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:
Hi <first name>,
Actually, you didn’t promise to link to it. You don’t even know me.
But let’s assume for a moment you promised to share it for me because:
- It’s a perfect fit for your audience. They’ll love it.
- It’s the best post ever written on the topic (check if you don’t believe me)
- It’ll only take you 10 seconds to scan the post and click the share button
Here’s the link:
PS: If you find that any of the above are untrue, I’ll donate $1,000 to a charity of your choice as a way of apologizing.
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 to be profitable and gain much attention. 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 starting a blog, 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.
138 thoughts on “Why Your Site Gets Such Pitiful Traffic (and What to Do about It)”
Thanks for beating me up on a good day, Jon. I hate those truthful posts but they work. You win.
Just tough love, that’s all. 🙂
Hahahahahaha @ *slaps you silly* That’s just so you Jon. Love it!
Jon, Thanks for sharing very awesome article about pitiful site traffic, So It was Really informative to me, As I’m really enjoyed this article. Thanks one again 🙂
You’re welcome! Thanks for reading.
Great tips. Reducing how frequently I posted was one of the first things I learned to do to increase traffic. I post once a week now, and I’ve been doing that on my various blogs for several years with success.
But, sadly, I was late to point #2. I used to spend far too much time writing my posts and not nearly enough time promoting them! I’ve remedied this, thankfully. 🙂
Great work! Off to share…
Thanks Kevin. Sounds like you’re making progress.
I think Glen from viper chill summarizes it best by saying “be remarkable!”
Glen is a smart man. 🙂
What if you’re relying on SEO to drive traffic to your site? Would posting more often we warranted in this case?
(I’m not using SEO – just a question!).
Promotion is something that a lot of us have to master. I promote through social media, but am very far off grasping the ‘best’ way to do this. Gonna take another read of the post on an outreach programme ….
No, the approach is the same with SEO. Quality trumps quantity.
I agree with you, Razwana. Definitely need to go back and revisit the outreach post. The Alltop site mentioned in that post is killer (alltop.com) and helps to narrow down which bloggers really make sense to reach out to.
Thanks for this inspiring-and totally truthful post.
Kind of like that 10,000 hours rule, eh?
The Franchise King®
Yep, the $10,000 rule definitely applies.
Well, less popular still.
When some of my posts were used for interrogation, the prisoners begged for more waterboarding.
I commit the sin of running 3 blogs, 2 of which are basically extended business cards and work samples for my presentation as a freelance controller and an accounting teacher.
Yet, I built the 2 new ones using your ideas from the start, and they got a lot more readers from the beginning than the old one has been getting in 6 years. That was the one that was supposed to make money.
Today, performed CPR on the second post in my old blog, using your approaches:
1. Long Content
My first one over 3,400 words. In the beginning it was “Working with people who have influence can help you. How? Uhm… You’ll work it out. Good luck!” Now it is a crisp instruction manual on how to find influential people in the offline world, contact them and build relationships. All nicked from other people, of course.
2. Write from Authority
That post really sounds as if I know what I am talking about. Must be the magic in your instructions.
Respectfully disagree with point 5.
Blogging is a niche. How many people blog?
Well, too many, granted.
In memory of Christopher Hitchens, I’ll say “Everyone has a blog (book) in them. In most cases, that is where it should stay.”
But not everybody blogs, by far.
Also, it took me a few seconds to come up with “Eraserhead” by David Lynch and “Montana Sacra” by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Or anything by JEAN-LUC GODDARD *screams in agony*
Well, belonging to the niche of hopeless movie buffs, movie websites get some traffic from me.
Apart from that, still LOVE your posts. You are one of the few people I call a master at something.
Thanks again and again
Asking to be waterboarded, ha. Gave me a good laugh.
Here’s the thing about niches:
I’ve never heard of those films you just named, and I doubt many other folks have either. Same thing with blogging. Yes, you can defy categorization, but only if you want 95% of the world to ignore you.
I do not mean to be a smartass, but what about real niche products that make a lot of money?
I do not know how many big passenger airline jet engines you bought this year, but I have not been able to get a third one into the living-room.
How many people ignore jet engine manufacturers?
And do they make a few bucks?
