Case Study (Month 5) – Becoming an authority blog within a small niche
I'm back again for another case study update!
• Months 1-3
• Month 4
Last month take aways
I started reaching out to the internet the previous month, and got mixed results. My pageviews increased very nicely, and I was looking to continue this as much as possible. I also told my girlfriend about this idea of mine, and she supports me (which I'm extremely happy with). My progress is very constant and steady, and I'm hoping that will eventually pay of!
• 26 posts (+5)
• 50.227 words (+11.902)
• 11 subscribers (+3)
• Google Analytics
• Google Search Console
I've been steadily writing articles for my website, and have found a great rythm and workflow, I think. Writing a 2.000 word post takes me about 5 hours now, I guess. It sometimes gets boring and dull, but I now I will eventually see the results. I've published 5 posts in August, and have 5 more lined up to go! One of the 5 posts I published was the big >4.400 word cornerstone piece of content. I was pretty excited to get this out on the internet and it was a big milestone for me. This is why I started this project: to post unique and interesting content to the internet!
I'm going on a big roadtrip to Scandinavia in September, so I also built a big buffer of >5 posts to still keep up my weekly posting schedule when I'm away. I'm pretty happy with that.
I also tried a bunch of different outreaching methods, but I'll discuss these later.
As you can see, my traffic was down from the previous month, but I don't think this is a big deal. The spikes that you see are posts to Reddit. I'm not able to post to Reddit too often, since most of my content is not suitable. However, I posted my big ass article to Reddit, and got a fair traffic spike. The content was not received very well (not as well as my last contribution). The traffic from Reddit distorts a lot of my analytics data. People from Reddit have a huge bounce rate and very low session duration… A very small percentage of this traffic did click through to my other pages, so I still think it's worth it!
I'm very happy to report that I've not had a single 0 visitor day yet! The amount of organic visitors on my site is slowly growing, and I'm getting about 10 pageviews per days that are not referred to my site in any way. You might think that's nothing, but I think it's great! It's incredibly nice to wake up and check the statistics, only to find that a single person has browsed through 10 of your posts, and signed up for your subscription service. That's what makes me happy!
I'm also slowly creeping up on the Google rankings. I've got my first organic click from the search results, which is a milestone in a way. These clicks all came from very irrelevant keywords though.. It's still nothing significant of course, but I'm enjoying this slow but steady growth. Hopefully, once I get some backlinks and authority, my site will start to rank for major keywords.
I spent a fair deal of time on outreach in August! I tried a few things here and there:
• I commented on blogs within my niche last month. I received zero engagement from this strategy. People are always saying you need to comment on as many blogs as possible when you're small. I think this is BS. Even if these bloggers visit your site and comment on your page as well, would that really matter? I visit some blogs with a nice list of comments, but they are all from the same group of people. Every single page contains the same people with the same comments. I feel like this is one big circle jerk, and it all looks artificial to me. These comments never seem genuine and all serve the purpose to refer some traffic their way. I don't want to waste my time anymore reading shitty posts of bigger bloggers within my niche. However, I do try to comment on stuff that I read online anyways, but the effect is probably minimal since these are not directly related to my niche.
• I pitched my big-ass unique peace of content to other webmasters. I crawled the web for a couple of afternoons, to find websites that had the potential to feature my article in one of theirs. I wrote a custom e-mail to about 25 websites, complementing on their pages and suggesting my awesome piece of content to them, and that it would be great if they could refer to mine if possible. This was very time consuming and dull, but the reward could be great. If one big site could link to my article, that would most likely sky-rocket my Google rankings, and therefore increase my organic traffic.
Out of the ~25 e-mails, I received 1 reply. A single reply… I'm quite dissapointed so far, but this 1 reply was pretty great. Or at least, that's what I thought.
My golden ticket?
This website offered to re-tweet my article to their twitter account with >100.000 followers! Holy shit! 100K. I was ecstatic. If only 1% of those followers would click through my article, I would have 1.000 (very targeted) people visiting my site. These people were already interested in the niche, so there would be a great opportunity for them to sign up to my e-mail subscription! I couldn't wait! I expected my e-mail list to grow from ~8 to at the very least 25 or something.
