I first began working in internet marketing 13 years ago. Since then, I’ve taken on and grown more than 10 blogs to the 100K (and above) monthly visitors mark.
Doing this has played a critical role in the development of my own personal brand as well as the companies I’ve launched or been involved in growing. And it’s not just me.
B2B marketers that blog reportedly average 67% more leads than those that don’t, and are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive ROI. (source)
Of course, simply having a blog and updating it occasionally won’t cut it. To leverage a blog for real results – whether that’s growing a personal brand or a business, or monetizing it for passive income – you need to aim big.
100K monthly visitors big.
That takes hard work. A lot of hard work. The people behind really big blogs will have dedicated a huge chunk of their free time to growing it, and they’ve probably been forced to make many sacrifices along the way.
However, when that hard work starts to pay off and everything begins to come together, the rewards can be massive.
Does that sound like something you want to achieve and can commit to wholeheartedly?
Then stick with me and I will talk you through a 16-step process for growing your blog to 100K monthly visitors (or more) from scratch.
Growing from 0-10K Visitors
Launching a blog and getting it off its feet by building an initial following of a few hundred and then a few thousand regular visitors is quite often the hardest part of the whole process. Don’t be surprised if going from from 0-10K monthly visitors takes longer than going from 10K to 50K, and 50K to 100K.
In this section we’re going to cover how to set yourself up for both early and long-term success. Specifically I’m going to talk about:
- Choosing (or narrowing) your niche.
- Defining your target audience.
- How to choose the right topics for your blog posts.
- The quality of content you should be aiming to create.
- How to optimize your blog posts to maximize their visibility in the search results.
- Featuring industry influencers in your content.
- Building relationships with influencers.
- Optimizing posts for readability.
So let’s start from step one. How to…
1. Choose (or Narrow) Your Niche
The right niche can make a big difference in how easy (or hard) it is to grow a blog to 100K + followers.
The Ideal Niche
The ideal niche is one with enough consumer interest to ensure 100K potential followers actually exist, while having minimal competition from other bloggers.
It should also be something you’re knowledgeable on and passionate about. Choosing a niche based purely on potential for growth won’t work. Your heart needs to be in it.
Narrowing Your Focus
Whether you’ve already started your blog or you’re gearing up to get one launched, narrowing your niche – to an extent – is advisable.
Managing a blog with a very specific focus makes it easier to become an authoritative voice in that niche and in turn, to gain followers.
It’s the “jack of all trades, master of none” concept at work. While there’s certainly a place for people with a wide range of skills, those who excel at one particular skill are the people that (generally) get recognized as experts.
Of course, there’s a limit.
Narrow your niche too much and not only are you limiting the size of your potential audience, but you might struggle to find things to write about.
People like Brian Dean, Sean Ellis and Hiten Shah are great examples of this strategy at work. They have all gotten to where they are today in part because they’ve focused on getting recognized as experts in a specific subset of marketing (link building, growth hacking and product development, respectively).
Jumping onto an emerging trend gives you a head-start at building a big audience, fast. It’s easier to rank in the search results and get noticed by both influencers and consumers if you’re amongst the first to specialize in a trend, discipline or movement.
For a shot at pulling this strategy off, you’re going to want to keep a close eye on news in your industry.
It also helps to have an eye for distinguishing between short-lived fads and trends that are likely to keep growing.
2. Define Your Target Audience
This is a key step in helping you create the right content – content that resonates with the type of people you want to target and expect to consume your content.
You can begin this process by asking yourself questions like:
- What level of expertise is this blog aimed at? Beginner, intermediate, or advanced?
- What’s your target audience’s profession and role?
- Which influencers are they likely to follow?
- What sub-topics within your niche do you see yourself covering?
- What can you teach your audience?
- Which blogs do you see as being similar to your own? Who’s following them?
Your end goal should be to pull this all together into a series of personas – detailed descriptions of the person or people your content will be aimed at – that you can use as points of reference when researching and choosing content ideas.
3. Choose Your Post Topics Carefully
This isn’t about you and the topics you want to cover. Sure, you might be able to build an audience that way, but chances are you’ll build a bigger audience, faster, if you choose topics based on what your target audience cares about and wants to know.
You need to ensure you’re providing real value; not just feeding your own ego.
Let’s run through some content research tools and talk about a few ways to validate demand for content before you create it.
Content Research Tools
Answer the Public
Answer the Public leverages search engines’ autosuggest data to show what people search for in relation to a given keyword.
Simply enter a keyword, click “Get Questions” and you’ll be presented with a bunch of potential blog topic ideas, that are all based off things people are actually entering into search engines and want to know.
Quora is a question-and-answer forum that’s a goldmine of blog topic ideas. Use the search bar at the top of the page to search for your niche (or a word or short phrase related to it) and you’ll be shown related questions people have asked on the site (as well as, in many cases, some answers).
You can also subscribe to “feeds” and get regular email updates about new or trending questions in your category (or categories) of choice.
Reddit is another goldmine of blog topic ideas, although the setup is more geared to discussions than strict question-and-answer threads.
To get the most out of the platform you need to subscribe to subreddits (which are like groups or communities). To find subreddits in your niche, use the search bar on the right of the homepage – however, not everything that appears will be worth subscribing to.
Before deciding which subreddits are worth your time, be sure to check out:
- How many people are subscribed to it.
- How active it is (to do this you’ll need to click onto the subreddit and assess how frequently its subscribers tend to post).
