8 Tips for Going Viral With StumbleUpon

How to help your article or blog post go viralThis is a guest post by Jeremy.

Have you ever wondered how some posts go viral with 100,000+ hits on StumbleUpon and others only get 23?  Or why two of your posts of equal strength and style differ in the amount of traffic you receive by several orders of magnitude?

When using StumbleUpon, there are many tips throughout the internet that are designed to help you maximize your ability to get stumbles.  The sad truth to this is that StumbleUpon is as elusive as figuring out Google or other large SEO factors.  The amount of metrics that go into determining what is good and what is bad make it impossible to decipher.

After years of playing with StumbleUpon, having an account blocked, and another become successful, then lose that success only to regain it again, I’ve figured out a few things that should be looked at loosely when trying to send traffic to blog posts.

1) Account Strength is the Beast

StumbleUpon lets you share many posts, make friends, and even have reviews of your account.  The more of these you have over more random sites, the higher your account will be rated.  This is simple; StumbleUpon trusts the views of users with hundreds of shares and a pattern of quality submissions than a spammer who only has a few dozen.  I did not even begin getting 100+ views on a stumble until after 50 unique reviews, and that is a modest count.

Try this: A great way to strengthen your account is to stalk sites that you know will get many reviews on StumbleUpon – like Matador Network.  Be the first to review a post immediately after it is live, and let the people behind you fill it with likes.  Your account gets stronger significantly from this.

2) The Friendship Double Edged Sword

Having friends on StumbleUpon is a great way to strengthen your account.  Your stumbles get a boost because people are friends with you, who in turn make you appear to be a trustworthy source.

Sharing recently stumbled articles with your friends, unfortunately, does absolutely nothing to get a post viral.  StumbleUpon cares more about organic likes than your friends liking a post just because you are connected.  With this, a post that gets 20 thumbs up and 5 reviews from friends may be stuck at only 50 views.

3) Organic Likes are Better

An organic like is someone who thumbs up or reviews your page that you are not connected with.  In order for this to happen they must stumble upon your site either by the toolbar or reading your site on their own.

When they thumb up your post or review it without any encouragement, the benefits are more substantial as this is a sign of an actual quality post.  It is possible for you to get one thumb up after a post from someone you don’t know who has a strong account, and end up with 600 or more views.

Remember: You can only get organic likes from your initial discovery if people are actually around to read your post, so submission time is key.

4) Submit Your Post at the Right Time – Staying in the Cycle is Key

When traveling Asia, I would submit posts at the equivalent of 3am, 4am, 7am EST time.  My StumbleUpon returns were low.  Why is that? No one is using StumbleUpon at that hour.  A post can’t be looked at if no one is clicking the Stumble button. Better hours are between 5 and 10pm EST when more people are at their computer.

When you submit, you get an initial boost of shares based on the post criteria (through means that are still unknown) and the strength of your account.  The rest of the traffic you get is from people that the post is shared with, and how many thumbs up you get.

If you get zero thumbs up, the post will fall out of the StumbleUpon sharing, and may never get traffic until someone boosts it in the future from reading your site.  If you continually get thumbs up and reviews from this initial burst, the sky is the limit and you will stay in the network for some time – the key to being viral.

5) What Posting Criteria is Good?

It is hard to say on this one. Since StumbleUpon is so secretive, everything is always purely speculation.  My best articles are always authoritative and not personal stories, making the use of the program even harder against us travel bloggers.  List posts also seem to do well as a site is deeming the “Best of” with authority and are generally easier reads.

The other major topic that you’ll see from time to time is photos.  We all have amazing photos, and it is important to showcase them front and center in any post you want to get stumble traffic from.  A post without photos is meant for certain doom.

Try this: You can get a feel for this by selecting the ‘travel’ topic and stumbling 20 or so posts just to see what comes up.  Here are the first few that I got:

“Mondays are for dreaming: Ten dream-worthy moments”

“7 Epic Journeys in SE Asia”

“Hohenzollern Castle – photos”

“Top 10 Man-Made Wonders: Amazing Monuments”

“Ultimate Guide to Packing Lists: 45 Tips for How to Pack Light”

“Mopeds in Mykonos – photo essay”

“Thailand Travel Photography”

See the trend?

The Pitfalls of StumbleUpon

Even with all of these tactics, there are a few thoughts you should keep in mind when submitting to StumbleUpon.  A few pitfalls will mean certain doom to a post and you will never get traffic to it again no matter how hard you try, unless a major player likes your page.

1) Review a post if you are the first thumbs up.

If you get a prompt for a review when you thumbs up a post, for the love of everything good, review it! A post with a like and no review is like the kiss of death and it takes a really strong SU account to bring a post back from this.  Ever see a post of yours stuck at ‘1’ and no more, only to take 8 likes and 4 reviews to get it to boost to 50? This might be one of the reasons for the problem.

2) Small photos have an equally bad effect.

This may be a stretch, but from what I can tell, StumbleUpon really likes photos.  When you submit a post, a photo should be large enough that it gets grabbed by the thumbnail image on the SU discovery page.  If it is too small, the photo will be a generic image of your blog or blank.  That does not give a lot of credibility to your post, and seems to have a negative effect.  I’ve found that bigger than 240x300px does the trick, but this is an estimate.

3) Don’t Over Promote and Remember to Actually Stumble!

It is easy to say do not over promote your own pages, as a history of repeatable behavior is the sign of a spammer.  Break things up by actually using your SU toolbar and stumbling for posts, liking them, and giving reviews.  Forgetting these may flag your account and reduce your potency.  But even though using the toolbar is great, you still have to vary your discoveries from many sites in order to keep the appearance of being random!

————————–

With these thoughts in mind, your StumbleUpon account can become very powerful.  But with that power, it is only as good as your organic likes let you become.  If you continually submit a string of posts that do not get likes, you will stop getting the critical initial traffic.  Be sure to balance the amount of discoveries you have from powerhouse sites and our independent blogs to ensure that your account gets ideal traffic on both ends.  Remember – It takes both an initial boost from your account and continual boosts from random users to go viral, and balancing that is very, very tricky.

For more great tips on using Stumble Upon check out Go, See, Write’s How-to Guide on driving traffic using Stumble Upon.

What is your secret trick to get traffic from StumbleUpon? Help us out and submit below!

Jeremy is the primary author of Living the Dream and Free Travel Contests, as well as co-author of the travel food blog The International Food Project. He has traveled to 34 countries throughout North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and currently planning his next long term adventure for 2013.

