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Converting First Time Visitors to Loyal Readers

This week we’re looking at a variety of tips for helping medium sized and somewhat established blogs to grow to the next level. Yesterday we looked at building upon your strengths and successes – today I want to look at the topic of turning first time readers into loyal ones.

This issue is particularly relevant for blogs who’ve achieved a certain level of authority in search engines and who get a steady flow of traffic as a result of this ranking (although it is relevant to blogs getting traffic from any source).

It is always an exciting thing to get this first search engine traffic to a blog.

A Case Study

I recently felt this excitement on my Twitter Tips blog TwiTip which after a few months of life has seen some steady growth when it comes to traffic from search engines.

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While this graph is encouraging as the owner of a relatively new blog the reality is that getting the search engine traffic is only half of the job – the REAL challenge is converting these 1000 or so daily visitors into repeat visitors. Unfortunately unless you do this second step the majority of your search engine visitors will simply never return to your blog.

This is a task that I’m setting myself for the next month and it means a shift of gears from what I’ve been focussing upon in the first few months of the life of this blog. Up until now I’ve been focusing upon building a core readership (we’ve hit around 5000 visitors a day and 5500 RSS subscribers) and building the content archives up (we’ve hit 170 posts published).

Now that the blog has achieved in those areas and the search traffic is coming in it is time to shift gears a little. I’ll continue to work on both of those tasks – but now it is time to work on ‘stickiness’ (or capturing first time visitors) a little more.

I’ve previously written a fairly extensive post on how to make a blog sticky (with 21 tips that I recommend you read) so I won’t regurgitate all of that information here…..But I did want to mention three things that I’m planning to do on TwiTip to make it more sticky:

1. Redesign

The theme that I’ve been using to this point (Thesis) has been fantastic. In fact the way it is set up is probably one of the reasons search traffic has grown relatively quickly for the blog – however in the coming month I plan to give the blog an overhaul (I’ve already engaged a designer). The main reason for this is that I’ve largely used Thesis in its default mode and want to enhance it to make it more sticky.

The redesign will include a custom logo (branding), a distinct look (differentiating it from other blog), more prominent subscription options (designed to grab attention and connect with new readers), a variety of tools to integrate it more with Twitter (increase reader interaction and connection with its primary audience – twitter users) etc.

2. Highlighting of Best Posts

One of the challenges of blogs once they have more than 100 or so posts in their archives is that it gets difficult for readers to find the ‘best’ and most ‘helpful’ content for their needs. One of the techniques that I have on my agenda for TwiTip is to develop a number of ‘sneeze pages’ that will be linked to prominently that will target new readers specifically. One such page will be a page for beginner twitter users – highlighting some starting points for them as twitter users (and linking to a number of posts for beginners). These sneeze pages are fantastic at converting first time readers into loyal readers.

3. New Subscription Methods

To this point I’ve only really offered RSS as a way to subscribe to Twitip. I will definitely include in the new design an option to subscribe via email – and I’m also considering a weekly email newsletter.

As mentioned above – there are a lot of other ways to make a blog sticky and convert readers. These three methods might be relevant for your blog – but so might some of the others covered in my how to make a blog sticky post.

What have you done to convert first time visitors to your blog?

Build Upon Your Strengths as a Blogger

This post belongs to the ‘taking your blog to the next level‘ series which looks at tips for bloggers whose blogs have got a start but want to take it up a notch. Read the intro here.

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Analyze why Readers Come to your Blog….. and then Build on It

The first thing that I’d highly recommend medium sized bloggers do when I speak with them is to set aside some time to analyze the current performance of their blog and particularly to focus upon the successes and strengths that the blog has.

While there’s a lot to be said for identifying a blogs weaknesses in order to improve I think many bloggers spend so much time working on improving the negatives (patching holes and fixing problems) that they fail to build upon their successes.

Here’s a ‘secret’ of success that I’ve observed in quite a few successful bloggers…

They don’t do everything well, but what they do do well they keep doing it over and over again.

