My Go-To Traffic Strategy for Kick-Starting a Brand New Blog

Last updated on

So you’ve got a brand-spanking new blog.

You’ve set it all up in WordPress, picked a shiny new theme, deleted the default “Hello World” post, and started to write your own stuff.

That’s when the realization hits you – nobody is reading.

Your blog has exactly three subscribers: you, your mom, and your other email address.

Other than that, there’s nothing.

No traffic, no subscribers, and nobody reading your work.

Where do you go to kick-start your blog into action?

One Strategy to Rule Them All

There are lots of great ways to get more traffic to your content (great content is a given, by the way – if your content isn’t great, then you have to fix that first!).

There’s social sharing like Twitter and Facebook.

There’s blog commenting, either informally or as part of a blog commenting tribe.

There’s search engine optimization, and search marketing.

There’s the hot new platform of the day (today it’s Pinterest).

And the list goes on and on.

Each of these strategies has its uses, and might deserve a place in your arsenal, depending on where you are in your blog’s growth cycle.

They aren’t great if you’re just starting, though. If you want good traffic to a brand new blog, then hands down, the best strategy is guest posting.

Why Guest Posting?

Unlike blog commenting or forum posting, guest posting actually gets your content in front of readers.

Unlike search engine traffic, it can (and will!) get results right away.

Unlike search marketing and PPC, it doesn’t cost a fortune.

And unlike a number of other strategies, it will build relationships with other bloggers in your industry, with the benefit of an implicit endorsement from the blog owner.

If the owner of a blog (like Ana) thinks that a post is good enough to share with her highly discerning readers, that’s a great vote of confidence in the post author!

And that’s the beauty of guest posting: if done properly, everybody wins.

The writer gets access to a new audience, the host gets great content without having to write it, and the readers get to a new viewpoint without having to go find it by themselves.

Win-Win-Win.

Okay, so we agree that guest posting is a fantastic way to build a popular blog, right?

Great.

But the hard part isn’t deciding what to do… it’s doing it WELL.

So let’s talk about that.

Start by Identifying EXACTLY Who You’re Writing For

The first step is to figure out exactly who you’re writing for, and you do it by creating a detailed profile of the ONE person that you want to target.

You do this by thinking through two things: demographics and psychographics.

Demographics

Demographics means everything that you’d expect to find in a census report:

  • the target’s age,
  • sex,
  • relationship status,
  • whether they have kids,
  • where they live in the world,
  • what they studied in college,
  • what sort of work they do,
  • how much money they make,
  • what kind of car they drive…

…the more detailed you can get, the better this is going to work.

Psychographics

Psychographics means everything that’s going on inside their heads:

  • their hopes,
  • fears,
  • dreams,
  • ambitions,
  • the things that keep them up at night,
  • the movies that they like,
  • the books that they like to read,
  • the political parties that they vote for…

…the more detail you go into, the clearer and more useful the picture in your mind will be of who you’re going after.

Once you know all that, it’ll be a lot easier to figure out exactly what they want and where they hang out – and that’s exactly what you need in order to give it to them.

Give Them EXACTLY What They Want (No Guessing!)

Giving them exactly what they want is more than just picking a high-level topic of interest.

It means picking the precise subjects that they want to read about and even structuring it in the way that they want to read it.

And in case you were wondering, this takes research, NOT guesswork.

Start by making a list of all the blogs that your audience likes to read and spend some time reading posts and comments.

You’ll figure out pretty quickly if your ONE person is there or not and you’ll also get a sense of what sort of posts they respond to best, both in terms of content and in terms of structure.

This is absolutely critical, because you don’t ever want to pitch an idea to the blog owner unless you know that it will provide real value to the readers.

This is not the time to be saying: “I think they might like a post about…

You want to be saying: “They’re going to freaking LOVE this!

So how do you create content that they’re going to freaking LOVE? Easy: more research!

How to KNOW Exactly What They Want

You don’t need to guess at what they’re going to like, because it’s all right there for you to see.

You already know where your audience is hanging out, right?

Well, then look at those blogs, one by one, and start looking at the content.

Not all of the content, mind you.

That would just be confusing, and take forever.

