The first couple of months that your website/blog is online are absolutely critical. Many webmasters and bloggers give up and shut down their sites just because they see very little traffic increase after a few months. That is why in this post, I’m going to share with you how I built up my site traffic from zero to 10k in 3 months, and I’ll highlight any useful things you can learn and take away from this post. But first, here’s a little background…
My website is Ghost For Beginners, which is a tutorials website about how to use the Ghost blogging platform (something akin to WordPress). The Ghost blogging platform just launched in the fall of 2013, and I first heard about it in December 2013 (so you can say that I was one of the first people to know about Ghost). Because I used to blog frequently in the financial blogosphere and liked to toy around with building websites, I decided to give Ghost a try. I was instantly hooked. I knew that a lot of other people/bloggers would soon want to use Ghost, so I created a tutorials site that teaches other bloggers how to install Ghost and use Ghost.
My site’s traffic literally grew from zero to 10k pageviews in 3 months. Below are 3 traffic generation tips that you can learn from my experience.
Step 1) Finding the Right Topic
Some people say that “finding the right niche” is overrated. It isn’t. As I mentioned, I used to write on my finance blog. But because the financial blogosphere was (and still is) so crowded, it’s almost impossible for a new financial blog to stand out from the crowd. Many of the really big finance blogs started out in 2005, which was back in the day when there were so few finance blogs that just starting one meant guaranteed traffic. Unless you do something extraordinary today, your finance blog’s traffic probably won’t grow by much.
That is why it is highly beneficial if you choose a niche that isn’t crowded. When you write in an unpopulated niche, virtually everyone interested in that niche will become your readers. In my case (Ghost For Beginners), I started to write about a topic (Ghost) when virtually no one else did. This is because I was one of the first people to know about the Ghost blogging platform, so therefore I had a huge first move-in advantage. Because of my first move-in advantage, I had 25 visitors the first day that Ghost For Beginners existed. And this is considering I had done zero marketing and had a grand total of 2 posts on my site. Traffic literally started growing from Day 1 with no SEO or marketing effort on my part. I set up the website, created content, and readers automatically came to my site. It’s like the internet circa 2004 all over again.
As you can see from the screenshot of my Google Analytics (above), my traffic started growing from Day 1. Only after I hit 70 visitors (160 pageviews) a day did I put any marketing or SEO work into my site.
So before you start your blog or website, make sure to select an unpopulated niche. Doing so will give your a site a huge advantage. Of course, you can still succeed in a populated niche, but doing so will be much more difficult. Growing a site in an unpopulated niche is just so much easier. Back in the day I used to spend months just building up my finance blog’s traffic to 50 visitors a day: today Ghost For Beginners has approximately 200 visitors a day (after only 3 months!).
Step 2) Guest Posting
Of course, selecting the right niche alone isn’t enough: doing so can only give your blog/site a headstart. You need to grow your traffic! I personally prefer to use guest posting when growing my traffic. Guest posting kills two birds in one stone:
- You get a ton of referral traffic IF you guest post on the right blogs (blogs whose audiences suit your niche).
- Guest posting can also help your SEO (although that is debatable). Guest posting as an SEO strategy is really a side effect.
Now it’s obvious that the idea of guest posting isn’t anything new. But it’s the way that I did guest posting that made my guest posting campaign so successful.
Ghost For Beginners is the first site I’ve ever made about something related to software, blogging, etc. Thus, I knew no one in this niche. Asking other internet marketers to guest post on their sites would probably be futile because I knew none of these people (a lot of bloggers won’t let you guest post on their sites if they don’t know you). So where did I guest post?
Remember how I said that I used to blog in finance? I still kept a lot of my relationships with other financial bloggers. So I simply emailed them and asked to write a guest post about investing on their site, to which I would link back to my blog. All went well, and in 2 months, I was neighboring 100 visitors (250 pageviews) per day thanks to my guest posts. The referral traffic was pretty nice, and eventually the SEO effects kicked in and I went from 100 visitors a day to 200 visitors.
So what lesson can you take away from my guest posting campaign? When it comes to guest posting, you have to think outside of the box. Don’t just find similar sites in your niche and ask to guest post on their site.
- Build relationships with other bloggers. It’s my relationships in the finance blogosphere that gave me the opportunity to guest post for Ghost For Beginners on their blogs. Without these relationships, I could never have published my guest posts.
- Now you’re probably wondering: how did my guest posts work out so well for my referral traffic? Finance and Ghost (blogging software) have nothing in common! The reason why my referral traffic grew because of these guest posts is due to the fact that a lot of people reading these finance blogs where other finance bloggers. As a result, they would fit my niche (I was writing about Ghost, a blogging platform, after all). Think outside of the box by thinking about niches who share the same audience with you.
Step 3) Forum commenting
When people hear “forum commenting” they think of spammy comments and links in the author biography. I did neither of those. For my topic (Ghost), there exists a forum where Ghost users talk to each other and ask comments on how to use Ghost. I figured that since my site was about Ghost tutorials, I could answer questions on the forums by linking to my relevant how-to article.
The key here is that you don’t want to come across as being spammy. Don’t just post up any random link just because you want a few clicks on that link. Make sure that your link is relevant and is actually of benefit to people who will click on that link! For example, some people posted on the Ghost forum “how do I install Ghost on Webhost XYZ?” I didn’t just plaster the entire thread with spammy links. I simply said “this tutorial (insert my link here) will show you step by step how to install Ghost on Webhost XYZ”.
If your forum comments and links come across as spammy, NO ONE will click on the link. People aren’t dumb – they can easily discern a spammy link from a beneficial one. In addition, forum admins will quickly remove any links that are deemed spammy.
So what you want to do is find a forum that is very relevant to your niche. Whenever someone asks a question that one of your website’s articles can answer, put a link on that thread to your site. If your link is helpful, people will definitely appreciate it and you’ll notice a nice surge in traffic.