3 Examples of Blogs that Build Upon their Successes

Many successful blogs illustrate this principle. Let’s take a quick look at three:

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  • I Can Has Cheezburger – these guys are geniuses, I don’t know when they discovered that putting captions on pictures of cats would draw hundreds of thousands of readers to a blog – but when they did they focused upon that. Their blog design might not be the sexiest and they rarely write a post with more than a handful of words – but they worked out what their readers wanted and kept giving it to them. In fact they’ve taken the LOLcat formula and have rolled it out for Dogs, Celebrities, News and Politics etc.
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  • Post Secret - in some ways this is a similar story to I can has Cheezburger – Frank discovered that the idea of posting people’s ‘secrets’ on postcards captured people’s imagination. Again – I’m not sure where the idea came from but Frank latched onto it and has continued to keep his blog focused upon what works. In fact he’s expanded the idea into books and traveling exhibitions – all focusing upon the same thing – postcard secrets.
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  • Smashing Magazine – this blog has seen incredible growth in the last year or two and a lot of it is by building upon what works. If you analyze their posts you see certain types of posts that are repeated again and again. Check out their post 35 examples of animals photography for example – a post filled with great images on a theme. They do these weekly and they always generate lots of interest on social media sites. In fact this ‘list’ type post isn’t just photographic – they do lists of tips, resources etc. They’ve worked out what types of posts work with their readers and they continue to apply it again and again.

I could go on with most successful blogs. They identify something that works and repeat it over and over again. This doesn’t mean that they simply repeat the same content – the key to their success is to find new ways to apply the same formulae.

So what has worked on your blog? How can you do it again and even improve upon it?

Let’s Get to Work and Do Some Analysis

Here are some questions to ponder to help you to identify these points of energy on your blog that could be worth expanding upon:

Questions about Content

  • What posts have had the most traffic to them?
  • What posts have had the most comments?
  • What posts got the most links from other blogs?
  • What posts did better than others on social media sites?

When you’ve compiled a list of these posts that did better than others – do some analysis of WHY they did well.

  • Was it the topic?
  • Was it the style of post?
  • Was it the title that you used?
  • Was it the use of an image?
  • Was it the posts length?
  • Was it the use of humor?

There could be any number of factors that contributed to a post’s success – but there’s usually one or two that stand out. Do this analysis on a number of successful posts and you might just discover that the same things come into play in each case. Identify what these factors are and you’re in a great position to develop more of this type of content.

Questions about Traffic

Another type of analysis to do is asking questions around the ‘source’ of current traffic to your blog.

  • What are the top sources of traffic to your blog?
  • What other blogs or sites are linking to your content?
  • What social media sites seem to be liking your content?
  • What search engines send you traffic?
  • What keywords are people arriving on your site as a result of searching for

Looking at the source of traffic coming to your blog is a powerful technique to help you grow your blog further.

I’ve found that when you see a significant source of traffic to a blog that there are almost always ways to build that traffic further. For example:

  • When you notice a lot of traffic coming to certain posts from Google it can be helpful to optimize those pages for the keywords people are searching for to increase the traffic (looking at keyword density, linking to the page from other parts of your blog with good anchor text, tweaking titles etc).
  • When you notice another blog linking up to yours there’s an opportunity to build a relationship with that blog. Get to know the blogger, thank them for the link, submit other posts that they might find useful, link up to them etc
  • When you notice a social media site has been sending traffic it is a signal for you to get involved in that site. You might want to do some analysis on the type of content that does well on that site, you could educate your current readers on how to use the site, it might be worth adding a ‘voting’ button from that site to encourage readers to vote for you etc.
  • When you get a lot of traffic for certain keywords from search engines it can be a hint to write more content on that topic. Pay particular attention to ‘questions’ that people are typing into search engines as these can be ready made post titles and topics to write about.

Identify Your Blogs Successes and Strengths

In this post I’ve only unpacked two types of strengths and successes that a blog might build upon (ie traffic sources and types of posts) – but there are of course a lot more. The same principles apply – once you identify something that you’re good at or something that people are responding to on your blog – keep doing it. It doesn’t mean that you can’t explore other things or improve upon weaknesses – but spend as much time building upon your success as you do in fixing weaknesses and I think you’re probably onto a good thing.

Tomorrow we’ll continue this series of posts on taking your blog to the next level by looking at converting first time readers into loyal ones.

Smart Article Marketing For Fast AND Long Term Blog Traffic

I’m regularly asked by readers whether they should use Article Marketing as a way to build their blogs traffic. My answer is always the same – ‘I’ve never done it, but I’ve heard that others have had some success with article marketing.’ So today when Andrew Hansen offered to write this guest post of his experience of article marketing I thought it’d make an interesting read.