What you need to look at is the blog’s 10 most popular posts, based on comments, shares, or whatever else the blog tracks (if they don’t list their most popular posts, then you can manually find them out of the last 30 or so).

Now you can start looking for patterns.

Specifically, look for topics that are shared by several of the posts and blog titles that keep repeating.

You’ll probably find that over half of those posts are about the same 1-3 topics and 1-3 title structures.

No reinventing of the wheel needed – this is what the audience likes best, so use these templates and get to work!

It isn’t enough for people to like your proposed post – you need them to comment on it, share it, and get excited enough that they go looking for more of your work.

And this research will help you do it and get it right the first time.

And of course, when you do, there’s got to be great stuff waiting for them…

Have Great Stuff Waiting for Them

Guest posts are great for getting in front of new readers, and if the post is good enough, they’ll click through to learn more about you.

That’s when you’ve got to grab them, and hold them.

Except that there’s no way for you to do that, so what you’ve really got to do is give them a reason to grab and hold on to you.

You do that – you guessed it! – with content that is custom tailored to the needs and interests of those same readers.

Do the exact same thing that you did to write the amazing guest post, all over again, and publish that second post on your own blog.

If a reader loves your stuff on someone else’s blog, and then loves your stuff on your own blog, then to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Danny Iny

Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, and the co-author (with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, and many others) of Engagement from Scratch! (available on Amazon, or as a free download). The latest and greatest thing you can get from him (for free, of course) is his Naked Marketing Manifesto, about marketing that really works!

traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

44 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. I was reading this thinking, “Wow this seems exactly the same as the webinar I just sat through with Danny Iny.” Of course, I scroll down to the author box and there you are!

  2. Danny this is awesome, I totally agree, and it’s a great sneak peek into your Write Like Freddy program.

    :)

    Favourite part: Start looking for patterns. This isn’t just for guest-blogging, but for life. Patterns are an incredibly helpful tool, and mastering them helps a ton :)

  3. Commenting always be a powerful traffic source when you know how to do that. Not just traffic, in my experience, I’ve created a new connection with other bloggers with blog commenting.
    Thanks for sharing bro.

  4. Was really interested to read that you suggest guest blogging for a new blog owner as would not have thought anyone would be interested in a “newbie” blogger so your insight was somewhat unexpected. Whatever happens a newbie has to get started with writing and personally would want to see a good few credible blog posts before having anyone guest blog for us. Thanks again for the post. Susan

  5. Hi Danny,
    Great post on a great subject. I love love love guest posting. It is one of the best ways I not only build links, drive new traffic to my site, but most importunity build relationship with other link minded people. That is just a win win for everyone involved. Thanks.

  6. Great stuff Danny, some excellent information; especially for people just starting a new blog. I need to start guest blogging and accepting guest posts on my blog, it’s about time. Also; gotta love blog commenting.

  7. Guest posting is indeed a good way to promote a blog and build traffic…if there is a good selection of high authority niche blogs to target that is. For some niches, there aren’t that many good blogs to approach. There is BloggerLinkUp, of course, that can be useful for finding guest blogging opportunities. Does anyone know if there are any other sites similar to BloggerLinkUp that might be worth trying out?

  8. I’m with you Danny. I’ve been guest posting for a long time and have discovered that a new blog will not leave the ‘ground floor’ until the right people starts coming in.

    What better strategy can you use to get these people on your blog?

    Guest posting is the best as far as I’m concerned and I’m not giving up on it anytime soon. Thank you for sharing your best tips.

    • You’re very welcome, Michael, and I agree with you 100%. Derek Halpern said it very well in a recent interview – if you have less than 1,000 subscribers, you don’t have a content problem, you have a readership problem! ;-)

  9. As a blogger who is very much interested in guest blogging I can totally understand what you mean Danny. Indeed I’ve made the mistake of not writing what people want. But I can say that I’m improving. Your advice certainly helps a lot Danny :)

      • Danny, I want to present a counter argument here. Whilst Guest Posting helps with traffic for sure (I guest post for some well known blogs), I do not think it can ever be the ‘go to’ source for new websites. It can be one of a few ‘go to’ sources but if you rely on guest posting alone it can lead to failure.

        Like all good strategies it should be used in moderation and in conjunction with a wider marketing plan.

