Think Traffic Monthly Report #6: How to Maintain Traffic While Taking Time Off

  • September 21, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 26 Comments

Welcome to the 6th monthly report for Think Traffic. Thanks so much for reading these reports. It’s fun to look back on our progress here every month, and I hope the information is useful in building your own sites.

This report covers the period from August 16th to September 15th.

Can you believe it’s been six months since we launched this site already? I thought it would be fun to look at some stats for the first six months this blog has been around. Here are some of the highlights:

# Posts: 63 (10.5 avg. per month)
# Comments: 1,513 (252 avg. per month)
Total Unique Visitors: 30,370
Total Pageviews: 87,930
Avg. Time on Site: 2:16
Total Subscribers: 2,123 (354 avg. new subs. per month)

It has been an awesome six months. Thanks everyone who has stopped by, commented or shared an article with a friend. I really appreciate it. I hope you’ve learned a lot about building traffic to your own sites along the way.

So, how did we fare this month? I was afraid things might be a little slow around here, partly because it was the end of summer, and partly because I was on vacation for the better part of three weeks. It turns out we did just fine though, thanks no doubt to the effort we put in in prior months.

That’s a question worth diving into however. How can you maintain traffic to your website while taking time off?

I’m talking specifically about one-person run sites. It’s scary to think what you might come back to after a few weeks away, but there are some things you can do to minimize the impact.

In my case, I was on a road trip up through the Pacific Northwest. I was able to check in periodically for two of the three weeks, but mostly didn’t have access to the Internet for the third week, since I was sailing up in British Columbia.

I kept the blog alive with five new posts over those three weeks, and yet I only spent a few hours on the blog during that time. The result is that I still had a great vacation, but don’t have to share any bad news with you guys in this report.

Here are my top tips for maintaining traffic to your blog while taking time off. The key is not to stop posting just because you’re not there to write and publish things:

1) Schedule everything in advance

This might sound like a no-brainer, but I suspect many of you have never used the post scheduling feature in WordPress. It’s pretty simple and very effective, however. Just click “edit” next to the “Publish Immediately” title in the upper right-hand corner of your Edit Post page.

Just be careful to double-check your dates and times carefully, especially if you won’t be able to check on things for a while.

2) Run guest posts

While you’re gone, guest posts can be a great way to keep providing your audience with value. You can either schedule the guest posts before you leave, or (if you know the guest poster well) you might be able to ask the author to publish the post using an account you create.

Another reason I like guest posts is that generally the author will be willing to respond to comments left on the posts. That’s another way to stay engaged with your readers while you’re gone.

3) Experiment with easier post formats

When you’re preparing to be gone and writing extra posts that you can schedule, time might be an issue for you. One way to trim some time is to write using some easier formats.

For example, I regularly use the “ask the readers” format here. I ran two of them during my three-week stint away because they’re easier to write then the typical 1000 to 2000 word posts you might find here. Those types of posts are also beneficial because I don’t typically reply to comments on them, since they’re all about your opinions.

Overall Monthly Traffic

Back to this month’s report. How did we fare vs. last month? Overall traffic was down a bit, but not bad for the end of Summer.

Here are the overall visitor numbers for this month:

We had a little under 600 less visitors than last month (-6% month over month).

Other Stats:

  • New subscribers: 285 (-47% month-over-month)
  • New comments (including my replies): 336 (+20% month-over-month)
  • Retweets of new posts: 259 (-24% month-over-month)

8 posts (vs. 7 last month) published here this month (including 2 guest posts):

Top Traffic Sources

Guest Posts and Interviews I Did For Other Blogs:

I wrote a guest post for Social Media Examiner this month: Are You Using Social Media as Social Proof? The post was received well by the audience over there, and it was tweeted 658 times.

SME is a huge blog (top 5000 on Alexa) and yet the guest post only resulted in 23 visits to Think Traffic, despite an apparent sizeable overlap between our topics. It’s interesting and curious, but it confirms the experience some blogger friends have had when guest posting for other big blogs recently. Maybe we’ll dive into this topic more in the future.