Buzzsumo is a content research tool that can help with tasks like figuring out what topics and content types perform best in a particular niche and finding influencers to promote your content to.
Consequently, it’s also great for content inspiration.
Just pop a topic into the search box and Buzzsumo will show you high-performing content related to your search.
The results might trigger a new idea, or you might find something you can “recreate” yourself – only better (just an aside – I’m not suggesting you steal anyone’s content, but that you use their idea and create a similar yet new-and-improved version).
Buzzsumo’s a very versatile tool. I love using it for content inspiration but I also use it to validate demand before I decide whether or not to run with an idea.
Begin by searching Google for your idea (keep your search term pretty broad). You’re looking for a piece of content that’s similar to what you want to create.
When you find one, head over to Buzzsumo and search for the page’s URL. You’ll then be able to see how widely it was shared on social media. If you have a pro account, you’ll also be able to see how many sites are linking to it (alternatively you can access limited link data for free from Ahrefs).
If you find multiple pieces of content that are similar to what you want to create, it’s worth checking them all in Buzzsumo.
That’s because this isn’t a foolproof strategy – there are many factors that impact how successful a particular piece of content might be – including how much it’s been promoted and the site it lives on (the latter of which could either inflate or deflate the numbers).
This also means you shouldn’t rely on this one technique to validate demand. You should also use…
Most marketers use outreach to promote content they’ve already created. I’m not going to say you shouldn’t do that – I do it too, and we’re going to talk about it in more detail a little later.
What very few marketers seem to do is use outreach to assess whether anyone’s interested in their idea, before they create it.
I think this is a huge mistake.
The process involved in outreach for validating demand is almost identical to that involved in outreach for content promotion.
You build a list of people you think might be interested in seeing and sharing your content, and you reach out them.
The only real difference is in the message itself. You’re not sending them a link. You’re summarizing the topic and asking if it’s something they would be interested in taking a look at once it’s finished.
And there’s another huge benefit to this strategy.
You’re connecting with people before your content’s finished. That means when you do your second round of outreach (to promote the finished content) prospects who have already said “Yes, I’m interested” are much more likely to open your emails, reply, and share the finished piece.
No one knows what sort of content your audience wants to see better than your audience, so why not ask them?
Okay, so you need to have an audience for this one to work. If you’re just starting out, you may need to wait until you’ve built up a bit of a following before you can get anything of value from this tactic. But if your audience is there, use them.
Tools like Qualaroo can help you create customer surveys that appear when certain triggers occur. You could, for instance, have a single question survey appear if someone lands on a blog post but clicks away within a certain time frame (the question potentially being “What didn’t you like about this blog post?”)
Alternatively you can have a survey appear when someone reaches the end of a post. It might suggest some topic ideas to them, and ask what they would most like to see next.
Bonus tip: before you go ahead and start producing a piece of content, ask yourself who you’re going to promote this content to. If you can’t answer this, don’t create it.
4. Write Long-Form Content (that’s better than anything currently out there on the same topic)
As a general rule, long-form content performs better – both in terms of how well it ranks in the search results and its ROI – than short-form content.
But what constitutes long-form content?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to that question – the response you get will depend on who you ask.
However, let’s say for the sake of argument that the minimum word count you should be aiming to hit with most blog posts is 1000. This is generally regarded as long enough to do a topic justice (of course, there’s nothing wrong with writing shorter posts if you can say everything you need to in fewer words).
That said, if you’re determined to grow your blog to 100K monthly visitors, you generally need to be aiming higher. Quite a bit higher.
Research has repeatedly shown that more words correlate with more shares and more links. In other words, more visibility.
However, the “sweet spot” for maximizing organic traffic (and in turn, visibility) is between 2250 and 2500 words.
That’s hardly a surprise. More words make search engines’ jobs easier. They help them establish the themes of a page and as a general rule, longer content is more in-depth and provides more detailed answers to the user. In other words, it’s the sort of content search engines want to send their users to.
Of course, upping your average word count won’t make up for poorly-researched content or bad writing.
Aim to be creating 10x content – that means:
If you lack the confidence to create content of this calibre, get practicing.
Here’s a few resources to get you started.
5. Optimize Your Posts for Search
Getting your blog posts to rank on the first page of the SERPs is essential to ensuring your content keeps pulling in visitors long after you hit publish.
There are a number of basic and more advanced SEO tactics you can employ to help push your posts onto the first page of the SERPs, or better yet, into the top 3 positions.
In fact, pages that appear in positions 9 and 10 of Google’s search results only see about 2% of clicks.
Get into position 3 however, and the average click-through rate increases to about 12%. Secure that elusive top spot, and your click-through rate will be around 30%.
So what can you do to help push your content higher up in the search results?
The two points we’ve covered above come into play again here.
Writing content on topics people are actually searching for will help drive organic visits to your blog, while longer content is correlated with better rankings and more traffic. But there is so much more you can do to optimize your content and maximize its visibility in the organic SERPs and the traffic that sends to your blog.
Keywords can be placed into two categories: short-tail and long-tail.
Short-tail keywords are generally accepted as phrases formed by three or fewer words. Long-tail keywords are phrases containing four or more words.
For obvious reasons, short-tail keywords boast much higher search volumes than long-tail phrases. They’re also much more competitive (although that doesn’t mean you should ignore them and the value they can potentially bring).
Long-tail phrases tend to have very low search volumes – often so low that they won’t appear in popular keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner.
Again, this doesn’t mean you should ignore the value they can potentially bring.
