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5 First Year Posts that Led to Over 6 Million Views

What sort of content should you publish on your blog to help you grow traffic in your first year?

There is no right or wrong answer to that question as each blog will be different depending upon the topic, your writing style and the purpose of your blog. However, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the earliest posts that I wrote on Digital Photography School and talk a little about how each contributed to the growth of the site.

What follows is a selection of posts that I published in the first year of Digital Photography School (back in 2007) and some reflections on how I think they helped grow readership on the site.

5 Posts on dPS that Helped Me Grow Traffic

Note: what you’re seeing here is how the posts look today. We’ve been through 3 redesigns in that time.

1. 15 Stunning Images Using Blur to Portray Movement

Early posts on dps

This post was the most viewed post on dPS in the first year (in that 12 month period it had 183,269 visitors). It was published about 8 months after the site launched and was one of the first times I experimented with what I later started to call ‘image collections’.

This style of post was a move away from the normal ‘tutorial’ type of posts that I did. While the majority of the posts on dPS were ‘information’ heavy this post was almost completely images (a series of 15 of them) and it highlighted the importance for me of ‘inspiration’.

One thing I’m glad I did in this post was to link it back to a previously written ‘tutorial’ that I’d written on the same topic (which I did in the first paragraph). This led to some decent traffic to that ‘information’ heavy post.

This post was something of a slow burner in terms of traffic. It wasn’t until 4 weeks after I published it that it suddenly saw a rush of traffic from StumbleUpon and Reddit (peaking at 27,000 visitors in a day).

Two years after I published this post I gave it an update and reposted it to the front page of the site. This resulted in another great spike in traffic to the post as at that time it was featured on the front page of Digg (bringing in 24,000+ visitors in a day).

In 2010, the post again had a spike of 15,000+ visitors in a day after being linked to from another large site.

This post has continued to get traffic every day. It’s not spectacular daily traffic (it has averaged 100 or so visitors per day over the last month) but when you think about the long tail life of this post it adds up. The post has been viewed 786,547 times since being published.

2. 4 Easy Photoshop Techniques to Make Your Pictures Pop!

Early posts on dps 2

This very early post (published 20 days after the launch of the site) was the one that opened my eyes to the potential of the site on a couple of levels.

Firstly, it was the first time the site saw a post go viral from any kind of social media after it was featured on the front page of Digg (which brought in 45,000+ visitors in a day and crashed our servers).

Secondly, the post was the first time I’d ever published a guest post. In the first year I did only publish a handful of guest posts and wrote 99% of them myself but this did change my opinion of the featuring other people’s voices on my blog.

Thirdly, this was the first ever post that we’d done on the topic of ‘post production’. Up until this point I’d always just published posts that were how to ‘take’ photos rather than how to manipulate and process them in photoshop. Later I went on to add a post production section to the site.

What is interesting to me about this post is that while it is now dated (as there are new versions of Photoshop out and new tools available to photographers) it still continues to get decent traffic. The post still regularly gets 200 visitors a day and has had over 1.7 million page views now despite me never really promoting it since the early days of the site (it’s almost all Google traffic).

3. 11 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography

Early posts on dps 3

This post is written in a style that has always been popular on dPS – the ‘list post’.

As the title suggests there are 11 tips in the post listed. Each point is 2-3 paragraphs long and then most link deeper into the site to other articles that go deeper on those topics. As a result a reader can get a good introduction to the topic but are encouraged to read more of the archives.

Scattered through the post are also great illustrative images for the points mentioned.

In later years I’ve included larger images and more of them – but this was an early version of this style of post.

This post did particularly well on StumbleUpon in the first year after it was published and saw around 148,000 visitors come to the site in that 12 months (half of which came from StumbleUpon).

Interestingly I noticed that as a result of StumbleUpon traffic (and a day that it did well on Reddit) we then saw a number of other larger blogs link to up to the post.

Lastly – for years I have used this post as a piece of ‘cornerstone’ content on the blog and have often linked to it when I mention Landscape Photography in other posts. By linking back to it so many times I was always driving traffic to this post in those early years.

Since it was published the post has been viewed over 1.3 million times – approaching 10 times more traffic than it got in its first year after publication!

This to me highlights the importance of extending the life of posts in your archives by pushing traffic back to them over time.

4. How to Photograph Fireworks

Early posts on dps 4

There are no prizes for guessing what time of year this post went live – that’s right – in the lead up to 4 July 2007 (about 6 months after the site launched). I actually published the post on 26 June to allow it to have time to be indexed by Google.

My theory was that there would be a lot of people searching for tips on how to photograph fireworks at that time, and I was right.

This post saw only a bit of traffic in its first week but on 4th July it saw 32,000+ visitors – almost all of which came in from Google.

I’ve updated this post and republished it on the front page of the site every July since 2007. It is the post that just keeps on giving. Here’s a screen shot of traffic to the site – with spikes every 4th July and New Years Eve.

Fireworks seasonal traffic

To this date the post has been viewed just under 1.5 million times.

The key lesson to me from this post was to consider when you can write seasonal content. We’ve done this a variety of times with Christmas Photography Tips and Halloween Photography Tips posts doing pretty well too.

5. ISO Settings in Digital Photography

Early posts on dps 5

All of the posts linked to above have had spectacular days of traffic but this post was quite unmemorable in many ways.

It was on a very beginner topic. I even remember wondering whether I should publish information this basic in those early days. It was a relatively short post on a niche topic that was a part of a series where I looked at the topic of Exposure and covered ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.

Traffic to the post in the first year never rose above 800 visitors in a day and averaged only 150 per day.

But here’s the thing… this post is one of the most viewed posts I’ve ever written and has been viewed just under 2.4 million times since I published it.

