Be a Blogger: Lessons Learned From a Traffic Surge

be a bloggerThe following is part of Frugal Dad’s weekly series, “So You Want to Be a Blogger?” which chronicles the development and optimization of a blog’s lifecycle.

One of the keys to being a successful blogger is flexibility. I had a post all planned out for today’s So You Want to Be a Blogger series, but as I mentioned yesterday Frugal Dad had an unexpected boost in traffic thanks to an article appearing on LifeHacker.org, and subsequently on the front page of del.icio.us, a popular social bookmarking site. Instead of pushing ahead with regularly scheduled programming I decided to postpone my planned post for next week, and instead share some lessons learned from yesterday’s boost in traffic.

Prepare for a surge in traffic before the tsunami hits. Quite honestly, yesterday’s surge in traffic came as a complete surprise. The article I wrote about square foot gardening was picked up by a fellow blogger and referenced in one her posts on the same subject. At some point it was identified as being worthy to appear on LifeHacker.com as a featured article, and 14,000 visitors later I’m sitting here in new-blogger shock. Consider only one in six blogs draws more than 500 page views a day! It was a fun ride, and I am thankful for the opportunities to meet several new people, and pickup many new subscribers. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things I could have done better to capitalize on the traffic.

  • Have a standard “introductory” post ready to go. I scrambled to put together an introduction post welcoming the waves of new visitors, but wasn’t able to publish it until my lunch break, several hours after the initial reference from Life Hacker was published. The purpose of this introductory post is to capture the interest of some of this new traffic and attempt to pull them deeper into your blog. A link to your archives, a “best-of” section, or a popular series post is a good way to attract interest beyond the article the visitor landed on.
  • Create a new campaign on Crazy Egg or Google Analytics to see where users are clicking. 10,000-hit days are uncommon for relatively new bloggers, and they provide an excellent opportunity for you to analyze what’s popular on your blog. Keep in mind that if the majority of this traffic has been referred from a social bookmarking site they may be on a stop-and-go pattern, pausing just long enough to read a few paragraphs from your article and then move on. For this reason, average page views or number of clicks per visitors may be misleading. Still, those that do click on a link on your blog will help you determine which sections of your content are most popular. This could be important down the road in terms of advertising, article promotion, etc.
  • Promote subscriber options within the post. Be sure visitors know how to subscribe to your blog. A highly visible subscriber area near the top of your blog is a good start. If a particular article has drawn some extra attention make it even easier for new visitors to subscribe by placing a line near the end of your article with links to your RSS feed and/or email delivery signup page.
  • Fortunately, my host held up to the traffic and I am not aware of any significant downtime. If you use WordPress to maintain your blog, consider the wp-cache plugin to reduce the database round trips your server has to make to serve new visitors. Basically, this plug-in saves your pages in a static file which is available for a short time for new visitors. This makes your site run much more efficiently versus the normal request, database pull, code compile and display routine.

Normally a post like this would appear near the middle of a “how to become a blogger” series, but I wanted to share my experience with you while the lessons were fresh. Hopefully, if you experience a wave of traffic early in your blogging journey you will now be better prepared to handle it.

Blogging is a rewarding experience. It provides a creative outlet for those with an interest to share their thoughts and ideas with others. It can develop into another income stream which could add to your “snowflakes.” Best of all, you will build relationships with some fantastic people along the way. If you are one of those new subscribers who landed here yesterday, welcome. Thanks for joining us!

Comments

  1. @Ron, that simply an excellent post title. I can see why it pulled in so much traffic!

    @Fugal Dad, having a standard introductory post on hand is a great idea. I think I’ll have to throw one together (and get in the habit of perodically revising it) so I’ll be ready.

  2. Bakerboy – thanks for stopping by! I enjoy receiving comments from everyone, but particularly enjoy when I meet up with other dads out there in the blogosphere. Fatherhood is by far the proudest fraternity we will ever be a part of!

    I am planning an article in the next couple weeks (as part of the ongoing So You Want to Be a Blogger Series) on advertising, but I’ll give you a sneak peak here and share a couple ideas. You’re right, the ads do make a small chunk of change – so small I’m not even sure it can be referred to as a “chunk!”

    I’ve been working to become debt free for the last several months, and I’m hopeful this product of mine (Frugal Dad) can help toward that end. In all honesty, I probably have too many ads running, and will scale back over the next few weeks to leave only those that are truly effective. It’s sort of a shotgun approach at first, and gradually moves to a more narrow approach. None of them will make us rich, but combined they can help supplement your income to boost savings, eliminate debt, or supplement a weekly grocery budget.

  3. Consider yourself fortunate that your host held up. Mine was overwhelmed from my 12 Things I Learned by 42 That I Wish I Knew At 22 post. I got over 70,000 hits in 3 days and the server was overloaded. I’m still getting a couple of hundred hits per day on that post from 7 weeks ago. The funny thing was that article was just one I threw together in a few minutes. Those always do better than the ones I research and fret over! Why is that?

    My recommendation: spend a few more dollars and get a better hosting plan before you need it. It’s like an emergency fund!

    (Isn’t traffic a cool thing? :D )

  4. Hey, good to see other father’s out there. I’m just kind of starting out too and I’m glad to read this post. First, because it gives me a little hope and second because I’m glad to see more info from dads!

    So, I’m curious, at what age were you when you realized that things were a mess?

  5. BigBroodGander: Thanks for your comments. I guess I owe you two answers, really. I realized things were a mess around the time my first child was born – I was 22. Unfortunately, I ignored these first symptoms and focused more on spoiling my wife and daughter. I just sort of wandered aimlessly through my 20′s, financially speaking. Turning 30 was a real wake up call. I realized I had wasted a decade that could have put us on a path to financial freedom at an early age.

    I also realized my first child would be attending college in just TEN YEARS! At this point her 529 plan would barely pay for one textbook and a month on the meal plan. It was time to get going, so I made my New Year’s resolutions for 2008 to start Frugal Dad, read 52 books on personal finances, pay off my credit card debt, and build an emergency fund.

  6. Wow! I always wondered what a mention on LifeHacker would do for your site- AMAZING! You have definitely surpassed my best day of traffic by far. Great job and congratulations!!!

    You should be really, really proud!

  7. Alas I run one of the sub-500 a day blogs (blush).

    There are so many articles out there on how to promote one’s blog that don’t really say anything new. Yours is one of the exceptions.

    I filed your post for one sweet day when http://thoughtsintime.co.za starts running down the waterfall of 4 digit traffic!

    Another great post – thanks.

    Albert

  8. FG – Well done! I wanted to point out a few things…

    1) WordPress Cache is a great tool, but be aware that if you have WP Analytics installed, Cache will not work properly. If you use Google Analytics exclusively, then Cache away.

    2) It looks like you have done some redesign on your graphics as well! I am going to make a new banner link for you on our site.

    Congrats on the tsunami, BeingFrugal.net did wonders for us…

  9. Great Post, 14,000 hit in one day is very impressive. I started a similar blog about testing different ways to monetize my blog and becoming a more well rounded blogger in general. I have very little traffic coming in right now and was looking at ways to increase traffic when I found your blog. I also like how you setup your Artical Topics off to the side.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>