If you know exactly what you’re doing, you can build a blog that gets over 100,000 visitors per month in less than a year—from scratch. Chances are, however, you don’t know exactly what you need to do to achieve that, but that’s okay. It took me over ten years to find out how.
I’ll show you how you can get more traffic to your 6 month old blog.
1. Define your niche
This is the first step—the step where most blog owners fail. It is crucial to know who is going to benefit from your content.
In other words: who do you want to serve?
You don’t need to know how you’re going to do it yet. The products you will make, the content you will create, and your traffic generating methods don’t matter yet. The audience you want to help comes first.
You need to be able to state what type of people you’re trying to serve and be as specific as possible. It’s better to be too specific than too general as you can always expand later.
For example, you may want to serve office workers who want to learn how to eat healthy at work.
2. Create a reader persona
Now that you know the people you want to serve, you need to learn more about them.
In order to create content that actually helps them, you must understand who they are, how they act, and what they struggle with.
You can learn about your target audience in many ways, for example:
- in-person conversations
- demographic sites like and
By the end of your research, you should know your target audience’s:
You can even give your reader persona a name. Note that all of these have to be as specific as possible. For instance, 25-35 years old isn’t an age, it’s a range. Pick one age that accurately describes your ideal reader.
In the end, you want to have one specific person in mind you can write for. This will help you create content that resonates with your readers.
3. Discover where your readers hang out
Before you can even attempt to draw your target audience to your blog, you have to figure out where they spend their time.
Note that in some niches, you may have to get offline and go to conventions or local meetings to connect with your target audience and get them on your site.
To start with, find the most popular blogs in your niche. The easiest ways to do this is by Googling “top [your general niche] blogs.”
Create a spreadsheet to keep track of these sites. In one column, indicate if the blog allows comments, and in another, if it allows guest posts. To check for guest posts, Google “[domain name] guest post.”
Go through any big lists of blogs, and visit each one individually. Look for signs of high traffic such as several comments on each blog post or a lot of social shares.
Add the best ones to your list. You want to identify blogs that your reader persona visits so that you can eventually get them over to your site. Ideally, you want to identify as many as you can, but at least 50. If you’re having trouble getting that many, think broader, e.g., “best health sites” instead of “best nutrition sites.”
After blogs, it’s time to check out forums in your niche. Again, search for “[your general niche]+ forum,” and go through the results on the first few pages.
If you find forums you believe your target audience visits regularly, record them in a separate section of your spreadsheet. Note the number of members, or active members, to indicate activity and popularity.
Forums typically aren’t big enough to use as a main traffic strategy at any point, but they can help you refine your reader persona and can be used for certain promotion tactics.
Finding your 100 true fans
Expected time to complete: Less than four months.
Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly coined a concept called. It really took off when Seth Godin started referencing it in his advice.
In short, he described how anyone could make a great living if they interacted with and had support from 1,000 true fans.
This article was written in the context of being a musician or an artist, but the same applies to most small businesses. A relatively small group of loyal readers can make your business a big enough success to allow you to become a full-time blogger (if you aren’t already).
If you have a new blog, going from zero to 1,000 is a big leap. Too big, in my opinion, and unnecessary.
A better goal is to gather 100 true fans.
When you first begin a blog, you’re starting at zero. No matter how well you research your target audience, you’re going to make mistakes. The problem here is that no one will tell you what mistakes you’re making—at least not yet.
As long as you defined your target audience well enough, you will have the ability to attract your first 100 fans (although it could take a while). These fans will play an instrumental role in the growth of your blog.
Loyal readers will comment on posts and respond to emails. They will tell you when something resonates with them through comments and feedback. They will also tell you when they don’t like something either through a comment, email, or silence.
If you have 100 high quality subscribers and still can’t get any comments or email replies, the problem isn’t the subscribers: it’s your content.
In reality, you’ll likely fall somewhere in between perfect resonance and radio silence. On some posts, you’ll get a lot of engagement (say 10-15 comments from your 100 fans), while others will only get one or two.
Use this feedback to tweak your reader persona and craft content that helps this updated persona. That’s when you’ll start seeing consistent resonance and more rapid growth of subscribers.
So, where are we right now?
You have a brand new blog but no audience (or a very small one). This is your main challenge. You need to get your first 100 fans.
In addition, you have a ton to do. You need to create content, build relationships, create more content, promote your content, and more. But you’re likely the only one who can do it since your blog isn’t producing any revenue.
You need to spend your time wisely. That’s why I’m going to tell you the optimal strategies that you should use to get your first 100 true fans.
Optimal strategy #1: Guest-posting
The core of your initial traffic strategy should be guest-posting. The most common places that your target audience hang out at are likely other blogs (in most niches).
