Oh bloggers, how they love discussing traffic generation.
Twitter, Quora, list posts, pingbacks, guest posting… There’s no lack of techniques for us bloggers to experiment with– and yack about.
Yet in all the chatter about fancy new gadgets and clever JV tricks, there’s one technique that seems to be constantly overlooked. It’s almost radical in its simplicity: have you tried leveraging your real world contacts?
That’s right, the people you knew before you started blogging or using Twitter; family, friends, former co-workers, that cute girl in class, the weird kid you knew from summer camp who randomly added you on Facebook last year.
You’re probably thinking, is this really my audience? Shouldn’t I be targeting people who are already established in my niche and blog readers with similar interests?
Yes you should, and I’m sure that you already are. But if you’re not also leveraging your real world network, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
What Real World Contacts can Provide that Tweeps and Bloggers Cannot
I receive nearly half of my traffic from my real world circle. There are serious advantages to targeting this particular group. They tend to be less familiar with the blogosphere and read fewer blogs, which generally means that they’re more attentive, return to your site more often, opt-in to your newsletter in higher number and potentially buy more.
How to Launch Your Blog to Hundreds when You’re Completely Unknown
Your mom doesn’t have to be the only person to read your first few posts. For beginner bloggers, your real life social network can go a long way toward providing some much needed social proof, not to mention a nice confidence boost.
The day I launched Puttylike, I hadn’t connected with one other blogger. I didn’t even have a Twitter account! Basically, I broke all the conventional rules about how you’re supposed to start interacting with people weeks before launching your blog. I did none of that.
Yet in my first week I received 936 page views. Once I did start reaching out to people on Twitter, they would go to my blog and there would already be comments. And we all know how comments beget more comments. It’s called social proof.
Having an already established audience can help propel you into the blogosphere faster. It was an instrumental part my growth in the first few months.
Your Real Life Network Responds to Different Things. In Other Words, Use Facebook!
Before you join in the mass Facebook exodus, hear me out.
As shocking as it may seem, most of the people in your real life social network are probably not on Twitter. You know where they are? Facebook. The masses are madly addicted to Facebook.
When I launched Puttylike, I created a Facebook page and invited every single one of my 496 friends. I sent out personal messages and emailed closer friends, asking them to please help me out by commenting and passing along the URL to their buds. As a result, I got nearly 200 hits and 80 Facebook fans within a few hours of launching.
I heard from them too. Most were people I didn’t know very well- acquaintances from school or people I had met once in my life in random cities. They sent me messages saying things like “Hi Emilie, I know we haven’t spoken in a really long time, but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog! I’m going to pass it on to some of my friends that I think would love it.”
An Ongoing Source of Traffic
Every time you publish a new post, head to Facebook and post the URL on both your personal profile and your fan page. This generates at least as much traffic for me as Twitter.
The thing is, it’s a different crowd. The majority of my Facebook fans are not on Twitter and would otherwise be impervious to all the sharing and retweeting. Don’t neglect or overlook these people. They may not be as web savvy as your tweeps, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be equally as engaged members of your community.
The True Reason More Bloggers Don’t Leverage their Real World Network: Fear
You know what’s great about the blogosphere? The people you communicate with are no longer a product of circumstance or proximity the way they are in real life. In the online world you get to choose who you communicate with.
Ideas like self-employment, indefinite travel or dream-pursuit are no longer perceived as ridiculous or impractical by those around you. Suddenly, your ‘radical’ ideas are simply the norm. Other bloggers in your niche get it and they don’t knock your dreams; they cheer you on.
It’s easy to instinctively shun the people in your real world out of fear that they will disapprove of your plans or laugh at you. But you know what? These people may surprise you. Moreover, they may need you! Sometimes it’s the people who are most dissatisfied with their lives that need someone they know and trust to introduce them to alternative paths. That could be you!
Sure, a few of your real world contacts might not get it. Don’t worry, they won’t stick around.
But don’t let the fear of what others think stop you from reaching out to those who might need you the most and might just become your most enthusiastic community members.
This is a guest post by Emilie Wapnick – Emilie blogs at Puttylike.com, where she writes about being a multipotentialite and integrating all of your interests into your life. She is the author of The ‘Undeclared for Life’ Manifesto and co-hosts the bi-monthly podcast Undeclared for Life. You can connect with her through Twitter and Facebook.