How I Created a Thriving Business Around this Blog in 5 Months (Think Traffic Monthly Report #5)

  • August 16, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 42 Comments

Every week, we talk about how to build an audience full of raving fans here. What we maybe don’t talk enough about is what to do with that audience, and how to create a business around it.

In this monthly report, I’ll share thoughts on how to turn your traffic into customers and clients. I’ll also share exactly how I’ve been building traffic to this site and how I’ve created a thriving business at Think Traffic in just 5 months. Things are heating up around here, so you won’t want to miss this report.

A couple of weeks ago Glen from ViperChill (one of the only “Internet marketing” blogs I actually recommend people read) asked me a question in one of his posts. He asked how I plan to make money from this site.

His question made me realize that maybe I haven’t explained enough here about how my business works.

The primary reason I started Think Traffic is to help small business and website owners build high-traffic websites and blogs. I know from experience that building an audience is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur or building something online.

And ultimately what I want to help you do is grow a thriving business with enough readers, customers or clients to achieve whatever goals you set out for yourself online.

I saw a need for helping you build traffic, developed a unique selling proposition (traffic building advice without the sleazy B.S. usually associated with it) and set out to build a business around a blog here.

I’ve always intended for Think Traffic to be a case study in itself, which is why I do these monthly reports. As a case study I should also include more about how I build business from visitors to the site.

First, to answer Glen’s question, I already have a thriving business here at Think Traffic. This site is a big driver of my overall income now just 5 months after having launched it.

How do I make money through Think Traffic?

Think Traffic earns revenue in two ways. First, through services. I offer a range of traffic-building consulting services including coaching, site design/development, launch planning, content development, online marketing strategy, social media marketing and SEO.

The services business here is already booming, and I’ve helped over a dozen entrepreneurs and small businesses attract more visitors to their existing sites and build new sites that are ready for big audiences. Business is so good, in fact, that I’m booked out a couple of weeks the moment.

Second, I sell products I’ve created directly to some of Think Traffic’s readers. I recently launched the Affiliate Marketing for Beginners course, and will have other courses and guides coming out shortly. These products won’t be for everyone, but some of the more dedicated readers will get a lot out of them. That business is going great also.

Does that answer your question about how this blog makes me money? If not, feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

As far as how I’ve built the business over the past 5 months, well, that’s not as easy to explain (some tips are below). If you’re interested in more about how my business works and how I’ve developed it, I’ll be releasing a new book full of juicy details and all of my methods next month. Stay tuned for that.

How to turn your traffic into customers and clients

So, how can you turn your traffic into a thriving business online? Here are five tips to help you get started.

  1. Let ‘em know early that you’ll be monetizing your site.
  2. Plenty of bloggers will tell you that they wished they had let their audiences know about monetization plans much earlier. Why is that? Because if you don’t let your audience know that you’ll be selling products and/or services eventually, you’ll lose lots of them when you actually start the selling.

    Also, you’ll probably attract the wrong type of audience if you’re not clear. Some people will be turned off by you selling anything through your site, no matter what you do, so you’re better off telling your readers early.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. I let people know Think Traffic was a business (not just a blog) from day 1 by having a “services” link in my navigation menu, even though I wasn’t doing much services work at the time.

  3. Align your services with your USP.
  4. If you don’t know what a USP is, then you have some reading to do. Once you’ve figured out what your USP is, make sure your products and services reinforce that message. People will be drawn to your site because of your USP, and some of them will be looking to pay you to help them further.

  5. Keep your options simple and focused at first.
  6. One common mistake I see people make when offering services early on is the “smorgasbord” of options. If you present too many options to your customers, they might think working with you will be too complicated. Don’t waste your customers’ time. Explain quickly and clearly what the benefits of working with you are, how you can help, why you want to help and how they can get started. Pick just three or fewer offerings in the beginning, and refine or expand later.

