Guest Post: Driving a Spike in the Railroad of Blogging

by melissa on October 4, 2010 · 30 comments

Welcome to Momcomm Monday! I have a special guest today… fellow marketer and blogger (and friend) Fadra from all.things.fadra. Every month (or so), I’ll invite a blogging mom who’s also in marketing or public relations to guest post on Momcomm Monday. My main criteria? I’ll only ask marketing mommies who are as crazy about marketing and PR as moi.

Take it away, Fadra!

***

It’s time to talk about the one thing bloggers aren’t supposed to talk about: traffic.

We would all love to be purists and write simply for the sake of writing. We don’t care who reads our blogs. We don’t care if people like it or they don’t. It’s all about the art and the craft.

Yeah, kinda.

If we didn’t care about traffic, we would be starting every post with “Dear Diary” and writing it in our little locked book and keeping it in the nightstand.

It’s okay to admit that you like people to visit your site. It’s okay to admit that you get excited, and dare I say, encouraged when you get comments. Especially the thoughtful comments. And while it would be great if people organically found our blogs and fell in love with our writing and left us wonderful comments, that’s not really how it happens.

I recently had some pretty large spikes in traffic over at my site all.things.fadra. I don’t say that to brag about it because it wasn’t exactly organic. I helped bring those spikes. And I’m going to tell you how you might do that too.

Why you should care about spikes

Let me first say that spikes in traffic are great but spikes are exactly that. A one shot, one stop deal. Your numbers shoot up and then return to normal. But usually, I find they return to a new normal. You get a lot of quick, fast exposure to people who may not have otherwise visited your blog before. If you have a compelling site (we’ll save that one for another day), you will hopefully make people want to return.

1. Start with the obvious

I don’t like to make assumptions. So I’ll start with the obvious.

Track your traffic.

There are lots of tools out there to help you track your site traffic for free. Probably the most commonly used is Google Analytics. You need this on your blog. Plain and simple. You sign up for an account through Google, you add your URL, and you usually insert a simple code into your blog’s HTML. Sounds scary? It’s not. There are a million and one tutorials out there to help you do this regardless of your blogging platform.

2. Check your traffic

Again, I’m being a little bit obvious. You need to check your traffic to get a sense of your patterns.

When do people read your blog?

Mondays are usually the busiest day on the internet so if you’ve got something important to say, it’s usually best to do it on a Monday.

What do people like to read about?

What posts garner the most comments and from who?

How are people finding your posts?

These are all questions that are easily answered by a glance at your Google Analytics. And if you don’t have time, you can even set up a report that can be emailed to you on a regular basis.

3. Create some buzz

I use Twitter a lot but Facebook is also a good medium for creating buzz before you publish or even write your post. If I have an idea for something I want to write about, I might throw out a question to engage people in advance. If I planned to write about the new Twitter interface, I might say:

Me:

Wow, I don’t have the new Twitter yet. I must not be special. Who has it?

Responses:

“I don’t. BUT, yesterday I noticed a *tiny* button at the top of the screen for a “preview.” Maybe you have that too?”

“be thankful. I hate it.”

“i finally got it yesterday #newtwitter it’s like old twitter but wider #twittergotfat”

“I’d spend a round in the ring with Manny Pacquiao sans gloves to have old Twitter back #newtwitter”

Clearly, this is something people are emotionally invested in. If I choose to write about it, I now have a list of people who might be interested in reading it. I might follow up the responses by saying:

“Sounds like mixed emotions about #newtwitter. I just might have to write about it and you tell me if you agree.”

I’ve done this before and actually had people ask me to send them the link when I write about it. You better believe I take them up on that.

4. Write about a very personal experience or story.

We all love to see your beautiful daughter playing with her Barbie doll in the sprinkler. But that’s not the kind of post that will get people talking. If you had a great experience (at the park, at the grocery store, at McDonald’s, at a blogging conference) or you are baring your soul, people will want to read and want to engage and want to share.

5. End with a question.

If you are writing about an experience, ask people to share a similar experience in the comments. If people attended an event, ask them their favorite part. If you are baring your soul, invite people to do the same.