Article marketing for traffic is by no means a new concept, but as old as it is there are still great misconceptions about the best way to use it as a tool in creating new targetted visitors to your blog.

I was inspired to make this post after I recently checked the traffic stats for an old niche blog that I hadn’t worked on for a number of months.

It was a blog that we launched almost solely on the back of article submissions and article traffic and now despite server changes, half the site getting lost, total reindexing and other drama, the traffic to this site from the search engines continues to flow, see below diagram:

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And primarily from the search engines…

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Not an enormous amount, but for a site that hasn’t been touched in months and survived all the mentioned havoc, it’s not bad.

The big benefit of article marketing is that it allows you to generate both quick traffic and traffic that lasts when done properly. Furthermore it allows you to generate traffic in 3 separate ways that I’ll illustrate in this post.

Before we begin, let me clarify that by article marketing, I mean the submission of articles to directories, blogs and websites in order to gain exposure to your website through your author biography links.

Article Marketing Traffic Generation Part 1:

Just by submitting your article to a directory, you give it the potential to be found by other people interested in your topic, who are searching through that directory.

It’s not a lot of traffic but it’s fast and it’s relatively targetted.

When we started this site we went on a steady article marketing campaign, submitting a few articles each day to some of the big article directories like ezinearticles.com.

I couldn’t get a screenshot for you, but in the first month or two of this site, ezinearticles.com was the number one source of traffic to the blog (where Google now is in the second shot above) pushing more than a thousand visitors a month to the blog, just from that single directory.

That’s one of the fast traffic elements. Again it’s not enormous traffic but is is fast and targetted. Just having your articles in the directories can bring you traffic. The point to note though is that this is not the MAIN source of traffic that article submissions can bring…

Article Marketing Traffic Part 2:

This next kind of traffic is the one that a lot of new blog and online marketers got stuck focusing solely on and that’s “bum marketing” – just another word for submitting an article to a popular directory and trying to have it rank for a long tail keyword.

Because article directories like ezinearticles.com are old, strong, authoritative domain names, the content you place on them can outrank content optimized for similar terms that you put up on your own (new) website. So when you submit an article that is keyword optimized for some long tail keyword, that article on the directory can get quickly ranked in the search engines, and the author link can be followed to your website.

But this traffic is also only temporary. For more reasons than there are time to list, these pages tend to rank well quickly but drop off quickly too, meaning you see an increase in traffic from the search engines, but it doesn’t last if that’s your only strategy.

This happened with the site above too. In the next couple of months we started to see our search traffic creep up to the same level of traffic the article directories were bringing in.

Most article marketers will stop there and wonder why their traffic dries up within a month or two. That’s part 2 of getting quick traffic from your article submissions but the 3rd and most important part is yet to come.

Article Marketing Traffic Part 3:

This is what ensured that I locked in traffic from Google, used article marketing to create an authoritative blog and claim traffic that won’t dry up even if I want it to.

From the beginning, with each article we submitted to a directory, we left two links in the author biography. One link was to a post of content on my blog that was related to the article but contained more detail than the article. So I submit an on “exercise balls for fitness” and put a link in the author bio to a post on my site at the URL: http://myblog.com/exercise-ball-workout-tips with the anchor text “exercise ball workout” or some keyword that I want to rank for with that post.

The other link in the author biography always went to my blog home page but with a different keyword as the anchor text with every submission. We followed the same submission frequency and guidelines for about 4 months and you can imagine what happened.

Our search engine traffic didn’t dry up, but continued to increase. The only thing to note is that it didn’t increase from the articles at ezinearticles.com that were getting found in the search engines, it increased from our own blog posts getting found in the search engines, in many cases outranking the ezinearticle.com submission we made on the very same keyword!

From there it took off. The extra search engine exposure caused other bloggers to find us and link to us, all that incoming link value made our domain more authoritative so that all the new content we added was getting indexed and ranked at light speed and pretty soon our traffic had tripled.

Another thing to note is that with enough work, our own site now became the big authoritative, strong domain. We didn’t need to submit as many articles to the article directories anymore because it could rank just as well being up on our site.

It’s these factors that ensured that we still see traffic despite all the drama that happened with this site and that keeps that traffic flowing today.

I hope this gives you an insight into the power of this kind of “triple whammy” article marketing and that it’ll inspire you to start an article marketing campaign of your own.

