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Review This Blog – Groovy Vegetarian

This week’s community blog review is of a blog by the name of Groovy Vegetarian (another ProBlogger.com member).

The idea behind these reviews is that readers of ProBlogger read:

  • the story of the blog
  • the goals of the blogger
  • the questions and areas of concern that the blogger has (all below)

Then readers are invited to visit the blog before giving their feedback and constructive advice to the blogger whose blog is being reviewed.

Please do keep your advice helpful. Telling the blogger that their blog is no good isn’t constructive – share what you’d do to improve it.

OK – here’s what Missy (the blogger behind Groovy Vegetarian) submitted in response to my questions about her blog. I hope you find it helpful information in constructing your own advice for her blog.

Tell us the Story of Your blog

I started Groovy Vegetarian back in the Summer of 2007 at first to chronicle my experiences with becoming a vegetarian. Like many other bloggers I had started on blogger.comand over time progressed to the more powerful WordPress platform. But for some reason (can’t recall why) I wanted to start with a completely new blog. Actually I think it was the name, I wanted to create a new BRAND and so I cooked up the brand Groovy Vegetarian. When I created this blog I knew nothing about WordPress, SEO, monetization, Google, etc. The only thing I did know is that I wanted to SHARE my vegetarian experience with others. And that is what I did. As of right now the blog has over 600 RSS readers, 1,200 plus Twitter followers and over 500 email subscribers.

I had been having hosting trouble lately but last week, I switched hosts. And so far so good with it staying up. I love my blog and know I need to nurture it more to get it to the next level.
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What are your goals for the blog?

I would love to be a go-to resource for the vegetarian lifestyle. To have more pillar content. To showcase more cool vegetarian products. Vegetarianism has evolved, it isn’t your mom and dad’s granola hippie type lifestyle anymore. Lots of people are interested in the lifestyle, because of several factors, but one driving alot of interest as of late is global warming. There is nothing more planet destroying than eating meat. This has been proven by scientists. Not too mention the horrors inflicted upon BILLIONS of animals each year.

So more mainstream people are turning to the net looking for information and resources on the topic. PETA does a great job of providing information, but there is room for us small publishers as well. I’ve never really considered Groovy Vegetarian a recipe or food blog, but more of a lifestyle blog. Focusing on news, products, information, entertainment, etc.

And most importantly, I would really like to create a guide on the topic. A comprehensive one aimed at new vegetarians and those wanting more information on the diet. That for now is my next BIG goal – to create a vegetarian guide of sorts.

What would you like our readers to help you with?

A challenge for me from the get go has been content, organization and design. I don’t know how to structure the blog content or layout. Obviously there needs to be room for monetization, but what form should that take? And which WordPress theme should I use? Everyone keeps touting Thesis, but I’ve never liked the design aspect of Thesis. So minimalistic. But it appears to be a really good theme with a solid support community behind it.

I would love for your readers to advise me on what they would do with my blog? What is the first thing they would change or get rid of and what do they like about the blog?

OK – it’s over to you. What advice and constructive feedback do you have for Missy about her blog.

Review This Blog – Man vs Debt

Last month here on ProBlogger we ran a community review on a reader’s blog. I posted a link to a blog with some comments from the blogger and then opened it up for readers of ProBlogger to review it.

The response from the post was great. 120+ comments were left including some great advice. I also had a lot of emails from readers saying that they learned a lot by reading the suggestions of others – many wanted to see these reviews done regularly.

As a result I’m going to try to do these reviews on a weekly (ish) basis – today we have another one. As a little bonus to ProBlogger.com members I’m going to choose the blogs being reviewed from members blogs (with their permission of course).

This month’s Review – Man vs Debt.

What follows is some information from the blogger behind Man vs Debt – Adam Baker.

Before you give your review in comments below please read through this information as it’ll give you context for your review as well as some of what Adam is hoping to pick your brains about.

Please also note that while you’re welcome to give your honest feedback on the blog that we’d love for this to be a constructive experience for everyone. Don’t just tell us what you don’t like – share what you’d do to improve it.

