How to Grow a Blog to 100,000 Visitors in Less than a Year

February 9, 2014 - Get free updates of new posts here

This is the 3rd post of Marketing Month. Check out the Month Preview and How to Create a Marketing Plan.

Please meet my friend Peep Laja who I met years ago when he created his first failed startup. He subsequently went on to create one of the most popular marketing conversion blogs online. I was curious how he actually did it and wanted him to share the story with you. I’ll let Peep take if from here. -Noah

Enter Peep

I blog over at ConversionXL. It’s a conversion optimization blog, one of the biggest in its market.

I started the blog a little more than 2 years ago (October 2011). While I got 50,000 visits on my first month of blogging thanks to some viral hit posts, the rest of the growth has been slow and steady.

  • 15,000 visits on my 3rd month
  • 22,000 on my 6th month
  • 90,000 on my 10th month

It took a few more months before I started to regularly get 100,000 or more visits each month.

And it’s not just a vanity metric – my blog (indirectly – by generating leads for my business) pays salaries for my staff of 10.

Here’s how I went about architecting that growth…

(Read all the way to the bottom to download the Checklist to Grow Your Own Blog to 100K)

 

Content Strategy

Before I got started, I felt unsure about the blogging strategy to pick. There were a gazillion marketing blogs around already. What was the point of yet another marketing blog?

I got over this irrational fear by using data.

 

Find a gap in the market

My first step was to go through various subjective top “100 marketing blogs” lists (e.g. google “top marketing blogs” or “top fitness blogs” – whatever your niche is), and to analyze the type of content they put out.

I asked questions, lot of questions:

  • How many words are in the posts?
  • Are they well structured or a wall of text?
  • How much data, research and examples are used (vs personal opinions)?
  • How many images are used? Are they any good (or is it silly clip art and stupid stock photos)?
  • How many external resources are used, linked to?
  • Is it useful? Does it contain action-items?
  • Is it well-written, interesting to read?
  • Legibility: what’s the font size and color (is it easy to read)? Nice typography?

Once I had the answers, I put some thought into how I could be better. How could my content stand out from the noise – both in terms of content and visual presentation?

Since people are not inclined to read much these days – or so I thought – I was expecting to land on a strategy of smart, short posts – summarizing the data, drawing interesting insights from the noise. Kind of like Seth Godin does:

Only Seth can get away with a post like this and get 1600+ retweets. And you’re not Seth.
But – most everyone was actually doing short posts. And mostly because they were lazy. It’s easy to write a 200 word short post, trying to sound smart. It’s easy to state opinions and narrate stories.

The secret of success is doing something that others are not willing to do for a long, long time. So when I was analyzing the content of marketing blogs – trying to understand how I can be better – I finally figured it out.

The answer? Evidence based, data-driven marketing advice. That was how I summed up the gap in the market. That was going to be my angle.

And I chose to focus specifically on conversion optimization because there were few dedicated CRO blogs around. Picking a niche is important when getting started – don’t be afraid to go niche at first. You can always expand later.

Take Tim Ferriss. Four Hour Workweek. He was that guy. Now he is much more than that, he expanded his brand after the first thing became a success. You can do the same with your blog.

If you start out as a generic marketing blog or fitness blog, it’s very hard to stand out. Ever heard of Nerd Fitness? That’s another great example of going niche in a very crowded market (and finding lots of success).

Know PPC? Don’t start yet another AdWords blog. Instead focus on just the display network.

Using data-backed content made all the difference

If you look at my blog, you won’t find posts that state mere opinions. Or statements like “people generally prefer XYZ”. Instead of claiming “simple websites are better,” I include evidence:

 

In a study by Google in August of 2012, researchers found that not only will users judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second, but also that “visually complex” websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than their simpler counterparts.

 

Do you see how that adds credibility? It’s not just me saying “simple design is better” anymore.

I have an editorial policy that requires every claim be backed up with research, a case study, or specific example. Now I’m actually pissed whenever I read an article that says “according to research this and that is true” without linking to the actual research. It’s more common than you think — and oh how convenient for the writer to put it in without doing the hard work of finding credible sources.

People love that my posts always contain links to data sources. Most common compliment I hear is“It’s refreshing to see advice that’s backed by actual data”.

Very few blogs do that, and they’re pretty much all successful.

 

Optimizing posts for traffic

I looked up research on what kind of blog posts get the most social media shares and backlinks.

The most popular posts are:

  • Long: Between 1850 to 3035 words (sweet spot being 2700-3000)
  • Visual: Posts with videos, images, and lists will attract almost 6 times more links than a plain text post.

So that’s what I did:

  • I started to write blog posts where every claim is backed up with data
  • I made sure they’re at least 1850 words
  • I put a lot of effort into the structure of the post: images, subheadlines, lists.

And it worked. And it still works, very well. People are constantly impressed with the quality and depth of the posts. If you write a post that’s around 2000 words or more, you can pack a lot of useful content in it (more content than any 200 word blog post can be).

