It is time again for one of our excellent guest posts. Last week we heard from our friend Jeremy Page. He had a great post about 3 commonly overlooked marketing principles that you should definitely check out.
This week is a guest post by Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend. Scott has spent the last year and half testing every strategy and gimmick out there for growing a blog. Thru a bunch of stuff that he’ll share below, you’ll learn how he grew his subscriber base from 114 users to 4,000+ in under 12 months. Pretty cool, I’d say.
Take it away, Scott.
I studied every technique imaginable in search of the 80/20 solution. I literally spent dozens and dozens of hours reading every book and doing every course I could find. And then testing it out. Believe me there are a lot of things you can spend (read: waste) your time on. The problem is that hardly any of them are useful. You can mess with the best widgets, find new plugins, play on social networks. I did it all.
Almost all of it got me nowhere.
The good news is that there are 3 tactics that work flawlessly. As Alex mentioned, once I discovered these, my subscribers grew by 4,000 in about twelve months and my blog is now one of the top 0.7% most trafficked on the internet. I don’t say this to brag but instead to prove to you there’s a system that works.
I found the holy grail for growing blog traffic. The 80/20 of growing a blog audience. I’d even call it the 95/5 – the top 5% of tasks that yield 95% of the results. After finding this formula, it was off to the races.
Here’s a year snapshot of my site’s traffic:
Here are a few stats to go with it:
- Total visits April 2010: 1,097
- Total visits April 2011: 17,230
- Increase in monthly visitors: 14,700%
- Subscribers on April 30, 2010: 114
- Subscribers on April 30, 2011: 4,005
- 12-month subscriber increase: 34,130%
Let’s talk about how you can do the same.
1. Write insanely useful content.
There is nothing more important than writing content that genuinely helps people. Did you hear that? Nothing. Seriously. Don’t convince yourself otherwise. You have to spend the time (no quick fix here) to find, curate, edit and share only the very best that you and the web has to offer. This takes time, effort and some talent, but it cannot be skipped, scrimped, oustourced or taken lightly.
2. Find your voice.
Speak from the heart. Be vulnerable. When people visit your site, they are going to make a very fast decision whether to stay or not. Your content has to keep them there. They want to hear from you, not some generic top ten list generator.
3. Blow people’s minds.
Tie in ridiculous personal experiences and stories – like how I worked out with Tim Ferriss or bought an engagement ring form Warren Buffett. Go out and have unique experiences and interact with passionate people and then bring it all back to your writing.
4. Always be helping.
Think of the things your readers most need help with. What expertise do you have to help folks? Constantly be thinking of ways to help people with real problems and do it in unique ways. Start with your problems. You’re likely not alone.
5. Constantly practice.
Every blogger is an artist. Good art takes time. The more writing you do, the better you’ll get at it. Learn about various post structures and headline techniques, vary your content. See what sticks. Find time to write everyday, even if it’s only a sentence or two. Pay attention to what your mentors in the space are doing. Notice how they write. Learn and apply it.
6. Write guest posts.
This is the game-changer. Having killer content on your site is the foundation where as this is how you turn on the fire hose. If you want new people to join your following, you have to get your insanely useful content in front of new people. The best and most consistent way to do this is by writing for other peoples’ sites (for those new to the scene, that’s what we call ‘guest posting’). Wonder why I am here on The Entrepreneurs Blog? Because thousands more people will experience my work, and as a bonus the new inbound links will also help with Google rankings and online credibility. Most importantly, I’m hoping that I’ll get to help more people with my content. That’s the key.
7. Become a guest posting machine.
This is when it really clicked for me. Once I discovered guest posting I felt like I’d struck gold. I saw the value and committed to it. I wrote one guest post a week for months. I think I wrote 15 in the following two. My traffic absolutely took off. You can see a list of my recent guest posts here.
8. Suck it up and start writing – stop putting it off!
The funny thing is that I had been told guest posts were the answer for a couple of months prior but I couldn’t work up the courage to start doing it. After all, it actually involves reaching out to people and pitching your work to others. That can be scary. And it was. Until I did my first two or three. Then the fear of asking turns into the excitement of being able to get your work out to a whole new world.
9. Start pitching.
Then write a short emails mentioning your site and the idea you have for an article that would help their readers. Always focus on how you can help them and their readers. Everything comes back to that. List a few provocative headlines as possible topics. Mention any other sites you’ve written for with an example of your best work and send it out.
10. Customize to their site.
Don’t write a generic post and try to pitch it to ten sites to see what sticks. You’re going to look like an idiot. Every post should be crafted to fit the message of the specific site’s readers and message. Show them you pay attention to their work. Worst case, they turn it down and you can repurpose it on your own site (but only if it hasn’t been published anywhere else – neither people nor Google like duplicate content).
11. People want you to write for them.
This is not a one way street. Big bloggers are busy with all kind of projects. They’d love a great writer to take the load off their back for one of their weekly posts. Remember you are trying to do them a service. They are letting you blog on their site; act accordingly.
12. Trust the process.
Realize that not every guest post you write will yield a ton of traffic, even from some of the big sites where you’d expect it to. Don’t worry about it. Those are the exceptions. Stick to the process. You will get results. I’ve had single posts that have gotten me over 800 new subscribers in a matter of days. Others have yielded only a dozen or so. Don’t over think this stuff. Keep it simple and watch what happens.
Here is an example from my efforts:
Here’s what happened the day my guest post went live on Elance:
Here are a few stats to go with it:
- Average daily visitors for two weeks prior: 94
- Visitors on day post went live (July 27, 2010): 709
- Average daily visitors for two weeks after: 234
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about real people and real connections. Hands down the best way to get the chance to write for other sites is by creating real-life connections with the people who own them. People miss this one all the time. We forget that the online world is still run by real people. They want to connect. We all do. It’s time to get out from behind your screen and reach out.
Here are a few ideas about how to do that.
1. Start thanking people.
Make a point to send a note of thanks via twitter or email to people who’ve written content you enjoy. Be genuine with your praise.
2. Get face-to-face.
Find virtual connections who live in your town and get together with them for a soda or beers. Go out on workouts with them. Make real friends.
3. Link to people in every post you write. Links are the currency of the Internet. Start dishing them out like crazy.
4. Keep a list of people and their sites
(use your guest post list from above) and try to link to at least a couple other sites in each of your posts. Be sure you’re linking to really useful content that your readers will enjoy and then do it often. Your readers will appreciate it. The other site will love it and people will start to notice you.
5. Interview people.
Offering to interview someone on your site always makes folks happy and they’ll likely send their readers over to check it out.
When I discovered the above formulas, I dedicated 15 hours a week to making it happen. I didn’t write 20 posts each week but I did pick a number and didn’t let up. As a result, my passion, my blog, has now also become a sweet little business that helps thousands of people each week. I pinch myself every time I think about it.
I’ve shared the above steps with dozens of clients so far and now many thousands in this post. The wild thing is do you know how many have taken the guidance to heart and put their head down to put it to use?
I could count on one hand.
It’s crazy how guaranteed these results are. This stuff is totally possible if you’re willing to put in the work. It is completely on you. The good news is not that many people are doing it. Don’t be one of them.
Time to start writing.