increase traffic

Doubling Traffic in May

I took last week off. “Off” in this case means, I wrote a whole bunch of content, but just not specifically for the Cities of the Mind, because I had too much real work to do. I’m thinking about moving to a three days a week, three weeks a month, posting schedule, but I’m not certain about that yet.

I’ve been really busy. Honestly, I’ve been a bit behind in work, simply because I’m not used to the volume of work I’ve been receiving. There’s plenty of extra time for the work, mind you, it’s just that it’s a different pace that I’m not used to . . . yet.

Anyway, let’s take a look back at May.

First off, let’s check out how my stats have improved:

via Google Analytics
Alexa Rank

Oh yeah! Still haven’t quite doubled my traffic in terms of unique views, but I’ve doubled the number of new visitors to the site, and I’ve had a huge spike in page views. My total subscribers are up by 25%, too. So, I’m pretty happy. I’m pretty sure I could have hit the double the traffic if I’d actually posted last week. Let that be a lesson to me, I guess.

How did I do this?

Guest Posts

Well, most of those new visitors are the result of changes made in April to my SEO practices, and that’s certainly helped, but another big pull has been from guest posters. I’ve written a handful of guest posts, as well, a post describing the practical nature of expertise on BC Brown Books an one on Wagner-Writer describing the actual challenges of being a nomadic writer sterootype. I’m pretty pleased with both those posts, so please swing by and check them out. Also, Cities of the Mind guest poster (and guest post receiver) author Donna Carol Voss is on TV talking about her new book, One of Everythingtouring, etc.

CotM Why GP Infograph

Scheduling Content

I’ve been trying to keep up a good schedule which is critical. This is one of those small, simple, not-easy things that can really help a blog flourish. Knowing there will be new content on your site when they get there is a great way to keep people coming back. This is sort of my White Whale, because I am just not naturally inclined towards schedules. Even my sleep schedule rotates over the course of a month. My entire life my body has enjoyed being awake for 18-24 hours and sleeping for 9-12. It makes ordinary life challenging at times, but in the long run it’s no worse than anything anyone else deals with, and less disruptive than many things. Especially as a writer. cotm schedule graphic

Still, I like to stay on top of this. Ideally, I’ll have content planned and ready to go a few days in advance, but it doesn’t always go that way. For example, I had an infographic and a video for Monday and Wednesday respectively last week, and I didn’t like them enough, when I finished, to post them. It’s not like I could just recapture the time lost, though, and I didn’t have more time to create other content, so I simply had to put off posts for this site. Friday, I just took off. I had a camping trip with my sister and girlfriend this weekend, and so I took a rest day. Sometimes you gotta take a day off.

Despite my personal failings in the area, picking a schedule and sticking to it can do a lot for long-term success. The closer I stick to a schedule, the better my sites do. Not everyone does this, but most successful bloggers post at least once a week.

If You Don’t Love It, Kill It

Here’s where that last bit gets tricky. If you don’t love a post, don’t post it. Unless it’s good content, it’s not worth putting out there. There’s enough crap on the internet; don’t post crap just to keep a posting schedule.

So yes, I’m telling you to write a lot, and write well. Suck it up. Also, possibly more helpfully: figure out the pace at which you can produce good content and then base your schedule on that.

CotM Red Ink Blog

Write for a Niche

Cities of the Mind started out as a travel and random thought blog, then became more of a writing blog, since that was my main focus. Basically, Cities of the Mind was, “Whatever Connor Rickett is Currently Thinking About” which totally worked when I didn’t care about readership at all.

Nowadays, the site exists for a reason, and that reason to so build my brand as a writer through helping other writers. In order to do that, I need people to read my stuff, and I need them to gain something from reading. This means that every post exists for a purpose. The topics vary, but they all fit under the umbrella of topics useful to working writers. By serving content to a niche I create a jump in shares, increase the odds that readers will find lots of content serving their needs or interests, and give people a better idea of what to expect from me.

Basically, this is a way to get more for your time. Spray and pray might work for some, sometimes, but not most people or often. A better analogy might be building something with bricks; it works out better if you carefully stack the bricks according to a prior plan instead of throwing them in a pile.

Multimedia

I’ve been doing videos, podcasts, and much better artwork for the site over the past couple months, and while no single one of those side projects has taken off, all of them have added moderately to my traffic. Five or six new sources of light traffic add up to a pretty decent boost when all is done. People are more likely to access videos than other media, more likely to share images than other media, and more likely to stick around and check out other stuff when encountering written content.

In other words, different people like different things. When you combine a multimedia approach with niche targeting, you create multiple roads for people who should like all of your content to reach you.

Calls to Actions (CTAs)

I dislike pop-ups and sections begging people to follow sites, but I’ve read a lot of stuff signing their praises, and most heavy-traffic sites have them, so I thought I’d give it a try. Way to prove them right, Internet. They’ve worked so well this past month that they’re staying indefinitely.

I’ve been using WordPress Call to Action and it’s been spectacular. It’s worked very well, been very easy to use, and it lets me conduct A/B test with impression and conversion tracking. Did you guys know you like the green buttons way more than red ones? How about that?

Social Media Automation

I’ve been setting things up to post themselves at intervals, which means I’m reaching audiences 24/7 using content I’m only writing three days a week. Making the work you  do go farther is one of the single best moves you can make. I’m not a great lover of social media, so I’d be totally on board for automating it even if it meant a moderate loss in traffic, rather than a large gain.

Google Analytics

I’ve really been working really hard to interpret and learn from my Google Analytics result, to figure out what brings people in, and what’s keeping them.

Keep Getting Better

The biggest thing you can do is keep making things better. You improve yourself by improving your writing, your understanding of coding, metrics, search engines, what people like, what they don’t, and so on. All of these are valuable skills which will help you and help your clients.

The next thing I’m looking at is a dedicating landing page for new users. So expect to see that, possibly briefly.

Anyway, obviously, this has been a great couple months, and I’m excited to see how June goes. Thanks, readers!

If you have any suggestions, hit me with them in the comment section!

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