If you’re serious about making money blogging and already have your blog topic and your blog set-up, the next step is to get eyeballs on your site! Here’s how you can begin to write great content and utilize several unique strategies to begin to build traffic on your blog.
In this third part of my blogging for profit series, I take a look at how to drive traffic to your new blog.
After all, blogs make money from advertisers, affiliates, or by leads generated for your business or services, and it’s impossible to get those clicks, sales, and leads if nobody visits your site!
Just as the prerequisite to earning money from you blog is traffic, the prerequisite to traffic is great content.
Writing Blog Content
Let me ask you a question: You wouldn’t visit a store with no merchandise, right? Well, people aren’t going to visit a blog without great content, either. Content – typically articles – are what drives blog success, whether that success is measured by daily page views, RSS subscribers, advertising revenue, or referrals to another business.
As a new blogger, hopefully you enjoy writing (if not, blogging is going to get tedious quickly). That’s because to get your blog noticed, to attract subscribers, and to begin to get a decent number of search engine referrals, you will need to post between five and twenty-five articles a month. Any less, and new visitors will lose interest in checking back on your blog and it will take a while for your site to have numerous pages rank in search engine queries.
That said, your blog posts don’t all have to be 1,000+ words. In fact, many blogs have success posting many very brief articles each day. Your content does, however, need to be unique, valuable, and well-written.
With so many blogs out there, being unique is not always easy. Chances are, if you can think of it, somebody has written about it. The key to being unique is to try to put a spin on you article’s topic. Maybe it’s your passionate opinion, a personal anecdote, or an interview with an expert.
Sometimes, even being unique isn’t enough to capture readers’ attention. In the increasingly competitive online space, you need to provide value. What is value, as it applies to Web content?
I like to think of the value of a blog post as being measured by what the reader can take away from the article. Value is created when you answer a reader’s question, teach readers something, provide actionable ideas with which readers can use to improve their lives.
For this reason, there are certain kinds of articles that lend themselves well to creating value, like how to articles or articles that provide aggregate tool sand resources for solving particular problems. For more on creating really valuable content, I recommend Chris Garrett’s free eBook on Creating Killer Flagship Content.
Finally, your content has to be well-written. You don’t have to write like you’re shooting for a Pulitzer, but you do have to get your point across clearly, and with as few mistakes as possible. If you need help in this area, pick up a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, surf Web writing blogs like CopyBlogger and Men with Pens, and practice, practice, practice.
Now that you have a respectable collection of high-quality content on your blog (let’s say 20-30 posts), it’s time to hunting for traffic! Hunting? Yes, hunting.
You can’t just throw a blog up on the Web and expect Google to come by, see how amazing it is, and send millions of visitors your way. In fact, Google may not send you a single visitor for anywhere between one and six months. Don’t be discouraged, though, there are plenty of ways to start getting your site noticed – and if you continue to provide top-shelf content – your traffic will grow exponentially.
Let’s take a look at the five big potential traffic sources for your blog. To be successfully, you will want to incorporate as many as possible.
- Direct Visitors
- Referrals from Other Websites
- Referrals from Search Engines
- Paid Advertising
Referrals from Other Websites
When you click a link from one website to another (as long as you’re not starting on a search engine), this is a referral to the new website. And this is where you want to start getting your traffic. But be prepared, because getting links from other websites takes some effort.
To start, there are two things that every new blogger should do. First, send an introduction email to a dozen or so other bloggers on your topic that you respect. Don’t ask for a link, but just say “Hi, I’ve been reading your blog and think it’s got some great content, and I actually just started my own site on the same topic, at www.yourblog.com. I hope that perhaps our paths will cross down the road!”
If the blogger checks out your site and likes what he or she sees, there is a good chance they might link to you from their site. Also, it doesn’t hurt if you have already linked to them from yours.
Secondly, get into a habit of leaving comments on other blogs. When you comment, you have the chance to provide one link to your site. You will get a few curious clicks from folks reading the comments you leave on other blogs, but the main benefit is the blog owners will get to know you and be more inclined to read (and hopefully link to) your blog.
One note about comment etiquette: Avoid leaving fluff comments like “nice post.” Write something of value or nothing at all. Second, use your first name or blog title – never a keyword – as your name, and provide your homepage URL, not a link to a specific article.
Self-promotion (emailing others) and commenting are the two best ways to get links to your site, but you shouldn’t stop there. Social media sites give you the opportunity to submit your site and let others vote on it. Competition on these sites is fierce, but if your page is a hit you could get thousands of visitors overnight.
