Two Hour Blogger

On Marketing and Writing

How to Make Brian Clark Furious And 6 Other Risky Traffic Secrets

image of two beautiful blue dice

How many sock puppet Twitter accounts do you have? That’s not cool, you know. – @copyblogger

When in the course of blogging events it becomes necessary for one blogger to dissolve the blogging bands which have connected him with another and to assume the powers of the A-listers, the separate and equal station to which the First Rule of Two Hour Blogger entitles him, a decent respect to the opinions of his subscribers requires that he should declare the causes which compel him to write his blog post.

Running a popular blog is cool, but it has a serious downside. Whenever you publish something, tons of people unsubscribe.

It stinks.

The only way to break even is to get a lot of new subscribers each time you publish. We are not talking about growing here – we are talking about breaking even.

Your numbers will go down if you do nothing about it.

It is not that difficult to get hundreds of people to your site within a few short hours. It is not too hard to convert them into subscribers, either.

What is difficult is to sustain them. Getting these subscribers to come to your site enthusiastically and consistently is difficult.

For example, I get emails from people telling me they spent their entire weekend reading every single post on Two Hour Blogger. They download the free eBook and read it. They get really excited.

And then you never hear from them again.

In short, you constantly need to find ways to grow, or else your blog will die. You cannot rely on last week’s ravings.

But how can you grow, exactly?

1. Write something that spreads by itself

When a follower tweets a link to your blog, he is exposing you to an entire audience you do not have access to. That is powerful. That audience visits your blog, and decides to tweet it too. It begins to snowball.

This will not happen to any old content. Your writing must really knock it out of the park. You need a couple of things in place.

  • A headline that promises to meet a need that your audience has
  • Solid content that delivers the goods in a fashionable manner

It is hard to describe how powerful and exciting this can be when it is done right.

2. Network with friends and get them to share your stuff

It is important that you have some move-your-couch friends online – the kind of people who will like your Facebook fan page when you ask them to. Not just anybody will do that for you.

These are the people who spend time with you over Skype. You read each other’s blogs. You tweet each other’s stuff.

3. Make your enemies so mad they have to link to you

Believe it or not, bad buzz is often as good as good buzz. I once wrote a Problogger guest post that made a lot of people really mad and they just had to tweet about it. As a general rule, controversial content does quite well. Learn to use it.

You should constantly be searching for ways to present traditional content in a controversial way. Am I being sticky here? You bet I am. :D

4. Persuade the big boys to link to you

Of all of the risky traffic secrets, this is the most dangerous of all. For my financial friends this is the equivalent of short selling Google stock; you might make it big time, or you might lose your shirt.

This is where that unfortunate @copyblogger tweet comes in. Those were not sock puppet accounts mind you, but my strategy backfired big time. Oops. Sorry Brian.

Is there a right way to do this?

Every now and then you can successfully convince an A-lister to link to your stuff, but the fatality rate is pretty high. If you discover a consistently successful way to accomplish this, let me know in comments!

5. Participate in a blogging carnival

Gathering together in a friendly community of like-minded writers is a safer bet. Here you are mingling with less-influential bloggers, which means you are more likely to be taken seriously and given a chance. It is also a good place to compare notes with how others are doing.

In fact, this very post you are reading is my entry for The Traffic Blogger’s monthly carnival.

6. Get involved in #blogchat

Every Sunday night between 8:00-9:00 PM CST the Twitterverse becomes infested with #blogchat. Read more about it here. When you participate, you expose yourself to a lot of passionate bloggers. You gain followers and build relationships. This all turns into traffic.

In fact, you might even get your first BIG client from it too.

Everyone walks out a winner in #blogchat. Do not neglect it.

7. Humble yourself and write a guest post

As responsible, hard-working humans, we do not enjoy taking handouts because we know “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Conversely, we do not enjoy giving out handouts either.

Writing a guest post goes against every fibre of our nature, which explains why we rarely do it. Humbling yourself and writing a guest post is a hassle. It takes a lot of time. It irks you.

But it works. I average 100+ new subscribers each single time I guest post.

How risky are your marketing tactics?

Seth Godin said it best:

You can’t have success unless you’re prepared to have failure.

As soon as you say, “failure is not an option,” you’ve just said, “innovation is not an option.”

You need to experiment with new traffic ideas on a regular basis. You cannot afford your list to diminish.

We all know what happens to bloggers with shrinking lists.

