The Art of The Ramp

Making The Big Jump

Many webmasters and beginner Internet marketers think that traffic is built on a linear scale. They believe that if they just keep pumping out the content, traffic will keep building. While that sounds logical, it doesn’t work like that in real life. I get emails all the time from bloggers asking how come their traffic isn’t growing even though they are updating the site everyday. Here’s the answer: updating a blog doesn’t bring traffic. Promotion does.

If nobody knows about your blog, it doesn’t matter how often you update it. Traffic is not going to increase no matter how many super high quality posts you put out. Making money from blogging is more about promotion than it is about making blog posts. This is something many bloggers don’t understand. It’s the reason why some of them make posts asking why Shoemoney and I are so big, yet the quality of our posts keeps going down (in their words). Here’s the answer: the quality of your posts has zero to do with your traffic. It’s all about promotion. And when it comes to promoting a new blog, the Ramp is the most important part.

What Is The Ramp?

The Ramp is a technical term used mostly in manufacturing. When a new product is launched – say a new CPU – the manufacturer wants to get production from zero to maximum capacity as fast as possible. This going from zero to full output is the Ramp.

The reason most blogs never hit the A list is because they never hit the Ramp. As I said before, traffic is not built on a linear scale. Traffic needs to be ramped up to critical mass as fast as possible. When Best Buy opens a new store, they don’t slowly build up sales over a year. They Ramp the store up with a ton of grand opening promotions to get that store to the same sales level as other Best Buys within in a month of two.

Take a look at the following three year Alexa chart. Can you tell when John Chow dot Com hit the Ramp?


Before September 2006, very few people knew about this blog. My posting frequency didn’t change nor did the quality of my posts. So what happen? If you were around during that time, you knew what happen. For those who were not here, I ramped up the promotion on the blog and shot it to the A list.

The promotion didn’t cost me any money. It was all courtesy of Digg. Normally, one front page Digg can’t ramp a blog, but I did over 30 in a three month period – at one point, getting one front page Digg per day for four straight days. By the time Digg finally banned me, it was too late. I had ramped the blog to another level and held it.

Where Is Your Ramp?

If you want to join the A list, you will need to do a concentrated promotional effort sometime during your blog’s life. The “I’ll just put $100 per month into promotion for a year” thing is for maintaining traffic, not ramping it. You’ll be better off by spending $1,000 in one month, then $10 a month for the rest of the year.

This is why reviews by this blog are very popular. Many blogs use John Chow dot Com as a Ramp. However, one review (just like one front page Digg) isn’t generally enough to Ramp a blog. It needs to be combined with other promotional efforts. Winning The Web has the making of a good Ramp. He started by offering a John Chow review and added to it with a review by the Cow (plus whatever else he maybe adding). I can see he learned a few tricks from watching Shoe and I battle it out over our RSS competition. It will be interesting to see his new traffic level once his ramp is completed.

You don’t have to spend money to ramp up. However, it is the easiest way to do it. I doubt anyone will be repeating 30+ front page Diggs anytime soon.

96 thoughts on “The Art of The Ramp”

  1. Great post John. Maybe we need to do with the One Buck Wiki. What is you suggestion for promotion in our next step?

    1. Powerful stuff. Thank you, this really hit home for me. I had been of the mindset that slow and steady wins the race, but now I see the light. I know exactly what you mean about Best Buy. I remember when they came to town…it was BIG.

    2. Since when does John do free consulting?

      1. Steven says:

        LOL I agree, he doesn’t. Perhaps for a hefty fee =]

    3. jason Sc says:

      :mrgreen: Low quality? I always enjoy your post –

    4. Ninja Dollar says:

      I don’t agree that it’s true for all sites. Sure, successfully used Digg and a “ramp” to shoot to success but that’s not to say that all sites can (or should) utilize similar techniques.

