When you start out in the blogosphere, there are two words that you hear over and over again.
1. Content – Because let’s face it, if you’re not writing anything, your blog is going to be pretty lonesome
2. Traffic – The rationale being that if no one is visiting your content, you can’t do much, including make money
I’d like to toss something out there though that not a lot of people seem to talk about, and that’s quality in your content and in your traffic. You see, if you are blogging for any particular reason, whether it’s to build your brand or to fill your wallet, you need to build a community of people who will actually support your content, click on your affiliate links, and buy your very first e-book. Right?
The two modes of blogging
Now, there are two ways that people strive for that goal. The more predominant way is to play the blogging game as if you were a commercial fisherman. The commercial fisherman uses gigantic nets, and he catches an awful lot of stuff that you don’t want in your fish sticks, like shoes, syringes, and euglena. However, because he casts such a wide net, he’s also able to get the haddock that makes your tummy happy. It’s a game of statistics. With that huge net, you’re bound to catch the winners.
Bloggers who blog like the commercial fisherman are after tons of traffic, because, the reasoning goes, if you bring thousands of readers to your blog every day, the chances of at least a handful of those folks doing what you want are pretty good, right?
OK, so that’s one way to go about it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But just like Luke had a twin sister, there is another way to play this game. It’s not a traffic game. It’s about the quality of the traffic that you bring to your site.
The 25% objective
I’ve not made it a secret that my traffic is not quite up to a copyblogger level. For a long time, when I was just getting used to the blogosphere, I would look at my Google Analytics chart and they actually had to create a sub-domain to show how low my numbers were. I couldn’t figure this out, because all of the comments I was getting were super nice. But I was convinced that winning the blog game meant that you had to have tons of traffic.
Now, here’s the thing I started to notice. I’d have a day where a post did really well for me. I’d get something like 13 retweets and 10 comments, which is a total of 23 actionable items. I’d excitedly go running to my Analytics account and it would tell me that I had 76 visitors that day.
I thought that was bad news, but in fact, it was the key to a secret door.
If you look at those numbers, what they are really saying is that my ratio of actions on my blog to visitors to my blog was right around 25%. Now it’s true, some people may have tweeted and commented, but even if you assume that, that means that maybe 12 people took TWO actions on my blog. I didn’t feel so badly after that.
Seeing is not believing
If you look at really huge blog sites, it’s easy to be stunned by how many comments and tweets each post receives. However, how much total traffic is that post getting? What you might find is that a lot of the bigger blog sites get a lot of traffic, but the majority of the people are not taking any action at all on that post. They are the invisible masses. If you are hoping for people to click on your affiliate links or your ads, this is bad news.
How do you attract a more engaged audience?
In the engagement series I’m working on, I am talking about how to engage outwardly with others. When it comes to your blog, you need to think about how to entice other people to engage with you and your content. Here are some things that seem to be working for me.
• I let people who act on my posts know that I appreciate it: I respond, as best as I can, to every comment that I get. Some fall through the cracks, but I’d say I answer about 90% of my comments. I respond as thoughtfully as I can, because the comments I get are extremely thoughtful most of the time.
• I do not ask people to promote my posts 99% of the time: This might be sticky for you, but here’s the thing. If you ask someone to promote your post, first of all, they may or may not do it, so you are risking that. Second, if they do promote your post, they might not even read it. They’ll just tweet it out to get you off their back. And third, if they don’t really care about your content, they won’t be able to sell it, which means that even if their post gets retweeted, you’re not getting people who really care about what you wrote. You’re getting the shoes and the syringes, not the haddock.
• I mention my readers a lot in my posts: If someone asks me a question on Twitter or in my comments section, I’ll often build a blog post around my answer to them and note that they were the inspiration. If one of my community members write a blog post that I want to riff on, I link back to them and give them credit. This means that people who come here regularly know that they are known entities and that they are appreciated. I think that makes people feel more comfortable with engaging and conversing, otherwise known as acting on a post.
I am not saying that it’s my way or the highway. However, it seems to me like driving huge numbers to a site doesn’t really matter if they aren’t YOUR audience. If you have lots of affiliate links to Social Media books and the traffic you’re getting is from blacksmiths, you’re probably not going to see a lot of conversion there.
So what do you think? Am I crazy? Tell me why!
1st Image by Auro Queiroz. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Auroqueiro
2nd Image by Asif Akbar. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/asifthebes