When I last checked prices, they did.
Amazing post Jon!
Excellent advice. I must admit to having made many of these mistakes.
However I believe I am starting to get on the right track now with your help through Serious Bloggers Only and Boost Blog Traffic. (also on your Guest Blogging Course which is also fantastic)
Thanks Ross! With all those resources, you’ll have the traffic flowing in no time. 🙂
I am sure I will Jon. 🙂
Wow! Thanks for the kick in the pants and the great tips! #2 and #3 spoke to me.
I stopped promoting my posts and what happened? No traffic! *head hits desk* In the process of changing that.
I love helping people and giving them advice, but I sometimes come across as a know it all. Not a good thing when you’re blogging. 🙂
Unless you really do know it all. 😉
My favorite thing about your blog is how you hit me over the head with everything I’m doing wrong, but I still leave inspired. #1 is my current problem and I’ve been thinking about publishing less. Part of my problem is that as kind of giving up, but its something I have to do to make my blog better. It’s not “giving up” as much as it is finding my balance and growing from there.
Changing directions is very, very different from giving up.
You can change the direction of your blog as many times as you want. And you should. Only an idiot keeps going in the same direction if it’s not taking her where she wants to go. 🙂
Giving up, on the other hand, is walking away from the blog forever and never writing again.
Another great post! As always extremely useful and insightful.
When I started blogging I made a lot of mistakes. If I look back at them I almost feel embarrassed . The 2 points that really stand out to me are ‘building an email list’ en ‘only publish an article if it’s truly epic and life changing’.
At our blog we stopped publishing now and we completely focus on blogger outreach. We comment, engage and write guest posts for other blogs. And yes, my girlfriend is doing your Guest Blogging course, which is great by the way. We learn how to write great content so, when we have enough subscribers, we can publish remarkable and epic content on our own blog.
Thanks for this post and I am looking forward to the next post on BBT.
We all feel embarrassed when we look back at our earlier selves. Hey, when I was a beginner, I did so many stupid things I got banned by Google. No joke. 🙂
Very interesting mixture of topics you have there, Bastiaan. Will be an interesting community.
Great post Jon
Number ten really resonated with me. I’ve got three degrees (education wise, not the 1960’s girl group), and nothing prepared me for how hard running a blog and podcast is.
Getting traffic and producing content is a MAJOR undertaking, so I’d add a number eleven to the list – thinking you can do this part time. For me, blogging has to a full-time enterprise and commitment to get anywhere at all.
Jon …one of the BEST posts ever. EVER. Thanks, man. Seriously valuable info in a crisp presentation tied with a bounteous bow of humor. Love. It.
After hearing Danny Iny’s webinar, I don’t post as often except if I join a writing challenge at times. But, I agree – posting more often/daily doesn’t leave any time for promoting and other things. Plus you can’t have the top quality.
I do the 2nd mistake – not promoting as much as I should.. Recently, I wrote an e-book and your Headline Hacks’ cheatsheet helped me create 30+ unique headlines for it. I’ve thought of using them to promote the e-book.
Also, was doing #6 but soon realized it’s not possible at least in my niche where news of new tech spreads like wild fire.
I’m also making mistake #9.
Thanks for the e-mail template – will use it. 🙂 Another thank you for this post.
#9 is a biggie. Make sure you get that one corrected.
Thanks for the linked posts in #9, going through them. Also joined a 31 day list building challenge.
Hope to get this corrected in a month and have a decent sized e-mail list … and then not get strangled across the Internet. 🙂
That was the kind of kick up the ass I needed.
Always happy to deliver one. 🙂
This post seriously spelled out all of the fears I’ve had in my mind over the past, like, 10 months.
It really does feel harder than college! I have been studying so many blogs and programs cover to cover to try to feel like I have a grasp of it but I’m definitely in overwhelm mode.
It took me about 9 months to finally launch the darn blog last month to crickets
(Which I expected)
I just had to take the leap so to speak. And things have been moving at a glacial pace ever since.
In fact a glacier is a perfect metaphor- so many bloggers make it look SO easy but there is that other 99% of the work that goes on beneath the surface.