Will this strategy work for everyone? Probably not. First, you need to be a writer. If you struggle with putting more than two paragraphs together, then 2000+ word articles are not a great match for you. Maybe videos or podcasts are your thing. And maybe there are some great long-form content blogs in your niche already.

If you’re considering starting a blog today, I’d start with research with the goal to have good answers for the following questions:

  1. What are other blogs in your market / industry / niche doing well?
  2. What is not being done?
  3. How can your content be noticeably better and/or different?

You need to find a gap, an opportunity, in order to stand out from the noise.

 

Getting Visitors

If you’re starting out and you have no pre-existing following, don’t wait until “people find your content on their own” or until “SEO kicks in.” The world doesn’t work that way.

There are obvious things like adding easy social sharing widgets to your blog, so people could spread the word. And using lead magnets to capture emails of readers, so I could later deliver my content to them directly.

I distributed every post I wrote wherever I could.

  • I reached out to people and companies mentioned in a post, and many of them shared it on social media
  • No begging for retweets (don’t do that)
  • My emails / tweets are very short and sweet:“Hey XYZ, Just mentioned you in this blog post: http://www.xyz.com.
    Thanks, Peep
    ConversionXL”.
  • I shared my posts on my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account. There’s a nifty thing you can do with LinkedIn – you can mass post to groups that you’re a member of via their sharing widget.

  • I submitted every post of mine to Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Hacker News (Inbound.org and GrowthHackers.com weren’t around yet). Some of the posts went viral – like the one I did on pricing experiments and one about techniques for persuading people. Each post took ~18 hours to write, it’s a long-term
    investment. I think these 2 were especially successful because they deal with
    psychology and irrationality of human behavior. There’s something magical about those topics.

 

How do you make a post go viral?

Remember this key point: You can only do so much to spread the word about content, the content has to be able to carry its own weight. It needs to be really good, so people say, “This is great shit, I’ll tweet it out!”. What you create needs to be excellent. And then you need see how you can make influential people find it.

A ton of influencers picked up my blog posts from HackerNews. And then Tim Ferriss took my blog down by sending too much traffic.

Funny story about this. My pricing experiments post got to #1 spot in HN during my first month of blogging. Took my blog down (lesson: use a CDN). 7 months later somebody “found” the post again, and posted in on HackerNews, again. I was in the top 10 for 2 days in a row. Massive traffic. And then right after HN traffic had died down, Tim Ferriss shared it on his Facebook account and Twitter.
(Note: I didn’t pitch him, but I’m positive he saw the link on social media
after it went viral via HN.) So this same article has paid me again and again and again. Superb ROI from those 18 hours.

Interesting tidbit: while StumbleUpon, Reddit and HN traffic have quite a bad visit-to-email-optin conversion rates, they help in other ways. Stuff that gets popular there gets tweeted out, so I picked up a ton of Twitter followers (easier content distribution later) and got a lot of backlinks as people were sharing interesting links on their blogs. And backlinks + social signals moved the blog up in Google rankings.

•Guest blogging works very well for traffic and audience building. The traffic from those blogs is going to be warm and typically converts extremely well. Word of advice: your guest posts need to be even more epic than the ones you write for your own blog.

Guest posts are essentially high quality advertisements. If you want readers to check out your blog and start following your stuff, you need an epic guest post. Writing epic posts is of course hard work, which is why you should avoid writing for small blogs. The ROI is going to be much smaller if you do that, not worth it.

Don’t be afraid of big blogs. Everyone craves quality content, and they’ll even pay for you. All top blogs pay guest posters (wanna write for me?). SmashingMagazine is still sending me hundreds of visitors each month even after 1.5 years since my last guest post. Last month’s referral traffic stats:

• Content syndication. Business2Community and BusinessInsider want to syndicate your kickass content.

• Say yes to every podcast / webinar opportunity, I did. Every little bit helps to get your name out there. And pitch yourself to be a guest at other people’s podcasts or webinars.

You probably know who are other players in your market, don’t you? If you don’t, ask around on Twitter and spend some time on Google. Identify who has guests on their podcast / webinar, and pitch your topic. If your stuff is good, you’ll get it.

Make sure your blog is packed with quality content before reaching out though. And make sure your pitch contains specific ideas for the topic and why that’s relevant to their audience.

I still hold the all-time record for webinar attendance when I was a guest speaker on Unbounce webinar (Unwebinar). I think it was like 3000+ people. And yes, I got tons of signups to my email lists and still meet people who say “I first heard about you via Unbounce webinar”. Use other people’s audiences to grow yours. But you need to add a ton of value to them, otherwise it won’t work out.

The world is full of mediocre me-toos, and does not need another one. Be so good they can’t ignore you, as Steve Martin once said.

 

SEO

Sure, SEO helps. But note that I did not utilize an SEO company, I didn’t go out to build a bunch of artificial links. All links to ConversionXL are legit organic links, earned with great content.