I started Man Vs Debt. in the last week of March 2009 (this year). I originally started it to chronicle Courtney and my journey to get out of debt. We were in the final stages of selling all of our possessions, paying down our consumer debt, and relocating to what we thought was going to be Australia (ended up being Australia -> New Zealand and soon Thailand).

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It’s been amazing so far. When I got started I knew absolutely zero about blogging, just that I liked reading them. I didn’t know how WordPress worked or even what SEO stood for. But I was quickly amazed at how strong the blogging community was (and still is). This is especially true of the personal finance niche. I received an overwhelming amount of help early on from many experience bloggers, whom I would have never guessed would have taken the time to help.

Over the last 7 months or so, I’ve decided to concentrate almost all my effort on building a community. As I’ve been traveling, I’ve found a home sort of between the personal finance niche and the life design/travel niche. The blog has become even more transparent than I originally designed (which is fine by me) with us sharing our list of possessions, finances, and ups and downs of traveling.

Early on, I decided to not feature advertising on the site. Recently, I’ve picked up a small group of affiliates that I either use everyday or that I’m a hardcore fan of. I still haven’t moved promoting these to the front page, but did set up an ‘ Endorsed‘ page (pictured in part below) where I list them.

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Current goals:

My largest goal right now is to increase my monetization. I’ve decided to focus this into product creation. I’m working a my first eBook (a joint venture), which will be a cheaper price point and will be the start of several products over the next 2-6 months. I’m trying to plan where to put this design wise on the blog, too. I’m torn between putting it in the top position in my sidebar as I’ve had a lot of success prioritizing this space with RSS, Twitter, and e-mail subscriptions.

I’ve also thought about moving some affiliates to the main page. I’ve avoided this so far, as to keep my main sidebar as clean and simple as possible. I’ve decided to focus attention onto my subscription and highlighting my most popular content.

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Besides increasing monetization a bit, I want to continue to increase the ‘community’ factor of my blog. I’m proud of the amount of comments and want to continue to find ways to encourage people to comment. I want to feature my
twitter account and facebook account(facebook currently not featured) to connect deeper. I’d also like to focus on having people use StumbleUpon, Twitter, and E-mail to spread articles they enjoy. I think focusing in on these 3 platforms only would provide a way for different audiences to spread, but not confuse with 100 different options. I like simplicity (aka, I’m torn on whether to use the ShareThis plugin, etc…).

Also, I’d like to drive more people to convert to my e-mail list, called the Militia. I need to allow people to sign up from the main page (right now they have to click through to separate page). I run product giveaways exclusively to the list and give out special information on upcoming features, events, etc… I know I could do this a lot better. And because I will be monetizing primarily off my own information products, I need to improve sooner rather than later! :-)

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Lastly, I want to continue to promote transparency on the blog. Courtney and I keep an up-to-date list of all our possessions ( Our Stuff page) and also track all our expenses and budgeting on a daily basis (Our Financespage). While not everyone may care for this, the majority of e-mail I get from new visitors is about these sections. It really helps establish a connection and I’m not sure I’m doing enough to promote these pages.

What Advice Would You Give on How to Improve this Blog?

OK – there’s Adam’s story and some of what he’s trying to achieve with his blog. I hope that it not only provides you with some context for commenting on his blog but gives some insight into the life, goals and approach of one blogger which may help inform your own blogging.

Adam has agreed not to make any changes to his blog over the next week (except for new content) so that we can all see the same thing and have plenty of opportunity to look his blog over and comment on it.

Over to you – what constructive advice do you have for Adam? What do you like about what he’s doing on his blog? What could he improve upon? I’m looking forward to hearing what the community comes up with and to seeing how this impacts Adam’s blog.

How Would You Monetize this Food Blog

I recently received the email below from a reader asking me for advice on her blog. As I responded to them I realized that it might make an interesting discussion starter and that perhaps the ProBlogger community might together have some good advice to give – so lets do tackle it together.

What I’m going to do is to share the email below (the blogger has given me permission to do this) and share the link to the blog and then open things up to discussion for readers to share their advice.

First the blogger’s name is Veron and the blog is Sparklette – a Singaporean Food Blog.

Screen shot 2009-10-12 at 11.15.24 AM.pngI am from Singapore and I have been following your blogging tips for 2 years now. It was through your blog that I first learned the concept of SEO. Because of what I learned from Problogger, I managed to improve the web traffic of my food blog tremendously to the present 10,000 pageviews a day.