A heartfelt Thanks Jon
Part for validating some of my fears
and part for the bread crumb links that have created a hidden trail for me on how to move forward 🙂
Very true about most of what we do as bloggers being beneath the surface.
Hi Jayme, a very beautiful blog you have, with unique, refreshing design.
I have done some educational videos already, and they get an expected low-figure of views, but by an enthusiastic niche audience.
Have you done any research / survey as to how many potential customers you might have?
As for my markets, they are mostly intransparent, so I make guesses. Hit and miss.
Uhg! My head is spinning. You say post less content other experts say post more content. Of course the way you explain the reasoning behind posting less makes sense. When I follow the “hurry up, post more, more, more” advice the quality of my writing diminishes. Well duh.
I guess it comes down to choosing between writing for SEO or writing for my elusive audience.
Thank you for this important food for thought (and action).
Please expect an email from me asking you to look over my latest masterpiece and click the share button to get in front of your massive readership. You did promise, remember? And if I don’t hear from you or I don’t see that you have shared my link I will be stalking you (electronically) from now until you comply. (Per your instructions.) Thankyouverymuch
In the meantime, for your convenience, I will try to sneak a link in this comment: Grants-Myth or Real?
Seriously, Your Royal Awesomeness, thank you for your words of wisdom.
I guess you’re pointing to what Jon wrote on the last page of his Headline Hacks’ cheataheet. Jon didn’t promise it he’d read every post. So, don’t stalk him – you know he’s a delicate little rosebud, don’t you? 🙂
@Raspal Seni I was pointing to #7 …pester the influencers until they look at your posts and #8 Jon’s email template.
I would never stalk unless invited to do so. And I take that as an invitation to do so. 🙂
When you pitch me, just make sure you meet those three qualifications, or I’ll be expecting that $1000 check to be delivered to my favorite charity. 🙂
I assumed as much Jon!
I’ve been looking through my posts trying to find the best one that meets your criteria AND uses one of your Headline Hacks. (Still looking…)
Thank you once again for another awesome, but more importantly insightful post.
I LOVE the way you write. In fact, since I joined your Guest Blogging course I’ve been reading as much of your content as I possibly can.
I definitely need to improve my writing before I can send the template you shared with us to any influencers asking for a link, and your blog is a great place to start learning.
Keep up the good work!
A few months ago I read an article you reposted about blogging once a month. It. All. Made. Sense. I release articles on my blog the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month. And then I promote the hell out of them. I started doing this in May of 2014. My traffic may not be going through the roof yet but it’s staying consistent on a daily basis. I ask for link backs. I get retweeted and shared (and I do the same for other awesome bloggers) and I respond to every single comment on my blog (except spam). The article I published on Sunday already has 63 likes on Facebook, 63 tweets, and has been shared 19 times on Google+ – and that’s just after being live for 3 days. Not bad for someone who’s been blogging for 7 years the WRONG way and who now finally gets it 🙂 Thank YOU for all your awesomeness and wisdom!
Rock. Your. Fab.
Most welcome, Peggy. Proud of you!
You made me feel like Iv been doing shit all the while.
With you and my resolved determination, I must succeed this year.
Go for it, Ocso!
You’ve gone and done it again, Jon! You’ve written another top post.
(It’s so good, it’s scary).
No need to send me your usual ‘please tweet this post’ email, Jon. I’ve already tweeted the f*&^% out of it!
Thanks Mary! 🙂
Thanks for Pro Tips…. I will try to follow your points.
I’m new to all this, so hopefully this will set me on my way in decent stead. Although this bit was a little disconcerting, at first:
“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.”
I initially took that to mean – you’ve been to my site, and well… it sucks. I guess it would’ve been a visitor though, at least. Every cloud and all that.
Keep up the great work Jon.
Ha, no, I’d never call out a reader individually. 🙂
Finally, the truth! I do not write about how to be a better blogger but after 2 years with my site AfricaInside.org I have thought many times about writing a be a better blogger post which would have included so many of the truths you have written about today. Of course I would not have said them as well as you but I’m getting’ there. 🙂 Thank you for your honesty and I hope all new bloggers will take this post to heart.