Besides using an SEO plugin on my WP, the only SEO I’ve done is to write a post title contains a phrase I might want to rank for. And then I added the same phrase a couple of times into the blog post content as well. That’s it.

I brainstormed a list of keyword phrases (2 words and 3 words long) one might search for when wanting to know about the topic I was about to write about, and used Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to estimate search volume for each. If the volume was more than 0, I went for it. Long tail ftw. I used to avoid trying to rank for ultra-competitive keywords at first, since I didn’t have the backlinks to outrank others. Now, 2 years later, I
can compete.

Organic search is my main traffic driver today:

I haven’t done any paid content promotion at all.

 

Content Frequency

In my first year I posted 76 posts – that’s one post per 4.8 days. Anyone can do that.

Then I slowed down even more: sometimes even 2 posts per month. “Work” took over. Sometimes I had to remind myself that blogging IS work. Not only have I witnessed that the frequency of posting is correlated with the amount of traffic I get, but also the amount of leads.

Every single time I hit ‘publish’ on a post and email it out to my list, I get a huge jump in incoming leads.

I’m confident my traffic would be higher with more content. And that’s what I’m working on right now.

 

Have Patience

It’s critical to have patience when starting out. Everyone wants to be an overnight success, but it doesn’t happen. Slow and steady – persistence is key.

I’ve helped many high traffic blogs increase their conversions, and thus have had access to their Google Analytics. I see the same thing *every single time* for their traffic pattern: slow, slow, slow, slow, BOOM!

This is my organic search traffic trend, from the beginning until today:

Plateau. Growth. Plateau. Growth. If you’re wondering what causes the fluctuations between the low and high points are, those are the weekends. And the dip at the end is Christmas, holidays.

Anyways – you gotta keep at it. If you set the expectation that probably not much will happen during the first year, you can keep going without worrying too much about results. You have to persist.

I just saw the same thing mentioned on Derek Halpern’s blog. His revenue over the last 3 years:

Each year was better than the last one. It’s the case with everyone out there who persists and puts out quality content on a regular basis. Do what others are not willing to do over a long, long period of time (like forever).

If you want to make a quick buck, blogging is not for you. The main purpose of a blog is building an audience. Audience who trusts you, likes you and wants to buy from you – whatever it is that you might be selling today or 4 years from now. And you don’t even need to know what that is – your audience will tell you later.

 

What’s Next for ConversionXL

My goal is to take it to 1 million monthly readers. I now have a full-time editor on board who helps me with content creation and distribution, guest writer outreach, traffic generation. I’m increasing content frequency and outreach efforts. I still write all the blog posts that are published under my name, unlike many marketing celebrities who use ghostwriters. I believe that authenticity works.

 

From Noah

Let’s thank Peep for putting together a bad-ass how to guide on creating and actually growing your blog audience. (Did anyone notice how the medium IS the message?)

If you enjoyed the post and learned something ‘click to tweet’ How to Grow a Blog to 100,000 Visitors in Less than a Year http://ctt.ec/gdhRe+ #OkDork

Check out his very successful web optimization consultancy at ConversionXL

Post a comment below: What is your favorite blog and why?

[Now Closed: Every single OkDork reader who comments will get Peep’s book
How to Build Websites that Sell: The Scientific Approach to Websites for free (normally the already too low price of $5).
Giveaway closes Friday 2/14 at midnight Eastern]

Click here to download the Checklist to Grow Your Own Blog to 100K Visitors


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161 responses to “How to Grow a Blog to 100,000 Visitors in Less than a Year

  1. MichaelJohn Reply

    Favorite blog right now is http://liveyourlegend.net because we need to let go of the fear of failure. It’s not failure if you learned something. A great interview because I have been researching the science of successful niches and why they succeed. This is something I would love to write about. Thanks!

    1. dave Reply

      I’m a big fan of Live your Legend as well, similarly Sean Ogle. Great messages, great blogs. Thanks Peep for this amazing content, as usual. Love your blog conversionxl – hope to land a guest post there someday!

    1. Tommy Walker Reply

      Hey Jack,

      Tommy ( the editor of Cxl) here.

      Over the last year of creating content for the site, I’ve got 2 major tips.

      1. When rereading your draft, objectively ask “does this line make me want to read the next?”

      As writers, we’re all guilty of writing paragraphs as thoughts, but as readers we read one line at a time. If each line doesn’t build to a coherant thought, or takeaway moment, you risk losing your reader with every line of text.

      2. Create a large volume of work with that delibrite practice in mind.

      Too many of us put too much stock into one piece, expecting that it will be “the one”. But no one piece could ever possibly showcase the depth of your knowldege, so you have to train yourself to release quality & quantity.

      If you don’t push yourself, it will never come. It’s hard, but worthwhile work.

  2. Stanley. G. Jack Reply

    My favorite blog right now is http://www.wealthymotivator.wordpress.com. Why is that? Simple: I believe that there is greatness in every person; most people (especially, young College/University graduates) in Nigeria can’t seem to acknowledge or harness that ‘inside’ greatness – too many are looking outside, and finding nothing but delay and despair.

