Building Blog Traffic and Audience, Not a Blog Empire
Everyone who still has a small dose of sense would want to build a blog empire. The thought about having multiple streams of income and assets distributed all over the web appears very nice. It makes us feel accomplished.
However, unless you have a solid and large team of bloggers, you may just give up that thought. By focusing on just one or two blogs, you are more likely to put up value and attract readers. That’s why you need to shift you vision from an empire to building blog traffic and audience.
It’s true that you still need to drive traffic if you build a blog empire, but a big difference is in focus. When trying to promote and attract people to tens, if not hundreds, of blogs, bloggers are more likely to devalue traffic.
Two Ways to Get 30,000 Visitors per Month
If you read this article, I presume that you have not yet reached critical mass with your blog. Bloggers who have accumulated thousands of visitors per day may just proceed with this example but use different figures. The same principle applies.
So there are a lot of ways to build blog traffic but it boils down to two main strategies:
- Explore vertical markets. In this strategy, you focus on one core market and expand to tightly related niche markets. If the topics are highly relevant, you can just centralize the content on one blog. Using this scenario, you need to get 1,000 visitors per day from one blog to reach 30,000 visitors per month. Your focus by following this path is to build blog traffic and audience.
- Expand wider across horizontal markets. With this strategy, you build blogs in many different industries and topics. If you setup 10 blogs, each of them needs only 100 visitors per day to reach our 30,000 visitors per month goal. Unlike the above strategy, with the focus is less on the traffic but more on the network, i.e. empire.
The latter may sound much simpler at first. Most bloggers who put in some effort into their blogs will be able to reach 100 daily visitors. But a lot of bloggers never build a community, engage with their audience and grow traffic level beyond that.
They tend to struggle to reach out of the comfort zone.
After all, if everything else is the same — cost per mille (CPM), visitors value, longevity, everything — perhaps the second strategy is much faster and easier to accomplish.
Let us go through each critical points above and bust some myths along the way.
False Perceptions of a Blog Empire
The underlying thoughts that make building an empire so appealing are the fact that people are:
- Building content and traffic across many niches and domains. If search engines decide to drop one of the domains, they still have a bunch of others to back them up.
- Creating multiple streams of income. Rather than depending on one site, they diversify it across different topics and blogs.
- Using a simpler model. As pointed out above, building a small site is much easier than high traffic site. Duplication of the previous effort can be achieved through automation software.
The fact that many ad networks that accept web sites with any sizes means that people can build a site, stick ad code up and let the network manage the selling and serving of ads. They just collect the check.
That sounds like a dream come true, a model that will finally let you retire and work from the beach. But is it?
Let us dive into each of them.
Note: In the context of this post, let’s presume there’s no such thing as site targeting and other features, where advertisers can opt out from web sites that don’t represent their brands.
Authority Sites / Blogs vs. Niche Web Sites
While I always speak in favor of niche marketing, there is a fine line that separates authority sites and niche web sites.
Focusing on a niche is one thing, but building a small site with less than 30 pages or blog posts is what people refer to niche web sites. A collection of such sites builds content empire.
Authority sites, on the other hand, consist of more than 30 pages. Hundreds or even thousands of pages of content are not uncommon. Blog posts and pages are just one type of content, you can also have forums, job boards, and so on.
Authority sites are more scalable. They allow you to expand to the direction that you want. Niche blogs are quite limited because of the scope of the topic.
Both may work right now, but you really should start thinking in which direction your business is going forward. In five or even ten years, what prevents others from doing better and competing with your smaller niche web sites?
Remember that a bunch of entrepreneurs and bloggers are looking to start online businesses every day. With authority blogs, even if other bloggers decide to plunge into the same topic, with the diversity of contents, products and services, you will be able to offer value and compete.
Perhaps compete is not the right word. As an authority blogger, other blogs are potential partners who may as well promote your products or services.
More about this later on.
World Domination? Get Real!
That may sound extreme, but I hear the same thing every day. Gurus teach how to dominate your niche. I guess that message is compelling enough to get people purchase e-books and courses. Domination sounds like a good thing, but if you think about it, it is impossible, not to mention that it’s actually bad for your business.
