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How I Got 1,000 People to My Blog in its First Ten Days

This guest post is by Heather Baker of the B2B PR Blog.

When I launched my first blog, the B2B Guide to Social Media, in 2010, my strategy for building its readership relied heavily on blind faith.

I must admit, it was difficult to maintain my enthusiasm for researching and drafting interesting blog posts, day after day, while I watched my Google Analytics figures hover in the single digits, and the only consistent Facebook likes I got were from my mum.

However, I pressed on, slowly gaining traction, and eventually building a solid monthly readership of 5,000 and a close-knit community of great guest bloggers. It was a slow process, but provided an excellent opportunity to learn what it takes to build a blog’s followers.

Fast-forward almost two years: I’ve been able to apply all this learning to help my latest blog, The B2B PR Blog, gain over 1,000 readers in its first ten days. Here’s how I did it.

  1. I chose my subject carefully: there are two elements of the new blog that have helped it appeal to followers. Firstly, it covers a niche (B2B PR rather than PR in general). Secondly, its core topic has not been covered in detail elsewhere on the web.
  2. I used a web designer: my blog is targeted at professionals, and therefore needed to look professional. I was not able to create a blog of this standard myself, so I brought on a designer who could (and I was fortunate enough to be able to pay him).
  3. I wrote my first ten posts before launching: I run a communications business and can never be sure when I will be able to find the time to blog. But I wanted to demonstrate to readers that the blog would be regularly updated with quality content. So I stockpiled my first ten posts, ready to upload daily for ten days.
  4. I asked a professional to do the on-site optimisation: I knew that if I were to rely on Google to drive searchers to my blog, I would have to make my site Google-friendly. Unfortunately, I am no technical expert in this area, so I got a professional to do it for me.
  5. I did keyword research: Using the Google Keyword Tool, I was able to identify what people in the industry were searching for, and insert these terms and phrases into my posts. The result was that in the first ten days, 108 people found my blog on Google.
  6. I used my social networks: I made a point of tweeting every post and sharing it on Facebook. I also joined the relevant LinkedIn groups and posted a link to every post with a relevant question on at least three discussion boards. This alone led to 561 visits in ten days.
  7. I used my contacts: On the day the blog launched, I sent an email to my friends, business associates, and family, telling them about the new blog and asking them for honest feedback.
  8. I added the link to the blog to the website of my PR company and email signature: to give more people the opportunity to find it. This drove 32 visitors to the blog in ten days.
  9. I commented on other blogs and articles: I found people who were writing about similar subjects and commented with a link back to my blog. This got an additional 46 visitors.
  10. I used social sharing: Between digg and StumbleUpon, the blog got over 26 visitors in ten days.
  11. I started guest blogging: I created a list of blogs covering similar areas of interest to mine (such as the CIPR or the PRCA’s blog) and pitched them with ideas for posts. Because I was offering unique content that I had researched and tailored to their audiences, these were accepted, and I was able to insert links to my blog into these posts. My first three guest posts referred 28 visitors to the blog.
  12. I kept the content unique, valuable, and relevant: because I had chosen to blog about a subject I knew well, I was able to identify the gaps in content on the web, and try to fill them. For example, while many B2B PR programs require research, no one had ever before produced a price comparison table for the major research houses. I knew that would be useful to the industry (because I had needed it myself at one stage), so I put the time into producing one (you can check it out here).
  13. I was happy to be controversial: Without being downright mean, I decided to highlight examples of poor B2B PR practice in my Steaming barrel, a section dedicated to the worst of B2B PR. While I would never be deliberately nasty about someone, I feel strongly that our industry gets away with too much. I therefore decided to be the one to put my head above the parapet and highlight shoddy practice.
  14. I remembered my manners: When someone did share my posts on Twitter or LinkedIn, I made a point of thanking them. And when people got in touch with ideas for guest posts, I responded even if they weren’t relevant.
  15. I monitored my analytics: Every morning I would log on to my Google Analytics account to see what was working and what was not. Then I would tailor my blog promotion activity for that day accordingly.

While building your blog’s following is by no means difficult, it is time consuming and labour intensive. It’s also frustrating as you never know in advance which marketing activity will turn into that big-ticket-audience-generator.

For the B2B PR Blog, so far it’s been a combination of actions. But what has been your big reader magnet? I’d be delighted if readers would share their experiences of their most successful blog marketing tools in the comments below.

Heather Baker is managing director of London B2B communications consultancy, TopLine Communications and the editor of two popular marketing blogs: The B2B Guide to Social Media and The B2B PR Blog. She is also currently an Executive MBA student at the London Business School.

