Welcome to the 7th installment of our podcast series on launching your own, profitable website or blog. I’m glad you’ve stuck around and hope you’re learning a lot.
In past posts, we’ve talked about picking the right domain name, setting up your WordPress site, and content strategy. Today, we are going to talk about driving traffic to that awesome site you’ve now built.
Where Does Site Traffic Come From?
Whether you’re blogging, selling your wares, or posting YouTube videos for the world, one of your biggest goals is to increase traffic. You want as many people as possible reading your articles, listening to your podcast, and browsing your online store. So, how do you direct those people to your site?
Well, there are a number of ways people can find your site. Some of the more common avenues are search engines – like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Social media is also a very popular source, and includes things like Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter.
YouTube videos are a great place for people to find you, whether you want them to simply follow your channel there or click back to your website. Same goes for podcasts – people can subscribe through iTunes and follow you there. I can also mention a URL in the audio of my podcast, which may lead some people to go online and check it out.
You can also get traffic through referral links. This is simply someone coming across a link to your blog or site on another blog or site, and then following that link to one of your pages. We try to include pertinent and helpful links in most of our Dough Roller pages, guiding you guys to other sites that may be useful. This can be a great source of traffic.
Sure, But How Do I GET That Traffic?
Now that you know where traffic can come from, you’re probably wondering how to get that traffic. How do you make it actually happen?
This is the goal of every blogger, every vlogger, every online business, and anyone else who wants to make money from their site and get their hard work out to an audience. It’s a process and won’t happen right away. With diligence and effort over time, though, a solid traffic base can form and, hopefully, grow exponentially.
I’m going to give you my top ten tips for generating site traffic. While I could probably lay out 1,000 of them for you, I think these ten are very actionable and will help you start drawing in views today.
Keep in mind that you could choose to double down on any one of them. Some websites only worry about search engine traffic, for example. They spend all of their time and effort on building a strong SEO for their site, and generating traffic that way. Others may only focus on social media followings, and directing traffic to their site that way.
Whether you choose to spread your efforts over multiple avenues or focus on just one, it’s up to you.
1. Pick one social media platform
There are a ton of social media options out there, as I mentioned above. The most popular are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit. It’s easy to set up an account, and all of them are free. You can also use apps or plugins to automate the sharing of your content, which makes them easy to use. However, unless you spend some real time and energy into a platform, you’re not going to get a whole lot out of it.
My recommendation would be to pick the social media platform that best fits your niche, and devote 99% of your time to it. If you’re a cooking blog with lots of recipes, Pinterest may be your best option. If you’re sharing new stories and writing informative blog posts, Facebook might be the winner. (I personally think that a lot of people are more Facebook-adept.) The guy I mentioned last week, Blender Dude? Well, YouTube is absolutely the platform that is working best for him.
Part of an effective social media presence is curating the content in your niche from other blogs and websites. Yep, you want to share more than just your own stuff. This gives your followers some variety, and allows your page to be a bit more informative than if you only posted your own articles and ideas. It also helps you connect with other websites and bloggers in your field.
So, pick one social media platform to direct the majority of your focus on, and dive in. Connect and communicate with followers, open conversations, build relationships, and share content other than just your own. This can be a great way to build a loyal fan base and direct traffic to your own site.
2. Start a Facebook group
I know many of you may be thinking that this should be in the last category, but I feel it needs one of its own. Yes, Facebook is a social media category, but Facebook groups are a whole different animal.
Groups are by invitation or approval only – if someone wants to join, you have to allow them to do so, based on your own criteria. I can tell you that the Dough Roller group has been a huge success. I’ve learned a ton from these guys, and everyone is incredibly helpful to other members.
People ask questions on there all the time and get sometimes 10 responses before I can even jump into the conversation. It’s a great resource for everyone. There are about 600 members right now, and you can join if you want! We’ve formed a friendly community where everyone helps each other, and I would highly recommend starting one for your own business.
3. Collect emails
I didn’t do this when I first started Dough Roller, but would recommend it to you. Start collecting emails off the bat, and send out a newsletter. Sure, in the beginning, you might be sending that newsletter to a handful of people each week. But don’t let that discourage you.
Most of the traffic that comes to your site will visit and then leave. They may or may not generate revenue for you, and they may never come back. Collecting emails is a great way to develop a relationship with that person, and get them to continue coming back to your site.
Over time, a newsletter list can turn into a pretty significant source of traffic. In fact, email traffic is Dough Roller’s third largest traffic source! I didn’t really put any effort into the newsletter until about three years ago, but now I have 25,000 subscribers.
I currently use GetResponse, which I’m happy with. If you’re just starting out, though, I would recommend a site like MailChimp. It doesn’t work for those with large subscriber bases, but for new or smaller companies, it’s great. You can have up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month before you have to switch to one of their paid plans.
My recommendation for encouraging new visitors to give you their email, would be to offer some sort of helpful product. Maybe you create a one-page PDF with relevant tools, tips, or resources. Whatever your readers would find valuable. And maybe you offer that to them in exchange for signing up for your newsletter. That might be all it takes to start building that reader base.
4. Find a bigger company and contribute there
This may seem impossible at first, but I would recommend finding a major blog or website in your niche, and contributing to their content. This builds your credibility, gets your content and perspective out there, and can draw traffic back to your own site.
Just know that you won’t get a flood of traffic from it. Just because Huffington Post gets hundreds of thousands of pageviews doesn’t necessarily mean that your article on their site will get an incredible amount of those visitors itself. But, you will get some. And, you will get your name out there.