Optimizing a blog post for a single long-tail phrase might not bring you much value, but collectively, incorporating many long-tail phrases into a post can add up to a lot of traffic.
Long-tail phrases are also much more targeted than their short-tail counterparts, which means they tend to convert at much higher rates.
Let’s put this into context.
The term “men’s shoes” is a short-tail phrase.
If you have a shoe site and you’re lucky enough to rank for this term, congratulations. It’s probably going to bring you a lot of traffic.
But that traffic probably won’t convert very well. That’s because this phrase only gives us a vague idea as to what the searcher’s looking for.
Do they want smart shoes or casual shoes? What color are they looking for? And how much do they want to spend?
In fact, are they even looking to buy shoes at all or are they after inspiration or information?
Just because you rank for “men’s shoes” and searchers are landing on your site as a result, does not mean you have what they want.
The phrase “what shoes should men wear for a wedding” however, is a long-tail search term.
Are many people searching for that exact phrase? Probably not. But if you write a blog post that answers this question, anyone who lands on your blog as a result should be getting exactly what they’re looking for, and is consequently more likely to convert.
You should also bear in mind that Google often treats variations of keywords as equals, meaning that if you rank well for one long-tail keyword, there’s a good chance you’ll rank similarly well for close variations of it.
Ideally you should be aiming to include a mix of both short and long-tail phrases in your blog posts.
Researching Short-Tail Keywords
Unfortunately the better tools cost money.
For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner is free, and so it should be – its purpose is to support paid advertisers, not to help with SEO.
Consequently, the tool doesn’t offer keyword difficulty data for organic search (which is essential when researching short-tail keywords).
Google also recently made a pretty cutting change to Keyword Planner. Unless you advertise with the search engine, you’ll now only be shown a search volume “range” (and a wide one at that).
Search volume data has never been that accurate anyway. This change further decreases the value of the tool to anyone needing it exclusively for SEO purposes.
A lack of organic difficulty data and this move to displaying search volume ranges means most marketers will find that a paid for, purpose-built keyword research tool like the aforementioned Keyword Tool or Keyword Finder is well worth the cost.
Choosing Short-Tail Keywords
Picking the right short-tail keywords to optimize blog posts is critical. The “ideal” keyword is one with the highest possible search volume with a relatively low difficulty score.
“Relatively” is an important word here.
Exactly what a “low” difficulty score is to you depends on the authority of your blog. A brand new blog on a brand new domain will have a domain authority of 0. That means you’re going to need to target keywords with as low a difficulty score as possible (at least until you build up some domain authority).
My own site currently has a domain authority of 53. This gives me quite a lot of leeway when choosing keywords to target.
Moz has a domain authority of 92. This means they can disregard difficulty scores almost entirely – the site has a very good chance of ranking for any keyword they want to target, regardless of how competitive it is.
How are difficulty scores calculated?
Not all keyword research tools calculate the competitiveness of keywords in the exact same way.
Moz’s keyword research tool calculates its difficulty scores primarily by looking at the domain authority of the top 10 results for a given keyword.
While how other tools configure their difficulty scores may differ from this, there is generally a correlation between domain authority and score (at least when the score given falls between 0 and 100).
By this I mean that the domain authority of your blog dictates the level of difficulty you should be comfortable targeting. For instance, I’d be looking at targeting keywords with a maximum difficulty of around 53.
That’s not to say you can’t aim a little higher than your blog’s DA (the difficulty score will be an average, after all) or a lot lower than it (since that will dramatically increase your odds of ranking).
How to view your blog’s domain authority
There are lots of tools you can use to check a site’s domain authority – for example, this one. However, if you regularly want to check the DA of various sites, you may find it easier to install the Moz toolbar. You can get that for Chrome here.
Researching Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keyword research is, theoretically, quite a bit simpler than short-tail research. That’s because search volume and difficulty is of minimal importance. You can assume that the majority of long-tail keywords will have both low search volumes and low difficulty scores.
The trick here is in the number of keywords you use. You want to find and match as many long-tail keywords to your content as possible.
I’ve already highlighted one long-tail keyword research tool – Answer the Public. There are many more. Here’s a few you might want to check out:
You’ll also find that some of the more comprehensive keyword research tools include both short-tail and long-tail search functionalities.
Optimizing Your Content with These Keywords
Let’s talk about how to optimize your content with the keywords you’ve found. Bear in mind that how you use long-tail and short-tail keywords within the page will differ.
This is a title tag:
It forms part of a search snippet (the information a search engine will display about your site in the search results).
It’s also used as a ranking factor. Leverage this by including one or two key short-tail phrases for the page in question within this space.
Bear in mind however that title tags also affect click-through rates. You want your title tags to catch searchers’ eyes, so ensure they look good, in addition to being optimized for search engines.
It’s also important to note that title tags containing more than 512 pixels will be truncated (cut off) in the search results. Use a SERP preview tool to check your title tag fits within these limits. I recommend this one.
What we know for sure is that they are a ranking factor.
Try to choose a URL that both accurately reflects the content of the page and features a valuable short-tail keyword.
That said, bear in mind that short URLs tend to rank better than long URLs. Specifically, try to keep them to five words or less.
An H1 tag is a header tag. Other header tags (i.e. H2, H3 etc.) can be used to highlight subtitles or subsections within a page.
They are all ranking factors.
Your H1 tag, however, should be used for the page’s main header, and as such, carries the most weight as a ranking factor.