  7. Ask your audience what they want.
  8. Surveying your audience is a powerful way to almost guarantee you’ll have buyers for what you create. Don’t spend months building something in the dark. Involve your readers and future customers early and often.

  9. Products? Services? Affiliate Offers? Advertising?
  10. There are lots of ways you can earn revenue through your site. Read up on the options and choose something that works for you as well as your audience. If consulting isn’t your thing, don’t offer consulting services just because you think you have to. If you don’t enjoy it or aren’t good at it, that lack of enthusiasm will show, and neither you nor your customers will be happy.

I hope that helps with your online business goals a little. Like I said, I’ll also be writing more about the business behind Think Traffic going forward.

Overall Monthly Traffic

Now on to the regular monthly report.

If you’re new here, every month I post a report on exactly how I’ve grown traffic to this site, and how well it’s doing. I launched this blog back on March 16th, so this is the 5th monthly report. This report covers the period from July 16th to August 15th, 2010.

Here are the overall visitor numbers for this month:

Overall visits were up by 30% over last month, and pageviews were up by 46%. This was in a month where I posted just 7 articles (vs. 12 last month). Time on site, pages per visit and bounce rate were all greatly improved as well.

The increases aren’t due to some big spike from a single source. We’ve just grown across the board from all different traffic sources. I’m really pleased and it feels like growing this site is taking less and less specific efforts on my part. That’s a great feeling and definitely a milestone to watch for.

Other Stats:

  • New subscribers: 534 (+76% month-over-month)
  • New comments (including my replies): 281 (+17% month-over-month)
  • Retweets of new posts: 342 (-19% month-over-month)

Considering I published 5 fewer posts here this month (7 vs. 12 from the prior month), I’m really happy with these numbers. 534 new subscribers this month puts Think Traffic on a pretty fast growth rate now. I haven’t set any long-term goals, but we might break 3,500 subscribers by year’s end (we’re at 1,838 today).

7 posts published here this month (including 1 guest post):

Top Traffic Sources

Guest Posts and Interviews I Did For Other Blogs:

Because I launched the Affiliate Marketing for Beginners course this month, I ended up doing dozens of interviews around the blogosphere. Here are a couple of those you might want to check out:

Other Promotional Efforts and Notables:

I was named one of 50 “Netsetters” You Should Know About, thanks to an awesome list compiled by Jade Craven. Thanks, Jade!

Social Mouths named Think Traffic the first of 15 Blogs To Follow If You Want To Kick Ass Online (and became our top referring website for the month). Thanks, Francisco!

Pat Flynn from The Smart Passive Income blog featured Think Traffic in How to Get Explosive & Targeted Traffic – An Alternative to Guest Posting. Thanks, Pat!

Top Search Terms:

  1. think traffic: 250
  2. website traffic: 116
  3. thinktraffic: 115
  4. most popular blogs: 39
  5. site:thinktraffic.net: 31
  6. most popular blog: 29
  7. most popular b:og: 23
  8. high traffic websites: 14
  9. corbett barr: 11
  10. thinktrafficnet link building: 9

Top Content

I really like that traffic stats were up this month, but without any single article getting far more traffic than others. That tells me the traffic we’ve received this month is sustainable.

Search Engine Traffic Growth

I don’t normally report specifically on search engine traffic because it isn’t a major focus for me here. A reader asked about SEO/organic-based traffic tips yesterday, so I thought I’d share a few this time.

First, here is a graph of search-based traffic to Think Traffic since we launched:

I like the looks of that graph!

How do you grow search engine traffic on a regular basis? There are two routes you could go. First, you could do keyword research before you write every post on your blog (or publish any content on your site). Target related keyword phrases with low competition and follow the simple SEO strategy. Over time, you’ll definitely gain search traffic that way.

The second way (don’t hit me for saying this) is to write great content on subjects people want to read about. I know, it sounds cliche, but that’s the truth about how I’ve been growing search traffic here.

When you write great content, it naturally attracts links from other bloggers and sites around the web. And you probably know by now that inbound links are the most important factor in SEO. If other sites link to you frequently (especially big important sites), the search engines will start sending people your way.

