Guest post by Ryan Robinson
When you’re trying to grow your website as a side project in the limited amount of hours you have outside of your full-time gig, time instantly becomes your most precious resource.
Because of this reality, it makes the ways you spend that limited time—toward your ultimate goal of boosting your website traffic—extremely important. Waste a few precious hours each week, and by the end of the month you could find yourself sitting right where you are today. No new traffic gains, no new subscribers, no additional revenue.
To avoid burning time on growth strategies that won’t net a solid return, you need to be ruthless at prioritizing your time on the right traffic growth activities. We’ll discuss that in this post—and we’ll categorize it as your level of effectiveness.
Simultaneously, you’ll take that relentless focus on your key priorities and channel it into being as productive as possible with the limited amount of time you have to spend on those activities. We’ll call that your level of productivity.
But first, let’s talk about effectiveness, productivity, and how they’ll both play a major role in your ability to get meaningful traffic growth with your website.
Think of effectiveness as doing the right things.
In the context of growing your website, we’re talking about the right traffic growth strategies that’ll actually deliver measurable results. Once you set the priorities you’ll follow with your content marketing strategy (choosing from the strategies we’re covering later), you’ll need to stick to them for months to experience real gains.
This means not allowing yourself to chase random growth hacks, get distracted by creating a new lead magnet, implement A/B split tests, or follow other shiny object diversions that won’t directly help with the implementation and success of your current traffic strategy.
Think of productivity as doing things efficiently.
If you’re not working initially on the right traffic growth strategies for your website, being extremely efficient will not change the fact your time isn’t allocated toward the right activities.
This means carving out blocks of time on your calendar to do focused work on your website, setting up your work environment to reduce distractions, not continually checking email, and regularly staying brutally honest with yourself about whether or not you’re being productive with the ways you’re approaching your strategy implementation.
4 Traffic Growth Strategies That’ll Deliver Real Results
Now, let’s get into the actual traffic strategies to implement in the hours outside of your day job.
In my experience, the ROI of a guest post can vary widely depending upon where it’s published, how engaged that readership is, how well-aligned your article is with their needs, whether or not the publisher promotes the piece, and a multitude of other factors.
That means making sure you’re only pitching guest posts to blogs and websites that clearly get a lot of traffic and engagement on their content. Otherwise, it’s doubtful you’ll see the kind of meaningful traffic that will convert into readers and subscribers for your blog.
When I wanted to write a guest post highlighting the project management tools a few of my clients use to keep their engineering teams on track, I started investigating which project management blogs have a large number of existing readers to pull some traffic back to my client’s websites.
That search led me to the Plan.io blog, and after pitching their editor on this topic that I knew would resonate with their readers, they accepted. Since that guest post was published, we’ve seen a steady flow of traffic back to my client’s websites.
Building Relationships with Industry Influencers
Sticking to our theme of finding pockets of places where your audience already exists online to offer up guest posts, this same basic principle can be applied to people. This helps to get your content shared by influencers with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers wanting to hear what you have to say on your website.
However, it’s a challenge getting the attention of these influencers and then convincing them why they should share your content with their audience. To overcome this hurdle, I always provide value first and use that as an opportunity to reach out to share something cool I did to highlight the influencer, rather than immediately asking them to do something for me.
In a recent blog post where I shared my favorite motivational quotes, I made sure to include quotations I heard from business influencers like Jim Rohn, Warren Buffet, and Tim Ferriss, or pulled quotes directly from the business books they’ve written. My goal? To reach out and to ask for a social share after my article was published.
Landing a Publication Column (in Your Niche)
When we’re talk about landing a column, it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the major business publications like Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur or Business Insider, which are generally more difficult to get established in if you don’t already have some other traction.
What’s important about the first column you secure is that the publication has an existing base of readers who will resonate with the topics and style of content on your website.
You’ll use this column to share relevant content connected to the articles you’re publishing on your own blog, then draw some of those readers over to read more on website. So, if your blog publishes regular content about inside sales and sales hiring, then landing a column for yourself on a more sales-focused publication like Sales Hacker, HubSpot, or Sales for Life will likely generate more traffic back to your website than a business publication.
Plus, as an added bonus to securing a publication column, you’ll also be building your personal brand. This can potentially lead to an uptick in press coverage, opportunities to consult or secure freelance contracts with big brands, and more general credibility to help you land more publication columns in the future.
Leveraging Social Media to Your Advantage
Above all, if you’re not using social sharing buttons (like AddThis) to encourage your readers to share your content while they’re reading, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to capitalize on your existing traffic.
Plus, with Facebook’s recent announcement that publishers will likely see a major decline in organic reach over the coming months, it means you’ll probably have to pay to play on this platform to see a meaningful number of shares and click-throughs.
While implementing the right Facebook ads strategy can certainly pay off, let’s focus on social channels to net a return on just your time investment vs a substantial financial investment. That leaves us with Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, as far as the big players are concerned, and you’ll want to first establish the right times of day to publish on each platform for maximum visibility.
Pinterest: Success on Pinterest is closely connected to the style (and size) of the images you share on the platform. While each social platform has its optimal image sizes, Pinterest rewards vertically oriented images far more than the wider, landscape-oriented ones that tend to do better on Twitter. For more inspiration, check out how Michelle Schroeder of Making Sense of Cents, and Grace Moser of Chasing Foxes are regularly creating Pinterest-optimized images that get tens of thousands of shares.
LinkedIn: As you may have noticed, LinkedIn is giving a major preference to people who share long form, storytelling-focused status updates on their platform (up to 1,300 words). You’ll get even more attention on your updates if you don’t include an outbound link directly within your post—and instead leave a comment on the update with the link to an article you want to promote. For more inspiration, see how Jon Youshaei and Noah Kagan use this strategy to get hundreds (and thousands) of likes and comments on their LinkedIn status updates.
Instagram: Instagram is one of the best platforms for building strong connections with your community today, and the style of images you share on the platform should be informed by what your readers are interested in. For more inspiration, check out how the travel community, The Discoverer, leverages high-quality, user-submitted photos from around the world to grow their following of like-minded travelers.
Twitter: Believe it or not, Twitter can still generate a meaningful amount of traffic back to your website, if you’re directly engaging with people on the platform and not simply sharing a dozen links to your own blog posts every day. Here, there’s a big opportunity to have informal, one-on-one conversations with your readers that go a long way toward building lasting relationships. To stay active on the platform even while you’re at work, sign up for a tool like Quuu, which allows you to connect your Twitter account (and other social accounts), and automatically share hand-curated content related to your industry.
About Ryan Robinson:
Ryan Robinson is a content marketing consultant to the world’s top experts and growing startups. He teaches more than 200,000 monthly readers how to start and grow a profitable side hustle on his blog, ryrob.com, and podcast, The Side Hustle Project.