Andrew Hansen has helped thousands of bloggers and aspiring online business owners to discover profitable niche markets, drive quality traffic to their blogs, and turn their traffic streams into cash through his blog at AndrewHansen.name, and his blogging and traffic generation software Firepow. Subscribe to receive updates and learn more about how Andrew can help you make more money online.

The Power of a Comment

leaving commentsIn this post Lisa Newton from Travelin’ Local shares the story of how leaving a comment on a blog increased traffic back to her blog 975% in a day.

It’s a well-known fact that commenting on other people’s blogs helps drive traffic to your own blog. I knew this, but until today, I had never seen its real results. Harnessing the action ability has led individual blog owners to comment back, which happened to me several times, like here, here, and here.

But, this time it was different:

To begin with I received a new digital camera for Christmas.

Now not knowing too much about digital photography, I went searching the experts over the Internet.

One of the first places I landed was at the Digital Photography School.
I immediately fell in love with the site and instantly subscribed to their RSS feed.

Low and behold, the other day, just as I was browsing my Google Reader, a new post from DPS popped up, What is Your Favorite Landscape Location?.
I just had to comment, and like most California girls, my favorite place to shoot pictures is at the beach.

Now, I know I’d hit it lucky because my comment was only the second one on the list. The prevailing theory is that the closer your comment is to being first, the more hits it will get.

Because my blog is only a month old, I usually don’t get much traffic, on average about 15 -20 hits per day. But on the day I made the comment, I got 195 hits, an increase of over 975%, with almost all of it coming via the Digital
Photography School
. Recently Darren over at Problogger reported getting his single largest day of hits on DPS to the tune of 250,000 hits. Although 195 isn’t even close to 250,000, but I’ll bet the increased percentage on Travelin’ Local was higher.

All from that one comment.

On another bright spot, dgwphotography left the following comment on this blog post’s featured photo at Flickr:

“This is beautiful – I saw this from your reply on the Digital Photography School blog.

I love the deep depth of field here…”

The power of comments is truly inspirational; when translated into action.

Do you leave valuable comments? Have you ever had a comment experience like this?

Note from Darren: thanks to Lisa for this post. As Lisa says – 195 hits from a comment might not seem like a lot – but for a blog starting out it is a great way to grow traffic. Of course the danger in leaving comments as a way to drive traffic is that some bloggers fall into the trap of getting ‘spammy’. To help you avoid this I’ve previously written a post titled 11 Tips for Getting Your Comments Noticed on a Popular Blog. I hope it helps!

Use Niche Social Networking Sites to Gain Readers

Many bloggers attempt to use social networking sites to gain new readers for their blog. In this post Kevin Palmer of Social Media Answers shares some tips on how to do it.

One of the most undervalued places to find readers is a niche social networking site. Right now there are niche sites for just about every subject imaginable. Would you like to share your love of old cars? Not a problem. Want to connect to other mothers? There are tons of sites. Do you want to reach out to other people that pose as vampires? Believe it or not there is a site for you.

Here are some of the benefits of joining a niche social network:

You know other members share the same interests.

Instead of having to hunt through groups on larger sites or looking for people through keywords in their “about me” section you know right off the bat you share the same interests. Just by participating on the social network you are going to be connecting with people that may be interested in reading your blog. It is a targeted and focused environment for you.

Tip: Try spending 10-15 minutes a day just adding friends and interacting. Not only will people find your blog but also you will discover loads of others.

Smaller community but a larger voice.

Sure the pool is smaller compared to larger sites but you can be a big fish in a small pond quickly. You can quickly obtain an authoritative voice in a niche social network by listening, participating, and sharing.

Tip: Participate in forums or large groups to establish your voice and become a go to source of information. Sharing your knowledge and helping others out has lasting benefits.

Most of these sites link to your blog, pass on page rank, and bring a flow of traffic just from filling out your profile.

I have registered on over 700 social networking sites in the past few months and I was shocked to see the sheer number that pass on page rank when I link to my blog within my profile. Additionally by just setting up profiles and including my blog information I was getting a steady flow of traffic to my site even though I hadn’t “officially” launched yet.

Tip: Take time to actually fill out your profile. Have a document that already has your about me, favorites, and other typical topics you find on social networking sites ready to go so you can cut and paste your info from it.

Additional features like social news voting and forums are a great way to gain readers.