Top Search Terms:

  1. think traffic: 194
  2. thinktraffic: 182
  3. most popular blogs: 83
  4. most popular blog: 33
  5. website traffic: 29
  6. corbett barr: 28
  7. most popular b:og: 28
  8. site:thinktraffic.net: 25
  9. how to find your blog usp: 24
  10. unique selling proposition examples: 23

Top Content

Goals for This Month (Switching it up…)

The goals I’ve set each month have been working well, but I want to mix things up a bit this month. Here are two new things I’m planning to focus on:

  • Use this blog to connect with and highlight other excellent related blogs. Linking out to other blogs is a great way to spread the love and get on people’s radar. It’s also a great way to provide even more value to your audience. I’m going to work to share more great content from around the web this month that will help you grow your own audiences.
  • Say things that really matter. Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars has been stressing this to me recently in conversations. The way to grow really quickly is to say things that matter, says Everett. Publishing the usual “10 tips” kind of posts that everyone else runs just won’t make you stand out enough. I’m going to play around with that concept here this month. I always try to share killer value here, but let’s push it even further and see what happens. I may post slightly less as a result.

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!

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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Jean Sarauer September 21, 2010 at 8:34 am

This was the right post at the right time for me, Corbett. I’m not on vacation, but I’m helping my elderly Dad move from the farm where he’s lived for 83 years. My blogging time now is sporadic, so I need to make the most of the previous time I have.

One thing that’s helping me is focusing on writing shorter posts without compromising quality. It’s a bit challenging for me, yet it’s a good thing.

Corbett Barr September 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Awesome, Jean. I hope the tips help. Great advice about writing shorter (but still quality) posts.

Moon Hussain September 21, 2010 at 8:49 am

Corbett,

Think Traffic is doing amazing for such a newcomer. You still have a nice flow of traffic coming from SU, that’s pretty cool. And all the traffic from referrals? Nice job.

Corbett Barr September 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Cheers, Moon. Thanks much. Hope all is well with you.

Brian Driggs September 21, 2010 at 9:00 am

Timely! This is exactly what I did while I was out of the country for the first two weeks of the month. I had to burn the midnight oil a couple nights in the days prior to departure, but it was well worth it, as I was able to spend my vacation actually on vacation, knowing the sites would remain consistent while I wasn’t at the wheel.

On the Gearbox network, I run both the Mitsubishi and Rally channels. While I was on vacation, not only did both of these sites continue with their usual one new interview per week, but I actually managed to double output! This is the alternative types of posts you mentioned, methinks. Each week, I run a new interview, followed later in the week by a brief post posing a discussion topic linking back to the previous week’s interview. I’m still waiting for it to take off, but I’m confident it will.

One additional suggestion I might offer to this end: Who wants to come back from vacation and find themselves right on the bloody edge of running out of content? I was out of the country for two weeks, but I worked ahead by THREE. This way, when I got home, I knew I had a week to ease back into the game, get the pump re-primed, and keep up the momentum.

Solid advice. Works like a charm. Wordpress scheduling is a life-saver.

Corbett Barr September 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Wow, congrats on the double output while you were away. That’s not easy to do by any means.

Also, great point about planning ahead for your week back. I was under quite an avalanche of catching up to do and if I hadn’t had to write new blog posts it would have been a big help.

Mars Dorian September 21, 2010 at 9:27 am

Hey Corbett,

you deserved your holiday – you had a massive launch and needed to rest on your laurels.
I agree with Everett – you got to have some attitude – some juice in your style. All of your posts are valuable, but some of them are really faceless – they lack character. Then I jump over to your pursuits blog to make sure – yeah, Corbett’s attitude still exists !

Corbett Barr September 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Hey Mars – I’ll definitely try to keep up with the character more. Congrats on all the progress over at your site. I’ve been enjoying everything you write. Cheers.

Marios September 21, 2010 at 9:32 am

Hey Corbett, those are impressive numbers, I bet everyone wishes they had those results, good job to you I know this took some hard work and passion. Keep doing great stuff,

Thank you

Marios

Corbett Barr September 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Thanks Marios!

John Paul Aguiar September 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Great stats… Plan to take time off soon.. this will help me set things up, so that the blog is still moving ahead.

I need to work on the, easier posts haha I start off with a small post, and it turns into a novel. I need to start breaking those up into small chunks.

Corbett Barr September 22, 2010 at 9:44 am

I hear you, John. That usually happens to me as well. Some of those long posts might make for nice short series though. Give it a try.

John McLeod September 21, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Hello, Just read your front post today about maintaining traffic to your blog while your away. Add me to your list of future readers. I just discovered this blog tonight, bookmarked and ready for future use. I saw many valuable articles that will help me with my blogging skills and driving traffic to my newly launched blog. Thanks for the tip about postscheduling; I am new to wordpress and did not know about this feature.