You might be wondering when it featured on the front page of Digg or was linked to by a major blog… but the reality is that it never had a day of traffic over 5000 visitors (and that was just once). Here’s the traffic graph since the early days:

ISO

Where did the traffic come from? The vast majority of it was from search engines. Facebook is the next highest referrer of traffic and it only sent 17,927 views.

This is another example of a ‘cornerstone’ piece of content that must have linked to hundreds of times from other articles on the site when I mention the term ISO. I did this the same with the Shutter Speed and Aperture posts in this series (incidentally this 4 post series has had close to 6 million page views – I’m glad I wrote it).

The key lesson here is that even the most simple concepts are worth writing about. You might think a concept is too basic but there’s no doubt that others will want that information (another example of this was my ‘How to Hold a Camera‘ post that I almost didn’t publish but which has been viewed almost 600,000 times).

The other key lesson is that growing traffic to your blog is not always about trying to write shareable content that might go viral. This post is just a simple article that attempts to serve my readers. It wasn’t written with growing traffic in mind – rather it was written to serve my current readers.

I do believe that it is wise to write some of your content with ‘finding new readers’ in mind – but the majority of your posts should focus upon serving the readers you already have.

What Posts Did You Write in Your First Year that Helped You Grow Your Blog?

I have really enjoyed creating this post and have actually gotten some great idea for future posts on dPS from doing this analysis of old posts on the site.

I’d encourage you to dig into your own stats and see what you notice about your old posts that have gone well – I’d also love to hear about them in comments below!

Offline Marketing: Great Ways to Promote Your Blog Without the Internet

This is a guest contribution from Rohit M. @TeamVlogNation

Every blogger wants to promote their blog. Who doesn’t want more traffic?

When it comes to promotion, many bloggers mostly use the online world as their main marketing vehicle. The online world is great though, social media helps your blog and your daily posts go viral. You can tweet about your next blog post or send an email to your subscribers. Online marketing is critical for promotion.

But what about that, “offline world” that we all live in? Just because you turned off your laptop does not mean you can’t promote your blog anymore.

When it comes to marketing, offline promotion can be just as good as promoting your blog on the internet.

© Dmitry – Fotolia.com

Did someone say, “mini guide?” Yes!

This blog post will be kind of like a mini guide full of different ways you can promote your blog offline.

The tips and strategies explained below are not in any specific order. This is because; every method could work differently for each blogger. The same techniques do not work for everyone. It all comes down to what you feel most comfortable with, and what brings you the best ROI (return on investment).

Let’s get to the good stuff.

Branded Merchandise

What if you could do some blog marketing without even trying? Imagine all you had to do was just walk around and enjoy your day. By having branded merchandise about your blog, that is possible.

Let’s take a look at a few examples below:

T-Shirt Marketing

Your blog url on a t-shirt is all you need to realize the effectiveness that t-shirt marketing can have. You can get customized t-shirts just about anywhere.

Try checking out your local custom clothing shop, or online at places like Zazzle. By wearing a branded t-shirt with your blog url you can promote your blog by just walking around and doing everyday tasks.

Hand these branded t-shirts out to your friends and family. You can even give them away for free to people! This will increase the amount of people walking around with your branded shirt, which in turn leads to a bigger audience reach.

Extra Tip: It doesn’t always have to be a t-shirt. You can use other items such as branded hoodies, umbrellas, jackets, or even baseball caps!

Branding Your Everyday Accessories

© VRD – Fotolia.com

Having accessories that are branded with your blog address can also bring benefits. For example, here are a few ideas on the different types of accessories that you could brand:

  • Coffee Mug
  • Phone Case
  • Pens
  • Binder
  • Water Bottles
  • Bags
  • and much more!

The point here is that you can turn your everyday accessories into effective marketing tools.

I’m always intrigued to check out a website or blog after noticing it through a branded item and I’m sure there are many others who are the same way. One great place online where you can get customised accessories is Cafepress. They have tons of different items that you can brand with your blog.

Extra Tip: Always try including your blog url. If you only have your tagline or blog name, it can sometimes be less effective and memorable compared to showing your url. By including a blog address you’re providing potential visitors with a direct destination to your blog instead of having to search it up.

Sticker Marketing

Who doesn’t love stickers? Branded stickers can be a great way to promote your blog.

You don’t want to, “sticker spam” (placing stickers on everything you find). This can be really annoying at times. But stickers do send the message! Imagine just placing a large sticker on your rear bumper or rear window. Everywhere you would stop with your car could end up attracting a new visitor simply by just noticing your sticker. Include a catchy tagline along with your blog address that will make people want to visit your blog.

You can also place your branded stickers on busy places like a bus stop, or your college message board. Every time someone walks by, they could end up turning into your new blog reader! You can also provide stickers to an elementary school for kids interested in taking them home (have a cool design that kids will love). This way you’re also getting your promotion across to all the family members!

Important Note: Make sure you have the permission to place your branded stickers in the areas you desire, because you do not want them getting removed!

Free Giveaways

© Tim – Fotolia.com

Did someone say free stuff?

This method works well if you giveaway items that people actually have a daily use for. You want to give away items that can be used daily and have your blog branding on them.

Two ideas that I have come across and think could work well are car air fresheners and mouse pads (two totally random items) but can be very effective.

Car Air Fresheners

Everyone loves a great scent in their vehicles. The air freshener I’m talking about is the one you place on the rear view mirror of a car. If you gave away an air freshener, the use for it would be daily. Every time someone hops into the car as a driver or passenger, they could potentially come across your branded air freshener.

This is not something anyone would throw away after coming from a trade show. The promotion potential for a branded air freshener carries a lengthy life span.

