One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is finding uncommon and underrated ways to build your blog’s traffic.
One traffic building strategy I’ve always found to be underrated is using a niche forum profile to draw visitors back to your blog through a signature link.
One thing you might not know is that I built my blog, Skelliewag, from 0 to 100 subscribers almost exclusively using a forum profile. My forum posts would bring in dozens of visitors every day. Though my blog has over 2,000 subscribers as I write this, I still get comments and emails from loyal readers I first met through the Authority Blogger Forums.
If you’re skeptical…
There is a general consensus on the wisdom of using comments to get incoming traffic to your blog. In my experience, forums have been even more effective than a comments-for-traffic strategy, yet the two strategies aren’t often compared. Posting once or twice on a busy forum often brought dozens of visitors back to my blog. You’d need a much higher volume of comments to achieve the same results.
While I don’t claim that everyone will have the same experience, I found forums to yield more traffic for less work than a commenting-for-traffic strategy.
Is forum traffic part of your blog’s growth strategy? Perhaps it should be. Here are my suggestions for growing your readership through a solid forum profile.
1. Find your target audience
What kinds of people do you think would be most interested in your blog? If there are blogs in your niche, there are probably forums in it too.
If you can find a forum dedicated to your target audience, every forum user is a potential reader.
2. Create a compelling signature
Your forum signature will appear beneath every post you write. Unlike comments, where the only way to link back to your blog is via your name (or by linking in the comment), you have a lot more control over your signature.
You can link to your blog and include a tag line. You can format it with color and bolding to get more attention. You could also link to a featured post using one of your best headlines.
Your signature is the point of conversion where forum visitors become blog visitors. Take the time to make sure it’s as effective as possible.
Photo by extranoise
3. Make an impression
The quality of your forum posts will influence incoming traffic more than their volume. You need to make an impression on other forum users — something which makes them think: “I want to know more about this person.”
You can do this simply by being a friendly and helpful user. Go out of your way to do favors for others and become well-respected in the community.
You can also get more traffic back to your blog by writing interesting posts in high-visibility locations, for example:
- Starting a popular thread.
- Writing a FAQ or Guide which is stickied by a moderator, meaning it will stay on the front page of the forum permanently.
- Becoming a moderator (people always pay attention to them!)
- Becoming a forum power-user (people pay more attention to them, too).
4. Make connections
Aside from the traffic benefits, forums allow you to make connections with a diverse array of individuals with a variety of skills.
Making connections with people through forums is rewarding in its own right, but it can also present opportunities for mutual benefit. You might meet potential guest posters, other niche bloggers, experts or other people with skills you can use.
When I was trying to guest-post as much as possible, I made a forum thread offering to do a guest-post for anyone who asked. Quite a few bloggers accepted the offer. The resulting guest-posts helped take my blog to the next level.
The overall point I’m trying to make is that the rewards of an active forum profile go beyond traffic. Genuinely enjoying your participation in the forum (rather than viewing it only as a means to an end) will result in opportunities you would not have been able to orchestrate on your own.
Points to review
- Find a forum (or more than one) popular with the people you want to reach.
- Create a signature designed to convert forum users into blog readers.
- Be a remarkable forum member.
- Reach out and make connections with other forum users. They might have valuable lessons to teach you.