Photo Credit


If you liked this article please consider signing up for free e-mail updates

Travel Niche Selection and Keyword Research

niche travel site battle: select a niche and keyword researchA Call to Arms

A few weeks ago I started  hitting the war drums. It was a call to stop procrastinating and to enter the Niche Travel Site Battle. The Battle concept is simple, 5 Travel Blog Challenge members have committed to building up a Niche Travel Site from scratch and be completely transparent about our process, highlighting both successes and mistakes. You can find the first post with the Niche Site Battle Rules here. It is also a way for me to put into practice the course I took on Affiliate Marketing for Beginners where the development of a niche mini-site is the main tool.

I have made Two Important Rule Changes:

1) We can now spend as many hours as we like, but we have to keep track and report back on how much effort we are putting in.

2) We are no longer limited to 10 pages. If one of us hits on a profitable niche it would be silly to be constrained.

So, 25 pages is now the upper rubber limit, UNLESS you have a fantastic (read $$$$$, fame, rides in jet fighters) reason for increasing the page numbers.

I have created a Niche Travel Site Battle War Room where you can find all updates as they come in by my fellow soldiers: Mike from Exotic Visitors, Adam from World Travel for Couples, Kieron from Don’t Ever Look Back, and Norbert from Globotreks. The idea is that by having 5 competitors, readers will be able to evaluate a variety of strategies, learn from our wide range of tactics and mistakes, and hopefully get inspired to create your own niche sites. My own updates will go out to the full TBC crowd through the homepage as a main article. Mike, Adam, and Kieron will all update their progress here on TBC as articles for which you can find links the bottom of my own updates. Norbert will update on his own blog. You can also find ALL posts from the Travel Battlers in order through the Niche Travel Site War Room.

The updates will last for 6 months until the End of August when we will crown the winner who makes the most net PROFIT from their site.

WARNING: This post, as well as many of the initial posts are going to be long. I want them to be timeless resources for people to come back to (link to…hint…hint) and to find useful. Despite the level of detail I will not be able to go too deeply into everything, so if there is a topic you want to know more about let me know by Contacting Me, or leaving a comment below.

Selecting a Profitable Niche

Selecting a profitable niche, and doing essential keyword research go hand in hand. But I’ll deal with them separately because it makes my life easier. If at the end of this process you do not find a niche with the 4 Essential Keyword Characteristics then you should start again.

I’ll admit that I made a HUGE mistake right from the beginning. I’m not an expert in niche sites, yet, and I want to highlight all of my mistakes so that you don’t make them as well. Basically, I have gotten into a very competitive niche. A no-no, in the niche site world, but one that I have decided to follow through with for reasons I’ll explain below.

There are various ways to select a Profitable Niche. There is a lot of advice out there related to selecting niches and most start with a very broad brainstorming session. However, as we are limited to Travel this in one way helps us to focus, but also makes it more difficult. There is heavy competition for popular travel words like “hotel”, “travel” “budget” etc. This means that we have to be creative, which is good, I like being creative.

Methods for Selecting a Niche

One method of finding a niche is to list 7 Fears, 7 Desires, and 7 Needs that Viper Chill talks about as well as Pat from Smart Passive Income (the inspiration for this battle in the first place). Another way is to brainstorm a list of Irrational Passions, or Irrational Fears. In this way you are narrowing in on concepts and topics for which people are willing to spend money on. This is very important because you want a Niche that has a market. This is called buyers intent and those interested in your niche should have it or else all you’ll get is people interested in getting things for free.

The first niche I selected was Fear of Flying. I have a few friends who would love to travel but who are terrified to get on planes. I figured that people would be willing to pay for courses that help them overcome this fear. However, after doing Keyword research I did not discover any words or phrases that met all 4 of the Essential Keyword Characteristics. Yes, you have been patient so here they are.

4 Essential Characteristics of Profitable Keywords

1) Relevance to my Topic. This means simply that anyone searching for my keywords will be happy to land my on my website as it is what they are searching for.

2) Decent amounts of traffic (over 1,000 exact searches a month). If the traffic is too low than we are just wasting our time. The higher number of visitors the high number of potential clicks on my ads or sales through affiliate products.

3) Low competition. If there is no possibility of getting to the first spot on Google Search Results than it’s not worth our time. The traffic will not come, and thus the ad revenue will not come either.

4) Available domain URL that includes my Keywords. I know there are many different opinions on whether Google gives greater importance to exact match domain names. To be honest I don’t know. But where it does help is with backlinks. When people link to my site with anchor text they are likely to use the Name of my site and thus have my keywords included. If they only put the url address my keywords are still included. That’s an easy win, so I’ll take it.

Following my strategy I started over and selected a new Niche, one that I have a passion for and which I know a lot about: Japan. Can a country be a niche? You bet it can!

Japan is a confusing place. If you don’t speak Japanese it can be very difficult to get around and discover the “real” Japan. It is also one of the most popular topics on Todd’s Wanderings. Armed with my new niche I then walked through the Keyword Research steps to see if I could find keywords that match my 4 Essential Keyword Characteristics.

Keyword Research

I started out my keyword research using Google’s Keyword Tool in Google’s Adwords sections. This is a free tool that let’s you see the number of searches per month for certain words or phrases. It also helps you see what else people are searching for related to your main keyword. This will help you generate new keywords and gives you getter chances of find one that meets all 4 characteristics.

From Japan, I found Tokyo which had over 6 million searches a month and VERY low competition. This is misleading as this is for a) broad searches (anything with Tokyo in it or related to Tokyo) and b) the competition is fierce as you will not be able to get to the Top of google for Tokyo. It’s just not possible. There may be few people competing for “tokyo” but the ones that do have a lock, such as the tourism board of Tokyo!

But Tokyo is a popular search term so it was worth exploring further. But to do this I unchecked “broad” searches and used “exact” searches instead. This means I am only seeing the number of people searching for the exact keyword. The monthly search numbers dropped to 260,000!

When you start exploring long tail key words for Tokyo (such as “Cheap Hotels in Tokyo,” or “Advice on visiting Tokyo”) the search numbers go down but the competition factors skyrocket as they are targeted by most travel companies. These companies are much bigger than my little Niche Site will be. Then I saw it, my perfect (or so I thought keyword phrase and niche). Can you spot it in the picture?

Google Keyword Search

Low competition and relatively high monthly searches.

“Things to Do in Tokyo” met all of my key requirements. The competition was low, the search volume as over one thousand a month and was even higher than I had hoped at 4,400 a month. It also has buyer intention, or at least this is my theory. If people are searching for things to do in Tokyo than they are planning a trip. If they are planning a trip then they are also interested in hotels, tours, discounts etc. While I can’t compete with the Big Guys on searches for hotels in Tokyo, I might be able to find people interested in the exact same thing but bring them in through the backdoor. This is essentially my monetization strategy (but more on this in a later post).