Try to write blog post titles that are enticing to readers and built around a keyword (either short-tail or long-tail).
Other header tags
While an H1 tag is the most powerful header tag in terms of the weight it carries as a ranking factor, it’s still a wise idea to use subsequent header tags strategically, too.
As above, other header tags can be used to highlight the subsections of a page. Long-tail keywords often lend themselves very naturally to the titles of subsections. Use them here if you can.
However, bear in mind how header tags should be formatted.
A page should only contain a single H1 tag, but it can include multiple H2s or H3s, and so on.
This means an H1 tag should be used for the main title of a page – and that’s it. You would then use H2 tags for all subsections within the page of equal importance. H3 tags can be used for any subsubsections within that, and so on.
On page content
It’s no secret that the actual content of the page plays a huge part in how well that page will rank. This is why, as we’ve already discussed, long-form content tends to be correlated with better rankings. There’s more content available for search engines to analyze and a greater chance that the page in question will be of value to the searcher.
However, instead of just writing 2000+ words and hoping for the best, try to incorporate both short-tail and long-tail phrases into your content.
Just make sure that intentionally including keywords doesn’t in any way affect the quality of the page.
Here’s how you can avoid this.
Instead of writing your content and then trying to shoe in keywords, use your long-tail keyword research to guide the post’s contents and the sub topics you cover.
Want to know more about how Google understands content and the keywords within it, and how this can be applied to give your content an even bigger edge in the SERPs? I recommend reading this.
6. Reference Industry Influencers in Your Content
Referencing influencers in your content achieves three things:
- Quoting an influencer backs up and adds credibility to your own arguments.
- It gives you a reason to reach out to them and let them know about the content.
- It boosts the odds they will share it, which is vital to driving traffic and growing your blog’s following.
Bear in mind that when I say “influencers,” this encompasses all levels of influence. Don’t just go after the big guns. I won’t not quote someone with something good to say just because they’ve only got a few hundred followers.
If you find a quote that adds something to your content and reinforces your own message, then include it.
Another solid tactic is to email people before your content’s complete, and ask them if they’d mind sharing their thoughts on something or answering a specific question. The idea is to get a unique quote you can use in your content.
This tactic also practically guarantees anyone who contributes to your content will share it.
For either of these tactics to work, you need to be emailing people – whether that’s to let them know you’ve featured them in your content, or to ask them to contribute to something you’re in the process of creating.
The first one’s simple, so try not to overthink it. Just a quick email to let them know you’ve mentioned them, followed by a clear call-to-action, should do the trick.
Here’s an example of an email I’ve sent in this exact situation.
Getting someone to say yes to answering a question or providing a quote generally requires a little extra work. Bear in mind that this is a pretty big ask (at least compared to requesting a social share) so you’ll get a better response if you show a genuine interest in each prospect’s work, ideas and opinions.
This is a good example (although they’re asking for an actual interview, not just a quote).
7. Start Building Relationships with Influencers
This is something that’s always played a big part in how I market myself and my businesses. I rarely go after quick wins. I want to build genuine relationships with people that will prove mutually beneficial in both the short and the long-term.
An email that lets them know I’ve featured them in my content acts as a great icebreaker since I’ve already done something that, all being well, is going to help them out (even if only a little bit).
From there I look at ways to develop these relationships while we simultaneously help each other achieve our goals.
This could mean sharing each other’s content, doing a guest post swap, or (although this usually happens quite a bit later down the line) partnering up to create content together.
8. Optimize Your Posts for Readability
No one wants to read a wall of solid text. They never have (it’s why we invented paragraphs).
Reading online and now, on handheld devices like smartphones, only amplifies this. It means the formatting of your blog posts is essential to attracting and keeping readers.
Let’s talk about how to write content that looks good and is easy to read when viewed online.
Keep Your Intro Short, Sweet and Intriguing
After the title of your blog post, your intro plays second fiddle in persuading readers to stick around.
Here’s a great example from Social Trigger’s Derek Halpern:
This is an awesome intro because it gives away just enough information to avoid leaving readers entirely in the dark about what’s to come, while creating so much intrigue you just can’t help but want to learn more (and if you do, the full article is here).
Other clever ways to start a blog post include beginning with the conclusion (just don’t give away how you reached the conclusion) or a personal, and genuinely interesting, anecdote.
Limit Column Width
Text that covers the full width of a page is very difficult to read online. In fact, it’s difficult to read on anything – it’s why we have margins.
But what’s the ideal content width for a blog post?
The answer you get will depend on who you ask. As a general rule however, aim for something between 480 and 600 pixels.
Use Short Sentences and Paragraphs
And try to vary their lengths (which is a good rule for all forms of writing).
Find Ways to Break Up the Text
It’s much easier to scan this way. This could mean:
- Organizing lists of points using numbers or bullet points.
- Indenting quotes.
- Using plenty of subheadings.
- Highlighting important sentences in bold text.
Last but not least – use images. These help to break up text, illustrate points, and keep the content interesting.
Use the Right Font and Size
Sans serif fonts (those without decorative lines) are far easier to read than serif fonts.
Use them if you want to play it safe (and when you’re growing a blog, you probably should).
But what about font size?
Make sure to keep your font type and size consistent throughout your content, too.
Growing from 10-50K Visitors
By this point, you should know how to create great content that grabs and keeps your audience’s attention and you should be seeing noticeable month-over-month organic visitor growth.
It’s now time to start looking at ways to leverage this content further for even better results, and potentially, building a team of people to support your efforts.