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37 Replies

  1. All awesome strategies – and one that I think is massively overlooked is emailing. particularly email swaps from others influential peers. I bet you’d get far more than 100 subscribers via email. And they ‘re more likely to join your list too.

    For the record, I think you you email way more effectively than most bloggers.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Marc, I think guest blogging is the same as an email swapping (if I correctly understand what you’re talking about). When you write a guest post, it goes out to the blog owner’s list in the form of an email, with your link at the bottom.

      Am I missing something here?

      1. If the blog owner sends out the post to his email list with a link back to the guest post, then yeah – there’s definitely more of a benefit for the guest.

        Traditionally, email adswaps involve 2 people sending reciprocal emails to their subscribers, typically to a free optin offer. I’ve added over 600 subscribers to my email list in a day using this method.

        But now I think, it’s become abused as a strategy. There’s no quality control and people are completely overdoing it.

        But that’s where the opportunity resides. To approach it in a cool and ethical way whilst creating awesome content and making the world a better place. Reckon it would work a treat here with your hybrid content squeeze pages, for example.

        And as for guest blogging, I think email adswaps combined with guest blogging could be the ultimate strategy for building a community fast.

        I guess an email swap short-cuts the effort of writing a guest post but it does lack some of the benefits of guest posting – shareability, backlinks, longevity, outpost. But it has the speed of attracting the most engaged members of your peers.

        Thing is, awesome content might get people to mail out naturally but with a bit of careful planning you could increase your traffic, influence and authority with a little email on the “off days” when you’re not posting / guest posting.

        Just an idea ;)

        Marc

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Honestly, I’ve never heard of adswaps before. This is interesting.

          Let me see if I’ve got it straight. The blog owner emails his own list and says, “hey everyone, you need to subscribe to my friend’s blog.” His friend does the same thing to his list, and both people walk out with new subscribers.

          Is that about it?

          1. Martyn Chamberlin

            It seems like a pretty cool idea, but if I were a subscriber to both these lists before the promotion, I would feel a bit sold too. Wouldn’t you?

  2. I’m in for the long haul as long as you keep producing content like this.

    Never heard of #blogchat. I’ll be checking that out.

    I’ve had some success with the “big boys” in my sphere of blogging. I simply just ask them to link. over 70% of my subscribers have came from 2 “big boys” I just asked to link to my page. One of them simply took one of my posts and put it on his site . .. two times now. And the other one simply linked to my site.

    I try and keep good relationships with them by selling their related products on my site and giving them recommendations in my posts and on my site. Works out great for me! I’m hoping it will continue this way.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I’m in for the long haul as long as you keep producing content like this.

      Daniel, I hope the content will get better as time goes on.

      Fascinating you’ve managed to get folks to link to you. Thanks for sharing that tactic! Relationships are key, that’s for sure.

  3. Great points. I especially loved the honesty you had about how guest posting goes against our fiber. The big guys do it all the time though. The best are clearly the most generous, so I guess I have to adjust my fiber intake and get to giving. Thanks

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      The funny thing about guest posting is that it gets easier the more you do it. And the benefits are staggering, so it’s a good thing to get into. ;)

    2. I admire guest posting a lot thought at first it was really difficult to start but when you come to appreciate the advantage of it things will be easy.

      1. Martyn Chamberlin

        Agreed! So where do you write guest posts, Andrew?

  4. 1. I love, love, love your headlines. Really great stuff.
    2. These are all fantastic tips. Blogchat is an incredible resource – I’ve been able to connect w/ a lot of amazing bloggers through it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks Leah! I love making edgy headlines, but I think I need to make it up to Brian now…

      1. I’ll leave that up to the two of you. Good luck :)

  5. “Write something that spreads by itself.” That sounds like some kind of illegal automation program. :-)

    I have started to ignore #blogchat and now you’ve made me feel foolish for doing so. What have they been talking about lately?

    I need to get back into blogging carnivals! Thanks for the reminder.

    I write guest posts out of traffic greed, but don’t tell anybody. :-P

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Dude you need to look at http://twohourblogger.com/better-blogger/. That article spread all by itself. No inside scoop with power users, nothing.

      Yeah I’ve been ignoring blogchat lately, I have no clue what they’re talking about haha. (Don’t tell anyone, okay?)

  6. Fun stuff, I agree with Leah, the headlines do a lot for the click-throughs, but again, its a case of engaging and sustaining the traffic. Funny you should mention #blogchat, it did for me what you mentioned and I wrote about it here: http://bit.ly/il3jcM peace.