Early this year, I attempted monetising my blog. Through your recommendations I have tried Google Ads, Chitika and Amazon Associates, but only succeeded in making dozens of dollars a month from Google, and zilch from the others. I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that food blogs are, by default, hard to monetise. I might be wrong though.

Still, I would like to try harder. I really hope that this blog can one day replace my present day job as my primary source of income.

Are there any tips which you can recommend to someone like me – a passionate blogger who is willing to work hard and already sees substantial web traffic but somehow isn’t able to properly monetise it?

I’m no food blogger so am unfamiliar with the niche and how it monetizes best – so while I did give a few words of advice I wondered if others with experience in that niche might have some advice to share with Veron.

Do keep in mind that Veron is asking for advice on monetization – so lets keep the focus upon that aspect of the blog and lets try to keep things constructive.

PS: the main advice I shared with Veron was pretty simple but revolved around the possibility of producing her own product to sell (perhaps an ebook/cookbook) and perhaps also to do some looking around at other blogs in that niche.

The other suggestion that I’d probably be doing is identifying advertisers to approach directly. Are there food stores, publishers of cookbooks or even restaurants in Singapore that might be willing to sponsor the blog.

OK – over to you – what advice would you give?

Freedom to Be

I love hear bloggers talking about their journey of blogging and some of the discoveries they make alone the road. Today in this guest post Renee Mayne from Bra Queen does just that.

Everyone has a purpose, a reason as to why they start blogging.
 
Mine was because I had heard “It was good for business” So I started blogging using my business name.

I didn’t get much satisfaction from it because I was always thinking of the business name and my business partner and I was representing all three. I was holding back and wasn’t being true to myself or my personal opinions, I was playing it safe.

However I was enjoying the writing or blogging process and believed in what I was doing so I thought “I need to be 100% myself, I need a title.
 
It’s like when you call a business do you like to talk to a machine or a person?

A person of course,

The exact same goes when you’re blogging and with that Bra Queen was born. I soon become more at home at my blog then at my business so I sold my business to pursue Bra Queen.

Once I gave myself freedom to be… Bra Queen Sky rocketed, I became so passionate with my writing and the topics. I was like a mad woman frantically typing at the keyboard and 80% of the time I was doing so through tears because I felt so strongly about the topics.

I write everyday because you have to be consistent but I vow to write honestly and passionately, everyday.

I look at blogs that I once loved however when they started blogging everyday I felt they lost their passion and drive. You can always tell just by reading them. I really try to just let myself be when I write.
 
The beauty of blogging is it gives people a chance to express themselves. You have a voice and you can be 100% you and people will either like you or they won’t, their choice. But at least you have given yourself permission to be.
 
I have learnt that in order to have a successful blog you have to be:

  • Knowledgeable in your field (you should be anyway)
  • Passionate
  • Persistent

 
If you are those 3 things an abundance of opportunities will come your way.

Those 3 things have brought me this:

  • Immense satisfaction
  • Happiness within yourself and my career
  • My Love Your Life Challenge starts 5th Oct then will be available via e-book
  • Contributing Author in SPROUT WEALTH
  • Contributing writer to various resource websites
  • Oodles of new ventures with amazingly successful people
  • Lingerie and Business Consultant, coaching businesses to a new found success.
  • Multiple interviews online, on podcasts and on the radio.

 
Give yourself the freedom to be!

Are you holding back? Don’t.

Leo Babauta from Zen Habits Shares a Popular Post Case Study

Leo-Babauta-Case-StudyThis week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Leo Babauta from Zen Habits has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of his site’s most popular posts.

1. What is the post on your blog that has had the most traffic in the last 12 months?

I would never have guessed this until I looked it up in Analytics, but the top post in the last year is “10 Tasty, Easy and Healthy Breakfast Ideas“.

2. Where did the traffic mainly come from?

The page had nearly 500K pageviews in the last year, almost all from Google searches. A small amount came from Yahoo (#2), direct traffic, MSN, and other search engines.

3. Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?

