Blogs: Authoritative Peers in Your Niche
You need to hang out online where your audience hangs out. But if you’re like me, your RSS reader is full of feeds related to what you do, not to what your audience cares about. You need to hang out at authoritative blogs in your niche. For me, that means I spend time on ProBlogger and Dosh Dosh. I get a good amount of visitors from these blogs who subscribe to my RSS feed or leave their own comments. I’m not “stealing” Darren’s or Maki’s readers, those readers are adding me to their list of resources in the form of an RSS subscription or a bookmark. I seriously doubt they’re no longer visiting ProBlogger or Dosh Dosh!
You want to spend time at the authoritative blogs in your niche, and do your best to comment in a truly useful way that adds value to the posts and to the discussion. This will make a good impression and people will click the link for your name on your comments to satisfy the curiosity you’ve piqued in them. You want to try to be the first to comment or in the first five comments for maximum effectiveness. Comments on blog posts are like search results that way: most people will not bother to read past the first ten comments.
Second Degree Blogs and Lurkers
The people who visit Darren and Maki are usually people I also view as my target audience, so it makes sense for me to spend time at their sites as a way to attract new readers. But there are plenty of other people who may not really be bloggers, yet, at all, but who are considering it, and these people are my target audience as well. So where do these people hang out?
They do hang out at blogs which are not related to blogging itself. I call these blogs “second degree” blogs: they are a degree removed from my particular niche. Often it’s other bloggers who take the time to comment at blogs. However, there are “invisible” people! People who are visiting, but who are not commenting. These people are commonly referred to as “lurkers.” These people might have websites, and might be thinking about whether or not to start a blog. I can’t see them, but I know they’re there. There are a great many blogs about things other than blogging and making money online. By spending time at these “second degree” blogs and writing my comments with the lurkers in mind, I can grow my readership with people who are not necessarily readers of Darren and Maki.
The Wealth of Forums
Another place to hang out is forums and discussion boards. There are a wealth of potential readers of your blog at forums. These are often inhabited by people who have been online for a while and know their way around the net, but are less likely to have a blog. Because of their forum participation, they’ve been online enough to probably be able to see the benefits of blogging. They would also see the value in starting off in a way that accelerates their blog launch and avoids beginner mistakes, so they’re more likely to consider my services as a blog coach or a theme designer. And again, there are a great deal more people reading your forum posts and seeing that link in your signature than you realize, because most of the people who sign up to forums in order to get in never post. They are lurkers.
Quantity vs Quality: It’s All About Qualifications
All of this is, of course, extraordinarily time-consuming. But remember this: what you want is not an empty increase in traffic, but more highly qualified traffic. A spike in the numbers makes you feel good when you see it in your analytics graphs, I know. But when no new income is earned from it, the feeling quickly fades and can even become disillusionment.
What does highly qualified mean? Qualified is a term used in sales and marketing to mean that a prospective customer has most of the qualifications you’re looking for that makes them likely to purchase what you’re selling. Conversely, an unqualified prospect has few or none of the qualifications that make them ready to buy. These people are wasting your bandwidth and time.
Earlier this year, I took steps to deliberately reduce the amount of image search traffic I get here at remarkablogger.com because it was unqualified. My numbers went down, but they were the wrong people anyway. They probably never would have become customers of mine. Now, when I look at my stats in Google Analytics, I know they are the real numbers, rather than distorted numbers just because people wanted to snag an image I had created.
Benefits of Highly Qualified Traffic
Highly qualified traffic provides several important benefits:
- Higher ratio of comments to visitors
- Lower bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who land on a page and then immediately leave)
- Higher referral rates: because your blog is highly relevant to them, they will refer others to you
- Higher click-through rates on ads, if you monetize your blog with advertising
- Higher click-through rates for affiliate links, if you utilize affiliate programs
- Increased networking opportunities with members of your audience, because you are a relevant match for their interests and goals
To recap: the places where you want to spend your precious time in order to build highly qualified traffic are: authority blogs in your niche, second degree blogs, and forums. It is time-consuming, but it is time well-spent.