As I said, my name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, which is a blog, a podcast, an event, job board, and series of eBooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience and to make money from your blog.
You can learn more about ProBlogger at ProBlogger.com.
In today’s lesson, I wanna talk about getting your traffic kick started for the new year or (if you’re listening to this in a few months’ time) after you’ve had some kind of a slump in traffic. Many bloggers struggle with getting traffic momentum early in the year.
Maybe it’s because your readers have been away over the holiday period. I know a lot of Aussie bloggers particularly struggle at this time of year because a lot of their readers are away at the beach or have just had holidays. They’ve not been online as much. Or maybe it’s because you’ve been away, and you’ve stopped blogging for a couple of weeks to have a break. Whatever the reason, whether it’s end-of-the-year slumps or mid-year slumps – because I know a lot of American bloggers have a mid-year slump when a lot of their readers go away for summer holidays.
In this lesson, I wanna give you six things you can do to hopefully boost your traffic, to give you a bit of a kick start in terms of traffic after a slump, and hopefully get things back to where your traffic was or even higher. If you’re looking for a boost in traffic, today’s episode is for you. You can listen at ProBlogger.com/podcast/177, where I’ll have some show notes and further readings and further listening for you as well.
Let’s get into today’s show.
I got an email this morning from one of my readers, who said, “I’ve had a slump in traffic over the holidays and the new year and need to get things back on track. What should I do?”
A number of things come to mind. Some of what I wanna share this morning, I have touched on in previous podcasts, so I’m gonna refer back to those where I have done that. Six things came to mind. Half of them are content-related, and half of them are not.
I’ll start with the content-related ones because sometimes renewing your focus on content can kick start traffic and help to build some momentum on your site. The first thing that I would be doing if I had just had a bit of a slump in traffic – perhaps my traffic had plateaued, and I wanted to take things to the next level – is to really focus upon creating shareable content. This is something that I definitely have talked about in previous episodes a number of times. It’s a recurring theme, and it’s something that I think we always should be putting some of our attention into – creating shareable content.
My go-to place to work out what kind of content I should be sharing is to go to BuzzSumo.com. They have a free version; they have a paid version, where you get a lot more analysis, but you can type in your URL in BuzzSumo and do some analysis over the last 12 months as to what your most shared content has been on your site. I would be going there right now as you’re listening. Type in your URL and see what has worked in the past, in terms of shareable content.
Then you need to ask yourself a series of questions. When you’re looking at those posts that have been shared a lot, you need to asking, “Could I repurpose that content into a different medium?” If I’ve had a blog post that’s done really well in the past and been shared a lot, could I turn that into a video? Could I turn that into a SlideShare? We talked back in episode 117 to Donna Moritz. She talked a lot about using SlideShare and repurposing content into SlideShares.
Could you repurpose it into a podcast? Could you repurpose it into a live video? These types of content. If it’s been shared a lot as a blogpost and you repurpose it into one of these other types of content, there’s a likelihood that repurposing it into a different medium will be shared a lot, too.
That’s the first question. As you’re looking at what’s worked in the past for you, could you repurpose it?
Another question to ask is: Could you update it? Could you do a second post with a fresh take on that particular topic for 2017?
One of the posts that I’m gonna rewrite for ProBlogger is a post that I wrote last year that did really well, which was about the blogging tools and resources that I was using in 2016. That post got shared a lot, so I’m gonna update that in the coming weeks for ProBlogger and do a 2017 version. Maybe you’ve got an old post that was shared a lot that you could do a second post on that particular topic – a fresh one.
Could you apply the same format for a post that has done well to a different subtopic? We always see on Digital Photography School, when we do a post “21 Mistakes that Wedding Photographers Make,” that type of post goes really well with our audience. Could we repurpose that for a different part of our audience? “21 Mistakes that Travel Photographers Make.” “21 Mistakes that Portrait Photographers Make.” Could you take the same format of something that has worked and do it to a different aspect of your overall topic? Could you turn something that has worked in the past into a series? Could you take a post that you have written and break it down or extend it in some way into a series of posts? If one post has worked really well, maybe tackling that same topic over a number of days or over a number of posts would be good as well.
Could you do a roundup post? If a post worked well for you in the past, could you do a search online and find out what other bloggers have said on that particular topic and then do a link post that links to all of the other opinions on that particular topic as well? That gives you an excuse to link back to your post that’s done well. You could introduce your post by saying, “I wrote this post. It’s one of our most popular posts. It made me wonder what other people are saying on that particular topic.” Then you could do a link post on that particular topic. Again, going back to those topics that have done well in the past, it’s likely that if you tackle that same topic again, it’s gonna do well again.
