How I Built a Himalayan Mountain of Blog Success - Make a Living Writing

How I Built a Himalayan Mountain of Blog Success

Carol Tice | 34 Comments

Man exults at Himalayan summitHave you wondered how to get your blog noticed? There are millions of blogs out there, all fighting for attention on the Internet.

The easy way: Boost your blog up to a higher level than all the others.

That’s why the Himalayas stand so tall. The base of the mountain range rests on a high plateau.

In other words, the mountains start from a high place, instead of sea level.

Mountains that are based on a high plateau have an easier time reaching the sky.

There’s a reason blogging is so much like building mountains.

Once you do something on your blog that grabs you more traffic, it tends to stick around.

Your following posts build on the buzz of that previous event. Things naturally build upward from there, rather than returning to your previous lower level.

For instance, take a look at what happened to traffic on this blog over the past year:

Google analytics 2013

Interesting, huh?

You can see that prior to summer 2012, my blog couldn’t get 1,000 pageviews in a day for love or money. Then there were three inflection points — in midsummer 2012, fall 2012, and January 2013 — that boosted blog traffic up a notch and kept it there.

Guest post-a-rama

In midsummer 2012 — when I did several guest posts on popular blogs like Write to Done and Freelance Switch that all went up around the same time period — I attracted some new readers.

Once I hit 1,000, it wasn’t a one-time thing. I continued to hit that level routinely.

Getting featured

Then, in fall 2012, I did several Q&A interviews where I was the subject of posts on popular blogs.

That had an even better effect — you can see the blog more frequently hits 1,000 views, and starts to exceed that level.

Big win

In January 2013, Write to Done announced its Top 10 Blogs for Writers, and this blog made the winners list for the second time.

Sha-wow! All of a sudden, nearly every post is well over 1,000 views, and the two weekdays when I don’t post anything new stay fairly high, too. The only days that dip below 1,000 now are the weekends.

As you can see from the hard numbers on my traffic, once you build a bigger audience, you’re on a higher plateau and it’s easier to hit a higher traffic level routinely on your blog.

The gains are incremental, but you can see traffic is now nearly double what it was back in spring 2012.

In terms of the big guys, this is still bitty traffic. But for me, twice as much traffic still makes a huge difference in my business.

And of course, more visitors means more subscribers, and ultimately, more income from your blog.

How can you create a plateau like this for your blog?

Here’s a quick guide to the techniques I’ve found most successful:

  • Guest posts. It takes some experimentation to find the popular blogs that will send you the best traffic, but appearing on bigger blogs is a key strategy for rising to a new plateau. For best results, create a custom landing page for visitors from the big blog, and time your guest posts to all go in a short time frame. This makes you seem to be everywhere and builds your authority like wild.
  • Controversy. Heat and energy get things happening. The Himalayas were formed when the Asian continent struck India. Ask yourself what the hot topics are in your industry — what do people have strong opinions about? Then, write more about those. For this blog, content mills, bid sites, and revenue-share platforms seem to be the hot buttons, so you may have noticed you’re seeing more coverage of these topics. Including more posts on these topics has driven my typical number of comments through the roof.
  • Networking. Besides just guest posting for big blogs, try to form relationships. Get out to conferences and meet people in person. For instance, I went to NMX mostly to meet my mentor Jon Morrow from Copyblogger and Boost Blog Traffic, and I’m traveling to World Domination Summit in Portland this July mostly so I can try to meet Darren Rowse from Problogger. These sort of connections tend to help you end up mentioned in posts about other great blogs to follow.
  • Be different. One of the things I did about 18 months ago was I started paying for blog posts. That immediately set this blog apart — and got it mentioned on dozens of posts on other blogs about paying blog markets. Result: Strong links that help search results for this blog, and new readers who follow my link to check me out because I pay. Look at what everyone else is doing in your niche and see what you could do that’s newsworthy.
  • Viral posts. There are certain types of posts that tend to get more traffic. A great example is “best of,” roundup, mashup, or “Top 10” type posts that mention successful people with large audiences of their own. You’ll often see those top bloggers share your post and it’ll bring you new readers.
  • Get interviewed. If guest posting is good, being the subject of a post on a popular blog is way better. You’re presented as an expert, and you don’t have to work as hard as when you write a guest post. If you get asked to do a Q&A, never say no.
  • Enter contests. Two of my biggest traffic spikes ever on this blog come from the two Top 10 Blogs wins. And I’ll let you in on a secret — I got a pretty decent traffic jump just from being listed as a finalist in a post prior to the one announcing the winners! Contests are a great, fairly easy source of exposure that allow new readers to discover you.

