One of the ways I work from home is by having a network of small niche blogs and websites that earn money with Adsense and other revenue streams. A lot of these sites are in niches so small that I used to want to give up on them.
Not any more.
Over the years I have learned a lot of ways to grow traffic. More importantly, I have learned a lot of ways to grow valuable traffic. And that is what this post is all about: finding traffic that is not just big, but valuable to your business.
Let’s dive in and find out what you can do to grow traffic when it feels like there just isn’t any around.
The fixation on traffic needs to be killed
Let me start this post by saying that the fixation that the blogging world has on traffic needs to be shot down for good. It is a myth that does more harm than good.
Because people start blogs hearing about all the massive amounts of traffic and visitors that is possible (and the money that comes from it) and then when they don’t achieve that in the first month, year or at all, they get depressed and give up. This is a huge mistake because big money can be made on small amounts of traffic. If it is the right traffic.
I have one website (not this one) that gets about ten visitors per day. But, about once a week/fortnight I get a call from one of those visitors and end up earning between $500 and $15,000 from the job. So I would much rather have that small amount of valuable traffic than huge amounts of useless traffic.
I’m writing this post for my friends over at The Study Gurus who asked me on Twitter how to grow traffic in a small niche where you don’t have a lot of big, centralized players who can help to grow your traffic and business. I am also writing it after getting back from another trip in India where I constantly see small players make big money amidst hundreds of thousands of competitors.
The point of this first rant is to reassure you that you can make money on small amounts of traffic and that you need to learn to focus on big and valuable traffic as opposed to just big traffic.
Defining valuable traffic vs big traffic
Photo credit: macieklew
We need to take a look at some loose definitions here so we are clear what is going on.
Big traffic: This is the magical traffic amounts that we always hear bloggers talking about. Anything over 2,000 or 3,000 visitors a day. The problem? It isn’t necessarily valuable and has a lot of wastage.
Valuable traffic: Valuable traffic can be both big and small. It is where you have a high conversion rate per number of visitors. The more people that purchase a product, sign up to an email list, etc. the more valuable the traffic is.
Traffic is only as useful as its conversions. If you get a million visitors per day it is pretty useless unless you can generate some revenue.
Is the value 100% on the traffic side?
No. What you will find is that you can make traffic more valuable by tweaking your website. For example, if you are getting a 2% sign up rate on your blog’s email subscription form you might want to look at changing the copy, colors, offering, etc. to see if you can increase it.
However, this will only work if the traffic is relevant. For example, if I took out an advert on a tampon website and sent it to a blog about car racing I would not be able to convert anything, no matter what on-site tweaks I made.
How to build big, valuable traffic in a small niche
Photo credit: uitdragerij
Let’s get into it now and start looking at some ways you can build relevant and valuable traffic to a website or blog in a small niche. I am going to give you a mixture of resources, marketing methods and tools for you to explore.
1. Fix the site first, don’t lose customers
As far as I am concerned you need to make sure your site is leak proof first. There is no point getting huge amounts of traffic if you are losing them with bad copy, design and so on. Some things you need to look at include:
- Above the Fold
What should go in the top half of your website and what should never be underneath the fold.
- Convert new visitors into returning readers
A few tips on how you can ensure you keep visitors coming back.
- Increase conversions
A quick little post with 250 comments about how you can increase conversions by being trustworthy.
- How Amazon hooks visitors
Another post about some techniques for on-site capturing.
If you have any posts that you have written about making sure your blog or website is clean and user friendly please leave a comment with the link so people can check it out.
2. Research keywords carefully
If you are a blogger you need to be researching your keywords very carefully using Market Samurai. This is an extremely important step because one or two little words can be the difference between a trickle of traffic and a major torrent.
Here’s an example. Say you are selling dog collars. You might want to target “collars for big dogs” and so you build your site around that phrase. However, if you look in Market Samurai you might find that the phrase “large dog collars” gets double the amount of traffic.
You need to be doing this type of keyword test on every article you write if you are in a small niche. Make sure you are targeting the best keywords with the most traffic and the least competition. Its hard to find them but it does pay off.
Glen from Viper Chill just wrote an incredible, massive post on keyword research which I highly recommend you check out. It can be a bit overwhelming but just bookmark it and learn it bit by bit. It will save you years of work.
3. Get on Youtube
Bloggers need to start expanding their minds and their horizons. Content is still king but the king is really starting to need help. And when you take a look at the breakdown of traffic on the net these days you will see that there is a lot going to waste on Youtube and other non-content based sites.
Oh yeah, Youtube gets over 2 billion views a day!
As you might have seen I started making some really simple Youtube videos a while ago. They are nothing special and they don’t bring huge amounts of traffic but it all counts. It is also a lot easier to get a Youtube video to rank on Google than it is a regular post nowadays. So get on them. They work particularly well for niches where you can display the use of a product or results of a system.
4. Start Podcasting
Podcasting is so easy and it can help you tap into a new market while building trust and authority by adding your voice to your product. I’ve been doing a few of them here.