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Comments

  1. Great post Heather. I’m curious about the person/company that you used for the SEO and Web Design. Can you pass that info along?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Nick
      The company was called SNK Design – they are excellent, and very affordable: http://www.snkdesign.co.uk/
      Thanks for the comment

      • Nice work Heather! Your blog is growing rapidly!

        One thing I find the hardest to develop in online businesses and blogs is target traffic and conversion once you have this traffic! Have you got any tips?

        Thanks
        Shuaib

    • Tom says:

      Heather, here is what I’m doing right now. I’m giving away a free Kindle Fire to generate RSS and brand awareness (you are all free to enter if you want). But here is the rub, the winner will be announced on RSS only, thereby forcing people to subscribe.

      Tom

  2. Kumar Gauraw says:

    I liked the organization of steps. Simple to follow and powerful enough to inspire action. Thank you for the awesome post.

    Regards,
    Kumar

  3. “I used my contacts” I think that is the most piquing of them all. Too often, we neglect the people in our world, but they can grow our business. Thank you for showing us the importance of leveraging our contents. I’m going right away to use the tip

  4. Hi Heather,

    Using prosper on site optimization is a key here. Glad you noted it, super smart tips overall.

    My readership increased when I paid strict attention to SEO. Both on my blog in general and with each post. We want traffic, and targeted traffic, above all else. Generating targeted traffic ensures that people who read your blog almost always WANT to read your blog. If the content is good, and useful, these folks recommend to other like-minded folks, and your readership increases by word of mouth advertising.

    The genesis? Paying strict attention to SEO, to drive targeted people to your website.

    Thanks Heather!

    Ryan

  5. Josh says:

    Thats a great start, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on the site to see how your progress goes. I was surprised at the amount of google traffic you got so fast, hope it keeps growing!
    -josh

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Josh. Well here’s an update as of today – 7 weeks in:
      4,124 visits from over 3,000 visitors. Over 800 from search.
      Heather

  6. Ken Muise says:

    Hi Heather,

    I think that this was a great post. I think that people will bet it “more right” the second time around. Maybe not as “right” as you did, but they’ll be better off when launching.

    A question: How much of your first blog’s readership was brought over to the second? Did that help at all in gaining good traffic right off the bat? Is this included in the “connections” part? I think that itself would have helped a great deal. Great content is great content…but a “jumping off” platform when launching is better initially, IMO.

    Thanks
    Ken

    • Heather says:

      Ken, you’ve actually reminded me that I still need to leverage the readership of the B2B Social Media Guide to drive traffic to the B2B PR Blog. There seems to be little crossover – based purely on the fact that the B2B Social Media Guide has a global readership, while 90% of readers of the B2B PR Blog are UK-based!
      Thanks for the reminder!

  7. This is excellent post.

    The outreach steps and other actions taken to ensure visitors come to the site in the early stages are very important. Because if we don’t get anyone coming to the newly launched blog, automatically the interest to blog start waning and gets stalled.

    The first nine steps you have listed are essentially should be part of any aspiring blogger’s or even seasoned blogger’s (unless they are Darren Rowse or Brian Clark) launch strategy.

    Informing the contacts is a very important and assured way of getting early traction to the new blog. But most of us miss it either due to hesitation of letting the known ones about the new blog or due to ignorance.

    I am in the process of setting up my new blog and I am sure I will make use of all the steps you have outlined.

  8. Having a designer or a tech guy in the team in somewhat essential these days (if you are able to pay them, of course). Bloggers could waste days at the blink of an eye in trying to fix a broken widget or in creating a custom landing page design!

    Thanks for the wonderful tips (and your story) Heather!

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Jane.
      Sadly, good design and a highly-functioning back end to the site are indeed critical. If you can’t handle this yourself, then investing in someone who can will be well worth it!.
      All the social sharing and great content you produce can be counteracted by a site that Google doesn’t like to read.
      Heather

  9. Nice powerful effective steps to use. While I can’t stockpile my posts beforehand since my blog is already out their, I decided to take note of some of your methods and plan on using them for my site, so thank you for the information!

  10. Graham Lutz says:

    The things that I found to be the biggest help are (in no order of importance because they work in concert with each other) :

    1. being insanely useful
    2. being generous with links and letting those you link to know about the shoutout
    3. being active in social media (mostly twitter and FB)

  11. GjiVan says:

    Nice tips dude. Actually, the more effort we put on our blog and when we change our mindset of blog as our business model, we will definitely succeed. You have put your effort so you got that result and I can say, as your niche is targeted and searched soundly by people, you were able to attract like minded relevant users.