Every blogger has to choose the ways to grow traffic that work for their blog. Not every approach will be right for you.

For instance, one I haven’t done is sending partial posts on email to force readers to visit the blog to read the full post. I know that would get me more traffic…and many big bloggers do it…but I also know many readers hate partial-post emails. For now, I’m sticking with full posts on email.

What are you doing to take your blog to the next level? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

 

 

34 comments on “How I Built a Himalayan Mountain of Blog Success

  1. Jodi Schumm on

    I’ve recently started guest posting. A post I wrote for Jeremy Statton’s blog was also picked up by another site. While my traffic isn’t doubling yet, the exposure definitely helps!

    • Carol Tice on

      That’s great, Jodi!

      And yes, no one single event is going to take your blog traffic to a permanent, higher level. The ‘blogstorm’ approach where you guest on multiple blogs in a short timeframe is a great one — and events like your post getting picked up elsewhere also is a good booster. Congrats on that!

  2. Shaun Hoobler on

    Thanks for this. I’m just getting started myself in the world of blogging and I’m currently hunting around for all the best tips and info I can get. This post has lots of food for though!

  3. Darnell Jackson on

    Excellent Carol,

    The good news is there are ton’s of mountains in the Himalaya’s so there’s room for others.
    The bad news is it actually takes work.

    I appreciate you sharing your stats.
    I didn’t see any consistent improvement until I started reviewing my results weekly.
    Now I’m on a 8 week streak.

    I’ll say it publicly my goal is to get to 1000 pv’s/ month.
    I’m not even close to that today but I’m growing all the time.

    Thanks for all your help.

    • Carol Tice on

      Well, Derek Halpern would tell you I review my stats way too often… 😉 And should spend more time creating CONTENT and doing marketing, like all the strategies above. I think he’s probably right.

      But just a couple years ago I had nothing like this. You’re so right that there is always room for more. If you do consistent marketing with your blog, it tends to pay off…just like doing consistent marketing for finding freelance clients.

      I just had someone email me that she thought there wasn’t room for another blogger in her niche, and I told her when I started there were a few top freelance-writing advice blogs I was in awe of…and now my Alexa ranking is higher than any of those. Things can change, and there’s always room for a fresh voice.

  4. Rob on

    My Sihanoukville Journal does alright with traffic, but my writing blog is nothing short of tragic. It got an accidental boost last week, though, when a journalist took exception to my using his article as an example of propaganda. I hadn’t even tweeted the post when I got notified that I had been mentioned by him and several others on Twitter. What happened was that he got a ping that I’d mentioned him. He read it and tweeted a fellow journalist in Cambodia, asking if she thought my criticism was fair or not. That led to other Cambodia based journalists adding their 2 cents worth and other interested followers checking out my blog to see what all the fuss was about. For the first time ever, Twitter was at the top of the list of traffic sources.

    • Carol Tice on

      Controversy! Works every time. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re doing it…but once you see how to do it, think of more ways you could be at the nexus of the hot issues and weigh in on them.

      We should be blogging about what people in our niche want to talk about! Seems obvious, but too often we want to talk about what WE want to talk about, instead of listening to readers. If you stick to what they’re het up about, you are guaranteed more traffic and comments.

  5. Flora Morris Brown on

    Carol,

    Thanks for another value-rich post outlining your route to success. Although I’ve been writing for a while, it’s only in the last six months that I discovered Jon’s guest blogging course, your blog and membership site.

    Finally I feel like I have expert guidance.

    Your Himalayan metaphor drives home the power of the techniques that worked for you.

    Congratulations for making the Top 10 Blogs for Writers list. You definitely earned it.

    • Carol Tice on

      Writer’s Market lists scads of contests, Esther, though not sure how many relate to blogging.

      You raise a good point, as there are tons of scammy faux ‘contests’ that randomly email you to say “Hey, you won this prize, please put our banner on your site!” which is just a link-building gambit by that site.