No, I didn’t promote this post any more than other posts. It did well in delicious.com the first day, without my help, and quickly found its way to the #1 spot in Google searches for “healthy breakfasts” and related search terms. I don’t do SEO at all (I don’t believe in it), so this happened totally organically.

4. What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?

Google can bring tons of traffic, but the way to get there is not through SEO or overly promotional techniques. It’s by creating useful content that people will want to bookmark, link to, and find in searches, solving problems that many people have.

So:

  1. Figure out what problems a lot of people have.
  2. Create really useful content to solve those problems.
  3. Write a good headline to help the post get spread more widely.

Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr Shares a Popular Post Case Study

This week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Duncan Riley from The Inquisitr has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of his site’s most popular posts.

Screen shot 2009-09-10 at 1.30.40 PM.png What is the post on your blog that has had the most traffic in the last 12 months?

Is American Idol’s Adam Lambert Gay? Is there really any question? (656,254 page views)

Where did the traffic mainly come from?

Approx 85% came from Google. Interestingly after that was AOL and direct (as opposed to Yahoo or a social site)

Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?

Initially it was organic. We’d picked up in the semi-finals of American Idol that there was this great singer, and people were asking whether he was gay or not. We led with the question people were asking, a tactic I know other sites advocate, but we don’t do that often, because it doesn’t always make for a good solid headline.

First day traffic was 611 page views, then 10,164…then it bubbled along: 1,000 one day, 2,000 the next, with a couple of 10,000 days as well.

It wasn’t huge for us on a daily sense for over 2 months, but it kept appearing in our stats. We did follow up posts (none which did the same level of page views, but some around the 50,000 to 100,000 page view mark) and we kept linking back to the original post each time. Two months later, and Adam Lambert was heading towards the final of American Idol, and more people kept asking the question. 2 months and 1 week after the post went up, it did a 107,834 day; we were the top result in Google for “Is Adam Lambert gay.”

The success was a combination of two things: timing and link strategy. We were early, if not the first site of size to write about the topic. After that, we not only linked back ourselves, but the post received a good number of external links as well (being first helped a lot), pushing us to the top of Google

What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?

1. Timing isn’t everything, but there is still strong opportunities for first to market. If you can offer a post that contains information (or commentary) that is unique, first (or close to first), and topical, that post can sometimes become a big post for you.

2. Sometimes long term pays A lot of what we do is short term when it comes to news, but some stories can wag not only for days, but weeks and (as in this case) months. Marque content has the ability to provide for you over a longer period; our post here didn’t start that way, but it had longevity.

For example this post I wrote back in June; it’s done just over 55,000 page views as I write this, but every day it gets page views, one day 500, next 1000, then 150 etc, and I have every reason to believe that in 3 months time it will probably still be wagging along and will eventually pass 100,000 pageviews. Not spectacular I know, but likewise if you’ve got a sizeable number of posts doing the same thing, they all add up.

It doesn’t matter what the vertical: both my examples here are entertainment related, but it could be just as easily be applied to a good advice post, or internet marketing post, or more. You need look no further that bloggers who post about WordPress templates and plugins for example to know that a good post can wag for not only months, but sometimes years.

Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine Shares a Popular Post Case Study

This week I’m featuring a short series of interviews with successful bloggers looking at a popular post on their blog and why they think it went viral. Today Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine has agreed to dissect the popularity of one of their most popular posts.

popular-post-smashing-magazine.png1. What is the post on your blog that has had the most traffic in the last 12 months?

The most popular post in our magazine was the article “Adobe Photoshop Tutorials – Best Of” which was published in October 2008. It is one of the many tutorials round-ups that we’ve done then. Overall, the post has now almost a 1,000,000 unique visits.

2. Where did the traffic mainly come from?

Most traffic came from Google, followed by social media, in particular via StumbleUpon, Twitter, Digg and Reddit (in this order). Since we are paying a huge amount of attention and time investment into preparing well-researched, high-quality posts, it is very likely that stories published on SM are going fairly well in social media. After all, almost every story needs over 25 hours to be completed. Another reason for our popularity in social media is the simple fact that we don’t post too often – at most 2 articles per day appear on Smashing Magazine.