I found multiple sites ranging from sports to art that had their own social news section that was active. In testing a few of these out for a client I realized that the conversion from visitor to subscriber was high. Compared to traditional social news sites where it is very low.

Tip: The traffic from here can also lead to voting on traditional social news sites as well. Use these features to drive people to posts you really want to push on Digg, Reddit, or other sites. Make sure you embed buttons on the post to give them a cue.

Now don’t just run out there and register for every niche that might apply to your blog. There are a couple of things to watch out for:

  • Is the network active? Make sure you check out the forums or any place that shares content from other users that has a date. Check to see if there is a constant and recent flow, it is a good measuring stick to show you how active the site is.
  • What is the target country for the site? – If your site has a regional appeal you may want to check to see where the site is based out of and where the users are from.

I highly recommend picking out a site or two and experiment with it. Investing a little amount of time per day or even week can go a long way on these sites. On my blog I have a pretty comprehensive list of niche social networking sites, which is always evolving and growing, hope this helps as a starting out point.

Have You Ever Guest Posted on Someone Else’s Blog? [POLL]

As a followup to yesterdays post on Guest Posting as a method to promote your blog I thought I’d ask how many readers have tried the technique?

Have You Ever Guest Posted on Someone Else's Blog?
View Results



Feel free to add a comment below to tells us more about your answer – I’m particularly interested to hear from those who have guest posted about how you found the experience.

PS: thanks to all my Twitter followers for suggesting poll topics and for @rustylshelton who inspired this one.

How to Guest Post to Promote Your Blog

Are you guest posting to grow your blog? In this guest post, Josh Klein shares some insights on guest posting and the 5 steps to make it work for you. I (Darren) have added a few comments throughout this post also to add to the conversation. I’ll highlight/introduce these comments with a ‘From Darren:’ and in italics.

You’ve heard the blogger cliché “content is king”. It’s a lot like the real estate industry’s “location, location, location.” It turns out blogging and real estate have something in common: for both, you need content and location.

When it comes to pro blogging, thinking about location matters. There is no “build it and they will come”, and only 20% of your work is publishing posts.

By making strategic partnerships with other bloggers, you can produce content and put it in a great location, or you can get great content for the location you own, depending on which side of the partnership you are on.

Strategic partnerships can take a lot of different forms, but guest posting is the most obvious because it’s a one-off deal. There isn’t a need for a complex relationship or terms and conditions of the partnership.

In December, I wrote a guest post here at Problogger about how you need a blog strategy. Darren got a piece of unique content without having to write it (not to mention a post that now hovers between the #1 and #2 rank in Google for “blog strategy”), and I got the authority of having shared my insights, high quality links to my blog, and 200 new subscribers in a day. My earlier guest post about Digg had a similar effect.

The purpose of today’s guest post is to help you grow your blog, add to the Problogger content library, and continue to build my blog’s audience. To work, guest posting has to be beneficial for everybody involved.

From Darren: I can’t emphasize this enough. Many guest post submissions that I receive (and reject) are little more than self promotion of the guest poster filled with links to their own blog and little actual value to readers. These give me little motivation to use them and so end up in the ‘sorry I can’t use this’ basket.

The best way to make a guest post pay off for YOU is to make it pay off for the reader. Write something that makes readers think – ‘I really want to read more from this person’ and they’ll check you out in droves.

You see the value in guest posting, but how do you make it all happen? It takes 5 steps:

1) Be a reader

It’s important you be familiar with the blog you approach for a guest post. At the basic level, you need to know what the blogger writes about and what kind of guest posts usually get published. More importantly, you need to look at the most successful posts of that blog, looking for hints.

I look at the format other guest posters use and which has attracted the most comments. For Problogger, the “Best of Problogger” widget on the front page gave me some key insights.

I noticed that “how to” posts dominated the all time list and list of Darren’s favorites. After a search for “how to guest post” on Problogger and Google, the topic of this guest post began to form in my head.

I visited the Guest Blogging 101 section and read Darren’s How to be a Good Guest Blogger. I saw a different angle to approach from — namely, guest posting in order to promote your blog.

I also saw something useful about a guest post about guest posting describing the self-aware process of being published. Woah, that was a mouthful.

The point is: if I wasn’t familiar with the Problogger style and audience, I wouldn’t have been able to write this post.

From Darren: The main thing I’d add to this is to consider whether the topic that you’re writing about has been covered before – or at least covered recently. This is another reason that I often reject guest posts – simply because the topic would be repeating advice given in the recent memory of readers.