So I started to populate my twitter account (it was collecting dust untill that moment) and set-up my profile. I downloaded the plug-in 'Revive old posts', and set up an automated cycle that posts a random article of mine every 24 hours. I did this for my Facebook page while I was at it as well.
Anyway, I tweeted my gigantic article to this big twitter account, and sure enough: they retweeted it. "Open the floodgates! Right?". That was my thinking.
Well, I was quickly dissapointed lol. As of now, my tweet has:
• 4.000 impressions (people scrolling by my tweet)
• 31 link clicks (people clicking the link in my tweet)
• 5 likes
• 4 retweets
• zero e-mail subscriptions…
I was pretty dissapointed. I naively thought this was my golden ticket to a nice amount of traffic, but it was nothing at all, really. So my entire e-mail outreach campaign has so far landed me about 31 page visits. No backlinks or anything whatsoever…
I would have loved to report some more success here. I hope this shows you how hard it is to grow a website. Am I bummed out? Definitely! Is this going to stop me? Hell no! This is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow and steady wins the race.
Goals for next month
I will be away for the most part of next month, and the early days of October. Therefore, I won't be able to work on my site that much. I wil still do the following:
• I have already finished a buffer of 5 posts to publish, which will be automatically posted each Saturday. Consistency is key!
• I am currently busy drafting my next piece of awesome, unique content,and want to finish the draft before I leave. I want to pitch this draft article to other (similar) blogs, ranging from big to small. I want to pitch this article to at least 30 bloggers. My goal is to exchange links: I will link to their content within my article, if they agree to link to my article in one of their furure posts. I hope this will get me my first backlinks! I think my article is unique and interesting enough to win some blogs over. I want to send out the e-mails before I leave on this road trip, and will let you know in the next case study update how it went!
Since I won't be able to actively share my site during my road trip, I will get to see where I am at after 5 months. How many people visit my page when I do absolutely nothing to promote it? This will be very interesting. I'm expecting it will slowly creep back to 0, but hey, maybe I will be surprised! :)
That's it for this month again. I hope some people within this sub find value in these case study posts. I think if more people would share their journey like this, this subreddit will become a lot more valuable and inspiring to bloggers of all kinds. I'm sometimes pretty dissapointed by the quality of some posts on this sub, and would love to contribute to improve this place.
Anyway, please ask me if you have any questions! And if you have any tips or recommendations: please let me know!
Edit: formatting (as usual…)
Thank you for this, I love comparing! I'm also running a blog in a very small niche (avatar creation and customization in a social game called Second Life). It's hard to compare with people who run things like food, celebrity news, and other widespread topics.
As far as promotion, I've found that social networking has been my best bet. Reddit brings in most of my traffic followed by search engines. Interacting with people on Twitter is helpful too. I don't just mean posting links to my blog there, but also seeking out users who have questions I can answer and helping them. By helping others I'm seen as somebody who is an authority on the topics and they want to find more info. A lot of my followers come from me following other blogs and being as active as I'm able in blogger communities about Second Life.
As far as quick stats, my blog started in January and has 139 posts, nearly 14k views, and over 8k visitors. As of today I have 310 subscribers.
In regards to taking a break from posting, I was actually away last week. I found my views/visitors went down a little, but not horribly. Search engine referrals were my main source of traffic while I was gone. I also made a post letting people know I was away (I usually post 4x a week) and in that post listed my top 10 posts of all time. This boosted traffic to my popular content, most of which is cornerstone.
I look forward to seeing how your stats grow!
Wow it's great to know that Reddit has been working out great for you so far. I just started my blog five months ago. Twitter is my number one referrer, followed by pinterest.
Do you mind sharing your Reddit strategy? I would love to learn from you!
Honestly I think that Reddit is just luck of the sub. I post every post on
r/SecondLife(they're all relevant) and don't get much feedback on Reddit. I do get lots of clicks though! I make sure my Reddit titles are descriptive and not too "advertisey".
I also keep an eye on the subreddit to so I can answer any questions people may have to the best of my ability. Helping people makes me feel good, however it also shows I know what I'm talking about and people are more likely to look into my blog knowing that.