So, I guess my answer is, it depends. You can grow search traffic either directly or indirectly, and it depends on your needs.

For stand-alone affiliate marketing sites, I rely on the simple SEO strategy. For bigger blogs where I’m interacting with a lot of people both on and off the blog, I rely on natural search traffic growth (with the potential exception of some big strategic keywords).

Goals for This Month (If It Ain’t Broke…)

The goals I’ve set (and met) each month seem to be working well for growing this site. I’m going to leave things alone for this month. Here are my standing goals:

  • Continue to publish 2-3 high-quality posts each week that provide excellent value to you.
  • Have 2 guest posts or interviews published at other blogs.
  • Answer nearly every comment left here at Think Traffic.
  • Run 2 high-quality guest posts at Think Traffic from up-and-coming bloggers.
  • Run 1 or 2 interview posts with people we can all learn from.
  • Continue to invest more time interacting with people on Facebook.
  • Revise my service offerings and provide more detail on the site.

Oh, one other thing, I’ve been interacting much more on Facebook lately, so join us there if you haven’t already. I’ll report about my efforts there soon.

Questions? Feel free to ask anything.

Once again, if you have any questions about this report or about growing website or blog traffic, ask me anything in the comments below. I’m happy to help!

I really appreciate all the support again this month. I hope you’re finding everything at Think Traffic (including these reports) useful in building your own sites and online businesses. Cheers!

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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Adrijus August 17, 2010 at 2:45 am

Wow.. growing real nicely. 99 percent of people dont get to monetize the blog in first two years..

P.S. You could improve your brand awareness by being active on Warrior Forum, thats a place where your advice will be appreciated too! ;)

Cheers

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 8:14 am

Thanks, Adrijus. I’ll check out the Warrior Forum. I know it’s a popular hang out for Internet marketers, but I haven’t spent much time there. Cheers.

Caleb August 17, 2010 at 5:15 am

Awesome work man!! Learning a lot from this blog, big time! Inching my way to the course.

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

Thanks Caleb!

Tony Ruiz August 17, 2010 at 7:50 am

Cheers! Corbertt! I’m glad ThinkTraffic is growing and biz is flowing in. Thanks for sharing the report my man!

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

Cheers Tony, happy to share it.

Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion August 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

Dang Corbett, love the openness and transparency here. What you’ve done in a handful of months is an example to everyone on the net. Thanks for just giving it away, I really like your style.

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thanks for stopping by, Marcus.

Onibalusi Bamidele August 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

This is really great Corbett,

Glad to see Think Traffic is really imporving. You are really getting results within a short period of time.

BTW: I just became a member of your affiliate marketing course today and I will be happy to see how everything goes.

Thanks a lot,
-Onibalusi

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 8:43 am

Awesome, Onibalusi. Glad to have you in the course. Good luck, and I hope you get a lot out of it.

Mars Dorian August 17, 2010 at 8:39 am

Wow, congrats to you all the way.

I’m reading ThinkTraffic way more than Copyblogger, which is an achievement by itself.

Those stats are super-impressive, especially since you only had 7 posts this month. You are killing it, and with more brilliant work, you will transform this blog in something as powerful as Copyblogger.

I can sense it, it’s in the air ;)

Shine on Corbett !

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hey Mars, thanks so much. That’s really nice to hear from you. I have to admit, I’ve been reading CopyBlogger less lately as well. I think blogs like yours and (hopefully) this one are just more grounded and personally relevant. Cheers to the opportunity!

Adam Beckett August 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

Hey Corbett, hoped I contributed in some small way to the no B.S. focus!

Every one of your posts is awesome, gonna promote your new course in the not-too-distant future…

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Thanks Adam!

Dean Saliba August 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm

These are very thorough, the reports I normally see on blogs are simple “we got so much traffic this month” but you put us all to shame by going way deeper.

