So, your site’s about as popular as a fart in an elevator, eh?
I’ve been there, and well… it sucks. No simpler way to put it.
And worst of all, it’s not always clear why it’s happening.
It’s not like you’re one of those spammers publishing dozens of thinly disguised sales pitches a day. You genuinely care about your audience, and you try to publish content that’ll help them.
You’re probably on social media too, trying to build a little buzz through Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Maybe not every day, but you stop in when you can, sharing a thing or two.
But nobody seems to give a damn.
Not about your content. Not about your shares. Not about you.
And you’re starting to wonder…
What are you doing wrong?
Probably a lot.
Beginners make mistakes. Just a part of life.
The good news?
You know that darkness you’re stumbling around in? Well, I’m going to turn on the light.
Nobody in the world has the power to make all the obstacles disappear, but I can at least help you see what you’re tripping over. Some of the mistakes you’re making might surprise you.
If you’re not getting the traffic you think you should be, the following are 10 of the most common reasons why:
1. You’re publishing too much content.
Didn’t know that was possible, did you?
But it is. In fact, it’s likely the most common reason why folks don’t get more traffic.
In the olden days, the rule used to be, “Publish as much as possible, as fast as possible.” Content was sparse, so you could crank out a measly 300-word article in five minutes and still get traffic, not because the article was good, but because it was the only article on the subject on the web.
Today though, the web is bursting at the seams with content on every imaginable topic. The posts you publish are competing with dozens or even thousands of posts on the same subject as yours.
As a result, quantity no longer wins. Quality does.
When you publish a post, it needs to be better than anything ever published on that topic. Ever. Anywhere on the web.
And that takes time.
Here at Smart Blogger, we usually spend at least 20 hours on each and every post. In the beginning, when it was only me, I could only publish about one post per month. The entire year, I think we published a total of 13 posts, but each and every one of them were fantastic.
Smart Blogger took off like a rocket. We got hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Eventually, we moved up to one article a week, but only when we were confident we could do it without sacrificing quality. In other words, yes, publishing more is helpful, but only if the posts you publish continue to be the best in your space.
Oh, and you also have to promote the hell out of the suckers.
2. You’re spending less time promoting your posts than writing them.
Here’s a rule of thumb for you:
Until you get to 10,000 subscribers, you should spend just as much time promoting your posts as you do writing them. Or even more, if you can.
So, if you take 10 hours to write a post, you should spend at least 10 hours on outreach. Minimum.
In the beginning, no one is paying any attention to you. You could write the greatest blog post in the history of the universe, and no one would notice.
Create jaw-dropping content, and then nicely but persistently pester the hell out of influencers until they promote it for you. Yes, a few of them might get annoyed, but if your content is truly good, the vast majority of influencers will thank you for bringing it to their attention.
Of course, you might wonder, “How do I know if my content is truly good?”
Well, let’s talk about that next…
3. You’re being a teacher, not a performer.
When you’re writing, you might think of yourself as a teacher.
Your blog is like your classroom. A blog post is like a single lesson. Your readers are like students.
Actually, no. There’s one enormous difference between bloggers and teachers:
Teachers have a captive audience. Bloggers don’t.
In the typical classroom, you can’t just get up and leave without getting penalized somehow. With your blog, readers can click the Back button anytime they want, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
If you want them to stick around, you have to entertain them.
And I’m not talking about jokes or funny stories, although that’s certainly an option. I’m talking about anything that captivates the reader.
You can scare them, inspire them, amaze them – anything but bore them. Yes, you can still teach them something (I certainly do), but you’d better keep them entertained while you do it.
And it’s easier than you think.
4. You’re being too creative.
When you want to write a post, do you just sit down and start writing?
Big mistake. Here’s why:
When you want to learn how to play the guitar, do you just sit down and start plucking strings until a song comes out?
Of course not, right? You probably start by learning basic chords.
The same goes for chess.
If you want to become a master player, you can’t just learn how each of the pieces move and then plan 12 moves in advance. You learn different combinations of common pins, skewers, and checks, eventually stringing them together into a complex strategy.
In fact, you’ll find similar structures for almost anything you want to learn. Piano, basketball, poker, whatever.
But did it ever occur to you that the same is true of blogging?
Just like anything else, master bloggers have invented structures proven to help you write more popular posts. You can get a few of them here.
The bad news?
None of them will help you if you choose the wrong blog topic.
5. You’re writing for a small niche audience.
Let me guess.
When choosing your blog topic, you probably tried to find something nobody else was writing about, right? A small niche you could dominate and call your own?