Make sure that the content you submit is very good. Make sure that it really represents you, your company, and your abilities.
5. Use your expertise to draw in traffic
This one is sort of related to the last, but a bit different. If you have some area of expertise outside of your own site’s niche, use that to generate traffic, as well.
For example, say you just started a blog about saving money. But maybe you are also an expert in rebuilding cars, and it’s a passion you’ve had since you were young. You could find a bigger, more popular website about car restoration and write an article for them.
It may not be a related niche, but you can use it to your advantage. Writing for that blog will get your name (and the name of your website) out there to a bigger and broader audience. In turn, it will also help generate new traffic.
6. Start a podcast
More work, I know, but welcome to blogging! If you can make the time, adding podcasts to your repertoire allows you to get your name to an even bigger group, and can be a very valuable tool.
Ranking in iTunes will allow you access to an audience you wouldn’t otherwise reach. Dough Roller is currently getting about 10,000 downloads per episode, and some of those people wouldn’t have otherwise found (or returned to) my site. But they like the podcasts, so it works!
Creating helpful content in a medium that some people prefer (and can listen to on their commute) will help solidify your reader base. Plus, it’s really easy.
As mentioned before, I use Garage Band for my podcasts, along with a Heil PR 40 microphone. You can get a cheaper one, though, and it’ll be fine. But that’s it for the investment. Then, just hit record and off you go.
7. Network, network, network
I cannot stress the importance of this. It’s key for so many reasons.
You’ll learn a lot from other bloggers in your niche, first off. My connection with other bloggers has been a huge factor in the success of the sites that I have. I belong to a mastermind group of about 12, and we meet once a year. I also go to the FINCON expo every year and meet a lot of bloggers there. Starting out, you may not know anyone, so you’ll need to just introduce yourself. But that network is helpful for learning new things, and can also generate traffic.
For example, a good friend of mine is Jay Money, who blogs at Budgets are Sexy and also has a site called Rockstar Finance. He just curates content from other personal finance blogs – that’s it. His site is entirely based on linking out to other finance blogs. He picks what he thinks is the best content, and let me tell you: the times that he’s linked to Dough Roller, it’s brought in a flood of traffic.
You can find sites like that in pretty much every niche. Send them a message, link to your best and most relevant content, and see what they say. Of course, they won’t link to you just because you send them an email. Your content needs to be great. But if it is, they’ll probably link to it.
9. Don’t just guest-post anywhere
A guest post is when you write for another blog or website. I mentioned writing for the major sites in your niche, but you can also just write for other, smaller blogs in your niche. It’s great for networking, as well as generating traffic back to your site. Just make sure to do it judiciously.
Guest posting got a bad rap a few years ago, thanks to some people who were abusing the system. They were guest posting anywhere and everywhere: good blogs, bad blogs, spammy blogs, blogs without any traffic, etc. They were including five, six, seven, or more backlinks to their own pages in these posts. So, why would they do that?
Well, they figured out that Google was assessing search engine placement based on links from other websites. So, if a lot of other websites were linking back to your site, it was considered “valuable” to Google and bumped up in the rankings. Well, once folks figured that out, they started throwing their links in guest posts everywhere they could.
Of course, Google found out about this spamming and reconfigured their ranking system. Now, the backlink overload can actually hurt your placement in the search engines.
Guest posting every once in a while won’t hurt your placement and will help generate traffic. But make sure that you choose the other sites wisely. Don’t post on sites that get little-to-no traffic – there’s no point. Don’t accept every offer that comes around; be particular about where you put your name and your work.
I personally ask myself whether I would guest post on a site if there were absolutely none of the perceived SEO benefit. If the answer is yes, I’ll do it. For example, you might accept an offer to write for Huffington Post simply because you enjoy the site or want to get your name out there – it wouldn’t be just to improve the SEO of your site.
If I come across an offer where I’d only consider it for the SEO, I go ahead and decline.
Another source for guest posting would be those with whom you develop an advertising relationship with. Say you utilize a company’s affiliate marketing program on your website. Many of these companies have blogs of their own, and are happy to let you write there.
One example is Personal Capital. I don’t think I’ve ever written for them, but they have a blog. I’m sure I could reach out and they’d happily let me guest post. It’s a great site, perfect in my niche, and gets lots of traffic. Am I doing it just for the SEO? Absolutely not. So, this would be a good example of somewhere I might guest post.
10. Give something away
We’ve all seen giveaways used to generate traffic and interest in a company. That’s because they work.
I haven’t done a giveaway in awhile, but it’s a popular option. If you can offer up a big prize that’s relevant to your niche, like an iPad, it can get some attention. A lot of people are interested in free stuff, after all.
There are plenty of ways for people to enter. They can subscribe to your newsletter, follow your Pinterest page, or tag their friends in a post (which builds an even bigger audience). You can also set up an entry form, and there are even plugins through WordPress for this.
You certainly don’t have to use a giveaway, but it’s a great way to give yourself a head start. It can gain a lot of attention for your blog and even earn some new email subscribers.
Okay, so I’ve given you ten tips that you can put into place immediately. You can start today, garnering new traffic for your blog. As I said, we could have gone over 10,000 of them, but these are doable and easy to implement now. Plus, they ought to keep you busy for a bit.
Be sure to come back next week for our final post in this series. We will talk about how to monetize your new site and start making money.
Have you tried implementing any of these ten tips for your own website? What was the response?