How to Use Interns to Build Traffic: Secret Tips from a Top Travel Blogger

  • March 18, 2010 by Guest Writer
  • 8 Comments

Use interns to build traffic

Guest post by Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site

Running a website is a lot of work. Even if you are blogging for fun, there is a lot of work in keeping the site updated, networking with other bloggers, and keeping up with Twitter.

If you are running your blog as a business, you have even more work to do. Not only do you have to do the above but you have to find advertisers, work on SEO, hire contractors for projects, network even harder, create a brand, and launch products. If you have more than one website like I do, then your work is multiplied. Being a website owner is a full time job.

Often times I feel like I’ll never get ahead. There’s just too much work to do. I can’t keep up with it all. In fact, as a travel blogger, I would either have to stop traveling to work or stop working to travel. So how do I manage to do both? Interns. Over the last few months, I have had a few interns helping me out.

The idea that a blogger might have interns may sound weird, but it’s no different than any other business having interns. As a successful blogger, people wonder how I got there and what is the back-end side of my business. How do I gain traffic? Readers? Stay engaged? What is SEO? And above all, how the hell do I make money! I share the answers to all these questions with my interns.

A few months ago, I decided to see if I could get interns and put out a call on my site. Surprisingly, I got a lot of responses. In exchange for their work, you give interns all your knowledge. Win win for all. However, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons about how to best manage them. If you don’t utilize them right, it will be fail, fail for all.

  • Be Clear
    When you set out your call for interns, make sure you are very, very clear about what the job is about and what the work they are expected to do. Moreover, always go over on the expected work commitment. If you think it will take 5 hours, tell them you need them for 10.

  • Give Them The Big Picture
    A lot of the work you do makes sense to you. You know where it fits in. However, telling your intern to go find a list of travel blogs might have them wondering where this fits in or why you need so many SEO articles. Assignments might seem random to them and if they aren’t explained in the big picture of things, they can quickly lose interest.

  • Be Flexible
    Interns are working for free. Chances are they have another job, one that actually pays the bills. Life will get in the way. If they run behind, let them catch up. I know you have a business to run and if they fall really behind, you should say something but give them some leeway. It will make for a more enjoyable experience and they will stay with you.

What about using interns to gain traffic?

Interns are a great way to take the work load off and allow you to use their services to gain traffic. My interns do a lot of work for me. What can interns do?

  • SEO Writing
    My interns write articles and blogs for sites I use to get links for increased rankings in search results.

  • Blog Finding
    My interns find me new blogs and websites to network with.

  • Social Media
    I have my interns help me Stumble Upon, add followers on Twitter, and Digg pages. It makes using those sites to find new readers a lot easier.

  • Link Building
    I have my interns build my links for me. It’s a time consuming process that is better left to them.

If you use interns effectively, you can reduce your work load and use them to get more work done. They can’t do everything. They can’t speak for me on Twitter or manage my Facebook page, but using them can give you more chances to increase your traffic by having them take the work off you so you can concentrate on high value tasks like marketing and advertising.

Have you used interns to help out with your site before? What other tasks would you have them do? Let us know in the comments!

photo by GregTheBusker

“Nomadic” Matt Kepnes is a twenty-something vagabond who has been on the road regularly since 2005 and earns his living entirely online. He writes about his adventures at Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. Check out his new book Nomadic Matt’s Secrets to Successful World Travel.


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Karol Gajda March 18, 2010 at 8:20 am

Good article Matt (long time, no talk!)…you mentioned you put the word out on your site looking for interns. Have you utilized any other methods to finding interns?

Maren Kate March 19, 2010 at 12:03 am

Ha, I just hopped over to this post on my way to bookmark the site :) Great idea, gotta look into this myself as I have always wanted to get some interns for my business, but never considered for my blog, guess it is a business too right? Great stuff!

Corbett Barr March 19, 2010 at 7:42 am

You bring up an excellent question: is your blog a business? I think a lot of people don’t know the answer to that question. Not that it has to be one or the other, but knowing the answer can help tremendously.

Maryam in Marrakech March 19, 2010 at 12:17 am

hmmm….wonder if this story was written by you or the intern?:-)

I don’t spend anytime doing all the things that you talk about here for my own blog. Perhaps they are all very important but it seems an awful lot like hawking rather than focusing on the product — the quality of the blog posts themselves.

Lana - {Daring Clarity} March 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm

wow, interns for the blog, that’s a brilliant idea!

delia March 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

hmmm interns…i’m jealous
speaking of indentured servants, are you looking for any more, Matt?

FP Internet Marketing June 16, 2011 at 7:38 am

Good article Matt. What I have done in the past is to use interns as a more “working interview” than “work” whereas I use marketing interns that we try to groom into full time positions.

Of course that does not happen all the time but if pick the right interns at first and work with them throughout their internship you will find it works out real well.

Frank

Dominick September 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thanks for the great post! I am thinking of having some interns help me out running the online side of our business. How did you go about recruiting your interns? I honestly don’t know where to begin with this project…

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