If so, you need to brace yourself, because I have some grave news:
Your blog is a goner. Nothing you do will ever make it popular.
What kind of movies do you like most? Romances? Comedies? Dramas? Action flicks? Thrillers? Kid’s movies?
Whatever you pick, it’s cool. Millions of other people like that genre too.
Now, do me a favor and name a movie that doesn’t fit in any popular genre. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
*twiddles his thumbs*
Tough, isn’t it? Sure, a few movies every year defy categorization, but for the most part, people want to see movies in their favorite genre, so that’s what Hollywood makes.
The same is true for blogging. If you’re not writing in any of the popular categories, chances are there’s only a tiny audience for your blog, and it’ll be extremely hard to get their attention.
6. You’re trying to find fresh post topics.
Here we go again.
Have you been trying to find topics for your blog posts that no one else has written about?
*slaps you silly*
It’s the same as the last point about choosing your blog topic. Everyone writes about the same stuff for a reason: that’s what people want to read!
I’m not saying you have to be a copycat. You can choose a different angle, go deeper into a subtopic, or even just apply your unique personality.
But don’t try to be original. It just makes you irrelevant.
7. You think your content alone will get influencers to notice you.
In the minds of many beginning bloggers, the path to superstardom goes something like this:
- Create content that shows how smart you are.
- Get “discovered” by influencers who stumble across your blog.
- Influencers link to you, sending tons of traffic.
It’s a beautiful model, except for one teensy-weensy little insignificant problem:
Yes, it happens on occasion, but it’s the blogging equivalent of winning the lottery. You can wait patiently for 100 lifetimes, and the mathematical odds are an influencer will never stumble across your blog.
The real path to superstardom goes like this:
- Create content using proven blogging structures.
- Nicely but persistently pester influencers until they give in, look at your posts, and realize how well-crafted they are.
- Influencers link to you, sending you tons of traffic.
Of course, pestering influencers to look at your work is uncomfortable, right?
Well, that brings us to…
8. You’re scared to ask for links.
Let me ask you some questions:
- Is your content genuinely helpful to your readers?
- Will it entertain them?
- Is it better than any other post ever published on the topic?
If you can answer yes to all of those questions, you have absolutely no reason to be scared to ask for links. Influencers will be delighted to hear from you. Me included.
So, stop being such a damn coward and send that email. Here’s a quick template:
Once you have a post worthy of sending an email like that, simply fill out the template and send it. I think you’ll like the response.
9. You’re not building an email list.
Want to know the easiest way to get traffic?
Here it is:
Email your own list.
Enough said, we can all go home. Goodbye.
Wait… are you saying you don’t have an email list?
Or maybe you have one of those silly subscription boxes in the sidebar?
MY GOD. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!
*strangles you across the Internet*
Quick, before you do anything else, go read these posts:
- Why You Shouldn’t Create a Newsletter (and What to Do Instead)
- Are You Damaging Your Email List with These 11 Rookie Mistakes?
- 9 Irresistible Incentives That’ll Grow Your Email List Like Crazy
- 9 Plugins for Growing Your Email List That Work So Well It Feels Like Cheating
Without a doubt, email is by far the most important source of traffic for your blog. Nothing else even comes close. Not even Google.
So, make sure you’re using it correctly.
10. You’re underestimating just how difficult this is.
And to close, perhaps the most insidious reason of all.
Did you have the impression that getting traffic would be easy?
I’m not blaming you, if you did. The web is full of hucksters whose bank account balances depend on making you believe anyone and everyone can do this.
But the truth?
Well, let me put it this way…
It’s harder than getting a four-year degree.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English literature after only three years of study with a 3.93 GPA. I also worked full-time the entire way through, started a radio station, and managed a nonprofit with more than 200 full-time volunteers. All at the same time.
Compared to what I do now, that was a cakewalk.
I’m not trying to scare you away from it. Really, I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for those who are really serious about it.
But that’s the key:
Being serious about it. Seeing it as a career. Expecting difficulty but happily putting in the time to achieve mastery.
The truth is, blogging is like anything else. You get out what you put in.
If you really want lots of traffic, here’s how to do it:
The Real Secret to Getting Serious Traffic
For the next 4-6 years, dedicate 20-40 hours a week to learning and practicing traffic generation.
Do that, and you’ll get all the traffic you want. It’ll be easy.
Because you’ll be a freaking master.
But this whole idea of picking up a few tips, tinkering around for 30 minutes on the weekend, and suddenly having a popular site?
Not. Going. To. Happen.
Again, I’m not trying to be mean. Just telling you how it is.
If you want greatness, commit yourself to mastery.
And then reap the rewards for the rest of your life.