My BIG Keyword Mistake

After getting excited, and high fiving the air after my wife showed little interest in my online marketing gold mine, I went and bought my domain and hosting from Host Gator. I decided to use a different web hosting from my other sites (on Dreamhost) so that I could benefit from the link juice of a different IP address. I found an exact keyword URL and went and spent money based on my research. The problem was, Google’s Tool only told me part of the story. The keyword phrase “Things to Do in Tokyo” was much more competitive than I ever imagined. I found this all out by using Market Samurai’s free trial period.

Before I go any farther. Everything that I’ll show below is possible to find out for free with a variety of tools across the web. It took me 1 1/2 days to narrow down my niche and keyword with Google’s tools and searching for domains with Go Daddy. With Market Samurai it took me 1 hour to do the same. I ended up buying the software as it helps with everything from research, to finding domains, analyzing competition, to monetization, to backlink analysis and more. I would suggest trying it out for free (yes, I’m an affiliate but only if you buy and I think there is value in the videos you get with the trial period).

By using Market Samurai I found that while my niche had low competition, it was the big boys who have the top spots:

Market Samurai Key Word and Competition Research

That's a lot of RED

What this shows is the Top 10 search ranking for my term “Things to Do in Tokyo.” As you can see Time Magazine is at the top! They are followed by no less than, Trip Advisor, Yahoo Travel, Virtual Tourist, and Lonely Planet. Ugh! This is where the value of Market Samurai comes in. At this point I had to make a choice: stay with this niche after spending the money, or pick a new niche. What do you think I did?

My Choice

Yes, I am competitive, yes, I want to win this friendly battle. All good sense should have sent me running to a different keyword selection. But I decided to stick it out. Why? According to common practice with Market Samurai, the more green you have in the boxes above the lower the competition. Many people argue that you should have at least 3-4 entire rows that are green (maybe some yellow). But, I think I can beat them. Market Samurai is telling me to run the other way. Normally I would agree, but in this instance I have decided to stand my ground and fight. Here are my reasons:

1) None of the posts above have sites that target my keywords exactly. Some are sites dedicated to Tokyo in general, some are sites about travel and have a page or two on Tokyo.  Some have a post about things to do in Tokyo. But my whole site is about Things to Do in Tokyo. I will focus ONLY ON building links to my main Keyword, which I have an exact domain match for.

2) Most of these pages are not homepages (like mine will be) and only have from 100-2,500 backlinks. There is room to bump the higher backlinked pages off as they are NOT focused on Things to Do in Tokyo and instead only “Tokyo”. There is also room to build more backlinks than the large sites have. In fact my strategy will easily pass these numbers.

3) I already have a ton of information about Tokyo. My wife is from there, I visit a number of times a year, and I know the city. This means I can create content easily.

4) I might create my own product for Tokyo and it would be great to have this site to help sell. Also, it will be another group of people potentially interested in my Book on Japan.

5) I’m thinking of creating a larger destination website for Japan. This will be a good chance to see how the market is and what is possible.

6) There is a WIDE range of secondary keyword phrases that I can rank for with my content. This will help me to expand the traffic numbers coming to the site in the future.

I don’t know if these are valid reasons. But they are the ones that I’m running with and it will be interesting to see if I succeed. Part of this challenge is to have a variety of strategies and I suspect that taking on Time Magazine is not in the plans of the other Battlers  :)

My Niche Travel Site

I knew from the beginning that opening up this process to public scrutiny would throw off the results a bit. After all if you click through to my niche site it might affect traffic numbers or that of the other Battlers. This is unavoidable. I do ask one thing. PLEASE DO NOT GO CRAZY AND CLICK MY ADSENSE ADS TO HELP. You will actually not be helping as the numbers will be compromised and if it looks suspicious I could get banned from Adsense. I don’t want that.

Based on everything above I created my site: Things to Do in Tokyo.

Things to Do in Tokyo

As you can see, there is still some more content that I need to put up. The creation of a niche site, how to get it up and running as quickly as possible, the key pages, and a check list of steps and essential plug-ins will be the topic of my next post.

By the Numbers

Now down to what matters, the numbers. I’ll try to keep this as consistent as possible (along with the other bloggers) so that you can follow along easily.

Time Spent: Starting from March 1st an average of 6 hours per week

Current Google Search Rank: Nonexistent! I don’t rank even on the first 200 pages

Money Spent: $10/month hosting; $12 for the domain

Backlinks: 1…the one in this post :)

Follow the other Battlers on their journey

From Norbert: Travel Niche Challenge: The Beginning

From Adam: And So it Begins

What do you think so far? Am I in over my head?

Yes, another warning. Well not a warning just a heads up. Many of the links I use here on TBC are affiliate links, this means that if you buy through those links that I get a cut of the profit and it helps me keep the lights on. As usual I will only recommend things that I use and think are outstanding. When possible I will also let you know when discounts are available.

Niche Travel Site Battle

niche travel site battle

Earning money from our travel “blogs” is just one of many ways we can earn income from the internet.

Part of my plan this year is to create a number of niche travel sites that are less work than full blogs and bring in passive income from a variety of strategies such as affiliate marketing, pay per click, advertising and good old Adsense. I was inspired by the Affiliate Marketing for Beginners course that I took, and now it is time to earn my money back with a niche site…or four!

In the spirit of openness and friendly competition that I believe is the foundation of Travel Blog Challenge I decided to kick start my own goals and hopefully yours as well with a public Niche Travel Site Battle. Inspired by the niche site dual over at Smart Passive Income, the only real difference is that our sites have to be Travel Related.

Expanding the number of travel related sites you have is one of the best ways to scale up earnings. For instance when an advertiser contacts you it is just better when you can sell ads on more than one site. And for us, it makes sense to keep these all travel related so that we maintain our core audience across multiple platforms. It means less work in the end as well.

How to Join the Battle

I am inviting 4 members of the Travel Blog Challenge to join me in this Battle. A few people have already expressed interest in the forums but to join you need to Contact me and commit to the rules below. While I will only pick 4 to be featured on TBC, others are free to join in and post their progress in the comments or in the forums. To be considered you need to:

a) Be a current TBC 1000-1000 Challenger

b) Be an active participant in the forums

c) Be subscribed to either the TBC mailing list or the RSS feed; and

c) Be willing to follow the rules of the Battle (yes, there will be no collateral damage allowed!)

