How To Get Massive Traffic To Your Blog
Congratulations on starting a blog!
You’ve hit publish on your first post and the hard part is now done…
Well not quite. As you’re now learning for yourself, driving traffic is the real challenge with running a blog.
Especially if you’re hoping to profit from it in any sustainable manner for the months and years to come.
Quick Disclaimer: Unlike most answers to your question here, my answer is not peddling an online course that’ll teach you how to drive traffic to your blog (for what always seems to be just 3 easy payments of $97). I’m not linking out to sales pages on my blog and I’m not asking you to download a free eBook about driving traffic, only to be upsold on buying a course next week. This is simply everything that I personally do to drive an average of 200,000+ monthly visitors to my blog about side hustles & freelancing—and generate six figures from that traffic each year.
So if you’re still with me, where were we?
That’s right. You’ve started a blog, now you need traffic.
If you’re feeling anything like how I felt when I first started blogging, I’m guessing this about sums up the look of waiting for readers to roll in…
Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about how not to drive traffic to a blog. I tried a lot of stuff that didn’t really work.
“Tactics” and “strategies” like:
- Hiring SEO companies to try and get (shitty) backlinks to build my site’s authority.
- Submitting contributor request forms to become a writer on major business publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. (That didn’t work, but I’ll tell you about what did work and how I now write for these three sites).
- Posting every new article from my blog into dozens of LinkedIn & Facebook groups (which got me banned from several of them).
- Cold emailing my blog posts to influencers and asking them to share with their audience.
- Optimizing for publishing at the perfect time of day.
- Technical tweaks to my site’s Wordpress theme that promised quicker page load times, faster rendering of images, minimizing JS queries and so on.
- Ultra-fast (expensive) hosting.
All of these tactics netted little to no results in my first year of blogging.
I wasn’t getting any backlinks from the person I hired on Upwork to do blogger outreach, promoting my posts to other site owners. I never heard back after submitting request forms, asking to be considered as a contributor from sites like Forbes and Entrepreneur.
Spamming online communities and LinkedIn groups only dug me into a deeper hole of self-doubt after getting shut down and booted from many of these groups. Influencers ignored my emails and no matter what time of day I published my new posts, there didn’t seem to be any impact on traffic.
People just weren’t reading my blog.
After my first year of blogging, all I really had to show for it were a few hundred monthly readers and around 100 email subscribers. Most of whom I personally knew.
Hardly a dent in the kind of numbers I’d need in order to turn blogging into a profitable business.
I couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong… these were all the strategies and tactics I’d been reading about from marketing gurus and seeing other bloggers post about all the time.
So I tried something radical.
I decided to stop the bullshit tactics and ask my readers what they wanted.
I personally emailed all ~100 people who I knew read my blog and asked them what they liked, what they hated and what they wanted more of from my blog.
That’s it. 3 ridiculously simple questions.
The answer: My small number of readers ALL loved when I published extremely personal, vulnerable, self-deprecating deep dives on my adventures in business.
They liked the success stories, but they LOVED the painful failures (like).
The rest of my content? Eh, they could take it or leave it, so I decided to leave it.
I began only writing about topics I had personal experience with.
That made me much more credible (and relatable) to my readers.
I was no longer just sharing my slightly adjusted take on established best practices for freelancers who want to get more clients—I started diving deep into my own experience with landing freelance clients and sharing from behind-the-scenes of what that actually looks like. Screenshots, video tutorials, step-by-step guides to writing cold emails, free templates for pitching clients and so on.
I went into a level of depth that not many other bloggers were exploring with in my niche. AND it is all based on what I actually do, not just recycled advice from other content that’s already out there.
Fast forward little more than a year after making that change and I was driving almost 200,000 monthly readers to my blog.
Here’s where my blog is today: 165,942 session last month (April 2017).
That’s a down month.
Enough preaching for now.
Let’s talk about the strategies I used to actually get to 200,000 monthly readers.
How to Increase Your Blog Traffic (What Really Works, Not Recycled Advice)
- Go Deep. It’s easier to sell gold, than it is to sell shit. There’s no shortage of 500 - 1,000 word articles offering you the 10 quick steps to achieving xyz out there, and that type of content has already become a commodity. Want to stand out from the crowd and making a lasting impression? Create content that’s truly great in some capacity (the easiest is to go for a level of depth that others in your industry haven’t done) and your promotion will be made 100x easier. If everyone in your space is publishing 500 word advice posts, and you come into the arena with a 5,000 word step-by-step guide style post that actually helps readers create change as a result of reading your post, you’ll have a much greater chance of getting your post to go viral. Plus in the long game, Google (currently) rewards more in-depth, longer content with a better shot at ranking well in organic search.
