High quality blog, low quality traffic? Read this.

TRAFFIC

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{time} MIN READ

Ever look at other bloggers – at the success it seems they’re having – and wonder when your day will come?

Maybe you look at your Google Analytics account and get discouraged because your traffic is well below the numbers you see others throwing out.

Perhaps you’ve even considered whether you should say to hell with it, abandon your standards and embrace the click bait. Maybe even write some fluff, or thin content.

Whatever it is that gets the clicks.

Before you go to the dark side…

I’ll agree with you that some people are making money off of ridiculously lightweight crap. But I’m also going to tell you they’re not sitting their ass on a beach 6.75 days per week doing it.

When your content’s crap you basically live for the eyeballs (a.k.a. page views) that drive your revenue, and you’ve got to hustle to earn it.

And keep hustling.

Because it’s your audience – not you – that provides the value in the equation.

How sustainable do you think that is?

Putting out content that is worth something to people is the way to win in the long run.

I mean, it is if you care about adding value to the world as much as you do making a buck.

If you’re where I’m at – on that long, slow climb to build an audience – I think it’s important to acknowledge this truth:

Being amazing takes time

On the internet, it’s easy to create the appearance that we’re winning – even when we’re in last place.

Instead of the usual bullshit, let me offer you a moment of unvarnished truth. Here’s what my last three months actually looked like (blue graph) vs. the previous three (orange):

A Fearless Venture pageviews compared

My gut tells me I’m on the right track. My stats…eh…

In my weakest moments I want to sell out. Go over to the dark side. Figure out the most ridiculous headlines…

This One Weird Trick Will 100X Your Website Speed

49 Painful Truths Only Digital Entrepreneurs Will Understand

What the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About Bounce Rate

But no…

I mean – yes, we all need to carefully write headlines, do SEO and promote our content. But aren’t we in this for something that lasts longer than a click?

DAMN RIGHT WE ARE.

We’re on a f**king mission to offer something of actual value to the world. Also, the last thing we (or the world) needs is more short-sighted, mediocre blog content whose only value is the ad revenue it generates (provided it’s continually repinned to Pinterest, anyway).

You’ll love what Jon Morrow said on this topic over at SmartBlogger:

Lots of people see blogging as a way to get search engine traffic. Find a keyword you want to rank for, publish a post around it, and a few months later, you’ll have all the traffic you can handle.

Right?

Wrong.

Getting search engine traffic isn’t about keywords. It’s not even about blog posts. It’s about creating something so amazing everyone talks about it and links to it.

20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap About

Although my brain questions my gut weekly (at least), at the end of the day, all I care about is whether or not I’m helping enough people in a way that they and I both value.

That “enough people” thing? It takes time.

3 coping tactics for the long game of building a quality blog

1: Realize that shortcuts are mostly bullshit

In the nine months since launching A Fearless Venture, I’ve worked hard to become a better entrepreneur and blogger. I’ve read and listened to hundreds of thousands of words of advice, at least.

The loudest of those voices would have me believe that the right path to a viable blog is via clickbaity, BuzzFeed-ish headlines leading to underwhelming posts.

Often, the “loud voices” offer to sell me something that will help me be like them. Their recipe for success goes something like this:

  • Get pageviews (use hot keywords, crazy headlines, Pinterest graphics with the word “FREE” – whatever it takes)
  • Do ads, ASAP
  • Drive more traffic b/c ads annoy X%, reducing revenue
  • Hit minimum # of pageviews to qualify for well-paying ad network like Mediavine
  • Money!
  • Lather, rinse, repeat, just to hold a spot in the middle of the pack

It’s all about driving traffic to content in order to get paid for page views or affiliate sales. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of clicking on headlines that overpromise and finding content that severely underdelivers. Sure, I’d like to stop worrying about money sooner than later, but not if it means bait-and-switch bullshit.

Yes, the stuff we create has to be promoted or no one will find it. But skimping on content creation because you’re too busy promoting other people’s crap isn’t sustainable.

Most up-and-coming bloggers can’t hyperfocus on promotion without letting actually-important things slide.

Like, the main focus. The reason we started our sites/blogs in the first place.

If that reason is worth a damn, keep doing excellent work.

BUT…

2: Prioritize quality over quantity

What Derek Halpern says about prioritizing your focus is even truer today than when he first wrote it (emphasis mine):

In 2005, any content was enough to stand out from the crowd.

But, over the last 7 years, the amount of content on the internet exploded.

  • Point #1: In 2006, Netcraft estimated there were more than 100 million sites. In 2013, they estimate more than 700 million.
  • Point #2: In 2005, Technorati estimated 7.8 million weblogs. Now? There’s allegedly more than 170 million blogs (and we even dropped the web from weblogs).

You can no longer pump out half-assed content and win.

Now you’ve got to research GREAT content, and publish only the best.

Yes, this is harder, and it’s more time consuming, but the good news is this: You don’t need to create that much content.

I look at Social Triggers, and from March 2011 to April 2012, I averaged 2.54 blog posts per month…

…and I got almost 27,000 subscribers.

All because I focused on creating great content… and then focused on getting that content into the hands of more people.

Derek’s comments are in the context of a post titled The 80/20 Rule for Building A Blog Audience, in which he advocates spending about 20% of your time creating content, and 80% promoting it.

This is surely the area where I’ve made my biggest mistakes.

I often write about nerdy stuff. It takes FORever to create those kinds of informative, helpful posts. I do have some automation in place to help me promote what I create, but you can’t automate everything.

The second I finish a post I feel like I have to address all the things that waited while I wrote. It’s like I’m a hamster on a wheel.

Except, no one put me there but ME.

Promotion is part of the job of any creator. People don’t simply happen along and discover us anymore. We have to make it happen.

Thankfully, unless/until we get helpers to pimp our stuff, know that it is O-KAY to slow down. Get off the treadmill. Advocate for the value we create.

3: Listen to people who encourage excellence and perseverance

These are the qualities that help us win the long game.

There are voices in the blogging/entrepreneurship space I respect and listen to. They offer practical tactical advice from the long-game perspective I trust.

Sonia Simone is one. Pete McPherson is another. Both write and podcast, so you can check them out in whatever format works for you.

Yesterday I stumbled on the video below from Pete. It’s from last December, but I guess I found it when I needed it.

I’ve heard Pete say in his podcast and on Facebook how hard it is to build a blog, and how long it takes to do it right.

It’s a kind of honesty I don’t always like to hear, but it’s truth I need and appreciate as I keep doing the work I hope will eventually pay off.

This morning, in a podcast episode with a theme that jives nicely with Pete’s video, I heard Sonia say when your traffic is low you can’t freak out about every little blip and think it’s a trend.

And then she said most of us have low traffic.

Wait, what???

I mean, as a website pro I know this on a head level. But at the same time I still compare myself to other people in far more popular niches than mine.

It may be a little sad that I needed to hear someone else tell me I’m on par with most people, but there you have it.

Takeaways

It takes time to be an amazing creator with a solid following. The shortcuts people sell are largely bullshit. Creating a worthwhile blog or website takes time, and creation is only part of the process.

For our online endeavors to be sustainable, we have to put out quality work and then take the time to advocate for it by promoting it. The best way to find this time is to focus on great work rather than a great volume of work.

This post is as much a “note to self” as it is a note of encouragement to you. I sure as hell don’t have it all figured out. What I have learned has taken me far more time than I ever envisioned, and I’m not done yet.

I’d love it if you left a comment sharing where you’re at.

 

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