You covered all the loopholes which are distracting traffic from blogs. All these cases was happened with me when I am completely newbie in blogging… 😉
Thank you for remind those things again to me.. )
Most welcome, Nikhil!
Jon thanks for the amazing post. In this era of ‘how to write a post in 15 minutes ‘ and post 3 times a day, your post differs by saying not to and why. Simply superb.
Yeah, I wish the so-called “experts” would stop spreading that three post per day silliness.
I’ve been reading your blog for about a year tinkering with the idea of starting my own. But recently I landed a job in direct mail marketing that has included the creation and promotion of a company blog. All the sudden all your advice is becoming incredibly relevant!
Thanks for sharing!
Direct mail is actually great training too. It’s very similar to blogging.
This is the most vicious but true post I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe the reason my site isn’t growing is that my posts take about an hour to write, and I publish a lot of what has already been said before.
I might need to stop publishing for the next couple weeks and go back to make sure my other posts are ridiculously spectacular.
Holy cow! How else could I work on anything else in my business if I spend 20-40 hrs on content and traffic? Great points… feels a little overwhelming!
A couple of solutions:
1. Work 80+ hours a week. This is what most full-time entrepreneurs do in the beginning.
2. Build your audience BEFORE you launch your business, so you can dedicate 100% of your time to getting traffic. If you’re launching your business on the side, this one is a good option.
The final advice on this is sooo true! I think I did at least 3 years of an 8-midnight shift devoted to building the blog before things really started to happen. Glad to hear I’m not a weirdo and that’s sort of the norm.
I find most bloggers just aren’t willing to work that hard. But it’s worth it. 😉
I know first-hand that you’re not a weirdo.
Razwana, Seo is still very much relevant. If you know Brian Dean of Backlinko-then you know this guy wears the seo mystical hat.
And still he does one damn thing he reaches out to the master influencers.
That’s why this magical of a guy publishes just one post a month and still appears on the top 5 of Google serp ranking.
He creates incredible, mouth- watering content; garnishes it with beautiful outreach and gets tons of link in the process.
What does his method look like? You ask.
What are his brain washing strategy?
Is this thing Jon Morrow saying a freaking lie?
Take a deep breath, search on Google ‘How to Get Influencers to Promote Your Post For Free’ by Brian dean and chew the dynamite of technique released from the ink of this master crafter.
Then hop onto his blog and watch him- or read him strings together awesome goodness.
You Mean it?
Ya, just as Jon does? This guy takes about 20 hours to create such remarkable article that continues to blow your mind month after month.
And the best part,
It is all free.
So what’s holding you back?
Wow. Thanks Jon for this awesome reminder.
His Royal Awesomeness-
Thank you for this post. Definitely a game changer and major eye opener. I now have like 10 windows opened with the other posts linked.
Me too. I’m sure applying this to my blog.
Love this, Jon. Thank you. Working more on #2 and #8, which I’m doing, but not always enough.
Fantastic, truthful, honest and to the point. Great post. I try to explain to people how much goes in to blogging and what are some key “guydlines” if you will. I will bookmark and re read this over and over! Shared and noted! Thanks!
Hello His Royal Awesomeness! Well, DAMN!!! You’ve once again BLOWN. MY. MIND. I knew I was making mistakes. But, you’ve given me a nice and neat way to categorize my messes (and misses) into 10 buckets so that I can start shooting holes in them. THANK YOU! I must say–you are a treasure. “Awesomeness” doesn’t even begin to describe you. Have you considered “The One Who F@#*ING” Gets It Better Than Anyone Else in the UNIVERSE” as a potential name? Just throwin’ it out there!
As usual Jon, witty and full of digestible, valuable content. Thank you for always enlightening us.
This my first time here Jon, i really learn from your post many things that i should do to improve my site, Thanks Jon for sharing these valuable Details 🙂
True, Jon, I used to be a team blogger (translation: unpaid workhorse) at a site that published a new post every day: max 600 words. (As we both know, long posts of 1000 words+ get qualified readers; short ones don’t.) Nobody commented, apart from my fellow team bloggers, as a courtesy. Why? Everyone’s content was crap, hack work. (‘Help! It’s my turn to blog. Maybe they’ll like my cute observations about the Oxford comma?’) Three years later that blog still has an Alexa rank in high seven figures.