About a couple of months after the post was published the organic traffic via Google etc. started to catch up, so at the moment we (on average) have much more traffic from search engines than from social media. All the social media together are still only a small portion of the traffic coming from Google.

3. Did you do anything extra to market or promote this post or did it just happen organically?

We never push a story hard to reach some critical mass of diggs, votes or tweets. The post did well, because many designers found it useful and bookmarked it or recommended it. That’s the basis and the requirements for a good, successful, popular post.

4. What can we as bloggers learn from the success of this post?

The quality of the content defines the nature of post’s popularity over months and years. The more time you invest into preparing a post, the more quality it will deliver to the reader and the more appreciative your readers will be. The latter will deliver your blog organic growth, traffic and solid readership. That’s as simple as that. Deliver quality and you’ll be rewarded with good reputation and good traffic.

5. I notice you’ve got a book coming out soon – how did it come to be? Got any tips for aspiring bloggers wanting to do a book?

Yes, we are currently in the final stage of publishing our “Smashing Book” – a printed book about best practices in modern Web design and development. Books are still valuable, because they are more solid and permanent compared to bits and bytes. The idea to create a book came because we wanted to explore how we can strengthen Smashing branding in further traditional media. We decided to create the community book, a book that is based upon ideas and suggestions of our readers, involving them in basically every step of the process.

Publishing a book is easy these days is easy – with digital printing and numerous layout applications one can create an e-book in hours. The process is also fast and relatively cheap. But this is not what we decided to do. The Smashing Book is printed the traditional way. We aim to the masses. This is possible because we have a huge audience and we are selling to them directly, bypassing common bookstores and shops. To do this we need plenty of money to pay for paper, layout and printing. But there is a traditional solution to go around this, the pre-sale phase. We have started the pre-sale to gather money and estimate the circulation (yes, it’s a secret). In exchange for customer’s trust, we are offering a big discount of 20%.

Since we wanted everybody to be able to afford the Smashing Book, we have decided to introduce something that we call “social shipping”. The idea here is that we offer customers from US and Germany free shipping, but since shipping costs are extremely high to some parts of the world, they can voluntarily pay more for the shipping of their copy. And, of course, selling around the world needs some serious logistics. There are literally tons to move. An e-book would be more much more comfortable, but we hope that our readers will appreciate our efforts to create a physical piece that can be put on the shelf. The printed Smashing Book will appear in the end of this year.

Check out the Smashing Magazin upcoming book (it is available for pre-order) here.

The State of the Darren-Sphere

In this post I’d like to give an update of the different sites that I work on, how they’re going and what I’m working on with them.

Darren

3 questions that I get a lot are:

  1. You seem to do a lot of ‘stuff’ – can you give me a quick overview?
  2. I know you from (insert blog/social network name here) but today discovered you also are at (insert blog/network here) – what else do you do?
  3. How is your business going – you used to give us income updates – can you give us another update?

As a result today I want to create a post that attempts to summarize all of the activities that I’m actively involved with these days (ie it doesn’t include about 30 blogs that I have previously owned or blogged on which today are dormant).

I’m not going to give an income update as such except to say that revenue from my blogging related activities remains well into the Six Figure bracket (annually) and that each year since I’ve started blogging as an income source has seen it grow in healthy increases.

I hope that what follows is of use to those who’re interested:

My Blogs

These days I own three active blogs. They are visited collectively by around 2.8 million people per month, subscribed to via RSS and email by around 480,000 subscribers and have social media network between them of around 110,000 people. Let me break it down from largest to smallest:

Digital Photography School

dps-logoDPS has enjoyed continued growth over the last 12 months. While finding advertisers has been a little difficult in this climate (although we did run a very successful campaign with Lenovo earlier in the year) I’ve seen increases in income as a result of more effort in affiliate promotions but also AdSense and Chitika.

I have seen a bit of an increase in expenses though as we’ve hired a number of writers as well as a community manager for the forum area.

Redesigning the site, adding new areas for cameras and post production tips and getting onto Twitter have all helped to grow DPS. The future looks really bright for this community – I’m particularly looking forward to the release of the communities first products (two ebooks) later in the year.