Mouse Pads

Using a branded mouse pad as a giveaway item is actually something that carries lots of promotional potential. A mouse pad with your blog address would be an awesome idea because the only time anyone would be using a mouse pad is when their on the internet. They could end up visiting your blog very quickly!

Quick Note: This is also something you could give away to high schools or universities to use. Every time a student is in the library or computer lab they could get the message off the mouse pad and end up visiting your blog!

Extra Tip: Whenever you’re doing branded giveaways for promotion, always try giving away items that could be used daily and don’t have a, “short use” span. Giving away branded accessories that can be used daily ensures that your blog is also being promoted daily!

Networking And Socialisation Events

Networking with others in the same niche or industry is a great means of communication. Word of mouth is great when it comes to marketing. By attending networking events you can have one on one conversations with others and this is a very effective way to promote your blog. Networking with people is the best way to establish a connection between a reader and a blogger.

© scusi – Fotolia.com

Starting Your Own Meet up

Networking events in your niche or industry might not happen that often. So if there are no social events for you to attend and meet others, you can just start your own.

You can start a meet up group with your friends and readers who are located in the same city. You could discuss the latest news, gossip, and trends in your niche. This is also a great way to promote your blog when you have new faces showing up and taking part in your meetups!

This method actually works great to promote the blogs of all those attending and could end up establishing great relationships leading to further collaborations.

Extra Tip: When attending networking events, you can register as an event sponsor. By becoming a sponsor you can attract not only the attention of those who attend but also the media covering the event. If you do become a sponsor, this would be a great time to do giveaways similar to the ones we discussed above.

Think Outside The Box

© iTake Images – Fotolia.com

Creativity is important when it comes to promotion. Marketing companies are always looking for the most innovative ideas to use for promotion. You as a blogger have to think the same way in order to maximise your promotion potential.

Think outside the box. Try coming up with different and creative ideas that you could use to promote your blog. Here are a few promotional ideas I have come across and think are pretty cool!

Library – Bookmark Promotion

This idea is pretty sweet. The library bookmark promotion technique!

The two things you need for this to work are a branded bookmark and a library. You need to create a branded bookmark with your blog info and your web address. Then head over to a public library. This is where you can try and negotiate a deal that has the library include your bookmark with every book checked out for rent. Or just sneak them into random books!

Your library may provide book rentals for hundreds or even thousands of books per day. Just think about the promotion potential when every rental could end up turning the book reader into your blog reader!

Default Homepage Method

The way this promotional strategy works is by turning the default homepage of a web browser into your blog homepage or recent posts page.

You want to scale up the amount of default homepages you change to your blog homepage so try finding a place where the computers are being used daily for internet purposes.

Some places you can try visiting to arrange a deal for this method (by deal I mean your payment, negotiation or proposal) are high schools, universities, libraries, or internet cafes. The internet browsers mentioned in the locations above are used a lot on a daily basis. Every time someone opens up the internet browser, your blog will be the first thing to load. If interested, the person using the computer will read on.

Just think about how many times each computer is occupied on a daily basis by different people. This method gives you a high reach in promotion!

Time To Get Marketing

I hope you find something that works well for you in terms of promotion and helps take your blog to the next level!

Just remember, when it comes to promoting your blog, be creative and innovative. Just because no one else is doing it, doesn’t mean it won’t work. There’s a first for everything!

I would love to get your feedback and a discussion going on so leave a reply on what works best for you when promoting your blog without the internet, and any other creative ideas you think could help bloggers when it comes to offline promotion?

Rohit is the leader of the editorial staff at VlogNation.com - An Online Guide for Video Bloggers. In addition to working on VlogNation, he also enjoys sports, travel, and keeping up with the latest tech trends!

Case study: How I launched my first e-course and made over 5 grand – from a tiny list

This is a guest contribution from Marya Jan, blogging coach and trainer for small business owners.

Do you want to monetize your blog or start an online business?

Have you been blogging for a while and all you want to do is sell products or services and follow your passions?

If that’s the case, then what is stopping you?

If you are like most people, the one thing that is holding you back is the size of your list.

You might have heard this many times before, ‘money is in the list’. So you feel without having a decent sized list, you can’t launch your business, or monetize your blog.

You feel like you need thousands of people on your list before you can make an offer.

You have heard success stories from popular bloggers with 20K, 50K or even 100K plus lists and you think you too need to blog until you reach that stage.

Today, I am here to present a different perspective: The size of your list is important; there is no doubt about it. 5K list is surely better than a 200 people list.

However, there is one more thing that is even more important – list responsiveness.

How warm is your list?

What are your open rates like? How many people click through to view the content? How many people actually made it to the end and share it?

For example, 30% open rates of a 3K list mean 900 people are opening and reading your emails at any given time. That is way better than 3% open rate for a 15K list – 450. Now, I am not saying that the bigger the size of your list, the more useless it comes.

What I am saying is this: Would you be happy with 400 hot leads? 400 people who open your emails and are real prospects? If so, you could get a list of 1,000 subscribers and work really hard on nurturing your list so that your open rates are phenomenal – in the vicinity of 40%, rather than worry about growing your list and allowing it to go cold.

When you start thinking about having a warm list where people really like and trust you, and get huge value from you, then you don’t need to wait till you have thousands of people on your list before you launch your business. 

Don’t believe me? Then let me tell you my story.

Launch of an e-course

How to use your blog to build a highly responsive, super targeted list makes the premise of my brand new e-course that I recently launched – to my list only, aptly titled Get 500 Subscribers.

The target market for this course is new businesses who are relying on their blogs as a primary marketing tool for building their lists or want to start blogging. These people understandably don’t have huge marketing budgets so blogging makes the perfect lead generation tool for them.

This also targets those people who blog but they haven’t monetized because they don’t have the information.