By contrast, I publish a post every week at Writers’ Village that draws 100+ comments every time. Why? It’s darn good. It’s funny, it’s witty and every time I publish it, 100 folk Unsubscribe from my list. Why? It shakes them from their comfort zones. That’s great. They weren’t going to buy from me anyway. But 200 folk join my list.
Now my list is plummeting towards five figures. And it has great site traffic.
Long copy, weekly posts… they work. Provided your content is provocative and great. Just like yours.
Along with the fact that this is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time (and boy do I have a lot to learn and master), your opening line is BY FAR in my top five… probably #1. Brilliant! Even if I wasn’t remotely interested in the topic I would have read through the entire post to see if you had any other gassy one-liners 🙂
Heya Jon, Yet another post jam packed with ideas which can readily be converted into action.
But here’s the thing, wrt #9 (email list). I’ve been blogging for 3 years now on my wordpress.com site and have utilised the ‘blog subscribe’ feature. This has left me deficient in the ’email list’ space. I’ve just added a ’email subscribe’ button but it’s a very slow journey (and if you visit my site, yes, I realise there are things I need to do around this, but it’s a work in progress).
What do you recommend for people in a transition phase – ditch the Wordpress subscribe widget altogether, leaving email as the only option? this would also mean posting twice (I presume new posts go through to existing Wordpress subscribers and then for new email list people I need to copy and paste post and submit via email?)
Any thoughts would be appreciated
Thank you Jon. I really needed that post. I’m quite new to this and it’s easy to get the impression that you can just write a great post and have it go viral. It’s nice to hear that actually in fact it takes a lot of work, and a lot of time, just like most things in life to get right. Well written (of course) and chock full of information. I so appreciate all the free advice you give out. It is engendering loyalty in me which I suppose is what you intended. Anyway, it’s working! 🙂
It’s always refreshing to read a post like this, and it especially applies to the beginner. Blogging as a career often gets scoffed at, but as you stated, it’s just like anything else – put the time in and see the growth. Thanks again for the brutal honesty, Jon, it’s great motivation for those of us who want to succeed. Cheers.
Ditto what everyone else said.
Plus, you make me laugh (in a good way!) and there’s nothing better than having fun while also getting a butt whooping.
Telling it like it is – way to go!
I especially love the 4-6 years of solid effort and practice. I’m around out year 6, where the first 1-2 years were amateur hour… but I feel like I’m hitting my stride and the results are definitely there to prove it.
Going to be sharing this one! 😉
The title of this post was the kicker I need to do things differently. Thanks for the reality check, as well as providing tips on what I can do to increase traffic.
Wonderful Jon. Really helpful inspiring article as always.
The only thing I’d ask is, when blogging is not my main job, how can I make this work without spending so much time becoming an expert at traffic generation. All the other areas I can either make the change or am working on it but that one leaves me thinking I’ll never be able to crack this. ….
You strangled me across internet 😉
But yes, reading you is always such a pleasure. I always admit my mistakes to myself yet always enjoying and laughing 🙂
Hi Jon I think I have too much content on my blog. I had wondered about that a while back and you confirmed it for me. Thanks! I definitely need to build an email list. I’m not sure how to go about this, or which one would be suitable for my site. I’m an author and about to have my book published. Thanks again Jon I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. 🙂
Greta you could start up with mailchimp. I did write up a tutorial with images on my site you could check it out
Thanks Peter, I have tried “MailChimp” and I was confused even more. I just can’t seem to get this right. I ended up installing “Feedburner.” This also gives people a chance to sign up through “a reader” on your blog.
Spending 20 hours on a blog before publishing it is little unheard of, i am amazed to learn that in your first year you published 13 posts.
Loved your idea on – Think of your content to be the best of what is currently available on the web, will surely take that approach now.
Awesome advice. And it’s an entertaining read too.
Quick question for you: what constitutes good traffic for a niche site?
1,000 visitors, 10,000 visitors , 100,000 visitors a month?
Amazing post as usual Jon.
Many people definitely make the mistake of writing for too small of an audience.