Also, you may be able to find a blog aggregator on your topic that republishes headlines and brief snippets of hundreds of different blogs articles every day. Submit your site to get noticed by readers and other bloggers. An example, for personal finance blogs, is PFBlogs.org.
Another strategy is to write articles on your topic for other sites. There are hundreds of article sites, such as Ezine Articles and Associated Content, that will publish your content and let you include a link back to your site. (The trade off is they get the free content, you get the link). You can also volunteer to write guest posts on other blogs, who will usually let you link back. If you try this, however, be sure that the articles you submit to other sites are totally unique of anything on your blog, as republishing duplicate content will impair your ability to rank well in the search engines.
Finally, there are hundreds of Web directories out there that will include your link (often for a fee). If you find free directories – especially if they are especially on your topic – you might give them a shot. Even still, your time can probably be better spent writing new content or commenting on other sites.
The amount of traffic you receive from referrals will usually be a small trickle, punctuated – if you’re lucky – by an occasional deluge from a social media site. Still, working to get lots of inbound links to your site is a critical first step because it gets your blog noticed, and will be critical in getting noticed and ranked by Google.
Direct Visitors (Including Subscribers)
A direct visitor is somebody who comes directly to your blog by typing in your URL into their browser, or by clicking a bookmark. In order to get direct visitors, however, they need to know about your site. So start telling your family and friends about your blog, and invite them to read it, leave comments and feedback, and to subscribe.
You can also drum up direct visitors by printing up business cards with your website and handing them out or by running offline marketing campaigns, such as t-shirts, signs, or bumper stickers. Until your blog really establishes its name and brand, direct visitors will be a small percentage of your traffic, but they can be an important primer as you’re getting started.
As you start to get some readers from inbound links and direct visitors, you want them to come back! To help them remember to return, get them to subscribe to your blog via RSS (allowing them to read your articles from their RSS reader or homepage) or e-mail.
The best tool out there for this is Feedburner. For free, Feedburner lets you add subscription buttons to your blog and automatically tracks and delivers your subscription content.
For the best results, advertise your subscription options prominently and in multiple places. (I recommend at the top of your sidebar and just below each post).
Someday, search engines may provide the bulk of your blog’s traffic, but it takes time to get there. Search engines won’t find your blog for a few weeks, and even if they find your site, they may not include it in results for a while until the search algorithms trust that your site is legit, so don’t freak out if you can’t find your site on Google in the first week.
Though there are millions of little search engine optimization (SEO) tips out there, which many Webmasters pay big bucks for, I am a firm believe that there is no real substitute for great content and great links from other sites. If you focus on those two things, the search engine traffic will come.
That said, there are a few SEO basics you’ll want to pay attention to.
Your article titles and URLs should accurately describe your article. Don’t stress about finding the perfect keywords for every article, but if your article is about a Nikon D60 Camera, put “Nikon D60 Camera” in both your title and your URL.
Avoid duplicate content. Basically, don’t steal content, write your own. Stealing is illegal, and it will ensure Google will not like your site.
Link internally. Just as links from other websites help your search engine rankings, links on your site to other pages on your own site will help to. Especially as you start writing, provide links to related articles on your blog in every article.
Follow these basics, and your site will do just fine in the search engines. You can worry about advanced tactics later when you begin going after specific traffic that you think will convert into affiliate sales or subscribers. And remember, the more content you have, the more stuff the search engines have to find. So keep writing!
The final traffic source for you to consider is paid advertising, usually from a pay-per-click network like Google Adwords.
Adwords allows you to write a small text advertisement and have it display when people search Google for words you choose. When somebody clicks on your ad and arrives at your blog, you pay Google for that visitor.
Many Adwords users are online merchants selling products or businesses collecting leads for their services. For these users, Adwords can be an incredibly profitable marketing channel because users can track exactly how much it will cost to get 1,000 visitors to their site and exactly how much they will earn from the percentage of those 1,000 visitors that become customers.
For blogs, Adwords is a bit trickier. You aren’t buying clicks to sell a product and make a profit, you would buy clicks to get traffic in the hopes those visitors will become subscribers or return visitors, increasing your potential to earn money from affiliates and advertisers down the road.
If you have money to invest in your blog, spending between $50 and $200 a month on an Adwords campaign to get visitors to your site is just one more way to introduce your site to the world.
Follow these pointers for writing quality content and brining traffic to your blog, and you will soon be on the road to making money blogging, which is exactly what I will cover in the next and final post in this series.
If you’re serious about blogging, I highly recommend Darren Rowse’s new book ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. Darren, through his site ProBlogger, has been such an inspiration to me along my blogging journey, and his new book is an awesome resource for newbie bloggers and established bloggers alike.