In this section we’ll cover:
- How to build a team.
- How to keep visitors on your blog by linking content together.
- How to build an email list using subscribe CTAs.
- How to gain even more subscribers using content upgrades.
- Ways to promote your content.
9. Building a Team
Building a team of experts can help scale your efforts while improving the quality of your content and the diversity of your output.
Exactly how you approach this will depend on your budget and specific needs.
Initially, you might want to try hiring freelancers. This gives you a lot of flexibility – which is ideal if you’re not certain about your long-term needs.
However, as your blog continues to grow you’ll probably reach a point at which it becomes more convenient and affordable to employ staff properly.
Who to Employ
Whether you’re hiring freelancers or looking for part-time or full-time staff members, the sorts of roles you’ll probably be looking to fulfil include:
- Graphic designer – to help with custom imagery for your blog, emails and social media.
- Outreach expert – to help promote content and establish and maintain relationships.
- SEO specialist – to ensure your content is properly optimized and your blog is in good shape technically. This is also beneficial for helping you stay on top of changes within the industry.
- Email marketer – to help manage building email lists and sending emails that drive clicks and conversions.
- Relationship manager – to manage social profiles, blog comments, and other forms of communication with your readers.
Bear in mind that if your budget won’t stretch to allow you to hire for these skills individually, you may be able to find someone with the knowledge and experience to fill a number of roles (although their strengths might not match those of someone who specializes in one area).
10. Link Your Content Together
Internal links, which, of course, are simply links from one page of your site to another page on your site, define your site architecture, help spread link equity around your site, and allow crawlers to navigate it.
Pages that aren’t linked to are known as “orphaned pages.” That’s because they can’t be found by search engine crawlers and as such, are unlikely to appear in the search results or deliver you any benefits.
Internal links can also be used to highlight other content readers might be interested in, so that once they’re on your blog, they’re more likely to stay there.
You can incorporate two types of internal links into your content:
Links Within the Body of the Content
These are links that appear within the article text. For example, this link to an article I recently wrote about driving webinar sign-ups is located within the body of this article.
Use these types of links to point readers to other, related content on your blog.
Links Outside the Body of the Content
These are links that live outside the article itself. They might be in the sidebar, above the content, or below it – like these links here:
Links that appear outside the body of an article can link through to pretty much whatever you want. They don’t need to relate to the page they’re appearing on. I like to use them as a way to boost traffic to older content that I want to keep pushing.
Bonus tip: Unlike external links, Google doesn’t penalize sites for overusing keywords within anchor text. This means using a phrase you want to rank for as the anchor text for internal links can potentially result in a rankings boost.
11. Include Prominent Subscribe CTAs
Email subscribers are going to play an integral role in the growth of your blog. They’re going to be some of the first people to hear about new content you publish, so it makes sense to try and encourage as many people to subscribe to your blog as possible.
To do this, you’re going to want to make your subscribe CTAs as prominent as you can.
Here’s a few types of CTAs you might want to try adding to your blog.
Pop-ups like this one:
…are not ideal for user experience, but they do boost subscribers. Matthew Woodward found that although pop-ups negatively impacted customer engagement, they increased his subscriber conversion rate by 44.71%.
To limit damage to your UX, configure your pop-ups to appear when certain triggers occur. For instance, instead of setting your pop-ups to appear the second a user lands on a page, have it appear once they’ve spent a certain amount of time on your site or a page, or have scrolled so far down it (signaling that they are engaged with the content).
This is another type of pop-up, but instead of a box in the center of the page, a Welcome Mat takes up the whole page.
They also, as you might have guessed from the name, are designed to appear as soon as someone lands on your blog.
Are they intrusive?
Do they work?
The example above led to a 70% lift in email sign-ups.
You can test them out on your own blog, for free, on Sumo.
These sit in the sidebar of the page and “float” as the user scrolls, meaning they remain permanently visible to the user.
BaseCamp used one and increased weekly sign-ups from 4,464 to 7,688.
Static Sign-Up Forms
This is the only type of newsletter sign-up form I’m currently using on my website.
Why am I not being more aggressive with these forms?
Because increasing email subscribers isn’t a priority for me right now. You, however, are going to be approaching sign-up forms with a very different mindset.
While you may well want to use static sign-up forms that sit above, below, or like on my site, to the side of content, I encourage you to experiment with other types of sign-up forms too.
12. Leverage Content Upgrades
A content upgrade is a strategy designed to supercharge the growth of your email list, designed by Backlinko’s Brian Dean.
It involves offering a way for readers to get more out your content by accessing additional resources or information.
Of course, in order to access the upgrades, they need to add themselves to your email list.
Let’s see an example.
Here is a “complete list of Google ranking factors” (another article from Brian Dean).
It’s a seriously meaty post. To call it awesome doesn’t feel like I’m doing it justice. When Rand Fishkin talks about 10x content, this is the sort of stuff he means.
But… the sheer length of the post means it’s a lot to take in, especially if you want to scan through it quickly for reference.
Brian’s solution? Create a summarized checklist of the content. He even employed a designer to work on it to ensure it looked the part.
However, instead of just adding the checklist to the end of the post, he uses it as a content upgrade and asks people to enter their email address in exchange for the download.
Apparently a massive 65% of people who see that box convert (i.e. they enter their email address).
But do you have to go to the lengths Brian has to make this strategy work?
I don’t think so.
If you have the resources to create visual assets to accompany your blog content and use as upgrades, then do it.