But before that, some context as you might be wondering who am I to give you advice on this? I am a blogging coach. Formally, I hold a MBA-marketing, Bachelor at Law and Education degrees, and I started my own business last year. I offer coaching and review services and I also teach Blogging for Business courses in local adult education provides (that’s TAFE for people who are in Australia).

I, too, felt that I could not launch my services before I had a minimum of 2K subscribers. In fact, I waited for longer than that.

I did an internal launch to my list of 3K subscribers in July (by internal launch I mean that the course was released to my list ONLY).

There are a few reasons for that:

As a pilot version, I wanted to allow a specific number of people in to test out the material and organisation of info presented. I wanted to see what they thought of it and if they found it to be practical enough.

I figured if these people are blog subscribers, they are more likely to forgive the mistakes (like typos which I am notorious for) and other issues that I might have missed. I also wanted to get feedback on how to make it better.

Finally, I wanted to see how they went after going through the course. I wanted to see their results and write mini case-studies based on all the information made avaiable to me, for the main launch. This would also make great testimonials and tell others that the course really works.

Research phase

So, before I even started creating this course, I polled my list and asked them if this is something they might be interested in.

I said to them that there are number of blogging related courses on the market already and they boast of adding thousands of subscribers to your list. I had asked them what their numbers currently look like and what they thought is doable.

I was really surprised by the sheer number of responses I received. But the most surprising was the fact that my audience was clearly split between people who were thinking of monetizing or new business and people who did not even have blogs yet. This was certainly eye opening for me.

But people generally agreed that for anyone having less than 100 people on their list, 500 is a great number to shoot for. So that is what I decided to run with.

I also decided to do an e-course instead of an ebook because we all know how many times we buy an ebook, scan through it and never pick it up again. I also wanted it to be step by step process, logically organised and also not overwhelm them as there are so many moving parts to this process.

Needless to say, I did a thorough home work on the competitors to check out their products, price points and of course their sales copy.

Based on the demand, the information included (6 modules with multiple lessons) and accompanying worksheets, checklists, resources and templates, I decided that the price tag of about $300 seemed fair. For my list though, I gave them a hefty 50% discount as I wanted initial intake of members to feel like founding members of the course and help me tweak it along the way.

This gave the confidence to keep going every time I faced a setback.

Investment

For the set up, I purchased Premise from Copyblogger media ($165) and bought one hour of consulting to set it up. This had me hyperventilating at some points because I hadn’t thought I’d have such a hard time getting my head around it. ($100)

I bought ebooks on how to launch from Ittybiz ($200) and referred to all my resources and previously bought training on writing sales pages and email marketing.

I did not spend anything on packaging as I did not need cover design or any fancy elements. This meant I kept the costs low.

Sales sequence 

For my pre-launch content, I had been publishing related blog posts such as   Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger prior to announcing the course.

I did the initial survey and kept my audience in the loop from the beginning. They knew that I was working on this product and expected it. I announced it via email a week before enrolment was to open.

I kept my launch period fairly short – 4 days.

I send 5 emails altogether. Here is a brief sequence in case you are wondering.

Email 1: Officially open for enrolment + bonus (Day 1)

Email 2: Reader questions answered (Day 3)

Email 3: Last day for enrolment (Last day)

Email 4: Few hours remain (Last day)

Launch mistakes + lessons 

Based on the survey I did earlier, it was clear that this course would appeal to 50% of my audience. 50% (of those who answered) don’t have even have a blog yet. This course is definitely NOT for them. (This also told me that I can also release a product aimed at beginner bloggers at some stage.)

I should have started an interest list.

I wasn’t confident enough to do that but would have been better because would have gotten the realistic numbers. I would have avoided some emotional stress. There were some unsubscribes which are to expected but I would have lost less people had I emailed to the people on my interest list only.

I could have built more context around the premise of my course (building a list of super targeted 500 subscribers) by doing more pre-lunch content pieces. I feel I rushed through this phase. I did a post or two but how many people read those?

I didn’t realise that it is a holiday in USA + July 4 long weekend when I was closing enrolment. I still can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that.

So many people launched in June-July. I am thinking early in 2014 for my main launch might be better next time

There was some initial confusion regarding the dates, I didn’t proofread launch emails properly and I am thinking this must have affected sales.

And this is what I did really well.

Because of the survey, I was able to choose a topic and create a product that my audience really wanted. I also ran this idea by trusted friends.

My friends (Henri Juntilla, Henneke D and Di Mace in particular) helped name the product. Initially, I was thinking of promoting it as School of Business Blogging but received concern that it might put people off as they might think it is too corporate or serious. Dodged that bullet – phew!

On my sales page, I got over 15% conversion rate which is HUGE. This is confirms that there is a demand for this course.

My goal was to make 5K and I exceeded that.

I need to bring this in front of the right (and bigger) audience next time.

I was told by my readers that my emails very convincing, despite the odd typo!

Unexpected findings

90% of people who joined became my blog subscribers this year (many in May 3013). This means that you don’t have to get people on your list for the longest time to sell to them. Sometimes people like what they see and buy soon enough

People who opened course notification emails (announcement, early access + official open) made up for 35% of my list, on average. Over 500 people never opened a single email of time. After the launch, I actually deleted and moved to an old people list. I wrote about this process on this post – Why I Deleted 400 Subscribers from My List.

I now realise that was probably attracting the wrong audience – meaning people who were just interested in blogging generally but not to use it for marketing and list building purposes. For this reason, I converted the ebook into a 10-part free e-course titled Blogging for Business. This has been converting really well and my open rates are up so I assume this was the right decision.

I could also use a re-brand. This is something I am working on.

