Leverage Your Real World Contacts to Explode Your Blog’s Traffic

Real World Contacts This is a guest post by Emilie Wapnick from Puttylike.com

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!

Your Real Life Network

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.

Emilie Wapnick from PuttyLike 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.

  • Hey Emilie,

    sweet-ass post, and an overlooked topic as well – I’m glad SOMEONE AWESOME finally addresses it !
    I have attracted some of the real life peeps on my blog, and spreading your message offline IS a kick-ass way to raise your digital brand’s awareness !
    Luv your writing.
    take care and SHINE !

  • Hi Emilie,

    Thanks! This is an excellent post. I was just debating whether or not to create a fan page for my blog in the last couple of weeks.

    I have also seen that a lot of blog traffic comes from friends and acquaintances who want to keep in touch with the blogger. That’s why I always share relevant posts on my Facebook profile.

    Another great way to increase Facebook fans is via Facebook Ads. Have you tried it?

  • Hi Emilie!

    I’m a fan! 🙂 You really hit the nail on the head with this post. People really do forget about the people they ALREADY know. Friends and family WANT to support you, as long you add a little personal touch to it as well, as you mentioned. 🙂

    I especially LOVE the last bolded text in this post, about not being afraid and not letting others get you down. It’s SO important to reach your dreams at all cost! Show ’em all that you got what it takes! 🙂

    Thanks a lot for this!!

  • When I first started my blog I was so intimidated to put the new posts on my personal Facebook profile but I was so surprised by the support I received. Creating a FB page for the blog was even more anxiety ridden but I was really surprised by how many people came out of the woodwork as loyal supporters.

  • I kinda agree with you. Non-internet savvy people tend to be more loyal to blogs since they are not bombarded with all kind of info online. In fact, there are those who think it’s just you on the internet if you know what I mean.

    That said, I have to admit that I’m a bit guilty by not leveraging my real-world contacts though I have seen firsthand how powerful that can be from a handful of friends that are reading my blog.

    Lastly, I love your first sentence on this blog post!

  • Hi Mars!

    I generally think us bloggers tend to forget about the real world at times (especially when we’re on Twitter). But it’s kind of fun when you run into someone you know in person and they’re like “I’ve been reading your blog”. It’s like- whoa, strange! But cool! You just never know who might like your stuff. Why limit yourself.

    Thanks Mars. You rock my friend !

  • Hi Courtney,

    I would definitely suggest creating a fan page (though my take on this probably wasn’t hard to guess)… But yeah, traffic sources don’t lie. I’d go for it.

    I haven’t experimented with Facebook ads yet. I’ve heard mixed things in terms of results. I might try it out at some point though. Let me know if you run across someone who has had good results with that. I love talking traffic strategy with other bloggers (again, unsurprisingly. 🙂

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Aw thanks Morgan! I’m glad this resonated with you.

    By the way, I’m just checking out your social media website… from the looks of your bio, it sounds like you might be a bit of a multipotentialite. Am I right? I mean, social media pro, voice actress, horseback rider… Talk about diverse (and awesome) interests! 🙂

  • I know exactly what you mean Ayngelina. This was a huge fear of mine at first, especially since I was launching almost exclusively to my real world network– people I assumed probably wouldn’t end up being my core fan base anyway (but many of whom surprised me).

    I remember launch day, I did all the facebook madness, emailed the people I needed to contact, made sure all was well and then left the house. I made sure to be out all day because I knew that otherwise I’d be sitting in front of the computer sweating and imagining some bully from 4th grade laughing at me! lol.

    Everything turned out alright though. 🙂

  • heh thanks Mike.

    Yeah sometimes that handful of friends goes a long way too. I didn’t mention this in the post, but you can get all kinds of insightful feedback from someone who isn’t familiar with the blogosphere. I remember one of my friends was confused by the phrasing in my initial opt-in form. She wasn’t sure if that was the way to get on the mailing list or just get the free ebook. As someone who’s extremely familiar with opt-ins, it’s something I wouldn’t have questioned at all. So that kind of thing is really helpful too.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • LOL Yeah that’s true. I have a ton of interests! But I try to focus on just a few things which can help diversify me through out the social media industry. I sometimes overwhelm myself with all the things I want to do on a daily basis. 😉

    Keep rocking, Emilie!!

  • Oops! Ignore the comment from AM. I don’t know how that happened!

  • it’s something I wouldn’t have questioned at all. So that kind of thing is really helpful too

  • This is definitely true for me. Most of the initial traffic at RoguePriest.net came from reaching out via email to all of my contacts, and Facebook continues to deliver more traffic than Twitter.

    But traffic aside, this strategy had an amazing unforeseen side effect: it honed the way my real-life friends and contacts see me. By putting my best and brightest ideas out there every week, I showed a side of myself that many friends had never seen, or easily overlooked. Not everybody knew that I intend to walk across two continents, or that learning new skills and challenging myself is a key part of how I live life. Now I get emails or comments every week from people deciding to take action in their own lives, when before I was just the guy with the office at the end of the hall.

    Your IRL network is the one with the most investment in you, your ideas, and your success. They’ll rally when you give them a reason to do so. Great article Emilie!

  • Emilie, you’re spot on! Leveraging real life contacts is huge in building an online audience. I’ve found friends and family to be part of that (as you mention) and also folks I meet out in the world doing activism, at conferences networking and speaking, clients I work with. There’s all sorts of markets waiting to be saturated. The more conventionally unconventional your focus (lifestyle design, location independence, ecommerce, minimalism, healthy eating), the greater need for you to make your own tribe from the ground up rather than try to siphon other tweeps away.

  • Really really good point, Drew. The same thing happened to me too. When I launched, I started getting lots of messages from people I hadn’t seen in years– some of whom I didn’t even know very well, who would tell me how they wished we had known each other better because they had no idea I had this side to me. And yeah, it’s really cool to feel like the stuff you believe in (your “true self” if you will) is being represented to the world.

    Thanks for the comment, Drew!

  • Definitely! I’m glad this old post resurfaced on Twitter. I actually just wrote about this idea in my new book. I have a whole section on how to prepare for a launch and what specifically to do on launch day (complete with a checklist and all), and that section is almost entirely based on leveraging your real world contacts. It’s a fabulous way to get some traction when you start out, so that you don’t begin by blogging to the sound of crickets.

    Thanks, Brian!

  • I’ve just started blogging. And as much as I want to tell my friends about my blog (which is personal, by the way), I don’t feel confident about it. It doesn’t offer anything practical after all. But I’m committed to building a reputation on the web and meeting lots of interesting people along the way, and that’s what keeps me from hitting the “delete this blog” button.

  • Oh bloggers, how they love discussing traffic generation.

  • 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?

  • The weird kid you knew from summer camp who randomly added you on Facebook last year.

  • 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?