If you don’t, there is an alternative.
Try hiding a portion of some of your blog posts behind a “paywall” that’s accessible once an email address is entered.
For instance, let’s say you’ve written a post called “15 Ways to Improve Your Email Click-Through Rates.”
You could rename it “10 Ways to Improve Your Email Click-Through Rates” and offer those last five points as a “bonus” to anyone who wants to learn more and is happy to add themselves to your email list.
Bear in mind that you should be reserving this strategy for your best long-form content. Not only should the “free” content be awesome, but the “content upgrade” should offer legitimate value.
Your visitors might only be handing over an email address but if the content they receive in exchange for it doesn’t meet their expectations, they’re going to feel cheated, and there’s a good chance they’ll unsubscribe right away. If they don’t, don’t be surprised when the emails you send them get ignored.
13. Promote, Promote, and Promote Some More
It doesn’t matter how well-written or optimized your posts are; if you’re not bothering to promote them, you’re not maximizing the visibility they will receive.
We’ve already spoken about getting people to subscribe to your email list. When promoting a new post, notifying your subscribers is one of the first things you should do.
If you’re not already using an email marketing platform, take a look at ConvertKit – it’s designed specifically to meet the needs of bloggers.
It goes without saying that you should be pushing your blog posts out to all relevant social media profiles. It’s quick, easy, and free.
If you’re not even doing this, go take a long, hard look in the mirror, and tell yourself you’re wasting your own time creating content that you can’t even be bothered to update your social profiles with.
Then, come back to your computer and start scheduling.
Alternatively, just delete your blog. If promoting yourself on social media is too much, you probably don’t have what it takes to grow a blog to 100K visitors a month.
Assuming, however, that you are posting about your blog posts on social media, remember that the nature of some platforms means you can not only get away with, but that it’s a good idea to post about the same content multiple times.
While you should avoid posting multiple tweets in a row about the same piece of content, if you’re posting to the platform regularly, a couple of posts a day about the same content – at least for a week or two after publication – is fine. This is because Twitter’s feed moves so quickly that unless:
- Someone makes a special effort to visit your profile, or
- Spends a lot of time on Twitter yet doesn’t follow many people….
…they’re unlikely to see more than one of these posts.
Use a tool like Buffer to quickly schedule multiple tweets.
Free social media is great and you should be leveraging it for every piece of content you create.
Unfortunately “free” on most social media sites equates to very little visibility.
The average Facebook post reaches just 6.5% of its potential audience, a percentage that only goes down as page likes increase. In fact, posts from pages with more than 500,000 likes could be reaching as little as 2% of their audience.
This means if you want to ensure your content is being seen by more than a handful of people on social media, you’re pretty much forced to pay up.
Thankfully, the cost to boost posts on most social media sites is minimal. Better yet, most social ads allow you to target far more than your immediate following.
To create an ad on Facebook, head over to Ads Manager and click “Create Ad.” Then, choose your objective. Since you want to drive people to your blog posts, you’ll probably want to choose “Traffic.”
You then name your campaign and start creating it, including choosing who you want to target.
You have three key choices here:
- Custom Audience – this is a list of emails that you upload to Facebook yourself. Facebook then matches those emails to users, allowing you to target your blog subscribers via Facebook. This is most useful for creating retargeting ads.
- Lookalike Audience – this uses your Custom Audience to create a new list of people that are similar to users within your Custom list.
- Demographics, Interests and Behaviors – this targets users based on your choice of (you guessed it) demographics, interests or behaviors, using data Facebook has collected on its users.
Bear in mind that when you use custom or lookalike audiences in combination with demographics, interests and behaviors you will shrink, not expand, the number of people you can reach.
To create an ad on Twitter, head over here and choose your ad type. Again, you’re probably going to want to choose “website clicks or conversions.”
Before you can choose who you want to target your ad to, you need to set up your campaign. This includes:
- Naming it.
- Stating when you want it to run.
- Entering your domain name.
- Choosing a category for your ad.
You can then target your ad to people likely to have an interest in your content. Options include:
- Keyword targeting – based on what people are searching for or keywords contained within their tweets.
- Targeting users that share similar interests to a specific user (or users).
- Behavior targeting.
- Custom lists.
- Website visitors (this last one involves adding code to your site).
In the context of driving traffic to your blog, targeting according to keywords, interests and similar users is probably going to get you the best results.
Retargeting – targeting ads at people who have already visited your website – is most often associated with product marketing.
It’s less often associated with – but also a very effective tool for – getting people that have previously visited your blog back to it, and consuming more content.
In fact, when Larry Kim used retargeting to promote content, he saw a 50% increase in repeat visitors and a 300% increase in time on site.
There are lots of tools you can use to create retargeting ads. You won’t go far wrong using Google AdWords, AdRoll or Perfect Audience. You can also retarget directly through Facebook using the Custom Audiences feature I mentioned just above.
Content communities are designed to get bloggers working together, to promote each other’s content.
In other words, you share someone else’s content to your social channels in return for shares of your own content.
The quality of content that appears on them can vary. A lot. But they’re generally worth investing a little time in – at least when you’re new to blogging and still building a decent-sized audience.
Other Online Communities
By this I mean things like Reddit, Quora and industry forums, and groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.
All of these platforms enable you to reach huge numbers of potential new readers.
And it’s a big but:
You can’t just join a community and start posting about your content. You will get kicked out. Instead, you need to invest time in becoming a valuable member of your chosen community (or communities), both by joining in conversations and sharing great content that isn’t your own.