Ration of women : men = 30:6. Well this wasn’t so unexpected. I seem to attract women who are in their late 30s and over as they know the reality of building a business and can see through the hype.

All in all, there were no major screw ups.

I learned a ton in the process, met expectations (yay!) and feel way more confident that ever in launching this course to public.

My next steps are to create more products, market more, grow list, re-brand and of course do the main launch of my e-course in 2014.

So back to you. Have I given you something to think about? Has my story changed your mind a bit?

When are you going to lunch your first product? Would you wait till you have thousands of people on your list or will a few hundred do?

Will you work on building the right list or focus on numbers?

What will it take for you to finally monetize?

Marya Jan is a blogging coach and trainer for small business owners. She is the creator of Get 500 Subscribers e-course and teaches Business Blogging short courses in real life. Don’t forget to grab her free 10-part Blogging for Business email course. Like her on Facebook, she is very friendly!

7 Simple Ways To Attract More People to Your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Ryan Currie at Spokeo.

Blogging is an art and it takes practice to really get right.

There are few things more frustrating than pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into a masterfully crafted blog post only to see the analytics at a standstill days after posting.

Here are a few tips for bringing more people to your blog, consistently.

1. Find out what people want to read

Social media is a blogger’s best friend. Not only can you use social to share your latest blog post, you can use it to source upcoming blog material too. Check out Twitter’s trending topics and take notes on common themes among your Facebook friends’ status updates.

Don’t pander to an audience, but keep in mind what people want to talk about.

2. Self-promote like you’d network for a job

Networking grid

Image thanks to digitalart on Freedigitaslphotos.net

There’s no shame in promoting your blog! Not only should you have social widgets at the bottom of each blog post, you should be posting your work on every site you’re active on.

Keep a link to your blog in your email signature and feel free to tell people about it in everyday conversation when appropriate.

3. Speak to a more specific audience

It sounds counterintuitive, but getting more specific with your blog posts is a surefire way to build a niche audience. For example, there are millions of food blogs out there, but exactly how many specialising in gluten-free baking?

Find a niche you can really invest in and you’ll naturally build a loyal audience that shares your content for you.

4. Score a guest post

Guest posts are a great way to bring new eyes to your site. Reach out to bloggers who make sense for your area of expertise and write a really awesome post for their site.

One link to your blog in the boilerplate of a terrific post can catapult your numbers.

5. Reform your titling strategy

Like it or not, good titles are important. Consider what you’d want to read online and how people typically interact with web content. Make your title concise, interesting, and sharable and you’ll be surprised how many clicks you can get. Numbers work well as do current topics in the news and never underestimate the power of a superlative like “best,” “most,” or “biggest.”

6. Post more regularly

Very, very regularly! Whether it’s twice a week or twice a month, people have to know when to expect new content on your blog. The more consistent you are with your posts the more of a loyal audience you can attract and the more plugged in you’ll seem.

Once people learn your blog is a resource for a certain topic that’s updated regularly they’ll keep coming back if they like what they read.

7. Write about things you truly feel passionate about

It really is that simple. Readers can tell when you’re phoning it in and when they think you’re baiting them with topical posts that you’re using to hit numbers. The more authentic you are when blogging the better response you’re going to get. Be thoughtful, use research, and know what’s going on in the blogosphere but above all else write about what you know.

Page views aren’t the end-all-be-all of blogging, but they’re important, particularly if you ever hope to monetize your blog. Keeping these seven tips in mind can get you a long way towards your goal of gaining a steady stream of visitors, one at a time.

Ryan Currie is a Product Manager at Spokeo, a leader in people search and reverse phone lookup services.  In addition to working on Spokeo, he also enjoys history, pop culture, and following the latest new in the movie industry.

6 Reasons to Link Away from your Blog

This is a guest contribution from Adam Grunwerg.

The world of SEO and blogging is kind of limited in that most people will tell you the same things: “build high quality content and do personal outreach in order to receive natural authority backlinks”.

For example, this awesome resource from PointBlankSEO.com is genuinely one of the best articles and tools I’ve ever read for link building strategies in 2013.  It offers hundreds of tips for building white hat links such as PR, competitions, tools, interviews and tests.

However, I still feel this misses the point.

It focuses entirely on link building tactics, rather than how you can increase the perceived value of your content to users – namely by linking away from your blog.

Why? Well here are 6 great reasons to link out.

1. Useful Resource for Readers

The best bloggers will routinely link out to content on a regular basis because it provides readers with more information about a particular subject. For instance, if someone is looking for charts or tools not hosted on your site then it makes sense to link out for your reader’s benefit.

You can even include a cloaked affiliate link if you’re interested in getting credit for the referral (although transparency about affiliate links is always recommended)

2. Creating a “Top List” of the Best Resources or Products

Creating lists such as “13 Tools and Services that I use Everyday” or the “Top 5 Affiliate Blogs” are extremely popular among readers. By linking out to the best resources, you can improve your relationships with other bloggers and websites. It’s a bit like re-tweeting some else’s status – it’s a way of supporting great content and becoming known to the author.

3. Give Credit to External Research and Statistics

Backing up your articles with research and statistics from external resources helps add credibility and value to your content. If you use someone else’s statistic or surveys in a piece then you should also ensure you quote or link to the original source.

4. Interviews and Quotes with Experts in the Industry

Many bloggers and newspapers will routinely look to interview industry experts in order to get better insight and quotes for their story. If you want to add value to your website this way then you need to build some solid contacts, engage in B2B relationships and use PR enquiry services such as HARO and Response Source (both of these services are free to use).

5. Publish Charts, Infographics and Aggregate Data on your Site

Using visual chart and infographics can make it much easier to get a point across to your readers. If you publish someone else’s infographic, you should give credit to the original source as they’ve taken the time and cost to research, produce and distribute it.