Ugh. Thank you for the tough love, Jon! But I think your honesty is what’s missing in the industry. I too often see stuff that says something like “Be wildly successful and rich in 5 easy steps!! (or 30 days!!)” I love how you just tell it how it is. (4-6 years!) I’m going to go cry now. And then I’m going to pick myself up and commit to mastery!!
I have learn more things from this Artical ..
Great advice, but I can’t help wondering if there’s no such thing as a tried-and-true method to successful blogging? Isn’t it sometimes true that what doesn’t work for one blogger may be another blogger’s goldmine?
Well, I’m still an amateur, so what would I know? 🙂
Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Your Awesomeness.
Not only will this post get filed under my “Great Shit That I’ve Read” bookmark. It will get printed out and used as a reference for what to do / what not to do.
Jon, thank you for the informative post. I enjoyed it a lot!
I think you should qualify #1 on your list, “You’re publishing too much content.” There is an advantage to posting regularly, at short intervals. If people enjoy your writing, you will help build a “habit” of visiting your site to read new posts.
There seems to be a minimum level of activity (2 posts per week?) that is necessary to reinforce this habit. If the interval is too long, you risk losing your audience before they develop into habitual readers.
I suggest that #1 above should read, “You’re compromising quality by publishing too much content.”
Hi John; This is the kind of post that will be very helpful to new and relatively new bloggers. One of the biggest problems many of them have to overcome is not meting expectations that were overly optimistic in the beginning thanks to lots of financially successful people online. I like to say you have to separate personal success from financial success. You can b doing everything right growing and learning as a blogger without making much if any money from it. I have told people that i am successful, my bank account just hasn’t caught up to me yet. You mentioned six years. Well, it will be seven since i filed for my domain and a little over six and a half since first going live my first blog is about four and a half years old, my second much better one about twenty two months, and my current blog that focuses on me as a blind blogger is about six weeks old. this latest blog has enjoyed a lot of success because of the lessons learned from earlier blogs, the audience I have attracted, and the relationships I have built up. Just this week i was honored with a guest post on aha now where I talk about life lessons from a blind blogger. I hope you will check it out and give me your professional opinion. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and dispelling a lot of blogging myths. Take care, Max
You saved me hours upon hours of pumping out quality content no one reads. It’s all just a waste really. Strategy is all about knowing when it’s time to steer in a new, effective direction. #Promote. #Build.
Thanks for the blog!
A very timely post to cover main reasons of thin traffic at a blog for now after a lot of changes in blogging trends.
Frequency of publishing post is now a very debatable topic. Quite awhile ago it was talk of the town that once in a week is the best publishing strategy. But now whispers are being heard that it is better to increase weekly post frequency. Isn’t it because now quality posts have increased a lot and one has to compete with higher number of quality posts to stand out in the crowd. Just a query if you reply please.
Wow. What a slap in the face ! But so true. We need to hear the truth.
I agree when you say to write less, but with more quality. Spending more time on one post and deliver it with quality pays more on the long term. Your audience will know that what you write usually is high quality.
I also agree when you say that we should not be scared to ask for links. People are actually more generous than we think. Especially if you are asking to share something of high quality that is valuable to their audience.
I personally needed to reach to influencers for a new project of mine and was totally amazed by people’s generosity. People are definitely willing to help you if your concern is to share valuable information.
You hit the nail on the head, nobody could say it the way it needed to be said but you! I’m not trying to crown you king, just saying the truth.
If this is what it takes then this is what I gotta do. I’m ready for it :).
I seem to be getting traffic to my site daily yet no comments. Can someone go to my site and tell me honestly what they think. This may certainly help me. I’ve to write less content in the past and it hasn’t made a difference. Thanks in advance. http://motivationalmusings.com
I think that #2 is HUGE. Most people I know who are unsuccessful at blogging are simply not promoting their posts enough. Many times it’s because they know inside that nobody will link to them (because of all your other points…)
Check out overexpost.com to post your opinions and ideas!
I did forget to mention something here. My blog has no “sign up or opt in” box. I’ve had bother trying to get one onto my site. I tried “MailChimp” and I found I had problems with it. Quite technical. I guess what I’m trying to admit here is “I don’t know how to go about building a list. Don’t know how to do it. There I’ve said it. Any blogger knows this, yet it’s something I have bother doing.