Its a little bit like Youtube in that iTunes is now getting huge amounts of independent traffic. And as the iPhone market grows you are going to see more and more traffic there. It is a great time to get started with a Podcast because all you need is a mic and some free recording software. You can see the details of what I use on my post about adding audio to my About Us page.
Setting up a Podcast in WordPress actually took me almost a full day to figure out; its not as easy as I had thought and I only figured it out thanks to some help from expert Podcaster Pat Flynn. If enough people want help with this I will do a post about it so let me know in the comments.
5. Find the big players, even if they are hidden
Up above I talked about how my friends over at The Study Gurus were concerned that they didn’t have any big players in their niche in order to connect with, create alliances, etc.
What I think they mean is that in niches like blogging, for example, there are big players like Problogger, Copyblogger, etc. where you can try and get guest posts and as such launch a readership. But not every niche has these. At least, not every niche has big overt ones.
What you need to do is find the big players in your niche, even if they are hidden somewhere else. For example, I once did a guest post a non-fitness blog about abdominal training to build traffic and back links for my fitness blog. The post got a huge reception, went viral and ended up getting indexed on Google in a top position for the keyword. It opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes you need to go outside your direct niche to find players that can massively influence/change what you are doing.
Take the luxury car niche as an example. You don’t just see Lexus ads in car magazines. In fact, that would be a really small part of their marketing. Instead they market in industries and niches that might attract and hold the attention of potential consumers like men’s magazines, airlines where business people travel, football and sport matches, etc. Think narrow with your niche, but market broadly.
The Study Gurus, I imagine, would have some huge opportunities on college humor blogs, parenting and motherhood blogs, University websites, etc.
6. Develop a resource and give it away for free
One of the best ways to get attention to your blog is to develop a free resource that adds a huge amount of value and then give it away for free. Marketers have been doing it for a long time and it is an especially powerful technique for online marketing.
The best free giveaways add value to people’s life, save them time or money. If you can develop something that will enhance a person’s life there is a good chance it will get shared around. Sometimes it can take the form of a tool that you hire someone to build or it could be an eBook, report, etc.
Here is another cool thing you might not know: Google actually indexes blogs with tools higher than those without. For example, you will often find that the highest ranking fitness websites have things like Body Mass Index calculators and calorie calculators on them. Why is this so? Because Google wants to send people to highly useful sites. If you have taken time to develop a cool tool then you are obviously useful.
7. Get offline
Who wrote the rule that websites are only promoted using online methods? Its just not the case. Some of the best marketing for websites can be done on offline media like print, radio and TV.
Now, you have to be careful about this because you can waste time and money pretty quickly. But, if you have a good idea and a website that translates well to offline marketing you can generate a lot of valuable traffic even in a very small niche.
Some ideas for The Study Gurus would be to develop a small advert that can be placed in school and College newsletters, posters for the cafeterias, etc. A small ongoing deal with one or two schools could yield really big results.
8. Get social and get clever
Clever social media marketing can bring a torrent of valuable traffic if it is done properly. Most people, sadly, just sort of fizzle out with their Twitter and Facebook marketing. To avoid that you need to:
- Have a goal for yourself
What are you trying to achieve on Facebook and Twitter? How many exact conversions, sales and followers are we talking about?
- Know exactly why people should use your social media pages
Why should people share your stuff? What will get them involved? What are you doing to motivate them? Just talking about stuff is not enough. You need to find a way to use social media to enrich people’s lives in relation to your product.
- Connect quickly but carefully
Social media is as much about which peers follow you as it is about which customers follow you. Connect with big people who will share your stuff occasionally. You need to do this by striking up a relationship off of the social sites and slowly do favors and ask for favors in return. I’ve written a bit about this here.
I really think people need to start studying social media marketing more. I hear so many people saying that Twitter and Facebook doesn’t work for them and as such they give up. Rubbish! These sites can send masses of useful traffic and generate a lot of business. You just need to make it work for your situation.
9. Get other people to sell your stuff for you
Affiliate programs are a really good idea if you have a product that someone else can promote for you. Not enough bloggers do this.
Take clothing label Calvin Klein as an example. They don’t just make the products and then sell them themselves – they get other stores to do it for them. You can find their knickers and fragrances in department stores all over the world. These are affiliates. They get paid a percentage of the sale (in essence).
Setting up an affiliate program can be a bit of a nightmare or it can be totally easy. Services like E-junkie make it really easy to sell eBooks but physical products can be a little bit more difficult. My only advice here is to make sure you capture all the data (emails, etc.) and give your sellers a 60% or higher payout to encourage as many sellers as possible.
If anyone would like to know more about this I can do a post later on.
What has worked for you?
I’d really like to open up the comments now to anyone who has had any experience generating big, valuable traffic on a blog or website that lives in a small niche. Even if it was just one post that got a lot of love, please share it with me. If anyone has any other questions about how to grow traffic to a small site I would be happy to answer your questions.
Top Photo credit: JimReeves