      While promotion is essential, there is a lot to be said for the “slow and steady” approach which is a helluva lot easier than trying to create a “ramp”. I highly doubt that the “ramp” was orchestrated but more a matter of sheer luck and timing – so to say “where is your ramp” is perhaps a bit condescending – could Johnchow do it with another site?

      Consider a site like DoshDosh – while it’s definitely successful and has many large spikes in traffic, there has never been a definitive “ramp” and it has simply built authority over time. Sure, it’s been promoted, but in more of a “slow and steady” way than a “ramp”.

      Hence, if you’re lucky you might get a “ramp”, but I’d say the more likely and realistic approach is still the “slow and steady” way. But you can still wish for that “ramp”! πŸ™‚

      1. John Chow says:

        You think racking off 30 front page Digg was due to luck? πŸ™‚

        1. Eric says:

          John has been known for being “evil”…

        2. Stephen says:

          It’s my fault guys. I started it πŸ˜›

        3. Ninja Dollar says:

          Partly, luck and good timing. If I’m wrong, you should be able to do it again, right? There are many sites other than Digg that you could do it with if you wish to prove that you can actually “create” a ramp for free.

        4. Ed says:

          Yes, great, so promotion of good content posts. But you can’t simply promote bad content to the front of digg, unless of course you have a million myspace friends and they all digg/stumble it…..wait, that gives me an idea.. πŸ˜‰

      2. Dude, you must not know about WMD’s. Weapons of mass Diggstruction. That’s all I’m going to say.

    5. James B. says:

      Get a life. JK. No se. Don’t Know

  2. John, won’t several super high quality posts get you many incoming links, thus increasing traffic?

    1. John Chow says:

      How will other blogs know about your super high quality posts if you don’t promote it?

      1. Great post John and good points about promoting your site. So what have been your top 3 most successful ways to promote your site? Your free autographed book or dvd giveaways? Free reviewme?
        I’ve got a budget of $500 and would like to figure out the best way to spend my money to hit “the ramp”. Thanks!

      2. Totally agree, but you had a mega ramp from the Digg thing. I have a secret weapon to promote a contest coming out this week. We’ll see what happens.

      3. Are you still banned from Digg and if not, do still get Dugg onto the front page?

        1. John Chow says:

          Digg unbanned me. But now I’m on auto bury.

          1. So basically for all intents and purposes, you are the equivalent of banned then? Irritates me when the large companies like Google and Digg try to bully users around.

          2. Essentially the same IMO. πŸ˜‰

          3. Etienne Teo says:

            also got banned from digg but they reinstated me.

        2. i just successfully dugg this story. he’s not banned anymore. πŸ˜‰

          1. Steven says:

            He already saided they unbanned him, Just on Auto-Bury now meaning it won’t ever hit the front page.

          2. Yeah, my bad. I posted that before hitting refresh and seeing that John had already commented about it…

      4. Etienne Teo says:

        That is very true, that’s why promotion is needed

  3. I’m still working on my ramp. lol

    Take a look at the Facebook ramp… very impressive.

    1. PinoyTech says:

      I think we all are.

    2. Does Facebook bring much traffic?

  4. Just noticed the new car in the top banner. What is it?

    1. New car in top banner? You made me refresh but I have yet to see that new car.

      1. Yea, it’s gone now. It was just a teaser I guess.

        1. Steven says:

          It’s the New Lamborghini Reventon. Only 20 of them were ever made WorldWide. You can read more about it here:

        2. Etienne Teo says:

          The car is back..rotating

  5. Peter says:


    You responded the best way possible to “that” post – with a high quality article that has the potential to help a lot of bloggers. In the case of my blog, promotion has made all the difference to its recent success.


  6. I think it’s a Ferrari…

    1. Looks like a Ferrari logo on the front, but the cut out nose isn’t Ferrari like.

    2. Stephen says:

      I think it may be a lambo, not sure though.

