A couple of weeks back I was sent these questions as part of an interview that someone wanted to do in the writing of a book.
In the end the person doing the interview couldn’t use it – so I’ve decided that rather than waste the significant time I put into responding that I’d post the answers here.
The focus of the interview seemed to be going down the route of getting ‘fast traffic’ to a blog. You’ll see this theme coming up numerous times in the questions and probably sense a little of my frustration with the idea in my answers. I hope you find the interview useful.
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers…
My name is Darren Rowse, I live in Melbourne Australia with my wife ‘V’ and two boys (aged 6 months and 2 and a half). I’ve been blogging for a little over 6 years. It started completely as a hobby but gradually grew into a part time and then full time job (and then beyond). I’ve written a book on blogging (called ProBlogger), am the cofounder of the b5media blog network and over the years have started around 30 blogs (although only concentrate on 3 today). I’m also a keen photographer and love to read.
2. What blogs do you own, which one is your favorite, and why did you start it?
I personally own and edit three blogs today – ProBlogger (a blog about blogging), Digital Photography School (a blog to help digital camera owners get the most from their cameras) and TwiTip (my most recent blog – a blog focusing upon Twitter Tips).
I enjoy each blog for different reasons but I guess if I had to give up two and keep one the one I’d keep would be ProBlogger – simply because it is the oldest of the three (although not the biggest – DPS is gets more traffic) and one that I’ve put most time and effort into over the years.
I started ProBlogger simply because it was a blog I wanted to read myself. I was experimenting with making blogging a business but no one else was writing about that at the time – so I thought I’d start it and journal what I was learning.
3. what is the number one thing you learned about blogging that has impacted your bottom line, that thing that makes the difference between succeeding and failing in this business?
There are so many things and to isolate one is difficult (and perhaps not that helpful as great blogs are built upon many factors and rarely just one thing).
However if I had to choose one thing it’d be that successful blogs are ‘useful’ blogs in one way or another.
Blogs need to meet a need or solve a problem that potential readers have. The need might seem frivilous (the need to be entertained for example) or it could be a need for information, community, news etc.
Meet a need and you give people a reason to subscribe to your blog and to pass it on to others. Create a blog that doesn’t really prove useful in any way and you’re unlikely to build a successful blog.
4. If you have to bring instant visitors to your blog in the next 30 minutes, what steps will you follow?
If you’re expecting big traffic quickly you’re asking the wrong guy. My strategy has always been to write content that people will want to read now – but also for years to come. Some call this ‘evergreen’ content and it takes time to write. It might not bring traffic quickly but if you write something that is still relevant in a year or more you’ll continue to draw traffic to it.
I’m sorry if that doesn’t answer your question but to be honest there’s a lot of bloggers looking for quick traffic and quick money and a lot of people promising to teach them how to get it – but that’s not my experience of blogging.
Take a long term view, build something that matters and you’ll build a blog that grows in traffic over the long haul.
5. Most bloggers like to get passive traffic… What are the one time actions we can do which will keep on bringing traffic without any effort after that?
Once again I’m afraid my answer could disappoint…. I’m not really someone who has found too many actions that will bring traffic (or income) without any effort after you do them.
The only real exception to that is to write brilliant content. When you do this it has the potential to bring traffic to your blog (via search engines) for years to come. This in turn can lead to ongoing income.
Other than that I’ve not really found too much about blogging that is ‘passive’. It’s a lot of work over the long haul.
6. What’s your most effective traffic generating strategy which works every time for you and gives the best return in terms of traffic regarding to your time spent?
Outside of writing useful and high quality content (am I sounding like a broken record yet) I’d say it is engaging in social media communities. For me one of these has been Twitter (for others it’ll be sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Facebook etc). These social networking and social bookmarking sites have the potential to spread word of your site or posts on it virally through the network and beyond.
It takes a lot of time to build up these networks to the point that they are effective at driving a lot of traffic. Start building your networks now.
7. What are your top 3 traffic sources and how exactly do you attract traffic from each of those sources?
- Google – write good content, build relationships with other bloggers and website owners in the hope that they’ll link to you, learn basic search engine optimization techniques and stick at it for the long haul.
- 2. Direct Traffic – this traffic is largely from readers who subscribe to my blogs via RSS or newsletters. The key with this is to convert first time readers to your blog into loyal readers by interacting with them, displaying subscription methods prominently, calling readers to action and building anticipation in visitors to your blog that you’ll write something that they’ll not want to miss in future.
- 3. Social Media – this is about building your network over time, writing the type of content that goes well in these networks (research what types of stories go viral on these sites) and making connections with others on the networks.
8. Let’s say you lose your name, contacts and everything. You have to start from scratch as a “nobody”. What will you do then for the next 30 days so that your blog will start getting 1000 unique visitors each and every day?
I’m not sure it’ll make 1000 visitors a day within 30 days the way I’d do it but I’d probably spend time investing into
- writing great content
- offering to guest post on other blogs (linking back to my own blog)
- networking on social media sites
- and even investing a little money into advertising on sites like Facebook and StumbleUpon (where you can advertise fairly cheaply).
Other than that I’d be wanting to take a longer term view than 30 days and concentrate on building a useful blog with lots of content over time.
9. What else would you like to share, something that our readers can immediately apply to their blogs and see results fast?
Forget the word ‘fast’.
Really – forget it.
You can probably use some techniques to get fast traffic but a more profitable strategy over the long haul is to build a blog that people become loyal to and proud to belong to over the long haul. Do this and they’ll pass on word of your blog to others for you and in the long haul you’ll see bigger growth.
In my experience – the only times I’ve had ‘fast traffic’ to my blog is once a blog has been going for significant time and after I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into it. While the traffic might come in fast – the reality is that it was only as a result of a lot of hard work in building the foundations of the blog.