Building Traffic to Build Your Fan Club

Building Your Fan Club

It’s hard to engage readers on a continual basis.

It’s downright impossible to even get to that stage if no one stops by in the first place.

Those of you who have read Viral Copy know that I discussed eleven strategies in four categories for gaining attention and links from other bloggers. And if you’ve been around this blog for a while you also know that I primarily use only one of the categories and two of the strategies.

The category is Resources and the two strategies are tutorials and free ebooks.

Providing resources to your readers is the ultimate strategy, because when it comes to blogging, it’s a win-win-win scenario.

  • Free resources get links.
  • They also convince people to subscribe.
  • And if relevant, they can sell whatever you offer better than almost any other technique.

From a content standpoint, we should all strive to make each and every post a resource to our readers. That’s the mindset that will make your success as an effective blogger a sure thing. But offering up a more comprehensive resource allows you to promote an “event” on your blog that shakes up the regular posting rhythm, and helps take your readership to the next level.

Without a personal consultation, I can’t tell you what type of free resources will work best for promoting your own blog. But I can share the strategy I had in place for Copyblogger before I wrote a single post, and perhaps it will help you formulate a strategy of your own.

The Sleeper: Copywriting 101

The premise of Copyblogger is that copywriting techniques are crucial to effective blogging. I knew this to be a fact from my email publishing days, but blogs add another dimension that is truly revolutionary.

The interlinked conversation.

With ezines, you were on your own when it came to traffic. You had to submit to hundreds of directories, be an expert in SEO, or pay for traffic. Sometimes you could get a mention from people like Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome and similar ezines, but it didn’t just happen like it can now.

The obstacle I faced was that a lot of people don’t have a clue what copywriting is. Many people confuse the term with its legal doppelganger, copyright (which is probably the most important Internet-related legal issue around, hands down).

So it made sense to dedicate my early posts to a primer on copywriting, so readers could understand where I was coming from as I tried to apply the basic principles to blogging in my later posts.

Thus was born Copywriting 101.

The Misfire: The Stop Snark Manifesto

I had a lot of fun writing this Cluetrain Manifesto parody, but for whatever reason, it didn’t catch on. Just a reminder to not be disappointed if something doesn’t work out the way you plan. As we’ll see later, if you continue to provide quality resources, often things will work out in different, and better, ways than you originally would have thought.

The Catalyst: Viral Copy

Viral Copy is a free 30-page report about gaining attention that I used to gain attention. It was link bait about link baiting. A publicity stunt dealing with publicity stunts.

It was meta-fabulous, and it took Copyblogger from new and largely unread to a point where it was up to me to capitalize on my 15 minutes or squander it away.

So far, so good.

The Question: Blog Triggers

Blog Triggers has been my favorite series of posts so far, and the subscribers at the time seemed to really enjoy it as well. As far as outside attention goes, it hasn’t really seemed to gain any traction.

It may simply be an issue of timing. Things are moving quickly in the business blogosphere. Selling was a dirty word when I started Copyblogger back in January, but now we see bloggers talking about calls to action and Engadget experimenting with advertisements as blog posts.

The fact is, blogging is the closest thing so far to a virtual representation of the way relationships and business works in real life. And the built-in elements of influence that blogs possess mimic real world persuasion dynamics. It’s not shady, and it’s not evil (unless you view life that way).

We’ll see what happens.

The Results

As hoped, Viral Copy was well worth the investment of time and energy. While I could obviously dream of bigger and better results, I think all-in-all in did the job it was intended to.

I needed a readership base, and I didn’t want to wait six months or a year to get it.

By the three and 1/2 month point for this blog, I had reached 2,000 subscribers, and enough general awareness in my niche to allow various posts I wrote to also incrementally increase readership.

The amazing thing was, only two weeks later I passed the 3,000 subscriber point. Why?

Copywriting 101. The tutorial that was basically a necessity for the general reader to “get” my blog ended up becoming a huge traffic and subscriber generator.

The good folks over at 37 Signals picked up on it, which lead to a huge amount of secondary links as well. Then, when I thought things were calming down, Lifehacker linked to it as well, which started the whole process over again.

Uncounted numbers of links and over 750 bookmarks later, Copywriting 101 as a whole is the most popular resource of them all.

Who knew?

That’s the great thing about providing free resources. You create them once, but they are always there for people to discover, or for you to promote.

And of course, I haven’t abandoned my meta-ways. I’m hoping to build my fan club with the ongoing tutorial about Building Your Fan Club.

But I guess that’s up to you. :)

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Reader Comments (27)

  1. says

    I know I’m learning a lot from you every week.

    I’m especailly interested every time you create a resource and love to watch it grow your fan club.

    Thanks for teaching us and for the ideas you’ve given me, although it will take me 2-3 weeks to get time to implement them.

    From a loyal fan……

  2. says

    Ah come on, Brian. You must know that Andy Warhol said “15 seconds”, not “15 minutes”. And anyway, I think you’ve got a lot more than 15 minutes cut out for you :)

    Wow, I never realized that you’ve only being writing this blog since January. Kudos to you. It shows what focus can do, instead of spreading yourself too thin like I’ve done.

  3. says

    RE: Cluetrain Manifesto parody
    I recently wrote a satirical post on Blog Snobbery and it wasn’t doing too well until Shaun Inman picked it up and posted it in his links. Suddenly I got a deluge of visits (and a few links to boot)… I guess it’s just hit and miss sometimes.

  4. says

    Brian, thanks for this insightful post. I just heard Robyn Tippins’s interview of Darren Rowse, and I really liked Darren’s tips on building traffic to a blog. One of the most important principles that Darren holds to, and that I think we all should hold to, is to try to constantly create compelling content (alliterative, no?). Give the visitor something valuable for free.

  5. says

    Thanks everyone. Bryan, it *is* different than email. But the thing about email publishing back in the 90s was that it was still new, and people would sign up for just about anything free and half-interesting.

    Now we work harder to get people to subscribe to our free stuff! It’s truly a competitive attention economy.

  6. says

    Mr. Clark:

    Thanks for the daily inspiration. Please count us among your biggest fans.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  7. says

    Its amazing that you could do it in 4 months. Kudos. Just shows honest work is more rewarded than shady SEO which so many bloggers(like me) fall to.

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