      I think it’s about knowing and trusting the site that’s holding the contest, and seeing that there is a recognized process you go through to compete — a nomination process or application, a panel of judges is announced, there are clear rules of what you have to do to win…and also that there isn’t a fee, or not a large one at least.

      The one I entered was free, and I think those are the ones to concentrate on.

  6. Sarah L. Webb on

    I think getting interviewed would be the toughest one for me, and therefore should be one of my next goals.

    The other strategies are sort of in my control, but I don’t know how much control I have over getting invited to do a Q&A. Maybe a lot of networking and applying all of the other strategies is the strategy for being recognized as a Q&A candidate. Hmmm…

    I have, however, started inviting others to do Q&As about courage on my own blog.

    If I land a Q&A for myself, I’ll definitely let everyone know. 😉

    • Carol Tice on

      I think it’s about visibility. A lot of my Q&A requests came from people who saw…you guessed it…my guest posts on big blogs! So one strategy tends to lead to the next one.

  7. Erica on

    Carol, I found your blog through The Renegade Writer (result of your networking). And I’ve stayed a reader for over a year because of your sound advice and genuine desire to help other writers (result of quality content).

    My own blog has gone through several evolutions and its readership is growing, but it still isn’t quite ready for a “big launch.” Right now I’m working on making it more visually appealing, resource-rich and I need to build a freebie offering.

    Gotta get the home in order before inviting thousands of guests.

    • Carol Tice on

      I do think it’s smart to have a signup incentive before you guest post.

      I can tell you that with the first Copyblogger post I did, I didn’t get ANY subscribers! I wasn’t set up to retain them. But I learned fast after that. 😉

      You bring up a good point I meant to put in the post, Erica, which is that once you have these inflection events that give you a burst of new readers, you DO have to follow through with useful stuff for them, or you won’t stay at that new plateau level. I feel grateful that I do seem to be hitting what people want and keeping them around.

  8. Cassie on

    These tips are spot on. Whenever I get down about my blog traffic, I remind myself that it’s tripled in the past year and continues to grow monthly. My guest posts have been some of the highest viewed pages and have been the easiest way for me to gain new readers.

    • Carol Tice on

      Thanks for sharing your story, Cassie!

      You’ve got the right attitude — don’t worry about who has a bazillion monthly views, and just focus on growing what you’ve got.

      My blog is still tiny in the great scheme of things, but pays my bills. You don’t have to have a huge blog audience if you have the right business model, just a highly engaged audience. Giving you a sneak peek at the topic of my next ebook there. 😉

  9. Sarah Russell on

    Thanks for the tips – they come at a very helpful point for me 🙂

    Right now, because my blog is so young, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I want it to be and how I want it to help others. To an extent, I want to hold off on the mega promotion until I have a firmer grasp on the voice I’ll use on the site, the types of content I want to feature and how I’ll differentiate my site from others in the freelance writing space.

    That said, there’s definitely the temptation to want to see soaring traffic numbers ASAP in exchange for all the work I put into the site, so I might be joining you on using some of these tactics sooner rather than later!

    • Carol Tice on

      Sarah, I don’t recommend holding off on promoting it. Promote what it is now. I know several bloggers who have later reslanted or started whole new sites when they decided to reposition — and they took that big accumulated audience with them to the new place. Every day you don’t promote it, you missed an opportunity to build your tribe.

      I have a saying, “Be a writer, not a waiter” that applies here.

      This blog has evolved a bit itself, you know. At first it was just a nameless blog on my writer site, caroltice.com. Originally I wanted the URL “Start freelance writing,” but luckily for me, it was taken.

      Why lucky? It turned out as I got to know my readers that many WEREN’T just starting out! They were experienced writers, but new to freelancing. Or experienced freelancers but just not earning well. I was able to find a better concept for it that covered them all with this blog name. But I was doing all I could to get subscribers from early on…don’t put it off!

      • Sarah Russell on

        Haha – have you been talking to my husband? I’m happy to take a more meandering approach to things, and he’s the one who’s constantly telling me to be “louder” and more aggressive 🙂

        He’s feeling pretty satisfied now that you’ve validated his opinions… Guess I’ll get off my ass and do some real promotion work!

