7 Lessons and 3 New Strategies I Learned From Launching My 5th Blog
I’ve been blogging for around 10 years, so you would think that it’s easy for me to start a blog and gain traction. Although it’s true to some extent, it’s still difficult for me to start a blog from scratch.
A few months ago, I started my 5th blog on NeilPatel.com as an experiment to see how quickly I could get to 100,000 visitors a month.
Although I’m only at 28,109 visitors and 51,746 pageviews a month, I’ve been learning a lot. Here’s what I learned:
Lesson #1: Great content isn’t enough
If you look at a few of the content pieces on NeilPatel.com, you’ll notice that they are extremely high in quality. On average, I am spending 6 hours per post… but then again, they are extremely long.
Because of this, the content should gain traction by itself, right? It doesn’t, of course. Even though the blog was getting 3,194 visitors a month before I even published my first piece of content, it wasn’t enough to get the blog rolling (the traffic came from referrals and direct traffic).
Each time I published a post, I didn’t share it on any of the social networks or blast it out to the Quick Sprout list. This caused the blog to go nowhere and receive zero comments.
Eventually, I shared the posts on my social profiles, and I had a few friends do the same thing. This is what’s helped the blog grow and get up to 100 comments per post.
If you are starting a blog, spend half of your time promoting the content. From building up your Twitter profile to spending money on Facebook ads, use social media as it is the easiest channel to leverage when it comes to getting more blog traffic.
Lesson #2: It’s all about the list
I haven’t done much email collecting on NeilPatel.com. For this reason, I am not sending out any emails when I release a new blog post.
After releasing 11 posts, I have to say the biggest mistake I’ve been making is not collecting emails. I’ve already known this, but I haven’t had the time to create an opt-in offer such as a really good ebook.
Emails are so powerful that Quick Sprout can get more traffic in one day because of my email list than NeilPatel.com receives in a whole month.
Although you may see email marketing as a boring channel, it is by far the best channel for blog promotion.
If you aren’t going to focus on list building, you shouldn’t blog at all. It’s the biggest mistake you’ll make, and it’s rare for a blog to get to 100,000 visitors a month without an email list.
Lesson #3: More content equals more search traffic
This may seem like common sense, but it’s hard to see it when you’ve been running large blogs for years.
At NeilPatel.com, I started with zero blog posts, and as of now, I am on my 11th. What’s interesting is that every time I release a new blog post, I’m instantly seeing my search traffic increase.
Every time I add a new blog post, I get around 300 extra search visitors to my blog each week. It really is a numbers game… assuming you can maintain the quality of your writing.
Writing a dozen or two dozen posts isn’t enough. You’ll need to write hundreds before you see your search traffic skyrocket.
Lesson #4: Facebook is my highest performing social network
Facebook may not make up the majority of my social shares or even traffic, but it is creating the most engagement.
Let’s look at the stats…
- For every 500 Twitter visitors, I am receiving 3 comments.
- For every 500 LinkedIn visitors, I am receiving 5 comments.
- For every 500 Facebook visitors, I am receiving 8 comments.
Facebook is providing the most engaged users. They are more likely to comment, and Facebook visitors’ time on-site is 38% longer than that of visitors from any other social channel.
When you are choosing which social channels to focus on, don’t just look at visitor count. Analyze the quality of the traffic by looking at metrics such as time on-site or pageviews per visitor.
Lesson #5: Using LinkedIn Groups is better than sharing on LinkedIn
If you want to promote your content on LinkedIn, where do you share it? On your timeline, right?
And although that will bring more visitors to your blog, it won’t bring as many as LinkedIn Groups will.
I wasn’t even receiving 5 visitors a day to my blog from LinkedIn, and I have over 10,000 connections. The moment I started submitting my content to at least 10 LinkedIn groups, I hit 918 visitors within 30 days.
The thing with LinkedIn Groups is that it is a hit or miss. Some of your content will do well, while other pieces won’t. Nonetheless, you should submit your content to LinkedIn Groups.
Lesson #6: Time-based content works
I’ve never been a fan of writing time-based content, which talks about trends or refers to a specific time period. For example, here is a post that breaks down how to be a productive blogger in 2022.
Although the post doesn’t have as many social shares as some of my other content, it is the most popular blog post I have written on NeilPatel.com. It’s so popular that it has received 294% more traffic than any other blog post.
The one I wrote on Quick Sprout on marketing trends for 2022 also did well.
From this I’ve learned that writing time-based content is a great way to gain more visitors. Sure, you can’t leverage this approach on a daily basis, but you can do it at the end/beginning of a year or during holidays or major news events.
Lesson #7: People prefer bigger text and white space
People prefer bigger text and wider content areas. When I compare individual posts on my other blogs to the posts on the NeilPatel.com blog, I see that people spend 18 seconds longer on the NeilPatel.com blog posts.
To make things fair, when doing this analysis, I only compared posts that were 3,000 words or longer as I don’t write short posts on my new blog.
This has shown me that design can have a huge impact on the length of time people stay on your blog. From white space to text size, including the content area and even the color of the font, you have to think of all these elements because they affect readability.
If you want to increase the number of people who read your blog, take a few design lessons from the NeilPatel.com blog. Heck, if you want to copy my design, you can.
Now that we got those 7 lessons out of the way, let’s go over 3 new strategies I’ve been using on my new blog.
Strategy #1: Be transparent
I’ve been running an A/B test on my new blog, showing my stats to 20% of my readers.
On a monthly basis, I’m sharing my traffic numbers so that you can follow along and learn from my journey.
It’s still early, but the results are looking good. Being transparent creates more loyal fans and encourages people to come back more often.
Groove did the same thing, and it worked well for them too.
Now, the blog doesn’t share any financial numbers, but by sharing traffic numbers, I’ve been able to gain more of a loyal following, so much so that I am averaging 1 to 2 emails a day from the readers of my new blog asking me how they can get similar results.
Strategy #2: Write extremely long and thorough content
This not only helps with search traffic as you have more long tail keywords on the page, but it helps with overall traffic. I took this strategy from Brian Dean who shared his numbers with me 6 months ago and mentioned that his longer posts generate the most traffic.
For this reason, all of my posts on NeilPatel.com are at least 3,000 words in length, if not 5,000. Plus, having pages over 2,000 words or longer will help you with your rankings.
It takes a lot more time to produce thorough content, but it has been working well. Just look at the search traffic numbers I shared in Lesson #3. As you can see, every time I release a long blog post, my search traffic goes up.
Strategy #3: Make your readers want more
My return readership is really high, especially if you consider that I don’t have a list that I am marketing to.
By only blogging once a week and keeping the post quality extremely high, I’m getting 2 to 3 requests a day to blog more often on my new blog. Publishing only once a week keeps people wanting more and gets them hooked.
This is what has helped get people to come back and become loyal. I would have never imagined that a blog this new would get 36.2% returning readers.
When I started my other blogs, I was lucky if I got 20% of my readers to come back within the first year.
I will probably keep blogging only once a week as it will help keep my readers wanting more… Plus, I don’t have the time to blog twice a week on NeilPatel.com.
Although I’ve been blogging for 10 years, I am still making mistakes and learning a lot. As time goes on and the blogging landscape changes, I will continue to learn more.
Hopefully, my lessons and strategies can help kick-start your blogging journey and make things a bit easier for you.
What blogging lessons and strategies have you learned from your experience?
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