Notes From How To Build A High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself
Posted by Ryan Neal
Notes From How To Build A High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Don’t write about what your readers tell you to write about. Write about what you’re passionate about. - Mark CubanI've written over 30,000 words of Ridiculously Extraordinary content thus far and hadn't planned on launching with a post about Tim Ferriss or anybody else. I had planned on launching with my own content, of course.
Why Post "Rehashed" Content?
I felt compelled to post these notes since I learned a lot from Tim's presentation that will help launch the Ridiculously Extraordinary brand.
Keep in mind these notes aren't necessarily comprehensive. While I did take notes regarding most of the things I already knew about (to reiterate them to myself) I may have missed some things that will benefit you.
On the whole, there are a lot of useful nuggets of info synthesized from a 50 minute viewing to a 5 minute read.
With all that out of the way, following are my notes on Tim Ferriss's How To Build A High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself presentation from WordCamp.
The full 50 minute presentation is available at the end of my notes.
(Timestamps on the left are approximate.)
3:20 - Use blogging for access to people / resources. Not necessarily income.
3:45 - "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain
6:15 - Measure the things that matter. You can spend all day testing and tracking every little thing on your blog but spend most or all of your time tracking what will benefit you the most. This has to be in line with your own goals for your blog.
7:00 - Best times to post to the blog: 10 am EST and 6 PM EST. (In the video Tim says 7 am PST and 6 PM EST.)
Best days to post: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
8:20 - Changing Category to Topic improved click activity / average page views per visit.
9:20 - Current Hits on his upper right sidebar changes every 30 days. If you put all the focus on All Time Hits then it's self perpetuating. They will always get clicked, and always have more visitors. Top posts in past 30 days gives you a better shot at spreading the page view love.
10:00 - Removed Twitter link from upper right hand because working hard to get a visitor and then sending them away from your blog isn't a good idea.
10:40 - 7 Reasons To Subscribe (to RSS) link is on upper right. Tim says RSS subscribers are fickle and not optimal if your blog's goal is advertising revenue.
11:20 - RSS subscriptions are becoming less relevant with microblogging tools like Twitter. (This confused me a little because on the one hand he's promoting RSS over Twitter, and on the other he's saying Twitter is better than RSS. Disclosure: Tim is a Twitter investor.)
12:00 - Clicks on Top Nav: 1) Gear (page is empty, he put it there as a test) 2) Resources and 3) Forum Note: Tim tracks with CrazyEgg.com for heatmaps; Google Analytics and Wordpress Stats also
12:15 - The date is missing from the top of old posts. Posts on home page have the date at the top, but single post pages have date at the bottom. Dramatically improved visitor's time on site.
13:00 - Test against convention. In other words, if everybody else is doing something one way, test doing it a completely different way and see what happens. Completely useless if you're not using stats programs to actually track.
14:33 - How I Research: Twitter, Slinkset, Evernote
15:40 - Twitter for polling and quick research. That research is then shared for the benefit of followers. Also uses Twitter as a sort of personal diary.
16:00 - Evernote is used for saving thoughts, ideas, drafts. You can copy text / images to Evernote.
17:00 - How I Write
17:40 - Tucker Max (from TuckerMax.com): "Important thing is not being a good writer, but having a voice." Tim: communicate your personality to the written word. This probably won't happen right away and Tim says his writing has gone through a few phases before finally settling into his real personality.
18:16 - Passion beats polling and focus groups. Mark Cuban (blogmaverick.com, owner of Dallas Mavs): "Don't write about what your readers tell you to write about. Write about what you're passionate about." Tim says that when he's followed what people have wanted him to write about the results were always subpar.
19:00 - Po Bronson (author): "When you're blocked write about what makes you angry." Tim: "Caveat: don't attack other people." Attack the problem, not the person.
19:40 - Biorhythms: measure output. Tim does his best writing from 1 am - 5 am. Collects data during the day and writes at night.
20:30 - For important posts edit by hand. Type, print, edit. Remove 10-20% of post with each revision.
20:45 - Ignore SEO on 1st draft because it stifles writing quality/flow. Then edit by looking up synonyms in Google Keyword Tool. Sort by average monthly volume and use the highest traffic words. Use these words where relevant in your posts.
22:15 - Video/Photos: Time spent does not equal impact. Some of his videos that he spent lots of time on have gotten marginally less traffic than quick spur of the moment videos. His examples: Chocolate tasting vs Egg peeling vids. Egg peeling has ~2.5 million views, his biggest hit and least amount of time spent.
23:00 - No video only posts. Have value added text below the video. Text spreads quickly and sticks around (gets indexed).
23:50 - StumbleUpon: cheapest source of traffic and works well. (I feel like Tim is an investor in SU but he didn't mention anything about that so I'm probably off base. That said, I've heard lots of people say nothing but good things about SU traffic.)
24:30 - Don't chase news. Write evergreen topics that will stand the test of time.
24:50 - Where to get good photos. Flickr > advanced search > select creative commons > sort by most interesting
25:05 - Comments: The Living Room Method
26:15 - Your blog is like your house/living room. Keep it clean. Poor etiquette? You're out. Tim utilized a zero-tolerance policy against negativity and attacks.
26:45 - Save good blog comments in Evernote. ~10% of comments should be good enough for future posts in their own right.
27:07 - Comment rules at top (end of post, before comments) and bottom (after comments) to encourage quality comments. Also to discourage using keywords and URLs in posts which looks like spam and will get deleted.
30:08 - Thing Big But Play Often. Take Fun Seriously!
30:40 - Listen to people who've done it. That is, if you want a successful blog take advice from people who have successful blogs.
Q&A section of presentation
34:52 - How Tim Manages Twitter
- Doesn't use desktop app
- 10-15 minutes on @replies
- Follows a minimum of people. Currently ~140.
- Uses Greasemonkey script to view multiple pages at the same time. i.e. no need to click at the bottom of twitter to get more posts.
- Open each link in a new window because when you click home Twitter takes you back to the top of the home.
- Go into Twitter with a specific purpose.
- If you're wasting time but you're having fun you're not wasting time. That doesn't mean you're being productive though.
39:00 - Brand blog in broad terms so you can write about multiple topics. Tim's blog isn't just about the Four Hour Workweek even though that's the domain. He branded it as Experiments in Lifestyle Design.
Watch the full presentation:
What Did I Miss?
I think I got all the good stuff out of the presentation above, but if I missed anything let me know.
And if you've built a high traffic blog of your own has Tim missed anything you feel is important?