  10. faisal on

    Nice Blog and good tips. Can you tell me what is difference between the two. Some blogs in my google reader open in the reader ( like yours) so I can read complete blog while the other just show one line and one has to click to go to another website to read the blog completely. what is the prons and cons of both

    FAISAL

    • Carol Tice on

      Great question, Faisal. Setting your RSS to display and email the full post is a convenience for subscribers, as they don’t have to click anywhere to read the whole thing. BUT…it means fewer people visit the site.

      That’s why many bloggers send only partial posts, so you have to click to read the whole thing. So far, I’ve stuck with sending full posts even though I know sending partials would drive more site traffic. Because…it annoys people.

      I’m not obsessed with having the biggest traffic in the world and more focused on making subscribers happy, so I’m going this route. Since I don’t earn from ad-clicks or anything, I think it’s working well for me. Sort of depends on your business model.

      • Rob on

        Partials don’t annoy me and they keep me from doing dumb things like the time I sent you an email reply instead of a comment.

        • Carol Tice on

          I tried it at one point, and did get some people who told me they would unsubscribe on principle.

          Maybe I shouldn’t care, and I get plenty partial emails that I click on and it doesn’t bug me so much…but for now, I’m staying with full posts.

          Partly because when you do partials then you have to do another piece of writing, where you write an introduction to it…which I don’t have time for. I want to just say, “Here’s the post.” So partly my own schedule, and just my philosophy that I should be making it easy for readers. Plenty of them come on and comment, so I feel like it’s fine the way it is…for now, anyway. 😉

  11. Rachelle Strauss on

    Thanks for sharing what works best for you. My business blog is the new blog on the block, but I’m taking forward some techniques I learned ‘by accident’ from another successful blog.

    The things that boosted my traffic most, weren’t so much strategies like guest blogging, but it was about my personality. Basically I was ‘real’, honest and fallible. I gained a lot of traffic because I didn’t preach about what people SHOULD do, I shared what worked for me. And that pretty much sums up the way you write too (and hence why I love reading your articles!).

    My identity of approachable girl next door who rolls up her sleeves and does the work with you bought me loyal readers. Then when my story hit media headlines (my blog was about sustainable living and I set myself a challenge to accumulate just one trash can of landfill waste for the entire year) that bought worldwide traffic – which stayed high because again, people loved the Real Life story behind the blog.

    However, for my business blog I am considering working on guest posts because I don’t have as much time for writing this as I did previously. On the previous site I posted daily for a year! Now I only have time to post once a week (and that’s on a good week). So it’s good to hear from you that guest posting HAS been successful – thanks for sharing!

    • Carol Tice on

      Rachelle, to me it sounds like the ‘be newsworthy’ strategy worked well for you. I know the blogger at Be More With Less, who did a challenge to not buy anything clothing for a year and recycle what’s in your closet and use it in new ways — she landed in the New York Times for that!

      I think at this point it takes a little more than just being ‘real’ — authenticity is a requirement at this point. I’m sure there are scads of blogs out there where the owner is sharing the real nitty gritty, but they have no readers. Guest posting or getting written up elsewhere can help create those new, higher plateaus that make it easier and easier to attract new readers.

  12. Koundeenya on

    Loved reading it!

    I know how much a guest post on a popular blog can boost the readership of our blog. Because, through the guest posts, we are just multiplying our reach to a wider group of audience.

    Congrats for making it into the list of best writing blogs ever!

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing story.

  13. Bamidele Onibalusi on

    Great post, Carol!

    This is similar for my blog, too; guest posting and interviews drive a lot of traffic to me and search engine traffic is the top source of traffic to me; I especially love this because it keeps growing monthly even if I don’t do anything.

    Another thing you might want to explore is writing “resources” post, like my list of websites that pay where I mentioned your blog. To date, that post has gotten over 60,000 views and it keeps growing in the thousands monthly. I will be publishing something similar but much, much better next month and I’m sure that’ll also lead to some nice boost in traffic and blog readership.

    I wrote about my process for writing resources posts and the kind of results I get on my blog here, in case you or your readers are interested: http://www.youngprepro.com/one-content

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Oni — that is a great suggestion! I haven’t done a big resource post in a while.

      I am building a ‘new writers’ area I’ll be unveiling hopefully within the next 90 days…but I don’t talk enough about resources and tools. Hmm….have to get thinking on what compendium would be most useful to everybody!

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