This post was guest blogged by Juuso of Business Voodoo.
In the digital point forums, I wrote a thread titled How my site traffic went from 37 monthly visits to 14,657 monthly unique visits, I really recommend taking a look at it since it’s kind of a “part 1” for this post.
Set a bigger goal
I had built a game production website that was getting over ten thousand visitors per month. I was figuring out how to get it to the next level, and a quite obvious idea popped to my mind: I set a bigger goal. I aimed for 100,000 per month and at the time of writing about third of that goal is completed – and the journey continues. The key here, in my opinion, is not to think whether something is possible or impossible. Simply set a goal, and decide to figure out the how part later.
Contact high profile people
One special thing I did – which was not mentioned in the DP thread – was simply reaching out for big names. I simply decided to aim for the stars. After writing this second part I thought that I would offer this article to John Chow. I decided to contact him. I had never talked with John, nor had no idea if he would accept my offer – but heck, I had nothing to lose. It took 30 secs to write the email and rest is history – now you are reading this. Aiming high pays off – just contact those names, you never know if they might actually say “yes”.
Don’t waste their time
One big lesson to remember here when contacting other people is: cut the crap. I didn’t write lengthy story about who I was or what I was doing, how the weather was like and what books I enjoy reading. I know people are busy – so I decided to write a very brief email saying something like:
John, I wrote this article [link] that explains how my site traffic went to 35K+ visitors. Would you be interested in getting a John Chow version out of it to appear in your blog.
Next morning I had a response from John that said it would be good. I’ve used this similar pattern to contact different gaming websites to gain traffic to my own site – and you can do the same.
Get featured on a major website
Then something else: social bookmarking. I did accidentally got featured on one major gaming website. Basically I wrote an extremely simple article on a question that was posed by one of the readers. It was a basic article with really easy stuff – yet it hit the nerve. I learned to never underestimate the power of simple things. Thanks to that article the traffic eventually spiked to 4,537 unique visits in just one day.
Shut up and listen
One very important element is to listen to others. In the first article, I got a response from charlesartist who said “Now, you should try social bookmarking next to take your site to the 20k+ uniques/month level. Digg, Delicious, Myspace are all great places with lots of people interested in what you have to offer.” Well, I decided to try that and got good results simply by listening to what others have to say. Sure, I’m free to ignore what people say but I did my best to think, “Can I use this idea somehow?”. Think about that. As you see some witty marketing, ask yourself, “How can I use this?”.
I admit I’m probably not the best guy to tell how it works, but basically I decided to put a big DIGG button that people could click. I managed to get some Digg traffic, but after couple of months I saw that Stumbleupon and Reddit seem better for me. I decided to take away the Digg button and simply put links that people could click. I submit some of my articles, but not most of them. I’m sure there’s lots for me to learn here, but by merely giving people a chance to bookmark stuff can help to get decent traffic with no much additional effort.
Social bookmarking is OK, but an even more important lesson is experimenting. I want to see the facts and decided to test how the Digg button would do. It didn’t bring me extra traffic so I took it away. I’m now writing this article to John and his audience, and I want to see what happens. It’s all about trying and failing and trying harder and never giving up.
Some time ago I noticed a site called John Cow which is a parody site riding on the success of John Chow dot Com. I check out this idea and thought it was brilliant. I haven’t done similar things to get traffic to my site, but I still think it carries a valuable lesson. Simply by finding some popular bloggers and making a “fun/fan” page by twisting the URL somehow can get you attention. John Cow, PoorBlogger, there’s plenty of opportunities for basically anyone to use. Simply come up with something really fun and you will get attention.
I expanded the idea of interviews to group interviews. I decided to find a group of high profile producers (worked in major gaming companies such as EA) and I got good stories this way. The producers liked doing them, I liked doing them and the audience liked reading them. Everybody wins. I mixed this with the use of promotional stuff (such as newsletter, press releases, social bookmarking, asking other diggers, announcing forums) to get the most out of this.
I also had pure luck with controversial topics. I wrote an article about piracy and it got some attention from other people. The bottom line is: controversial topics can bring traffic.
Last tip for this guide is the use of newsletters. Newsletters are great way to get your visitors back to your website. You can find newsletter recommendations by simply checking out these forums (aweber seems quite popular, I’m using ymlp.com and recently checked out ezinedirector.com). You can send people monthly newsletters and give them “top stories of the month”. You can use newsletters to tell people that you’ve published a new article. You can inform about contests etc. Definitely worth having.