On September 26th, 2005, I started a new weblog called Leftlane News. It’s a blog all about cars and the automotive industry. It targets car enthusiasts, thus the name ‘left lane’ news. (Sorry Darren, I know in Australia the fast lane is on the right side.)
Anyhow, the site just turned six months and the traffic growth has been nearly exponential. There have been a few days where I’ve even had more traffic than my competitors from Weblogs Inc or Gawker. And I’m a relatively independent blogger (not part of a blog network), so this should be inspiration to anyone looking to take on the giants.
I remember being inspired by Steve Pavlina’s growth chart. Now it’s my turn to hopefully inspire some other bloggers out there.
I’ve found the best way to bring traffic to your blog is by having some kind of unique content. This doesn’t necessarily mean “original content” in the traditional sense, but you need to have something that others don’t. Video has been great attraction for me. The reason video is good is it can’t be easily reproduced, copy/pasted, or whatever. Rather, it requires people to link to you. Photos are also great, especially if you have a large gallery that requires linking. It’s impossible to paraphrase video, audio, or photos, and that’s why those types of media are wonderful.
Another thing to consider when trying to get links to your site is this: It’s not necessarily your best stories that will attract attention. Some of my most popular stories have been things that I would not necessarily post if I didn’t think they’d garner attention from outsiders. Your best articles, your most interesting reports are NOT the stories that will bring traffic. Often, it’s a story that reaches slightly outside of your niche.
For example, Darren didn’t get Slashdotted for giving great advice to bloggers. He got Slashdotted for showing his income for a certain month. So when writing articles there should be two possible goals 1) Writing for your readers (95% of what you should do) and 2) Writing to get outside attention (5% or less of what you do). Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a really good article can fall into both categories.
Here are some examples of three possible types of stories I’ve done:
1) “BMW M7 a possibility, after all” — You’ll never see this story on the front page of Digg, Slashdot, Fark, or Memeorandum. I write for car people, and that’s who the vast majority of my stories are from. If I post 20 stories in a day, you can bet most (if not all) of them will be like this.
2) “VW strikes again: Un-Pimp My Ride” — I had a hard time deciding if I should even post this. It wasn’t really “car news,” but it was damn funny. I decided to post it, and got thousands of referrals as a result. Many would consider this a silly or trivial post, yet it brought in tons of new readers who can now enjoy the above type of story.
3) “Dodge Challenger Concept unveiled” — This is one of those stories that is both very important to my core readers, and has mass appeal to
outsiders. It was on the front page of Fark and some other major sites, if I recall correctly. This is, of course, the ideal type of story. But they’re hard to come by.