Lastly, maybe you want to approach some other influencers in your space and do an interview with them on that particular topic. Again, if you’ve done something that has worked in the past, go and find out what other people said. This is just one thing that you could be doing to create shareable content again, by analyzing what’s worked for you in the past and trying to create a new piece of content that really builds upon it or takes that format.
Of course, you could do exactly the same thing by plugging anyone else’s URL into BuzzSumo as well. You could be analyzing other blogs in your niche to see what has worked for them, and then writing content that’s on that same topic. If it’s worked well for them, it would work well for you. Of course, you don’t wanna just take exactly what they’ve written and rewrite it. You wanna find your own approach to tackling that particular topic. You probably want to give them credit for giving you the idea for writing about that as well. That’s something I would certainly be doing, but how could you extend upon what they’ve written? How could you take a different opinion on it? Can you write it in a different voice for example?
Create shareable content. I would be digging around on BuzzSumo at your own site and other sites, other blogs in your niche, to be getting some inspiration for what type of content you could be creating. That’s tip number one: Focus upon writing some shareable content.
Probably for the next few weeks, I would be setting myself a goal of writing at least one post a week that was written more in the hope that it would be shared.
I want all my posts to be shared, but there are certain types of content that do get shared more than others. Focus really upon that type of content over the next week or so, just to boost your traffic to find some new readers for your blog.
Tip number two is to focus upon creating something of high, high value – a mega post. This is what we call them on Digital Photography School. I should just mention, if you go back to listen to episode 34, I’ve got some more tips there on creating shareable content. Just wanna kinda give you some further listening if shareable content is something that you wanna work on.
Onto tip number two there was to focus upon creating something of high value and to create what we call on Digital Photography School one of our “mega posts.” We often will title these “The Ultimate Guide to …” These, for us on Digital Photography School, are long posts. I’m gonna give you some examples in our show notes. We did one last year, “Our Ultimate Guide to Street Photography.” We also did another one, “Our Ultimate Guide to Landscape Photography.”
These posts tackle almost like a – we try and write an ultimate guide to a particular topic, which are category topics. We have a category on Digital Photography School on landscape photography. We have a category on street photography. We’ve decided we wanna try and tackle each of our categories and write a mega-long post on each of those categories. We find that when we do this – when we write these long articles, they’re often five, six, seven thousand words long. They take a lot of time and energy, but they get shared a lot. They also stand as kind of cornerstone pieces of content as well.
When we publish these, we usually also create an opt-in off the back of them as well. We publish them as a blog post, and you’ll see in the examples in our show notes. If you go and have a look at them, at the top of the blog post, we have a line that says something like, “This is one of our most comprehensive posts on this topic. If you’d like to download a copy to keep and to print, just add your email address in here, and we’ll send it as well.” Not only do these posts get shared a lot, but they also get a lot of subscribers for us. They invigorate our email list as well.
It takes a lot of work to do this, but it could be a great way to kick start your year and to really boost your subscriber numbers – but also to create some new readers for your blog because this content will get shared a lot. You could do other things with this type of content as well. You might turn it into an autoresponder series. You could create a little free course off the back of it as well. All of these things can help to build some momentum. This type of content is also really great for repurposing, so you might wanna create a SlideShare deck about it. You might create some videos out of it. Really base your next few months of work around this type of content.
Focus upon creating something of high value that you’re gonna give away to people that is gonna get on their radar. It’s gonna be shared, and it hopefully will help to build some momentum on your site, to get things firing again for you.
Tip number three is to launch a challenge or some kind of an event on your site– some sort of an ongoing project that you’re going to run. This could take a number of different formats. It might be that you decide to start a series of content on your site, so you might announce to your readers that over the next month, you’re gonna do a whole month of content on a particular need that they have. Or it may be that you decide to spread it out a little bit more. You’re gonna do one post a week on that particular topic.
I find when I launch a series of content that that gives me energy as a blogger, but it also creates a bit of buzz and creates a bit of excitement and anticipation on my blog amongst my readers, particularly if I’m tackling an issue that is a real problem for them or a real aspiration for them. Focus upon choosing a topic for your series that’s going to eliminate a pain for your readers (I’ve said this many times before) or that’s going to help them to make a gain. Focus upon pain and gains.
Announce it to your readers. By announcing what is coming up, you are going to create anticipation, and this gives your readers a reason to keep coming back to your blog to check it out. It gives them a reason to subscribe. Anticipation is such an important thing to build into your blog, and it will also give you some energy and accountability as well to create that type of content. It may be that you wanna run a series.