I personally don’t mind topics being repeated as long as they have fresh ideas and a new perspective – but too much on the one topic can frustrate readers. To be honest when I first saw this post from Josh I almost said no for this reason as this is a topic we’ve covered a few times before – however he has covered the topic a with some fresh ideas which won me over.

2) Write the guest post

I won’t belabor the point, but it should go without saying that your guest post be worth caring about. Duh.

The interesting part about this step is where in the process it comes; before you contact the blogger.

For most of you — assuming you take the “pro” part of blogging to heart — the places you want to guest post treat their blogs as businesses. You can reach out to these blogs pitching an idea, but that just gives them an opportunity to reject you.

When you really wanted something as a kid, did you ask your parents for permission or forgiveness?

If you contact a blogger in order to guest post, send your post with the email. Don’t ask for permission, just do it. If they don’t want to publish it, you can make some modifications and send it to another blog (or publish at your own).

I finished writing this post before Darren even knew it existed.

From Darren: This is one point I differ on a little from Josh. While I do publish quality posts that are submitted before I know they’re being written – a guest poster will have an increased likelihood of success if they contact me BEFORE writing the post.

The reason for this is partly connect with point #2 above – that being that if you’re going to write a post I want it to be on a topic that has not been covered recently and that is covering a topic in a new way. My preference is to know what topics you’re working on so that I can help shape those topics to make them more useful – and also so I’m aware of how many guest posts are coming in. Quite often when someone submits a topic I’ll brainstorm with a guest poster and together we make the topic more useful, engaging and helpful to readers.

This isn’t to say that I won’t publish posts that come to me complete – however it’s not my preference.

Lastly – one of the things that many good guest posters do is to cross link within a post to previous posts on the blog you’re writing for. For example you’ll see in the section ‘be a reader’ above that Josh links to a couple of previous posts on ProBlogger. This shows he’s familiar with previously written posts on this site, adds value to the post and helps promote previously written work from this site. Some bloggers only link to their own previously written work in a post – this can be valuable to readers if on topic but more often than not a blog that you’re writing for will have great posts in its own archives that can add depth to your post.

3) Send the guest post to the blogger

Your guest post is going to be enough of a headache to read, so don’t bother writing an essay introducing yourself. The biggest concern I have with allowing guest posters for my own blog is not how nice they are, but whether or not their post is going to be kick ass. There’s only one way to find that out.

The first time I contacted Problogger I said the following:

“Hi Darren. I’d like to publish this guest post on Problogger, because I think I have a message that is both valuable to your readers and different than what they’ve been hearing elsewhere:”

Then came the guest post. Darren wrote back to say when he was publishing, and that was that. And the next guest post?

“Hi Darren – thought I’d send another guest post your way since the last one went so well. I think your readers should get something out of this one.”

Networking can be important, but don’t be shy about letting your guest post do the talking. How did I set up this one?

“Hi Darren – Here comes another guest post. You should get a kick out of this one :) Could be interesting for readers if you added your own comments, or even wrote a post from the other side of the conversation.”

A new twist; let’s see what happens.

From Darren: The idea that I add some comments was actually one that I’ve taken up and is a new twist on guest posts here at ProBlogger. I have actually considered doing it in previous posts but never did – I’d be interested to hear people’s reflections – do you like me chiming in like this?

One extra tidbit that I’ll throw in here on the topic of sending guest posts in. It can be really worthwhile asking the blogger what format that they’d like a post to be submitted in.

Josh sent this post to me in the body of an email with the post formatted with headings and links. This is good as it shows me how he’d intended the post to be seen. However an even more helpful way is to send me a text file with the html already set out in it so that I simply need to copy and paste the post into the backend of my blog. This saves me 5-10 minutes of reformatting the post.

Different bloggers will have different preferences with this.

Also – another bonus for me is when I get a guest post with an image in it. I love visuals and do try to add them to many guest posts that come my way but this can be time consuming. Adding an image of your own or finding a high quality Creative Commons image on Flickr and giving the link as a suggested image can really help to lift a guest post to the next level.

4) Promote the guest post

You didn’t think your job was done, did you? One of the great things about guest posts is the cross-promotion gained by leveraging both bloggers’ social networks.