Corbett Barr September 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

Welcome, John. Glad you’re enjoying the articles here. Good luck with the new blog.

James Tayo September 22, 2010 at 7:59 am

Good stuff, Corbett… doing all the work initially means there will be momentum even if you go away for a while. congrats on the stats. Looking forward to the next month and the new revamped you.

Corbett Barr September 22, 2010 at 9:44 am

Cheers, James. Thanks for the encouragement.

natan September 25, 2010 at 9:14 am

hi Corbett
i sugest u to make Custom Report for Top Traffic Sources and replace the visits column with Unique Visitors, it will give u more truthfull look about your real visitors.

John R. Sedivy September 25, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Hi Corbett – Congratulations on the success of your blog; you’ve definitely made some great progress in a short amount of time. Thanks for sharing your stats in the progress report, it’s nice to see the numbers behind the blog and the results others are getting. I look forward to reading more of your work.

Sean Gallagher September 26, 2010 at 8:43 am

Hey Corbett,

Great post!

I just got back from a month in South America (Argentina & Chile).

My blog (StartupFreedom.com) is at a similar stage to yours being only 5 months old and I was very worried that the traffic would drop while I was away.

When I returned I was happy to see that traffic had stayed the same because I happend to use the exact principles that you listed above.

However the tweets, comments and other sharing or communicating fell off the map. I asked a few of my regular commenters why and they said “we knew you weren’t around to respond so we didn’t bother leaving comments or spreading the content.”

Next time I go away I will do everything you listed above but I will not tell people that I am going away again in advance. I recommend that you and others do the same!

Keep up the great work!

~Sean

Dave Doolin September 27, 2010 at 7:57 am

The post I ran on Problogger in August netted (iirc) 4 hits.

I don’t think I’m interested in guest posting for really big name bloggers any more. They’re already inundated with submissions.

My current plans are guest posting to help out people at my level and one step up (and maybe a step down!), which is traffic ranging from around 8k to 35k monthly.

I don’t believe guest posting provides the benefits it did last year. I don’t believe it because my experience shows me otherwise. Back in January, just being linked IN a post written by Kelly on Problogger resulted in over 400 hits the first day, and probably around 1000 hits total.

Heresy, I know.

Dave Doolin September 27, 2010 at 7:59 am

Also, the whole twitter hooha is interesting. I always read an article before I decide whether it’s worth retweeting. If I’m not retweeting a lot, I’m not reading a lot. I suspect I’m one of the odder ducks here.

Jackie Lee October 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I agree Dave ~ I always read posts before I retweet them. I don’t want to send my friends/followers to an article that I don’t think is great. :) How do you find out the traffic levels for blogs you’re thinking about guest posting for?

Sherryl Perry September 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Love your tips Corbett. I definitely need to start experimenting with easier post formats. I take way too long to write a post. Your statistics are impressive. I have to confess it makes me just a little discouraged. I’m not even in the same ball park as you when it comes to traffic.

Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot September 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Great to see your blog growing and evolving, I’m with you on the bottom two. Life’s too short to write (or read) things that aren’t essential.

Caleb October 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

That last point of Say things that really matter is the most important lesson here. Time and time again I hear you got to post everyday if not multiple times a day, but most of those other posts are just ramblings which to me is what Twitter can be used for.

I realized the importance of saying things that really matter and its effect with my recent post Does It Take Money to Make Money. It turns out this is actually on many bloggers minds yet no one really has spoke on it!

Dave Doolin October 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Jackie, first, a disclaimer: I’m not a guest post submitter expert. (I have published dozens of guest posts on my blog though). That said, I owe several bloggers some guest posts.

Traffic levels:
* Check out Alexa numbers for the website.

* Check the compete.com numbers. Hardly anyone does this, and the results are often surprising.

* Look at page rank. It’s a relative indicator, more important when you’re writing in the same keyword arena as the host. That is, if you’re writing with similar keywords as the host blog, higher page rank might serve you better long term than traffic. (It might not, but very low page rank certainly won’t).

* Check the activity in the comments. Lots of activity at any traffic level isn’t bad.

* Watch the twitter/FB feeds. Example: if you’re active on Facebook, you do not want to guest post on my blog, because my FB presence is very low; you won’t get any leverage. On the other hand, I’d be delighted to leverage *your* FB presence for my blog. A balancing act to be sure.

Same with twitter.

I’m sure Corbett can come up with more. There’s a bunch of material out there as well. Guest posting used to be sort of an “open secret” but the word is out now.

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