We’re about to start working on a course that will show you how. Stay tuned. 🙂
Writing really in-depth, helpful, smart posts – and spending a ton of time promoting them through blogger outreach – is the way to generate blog traffic. Super smart tips.
On that hyper niche point, I’d add that if you generalize a bit, then work your way down, you can become successful. I write about sharing blogging tips on my new blog, but the tips are for folks who want to retire to a life of island hopping, as I have for the past 3 years.
So yep, I keep it general for starters, but then I do drill down because this differentiates me from any other blogger on earth….as far as, doing the blogging tips/island hopping bit, specifically, and the market is out there for sure. Lots of folks would rather live here in Fiji, and would rather be blogging, instead of doing the 9-5 gig.
Outreach, outreach, outreach. I spend a few hours, 3 days a week, writing posts, and about 30 minutes on the other days editing and proofreading these posts before I publish. Then I go with an aggressive blogger outreach campaign.
I learned from my old blog that how many people you connect with – and leaders, at that – determines how much traffic you’ll attract and how much influence you can yield. Pros, and soon to be blogging pros, drive traffic to your blog, most of the time.
Sure your posts must rock, to draw in interested readers, but those interested readers show up after you’ve freely promoted other pro bloggers, and have posted in-depth comments to their blogs.
Thanks Jon, fun read as always.
Tweeting in a bit.
Awesome post Jon. I liked your tips#6, which is very true; deep research on any topic always rocks. To come out of the crowd you first need to enter and differentiate your research from the crowd.
And for point#2 I would like to emphasize on 360 degree of approach, you need to have good content along-with huge network of promoters and basic link popularity platform and support.
Appreciate your research on the topic. Thanks
Great post. You have shared so much valuable information here Jon, thank you. I am glad that you included #10. I think new bloggers especially think that all they need to do is set up a blog and that is the extent of the effort. But this is hard work!
Ha-Ha! Jon, I’ve finally stopped laughing at your opening line, long enough to realise what your message is here: Success means stepping out from the hamster-
wheel of guru steps that don’t work any more, onto the solid ground of Individualism.
Turn away from the madness (everyone doing the same things and not noticing it’s not working) and realise that the only way to become popular online is to be confident enough to become someone worth knowing and sticking with. Without that, all the guru-squad tactics in the world won’t work.
Thanks. And thanks for the laugh.
I have now installed a “feedburner” on my blog where people can subsribe to my posts through “a reader.” I don’t know how successful this might be, but I have tried so hard to install opt in and sign up boxes. Also tried MailChimp. I’m afraid I just get confused. For some reason a truly struggle with this part of blogging.
His Royal Awesomeness,
At last… Someone that tells the truth!
“… For the next 4-6 years, dedicate 20-40 hours a week to learning and practicing traffic generation…”
Really liked your post. It is very entertaining and useful too. Being a new blogger it will help me a lot.
Thanks for your post. Keep up your good work.
ya I too like your post very much.Its not only entertaining but also informative one.By this post,Many of them will feel very happy.while doing blogging
thank you for that first of all.
Thanks Jon, this was brilliant. Read it the whole way through which I don’t tend to with a lot of other sites.
Will put all your tips into practice and was especially impressed with the way you were so upfront about the length of time it takes to create a successful blog – a breath of fresh air. This time factor alone is what prohibits a lot of people from having a successful blog.
Thank you so much for this blog post, Your Royal Awesomeness.
I completely agree with what you said about how hard growing a blog really is. Aside from creating content, you have to promote the hell out of your blog posts. I used to be a member of the ‘build it and they shall come’ school of thinking, but reading blog posts about blogging from experienced bloggers has definitely changed my mind.
Also, I think I giggled every time you said *slap me silly* or *strangle me across the Internet.* This blog post is a great example of tip #3!
Thanks for the realities of blogging there at the end Jon. I wish more people knew how hard it is to really get to where you want, and those final paragraphs really indicated the truth. Years of hard, sometimes unpleasant, work. Hours of learning. Lots of failure.
It’s funny, hilarious but so true, thanks for the advice ! great read !
