How to Get Traffic to Your Blog (How I Became the Freddy Krueger of Blogging)
By Danny Iny
I received several comments like that when I started my business.
The consensus seemed to be that I was everywhere. No matter which blog or website you visited, I was the cyber-stalker who was there waiting for you.
I didn’t mind the comment. In fact, I liked it.
I liked it because it was meant as a compliment. When I caught your attention, I gave you something interesting to read and think about. If I worked extra hard, you even learned something useful.
Every now and then, the comments went further than just noting my apparent omnipresence. They ask how I did it: Didn’t I sleep? Didn’t I have a family or other commitments?
Yes, I did, and yet I managed to be “everywhere.”
But the truth is that I wasn’t really everywhere, and I didn’t work 24/7. It just seemed that way.
In this post, I’m going to tell you why—and how you can do the same. And then I’m going to share my own checklist for writing a great post every time, so you have everything you need to succeed.
In the Beginning, There Was Copyblogger
It started innocently enough. I was writing for my fledgling blog, Firepole Marketing, which was still in its infancy.
We’d get 30 visitors a day on a really good day.
I was in Jon Morrow’s guest blogging program, and I received the latest lesson in my inbox. It explained that list posts are the easiest way to break into a big blog, because they tend to perform well, and they’re so much work to produce.
As luck would have it, I had just developed a curriculum of business books for a client. So I emailed Jon and asked him if he thought it would be a good fit for Copyblogger.
He said that he couldn’t make any promises, but if I wrote the draft, he’d take a look and pass it along if appropriate.
I worked my tail off to write the best post that I could, and they ran the post: 38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs to Read.
Then I Rode the Wave
The post performed well: 200+ comments, 900+ tweets, and lots of traffic back to my blog.
I even got an email from Guy Kawasaki (I had mentioned one of his books on the list) that eventually turned into an interview, book reviews, and even his participation in an upcoming project of mine.
I figured that since Copyblogger worked so well for me, I’d try my hand at another guest post, so I emailed Problogger to see if they wanted to publish the story of my experience.
It was a total shot in the dark, and didn’t have any kind of “in.” I just sent my pitch through the contact form. I had no expectations but felt it wouldn’t hurt to try.
Well, to my great (and pleasant) surprise, they went for it. The result was my first post on Problogger: How a Tiny Blog Landed Guy Kawasaki (and Copyblogger!)
This led to more recognition, and a whole bunch more traffic back to Firepole Marketing.
Hmmm… this guest blogging thing works!
I realized that guest blogging was a good idea, and decided that I needed to do more of it.
But where? And how?
I felt that I had gotten lucky with Copyblogger and Problogger. So where to start? Who would take my posts? Who would even answer my emails?
(Interesting note: Even though my first guest post was on Copyblogger, I was so intimidated by their size and quality that it took another 14 guest posts before I worked up the courage to pitch them again with 21 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue.)
Anyway, I spent some time on each of those blogs, looking for an interesting intersection between what they write about and what I write about—something that their audience would be interested to read.
I took that list and sent them all an email—something like this:
SUBJECT: Guest Posting on [BLOG NAME]: “[HEADLINE IDEA]”
Hi [BLOGGER’S NAME],
I only recently discovered your blog, but as you know, I really like your stuff! [ALTERNATIVELY, I’VE BEEN READING FOR A WHILE, ETC.]
I’ve been thinking about writing a post about [SUBJECT], and it occurred to me that it would be a great fit for your audience. Here are a couple of ideas for the headline (which can be changed, of course):
To get a sense of my writing, you can check out Mirasee.com, or my recent guest post on Copyblogger – it got over 200 comments and 900 tweets.
What do you think? Shall I write up a draft?
I emailed about a dozen bloggers, figuring I wouldn’t hear back from three quarters of them, and most of the rest would be rejections. At best, I was hoping to end up with one or maybe two guest posts.
“Oh, crap, they all said yes!”
Yup. It turns out that bloggers are a lot easier to reach than I thought they would be, and if you do your homework and make a solid, concise pitch, they’re likely to respond favorably.
Almost all of them said yes.
My first thought was: “Great!”
My second thought was: “Oh, crap, now I have to write a dozen posts, and I have to do it all in the next week or two!”
I was under the gun. This was a great opportunity, and if I blew it or came off as unreliable, I probably wouldn’t get another chance.
So I buckled down and wrote.
And wrote some more.
Then the posts all started to go live…
The Power of Omnipresence
Having all these guest posts run within a few weeks of each other was a happy accident, but I learned something very important from the experience:
The value of guest posts increases exponentially with the number of posts you write.
In other words, two guest posts is worth a lot more than just two individual posts. Three are worth a LOT more than two, and so forth.