6. Improving your SEO, Usability and Panda Score

The best websites will link out to high quality sources for their articles and it’s great for SEO and website rankings. While incoming links are more important (from a ranking point of view) outbound links, to valuable content, is good for your readers and that’s what gets rewarded long term. Too many blogs are scared of linking out in order to preserve their own Page Rank but they’re actually missing out on the other rewards.

Remember…

Linking away from your blog can increase the value of your own content; help build real relationships with other bloggers; and in many cases it’s just the right thing to do (a bit like when you use someone else’s images).

If you’re scared of losing traffic to other websites through external links then you can always use the target=”_blank” HTML tag in order to force open the link in a new window, or you can use cloaked affiliate links to be compensated for the referral.

whiteboard

Image by Jeff Kubina, licensed under Creative Commons

Now it’s over to you. How much link love do you send away from your blog?

Adam Grunwerg is an Internet marketing specialist who runs his own consultancy at http://www.searchable.co.uk.  He writes extensively about marketing, PR, blogging and affiliate marketing.

Forget about Marketing: Concentrate on Blogging

This is a guest contribution by Nicholas Whitmore.

The title: What on earth does it mean?

Well, recently it seems like a lot of bloggers fancy themselves as marketers. You can’t read a post on a blog without seeing a load of other bloggers commenting at the bottom, with a link back to their own site. Of course other bloggers use black hat SEO tricks and other shady tactics in order to drive traffic to their blog. Each to their own you might say, but at the end of the day life can be much, much easier.

If you publish blog content that’s truly awesome, everyone else will market your blog for you.

If you seem to spend half your life trying to promote your blog with your efforts never coming to fruition, now’s the time to stop. There’s a reason why things aren’t working out – and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s the actual content in your blog posts.

Sorry to have to break it to you, but your blog posts suck.

A man shocked at your lack of proofreading!

It’s time to go back to basics because if you’re guilty of trying to build links and force traffic to your blog, you’re trying too hard.

The art of blogging involves thinking up great topics and blog titles, performing research where required, then authoring great work.

Building links and driving traffic to your website does not fall under the blogging remit – that’s marketing, something different altogether.

Good things come to those who wait

Starting a successful blog is not something that you can do overnight. In fact, it can take months or even years before you start to see traction and those crazy traffic figures you’ve dreamt of. If you’ve got a short attention span or you’re incredibly impatient, the chances are that you won’t make it as a blogger.

Whilst some bloggers out there make a living from their sites, don’t go quitting your day job and blowing your life savings just yet – getting a blog to the point where it can be successfully and sustainably monetized takes a very, very long time.

Expedite success with more awesome blog posts 

The only way in which you can expedite the success of your blog is to publish more high quality content. Be careful not to inundate your visitors with too much content to digest though in your race to the top. Careful balances need to be struck between quality and quantity – a balance must also be struck between too many and too little blog posts.

Rarely will you see a sparsely populated blog that’s extremely popular. One of the core ingredients of a successful blog is frequent content – there’s no getting away from that fact. You don’t have to post 10 new blogs each week, but it would help in a lot of cases.

Hard work always pays off 

On my desk is a mug that my father used to drink out of. It says: “Hard work always pays off” – I find that little saying resonates around my head at least one million times each day. There are few things in life truer than this saying – and it can of course be applied to the world of blogging.

Be prepared to spend a good few months writing awesome posts that few people will read initially.

Keep plugging away – keep publishing great content and your blog will be recognized. The pay off comes when the recognition that your blog receives snowballs – links from other blogs start rolling in, and people recommend your posts on social media.

Recognition usually starts like a little trickle of water – gradually it will build up into a raging torrent. The more recognition your site receives, the more people will read it. As more people read your blog, it’ll receive further recognition. It’s an infinite loop of goodness for you as a blog owner!

In Summary 

When you write and publish awesome content on your blog, good things will come your way.

When you write and publish boring content then spend hours on end building links to it, trying to force people to your website, good things will never come.

Spend your time blogging – not marketing. The marketing side of things will be taken care of for you by your visitors if the blog posts that you publish are good enough to be recommended and shared across the internet.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing posts you publish via social media with friends and followers – it’s the ideal way in which to generate that initial buzz and interest about your blog. When the marketing of your posts takes longer than it does to actually write them however, you’ve almost certainly lost your way as a blogger.

 Nick is a freelance journalist and website content editor from http://www.contentwriting.org. He writes extensively about the art of blogging, as well as online marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC and SMM.

Discover The “Can’t Miss” Email Technique To Bring Attention To Your Blog

This is a guest contribution by Frank Angelone.

It’s safe to assume that you want your blog to succeed, right?

It’s easier said than done, but whenever you’re trying to market your blog to others, it can be a very discouraging process.  Not only that, as bloggers, we continually suffer from the inability to get in touch with those we aspire to be like.

It’s not that those individuals don’t want to connect with us, but their email inboxes are full to the max and the Internet is flooded with content.  Tough obstacles ahead of us to stand out from the crowd I’d say.

Obviously, email marketing is an effective way to communicate with our readers, but more often than not, a well known blogger is not signed up to your email list.  The thing is…being associated to these well known bloggers in some capacity can help build the authority your blog needs to get attention.

So how are you suppose to grab the attention of these people?

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I’ve learned, from my experiences, the best way to grab the attention of others is to keep my enquiries simple and straight forward. 

Granted, in reality, I am marketing to them.

It’s true, whenever you email someone and you wish to market yourself to them, it’s never a good idea to just email them a link to your blog.  You can be sure you won’t be contacted at that point. You want the email to capture their attention from the subject line.

Since you only have a short period to grab their attention, what can you do?