    For example, young people graduate from college and still remain jobless months/years after; most can’t seem to find work except someone else gives them employment. I want to motivate these young people to change that mentality; how about creating your own work, following in the part of creative entrepreneurship? How about choosing yourself and taking charge of your own destiny and work?

    I wrote a book about it too titled “WHO TOOK MY JOB?” And my second book “GOOD TO GO: How To Succeed In Life & Work After NYSC” is coming out in June.

    *NYSC – National Youth Service Corps. (Compulsory one year SERVICE for graduates in Nigeria).

    http://www.wealthymotivator.worpress.com (where I like to write about life, success, entrepreneurship etc) is still very young but I hope to reach and inspire more people in the coming months/years, especially through books and @WealthyJACK twitter handle.

  3. Robby Reply

    What an epic post! Refreshing to see this in a sea of underwhelming crap out there. This might just be one of my favorite blogs now.

    1. Yox the Professor Reply

      Just might be my favorite? Noooo! I have the blog load every time I launch my browser.

      I will make out time to read one post everyday. Not only will it improve my writing but also my business.

      Very very practical posts live here.

  4. Patrick Reply

    I think my favourite blog is actually Seth Godin’s because I can read it in 60 seconds and still be thinking about it hours later.
    But like you said, “you are not Seth”.

    Other really good blog is Fred Wilson’s.
    And i think it’s because he is free with his information. He believes in sharing what he knows rather than keeping it all for himself.

  5. Mikael_Zichlin Reply

    Awesome article with lots of motivating and inspiring insigthts. I read the conversionXL blog for month now and recommend it always on crowdtesting platforms as one of the best blogs about conversion rate optimization. As you mentioned, I like your scientific approach based on numbers. I also read Noah’s blog, which is very funny and also insightful. My other sources are the conversion rate expert blogs of Peter Sandeen ( http://www.petersandeen.com/ ), Rich Page ( http://www.rich-page.com ), the UK guys from http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/ and of course Neil Patel ( http://www.quicksprout.com ) Big Thanks for all the great content and tips, Cheers from Berlin, Germany

  6. alex Reply

    Hey Noah. Thanks for publishing Peep’s blog post. Very interesting stuff and again proving why slow and steady progress are the only way to go. Here’s to the turtle future. Alex

  7. Mike Reply

    My favorite blog is quicksprout because of great resources by Neil Patel and just recently Okdork. Great to know ConversionXL i’m quite sure I will learn a lot on this blog.

  8. Kim Stacks Reply

    Fave is Ramit Sethi IWTYTBR, Amy Hoy Unicorn Free and the Dilbert blog Scott Adams.

    Why? Same reason applies to all 3. They give great actionable advice that is effective and powerful. Your blog is getting there.

  9. Ash Reply

    Copyblogger.com. It has fantastic information that is very actionable.

    It successfully integrates various areas such as content marketing, online strategy and business.

  10. Razwana Reply

    This insight is fascinating. Thank you Peep for writing something this epic!

    My favourite site? themiddlefingerproject.org. Because she breaks all the rules and is still a success. Oozing with personality and giving her audience something to aspire to

  11. Russ Johns Reply

    Thank you Noah and Peep for the ongoing work and value you share with the community. I am in the early stages of blogging and have developed a podcast to start. One blog that read all the time is Seth Godin and also marcandangel.com for motivation. Everything we do makes a difference to someone and thanks again for sharing the information in this post.

  12. James Martindale Reply

    Favorite blog? Dang, that’s hard. I would say my favorite non-marketing blog would be ZME Science, because it does an excellent job of keeping cutting-edge science simple and interesting.

  13. Andrew Ecklund Reply

    Great post- so much great info. There are so many amazing blogs out there, but I’m struggling to find one better than the 4 hour blog. I love how it focuses on a life, and has posts related to almost every facet of it. I also love how he has started a book club through it. Super fun.

  14. Alexia Anastasio Reply

    My favorite blog is LKR Social media because they give small actionable tips that don’t overwhelm you and you can go and make progress after you take in the information. Plus it is run by an awesome team.

  15. Jared A Reply

    Awesome guest post. I remember the first time I read one of Seth Godin’s post and I thought there was going to be more. I was like, “brilliant stuff. can’t wait to read the rest of the post…oh, that’s it”

    I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi’s I WIll Teach you To Be Rich. Tim Ferriss is great as well. Obviously I love this blog. Most of the other articles I read are from Hacker News.

  16. Avery Reply

    Wow this post was amazing! You weren’t kidding when you said guest post need to be extra awesome. Lots if good info here that I’m going to use to plan out content strategy. Thanks!

  17. Dustin Reply

    This is one of my favorite posts so far on the topic of creating websites (or niche websites), and more specifically, on the creation of really bad-ass content that is backed by research. Thanks Peep for that, and thanks Noah for sharing with us.

