For any “How To” book to be useful, it has to be at the right level for your stage of development in the technique you are learning. Too far ahead and you won’t understand it. Too far behind, and you already know the stuff.
My Blog Traffic Sucks is exactly the right level for me: about two steps ahead. I was already doing about 3-1/2 of the 8 techniques, and knew something about two others. The rest was over my head, so I won’t be following Steve Scott’s footsteps that far.
The greatest value in this book is that, at its level, it is comprehensive. I have hundreds of websites bookmarked, telling me ways to improve my blog, my sales, and my writing. I never look at them.
What I need is something that Steve Scott provides; “Do all this, and don’t do anything else.” And we believe him. He speaks with confidence and knowledge. He shares his personal experiences, backed up by graphics from real Google Analytics of his site.
He also points us to sites that are examples of whatever he’s talking about. (Note, by doing so he is sending traffic to his friends. No problem there: check out Step #2, Network!)
To be clear: Steve is talking to people who want to make money with their blogs. This book isn’t really aimed at writers like us, who are often only running a blog because everybody says you have to. However, a lot of the material applies, so I find the book equally useful for fiction writers who have a blog as part of their publishing platform.
So, having recommended the book, I will now give a brief rundown of the techniques he suggests, the ones that particularly struck me as useful at my stage of development. This is not a complete outline of Steve’s material. You still have to read his book. This is to give you an idea of the level of the book, so you know if it is right for you.
The Eight Steps
The first thing he said that appealed to me was not to go crazy with your marketing. Use a few simple steps that work.
Step 1. Develop good Habits
Such as Networking (This gets mentioned over and over), working hard, and having a system and sticking to it. Don’t get distracted by the internet noise around you, trying to do everything that everyone tells you.
Step 2. Choose your MWR – Most Wanted Response
What do you want people to do on your blog? Design your blog around that. He suggests you install six tools on your blog that direct readers to your MWR. Of the six, I only have one. Work to do.
Then install Google Analytics, record your traffic, and use the results to tweak based on what works.
Step 3: Network with other bloggers
He gives good advice about attracting a blogger’s attention in a positive way, starting by leaving blog comments, then asking questions, then answering other people’s questions and helping them out. Once you’re in solid, you can give your opinions, even disagreeing, but only in a positive way. Only then do you make actual email contact with the blogger.
Step 4. Write a few MVPs – Massive Value Posts
I won’t attempt to summarize his suggestions, because you could do a whole series of blogs on this subject. Notably, his comments on making posts easy to scan are worth reading. He also suggests multimedia, of which I do little. Something else to get working on.
Another piece of advice: don’t wait to be quoted. Make sure you have a few powerful, quotable lines, and put “Click to Retweet” right beside the quote for the reader to use.
Mr. Scott has a refreshing attitude towards Search Engine Optimization. His advice is to forget about trying to game the search engines. Stick to giving focused information.
His basic SEO includes one keyword or phrase, four LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) words or phrases, and considerable cross-referring to related articles by yourself and others (networking, remember?). These are all valid ways of demonstrating what’s in your blog and the quality of your information.
And finally, of course, every post leaves your reader with a call to action. (And “Buy My Book” would probably be the wrong one.)
At two-thirds of the way through the book, I am running out of enthusiasm for doing the things he suggests. This means I am not quite at the level where I can benefit from everything in the book. I should put the book aside, now, and start using the techniques mentioned above. Maybe once I’ve internalized those I will have time and energy to deal with the next third of the book, which suggests…
Step 5. A 7-Step Checklist to Promote Each Blog Post
Again, far too much to cover, here, although a lot we already know, don’t we: emailing subscribers, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon. I’m already doing lots of these, so I feel pretty good. Of course, I can do better. I promise myself.
Step 6. Guest Posting
Steve is big on guest posts. His logic is impeccable. There’s no sense spending all your time writing for your own blog that nobody sees. Once a week is fine. Everything else should be written for other people’s blogs. He suggests targeting blogs just a bit more popular than your own. That way you’re likely to get published and reach a larger audience.
He also gives good advice on writing dynamite posts, including such topics as writing good headlines. I had never heard of “Headline Hacks” or “101 Headline Formulas,” but I really should check them out. He also gives a great outline for a post. If you don’t want to give your email address for that, we have some advice on using keywords in your titles right here on IU.
Step 7. Build Your Twitter Audience
He’s also big on Twitter. He suggests 30 minutes per day (more than I spend in total on promotions. Oops).
One piece of advice that struck me was to cull your Twitter Following list. I didn’t know it, but if your balance of “Following” gets a certain amount above your “Followed,” you get in trouble. So get rid of the people who don’t follow you back. They’re dead weight anyway.
Step 8. Blog Promotion Strategies
Again, I don’t have room to put these all in, but they include Viral Marketing (don’t we all wish!), forum marketing, YouTube marketing, podcasting, networking through content creation, and using your traffic statistics to refine your approach.
Lastly, buying the book means they will send you (free) the Self-Publishing Checklist. This list is also aimed at the professional, mostly non-fiction blogger, but my first scan shows lots of stuff that works for others as well. Definitely worth the sticker price of free (which it was when I downloaded it). By the way, I discovered the book right here on Thrifty Thursday.
So, just to prove I was paying attention, I’m ending my post with a call to action. I highly recommend that you buy Steve’s book and use it. Five stars out of Five.