The Subject Line Is The Magic Potion 

Before you start trying to think of creative headlines, let me stop you right there. That kind of advice you’ll see many people give for blog posts and email newsletters.

This doesn’t apply when you’re trying to encourage a well known blogger to open your email. 

In fact, it’s much simpler and easier than you may think. On top of that, you may have used this tactic before and never even realised what a POWERFUL strategy it is.

Tell Me What To Do Already!

This brings me to my personal sure fire way to grab a response…

The magic answer is…

Use the subject line – “Quick Question.”

Really?  That’s it?  Yes, that’s it.  It’s worked for me many times. It’s how I’ve published guest posts on sites like CopyBlogger and here on ProBlogger.

The goal is to create a relationship. Quick Question lets them know…”this won’t take long.” This is what I use all the time.

I can’t believe I’m giving this away because it’s my best kept secret, until now!

How Does This Apply To My Blog?

Interestingly enough, I’ve used this little subject line to build my blog’s credibility. 

I’ve been able to leverage my podcast to build authority for my blog. An authoritative blog is something all bloggers strive for.  By using that “Quick Question” subject line, I’ve brought guests onto my podcast like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Pirillo, Brian Clark, Seth Godin, and Robert Scoble to name a few. 

I can officially say that all these great people in some way are associated with my blog.

I’m not throwing these names at you to brag, but rather show you that by having these relationships, I’ve been able to connect with new readers / listeners and provide advice to others on how to go about podcasting.

This additional layer of my blog that started with a simple subject line also gave me the freedom to not have to rely on writing blog posts. Writing can be tiring, time consuming, and writers block can occur frequently. Doing audio interviews was my way of overcoming these obstacles and in the process I’ve developed relationships with well known bloggers.

You may not be able to build the readership that you want at this point. You may not be able to get a ton of comments on your posts. However, you can start finding other avenues to build that authority for your blog.

Don’t believe that just because it’s a blog that you’re restricted to only written content…you’re not!

Even though podcasting isn’t what I talk about on my blog, because of the well known bloggers I’ve connected with, I was able to talk to Chris Pirillo’s mastermind group in a webinar on bringing guests to your podcast and wrote a blog post about it too.

So, try this in your next email and let me know how this works out for you in the comments and if you’re able to build some new authority for your blog.

Frank Angelone teaches people how to use social media in business and how to adapt to technology.  He’s also coupled these teachings by interviewing well known entrepreneurs like Chris Pirillo, Robert Scoble, Brian Clark, and Leo Babauta to name a few, on the STZ Podcast.  Be sure to subscribe to be notified of new episodes!

Google Hangouts: Turning Bloggers into Broadcasters

This is a guest contribution by Sarah Hill, the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network.

Blogging no longer has to be a text based conversation. Google+ has allowed bloggers to become broadcasters, adding a visual component to each blog post, and all you need to become a “Blogcaster” is a webcam, an internet connection, and Google+.

Understanding the Basics of Google+

Narrow-minded individuals have been quick to dismiss Google+, seeing another Facebook; however, the true functionality of Google+ goes beyond keeping up with friends. This platform offers a unique feature that allows you to live-stream face-to-face video chats to the masses through a feature known as Hangouts.

Google’s Hangout feature is unfolding into a product that is changing how people collaborate and learn, providing real users with the tools and information to accomplish real-world tasks, and the ability to display it for all to see via YouTube.

This free broadcast tower is deepening relationships between bloggers, businesses and personal users through face-to-face interaction, setting the social network apart from all others and creating a fresh way to experience the web.

Hangout Preparation

Starting a Hangout can be done in a few seconds, just by clicking the “Start a Hangout” button; however, before diving in head first, it is best to prepare.

When you start a Hangout for the first time, you will be prompted to install a quick plugin. All you need to do is download Google’s voice and video chat plugin, ensure you have a webcam with a microphone and a decent internet connection. Ethernet is preferred but I’ve done lots of Hangouts over Wifi and even 4G as well.

In addition, it is best to check your lighting and background beforehand to make sure people can clearly see your face.

Once you’re confident in the set up and have ran some practice Hangouts, it’s time to promote a live event.

Announce the hangout

First, create a Google+ public event announcement a few days to a couple weeks before your Hangout. You want to give users time and create awareness of the Hangout.

Set to stream the hangout

Also, when creating the Google+ Hangout, be sure to open a “Hangout on Air” as those Hangouts stream live on YouTube and are then automatically recorded to your YouTube channel after you hit “end broadcast”.

Promote your hangout

Next, build awareness by posting in related Google+ communities, as well as other social channels. Don’t stay only on Google+, but cross-pollinate your live event to all your social platforms. Also, consider using a specific hashtag for your event.

Over Memorial Day, Veterans United partnered with Google+, the 9/11 Memorial and Virtual Photo Walks for a live Hangout. We used #honortheheroes to promote it to the public. Search that hashtag for examples of how we promoted that event.

Becoming a Blogcaster

Hangouts fuel the possibility of bloggers to become blogcasters, allowing up to ten users to video chat at a time, with the ability to broadcast to the entire world through “Hangouts on Air.”

So what would you talk about when you host a Hangout?

What are you passionate about? Original ideas, quality content and social sharing are the goal, and if you are posting interesting, thought provoking content on a frequent basis, you have the ability to gain followers and grow your authority – and this is no different through Hangouts.

Common Hangout topics include education, interviews, product demonstration and, more recently, customer service. However, when blogging, consider taking your hottest blog post and invite other authorities in the space to join in on the Hangout panel, providing multiple angles on the topic.  This lengthens the life of your blog beyond just the initial post.