6. Reach out to relevant readers.

It gets annoying if you are always asking specific people to read your post. But if I have mentioned someone in one of my posts, I like to let them know. Everyone wants to read about themselves and they will most likely share it with their friends. If you write about a specific topic or brand, let someone related to that topic or brand know.

7. Use a hashtag.

For example, if you write about post about postpartum depression, find an appropriate hashtag to use on Twitter when providing a link (example: #ppdsupport). It’s makes it easier and a lot more likely for people who don’t follow you or your blog to become aware of your post.

My Real World Experience

I recently had a few posts that gave me large spikes in traffic. I thought I would share some of my real world experience to tell you how it worked for me.

I tweet a lot.

  • If I’m at a conference, everyone knows it. I use hashtags like #bloggybootcamp or #BlogHer10 or #typeamom.
  • If I have a comment about a specific store or brand, I reference the Twitter ID for that store or brand.
  • I respond to most tweets so that people feel engaged.

If I have a high visibility good experience, I share it.

I invite readers to my post.

  • When I wrote my conference wrap-ups, I posted the link on Twitter with the conference hashtag.
  • I sent messages to the bloggers I wrote about or posted pictures of.
  • For my customer service experience, I used the #custserv hashtag and sent the link to the reigning Twitter guru of customer service experiences.
  • I also sent a note to the McDonald’s intern who helped me.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

One last bit of advice… if you are lucky enough to drive a spike in your traffic and comments, you will likely have found a new group of readers. Be sure to respond quickly and genuinely to their comments and hope they will come back another day.

Fadra Nally is wife, mother, and ex-corporate worker. When she’s not chasing after her three year old son, she consults with businesses on marketing strategy and social media. In the blogging world, she writes about life, motherhood, and marketing at all.things.fadra.

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{ 27 comments }

1 Roy Scribner October 4, 2010 at 8:39 am

Those are great tips, Fadra – I particularly think it is important to take advantage of traffic-spikes with follow-up content to capture some of those new readers. I know when I discover a new blog, it is always disappointing if they do not update their blog, very often.
Roy Scribner recently posted..Finding Family Friendly Campgrounds

2 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Exactly Roy. You don’t want to write just for the “spike” audience but it people like what you write, they just might come back to check you out again.
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

3 Melisa October 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

Ah, the elusive traffic. I can see people have come but either my options for comments are too hard or no one really has anything to input about my post. Even when I ask questions. For this reason I try not to think about traffic, less I end up depressed. :(
Melisa recently posted..Fashionable Friday- Dem Jeans

4 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm

For me personally, I forget to visit blogs a lot. When I do, I leave a comment. It’s actually eyecatching titles (which may or may not be your blog post title) on Twitter that make me click through and read.
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

5 suzanne @ pretty*swell October 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

Go, Fadra! Great post.
suzanne @ pretty*swell recently posted..So long- farewell …

6 Renee October 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

Great tips! I do use twitter, but I’m squeamish with self promotion. I’m a new blogger and not very prolific. I’m working on that.

7 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Don’t think of it as self-promotion then. Think of it as inviting people to your blog. No one knows your home is for sale if you don’t have a sign out front! (P.S. You don’t need to be prolific to be a great blogger :) )

8 Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli October 4, 2010 at 11:49 am

I really need to figure out google analytics. I’ve tried 100 times and can not figure it out. I use another stats program but it doesn’t give me enough info.
I didn’t know that Monday was the busiest day. Makes sense. Thanks

9 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

This is as good a place as any to figure out your analytics! If you are only gaging interest on your site by the number of comments, you might be pleasantly surprised. The people that comment are typically a small percentage of your readers.
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

10 Tracie October 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I have Google Analytics, but I don’t think I’m using it to it’s full potential.