Niche Travel Site Battle Rules

A few rules will help keep us on track and will make it easier for readers to follow along.

1) Must be a niche site (meaning no more than a 10 pages)

2) Must be travel related (feel free to be creative)

3) You must only use ethical tactics. No black hat SEO crap here.

4) You must have a keyword or words strategy (so we can measure progress on your google search ranking)

5) You can employ any type of monetization strategy or a combination (but you need to document and write about it, basically tell us your game plan)

6) You can only spend a maximum of 4 hours per week on it (who wants to spend all their time at the computer?)

7) You will  write a blog post about your progress, strategies, income etc on the 5th of each month. You can post it on the TBC if your Travel Blog is not an appropriate venue. I will dedicate a page here that links to all of our updates and tracks our progress.

What does this all mean? It means that we will each create a niche site, describe in detail our strategies and tactics, our ups and down. We will only spend 4 hours a week max (I hope less) on our projects and at the end of 6 months we will see who is the “winner.”

Have any questions? Leave a comment. Want to fawn over my brilliant (but stolen) idea? Leave a comment. Want to be considered for the First Battle round? Contact me.

Photo Credit

Blog Homework 8: Discover New Blog Real Estate (you have More Google Page Rank Than you Think)

Find Internal Google Page Rank for all PagesI know, I know, I have been promising that I would post a homework on creating an advertising page and media guide. Each time I sit down to write the homework I discover an essential task that you need to accomplish before having a compelling advertising page and pitch.

You have More PageRank than you think

With the recent Google Page Rank update many travel bloggers are either rejoicing or burying their sorrows on a beach with fruity cocktails. Either way, you are happy. But I might be able to make you even happier. Chances are you have more Google Page Rank than you first thought. Many bloggers only consider the PR of their homepage and forget that as links build to other pages and posts they might be gaining PageRank.

Why Does More PageRank Matter?

Like it or not PageRank is ONE factor used to determine advertising rates. If you have a low PR than it is in your interest to use different criteria to set your prices. But if you have high PR than you might as well use it. Having more sites with PageRank means that you can sell more advertising space and at different rates. An advertiser might not have a budget for placing an Ad on a PR 4 page, but luckily you can offer a PR 3, 2 or even 0!

How to find the PageRank of all Internal Pages

I have yet to find a comprehensive online tool to search through all pages on your site. The best I have found so far is: http://www.diagnosticoweb.com/internal/ (the site currently is down). But this will only return 100 pages, which means you might miss some important ones.

I recently found http://www.cleverstat.com/en/page-rank-software.htm which is a free desktop application that you can extract URLs and then search for PageRank in bulk. My search returned 4,821 urls on Todd’s Wanderings. That’s a lot of  PR potential.

Once you have different PR pages, you need to be able to have advertisements only appear on those pages. You don’t want to sell an as for only the Homepage and have it show up on all pages. This would defeat the purpose of finding new ad space. I use the WordPress plug-in Widget Logic (just search for it in the add plug-in section). This lets me control which widgets appear on certain pages.

Todd’s Wanderings has a PageRank of 4. However, after searching I found a lot of pages that had been upgraded that I never knew about:

Page Rank 3: 12 pages

Page Rank 2: 25 pages

Page Rank 1: 8 pages

I have found the tool to be mostly accurate but curiously some page ranks don’t show up in my Firefox SEO tool bar and I had to use a PR checking website to confirm.

Today’s Homework

Today’s homework is to use the tools above and find out how exactly how much PageRank real estate you have. You can then use this information in your advertising pages, or in the price listing that you send out after contact.

Extra Credit: If you have already determined your prices, and you know how many ads your accept per page, calculate how much possible revenue your blog can earn.

As this is more of a personal homework assignment we are not linking it to he forums.

However, we’d love to hear what you discovered, how much you think your blog is worth, and any plug-ins that you use that are better than mine!

Photo Credit

Blog Homework 7: Write about Something you Know

How to Write a How to PostSounds obvious right? Well it is, so obvious that many writers, travelers, and bloggers forget that not everyone else knows how to do what they take for granted. Chances are, if you have learned to do something over time, had to gather information to learn a new skill or task, or have been frustrated by a lack of information available on a subject, than other people are feeling the same way. Often we try to write about what is new and fresh to us and forget about the skills or information we gathered when we first started traveling, or the skills that have grown with us slowly.

The key here is to write about something that seems so obvious to you that you don’t think its worth writing about. Write about something you can’t imagine how anyone could NOT know about it.

My most recent example of this is my post: How I Save Money and Travel Cheaply- Not So Secret Strategies

I’ll be honest, I just wrote about the things that seemed obvious to me. I did this on purpose as an experiment. I often read popular posts about subjects I can’t believe people are writing about. I read posts from people who don’t have an in-depth knowledge or experience about something. Why let them corner the market when you have more experience? It is this thinking that has led me to write my book about Japan. Why should someone who only visited for 6 months be considered an expert!

What’s Boring to me is NOT Boring to YOU

I am guilty of not writing about what I know. Seriously, I often feel that people don’t want to hear about Kosovo because I live here and I think it would be boring to others. The truth is the exact opposite. I want to write about what I find interesting, but forget that my audience is not me and they have no idea about Kosovo. In fact the first thing I did before moving to Kosovo was search online for information…I didn’t find much!

You could even write about your hometown. What’s more boring than your hometown? But I bet there are a ton of people looking for information on what to do in Jamestown, RI (yup, that’s a plug for my hometown).

Today’s Homework

Today your homework is to write an Obvious How To/Information Post. But you are to write a how to post that you can’t imagine anyone else finding useful. Well, that is not really true! Some readers should find it useful, but you should consider the knowledge to be obvious.

You will be amazed by the results and how the simple skills that you take for granted are highly valued by those who have never had the chance to acquire them. This assignment will not only help you to understand your readers better, but it will help to open up a wider range of topics you can write about as an expert.

Here’s another example from Michael at Go See Write: Basic, beginner travel blog tips and advice It’s a great piece, and one that many have found very useful. It’s also a post that many of you could have easily written.

Oh, by the way. Don’ forget to make your post interesting :) Just saying!

Extra Credit: Take your how to or informational article and make a video. YouTube has become the second largest search engine and is a hot bed for people searching for How To explanations. Be as creative as you like, but it’s as easy as filming yourself for 20-40 seconds and throwing it up online.

Share Your Latest Post

Once you have created your Obvious How To Post, share it with others in the forum at Blog Homework 7: Obvious How To Post. We can help spread it even farther!

If you are not registered in the forum yet, click the link to the top right to get started.