    3. Are you guys talking about the silver Zonda?

      1. It’s not a Zonda, the front end is different.

  7. Yea, the Ramp = Being promoted to the front page of digg almost every other day.

  8. PinoyTech says:

    Maybe a much more expensive car fits John Chow dot com :mrgreen:

  9. This concept is something that should be intuitive but I’ve never really thought about it. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Bobby Rio says:

    How about a new post on promotion. Like the best PR sites to submit to. What ad campaingns work the best. How to attract diggs… Basically how to create the ramp.

    1. Would you like a silver platter with that? πŸ˜›

  11. smith says:

    Great post, your super high quality posts,John..

    1. Super high quality comment!

  12. This is very good advice….but quality posts do encourage organic hits from search engines…. and those type of hits tend to generate better CTR

  13. Simon says:

    Nice post John.
    maybe john got a car upgrade too after all those record breaking earnings

    1. Michael Talk says:

      He has changed the the Zonda into a Bugatti! It actually looks quite refreshing, I like it. But you still have that Zonda at the button of the blog with John Chow has the rego plate

      1. Stephen says:

        That’s a Lamborghini, not a Bugatti. See the little horse on the hood emblem?

        1. Michael Talk says:

          Oh – I see. sorry about that

        2. Horse? Lambo’s have bulls, not horses.

          How dare you compare Ford and Lamborghini. That’s as good as blasphemy.

    2. Etienne Teo says:

      He could be upgrading soon. πŸ˜€

  14. Michael Talk says:

    That was one great post! Great job John – but how did you manage to get on the front page of digg?

    1. Stephen says:

      I dugg him as a joke. The joke didn’t stop πŸ˜†

  15. Armen says:

    Yeah, I appreciated this post too, John. I didn’t know the technical term to be honest, but, I’ve seen it in action, and I’ll definitely be adopting the method in future projects.

  16. Great post man! πŸ˜€ I love the digg promotion ideas. I’ve found stumble upon has been helping me out with some traffic πŸ™‚

    1. Fat Man says:

      yeh, stumble sends me some traffic so thats cool. I dont even do anything for that. btw, why did you choose to have unleashed in your name? its the second one I have seen, without including mine.

  17. Fat Man says:

    yooooo. agloco just sent an email. they are done and trying to sell it to a user. hahahha.

  18. MoneyNing says:

    Front page of digg. Nowadays, everyone needs to start off with some blackhat way for the first 20-30 diggs. Otherwise, it almost never gets popular. πŸ™

  19. Great post! I am def going to switch my promotion thinking after reading this. Thanks!

  20. Neil says:

    So many bloggers are keen to make money, and lots of it, yet they’re too tight to spend even a few bucks on advertising, they’re expecting to strike it rich for zero outlay ….. in most cases this won’t happen. Spending a few bucks wisely will help.

  21. GemViper says:

    I’ve studied you carefully John, your sites that it. You didn’t mention the Google whores post! I bet you still thank god for writing that, it’s been your biggest attention getter so far. That chart shows when you posted it too!

    Shoemoney – his adsense check, without it, his site nowhere near as popular as it is today. (no offense, nobody cares that you can pimp ringtones, except ringtone promoters, ya know?).

    I disagree about the ramp idea, i may have believed it last year but I’ve built a site that earns me a nice monthly sum that has never been promoted (no, not which i’m ashamed hasn’t been worked on since July). No buzz, no promotion, 100% free search engine traffic. I got it to rank #4 out of over 56 million competitors at one point on its main keyword.

    Go “buzz” and you’ll do well peer to peer. Get “SEO’d” to the gills and you’ll do well naturaly. Learn to leverage you ad dollar and you’ll pay your way to good standing.

    Imagine doing all three well? I’m about to promote the snot out of my best site… eta 60 days… I can’t wait to see what happens, it’s already been a ride.

  22. Very interesting post that addresses issues faced by all bloggers today

  23. Pedro says:

    Great post, Jonh. You made my day! πŸ˜€


  24. Chris says:

    Fantastic article, it just goes to show how one big break can step a site up to the next level.