These are great tips that aren’t that hard to implement. Thanks!
Tracie recently posted..Erin Merryn Is Living For Today and So Much More

11 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I’m starting to think Melissa definitely has room on Momcomm Monday for a Google Analytics post!
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

12 Ramblings of a Woman October 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Hey Fadra!
These are some great tips! Finally figuring out the twitter deal after typeamom!
Using analytics is important, just remember that if you use a wordpress.com site you cannot use GA. WP has their own analytics, but I find they are very general. Not sure about blogger blogs, if they can use GA. I will be switching to a self-hosted site soon and will be installing google analytics right away!
Having other largers bloggers link to you is a big thing, but it not one you can control. One thing I have done to help this process is to pick a few larger bloggers and read and comment on a regular basis. I have had 2 link to me this way and it has greatly increased my traffic!
Enjoyed meeting you at typea!
Bernice
Ramblings of a Woman recently posted..Where have you been

13 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Bernice – you make a great point (and a good argument to be on a self-hosted site!). If you are serious about blogging, you should consider a robust platform. While I started on Blogger, I switched to Wordpress self-hosted fairly early on and I’ve never looked back!
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

14 Abby October 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Great post! I’m doing a lot of these things but could be doing more. I think it’s a great idea to tweet your posts & let people know you’ve linked to them. I find it so overwhelming to keep up w/ everything that I love when people put it right in front of my face — if it’s top of mind, I will definitely read it.

I am a little conflicted about responding to comments, though. I simply don’t have time to respond to all of them, but I do try to respond to new readers or especially thoughtful posts.
Abby recently posted..The Naked Truth

15 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Abby – while this isn’t what I typically do, I know of many bloggers that will respond to a comments with a quick tweet. Example: “@diaryofanewmom Thanks for your comment today. As you can see, I can’t always respond either!”

Mel has a great plug-in that allows users to enter their Twitter ID. It makes it quick and easy to give a quick shout out. Everyone likes a little thank you :)
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

16 Anne October 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm

So many great ideas. I am still learning things when it comes to blogging. I just started last June and I am loving it. So much to learn and even be reminded. Thanks for all the great tips.
Anne recently posted..My New Blog Design

17 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Anne – just remember blogging is an art, not a science. You’ll find the things that work best for you and where you want to take your blog. Love your new design, by the way ;)
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

18 Minivan Mama October 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm

New to blogging….next on my to-do list, figure out Twitter! Thanks for the tips!
Minivan Mama recently posted..Thank You Yo Gabba- Gabba!

19 Fadra October 4, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. It’s all we hear about! But if you want to build a blog audience, I can’t say enough about the importance of connecting with people on Twitter.

If it seems overwhelming, Mel’s site is a great place to learn. My favorite Twitter post of hers is here: http://www.adventuroo.com/2010/08/making-sense-of-twitter-its-the-never-ending-cocktail-party/
Fadra recently posted..What’s a nice girl like me doing with a stroller like that

20 kristi October 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Great article! Noticed on Twitter that you are in Raleigh… me too! Just goes to show how Twitter really does work to bring in new traffic. I saw your post on #savvyblogging, looked you up, saw a connection and checked out your site!
kristi recently posted..Where to Get Halloween Costumes for Cheap

21 Fadra October 8, 2010 at 11:49 am

Thanks, Kristi! Hope we can connect soon!
Fadra recently posted..Hey- You- Get Off of My Cloud

22 Sue Robinson October 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Great post Fadra! You guys and your savvy marketing experience help us non-marketers out so much! Keep up the good work!

23 Fadra October 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

And we love to share! It’s a way to put practical marketing to real world use and hopefully drive results!
Fadra recently posted..Hey- You- Get Off of My Cloud

24 Andrea October 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Love these ideas! Now if I could just tack an extra hour or two or three onto each day I’d be golden! :)
Thanks for the advice!
Andrea recently posted..Can an abortion be a kindness

25 Fadra October 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

No kidding. Blogging is easily a full-time job. At the very least, it’s an obsession. Hopefully a healthy one ;)
Fadra recently posted..Hey- You- Get Off of My Cloud

26 Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation October 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Catching up on my Google Reader and I got BOTH of you with one stop!!! Great tips Fadra! And yes, I too am totally addicted to Twitter!
Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation recently posted..The BEST Monday in the History of Mondays!

27 Fadra October 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

Twitter is my #1 driver for traffic, or initial traffic at least. Don’t ever let anyone call it a timewaster!
Fadra recently posted..Hey- You- Get Off of My Cloud

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