    My favorite blog is collective-evolution.com. They are open to a lot of ideas about society and write about these ideas in intriguing ways. Their content is almost always interesting and makes you reflect. In terms of entrepreneurship, blogging, etc., my favorite blog is problogger.com and okdork (along with your friends), because the content is easy to read, straight to the point, but is packed with a lot of information. It inspires action within readers because the steps are so simply laid out.

  18. Carter Reply

    My (two) favorite blogs are Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek and this one (or AppSumo emails, etc.). Sorry if that sounds like brown nosing, but the quality of the content coming from your blog and Tim’s are so far beyond the majority out there. Keep up the great work! (and Peep has a new subscriber thanks to this post)

  19. Jason Lange Reply

    Thanks Noah & Peep!

    That was an amazing and encouraging look at the reality of building a successful blog. One of my favorite blogs is socialmediaexaminer.com as it also features long detailed and extremely useful blog posts. They also use a wide variety of talented guest bloggers. That said you guys are also my top favorites!

    Thanks again!

  20. Anthony Epp Reply

    Thanks for the continued great advice and information! My favorite blog has been Nerd Fitness as it’s the first one that really caused me to take action. It spawned me getting healthy again. I credit his approach with my continued pursuit of learning and for starting my film company this year (2914( and my new movie project at http://www.13milesmovie.com which is a story about rebuilding ones life.
    Thanks again for the free book and continued great reads.

  21. Skye Reply

    Barely read blogs anymore since Google Reader died. Spend more time reading good books.

    Don’t really have a fav but I enjoy Noah’s, Nev’s (nevblog.com), Tim’s (4hrworkweek).

    Commonalities:
    – authentic
    – quality content
    – truthful
    – fun

  22. Tyler Reply

    I love that everyone starts out slow. It’s a good reminder that success takes a lot of time and work to really come to fruition. It starts slow, but persistence wins.

  23. Chad Ettelbrick Reply

    My favorite blogs are QuickSpout which has been mentioned a lot around here. I also have really been digging this site and the emails, as well as Neville’s site as of late. They seem to be my go-tos for great content and inspiration.

  24. Jacquelyn Cardinal Reply

    My favourite blog is probably Derek Halpern’s Social Triggers, with a close second being Chris Kresser’s functional health blog. The reason being for both is definitely the high quality data-backed content both put out there.

  25. Danielle Reply

    My favorite blog is probably social triggers or app sumo. App sumo because they usually include a deal that I could benefit from & social triggers because of how specific it is.

  26. Josh Reply

    Great post. Not necessarily a big blogger, but it was nice to see how you arrived at your conclusions for the tactics that you’re taking to market your content.

  27. Gerrid Smith Reply

    Boy was I excited to see Peepa writing today’s post on OKdork! I’ve been following both Noah and Peepa for years. Great job to both of you for putting out amazing content that naturally gets shared. Keep it up.

    Gerrid

  28. Tommy Pettijohn Reply

    Incredible post! Solid gold for those of us just getting started. Especially the advice to back every single thought up with data or specific examples.

    Too many favorite blogs to name. SocialTriggers is one of the best out there. After reading this article, I think I’m going to add another one to the list!

  29. Joey Reply

    right now it’s brainpickings.org, because there’s always something creatively inspiring, useful, illuminating, and practical. And it’s a great launching point for further exploration of linked articles, artists, and books.

  30. Sid Mylavarapu Reply

    My favorite thing about Noah Kagan is that he genuinely cares about helping people. I love following him because the stuff he puts out is different from all the other noise out there.

    My top 3 favorite blogs are (in no order):

    1. Tim Ferriss’ blog
    2. Ramit Sethi’s blog
    3. OkDork

  31. Jay Wren Reply

    I found this article very helpful. These three statements alone provide a great deal of understanding of simple things to make a blog more successful.
    “I started to write blog posts where every claim is backed up with data
    I made sure they’re at least 1850 words
    I put a lot of effort into the structure of the post: images, subheadlines, lists.”

    I have a little work to do.

  32. Michael shortall Reply

    This post is gold.. Like it’s actually giving me an information horn! Ha,
    Favourite blog is either pat flynns smart passive income, or Niall dohertys.. Disrupting the rabble ment!

  33. Grant Taylor Reply

    This is a great reminder to borrow an audience–“I reached out to people and companies mentioned in a post, and many of them shared it on social media.”

  34. Charles Bohannan Reply

    Aside from exceptional content, I’m really into the right tone and voice. This is why I love Quicksprout (positive and straightforward) and OkDork (casual and snarky) . Is it me or have you been posting way more frequently, Noah?

  35. Wade Arave Reply

    I flip flop between a lot of blogs but I’ve been reading ryanholiday.net a lot lately. His posts are timeless and great reminders for what I need to be doing. As always thanks for the great content. Subscribing to your blog was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

  36. Bradley Nelson Reply

    Favourite blog: Seth Godin because he writes for me, not about himself. I like that I can read it within moments, I like that it is emailed to me (my only frustration with Ramit Sethi is there is no feed but I get why he does it). Also Seth Godin inspires me and we all need inspiration from time to time.

