At One Green Generation, I have an advocate who has brought me far. That advocate just happens to be one of the top respected people on reddit.com. That means every time he or she posts a link from my site, it has the potential to go up the reddit ratings very quickly. On January 4, 2009, when many people were just starting to enact their “go green”new year’s resolutions, qgyh2 posted a link of mine, and my blog stats rose from 500 a day to nearly 3,000 in one day.
While most of those 2,500 new people did not stay and become regular readers or subscribers, a few did. And, because there were so many people coming to the site, one or two of those reddit users also had a StumbleUpon account, and happened to have a lot of clout there. The next day, reddit and StumbleUpon users together brought almost 5,000 people to the site. Then more people Stumbled the post over the coming weeks and months, and still today I have at least 150 readers each day coming to read that one post. And over those two days, my site surpassed its critical mass.
Now don’t get me wrong, you can’t have a site full of crappy posts with one good one. Yes, people will come and read that good one, but they won’t stick around. Overall quality needs to be paramount. It is important to occasionally spend quite a bit longer to write a well-researched, well-laid out article that people will pass on to their friends. These longer, deeper articles are ALWAYS the ones that end up Stumbled, reddited, and bringing in hits long after I’ve posted the article.
But note that these posts will generate high traffic only if they come at the right time, and when you’ve already hit critical mass. Typical articles that work well in this category are:
- How-To or Top Ten articles.
- Articles that get to the heart of whatever field your blog plays within.
- Articles that list a lot of other bloggers and essentially bolster their egos. Magazine and newspaper blogs do this often: The Top 100 Bloggers of the Year, for example.
It’s rarely predictable when critical mass will happen, and when a post will go “viral.” Don’t get disappointed if you spend 24 hours creating the best article you’ve ever written, and it doesn’t get any play at all. Try again!
“Viral” tends to happen on some days more than others. Watch your site stats. Watch your comments. When is there the most activity on your site? What time of day do your readers most like to read your posts? Answer these questions, and then make sure your most important articles are posted during the peak times.
If your site is virtually dead on a Sunday, don’t post the article on Sunday. If it peaks on Wednesday afternoon (many sites do), post on Wednesday morning so it’s there and waiting.
4. Make Sure People Can Find You
The intricacies of SEO are for another post, but I encourage you to not take SEO lightly. Some of my most loyal readers came to my blog via a recipe they found on Google, or a solution for how to get rid of ants sustainably on Yahoo.
Also pay attention to tags, categories, titles of your posts, the quality (and readability) of your content, the ability for people to quickly submit your posts to their favorite social media sites, and so on. It’s all important.
5. Follow Your Own Path
I want to conclude by recognizing the incredible human-ness of the internet and every social media site. The internet is people, through and through. People are not always predictable. And people are not always good predictors.
So write good articles and posts that follow best practices, write them frequently, tell your friends and acquaintances about them, and have the infrastructure in place that allows for good strong engagement.
If you do all of those things well, and have a little patience, you’ll probably do just fine!