I am reassured. It takes me hours to craft a blog post. I thought I was just a slow writer. Now I will invest as much time promoting as writing. That’s easy math.
One thing, though. That smart-alec example email? I wouldn’t recommend using that, unless perhaps you’re certain the person is an extrovert American. If it came to me (after I’m famous, of course) I’d class you as a spammer quicker than you can say “Curse you Jon Morrow!”
Thanks for all these tips. Reading just this post, well, I’m subscribing. 🙂 If possible, would love to read more about No.2 about promoting; a detailed post on promotion.
Wow, this article open my mind. Thanks for sharing John.
Got to this site through your course cheatsheet at Mixergy. I really like your approach to blogging. Often I start websites with no audience and hoping that they will eventually come.
Thanks for the tips. Lemme eat from your blog till I am full.
Wow, writing content with so many words and doing promotion for just one piece of post is really quite exertive.
The one question which comes into my mind is “How well does it pay off?” So, in terms of ROI, what exactly do you put in (turn time into money) and what do you get from it? Doing it just for the sake of getting traffic is from a business viewpoint not the goal.
#2 really resonates with me. I’ve already come to the realization of #10.
I love how you express the email mistakes that many of us make (#9), well perhaps I should say, instead, mistakes that I make. i.e. “… one of those silly subscription boxes in the sidebar”. I’m looking forward to reading the 4 posts that you link to about getting it right.
Thanks for a great post Jon .. a real wake-up-call.
What a amazing post I know for sure I need to go back this post. Go over the details again.
You provide great tips, so Jon keep up the great work.
Have a great day.
I stumbled upon your site in search of how to increase my blog’s traffic. I read but two and I am in love. You have me hooked Mr. Royal Awesomeness. After reading a couple content, I see why you have this level of success. It’s hard to be informative and entertaining at the same time. You do both with ease.
“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”
Looks like it’s back to the drawing board for our marketing strategy then.
Hi Hisroyalawesomeness jon. Thanks for the tips I find it really helpful. please can you be kind enough go advice me? I am new at blogging. I just finished setting up my own blog last week. I want to teach others in my country (Nigeria) how to setup a dot com blog with ease and how to make money with it. Obviously, they will need proof of my earning first before they can trust me and buy my products………
* Do I need to wait till i make my first pay online? who will buy for that to happen?
* Am I rushing things?
* What type of posts should i capitalize on now?
Quite lengthy, but I need your professional advice and I’ll be grateful for that
Gah, I’m making all kinds of mistakes apparently. Thanks for the insight, I’ll try my best to follow.
It’s Autumn’s Life
Great post! About pestering influencers, can we send the email template to you too?:p
I could my heart beating fast as I read this post. The truth is bitter but it has to be told. I need to invest more time into mastering the art of traffic generation.
I am focusing too much on social media, and you’re right I am getting very minimal results.
Got one viral post, but my traffic slowly went back to its pitiful state after two weeks. Thank you Jon for this brutally honest advice for us beginners.
Now I know what to do. 🙂
4-6 years tell me this cant be true????
Very helpful, thank you
Thank you Jon.
You wrote this for me.
Who told you about all the nasty emotions I’m feeling about what’s happening with my blog?
As I devoured your post, I kept asking myself all the time, “you mean there was a time Jon Morrow battled the endless struggles I’m wrestling?”
No one knows me. And no one is reading my blog. No one freaking cares.
And it sucks.
But you piece made me smile, actually laughed very hard ha ha ha (the elevator fart, you know ha ha).
I still don’t know what to do about my being the only person who thinks my content is terrific. But I’ll keep pressing on. I’ll keep trudging on until I win.
Again, thank you a ton His Royal Awesomeness.
Nice post Jon, I’ve set up as a digital marketing consultant a year ago now and feel like I’m constantly pushing clients to cover these topics. Crazy how many businesses don’t collect email to retarget to.
Keep the posts coming!
Thanks for this.
My blog is a month old now.
I made the mistake of not planning at least 10 or 20 posts ahead, which I would do if I had to start from scratch, probably more.
I struggle with points two, three, eight, and I drastically need to improve on point number nine.
Thank you for providing concrete help, rather than pandering to what a new blogger may want to hear.