        For new blog, a strategy I have used well is to be part of a ‘blog commenting tribe’ – Ana has mentioned this is a previous article. It creates back-links, gives your blog social proof and you get loyal visitors.

        Once you have that, then guest posting will work much better for you. Guest posting without creating the necessary social proof on your site first is not a wise decision.

        • Hey Dee, thanks for sharing the counterpoint!

          I actually disagree, and the truth is that in general, I’m not a fan of commenting tribes. Sure, it creates backlinks, but they’re not very valuable ones. The social proof is good, but the real key thing you’re after, which is loyal visitors, isn’t there – they’re loyal because you reciprocate and comment on their blogs, not because they’re actually interested in what you’re doing. In other words, they aren’t real prospective customers, so they’re not very valuable as blog readers.

          That’s just my opinion, of course – everyone’s entitled to at least one of them! ;-)

          • Ana Hoffman

            If I may, I started my commenting tribe around the same time I started my blog and what that did for me is provided me with the kind of social proof my blog needed to appear well-established.

            It worked like a charm.

            I had good content to begin with, then added some social proof to it, and as a result, my guest posting traffic (and any other traffic for that matter) was a lot more sticky.

  10. Guest posting is really a great way to increase blog traffic, most especially with SEO coz you get to insert some keywords in a guest post. Good point about Psychographics. Though I don’t really dwell on it that much – how many hours do you spend thinking about the psychographic target of your next entry?

    • It’s not about spending hours, Sean, it’s about getting into the habit of doing it automatically.

      And the truth is that if you don’t, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you get (SEO or otherwise), because your stuff won’t be targeted at the right people, and when they show up, they won’t want to stay…

      It all comes down to the basics of knowing your audience – no way around that! :)

  11. Hey Danny,

    I’ve just finished reading your guest post at Jane’s place, and now you’re at Ana’s too :)

    This post was perfect timing for me, since I’m starting a brand new Norwegian blog (for my new business). I have been thinking a lot about how to attract traffic to it, especially since it’s in Norwegian, and I can’t use the traffic I already have on my other blog. Guest posting sounds like an awesome idea, and it will help make me create new relationships fast.

    Thanks.

      • Not yet, but that’s something I’ll be doing fairly soon. I’ll try to write several guest posts as well, but first, I need to get my blog ready for some serious traffic :)

  12. Mary

    I am actually really grateful for some sites willing to allow guest posting. I agree, that doing guest posting increases the chance our blogs our seen or read. It is up to us then to provide a attractive and entertaining content to make visitors come back for more.

  13. Commenting tribes engage in special rituals, known only to them, that invoke the powers of Big G to bless them with its beneficence. If a tribe breaks up it’s bad mojo. But if each member of the offending tribes posts a righteous and epic shit article, they join together in a hootenanny. This is how the Web works as I understand it.

  14. Loved the post Danny- and nice to see you here yet again!

    You are so-so right about knowing your audience and writing for them, taking into account the demographics and all those details. I learnt about this rather late, and have now started focusing on what the readers are wanting more than anything else. I think this matters a great deal, rather than us thinking what we need or want to write about.

    Guest posting is a major plus point to get more friends, readers, and traffic to your blog. But yes, I still need to get started with that- just as I say each time I read your posts about it :))

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful tips, and am glad you had him over Ana :)

    • Thanks, Harleena, and likewise! :)

      I’m glad you found the content valuable, but like you said, it all comes down to actually starting – so when are you going to start? ;-)

      • That’s a good question, and without making any kind of excuses (though this is one ;) )- I am actually redoing my writing blog, and it’s in it’s transition phase from Bloggers to WordPress. Just waiting to get over with that part to get started :)

  15. I think if the Guest post is done properly, then it would be fine.

    Though, I also agree with some of the points by Dino Dugan(on the triberr comment stream) as well as some points outlined by Doug Eike.

    Some people(sites) have made a mockery out of Guest posting, turning it into nothing more than a ” mass post producing—back-link creating” automated system.

    Though, I can see Danny’s(Iny) side of it, seeing guest posting across the board as a community building method. If some Standards are not kept in place, eventually all ideas(expectations) of quality will be dramatically lowered.