  25. OneBrownGuy says:

    You talk about the Digg effect that happened. Did you submit your own stories to digg and wait for the people to digg it, or did some random reader do the posting for you? Or, did you actually ask another person to digg you?

    Also, I tagged you with a meme. You can get the rules at the below link. You have been around a long time, so you probably already listed 7 random facts about you. But, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. If you have, you could always shoot me a link to it. Thanks!

  26. James B. says:

    I guess you wouldn’t call it a ramp but i have doubled my traffic in the past couple of days (30 to 60 visitors per day) Yea, i know it’s pretty sad.

  27. Manik says:

    Another good post from you. I was reading another article yesterday about 3 big websites launched by 3 well-known people on the net, how they are pushing it to promote. And apparently they are doing it by social networking as you mentioned. At this moment nothing else works better!

  28. Kenneth says:

    I enjoyed this post and to some degree I would agree with it. If your links or post are in high traffic areas for an extended amount of time yes, you will gain sustained traffic. But I also agree with less stressful non-blackhat techniques that involve just gaining links that attract the search engines which reward sites with traffic.

  29. Mike Huang says:

    $400 for a review on your blog doesn’t always get the necessary attention. It does provide ONE quick ramp, but even with promotion, it usually drops all the way back down. It’s only reviews you do for completely unique programs that receive a continuous trend. The blog reviews you do don’t give a continuous trend because it’s just a blog you’re reviewing. You know what I mean? πŸ™‚


  30. hts says:

    @Mike Huang: if the readers that come from this blog will find something useful on your blog, then they will convert into subscribers, becoming loyal readers/returning visitors, with the potential to link to your blog, if they have a site .etc.. So it’s up to you to get the most out of a johnchow review. PS: Im not telling this from experience, since I was never reviewed by john, but from my observations on the sites that got reviewed here πŸ˜‰

  31. I’d be interested to hear how you first started promoting your blog back in the day.

    1. Just check back through the blog to when it started and start reading πŸ™‚

  32. paradise5000 says:

    John, I was not blogging in 2006, but I am know and I am taking heed to all your tips and ideas. Thank you. πŸ˜‰

  33. Dennis Edell says:

    “Here’s the answer: the quality of your posts has zero to do with your traffic. It’s all about promotion. And when it comes to promoting a new blog, the Ramp is the most important part.”

    Yep that’s the answer alright. The exact question it answers is “What’s wrong with marketing today”.

    I’ll become big and famous so no matter what crap I produce (blog, product, whatever) from that point on my sheep will follow, and help herd other sheep because they know no better.

    Gee that’s excellent advice. Top notch, really.

  34. Excellent post John.

    Making digg frontpage is an achievement in itself nevermind making it as many times as you did :mrgreen:

  35. Lipton says:

    We hit a little ramp back in Nov, thanks to stumbleupon users πŸ™‚ 7000+ unique visitors in 1 day πŸ˜€ May not be much to the big boys, but for my startup blog thats pretty good πŸ™‚

  36. Pele says:

    Interesting to know that quality content alone does not guarantee traffic. great stuff

    1. Quality content will certainly get you traffic. But it will take more than that to jump you into the elite.

  37. bmunch says:

    30 front page Digg in three months. I would really like to read those post. Anyway you can post a list of all the 30 post?

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  39. Maher Saleh says:

    This post is really inspiring post i have learned a new thing today my traffic is not growing too although i procide quality content daily so i will depend on content and ramping now 😎

  40. hts says:

    “The Ramp” is probably one of the most wanted “gifts” for a blogger or a webmaster, in general. However, a ramp is not enough. After you get those thousands of visitors, you should have a way to keep them- -convert them to loyal readers – provide the same quality content, over and over again. Hard thing to do, but rewarding πŸ™‚

  41. I’m at more of a slope right now πŸ™
    ~ Dave

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