  • Monthly Traffic – 1,960,612 Visitors viewing 6,571,151 pages (based upon the last 30 days – Data from Google Analytics)
  • Subscribers – 311,813 (made up of 200,000 newsletter subscribers and 111,000 RSS subscribers)
  • Forum Members – 60.644
  • Twitter Followers – 16,074 followers
  • DPS on Facebook – 2,277 fans

ProBlogger

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Traffic wise ProBlogger’s growth has been less spectacular than DPS but steady.

The release of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook earlier in the year was an amazing learning experience and a profitable venture.

The Job boards have also continued to grow both in terms of ads being listed and also traffic/subscriber numbers. It’s certainly not my biggest earner but it’s a daily income that has risen and that is quite passive.

The main income streams from ProBlogger have been direct ad sales (we’ve been sold out for a long time although I’m told we have one slot open at the moment) and healthy affiliate promotions (I’m lucky that there are so many quality products related to this blog).

In the coming weeks ProBlogger will expand with the launch of ProBlogger.Community.

  • Monthly Traffic - 531,804 unique visitors viewing 866,093 pages
  • Subscribers – 123,000 RSS Subscribers
  • Newsletter Subscribers – 29,890 (across a number of different lists)
  • Twitter Followers – 76,273 followers
  • ProBlogger on Facebook – 15,242 fans
  • ProBlogger Job Boards – around 2000 RSS subscriber

TwiTip

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My newest blog and seeing a steady growth. Written mainly by a group of guest posts TwiTip has done fairly well. I’m about to launch a redesign of the site which will give it a more professional look but also add some great new features.

Income has been a little tougher on this one – mainly due to my lack of time to actually go after advertisers. Having said that – I’ve run a couple of affiliate programs that have done pretty well (still room for improvement though on the ad front).

  • Traffic – 256,430 Visitors viewing 326,484 pages
  • Subscribers – 21,512 RSS subscribers

Other Interests

I try to be active on a number of social media sites, networks and maintain an interest in a variety of other projects including:

Looking Forward

In the next few months there are a number of new things that will add to this list (because I have so much spare time):

  • ProBlogger.com (a community site for bloggers)
  • Two new ebooks for Digital Photography School (I’m working on two which will hopefully be released before the end of the year)
  • Possibly another ebook for ProBlogger – working with another blogger on this
  • A New Site with ebook – I can’t say too much about this but I’m looking forward to collaborating with another blogger on a new site that will relate to both ProBlogger and TwiTip.
  • One more Bigger Secret Collaboration with a couple of other bloggers – Hopefully with an October launch

All in all I’m fairly busy. While there are opportunities arising every day or two that I could do more on if I had the time (or if I decided to hire a staff) I’m attempting to keep things relatively contained (you might not think so from the above list but it’s the tip of the iceberg of what I get asked to do).

All in all it’s a fun business to be in, a profitable way to make a living and it does still give me flexibility to spend time with my family, friends and community groups that I belong to – doing the things that are important to me.

Characteristics of Traffic Generating Posts

When I set TwiTip up look after itself over the weekend (I set up a few posts to go live at specific times) I wasn’t expecting it to be a huge weekend of traffic. The posts were good – but there were less than during the week and past history shows weekends are quiet (particularly those after big holidays like Thanksgiving).

On Sunday night I logged into the blog to moderate comments and was surprised to see that on Saturday the blog had had it’s highest day of traffic since it was launched a few weeks back and Sunday was looking good to be a pretty decent day too.

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What happened?

As I reflect upon the reasons for this traffic – it all comes down to content. Over the weekend I had two particular posts that drove the vast majority of traffic to the blog.

In this post I want to take a look at these two posts and reflect upon some of their characteristics that I think were responsible for the traffic.

1. Ten People All Twitter Beginners Should Be Following - this is the post that started it all. It was a guest post by Mark Hayward that I really should have known had the potential to go viral (I guess when I posted it on the Friday I was a little tired after a big week).