Eventually you will be in a position where your own content is welcomed.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen overnight.
Only try this one if you have the time needed to do it properly.
Medium is an open blogging platform. That means anyone is able to publish content to the site.
The opportunities for reaching new audiences here are massive.
The site gets between 75 and 100 million visits a month. So pretty massive.
Of course, you can’t just post anything to Medium and expect to start racking up thousands of views. Getting noticed on the site takes skills.
Here are a few tips.
Learn What Kind of Content Performs Well on Medium
Personal stories and opinion pieces tend to prove popular – especially if your story and writing are particularly emotive or controversial.
Write a Great Headline
This applies to every piece of content you write, but on Medium you’re trying to stand out from thousands of other blog posts, which makes the headline even more important.
“My original headline was ‘What I Learned About Finding Your Passion’
Other options that I came up with were:
Why I Quit My Job to Become a Digital Nomad
Why Choosing the Wrong Goals Led to a Life of Unhappiness
And then I finally settled on Why I Quit My “Life.”
I was told that shorter headlines on Medium do better and also ones that are kind of clickbaity. I felt like the one I settled on was short, described what my story was about, and definitely got people curious as to what my article was about.”
Promote Your Content
All the content promotion strategies I’ve covered in this section can be used to promote content on Medium, too. It’s kind of a long-winded strategy for driving traffic back to your own site, but if you want to maximize the number of visits your content gets on Medium, it makes sense to promote it in the same way you’d promote any other content.
Rumor has it that the key to trending on Medium is to get 100 recommendations within the first hour of publishing.
FYI: you need to click the heart at the end of a post to recommend it.
That means promoting your post, and getting your friends, family, and anyone else you think might be happy to help you out, to read and recommend your content – as quickly as possible.
Outreach is often the first strategy marketers think of when it comes to promoting content. It’s also one of the most difficult to get right.
Let’s run through some ways to get the most out of using outreach to promote content.
Reach Out to People You’ve Mentioned, Linked to or Quoted
I covered this earlier so I’m just going to touch on it very briefly here. If you’ve mentioned, linked to or quoted anyone in your content, drop them a quick email to let them know and casually ask that if they like the content, whether they would be kind enough to share it.
Write Awesome Content
It might sound like a cliché, but I’m still amazed at how often I receive emails asking me to look at and share a mediocre 500-word blog post.
Sorry, but it’s just not going to happen.
While it’s best practice to contact people you feature in your content, period, beyond that you should only be using cold outreach to promote truly epic content.
Get Great at Personalizing Emails
I recently interviewed semi-retired serial entrepreneur Sol Orwell about his approach to cold outreach. If you’re interested, you can read the writeup here.
What stood out to me about Sol’s approach – and the reason I’m mentioning it here – is that every outreach email he sends is 100% personalized.
How does he find the time to do this?
Well, he’s super-picky about who he approaches, for starters. He only contacts people he genuinely believes will be interested in what he’s promoting.
Filtering out dubious prospects means he has more time to spend perfecting the emails he does send.
Here’s an example of the sort of email Sol’s sending, and the quality and level of personalization you should be aiming for if you want to get real results with your outreach.
Oh, and in case you were wondering whether this approach actually works – one of his outreach campaigns resulted in an incredible 52 responses from 70 emails (so the short answer is, yes).
Cold outreach is rarely that effective. Sure, it helps if you’re promoting epic content. It helps even more if you’re sending awesome, personalized emails.
It helps even more again if you can reach out to people you already have a relationship with.
This is something I’ve stated you should be doing right from the beginning, when you’re emailing people you’ve mentioned in your content. That doesn’t mean you should stop forging relationships as your readership grows.
Developing mutually-beneficial relationships is something you should continually be striving to do.
It takes time. It takes effort. But trying to get to know people beyond what they can do for you will make a huge difference in how successful you are in the long run.
Quick disclaimer: this is one of my own products.
Quuu is a tool that hand curates and posts updates for people to their social media profiles on their behalf.
We also have a subset of Quuu – Quuu Promote.
This is for people who are looking to promote their own content. As you might be able to guess, if we like your content we’ll share it to the profiles of our Quuu users.
Growing from 50k-100K+ Visitors
By this point you should have a pretty solid idea of what tactics are working for you and where you’re potentially wasting time.
I’m going to cover a few tactics you can add to your arsenal that will help you reach that 100K mark, specifically:
- Playing around with different content formats.
- Updating your best-performing content.
- Aiming higher with your guest blogging.
At the same time, this is also when you should drill down to just 3 or 4 tactics that have proven most effective at getting you this far. In my experience, most things don’t actually move the needle and you can get better results, faster, by focusing on a handful of scalable techniques.
14. Change the Format of Your Content
So far, I’ve only spoken about blog content in terms of text-based content. There are a couple of reasons for this.
- It’s the content format the majority of people feel most comfortable creating.
- It tends to be the best tool for driving traffic to a blog, simply because it’s easier to get a blog post ranking in organic search than content in most other formats.
However, there is so much more to content than articles.
Alternatives you might want to try using include:
It’s also well worth considering how your existing content could be reformatted.
- Could you turn a blog post into a video?
- A video into a podcast?
- A blog post into an infographic or SlideShare?
- A series of blog posts into an ebook?
Each new content format means a chance to promote your content in a different way, too. That means reaching new audiences and driving new visitors to your blog.