And of course we love it when you post your ideas in the comments so have at it. What do you think about simple posts, ideas, how to articles?

Photo Credit

If you liked this article please consider signing up for free e-mail updates

Blog Homework 6: Use Story to Hook your Audience and Make them Care

Power of Story TellingThis week I thought I would provide advice on how to create a compelling and convincing advertising page. However, along the way something wonderful happened that made me change course. Over the past two weeks I have posted stories on Todd’s Wanderings. The first was a  pure travel story about my experience almost dieing on a boat in Vietnam. The second story was more of a question about the difficult choices surrounding bribing while traveling. However, instead of presenting a flat statement against bribing and how it is horrible I told three stories of my experiences with bribing. I opened myself up in both articles and related the travel lessons I was writing about on a personal level.

The First Time I Almost Died- Halong Bay, Vietnam

When to Bribe, How to Bribe, Do you Bribe?

The Power of Stories

What made me change my homework assignment was the intense response I have received from these two posts. Comments have been longer, more detailed, and from people who don’t always comment on my blog (although I know that they lurk…yes, I’m watching you). I saw my traffic spike for the past two weeks, and it had nothing to do with Stumble Upon. Instead it was all through twitter and Facebook referrals.

Now, I have had posts go viral before, picked up by Lonely Planet and passed around. My most recent one was 10 Free Things to Do in Tokyo, which was retweeted over 200 times, shared on facebook 98 times and even landed in a new guide to Japan. But even with all that exposure and interest this List Post did not generate the type of honest and open commenting that my Story Posts produced. So, which is more powerful? I think they both have their uses, but the Story Posts allow the reader to connect with me, to get to know me and to hopefully like me as a person.

Readers respond well to a protagonist, and when reading a story they picture themselves as the main character. It engages them in the story and makes them care more about the lesson you are trying to impart. I felt incredibly uncomfortable writing parts of each post. I opened myself up to the world and described situations and feelings that people normally don’t share with others for fear of being rejected, laughed at or criticized. I have learned that once I start to get this feeling while writing I must be onto something worth reading. After all, if I have such a powerful emotional reaction to something, chances are the reader will too.

Today’s Homework

Today your homework is to write a story. Write your next blog post in a way that conveys a story, beginning, middle and end. It should have a protagonist and an antagonist and should engage and move the reader through the steps to the point, lesson, or issue that you want to discuss.

It doesn’t have to be story about adventure and death like mine. Actually, you will probably get even greater benefit to it if you merge it with a post about “quirky foods to eat in London,” or “shoppers guide to Marrakesh.” Weaving a story through a mundane post will help to elevate it to a great post. It will help to give it a fresh angle that sets it apart from the “Top 10 castles in Europe” posts floating around the internet. List posts have their value, but why not squeeze even more value out of them and get your reader to care about you along the way.

Because I love examples, and good stories, one of the BEST stories I have read comes from Wandering Earl: The Day US Customs Found a Bullet in my Pocket

Not only will you create wonderful, amazing content, you will boost the “shareabilty” of your posts. People share things on social media because it makes them look good. Spin a good yarn and your story has a greater chance of going viral.

Share Your Latest Post

Once you have created you story, share it with others in the forum at Blog Homework 6: Everyone Loves a Good Story. We can help spread it even farther!

If you are not registered in the forum yet, click the link to the top right to get started.

And of course we love it when you post your ideas in the comments so have at it. What do you think about using stories to hook your readers?

Photo Credit

If you liked this article please consider signing up for free e-mail updates

Blog Homework 5: Tune up your Blog to get a higher Google Pagerank and lower Alexa Score

Make your website go fasterToday’s Homework is a guest post introduction by Mike Collins. It is long but extremely useful as Google is rumored to be updating its page rank in Late January early February and these can help you rank higher.

Alexa Rank and PageRank: Keeping Up Appearances

As a blogger you have probably heard, at least a handful, of terms that refer to making your website more appealing to Google. In the interest of simplicity I am going to use the term Google when referring to search engines. What is important to Google should be important to you. Why? Organic traffic and rumors, of course.

Let’s start with the rumors.

The two most important aspects to my website are Alexa Rank and PageRank. This is entirely false. But here is the catch, advertisers do not care if it is false. As a potential advertiser I can only see a few things from the outside. I can see what your PageRank is, I can see your Alexa Rank and I can see where you end up in Google when I type in a keyword. The latter is the least reliable because you can go from page one to page 50 in a day. From an advertisers point of view Alexa and PR are important to me because it gives me an idea of the traffic you get and the authority of your site.

Alexa Rank is the most misleading. You may get tons of traffic but have a high Alexa Rank (lowest is best). In order for Alexa to gauge the amount of traffic to a website the visitor must have the Alexa Toolbar installed. If there is no toolbar then there is no hit recorded. The average viewer does not use the Alexa Toolbar. Web developers on the other hand do. The Alexa Rank is a completely useless tool to use for yourself to gather knowledge about your own site. Yet it is vitally important to have a low Alexa Rank if you want to attract advertisers.

How to Improve Alexa Rank

Unless I am trying to attract advertisers I do not bother with it on any of my sites. When I want to attract advertisers it is a quick fix. (90 days max)

  • Increase all traffic to play the odds of having some visitors with the toolbar.
  • Target other web developers which most likely have the toolbar. [Todd here, its true. Travel Blog Challenge has gone from a 6 million Alexa rank to 106,500 in just one month because the target is travel bloggers with the tool bar installed]
  • Check my own site daily with the toolbar.

How many times a day do you look at your own site? When you open your site always click on a few different pages. This is important because it will show you have a lower bounce rate. This may sound like cheating; however, the game is rigged to begin with by having false stats.

What Will Not Improve Alexa Rank

Sites like Stumbleupon. If you notice the address bar when viewing a page from a SU link it is not your URL. So even if the person has a toolbar you will not get credit. You can get 1000 SU visitors and zero hits.

Paid services. There are many services which claim to increase your Alexa Rank by sending visitors.  This method works for a very short period of time and is a complete waste of money. No paid service or traffic exchange should ever be used under any circumstances. Google can and most likely will sandbox your site which can take a long time to get out of.

Google PageRank

PageRank is not a ranking for your page. It is an algorithm created by Larry Page that measures the weight of a set of documents in relation to another set of documents. This weight, or importance, is primarily judged by the links to these documents.