  7. I like the idea of being the bad guy, or at least going against the grain when I believe in it, and the blog carnivals. Never understood the #blogchat–those twitter chats seem to go quite quickly and take a serious amount of time that is usually dedicated to family time (for me at least).

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Haha you’re right Eric, Blogchat is a risky traffic source. If you’ve found it doesn’t work well for you, perhaps you should try one of the other 6. ;)

      1. I actually just finished a rebranding effort on the blog, but before I made the change, carnivals, commenting, and taking the devil’s advocate approach was my main ways of attracting traffic (it was pretty easy when most personal finance blogs are all about frugality and I’m really not). Now that I’ve got a better plan in place going forward, I’m definitely planning on getting more into guest posting and if not the blogchat, definitely more conversations. Biggest thing is that I’m not a big proponent of “asking” for links. I’d rather earn it through good content and interesting copy.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Five years ago, asking for links was the way to do it. Brian Clark got Darren Rowse to link to his magnetic headline series, and that gave Brian the spark that propelled Copyblogger into an unending growth cycle.

          I think guest posting has replaced this to a large extent. It’s still linking, but it’s giving content in exchange for a link.

          I’m not sure it’s ever been cool to ask for a link from a stranger, but if you build friendships with other writers, they’ll link to you because they like what you’re doing.

          1. I couldn’t agree more Martyn, now I expect you to follow my twitter accounts, like my facebook pages, and subscribe to my blog! :-)

          2. The best way to get me to tweet something is to ask, personally, one time. I’m always looking for good content to tweet. No stunts necessary. ;)

          3. Thanks for the input Brian. I guess if it was something that I felt was truly special and worthy, I would ask but don’t like the idea of being tweeted or followed out of pity, the perceived need to reciprocate, or something like that

          4. Martyn Chamberlin

            Naw Eric, I wouldn’t enjoy a pity tweet either. This stuff works best when the content is great and the power user knows his audience will appreciate it.

            Brian…I’m glad my headline didn’t make you furious. :D

          5. I guess I should clarify… I won’t tweet anything out of pity or just because you ask. I’ll tweet it if it provides cool value to the @copyblogger audience. Otherwise, I won’t — but I don’t mind anyone asking nicely for me to take a look.

  8. Elizabeth Zirk

    I’ve always seen some of my favorite bloggers on #blogchat on Sundays. It’s so difficult to maintain a schedule though on weekends… So much of the weekend can be dedicated to other folks in my life whose weekends are all the play time they get.

    I do love the controversy though. That’ll be a touch one for me – I grew up to the tune of “why can’t we all just get along”…

  9. Fred

    I really wish I could write the way you do. Short and powerful sentences. You say you’re a painter? I think you should’ve been a writer from the very start. I used to have a blog, but it died. I didn’t have time for it; or, I had the time but I often stole it from my 9-5 job. I figured I performed poorly on my job so I had to drop it. I’m still holding on to my dream of becoming a full-time blogger. I just need to take a break, learn from bloggers like you and maybe start anew. I swear this is one of the best blogs I’ve ever subscribed to.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I swear this is one of the best blogs I’ve ever subscribed to.

      This means a lot to me Fred. Thanks!

      I should have been a writer from the start. Hmmm. Look at this picture I painted. Don’t you think paintings are important too? :)

      1. Fred

        Wow. OK, I’ll take back what I said, that you should’ve been a writer from the start. After all, you’ve been painting, creating art that takes a while to finish, and I think that’s where you got your maxim for two-hour blogger.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          At some point, I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do for a living.

          To paint or to write? That is the question.

          1. Fred

            What’s important is you’re out of the rat race doing 9-5 job. Good luck man!

  10. Good article and better headline.
    I still don’t get why Brian Clark got upset about your tweet though.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Well, it wasn’t my tweet exactly – it was tweets from my followers all tweeting the exact same text and crowding Brian’s @ steam. As you’ll notice in Brian’s comments above, he prefers for just the owner to contact him – not the whole gang. ;)

  11. This post really delivers on its headline Martyn. Very nicely said and so much to react to.

    I have neglected #blogchat and you have convinced me to give it a shot. I will say hi if I see you there.

    You also have to be different to make it in todays blogosphere. As young as this profession is, there are already “blue chip” blogs that are firmly entrenched in most major spaces. Providing a fresh perspective and a fresh brand is require (IMHO) to make an impact.

  12. Igor

    Brilliant.