The last thing you want is your guest post to be a flop, especially if it’s the first time you’ve written for the blog. Anyway, guest posting is a perfect opportunity to promote someone else and demonstrate your willingness to leave your blogging bubble. You can’t go wrong with good karma.

It bears mentioning that spam is not welcome! Promote your guest post with the same care and thoughtfulness that you would your own blog. Whenever I guest post, I make sure to tell my “regulars” through Twitter, because I know they’ll want to hear about it.

From Darren: This is an area that many guest posters don’t even think to do but which can pay off big time for both the blog you’re submitting to but also to you.

I have had a few guest posters on ProBlogger who have done some amazing things with promoting their own content. They’ve done so on sites like StumbleUpon and Digg as well as by Tweeting it, by emailing other blogs to tell them about it etc.

The beauty of doing this is that if you’re writing a guest post on a larger blog than your own that it can many times be easier to get a post to go viral on that blog as they already have social media credibility. For example here on ProBlogger most of my posts get 5-10 stumbles on StumbleUpon simply because of the numbers of readers of this site. However as a guest poster you promote the post more this number could tip the post into being promoted to the popular section of SU. This of course has a flow on effect for you as the guest poster as more and more people will be eyeballing your writing.

Of course if your post does well and the blogger you’re submitting to sees you promote your own work they’re more likely to want more content from you!

5) Stalk the comment section

Just as you should promote your guest post the way you would a post on your own blog, treat every comment on the guest post as if it were on your blog.

Every commenter took the time to read your post, and is a potential subscriber for you to win over. Respond directly and personally to the thoughtful posts, and as early and often as you can. The bigger and faster the comment section grows, the happier the blogger.

When a commenter is particularly insightful and engaging with your content, shoot him or her an email with a detailed response (or rebuttal).

As usual, put yourself in a reader’s shoes. What would most impress you in a guest poster? Now go do that.

I’ll see you in the comments below.

From Darren: Another great sign of a quality guest poster is that they’ll engage readers. On DPS we see a lot of our guest posters really engage readers by doing this and it brings the blog alive.

What do you think of guest posting?

Have you had success guest blogging? What’s your biggest concern about it? Share your best guest posting story in the comments, whether it’s an impressive chance you got at a big blog or a horror story of ruined opportunity.

From Darren: Looking forward to reading your comments also. Do also let me know about this idea of me adding to posts – does it disrupt the flow too much or add to the depth of the post by getting a 2nd perspective?

Josh Klein advises Fortune 500 companies on their web strategies and writes a web strategy blog about making websites that matter to human beings.

The Day 250,000 People Showed Up At My Blog: Case Study

Picture 1.pngWednesday was the biggest day of traffic that I’ve seen to any of my blogs for a very long time (perhaps ever). I mentioned this on twitter yesterday and had a few followers request that I write up how it happened – so here’s a quick recap/timeline on the 24 hours that saw around a quarter of a million visitors to Digital Photography School.

