010 at 12:57 am

Hi Corbett, just discovered your site via Viperchill – thanks for taking the time to share your stats and insights. I’m really enjoying reading through all your past posts (the StumbleUpon one is mind blowing!)

Corbett Barr April 20, 2010 at 8:35 am

Hey, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the SU post. Crazy stuff, right?

Chris C. Ducker April 20, 2010 at 5:08 am

Hi Corbett

Excellent first report.

I also use monthly reports over at my blog, to document my goal this year in becoming a Full-Time Virtual CEO with (by the end of the year) appx 250 full-time employees. The feedback is always very good.

I think this is a good idea because people WILL genuinely follow your journey and spend the time to learn from it, too.

Keep it up – looking forward to seeing the growth, month-by-month and will probably pick up a few tips, too, as the VBL continues to grow in popularity.

Cheers,
Chris

PS. Will have that guest post for Free Pursuits to you by weekend, bud!

Corbett Barr April 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi Chris! Your monthly reports are definitely a great way to keep up on your progress. It’s a really cool story to follow (being a virtual CEO with 250 full-time employees is a major feat).

I’m also looking forward to your guest post for Free Pursuits. Thanks for putting that together.

Moon Hussain April 20, 2010 at 5:44 am

Corbett, I think those are excellent stats esp. for a site just starting off like ThinkTraffic. I’m pretty envious of them, but it’s safe to say that you had already established a nice source of traffic from your other blog.

Always interesting to read these reports and looking forward to many more ;)

Corbett Barr April 20, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Thanks, Moon. It definitely helps to have an established audience already when starting a new blog, but you can still build a big readership without one. It just takes time.

If you’re interested, here’s a post I wrote at Free Pursuits last year that might help: 21 Tips for Getting 500 Subscribers in 90 Days with No Blogging Experience

Tola April 20, 2010 at 6:59 am

Wow! Well done! In just a month you’ve already done all that…
I’m really curious to see more of these stats as the months go by, cos I honestly believe it will only get better. Well done Corbett.
And yeah, I love the idea of the monthly stats post, you’re really leaving everything open so that’s really good, transparency…
Nice one..

Corbett Barr April 20, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Thanks, Tola! Glad you like the monthly reports idea. I’m looking forward to sharing more of them.

steve April 20, 2010 at 8:45 am

Wish my blog had that many visits! Great tips for beginners! Thanks a lot!

Corbett Barr April 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Hey Steve, glad you like the tips. Feel free to ask questions if you have them. I’m here to help.

Hear Mum Roar April 21, 2010 at 5:06 am

That is so impressive! Please keep posting the monthly reports, they are really interesting, and I think will give us all a good idea of how your blog is growing. And thank you for the tip about focusing on what to do as opposed to what numbers to acheive. I find there is an information overload with so many helpful ideas on the net, that sometimes I stagnate and don’t know where to start. So maybe setting simpler goals per month might help me to have a focus.

Corbett Barr April 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Awesome, I’m glad you liked the action-oriented goals as opposed to metrics-oriented goals. It makes a big difference for me. Let me know if it works for you too.

Pascal April 21, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Hi Corbett, Your one month old blog is great. You know how to develop blogs. So you deserve to be praised.

Keep up the quality of content.

Corbett Barr April 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Thanks, Pascal!

Dev | Technshare April 26, 2010 at 6:37 am

Hey Corbett !!
You’re Stats are really impressive bro. and the tips you are gave are awesome :)
Looking forward to hearing your progress bud.

Thanks,
Dev

Corbett Barr May 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Cheers, Dev! Thanks for the support.

WebpageLottery May 7, 2010 at 2:35 am

Wow, you only have 7 tweets but you are getting over 5 hundreds visitors from twitter. That’s impressive.

Corbett Barr May 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Not sure what you mean by “7 tweets.” Did you mean that I have only tweeted 7 times from the @ThinkTraffic Twitter account? That’s a new account, just for Think Traffic updates. I also promote Think Traffic articles through my more established @CorbettBarr account. Also, of course, people retweet articles using the TweetMeme buttons on each post. Hope that clears things up.

Craig June 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

Hi Corbett,

Just wanted to drop you a quick line and say thanks. Good resources here on site for me to brush up on and to point my interns to.

Cheers,
Craig

Corbett Barr June 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Hey Craig, glad you stopped by! Hope the info here is helpful.

Sean G July 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Hey Corbett,

I noticed that in your Analytics “Sources” screenshot it says “think traffic mail”. How does Analytics know this?

My analytics just shows, gmail, hotmail etc individually.

Loving the site! Keep up the great work.

Thanks,

~Sean

Corbett Barr July 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Ah, I use MailChimp for RSS email delivery. I think they report that “think traffic / email” source to GA. If you use FeedBurner email delivery, doesn’t it show up as “FeedBurner / email” ? Not that I’d be surprised if not. FeedBurner has to be Google’s most neglected service.

elisha January 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm

that is a nice presentation am thrilled , i have a blog and i need traffic . i want you to teach me more.

Todd Kuslikis April 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm

This is really inspiring Corbett! Thanks for posting all of your old numbers! Really encouraging for us newbies! :)

Todd

Joshua Fleming December 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I’m happy I found your blog Corbett. Your logo, brand and layout is ahead of the curve.

Now I can begin to reap all the nuggets I can find

Hear Mum Roar April 22, 2010 at 4:37 am

I will:)

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