To better understand links, or backlinks as they are more commonly known, one should think of them as letters of reference. If you are a junior professor at a university that is applying for a position as a full professor at another university then you will want letters of reference. You will sit down and make a list of whom you want to get references from. The majority of the websites out there have a list that looks like this:

1.       My dry cleaner

2.       Barber

3.       Plumber

4.       Doctor

5.       Mother in Law

That list is not going to get you the job. Your chances are much better if the list looks like this

1.       Dean of the University

2.       Senior Professor

3.       Academic Association President

4.       Students

Now let’s assign a number from 0 to 10 to these references. The Dean gets a 7, Senior Professor gets a 5, Academic Association President gets a 2 and students a 0.

As a junior Professor your rank is a 3.  Even though you have references from people with a lower rank than you, it is still a benefit. Alone they would not do the trick, but combined with people that are your senior you have a well rounded list that shows you are a good candidate for the job.

Backlinks act in the exact same manner. They must be from related sites. Don’t ignore the lower PageRank sites just because you are higher, but still go after the higher ones.

These backlinks are the primary references to gaining a good PageRank. Note that I said primary. Just because you have the references does not mean you get the job. As a professor you need to publish publish publish. It has to be your own work. (Unique content). That does not mean that you cannot use other text books. (duplicate content) it is all about balance.

Your work must be neat and well organized. (Clean Code on your site)

Are you willing to sign a contract for this job? How long? 1 year or 5 years? When you register your domain you should register it for 5 years. This shows Google that you are not going to have a site that comes up “Site Not Found” in a few months.  It shows a commitment. This is why most sites do not even get a PageRank until they are over a year old. Google’s main concern is about user experience, not PageRank. No matter what you do on your site, if you keep user experience in mind Google will recognize it. No one knows how it all works. It is a well guarded secret of over 200 algorithms by Google.

Appearances

That is pretty much all we have talked about here. Alexa does not tell YOU how much traffic you are getting. PageRank does not tell YOU how important your site is. It is nothing more than the most important useless information a site can have.

Advertisers are becoming much wiser. Do not be surprised if they ask to see your Google Analytics. Your AR and PR may get you in the door but it will not close the sale. For this reason I suggest getting your site optimized and of high quality prior to worrying about the outside appearance.

Mike I have been traveling for the past 30 years. He is the force behind Exotic Visitors I have sailed the oceans of the world on my 42 foot sailboat “No Boundaries”, hiked thousands of miles through rain forests and the Appellation Trail. Life is an adventure and I want to absorb everything about it that I can. You can connect with Mike on twitter @capnmikecollins

Today’s Homework

Today your homework is simple and yet frightening difficult (I lost a lot of hair…yes more hair). Improve the speed of your blog and increase your chance of ranking higher in Google by following Mike’s instructions in the forum topic The Perfect Website According to Google.

Based on Mike’s advice, and the simple (yet difficult) installation of a few WordPress plug-ins you can really clean up your blog, make it run faster, and impress the ladies (well, OK maybe not the the last one).

I went from an AFFFFF to an AACBFF. Yes, I understand that you have no idea what that means, so go check out the topic Mike started and get yourself some learning.

Share Your Latest Post

Besides posting on Mikes forum topic feel free to share your web speed and Google Ranking progress in the forums. Share your speed statistics, improvement and challenges in the forum at Blog Homework 5.

If you are not registered in the forum yet, click the link to the top right to get started.

And of course we love it when you post your ideas in the comments so have at it. What plug-ins do you like best for improving the performance of your website? Feel free to insert links to the plug-ins.

Photo Credit

Blog Homework 4- Are you making the most of social media to promote your blog?

Sexy Social Media

Who knew social media was so sexy

Let’s face it, we are in a new world of online marketing and social media is one of the best ways to find a willing audience, interact with them, and build long lasting relationships for your blog. Sometimes I forget what I didn’t know when I sent off my first tweet, dug my first article, or tried to figure out why anyone would care what my status was on facebook. A year later and a healthy dose of social media and I can say that Twitter and Facebook have been one of the largest contributors to my blog’s success (besides content worth its weight in gold). Hopefully, you won’t realize that online content has no weight…

The Right Way to Gain Influence

Nine months after signing up for twitter I am now approaching 2,500 followers. I like to think the majority of them are really interested in what I have to say. I have not built up this list in sleazy ways by following hundreds of people, unfollowing them after they follow me back and then spamming another 100 people. DO NOT do this. Unless you are OK with being a Di#@. But if you do do it, I will protest, unfollow you and ban you from TBC. Yeah, it’s all the justice that I can deliver in my small part of the internet.

One excellent way of gaining relevant followers is by having your content Retweeted. It is also an excellent way of driving new traffic to your blog if you have linked to your article, or someone tweets your article after reading it. Recently, while tweeting TBC Challenger posts I found a consistent glaring mistake: Not adding twitter names to the retweets that are going out from tweet buttons on their blogs. Not only are you losing the chance to have credit added to your post (by adding via @toddwassel or RT @toddwassel) but you also might be limiting the number of people tweeting your content.

I hate it when a person’s twitter name does not come up when I tweet from their blog post. Partly because it seems like the post is mine to begin with and I don’t want anyone to assume I am stealing another person’s idea. So, if the name does not appear then I don’t tweet it.

Another problem that I have noticed is that the Share This plug-in that people are using adds the plug-in’s twitter name (like @addthis). Why on earth would you want to promote another person’s twitter account with your wonderful content? The joy of travel blogging is that we are trying to create a life where we have time to travel. The more time spent writing, promoting, engaging with social media, finding an audience, and encouraging traffic is less time spent traveling and experiencing life. You should ONLY install social media buttons that help you do all of these things at once, while you are off diving a house reef in the Maldives or trekking to Machu Pichu.

Social Media influence is an asset that will add value to your marketing strategy and advertising bottom lines. Plus you get to meet tons of cool new people :)

Today’s Homework

Today your homework is simple but will reap significant benefits even while you are unplugged from the internet. Your homework is to optimize your social media buttons on your site. If you don’t have any social media buttons your first step is to get some! I have recently decided to try limiting the options to the sites I care most about (Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, good old E-mail). Others like to give all the options in the world. Try both and see what works best for you (we will talk more about split testing in the future).

Now that you have the buttons installed, check every single one to make sure your brand, name, whatever is attached. This is most obvious for twitter but you want to make sure things show up easy to read and pretty in facebook as well.

If you want an example go ahead and TWEET THIS ARTICLE. No, seriously, tweet it, I dare you. You know what you will find? You’ll find my twitter name. To accomplish this I had to remove the twitter function from my ShareThis plug-in and use a different plug-in (tweetmeme). For me this little extra effort pays off big time.

Share Your Latest Post

Join the discussion over at the forum and see what others have done and what social media buttons they like best. Share a link to your own post in the forum at Blog Homework 4 and let the community here help spread your wonderful stories, pictures and videos. If you are not registered in the forum yet, click the link to the top right to get started.