Another thing that you might wanna do, in addition to creating a series, is build some kind of challenge into that. Build it into a community challenge. This is where you get your readers not only to read your content over a series, but to do something in response to that. First time I did this was “31 Days to Build a Better Blog,” a month-long series of content that I did that gave my readers a little bit of homework every day. I find by getting my readers to do something actually amplifies what you’re doing with your series. It gets them actually engaging with it. It gets them seeing some results as a result of the content and applying it to their own lives, which has an impact upon them – gives them energy. They feel like they’re participating in it, and it becomes an event that they participated in. This can really help to build your blog a lot.
The other thing I’ll say about this is that sometimes it can be really worthwhile to increase your rate of publishing content during the series or during the challenge. Again, this takes more work, but it builds more momentum. I’ve done this a number of times, both on my blogs and also on this podcast, where I just ramp the content levels up for a defined period of time. It may be a whole month, like “31 Days to Build a Better Blog.” Or you might remember, if you’re a longer term listener of this podcast, last year, I did a whole week helping my readers to find their blogging groove. It was the “Find Your Blogging Groove Challenge,” where I did a week of daily shows. I went from two times a week to daily shows, and I gave my readers a challenge every day – a little bit of teaching and a challenge. That really lifted our download numbers incredibly over that particular week and kick started things, and things continued to be higher in the weeks after that, when I returned to my normal publishing frequency.
Is there some kind of series that you can do some sort of challenge you can do? Another quick example – it doesn’t have to be on your blog that you do it. It could be on social media. Vanessa, my wife – her blog Style and Shenanigans – from time to time, two or three times a year, she’ll do a style challenge with her readers, where everyday she challenges them to wear a certain color or a certain style of clothes and to post their photos on Instagram. Whilst that doesn’t drive direct traffic back to her blog, although she does have some blog posts associated with the challenge, it builds energy. It builds momentum. It builds some excitement. It builds engagement with her readers. That has ongoing benefits for her site. It doesn’t have to be on your blog. I do think if you are wanting to drive traffic, you probably want to build something into your blog, but a lot of it could happen on social media as well.
These things I’ve been talking about so far is really about trying to create content on your blog that’s gonna build momentum, build engagement, build excitement on your blog, and hopefully build some traffic as well. But of course, driving traffic to your blog – there are other things you can do.
One of the other things I’d suggest that you think about doing, if you have had a bit of a slump in traffic, is to do a big push in terms of creating guest content in other places on the internet. Traditionally, bloggers would call this “writing guest posts” on other blogs. That’s certainly something that you could consider doing. If you have relationships with other bloggers and you can see opportunities to create blog posts for their blogs, that’s certainly something you can do. Now, this isn’t always achievable for all of us, because not all of us have the profile to get featured on another blog, but there are other ways that you can create some guest content on your blog.
If you go back and listen to episode 37 of the ProBlogger podcast, I do a whole episode on how to create guest content in other places. For example, you could be going into Facebook groups that are relevant to your particular blog and be answering questions there and to be writing tips, tutorials, and posts in those Facebook groups. Now, it’s not about trying to get people, just spamming your links into these Facebook groups. You don’t wanna do that. It’s gonna get you kicked out of the group, but if you are prolifically useful in that group, people are gonna wanna know who you are. That will drive some traffic back to your site once they begin to investigate that.
If creating guest content is something that you wanna learn more about, you might wanna go back and listen to episode 37. Just find us in iTunes, if you’re listening there – or if you go to ProBlogger.com/podcast/37. Also check out 36 as well because I do an episode there about building your profile and building traffic through commenting on other blogs. That’s kind of related to this. You could be leaving such useful comments and such detailed comments, such generous comments on other people’s blogs that that could be almost considered creating content on their blogs, so listen to 36 and 37.
It’s really about trying to identify where are your potential readers hanging out and how can I build some value in those places, either through leaving comments, writing content, or being useful in those types of communities. That’s tip number four. Do a big push on creating guest content.
Number five tip – and I’ve only got two more to go – is to focus upon warming up your email list or warming up your other social media profiles. Sometimes we have a slump in traffic because our email list, our email marketing, or our social media marketing has become cold, either because we haven’t been doing it or because we haven’t been doing it effectively. One of the things that you might want to think about is “how can you warm up the relationships that you already have with your existing readers?”
If you have an email list, you’ve got people who have said to you, “Please email me.” If you haven’t been emailing them or you haven’t been emailing them in a useful way, there are some ways to warm up that relationship again. One, it could be simply sending them an email – for the first email for the year. Maybe you’ve had a few weeks off from your email. Send them an email. Include in that email something useful, something that’s gonna enhance their lives in some way, something that’s gonna help eliminate a pain or help them to make a gain in some way. It may be linking to some content that you’ve written on those particular topics. It may be answering some frequently asked questions that you get. I don’t know what it will be for your audience, but send them an email. The same on your social media. Maybe you’ve just kind of been letting social media slide over the holidays. Maybe it’s about re-engaging that.