  12. James says:

    All good basic tips in this post and they’re all so easy not to implement in the rush to launching a new site!

  13. Hi Heather!

    I am in that exact initial stages now of building trust, credibility and a healthy following. I am outting in a lot of time into guest posting myself at the moment and I trust this will help me a great deal. I have written 4 artciles on my site so far (a month since launch date) and I think I’ll add one every two weeks or so. I definitely don’t plan on adding new content each and every day especially since my average post length is about 1500 words and cranking out those “killer” type of posts every single day just ain’t going to happen.

    Thanks for sharing your story, would love to share any future results with you in this regard :)

  14. Deejay says:

    This post was bang on I think. I am just starting out and have predominantly till now used twitter. Another strategy I am going to start is leaving comments on similar content blogs, but, make sure to leave something that adds value to the blog by the comment. Leave a “nice post” or “good blog” while leaving a link to your own blog is bad practice , spamming, and the comment will probably never be seen.

    Thanks for these helpful hints and sharing your experience of what worked for you.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Deejay.
      Regarding leaving comments, I have found that sometimes, this only leads to one or two clicks to your blog. However, those clicks are usually from the blog owner (as they like to see who is commenting on their blog), so that can be very valuable in themselves – getting on other bloggers’ radars is critical!
      Heather

  15. Greg says:

    Hello Heather,

    Nice post.

    Why doesn’t your site have a link in the top to your RSS feed?

    I wanted to add it to my feeds but had to look at your site’s source code to find it.

    Here it is: http://b2bprblog.com/blog/rss/all.rss

  16. Miranda says:

    I agree with Graham Lutz above- being insanely useful, generous with links and active socially are also my three ingredients to success as a blogger.

  17. So, 10 days after the first 2 years of building up a network, right? A great list of marketing techniques all the same. I consult cleaning business start ups and routinely get 300 – 400 opens on every post or newsletter. I send out to 5,000 active subscribers. I have been consulting cleaning businesses online for 8 years, so your numbers seem reasonable to me.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for the comment – I guess you could say 10 days after 31 years of building a network as we all have networks that we’ve built throughout our lives and they are well worth tapping into. If you’re blogging about something you’re good at, you should also be able to develop your network quite quickly!

  18. Now that’s great blogging! Great info to share.

  19. Glynne says:

    Hi Heather,
    Great information. I’d like to know how one gets people to like you on Facebook? I have both Twitter and Facebook links on my website and have loads of followers on Twitter but they’re really slow on Facebook. Any suggestions from anyone?

    • Heather says:

      A Facebook competition – give a way a voucher – randomly select someone who likes your site!

    • Lisa says:

      I’ve had great success with Facebook ads. I started building my FB company page a month ago using several different ads (to promote my company but also to attract Likes) and now have over 650 likes. You can set up the ads to run on a pay per click basis with a daily maximum amount you pay. The voucher idea is a great way of building likes too.

  20. Melissa says:

    Heather,

    I do not use social media for business, but only for personal use. I may start one for business purpose. I am using google analytic to keep track of traffic, but then again, many servers comings with traffic management tool by default. I love this website and love reading guest post. Thank you for this post because it really offer me some new insights.

  21. Ali Ashra says:

    Well, you’re done very great! Starting days are always worse for the blogs but you generated good traffic. Great info! Thanks!

  22. Thanks for the post. I’ll try to do such things to drive traffic in my blog.

  23. Greg Mayor says:

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  24. can’t tell you sir how much valuable your blog ,cause no word for used about your blogs.But i glad to read your articles .

    thanks

  25. Lisa says:

    Thanks for your post Heather! It will prove helpful as I am trying to build my blog’s readership. Yes, I agree– you must post frequently and consistently. Search engines will index blogs that are updated more frequently. If you can’t afford to hire a web designer or someone to create your blog, I recommend using WordPress as your platform. And if possible install it so it’s self-hosted versus cloud.

    I can’t agree enough with Heather’s #6 and #10. You can’t get the “social signals” or traffic to your blog unless you “push out” your content through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and the social sharing sites.

    Yes, #1 is so important. You really have to think outside the box sometimes in order to attract more than just your typical reader. For example, one of my recent blog posts, “Top 10 Glaring Movie Courtroom Mistakes” (http://www.iveyengineering.com/blog/movie-courtroom-mistakes/) adds some humor and a fun site to what would seem like boring topics– expert witness and engineering.

  26. Lu says:

    Wow, I didn’t expect such a detailed and useful article, I have to say it was a great surprise. Thank you!

  27. john says:

    Seems like your persistence paid off you are doing great now, my blog is new and I fill it with posts each day
    its my hobby and passion.