Why did the post draw in a lot of traffic? A number of reasons come to mind:

  • Controversy – while I don’t believe Mark intended it to be controversial – it was. There was quite a bit of talk around Twitter about those included in this list of Twitter users and whether they should have been included, who was missed out, whether the list should have been written…. etc. Of course every time it was discussed the link was passed on which of course drew people to have a look.
  • List – the ‘list’ format of post is a classic way of getting a post to go viral. Find out why in my post – 8 Reasons Why Lists are Good for Getting Traffic to Your Blog.
  • People Focus – there’s something about writing about other people that seems to draw a crowd. I’m not sure why it is – but I can think of numerous occasions that I’ve published posts about ‘people’ where the posts went viral. One of the reasons for this is that the people being written about (and their fans) often pass on these lists to others (a few retweeted it themselves).
  • Fulfilled a Need - whether you agree with the list or not – it actually seemed to connect with a lot of readers simply because they were beginner users of Twitter and didn’t know who to follow. This post gave people with this need an answer to this problem and a practical way to fix it.
  • Social Media - of course one of the advantages that a blog about Twitter has is that it tends to be read by fairly active Twitter users who are used to spreading links around as part of their normal web surfing. This post (and the next one) got linked to quite a bit on Twitter.
  • Repeat Tweets - one of the weaknesses with Twitter as a way of spreading news of a post on your blog is that when you tweet your links the impact of those tweets can be quite temporary because they tend to only be seen by people for a short period of time before your tweet is pushed down the list of tweets that they are following. I find that reweeting your own tweets every now and again can give fresh momentum to those who didnt’ see your first one (I only do it on my best posts and a maximum of 2-3 times a day.

2. Construct your own ‘Top 10 Must Follow’ List as it Relates to Your Own Niche – this next post was not planned and was written on the fly on Sunday morning after I logged in and saw some of the buzz around the first post above.

As I began to read some of the comments on the first post (both those that didn’t like the list and those that did) I realized that there was an opportunity to take the ‘buzz’ further.

Actually – if I am honest, the idea the idea actually came to me as I did damage control and as I wrote a comment on the first post answering some of the concerns that readers had with it. I didn’t really want things to blow up and was trying to find a way to turn some of the negativity into something more positive.

One of the recurring comments about the first post was that it was too narrow – that the list just focused upon those into social media as a topic. It struck me that while this was a valid critique that on another level it actually made the list more valuable to those with that interest.

A light bulb went on and in the comment I suggested people create more lists that focused upon specific niches/topics/industries. Within 20 minutes of making that suggestion people began to take up my idea and post comments. I quickly realized that the idea had energy and decided to make the idea into an actual post.

Once I did this – the post really took off. A number of reasons come to mind as to why it did:

  • Momentum – the first post fed the second (and the second fed the first). I find that when I write posts one after the other that build upon each other that it can have a powerful impact upon a blog’s traffic. This is a perfect example of what I talk about in a previous post – How to Keep Momentum Going by Building on Previous Posts. One of the take home lessons from this is that it’s important to monitor how people are responding to your posts because in those responses could be a seed for future ones.
  • Reader participation – this post gave readers a specific invitation to do something very practical and relevant to their own interests. People respond well to invitations to answer questions or do little challenges (as long as they are not too hard) and that is part of the reason for the success of this post. Interestingly, many of the people who constructed lists then went on to tweet links to their comments because they were proud of their submissions and they were relevant to what they used Twitter for.
  • Positive/Constructive Focus – while there was a slight negativity about some of the comments in the first post’s ‘controversy’ – there was a very different vibe in the comments on the second. People seemed to appreciate and respond well to the positive and constructive challenge.
  • Invitation to Blog about it – in this post I gave people the opportunity to leave their lists either in comments or on their own blogs. Most left comments but a number blogged about it – most of those that did linked back to my post to give their list context (even though I didn’t require or even ask for this).

Concluding Remarks

The lists of characteristics in these posts above are things that I think are some great starting points for writing popular posts. They don’t guarantee them – and you certainly couldn’t use them all in every post that you write – but as I look over them I see that many of them have worked for me in previous posts.

It also strikes me as I read through them that while I was quite strategic about my second post – that the first one was a little more accidental (at least from my perspective). Sometimes posts have a life of their own take off for reasons you didn’t anticipate. The key in these times is to be watching out for opportunities to extend the life of these traffic events.

PS: to further build the momentum on these two posts I’m going to take some of the reader submitted lists and turn them into posts themselves (see the update on the second post).