As I've mentioned before
, I notice whenever Lijit reports a spike in my blog traffic. Normally, that spike is caused by someone with a wide online reach (like Chris Brogan
) mentioning something I've written, which then drives that person's audience to me (for that day, at least).
But this week I learned a huge lesson: Chris Brogan is no Rorschach.
When Chris (and the rest of the standard social media Twitterverse) mentions something I've written, I may see a peak of 700 views on that particular post.
When I wrote my review of the Watchmen film last week ("10 Things People Don't Seem to Get About the Watchmen
"), I had no idea what would happen next:
Somehow, that Watchmen review really touched an online nerve.
Admittedly, Chris Brogan's original retweet of my post (which referred to it as the "best Watchmen review. Ever.") had something to do with it first finding an audience. But that 17,000+ traffic spike is 25 times
the normal "Brogan Effect
" on one of my posts. This means my Watchmen post reached some kind of escape velocity and broke out of our social media fishbowl
(where most of my and Chris's audience tends to live), and crossed over to an equally-passionate (and, presumably, much larger) niche: traditional comic book fans. (It also had legs: look at the numbers 5 days later, vs. the 8 readers from the previous Sunday.)
My attempts to figure out exactly where all this additional traffic came from have been patchy at best, but I suspect Reddit
had something to do with it. It also appears to have been retweeted
at least 50 times (with another 15 thanks to Copyblogger
), and then it may have continued on being retweeted under other names / descriptions.
All of which leads me to...5 Thoughts on Increasing Your Blog Traffic1. Write Something That Appeals to the Hubs.
I could write amazing blog posts all day, but if none of them were interesting to the folks that OTHER people listen to (like Chris Brogan or Copyblogger), no one would ever see them. I could spend months building an audience that's comparable in size to Brogan's, but that's also time I could spend making interesting media
, which is what provides the hubs with interesting things to talk about. (It's a cycle, people; find your spoke.)2. The Title Is the Hook.
If someone likes what you wrote, they'll want to tell other people. In this age of Twitter, they need to be able to explain WHY your article is interesting in about 100 characters (not counting the characters they'll use for the link, plus any "retweet" attributions, etc.). What better shorthand than an interesting (or provocative
) post title
that does their work for them?3. The Summary May Also Be the Hook.
Sometimes a title doesn't sum it all up. In that case, provide a one-sentence summary of your article or a series of mini-theses within the post itself
that readers can cut-and-paste as their "aha" quote to explain the post's relevance
. (Things move quickly on the web; making the promotion of your work as easy as possible is imperative to getting it seen.)4. Don't Confuse Your Traffic with Your Niche.
I make a living doing social media, so that's where the bulk of my audience comes from. As a result, the majority of my blog posts are aimed squarely at the audience I expect
to be serving. But that's also a closed loop; if all I ever wrote about was blogging, social networking and Twitter, I'd never attract an audience with other interests, and my total possible audience would have a limited cap.
On the other hand, I doubt most of the 17,000+ readers who saw my Watchmen post are interested in social media, which means 95% of them probably have no reason to return to my blog; they were simply passing visitors who were here for one specific post. (In fact, my subscribers have actually gone down
since the Watchmen piece ran.) So as great as it is to see a massive bump in numbers, don't kid yourself into believing that the people who find you are necessarily interested in everything
you have to say. (And don't get depressed when your subsequent posts fail to reach those eye-popping numbers.)5. Pay Attention to What's Working (and What Isn't).
Personally, I think every blog post I write is great. But not every post resonates with my audience. Some of my best articles (in my opinion) languish
with nary a comment, while others
(that I wouldn't necessarily expect to catch on) somehow find a life of their own.
Studying the habits of my readers helps me understand what topics most often generate comments AND which posts (or titles, or summaries) most often get redistributed. It also helps me understand when I might be wasting my time. For example, I have a tendency to share my convoluted theories
on why and how certain aspects
of social media work, but my audience doesn't seem to care. So no matter how interested *I* may be in my ideas, it's evident that my audience isn't (yet), which means I'm much better served by writing articles they ARE interested in (based upon past indicators), with the presumption that my aggregate audience will eventually grow to include new readers who WILL care about what the old readers didn't.
Oh, and a bonus tip:Don't Feel Compelled to Write Something Every Day.
Some people believe that daily content is the only way to maintain an audience. Wrong. People aren't reading you because you're around
, they're reading you because you're good
. Sure, it's great to be both, but when forced to decide, most thinking mammals prefer to read quality over quantity. And the better you are, the more your audience will forgive your infrequency between bolts of spine-tingling relevance.
Labels: blogging, branding, chrisbrogan, comments, communication, lijit, marketing, movies, social media, traffic