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.
- Let ‘em know early that you’ll be monetizing your site.
- Align your services with your USP.
- Keep your options simple and focused at first.
- Ask your audience what they want.
- Products? Services? Affiliate Offers? Advertising?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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):
- The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition
- Yo, It’s About That Time, to Bring Forth… Affiliate Marketing for Beginners
- How Much Are Your Visitors Worth? Google Will Tell You… For Free! (guest post by Karol Gajda)
- How Would You Measure the Top 100 Blogs in the World?
- Viral Marketing: What It Is, Whether You Need It and How to Create It
- Ask the Readers: How Much of Your Self Do You Have to Reveal to Succeed?
- Does Spending so Much Time on Twitter and Other Blogs Really Pay Off? (Think Traffic Monthly Report #4)
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:
- Corbett Barr on How to Pay Your Fans to Support You (with Everett Bogue via Far Beyond the Stars)
- Entrepreneur Interview: From A 9-5 Job To Traffic & Affiliate Marketing Expert With 2 Successful Blogs – Corbett Barr (a detailed video interview with Sean Gallagher from Startup Freedom)
Other Promotional Efforts and Notables:
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:
- think traffic: 250
- website traffic: 116
- thinktraffic: 115
- most popular blogs: 39
- site:thinktraffic.net: 31
- most popular blog: 29
- most popular b:og: 23
- high traffic websites: 14
- corbett barr: 11
- thinktrafficnet link building: 9
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!