Why? It goes back to the truism we’ve all learned about the number of impressions you need to make in order for people to notice you, coupled with people’s tendency to forget and get distracted.
Imagine an “attention meter.” Every time people see you, that meter gets bumped up a little higher. But then, whenever they aren’t seeing you, it’s slowly dropping back down.
If you space your appearances out over a large period of time, you lose a lot of the effect:
But if you do them all together, you get two benefits:
- You don’t lose momentum between posts.
- People start talking about you, contributing to even more impressions and attention.
Eventually, you pass the threshold of “getting noticed,” and it all gets easier. You need less of an introduction because people already know who you are.
But I wasn’t really everywhere…
Here’s the second thing I learned: You don’t need to be everywhere in order to appear “everywhere.”
What do I mean by that? There are billions of people on the planet, and these days, most of them are online. Now, as much as I enjoyed my micro-spotlight of fame, I knew that hardly any of them had heard of me.
But you have. And so have a lot of people you follow. Right?
This is because the blogosphere is organized into micro-networks, small groups of blogs that read and comment on each others’ stuff, interact with each other, and share large portions of their audience.
I didn’t intentionally target a micro-network, but I did go after most of the blogs that I read and followed, which, of course, were part of the same micro-network, the one that I was following.
So I wasn’t everywhere. I was in most of the places that this pocket of the blogosphere hangs out.
Hence, the appearance of being everywhere.
I stumbled onto this whole idea by accident, but you can do it with intention, and probably do it faster and better than I did…
How to Legally Stalk Your Audience: Finding Your “Everywhere”
Are you ready to be “everywhere” your audience is online? Keep reading, and I’ll tell you how to do it.
The first step is to find a micro-network. It takes some work, but it isn’t all that complicated. You can even have a virtual assistant do most of this for you:
1. Find the authority blogs in your space.
You may already know what they are, but if you don’t, you can do a Google search for “[YOUR KEYWORD] blog” and start from there.
You may not actually find the authority blogs in the results (depending on how good they are at SEO), but reach out to whoever you do find and ask them to do an interview for your blog. In the interview, ask who they look up to in the industry.
2. Read through the blog and see who they link to.
Then follow those links, and see who all of those blogs link to. Make a list with at least 10 to 15 blogs you’d like to write for. Take that list of blogs and plug them into Excel, as column headers (don’t worry, I’ll show you a screenshot in a minute).
3. List the people who comment on all the blogs.
The commenters should be the row headers in Excel, and then you can check off the blogs each commenter comments on.
4. Find the blogs that share lots of commenters.
The blogs that have a lot of the same people commenting on all of them are the ones that form the micro-network.
Here’s a screenshot of what the Excel sheet might look like, to make it easier:
If you want to appear everywhere, you need to saturate that micro-network. Now let’s talk about how to do it…
Plant Seeds by Joining the Conversation
If you’re wondering how to get traffic to your blog, you’ve got to start by reading the blogs and joining in the conversation.
Don’t force your way in. Jump in where you feel you can add some value, and on the posts that you find valuable.
Remember that no matter how much you may want to penetrate a micro-network, you won’t be able to do it if you don’t like the content. So if the content doesn’t resonate, just leave it alone, and go after the other blogs.
While you’re engaging in the conversation, pay attention to what topics other people are interested in, and what ideas of yours seem to get the best response and traction.
Don’t rush it. Have realistic expectations about how long it takes to become part of a community. Truth be told, with most of the communities that I was a part of online, I felt like an outsider looking in for a long time.
This is important: Make sure you’ve reached the point where the bloggers have all responded to several of your comments before you move on to the next step…
Guest Post Blitzkrieg
The next step is the guest post blitzkrieg, the act of being “everywhere.”
For each of the blogs you’ve been following, make a list of a few headline ideas for guest posts that you could write. Make sure they would resonate with their audience.
Now you have to make a choice: write first, or pitch first.
But before you choose, download my step-by-step checklist for writing great posts every time. It’s free, and it’s the exact outline I use in all my posts. Use it with my blessing. J
Now, choose your approach:
If you’re a procrastinator, then pitch first.
Once you’ve pitched the bloggers and they’ve asked for a draft, you’re pretty much committed—you have to write the posts, and the pressure will help you to get it done.
This is the process I followed (accidentally). It’s a lot of pressure, though, so make sure you’re ready for that.
If you’re a slow writer, then write first.
If you don’t have a problem with getting things done or need more time to write, then write the drafts of all the posts before you reach out to the bloggers. Remember, the key is to have lots of posts go up at the same time, so you need enough content for that to happen.
Of course, all the usual advice about guest posting applies: be around to interact with commenters, have great content waiting for them when they follow links back to your blog, etc. You know the drill. J
So there you have it…
My complete formula for being “everywhere” online, and maybe even becoming the Freddy Krueger of your niche, just like me.