- Obey the 80/20 Rule of Content Promotion. I spend 80% of my time distributing my content, and 20% on the actual writing. While the quality of writing (or videos, infographics, etc) is very important for setting your content up for success, in practice it’s only a small component of the traffic equation. Let’s say you publish an incredible post that you’re really proud of. What happens next? Well, unless you have thousands of readers on your email list, following your RSS feed or your blog already has an extremely high domain authority, that new post isn’t going to get any readers. It’ll just sit there. And that’s where distribution—strategically promoting your content to drive new readers—comes in to play. Let’s take a look at a few distribution channels I use:
- Influencer Quotes: During my research phase for the post I’m writing (before it’s published), I’ll cold email at least 5 influencers who are seen as an authority on the topic my post is covering. I’ll ask them a single question, requesting a quote to include in my upcoming post on the topic. Some respond, some don’t. breaks down the exact cold email scripts I use to get influencers like Robert Herjavec, Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins to respond to my emails.
- Strategic Pre-Linking: Before hitting publish on my content, I’m always looking for opportunities to mention brands, publications and high-profile individuals within my content. I aim for at least 10–20 of these types of mentions, references or pull quotes. Then, once my post goes live, I have an immediate list of companies/people to reach out to and ask let know about their feature on my blog. I ask primarily for social shares on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn since my goal is to build relationships that can be leveraged for more in the future. When it’s the right time, I’ll come back and ask if they’ll take a guest post from me, if they’d like to syndicate a version of that original post that mentioned them, and explore any other promotion opportunities that come up.
- Online Communities: Stick to promoting your new posts only in online communities that explicitly allow (and encourage) content promotion. And if you’re not an active participant there before you show up wanting to promote your articles, take some time to genuinely engage with people before starting to promote your own content. Have the patience and show some respect for the people that are investing time building up the strength of these communities—spend at least a week, popping in once or twice a day to comment on other people’s posts, ask thoughtful questions (without links to your articles), and share useful content within your niche. THEN you’ll start to build a rapport that’ll afford you the opportunity to begin humbly sharing your best articles.
- Guest Post. This is deserving of an entire guide, but here’s the basic principle of why guest posts can drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog: You’re getting your content in front of (hopefully the right) existing audiences instead of waiting around for people to somehow discover your blog. You’re taking control of your own promotion efforts. If you’re a content marketing consultant (like I am) and you want to reach an audience of potential clients for your business, one of the best blogs you could land a guest post on would be the Content Marketing Institute. They’re well-known as an established resource on all things content marketing, and many people who are searching for talented help in this field will be browsing through contributors to this publication. By making yourself present here, you’ll lift your visibility. On top of that, CMI has a very large readership so you can expect sometraffic back to your blog… but as , traffic is an unpredictable metric to track against guest posts. Your real win from guest posting is getting high domain authority backlinks, pointing to your blog—which increases the authority and reputation of your website (in they eyes of Google). The higher the number of credible websites pointing your direction, the more Google will reward your content with better organic search rankings… which equates to increased traffic to your blog (in the long run).
I could go on forever, as I’m always learning, growing & adapting—as are the ways in which you’ll be able to increase traffic to your blog.
We didn’t even talk about YouTube (the second largest search engine in the world), becoming a regular contributor on top industry publications, investing in building an engaged following on social platforms like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
There’s a lot of noise out there.
Find your 1 thing that works for now and double down on it until it’s not working anymore. Then move on to the next channel.
Always focus on what matters: Your community.
Everything else comes from there.
In the end, all the strategies, tactics and best practices in the world don’t matter as much as your connection to your readers. Even if that’s literally 5 people today.
Build a relationship with them. Give them content that’s truly transformative. Help them get real results by consuming and acting upon your content.
Spread out, reaching into their social networks by asking them to share content that’s had an impact on them with their communities.
From there, you’ll start to grow organically.
That’s how you create a movement around your blog.
Oh yeah… and traffic will come from EVERYWHERE if you can create a movement.