I am not into the new age stuff in this post, but it helps if people stop being selfish. The world is abundant. There is always a place for everyone.
You don’t have to kill your competitions, for instance, to survive in your business. Instead of focusing your energy on that, spend your time and effort to grow your business and provide value.
Even Coke can do very well with Pepsi. There are probably hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop shoe stores world wide, so why people keep thinking they have to be the only shoe blog to make it?
Competition actually is a good thing, especially in blogging. Links are more likely to come from blogs within the same niche.
Core Audience Multiplies Attention Span and Reachability
Quality of content is overrated. While important, it is not the only thing.
First and foremost, you also need effective distribution of your blog content. After finishing a masterpiece, a linkbait so to speak, it will only sit there gaining virtual dust if only 5 people read it.
A mediocre post may rock the blogosphere if enough bloggers link to it and vote for it in social news site. Of course, the content has to be interesting but you get the idea.
Further than that, you need core audience, not only typical subscribers. These core audience are loyal readers who will peruse everything that you put out, leave comments, email friends about it, and so on.
If your core audience also consists of influencers, without a doubt, they may help you spread the news about your blog post. Of course, this doesn’t happen at all time but you know they will be there to support you if you have something interesting to say.
The Business Model Needs a Fix…
With that said, building core audience takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. Taking the world population into account, and the growing rate of Internet users, you always can attract more readers too.
Instead of stepping out to start a new blog in another territory, it is more efficient if you learn how to do things well in one niche. We cannot all be experts at everything, can we?
But it takes expertise to build core audience. Doesn’t it just make sense if you want to do it, you only have time for one topic, or perhaps two?
So change your business model. If you think making money blogging is just about selling ads, you need to get out the cave and start exploring further. What other value can you provide to the market?
Hint: Look into information business. It is still much an untainted area for bloggers. Service professionals (and small business owners) should come up with a strategy to grow their business by considering a blog as a communication tool.
Build for Scalability and Longevity
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make, in my opinion, is centralizing their blog around a short term goal. They try to find a workaround if problem surfaces. For example, if search engines drop their rankings, they need to make sure other sites are doing well. Hence the workaround is to build as many sites as possible, as mentioned above.
Building a scalable business is not for the fainted heart, but it is possible if you lay a solid foundation first. Think about the real value that people want and then offer it to them. You may think it is obvious, but if you look around, I bet you can give a bunch of things you can improve.
A quick example. When Google first announced Google Sitemaps, many marketers created software and tools to generate XML sitemaps. Perhaps they were making some bucks by offering it early to the market, but nowadays you can download this software — and WordPress plugin — for free. The real value is not in selling the software. Perhaps it is in support and search engine consulting.
Imagine giving away that software from the start, how many clients you are going to attract? How many bloggers are going to blog about it and drive traffic to your blog?
Opportunities are everywhere. With the right preparation and strategy, you could do better than everyone else, and build a business out of it.
I almost forget. People may argue that they can automate much of the process of building a blog empire with automated software. These software scrap content and republish on your blogs anyway you want it. Now let me ask a question. If they are willing to read such content if they find it in search engines, they know they are on the right track.
Otherwise, they are just running against the wall — against search engines. The whole business around search engines is to provide relevancy to their users. And if anyone think s/he can win the war against those companies with hundreds of smart people, good luck for that.
By building such content, they also contaminate the Internet. Who is going to make use of the Internet if none of the content is useful? Set out on a mission to make the Internet a better place, you can’t go wrong with it.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Tell me a successful business. With a bit of research, I can show you how hard they have been working to reach that level. We rarely noticed a business when they were just starting out. They were too small to notice, but when they became popular, everyone thought it was because of luck.
Nothing is further from the truth. There are probably exceptions, but they are one in 10 millions, perhaps.
You would have been better off if you stick with what works. There is no such thing as the golden key on a silver platter. If at all, your chance of finding that key will increase tremendously as you invest time and effort on your own business.
Blogging requires little or no investment to start, but that doesn’t mean it is as easy to grow it. While you have chance to pick, make sure you choose something you enjoy doing.
Forget about the blog empire. Instead, think about how you can get the next subscriber that will in turn become your core audience. Keep in mind that your audience is just like you. People only buy from others who they know, like and trust.
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