One of the things I’ve been doing to warm up my email lists a bit has been to go back to my autoresponders. If you’ve got an email list, you’re probably using a service like Aweber, MailChimp. There’s a number of them out there. Most of them have some kind of an autoresponder system. This is where you set up a sequence of emails. I talk a lot about this in episode 70 of this particular podcast. One of the things I’ve been doing over the last few weeks is to really give my autoresponders a refresh because some of them had become a little bit dated.
On Digital Photography School, I actually have scrapped my autoresponder series, and I’m completely building it from the ground up. One of the things that I’m doing in that sequence is to highlight and to refresh some of the older content that we’ve got on the site. We get a lot of new subscribers every day, and they haven’t seen that old stuff on our site. So I’m building an autoresponder sequence that’s all about showing them what’s in our archives.
I’m doing a theme-based email, so in that autoresponder series, I now have an email that has “Here’s our best tips for beginner photographers,” “Here’s our best tips for portrait photography,” “Here’s our best tips for landscape photography.” I was not selling anything in these emails. It’s purely about trying to solve problems and to help our readers make gains in certain areas.
Maybe you wanna go back to your autoresponder series and refresh it, or maybe if you haven’t got one, start one. It is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. It’s one of those things that you can set up once, and it will continue to run over time. Go and listen to episode 70, if you wanna learn more about that.
The same thing could be true within this tip to warm up your social media accounts as well. It may be that you wanna do some analysis of what you’ve been doing on your Facebook page, for example. What’s been working? What hasn’t been working? Scrap some of those things that haven’t been working and try some new strategies on that.
The last thing that I wanna suggest that you do is – might sound a little bit strange, but I want you to pick a fight. Pick a fight. Name something big that you wanna have a big impact on as a community, and announce that to your readers – something that you wanna attack.
Now I’ve talked about this in previous episodes as well. The idea here is not to pick a fight with a person, another blogger, or a celebrity, or to be controversial just to get attention, but rather pick something that you’re gonna be passionate about over the coming months and that something you wanna take a stand on, on your blog – something that your readers can rally around. It may be tied to the series of posts that you wanna do or that challenge that you wanna run with your audience, but I think sometimes when you show what you’re passionate about to your readers, that can build real energy with your readers, particularly if you give them some way to join in on that.
For example, I was talking to one blogger from Canada recently, who blogs on the topic of fashion for mums, and she has decided that one of her big themes for the next 12 months will be around the topic of body image. She’s going to write a regular post every month that helps her readers to think about body image and help them think more healthily about that and help them to celebrate who they are as women. She’s gonna do this once a month, and she’s gonna take a different aspect of that topic.
I really think that by tackling that topic – that’s her fight for the year – that I suspect that those posts will really resonate with her audience. She’s going to build some challenges into that as well. Fights can be very positive. We think of the word “fight” as a negative thing, but actually, giving your readers something to rally around, something to believe in, some sort of vision to move towards can really build momentum on your site.
Maybe there’s something within your topic that you can take a stand on. Again, this might be content-related, but it could just be a single post that you write on a particular topic. But it could also be something that really kick starts your year, that you can return to again and again over time.
I’ve gone through six things there. I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said on the topic. Firstly, it was: focus upon creating some shareable content. Build that into your weekly rhythm.
Number two, focus upon creating something of high value, a mega-post, an ultimate guide to a topic – something that is gonna be so big and so impressive to your readers that they’ll just wanna share it and something that you could also use to get some more subscribers by turning it into some sort of a free giveaway with your audience.
Number three was to launch a project or a challenge, some kind of an ongoing series of content, particularly if it’s got some sort of a challenge and way for your readers to engage. You may actually wanna build a Facebook group around that or something like that, too.
Number four is to do a big push on creating some guest content, whether it’s guest posts, engaging in forums, engaging in Facebook groups. Create something of high value off your blog in someone else’s space.
Number five: focus upon warming up the relationships that you already have with your current readers through email or through social media.
Lastly, pick a fight. Pick something that you are passionate about, and write about that. Give your readers something to rally around, something to join in on in some way that’s gonna make a difference to them, but also the world that we live in, in some way because people love to join in on making a difference.
These six things that I reckon could just be the keys to boosting some traffic on your site, but more importantly than that, giving your site a boost of energy and creating some momentum and anticipation on your site as well. If you’ve got something else that you’ve been working on over the first few weeks and months of 2017 or something that’s got you through a slump in traffic and has helped to kick start your blog, I would love to hear about it over on ProBlogger.com/podcast/177, where you can find today’s show notes, a full transcription, and also find all those further reading or further listening that I’ve mentioned in this particular episode.
Thanks so much for listening. Look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 178!