And of course we love it when you post your ideas in the comments so have at it. What plug-ins do you like best for social media sharing? Feel free to insert links to the plugins.

Photo Credit

Blog Homework 3: Create a Powerful Pillar Post

Pillar Blog PostWhy should I visit your blog? What do you have to offer me that will make my life better, easier, brighter? We all fall in love with our blogs. We love the little space on the internet that we have created, we marvel at the coding we learned to change the background color from gray to a slightly darker gray. We are sure that others must appreciate this work, the thought and energy that went into it.

The truth is harsh. Most people will give your blog 2 seconds before moving on. There are a number of factors besides great content that go into a decision to stick around and dig further into a site, layout and design, calls to action, rhetorical questions, something unexpected to name just a few (we’ll explore these in later posts). However, content is the quickest aspect to identify, test and change if needed. You can tell very quickly how social media reacts towards it, how often it is shared, and how much traffic it brings to your blog.

What is a Pillar Post?

A Pillar Post is the best content you have that feeds the burning desires of your target audience. It is what ideally you would want every reader to see first, to hook them and get them interested in what you are writing, the ideas you are advancing. Over the course of the life of your blog you will write a lot of content, hundreds if not thousands of posts. Within this gold mine you need to have a few posts that orient the reader to what you are all about, that provides structure, answers questions and like a good pillar holds up the mine from collapsing.

6 Characteristics of a Powerful Pillar Post

1.       It should be evergreen content. This means that the information in it does not go out of date. It doesn’t matter if someone finds it today, tomorrow or in 1 year. The message will still be relevant, useful and shareable.

2.       It should be relevant to your site and reflect the core values of your story and mission. People might love a “best wordpress plugins for travelers” but if your main topic is Family Travel than it will confuse your readers and the message of your site. It will also lack the authority you have built up in your niche. A better use of your time would be something like “5 Tips to Travel with Kids” or “10 Reasons Children Make Travel Better.”

3.       It should be scanable (yes I just invented a word). Breaking up posts with headers and sections is good blogging practice in general, but with Pillar posts it’s even more important. Readers should be able to grasp the meaning, sections and how it will help then in just a few seconds. They are more likely to read or at least skip to the sections they are interested in if you make it easy on their weary internet eyes. List posts make very good pillar posts for this reason

4.       It should answer a question or a need. A post that provides value to a reader, or solves a problem will be one they are more likely to bookmark and share.

5.       It should be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly. This goes hand in hand with points 3 and 4. Google loves lists and sections as it can determine what the post is about easier. If you are answering a question or a specific need (i.e. how do I travel with kids?) your post is more likely to come up higher in the rankings. You should have 2-3 keywords and phrases that you want your post to rank highly for (more on how to do this well in future posts). But lay the ground work now and your life will be much easier in the future when we discuss link building and SEO.

6.       It should be prominent. If you’ve followed 1-5 and you have a rocking post it would be a shame if no one ever saw it other than when you first posted it. Build internal links to it on your site. Promote it consistently throughout the life of your blog. Show it off on your home page with links to pages like “Get Started” “What We’re All About” or continuing with our example “Family Travel 101.”

Pillar Post Examples

I have created pillar posts for both Todd’s Wanderings and for the Travel Blog Challenge that reflect the different focus of each site. For Todd’s Wanderings I concentrated on how to build a lifestyle that allows you to travel the world and get paid for it.

5 Steps to World Travel and Getting Paid to Do What you Love

3 Strategies to Help you Succeed and Travel the World

I also experimented with a more visual appeal with The Happiness Chart as a way to spread my message further and easier.

With the TBC I focused on the two main themes of the site: Building Traffic and Earning Money. You might not have realized it at the time but the 2 pillar posts are:

15 Traffic Building Tips From Some of the Internet’s Most Popular Bloggers

16 Money Making Tips From Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers

The fact that I was able to attach so many popular bloggers to both of these posts lends them weight and authority. It also has the added bonus of being flattering to these bloggers so that they have an interest in seeing the posts become popular.

Today’s Homework

Write a Pillar Post

Today your homework is to create a Pillar Post that incorporates as many of the above characteristics as possible. Even if you already have a pillar post your blog can only be strengthened by adding another (or 2 or 3 if you’re feeling ambitious).

Promote the heck out it and then promote it some more at least once a month. Find a place to link to it on your homepage, either from a Favorite Posts list or through a Popular Post link if it’s one of your most popular articles (if you did your homework well it will be!).

Share Your New Pillar Post

To make it easier to keep the conversation going and for new people to join in later I have decided to use the Forums as a way for us to share our work, get advice and hopefully help promote each other even more. Each blog homework will now have its own forum thread!

Join the discussion over at the forum and see what others have done. Share a link to your own post at Blog Homework 3: Create a Powerful Pillar Post. If you are not registered yet, click the link to the top right to get started.

I also love it when people leave comments here and share what they are working on. Or even their ideas on what makes a great pillar post. Please keep it up!

Photo Credit

15 Traffic Building Tips from some of the Internet’s Most Popular Bloggers

Increase visitors and traffic to your blogBuilding traffic and getting your blog in front of new eyes is a struggle for all blogs and is ultimately determines its success. Earlier I asked some of the most popular bloggers around the internet to offer advice on making money blogging. They came through huge. But I didn’t stop there. I also asked them to share their creative tips for building traffic and keeping visitors engaged. They didn’t disappoint this time either. Below are 15 pieces of advice on traffic building from bloggers I highly respect and who have proved their methods work on their blogs.

1. If you want to build an audience for a travel blog, you first need to figure out what it is that makes travel unique. Why do people consume travel media? There are many reasons, but you need to pick one. It could be providing advice or tips. It could be providing inspiration. What you pick has different implications. If you are in the data/advice business you are probably going to want to go an SEO dominant strategy. If you are in the inspiration game, you will want to go a social media strategy.

Either way, travel is an extremely visual medium. Invest in the time and tools to improve your photography and video skills. People don’t read Playboy or National Geographic for the articles.

Finally, don’t just market to other bloggers. That is the biggest mistake you can make. Travel is an ENORMOUS worldwide industry. If you just have other bloggers commenting on your site, you’ll never break into the larger public. Bloggers are easy to target because they are online and you can comment on their site, but they are tiny fraction of the potential audience.

Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere

2. To build traffic to your website you first have to develop something that is useful, helpful or entertaining to your target audience. You have to effectively answer the question “why should I visit your site instead of one of the thousands of other choices out there?” Once you’ve nailed that, it’s all about getting the word out about your site through social media and by interacting with other influencers in your space.

