We're a newer blog (all of five weeks old) and I spend literally 8 hours a day promoting the site. I've done everything but sell my soul -- which I would do for 100K uniques -- but are numbers still climb so slowly.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated,
I suspect in the following months, original writing topics will become difficult to find. Thanks for the input Ng.
Hard work in my experience, and patience! It sounds like you're already doing the hard work, so be patient and if you're writing about things that interest people you'll get there eventually. I started my blog back in August, and it's building slowly. There seems to be no specific subject or country that gets me more visits than others, it simply seems to be places people are interested in.
One thing you may be interested in, is a regular feature I started called Travel Photo Friday. I feature either one of my own travel photos, and since November, I have asked people to contribute too. See below if you'd like to get an idea of what I've featured so far:
If you have a photo you'd like to contribute, I also link to the blog of whoever let's me use the photo, so feel free to do that if you'd like - it's another little bit of promotion! If you want to, all you have to do is use the email address on my contact page, and send me a little paragraph about where the photo was taken.
It sounds like you're doing a great job, Lane. I'm glad you posted this, though, as the hardest part for me is promotion and I have been looking for tips too. Looks like I will have to do more networking!
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I keep one word in mind when I work with my site: focus
I'll explain a little below, but basically focus will help you acheive progress in all your questions above.
I realized in 2008, that changing focus of my sites content made all the difference. Up until the summer of 2008, my site (since 2005) was all over the place regarding content. It had a lot of content from my European travels, but there were no focus on what it was the site offered.
In 2008 I made the decision to focus on travels in the USA. But that was not all. I decided to focus on a special type of travel: road trips.
By doing this I instantly saw progress in traffic etc. and it made it much easier to write for the site and promote it and see some significant results.
I often see, not only in travel blogs, that people want to write about everything within their topic and more often than not, they end up being as bland as the rest and no one sticks out. And unless you have serious funding, you get out-promoted by the big travel agencies.
To answer your question in a little more detail.
I know my potential reader base due to the focus I have (approx 260.000 danish people go on vacation in the USA every year - many of them on a road trip). This makes it easy to focus the promotion. When I write, I don't write about renting holiday houses in the states, I (hardly) don't write about big city vacations etc. I write about the things I know are important if you plan to go on a road trip: planning, route, car rental, hotels etc. A lot of these things overlap with the same things big established travel agencies write about (and spend a lot of money promoting). But that is where my focus come in to play again. I keep it personal and honest. I don't just generalize about car rental, hotels etc. I base (almost) all posts and articles on my own experience.
By writing this way, I have found a growing number of topics, that travel agencies would never pick up, but I know from various google tools, that there is a audience for. This allows me to promote my site in areas travel agencies would never do, so I can comment on other blogs, articles in news papers, social media etc. and build links that way.
I don't spend any money regularly on promoting my site. Only thing I have spent money on, is press releases (distribution - not writing them). By being active on my site and establishing myself as an authority within the topic, having a good google presence and sending out press releases (3 last year) I have managed to get mentioned in media - and thereby get more traffic. I would not have been able to do this if I did not have focus on my topic.
Facebook is my biggest traffic driver. I have build a group of 570. I have specifically let it grow naturally and purposely NOT promoted it to family and friends. I don't need 300 fans that only like the page because they know me - I want likes that have an interest in traveling in the USA. Again my focus is positive for me. If I wrote about everything in the USA (not only traveling) I would maybe have more difficulties growing the group, but topics posted would only have the interest for part of the fan base resulting in less activity.
In my opinion, the biggest waste of time is looking at your competitors. I focus on growing my fan base, building links, writing content and thinking of new topics that provide value to the guests on my site. I would argue that time spent on this is much more valuable than crawling the web and constantly trying to catch up to the competitors. In my experience, if you focus on your site you will catch up and eventually leave some of them in the dust.
Regarding google then it is yet again focus that has put me in the top ten with a lot of highly competitive phrases. My site is just a hobby so I am not focussed on making a living from my site. In late 2009 I started to play a little with affiliate. One of the areas that was interesting from a profit point of view, was car rental. This is a highly competitive area in any part of the world so in order for me to earn anything, I again had to turn to my focus. By relying on my proven track record of being personal, honest and base things on my own experience, I have been able to create some pages about car rental that a lot of people can actually use rather than just the typical "cheap car rental". The pages for car rental were actually created before I started with affiliate but an open and honest commenting thread on the page has rocketed it in to a profitable position on google. Part of the reason is of course also a little SEO-technical knowledge (knowing the importance of titles, headlines and keywords etc.) strongly helped by the great SEO plugin for Wordpress by Yoast.
I hope this helps a little.
Hi Rene Can you give us your site link so we can learn how you "Focus", Thanks.
Sorry. Got a little late when I wrote the comment yesterday, so I forgot.
My site is in danish so I am not sure how much you will be able to pick up regarding the text, but the site should come across as very USA focused.
Thanks for the reply. We've recently been looking at our demographics, and looking at ourselves. We're focusing on what we enjoy and letting our audience grow naturally. We're letting the stress go. If we're not the biggest, best or oldest site, we no longer care.
I'm a newbie too. I mostly promote it via social networks which slowly helps me get noticed with Google. I'm still learning how to promote more.
Hi Elal, your photos are awesome. I notice you are using a good camera compared to many of us. Your skill and photo subjects and angle are great too. That alone is enough to build up followers.
1) The main thing is to commit yourself to do the blog first for yourself as your journal/ record
(if you think you are doing for the cyber audience, you may lose heart if target hit does not meet your expectation.
2) consistently update regularly (best everyday) don't post them all at once and run out of new photos
(Standby enough materials for months ahead) http://wishurhere.wordpress.com/
Thank you Ng!
For point number 1, I am working on making my blog as an avenue to showcase my works! Thank you for reminding me that good point :)
For number 2, I mostly update my blogs based on pictures on a travel. But the idea of not posting them all is also lurking in my mind. I'm now starting to save some pics in case I do need and I cannot make any new posts in the future.
You have a great blog too. Buy a domain one of these days, I bought mine last month but I started blogging a year ago. I wish I bought a domain earlier because now I have to do exchange links, again.
Again, thank you! :)
My Domain was registered by me more than 10 years ago, so it belongs to me. I only started blogging recently, I don't even know how to play tweeter, face book and what else, it is a lot to learn, and we all learn by trial and error.
Oh, one thing I noticed, you planted a lot of "entrapment" link for micro ads, that is a put-off. Because if you later want to put in real links, viewer dare not go to click.
and your blogrolls are just lists that does not have real link. Otherwise everything looks cool !