    • I hear you, Daniel, but it’s only a mockery if you’re guest posting on sites that don’t care about quality, and in the long run, nobody reads those sites anyway.

      And yeah, I get hit by a dozen “guest post submissions” from SEO companies, and yeah, they’re all crap. But we don’t run any of them, so no problem there. :)

  16. I once joined a blog hop type activity with my new blogs. You sign up then agree to put a link to someone else’s blog on your post. It was incredible and I got a lot of traffic for about two months. A year later, I’m still seeing small amounts of traffic from it. Plus, I got a link that will stay up forever.

    Great blog post.

  17. I see no point to guest posting until you have on your blog at least 20 full-length articles in the same category as your guest post. Sure, your guest post may generate a spike in traffic, but if you have too little content on your blog, that increased traffic will be gone in a few days. Guest posting too early is a waste of silver bullets. At that stage, it’s better to use the articles to develop your own content.

    On the other side of the coin, inviting others to guest post on a new blog is futile. What self-respecting writer would hand over a good article to be read by a only handful of folks on a blog that is unproven?

    The conclusion is that no shortcut exists for creating the content. Thanks for the insights!

    • Hey Doug, thanks for sharing your perspective.

      I have to disagree, though, on both counts. If you don’t have any readers, why write 20 solid posts? People visiting your blog from a guest post will look around A BIT, but they’re not going to read anywhere near 20 posts, and having those posts on your blog will do nothing for you.

      At the same time, my own experience shows that people are happy to guest post on a new blog (we had lots of guest posts on Firepole Marketing in the early days – much more so than now, actually).

      There’s never a short-cut, but there’s definitely a more vs. less efficient way of going about things.

      Just my two cents, of course. ;-)

      • Hi Danny,

        I guess we’re going to disagree here, but that’s OK. Perhaps 20 articles is too many, but I don’t think so. No matter what the magic number is, you have to have enough content to show readers that you are able to consistently add value to their lives. If you have too little, they won’t sign up and won’t return.

        On the other p0int, I find it hard to believe that established bloggers spend time writing articles for new blogs, but maybe I’m wrong. A new blogger might do it, but what good is a new blogger’s article on another new blogger’s blog?

        At any rate, thanks for responding to my comment, and good luck with your blogging!

      • Ana Hoffman

        I do see a point in what Doug is saying though, Danny.

        I personally wouldn’t want to guest post for a blog that doesn’t have much readership; not now, not when I first started.

        As far as guest posting on other blogs is concerned, as long as you have SOME solid content and your blog appears to be well-established and trustworthy (good design always helps), then most of the traffic from your guest posts won’t even know you have a brand new blog. lol

        There… No wonder I like Switzerland – I agree with both of you. lol

        • No, if you’re an experienced blogger, you aren’t going to want to guest post on a blog that’s just starting out. But if you’re a new blogger, then you probably would, and there are a lot of new bloggers with great talents and skills, but no outlet. :)

  18. Sorry to be a bit off topic here, but somewhere in the second paragraph you write something about commenting as part of a commenting tribe. What the heck is a commenting tribe???

  19. I agree with this whole-heartedly! I’m a new blogger and it’s taking a while to figure out what my readers like and how to get them to come back. It’s not about guessing it’s about researching and looking at the analytic’s to see what grabs my readers attention. I took Ana’s advice and have had some other bloggers guest post on my blog and that has really helped to increase my traffic. Thanks for sharing more wonderful info with us!

    • That’s great to hear, Ashley, I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post, and that you’re seeing results on your blog! :)

  20. Ryan Hanley

    Danny,

    I’ve been working hard to take my blog to the “Next Level” in readership and subscribers. I’ve tried everything you listed above… And after that experience I have to COMPLETELY AGREE with you…

    However, I would also add in Blog Contests like the one I participated in with Firepole Marketing. I guess you could consider that a type of guest post, but I got a ton of traction from that contest as well as some fantastic new relationships with amazing bloggers including yourself.

    Finding and entering blog contests is another strategy I highly recommend.

    Thanks Dude… Awesome as always.

    Ryan H.

    • Hey Ryan, thanks for sharing your perspective. I think I would consider that sort of contest as a guest post, but you’re right, there are a lot of networking opportunities there that make it a lot more powerful. Thanks again for being a part of it! :)