I think the only thing I’d like to see added would be how much you earn from this blog. :P

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hey Dean, thanks so much. I’ll be revealing full income details in my upcoming book. It should be released in early October.

Hear Mum Roar August 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm

This is so fantastic to see! Well done

Randall August 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I bought your new course (through Annabell Candy from http://www.getinthehotspot.com). I will have to say, being new to affiliate marketing, it is concise and very clear. Your writing style is easy to understand and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to earn money online.

Thanks Corbett, and yes Annabell!

Corbett Barr August 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Great, Randall. I hope the course does a lot for you. Thanks for reading here as well!

Pat August 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm

This is awesome – thanks for sharing Corbett. You totally rock.

My readers are awesome – they spent the most time on your site :)

Corbett Barr August 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I agree, Pat, your readers are awesome. They’re welcome here anytime ;)

Cori Padgett August 18, 2010 at 9:36 am

This is a killer post Corbett! I especially agree with this:

# Let ‘em know early that you’ll be monetizing your site.

So true in my book.. start as you mean to go on, and your readers will understand, expect, and even respect you for being honest about it. :) I think discord comes when you aren’t up front about your plans for your blog, and then you suddenly start hitting them with offers and plastering adverts, etc. It’s like culture shock! :)

AND this is PERFECT fodder for the 1st ever Blog Carnival I’m hosting on BGB, so I hope you’ll consider submitting it! :D

Warmest
C

Corbett Barr August 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Cheers, Cori. Great thoughts. Good luck with the Blog Carnival. I’ll try to check it out. Those can be a good way to build traffic (or at least they used to be – I haven’t run one in a while).

Sean Gallagher August 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

Hey Corbett,

Thanks for the mention.

Yet another incredible monthly post! The approach you’ve taken with complete transparency is awesome.

Keep up the great work,

~Sean
StartupFreedom.com

James Tayo August 24, 2010 at 12:34 am

Good Stuff, Corbett…. products and services are surely the best ways to monetize the traffic coming in. Keep up the good work.

Phyllis August 25, 2010 at 10:49 am

Just found your blog – wow, I’ve got some catching up to do. Glad to find you and look forward to learning more.

Corbett Barr August 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

Awesome, Phyllis. Welcome.

Evan September 7, 2010 at 2:46 am

My problem with a USP or niche or whatever is to know how to know what is too big or too small. (Other than paying a marketer to tell me of course – or testing). I’ve been testing for a while now which maybe means it is too small – or I’ve just been doing stuff wrong , or . . .

Jay Philips September 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Great post. I think it’s great that you are sharing what you’ve learned and how others can follow.

Corbett Barr September 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Cool, Jay. Thanks for stopping by.

Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella September 10, 2010 at 5:01 am

Corbett,

Wow! What a thorough and awesome post. It’s great how open you are to sharing with other people what you’re doing with your site and how you prove that monetization is an attainable goal with living proof.

I want to thank you for submitting this great post to the Blogs With Wings Blog Carnival. It was a top notch submission and I’m glad I got the chance to read it. Trust me, when I say, I’ll be back.

lloyd christten September 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Awesome Blog Post can’t wait to read More of your Information… Keep up the Great Job… I will be back daily and will share the blog with my list of followers…Thanks for the great Value…

Shayna June 12, 2012 at 10:47 am

Corbett, I just “rediscovered” these early monthly reports on Think Traffic through a tweet from an old post, and I’m super encouraged because my site – in a totally different niche, and in its 6th month – has similar numbers to yours at this stage! It gives me a lot of hope that 1.5 years from now, my site will be as awesome, thriving, and profitable as TT.

It’s sweet to see your strategy and lessons learned written at the time you were actually building the site, rather than just as a brief summary of your story that glosses over the first 18 months of work.

So, thank you SO much for these (old) posts! :-)

Cori Padgett August 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Honestly I’d heard of them but never participated. But a blogging friend sweet talked me into hosting one, so we’ll see how it turns out! :)

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