Corbett Barr, Think Traffic

3. Building traffic takes time – it’s not going to happen overnight, and that’s what’s so discouraging to so many. You think, I’ve been writing for months and hardly get any interaction, comments, and my traffic is stagnant. Give it time, and above all, stay consistent. Consistency is the single most important thing to focus on when building traffic to your site – being engaged and interacting both on your site and away from it (via social media, etc) on a consistent basis will get you far. The quickest way to fail is to lose focus – stay committed, stay engaged, and the results will come.

Matt Cheuvront, Life Without Pants

4. There’s no “quick” ways to build traffic that lasts – any of the shortcuts are gimmicks and almost always worthless.  I know this because I’ve had many of them happen.

The best way to get genuine traffic is to create compelling single-topic content. Pick a single question, content, or point and really drive it home. Make it the best resource for that one specific need that you can find on the internet – make everyone who sees it feel like they need to bookmark (or copy) it.

Then look outside your niche for communities that could benefit from that (or similar) messages. Guest post, offer free products or help, or reach out to those larger communities that you know could benefit from your knowledge or post.

In other words, the best traffic you’ll ever get will be from a large peer in a slightly different niche that respects and recommends a high-quality post you did on a single topic.  :-)

Adam Baker, Man vs Debt

5. There’s not quick and easy solution to traffic building. It’s a process and thinking you will get it quick will just lead to frustration and disappointment. One creative way I build traffic is to guest blog outside your niche. Think laterally. I blog on finance sites because people on those sites like to travel and save money. As I write about budget travel, it’s a good fit for those blogs and it exposes my site to a new audience, thereby building new traffic and getting more readers.

Matt Kepnes, Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site

6. While there’s something to be said for sheer mass, think about who you want to attract and devise a strategy for meeting them. We recently dropped a programme sending us around 1,000 visitors a month because those people were sticking around for 11 seconds on average. And who wants that rubbish? Don’t go for a quick win: devise a strategy that will give you a balance of social media, word of mouth and Search Engine traffic plus looking for places that will give you the specific traffic your site will find valuable.

Craig Martin, Indie Travel Podcast

7. Engage other people and be accessible; whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for years.

Anil Polat, foXnoMad

8. Create content worth reading and sharing. You need to have a hook, something that makes your stuff different from others in your niche, otherwise you won’t give readers a reason to choose your site over anyone else’s in the same niche. The other thing you can do is to create your own blogging mastermind group – with other bloggers at a similar stage in the game as you are, or even slightly ahead. Even better if your masterminders are in different but somewhat-related niches since you’ll then be reaching out to a much wider audience outside your direct niche.

Lea Woodward, Location Independent

9. Are you using your Twitter account effectively and maximising traffic generation?

Do you think about when you post links, how often and day of the week? I didn’t think so. One of the optimum times to post links to your own content is 5pm GMT. This is when the UK and Europe are on the way back from home, East Coast USA is on lunch and West Coast USA are on their way to work. I’ve found the best time to post on twitter in any country is 9am, 1pm, 5pm and 9pm. Don’t worry about feeling you are spamming people by posting the same link four times in a day. Twitter users tend to be creatures of habit and check their feed at certain times anyway. You can’t always be available at these times so use a website that schedules tweets for you at certain dates and times. I use Social 0mph personally. Also, the likelihood of a tweet getting re-tweeted grows from Monday onwards and tails off Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps people get that Friday feeling which is why there are more re-tweets on Friday then any other day of the week.

Finally, for a healthy Twitter experience keep a balance between general tweets, posting your own links and retweeting others. Get involved in #TNI and #TravelTuesday and you’ll see click throughs, followers and re-tweets increase.

Amar Hussain, Gap Year Escape

10. The most influential and significant segment of the Internet is social media. If we expect to do business on the web without harnessing the power of social media your chances of failure will have increased substantially.  Our audience wants their information consolidated and fed to the applications they are using to view, and more importantly, share media with.  Our blog’s design and Twitter backgrounds and becoming less important.  What is important is understanding that social media utilization is just as important as content creation.  A relaxed strategy of, “If you build it, they will come,” will only make success a lot more difficult.  In the vast complex world of the Internet you need to be aggressive and go get ‘em!

Jason Castellani, TwoBackpackers

11. I think the key to building traffic to your site is to first of all have great content. You have to find a way to stand out from the hordes of other people. Really let your personality and what is unique about you and your experiences stand out.

I think the best strategy to get them to your blog to read your content, is to start guest posting. Find out who are the best bloggers in your industry and contact them in regards to publishing a post on their site. Don’t be afraid, bloggers love taking on guest posts and make it your best work. Guest blogging exposes you to a different audience, gives you more credibility and grants you those link backs we are all after.

Craig and Caz Makepeace, Y Travel Blog

12. Join a few forums and comment as much as possible on other blogs. Simply letting people know your name and how you think will start building traffic for you. One great site for promoting yourself and other is Yankezie.com for personal finance and lifestyle bloggers [psst, Todd here, I’m a member over at Yankezie and highly recommend it, also, don’t forget about the Forums here on TBC…yes, shameless promotion].

Crystal, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

13. Build traffic by taking up a challenge and getting readers to visit your site daily to view your progress. The challenge could be some major lifestyle change and how it affects your life for better or worse.

Mark Riddix, Buy Like Buffet

14. Many national newspaper websites will allow anyone to start up a blog and post whatever they want. Because there are literally thousands upon thousands of readers, your blog will likely create a much larger readership then a private blog you start on your own. You can start up a private blog, like I have done with that is parallel to the blog at the newspaper (I actually use most of the same content on both sites) but funnel some of your newspaper traffic to to your private blog in order to increase traffic, and down the road, revenue. Here is my newspaper blog: Frugal Confessions.

Amanda Grossman, Frugal Confessions

15. When we started our blog we commented on popular blogs regularly and tweeted other people’s posts religiously. We engaged in conversations with the top bloggers and eventually they sent a retweet our way and stopped by our blog for a visit. We wrote for places like BootsnAll and Matador Network to drive traffic to our site and we wrote guest posts for as many people as we could.  As more people saw our name around the Internet, more people visited our website.

Our advice, join people’s facebook groups, follow them on twitter, leave comments and write guest posts. But most of all, find your unique voice and post regularly. Once people do start taking notice, you want them to have something new and interesting to read to keep them coming back.

Dave and Deb, The Planet D

Do you have any traffic building tips? Let them out in the comment section below! Don’t be selfish :)

Photo Credit