15. Update Your Best-Performing Content
A mistake I see many bloggers make is creating content, promoting it, and then forgetting about it.
They’re missing a trick.
Updating old content helps keep it relevant and means a new chance to promote it.
In fact, if you take a look at your website’s analytics you’ll probably notice that the majority of your organic traffic is to old posts. If the content visitors are landing on is out of date or simply not up to scratch, what do you think’s going to happen?
Visitors are going to leave your site in search of better content.
Wouldn’t you rather they stuck around, read more of your content, and possibly subscribed to your email list or followed you on social media?
Of course you would.
To help make that happen, you need to start updating that old content – specifically, the content that’s driving you the most traffic.
How to Find Your Best Performing Content
Your website’s analytics will be able to tell you this. If you’re using Google Analytics, go to behavior > site content > landing pages.
If your blog is part of a bigger site, you’ll want to filter the results to display blog posts only. To do that, simply enter the name of the subfolder that your blog lives in, in the search box.
You’ll also want to segment the results to show you organic traffic only. You can do this by clicking “Add Segment”…
…then unticking the “All Users” box, ticking the “Organic Traffic” box, and clicking “Apply.”
You might also want to widen the date range you’re viewing, just to ensure the data you’re getting isn’t affected by seasonal changes or other anomalies.
You should now be able to see which of your blog posts are receiving the most organic traffic. Start with the most popular post and work your way down. I recommend focusing on your top 5 to 10 posts initially but really, how many you update over time will likely be dictated by how many posts are driving noticeable volumes of traffic.
With each post ask yourself what ways, if any, there are of updating or improving it.
Improvements you might want to make include:
- Updating and correcting any out-of-date information – consider things like screenshots for tools that might have changed, and recommendations for tools or resources that might have ceased to exist.
- Adding additional sections that might have been overlooked or forgotten when the post was originally written.
- Improving the formatting.
- Adding in internal links to other relevant content.
- Checking for and fixing any broken links.
- Updating or adding more call-to-actions.
- Carrying out additional keyword research then optimizing the content further, for another traffic boost.
- Updating the meta description.
Last but not least, make sure the URL of the post doesn’t change (and if for any reason this is unavoidable, be sure to implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new, immediately).
It’s also a good idea to monitor how the post’s performance changes following the update. If it’s negatively impacted, you will want to know so you can try and figure out why and how to fix it.
16. Land Yourself Some High-Caliber Guest Blogging Spots
Guest blogging is one of my favorite ways of getting in front of new audiences and boosting traffic to my own site.
And it’s not just me.
Bamidele Onibalusi used guest blogging and within a year, successfully grew a site’s search traffic by 342.35%.
I’m now a regular contributor to sites including Forbes, Entrepreneur and Content Marketing Institute. Between them they drive pretty substantial traffic to my own sites, but I didn’t get to this point overnight. It took time to build trust with the editors of these publications.
Initially you might try to secure guest posts or swaps with smaller influencers in your niche. This is something that can work well when you’re first starting out (as suggested earlier).
As your readership grows and your name is better-recognized, you’ll be in a stronger position to secure guest posts on industry-leading sites that have real potential when it comes to pushing your blog to bigger heights.
That said, I’ve seen total unknowns get posts onto pretty authoritative sites.
How did they do it?
It’s all in the pitch.
Offering the right topic to the right person at the right publication, alongside evidence of the quality of your writing, puts you in a pretty strong position – regardless of your current status within your industry.
This is the process you might follow.
- Choose a site you’d like to be featured on.
Ideally it should be one you read regularly so you’re familiar with the sorts of things they cover and the style they favor.
2. Come up with an original idea for a post.
I’ve often found it helps to link your idea with something covered recently – can you offer a contradictory opinion or add more detail to a topic?
3. Find the best person to contact.
Reach out to them. Depending on the site in question this might be the site owner, its editor, or a section editor. Make sure to give a brief but clear explanation of your idea and provide evidence of your style and standard of writing.
If you’ve been featured on any well-known sites previously, it won’t hurt to mention this too.
For inspiration, here’s an example of an outreach email I’ve sent when trying to land a new guest blogging spot.
You can also reap similar benefits by asking influencers to guest post for you. Not only does this get you free content for your site, but assuming they share it with their followers (and why wouldn’t they?) their audience will be coming to your site.
This is another strategy that can be worth pursuing from the get-go. As I mentioned earlier, a guest post swap helps build mutually-beneficial relationships.
However, just like with writing guest posts for other sites, as your blog grows and your name becomes better known, you can target much bigger influencers (which means more traffic and bigger wins).
How to Drive Traffic from a Guest Post to Your Blog
Every guest post you write should include an author bio. This is a chance to talk about yourself, link to your social profiles, and of course, your site.
Unfortunately, author bios rarely seem to drive much traffic – at least in my experience.
Instead, find opportunities to link to other content of your own from within the main body of the content. If you link to other sites as well, it will look completely natural, and since these links should be adding value to the guest post (by providing additional information and resources) they should be much more effective at sending traffic to your site.
100K and Beyond
Starting out and getting a blog off the ground is always the hardest part of this process. Once you’ve figured out what really moves the needle and how you can scale these tactics, reaching 100K – and potentially beyond – will be relatively easy (at least when compared to getting those first few thousand monthly visitors).
As always, I’m really keen to hear your thoughts. Will you be trying to grow a blog to 100K visitors? Let me know what your plans are and more importantly, come back in a few months to update me on how it’s going.