Preparation is a must. Put together a list of questions that you can ask members in the Hangout, know who is speaking, on what topic and how long. Also, be sure to keep the conversation flowing by having transition topics so that you don’t permit awkward downtime.

And, no matter what method is used when producing a Hangout, remember to monitor social channels, blog comments from people who couldn’t attend the Hangout. You should also point users toward a social feed that they can post questions, essentially making them a part of the Hangout as well.

As with blogging, when you engage with your users on a frequent basis, user interaction and discussion becomes much easier. With Hangouts, that interaction is deeper as it’s now face to face via webcam.

Claim Your Work

The larger your presence is on Google+, the more likely it is that Google will see you as an expert or authority in your personal niche. And, to ensure that you’re capturing all the authority given from your Hangouts – especially when you post the URL to another site – be sure to claim the content through Google+.

“Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman at Google, recently said that future rankings will be determined by verified author profiles,” said Matt Polsky, an organic search strategist. “If you haven’t realized it yet, authors are already verifying their content on Google+, which is more than enough of a reason to get started.”

As Matt said above, bloggers are already verifying their broadcasts and content, providing users with not only a picture snippet in search results, but with additional authority for your specialized niche – especially when you branch out and write for other authority publications.

To verify your content, you can add the rel=author tag to your Google+ link in your byline when you create and post content.

With some forethought, time, and effort, you can grow your online presence and authority so people can discover your content. Broadcasting isn’t just for TV stations anymore. If you have a blog, you too can become a Google+ blogcaster.

Have you already used a Hangout? What was your experience?

About the Author: Sarah Hill is the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network – a leading hub of news and advice on veteran and military issues. Connect with Sarah on Google+ to start a Hangout, or chat with her on Twitter.

How I Turned a Guest Post into 3 Million Visitors and Over 150,000 Social Media Shares

Yesterday, I shared a practical exercise for diving deeper into your blog’s analytics to discover how you can use the last month of blog action to plan for the future.

Today, I’d like to show you an example of just how powerful this discipline can be when it comes to building traffic to your site. In fact, this simple exercise led to a series of events that generated:

  • 3 million unique visitors
  • 131,000 ‘pins’ on Pinterest
  • 25,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook
  • 19,000 RT’s on Twitter

It all started with a Guest Post Submission

This story all began in March of 2012 when I received an email through the contact form on dPS, outlining an idea for a guest post. The author wanted to write a post with some examples pictures of how to pose women for portraits.

I liked the idea and agreed that the author could write the post. He submitted it a couple of weeks later and I scheduled it to go live late on the 28th.

The post was titled Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You started with Photographing Women (note: on the blog it says ‘Part 1′ but at the time of publishing it was a stand alone post).

Screen Shot 2013 06 04 at 1 20 59 PM

Initial Results

I thought the post would do well as it was on a topic we’ve had good responses to in the past i.e. posing techniques. It was also an image based post, which we’ve had quite a bit of success with.

Four days later (on the first of April), when I was doing my ‘deep dive’ into Google Analytics, I was excited to see that the post had done very well indeed.

The day it was published the post had over 17,000 visitors, which was higher than an average post on its first day. Around 30% of that traffic was coming in from Facebook, which was surprising as I didn’t promote it on our own Facebook page until the day after.

The second day after publishing, the post saw around 8,000 visitors but day 3 saw it reach over 42,000 visitors.

This spike was partly due to the post being featured in our newsletter, which normally spikes traffic to the site, but that day also saw some great traffic from social media including StumbleUpon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Over the following few days it continued to do really well so by the time I did my analyse it had already received around 150,000 visitors – considerably higher than other posts on the site in their first week.

Other than the raw traffic numbers I was interested to see that:

  1. The number of sharing events the post was getting on Facebook, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. The post had some great visuals that seemed to stimulate this.
  2. The number of comments and emails we were getting from readers asking how to pose men and kids.

Building Momentum

I saw an opportunity and immediately emailed the author to see if he’d be interested in similar followup posts on posing men and children.

He had also noticed a spike in traffic to his own site as a result of the post, was keen to do more and immediately began work.

Within a week we published Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men.

This second post did about 75% of the traffic of the first post but the patterns were very similar. The difference was that we didn’t see traffic from StumbleUpon but instead saw it from Reddit.com

10 days later we published a Posing Guide for Photographing Children with very similar results.

While traffic wasn’t quite as spectacular on posts #2 and #3 they were still well and truly out performing most other posts on the site. Naturally, I commissioned the author to write more!

Post #4 was a Posing Guide for Photographing Couples is an interesting case study in and of itself because while it spiked in traffic over the first week it didn’t drive as much initial traffic. However, since publishing it last May it has gone on to become our most popular post ever on Pinterest and continues to drive great traffic to the site ever since.

Screen Shot 2013 05 27 at 2 47 16 PM

To this day, that post has over 83,000 ‘pins’ and has been visited just under half a million times in the last 12 months!

Over the coming months we published more followups in this series:

Each post has not only gone on to drive its own traffic but every time we post another addition to the series we see a surge of traffic to previous posts (as we interlink them all). So now, because we’ve published six followup posts in the series, our original post has received around 850,000 visitors and they’ve had over 2.5 million visits between them all.

Take Home Lessons

The take home lesson for me is it’s not only important to create useful content, you need to take note of what works. You also need to attempt to find ways to build momentum on your site and followup with more of the same!

While the traffic levels may not be the same as what we do on dPS (we have the benefit of having build decent traffic to the site since 2006) the same principles can apply for a blog at any level.

The success of this series of posts has generated a lot of future ideas for dPS. We’ve commissioned the author to create another series of posts (the first of which went live on the blog in the last hour) which will also include ‘real photos’ based upon the poses previously covered. This was something we had requests for in the previous series of posts so I’m hoping it goes well.