    Loving your marketing posts, this is the first time I am reading your stuff regularly and as I am sure you know that is difficult to achieve with people. You are providing a lot of value : thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Bradley

  37. Mario Antic Reply

    Hi,

    My favorite blogs are form Tim Ferriss & Neil Patel. Because they write interesting and long blogs. I hate those 200 word blogs.

    Noah I liked Month of marketing blogs. I read some other popular ones but dude, that archive organized by months/years is annoying. (maybe its just me :D ) . Love to see some more interesting and long posts soon.

  38. Christina Reply

    My current favorite blog is copyblogger because of all the great content they put out on content marketing. It’s also interesting to see their transformation with the authority site and their current product launch (but you wouldn’t exactly know it’s happening.)

  39. Ray Johnson Reply

    This was a great post. My favorite blog right now is the 4hww blog. Tim does a good job of mixing actionable and thought provoking content on the same bolg

  40. Derek Reply

    Really great post! I had to keep stopping just to capture all the ideas it was giving me! Thanks for that lads :-)
    As for blogs that hit the mark for me: I love the Sparkline over at fizzle.co because they are SO in tune with their readers / listeners and Tim Ferriss’ blog is brilliant because of the specific detail he goes to the trouble of including. Not to mention the brilliant stuff on OkDork and AppSumo! Have a great year Noah!

  41. Jimmy C Reply

    Never thought about long form content. Worth researching since thats part of how you broke away from the noise.

    Noah,

    How did you ‘break away from the noise’ on (okdork or appsumo)?
    -Jimmy

  42. Alfred Milgrom Reply

    I think this is really clever – Peep has cleverly demonstrated how a guest blog can drive traffic to your own site. I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of Okdork readers take a look at ConversionXL!

    And okdork is one of my favourite blogs!
    And what a clever way for Noah to increase the number of comments and retweets for okdork!!

    Teaching by example.

  43. Scott Bishop Reply

    Favorite blog right now is http://www.bulletproofexec.com. I saw Dave speak at SXSW a few years back and the science and experiments he writes about fascinate me. I read and work with enough startups where after a while all the content starts to sound the same, but this blog provides info where I can focus on productivity to enhance my work and life without feeling like yet another marketing or startup blog.

  44. Paul Reply

    Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My key take away here is that it’s a long game that’s important. I generally advise people to come up with a blogging plan for the first few months. I.e write ten posts, but don’t start to post them until you have this content together and you’ve found your voice. Too often people a) don’t want to do the hard work or b) don’t have a concrete idea what to write about.
    If you can bang out ten comments, then I’ve found you can probably bang out another 20 too.

  45. Oscar Reply

    My favorite blog is written by Tim Ferriss. I started to read it and then became a fan of his 4hour philosophy. I love his writing because he blogs about entrepreneurship, marketing, etc. and deconstructs every aspect systematically in order to reach a 80% result with only 20% of the effort.

  46. Ryan Stephens Reply

    To narrow it down is really tough, but my favorite blog is *probably* Seth Godin’s because, despite the pithy text, I always feel challenged to think critically. And not just about my blog or my business, but concepts that permeate my entire life.

    I also rarely miss a post from Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” Shane Parrish’s “Farnum Street” or Eric Barker’s “Barking up the Wrong Tree.”

  47. Björn Blomgren Reply

    Thanks Peep and Noah,

    This is great advice that really inspires me to start blogging.

    My favourite blog along with OkDork is Tim Ferriss 4HWW-blog.
    I also like Ryan Holiday and for soccer ZonalMarking.net

    Cheers!

  48. Mon Reply

    What I loved about this post is that it mentioned the key point of a blog: helping someone. i think often times we get mucked up over backlinks and ppc when in reality a majority of our web traffic issues can resolved if we create great content that truly helps people without wanting anything in return.

    My favorite line definitely was the fact that Peep mentioned that blogging is not about making a quick buck, but rather creating an audience, a community that will help and grow together. I think we’ve been doing some of that here at Okdork, but as Peep has mentioned it is really hard to stay true and continue posting for most people.

    I know for me it has mainly to do with the fact that writing truly takes you to reach out deep inside you and find that giving self. Its easiest for us to keep to ourselves, care for our own needs, and stay in a bubble rather than truly selflessly help someone.

    Thanks for the post.

    – Mon.

  49. Daniel S Reply

    I forgot to include the most important part! Favorite blogs:

    Not to pander, but okDork and the Fourhourworkweek blog are my favorites because both are always paved wh useful, action inducing information. They give me little reason not to make changes or be more assertive in my entrepreneurial pursuits.

  50. Jamie Ortiz Reply

    Thanks for providing a ton of value to the OkDork community, Peep.

    My current favorite blog is http://mobiledevmemo.com. Great insights on the mobile gaming industry. I particularly enjoy the email blast which includes the site’s latest blog post along with links to other interesting posts within the industry.