You need to find popular blogs that have a huge audience. A small portion of this audience will be your target audience. You can then attempt to get these readers to subscribe to your site
One common mistake people make that you may also make is to try to write any guest post that you think will be popular on a site. However, even if the guest post becomes popular and sends you a lot of subscribers, they might not be the right ones that you want to build your blog and business around.
Instead, find a topic that you think will do well on the blog you’re guest-posting on, but angle it towards your target reader.
For example, if I were writing a guest post on Forbes (which I regularly do), I wouldn’t write a general article on the current state of the economy. Although it might become popular, I would rather write a slightly less popular article about how the recent economy problems affect your business’ marketing plan, or something along those lines.
Always remember that your goal at this stage is to find that small group of 100 true fans and get them to your site. Attract their attention first and foremost before considering the rest of a traffic source’s audience.
Optimal strategy #2: Create the right type of content for your blog
As I’ve already noted, your time is extremely limited. While it might be ideal to pump out a ton of content to get your blog rolling, it’s not the most important thing.
Right now, you have very few (if any) visitors. You don’t need to continuously create content because no one’s reading it.
It’s better to spend time trying to get traffic from other sources before creating a high volume of posts on your own blog.
That being said, you do need some content on your blog, but some types of content are better than others. Writing an opinion post is going to be a waste of time: why would anyone care what you think at this point? That’s not an insult—it’s a fact. You need to build up your expert reputation before writing a post like that.
But certain types of content can work well at this stage. In particular, you should create a few posts that can attract quality backlinks and help you build relationships with influencers. If you do it right, it might even result in some decent targeted traffic.
These magical content types are:
- roundup posts
- ego bait posts
- “poster boy” posts
You probably already know what link roundups are. You ask several influencers in a niche the same question and then publish the results. Some influencers will comment on the post, link to it, and share on social media.
Ego bait describes a wide range of posts. Essentially, you want to appeal to the ego of an influencer or company with a large following. Make them look good by showing that their advice solved a problem for you or someone else. Let them know you created the post, and maybe they will link to it.
Finally, you can use the “poster boy” formula. It’s a lot like ego bait, but it takes the tactic to the next level. Find a few particular influencers, and find a particular piece of strategy or technique advice from them.
Then, implement that advice and track the results. Create a case study of your results that make the influencer look amazing. This will lead the influencer to keep linking to your case study as evidence of their awesomeness.
Optimal strategy #3: Paid traffic
If you have more money than time to invest in your business, paid traffic is a way to accelerate your growth.
That being said, it’s completely optional. Many successful blogs never use paid ads, while many other successful blogs do it at one point or another.
The big benefit of paid ads is that despite having no existing traffic base, you can create an audience. It can get expensive, especially if you’re new to using paid advertising. It’s very important that you spend some time improving your email opt-in rate before blowing through thousands of dollars.
Scaling from there
Now that you know almost exactly what your audience needs help with and wants, it’s time to kick your traffic growth efforts into overdrive.
Although you will be growing much faster than you did during the last stage, this will take time too.
Look at theblog as an example. I began the blog at the very end of September 2014. In the month of May, 2015, my traffic grew to 63,827 visitors—that took about eight months.
Consider that it took me eight months to grow to this point even with my experience and personal brand. Additionally, I’m still in the process of scaling up the traffic to that blog, which means it falls into this stage.
At this point, you have some traffic and a good idea of your target audience. Your main challenge now is starting to create great content on a regular basis. In addition, your time is still limited.
Optimal strategy #1: Continue with your traffic-building strategies
Since now you have to spend more time on content creation, you will have less time to spend on getting traffic from other sources. Nevertheless, you need to continue your traffic strategies from Stage 2.
Although you may have 100 true fans, your rate of growth will be too slow if you solely depend on those fans to spread the word. Instead, as you gain traffic during this stage, start spending more and more time on creating and promoting content on your own blog.
Optimal strategy #2: Create a content schedule
In the previous stage, you started creating content for your blog. Now, it’s necessary to do it on a regular basis. Think about not just those specific types of posts that we looked at but any type of content your true fans may enjoy.
You need to decide how often you want to post and what you will be writing about.
A thorough content calendar will help you plan out content for up to a year in advance. At this point, you’re still getting a lot feedback from your 100 true fans. I’d recommend planning your content for only a few weeks or months so that it can be adjusted based on the feedback you receive.
Once you achieve consistent resonance, you can plan your content schedule as far in advance as you’d like.
Growing a successful blog is not something that can be done quickly.
What I hope you get out of this is that if you use the right tactics at the right time, you will strategically grow your blog and take guessing and luck out of the equation.
As a final note, never stop learning about your readers and trying to help them. If you do, you will get there faster. Good luck!