  • It all started with the publishing of this post – Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples. The post is simply a collection of 15 amazing images all illustrating the same technique (long exposure photography). The images are all creative commons images from Flickr (meaning they are all available for republishing).
  • The post went live on DPS and was quickly submitted to Digg and StumbleUpon. I added a ‘Digg this’ button to the top of the post (now removed).
  • I had a feeling that the post would do well on StumbleUpon so was on the lookout for traffic from there so when I noticed the traffic coming in from StumbleUpon I tweeted about the post – noting that it was doing well on SU. This was the only ‘help’ I gave the post – a viral like thing began to happen.
  • Momentum from SU began to build as more and more people began to organically come from the StumbleUpon toolbar. As they did I noticed that Digg numbers began to rise also. People saw the Digg button and were clicking it naturally.
  • 4 hours after it was submitted to Digg it hit the front page of Digg. It did so with around 110 Diggs. I was quite surprised by the relatively low number of Diggs that it took and the speed that it went to the front page.
  • The first hour after the post hit the front page of Digg the traffic was around 28,000 unique visitors. This surprised me a little as it was midnight on the West Coast of the US and the early hours of the morning on the East Coast (not usually the best time to hit the front page).
  • The diggs continued to come in. StumbleUpon traffic also continued to gain momentum. The post hit the ‘popular page’ on Delicious (where it remained for at least 15 hours… again an unusually long time – you can see the page for it here).
  • Traffic from Digg tapered off after the first hour on the front page. From memory it was around 8000 visitors the 2nd hour and tapered further to around 4000 the next few hours.
  • I went to bed around this time and expected things to continue to taper down and return to ‘normal’ sorts of levels while I slept.
  • I woke up the next morning to find that DPS had had another big spike of traffic just after I went to bed. Most of the traffic came from Digg. Getting a 2nd big spike of traffic from Digg wasn’t something I’d experienced before but it had definitely happened. It came around 7 hours after hitting the front page of Digg and send around 25,000 visitors in an hour (and quite a few more in the hours that followed). It turns out that the post had gained so many Diggs that it hit the ‘Top in All Topics’ list which sent it a second wave of traffic.
  • traffic-sources.pngOver the next 6-7 hours Digg traffic again tapered off (but was still significant). StumbleUpon continued to send good traffic and I began to see a lot of secondary social media sites sending traffic (sites like popurls (it was the #1 story there for quite a while), Wykop, Jimmyr and plime) and also quite a few other blogs and websites (big and small) like The Agitator, Monitor and Naver. Interestingly many of the links were from non english sites. I have included a screen shot (right) of the top 15 sources of traffic to the post over the last 36 hours.
  • Today things are somewhat quieter in terms of traffic – but they are still around double a normal days traffic. Most of the traffic now is coming from StumbleUpon and secondary links from blogs and websites. From past experience this will continue for a while. StumbleUpon has the potential to send decent traffic to a post for weeks (and months). In the long run I expect StumbleUpon will probably send more traffic to the post than Digg (although Digg has currently sent triple what SU has).
  • What will generally happen next is that a little search traffic will come in because the post has been linked to from quite a few sources (Yahoo currently sees a couple of hundred incoming links – Google sees quite a few more).

So what impact does a rush of traffic have on a site?

Beyond getting a rush of adrenaline and perhaps a bit of an ego boost – what impact does a day like yesterday have on a blog?

  • Ad Revenue – traffic to the site yesterday was around 5-6 times normal levels. Conversion in terms of ad revenue was not that high – but did see a good bump. For example AdSense earnings were almost three times higher than normal.
  • New Loyal Readers – it is too early to tell how many of the 250k readers subscribed to my RSS feed yesterday (it is at least over 1000 new subscribers) but I can see that newsletter subscriber numbers were considerably up on normal levels. On an average day we get around 450 confirmed new newsletter subscribers to DPS – yesterday it was around 1000 (and there will be more as some take a while to verify). Today it’s over 800 (and will probably hit 1000 again). While a 1-2% conversion rate doesn’t sound like much it can actually be quite significant. 2000 new daily readers over a year or more really adds up to a lot of new page views on a site.
  • SEO – one of the best parts about a day like yesterday is the extra links that point at your blog once everything dies down. As mentioned above – there are around 200 links pointing at the post mentioned – some of which also point to the front page of DPS. There’s no real way to tell what impact this has on a blog but it is a significant number of links and will add to the authority of the page and site in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
  • Buzz – another benefit that is difficult to measure is that of ‘buzz’. There’s something very uplifting to an online community when they get noticed by other parts of the web. I’ll highlight what happened in the weekly newsletter that I send our regular members tonight and I find that doing so helps lift the morale around the community. It’ll also send a fresh wave of traffic to the post as people go to see what caused all the traffic.

All in all it was a good day. I’m most happy about the conversion to new readers than happened and about the SEO boost (I’m also happy that the servers didn’t skip a beat) – however I’m very aware that the extra traffic is relatively fleeting and today it is back to work.

Social Media Traffic Tsunamis are exciting events but the real challenge is to keep growing your loyal reader base by providing quality content day in day out. Speaking of which…. it’s time to get back to work.

21 Ways to Write Posts that Are Guaranteed to Grow Your Blog

  1. Write something useful
  2. Write something unique
  3. Write something newsworthy
  4. Write something first
  5. Write something that makes those who read it smarter
  6. Write something controversial
  7. Write something insightful
  8. Write something that taps into a fear people have
  9. Write something that helps people achieve
  10. Write something that elicit a response
  11. Write something that gives a sense of belonging
  12. Write something passionately
  13. Write something that interprets or translates news for people
  14. Write something inspirational
  15. Write something that tells a story
  16. Write something that solves a problem
  17. Write something that gets a laugh
  18. Write something that saves people time or money
  19. Write something opinionated
  20. Write something that is a resource
  21. Write something about something ‘cool