  51. Tope Reply

    Awesome post. I always love those very long and epic posts and greatly admire people that write them. But Peep and Noah, are there formulas or tools that help you in writing them?

  52. Scott Bradshaw Reply

    This is really great, and sort of summarizes in one place, bits and pieces of stuff I have seen floating around out there, plus a healthy dose of stuff I haven’t seen. But what sets this apart is that it is presented by someone who’s done it. I’ll be working my way through your post for some time. Thanks for all the great ideas (who knows, maybe someday I’ll the guy writing the “how-to post” thanks to you!!)

  53. velizabeth Reply

    Hey Noah, this might sound a bit like brown-nosing, but there are only two blogs I read on a regular basis: Tim Ferriss’ (for the posts that challenge conventional wisdom with data) and yours (for the variety, relevance and real-life applications of posts, and keepin’ in real).
    Cheers!

  54. Jonathan Reply

    Thanks for the very detailed info. I’ve been wondering how to truly grow my blog. Comes back down to the basics:

    Who’s your customer?
    What are their problems?

    And in this case you added in a little research on competitors to identify:
    – What are other blogs not doing?

    Thanks!

  55. Trent Dyrsmid Reply

    Hey Noah,

    I interviewed Peep on my podcast just after he had his first huge month of traffic. The story back then was exactly the same as he tells it today.

    Clearly, Peep knows what he is doing and there are many valuable lessons to be learned from this post.

    Speaking of my podcast, I’d like to have you on. Please get in touch.

  56. Aimee Reply

    Some of my favorite bloggers/blogs are Ramit Sethi, Tim Feriss, Seth Godin, The Kitchn, Noah Kagan ;), Copyblogger, Derek Halpern. They always have great, useful info. And thanks for the great work and post!

  57. Bryan Reply

    Thanks Peep for the great info! I see you practice what you preach – this post on OKDork is a guest post for you, and the content in it is (to use your words) EPIC.

    I’m curious how much of your time is spent on blogging vs. other business tasks? I divide half my time to blogging and half to administrative things, but I think to really grow a business a 100% dedicated blogger is the answer.

    PS Thanks for the free ebook Peep/Noah!

  58. Nate Reply

    This month? OkDork seriously. Overall, aonc.com – I appreciate it’s authenticity, which a lot of blogs abandon in the interest of numbers.

  59. Don Reply

    This is what I was looking for, the true facts about haw to create a successful blog! Although your road to success Peep, was certainly work and a lot of it, I am encourged to know if I keep at it, my success will come as well. Thanks so much!

  60. Fabricio Reply

    Great content as usual! While I have a lot of “favorite” blogs and I check them frequently (as this one), I been following for the last months this one: http://www.groovehq.com/blog . They are being extremely clear about their numbers, techniques and a lot of details that help small business to success online. (SaaS mostly, and I’m launching my first SaaS next month).

    You gave me a very nice idea about writing blogs backed up with data. While is not new, you made a very nice approach. I’m in the Spanish market and with a very niche service, so you don’t have to worry about me being your competence! :P

    Thanks!
    Fabricio

    P.S: I’ll be waiting for my free copy of How to Build Websites that Sell.

    1. Tommy Walker Reply

      Great question Hashim! Mind if I throw my two cents in?

      From where I stand, I notice there are a ton of blogs telling you what to do (simplify your website) but no real explanation as to why.

      As a writer (and now editor) for the site, I’ve found that it makes my opinions far more informed in the rest of my client work.

      Instead of saying “because this popular blogger said this” (and whose job it will be to eventually sell you an information product, so their career hinges on likability) you can point to an unbiased study that gives real numbers to back up the statement.

      “As it turns out, not all markets enjoy “simple” websites. In fact 13-18 year olds and 54-65 year olds prefered websites with higher levels (albeit different degrees) of visual complexity”

      To answer your question of why you think it will work… it makes the market sound smarter & more informed when they pass along the information.

      And it worked out extremely well for Buffer, sparringmind, alistapart, etc etc. (People needed something to “graduate” into )

  61. Shaheen Kazi Reply

    My favorite blogs are OkDork (seriously) — lots of specific tactical details, wework — good affirmations, and nearandfar — deep insights.

    Thanks for this valuable post from Peep.

  62. Jeff Sauer Reply

    Fantastic post. This is the exact formula I have been using for my site as well and feel that this advice is perfect for others. Especially the part about using your own data to share results (lacking in so many other places) and the length of content. Those are my two paramounts to blogging. I also like how you mention that you benefit from organic search, but don’t spend a lot of time on the SEO portion. I do the exact same thing. Thanks for posting.

  63. Felipe Reply

    Favorite Blog: spartantraveler.com
    Main reason: it shows that location independence and owning an online business is possible. Gives good practical advice, shows how he’s done it, provides links to good quality posts in other blogs..

  64. Lennie Reply

    One of the best posts I have read in a long time (maybe ever…) Amazing content, I am really stoked that I found your site!

  65. Violeta Nedkova Reply

    Thank you, Peep! And thank you, Noah. (I’m quite enjoying your newsletters.)

    My favorite part in this post is about finding the gap. It’s true: not everybody will spend hours researching and linking back to sources for a blog post, but it’s necessary. I shall start doing it myself on my new blog, but I have done it previously for others.

    I quite admire how Buffer does it — life hacks and all. My startup is about hacking life, things, growth, and startups, so I’m thinking something epic will do the trick. :D

    Keep up with the quality, guys. The noobs are eternally grateful. :)

  66. Chris Reply

    I’m intrigued that your example shows that your biggest referrer by far is StumbleUpon. Have you written at all at how you utilize StumbleUpon?

    Thanks…

    1. Tommy Walker Reply

      Hey Chris, Tommy the editor here.

      Probably not. Stumbleupon is pretty unreliable. Though it can send a high volume of traffic, the quality of traffic is usually high bounce & low conversion.

      Because it takes minimal effort to add to the workflow – tag appropriately, use keywords in your description – it’s still worth keeping in, but leaning on SU for anything other than traffic that will put you in front of a handful of decent people, isn’t worth it.

      What’s more valuable is the direct connections you make through email outreach to the people you link to.

      All day, every day, way more valuable.

      If you want to use stumbleupon, just use decent tags and write a good description, then ask other stumblers to give it a thumbs up when it’s posted. But seriously, invest your time in other channels.

  67. James Reply

    I was staggered to come across a new blog recently that started following me and had acquired 90,000 followers in 3 months. There isn’t much content and it is nothing special so I decided to follow ‘The Journal’ to try and find out how they did it. I asked but they didn’t answer. So I watched for a while and because I am a follower I get emails every day. It soon became obvious to me when I read the comments that they are following (purportedly) every blog in the world . All the comments say is “Thanks for following my blog”. The reply from the Journal says. “Thanks”. And that’s it. Am I going mad. What’s the point?

  68. Hazza Jay Reply

    Thank you Peep! Great breakdown for anybody starting a blog. I always think of the music composer JunkieXL whenever I hear your blog name ConversionXL, haha.

    My takeaways from the blog post:
    a) Identify opponents weakness (research your market)
    b) Identify ONE strength and use it as your family banner (niche)
    c) Talk big game, walk big game (back up what you say with evidence)
    d) Travel to other cities and show them your vision (distribution is key to getting visitors)
    e) Be Spartan (write great content no matter what)
    f) Fight for the Kings of other cities (guest blog, guest webinars, guest podcasts, etc)
    g) Have frequent meetings with your soldiers (blog posting frequency is correlated with traffic)
    h) The battle may be lost, but the war is not over (persevere)

    Your brother,
    Hazza.

  69. Angela Marrow Reply

    Very valuable info. I am new to content marketing, and this was very helpful in explaining what makes a blog go viral. Definitely eye=opening content. Thanks.

  70. Steve Faber Reply

    Great post. Interesting though, 170 comments, and only 4 Tweets. In any case, I added one, so now it should be 5.
    I’ve found that you’re right, My first blog to take off did so when I started supporting it with real data.
    I am not Seth, although I am rapidly emulating his hairstyle or lack thereof. He has a giant platform, which is one way he gets away with calling 200 insightful words a post. The rest of us wouldn’t fare so well.
    Passion is key. It’s tough to consistently churn out 2k+ words of greatness without it, in addition to doing all the research it requires.
    Thanks for reinforcing what I’ve found, and dropping a few new ideas on my plate as well. I’m still waiting for the “BOOM” on my latest blog, but I’ve been through enough “waits” that it should be just around the corner.

  71. Prince Reply

    Extremely insightful content Noah. There is really nothing like an ‘Overnight Success’. As for fear of failure, I have my own ‘Code Phrase’ to crush that fear; step into “NEW REALMS” and PUSH beyond my LIMITS. Here is my POWER ‘Code Phrase’…..”..I will give it a shot”. What that phrase means to me is,I am not obligated to WIN. If it doesn’t work, great! I can try something else. It gives me the freedom to “FAIL as if I did it for a CHANGE; and WIN as if I am USED to IT”

    P.S: Dude, as for your UNCAPITALIZED POST, I loved it; as well as the IDEA communicated. Who said we have to be always official and conventional?

    P.P.S. Someone going to my site may find it incomplete; and that is part of the game! Who said I have to perfect it to put it out there. Under CONSTRUCTION GUYS!!!

  72. William Cosentino Reply

    My buddy just sent me to this article and it’s packed full of info on how to start a blog. I’ve just started my second blog (scratched the first one I tried) and the info in here has really provided me with some awesome tips and what not to do that I did my first attempt. Very grateful for Peeps generosity to share this piece of outstanding work.

  73. Pritam Nagrale Reply

    Hello, Thanks for publishing Peep’s blog post. It’s very interesting stuff and again proving why slow and steady progress are the only way to go. Thanks for sharing nice article.