I use both Twitter and Pinterest too and don't see many referrals from there. Since I started my blog in January I've had a total of 71 from Twitter and 2 from Pinterest. I'm curious to know your strategy if you're willing!
Thanks for your great feedback! I have been active in
r/blogging and other Subreddits. When I don't link to my blog, I don't see many referrals from Reddit. But I don't want to make it sound like I'm self-promoting my blog too much. How do you make sure that the reader can find the link to your blog?
You can check out my Twitter and Pinterest strategies below.
\- Retweeting their posts. If you only tweet your content, your followers will see it. If others tweet your content, their followers will also see it. That's the power of scalability. There's no better way to market our content by helping others promote theirs on Twitter.
\- Leaving thoughtful comments on others' tweets. You don't have to leave comments that are sentences long, but saying something that contributes to the conversation will help you build a connection with other bloggers. It will also draw attention and thus traffic to site.
\- Liking others' content. You don't want to go on a liking spree and like everything tweeted, but a couple of likes here and there show other bloggers that you care what they have to say.
\- Retweeting old posts. I retweet 2-3 of my old posts every day. I want to make sure that the followers don't miss what I published a long time ago. Some of my old posts got retweeted multiple times, which pleasantly surprised me.
Step 1: Sign up for a business account on Pinterest
\- A business account will give you access to Analytics.
\- Install a Pin It button plug-in for your blog. I use jQuery Pin It Button for Images. I usually don't use this button as much as the button from Sumo (the sidebar list of buttons on the right of the page). This makes it easier for you and others to pin your images to Pinterest.
\- Apply for Rich Pin, which shows a brief excerpt from your post under the image.
Step 2: Create Pinterest images for your posts
\- I get free stock photos from Pixabay and make the images on Canva.
\- You can go on Pinterest to look at other people's designs and decide which one you like and create your own.
Step 3: Create boards for your images
\- You should have one board that is a collection of the pins for your own posts. This is where people can find out what posts you have written on your blog. You want to move this to the top of your board list.
\- The rest of the boards should correspond to the categories on your blog (i.e. blogging, relationships, investment). This is where you can pin your own images and any imagines you find intriguing on Pinterest.
Step 4: Request to join group boards
\- You want to join group boards since once shared on these boards, your pins will be seen by hundreds and thousands of each board's followers. You can find the group boards in your niche on PinGroupie or by looking at other bloggers' group boards.
\- There are three main ways to make your request.
• Check the creator's instructions on the board. Oftentimes you will need to email them to join the board. Check out this article for more details. I spent two whole weekends looking up boards and sending requests to the board creators.
• If there are no instructions, you can send them a direct message or leave a request on one of their most recent pins. Some groups are closed to contributors, so you just need to move on to the next one.
• One way I found particularly helpful is trading your group boards with other bloggers. I personally feel comfortable reaching out to them if I know I have some boards to offer to them in exchange for them inviting me to theirs. Some boards allow only the creator to invite new contributors.
Step 5: Start following others
\- You can go to other bloggers' Pinterest profiles and start following their followers and those they follow. You can also click on the list of group board followers to follow them (This is actually faster since the Follow buttons are readily available for you to click.)
\- Pinterest has a limit on how many people you can follow over a certain period of time, so just wait for an hour or so to continue if you have reached the limit. Only some will follow you back, but just keep trying.
Step 6: Start pinning
\- You want to put your images out there as much as you can. But try to follow each board's rule regarding pin limits, otherwise you might be removed. Also, you want to pin others' popular images since it can boost your rating by Pinterest.
\- I usually pin others' imagines to my own boards and pin mine to group boards. Group boards allow a limited number of pins each day, so I want to make sure my images are seen by the boards' followers. I might change this strategy in the future once I increase the presence of my images. After all, pinning the same things on the same boards probably won't get me very far.
Thank you for this post, wow!
I only link to my blog when it's relevant (like you did in your post) but I do have a link to my blog on my Reddit profile so people can easily find it if they so choose.
As far as Twitter I do need to get better at joining more conversations. I do it sporadically, I should get in the habit of being more consistent. I was always worried about feeling spamming by tweeting out old content, but I'll give that a shot too.
With Pinterest I'm actually doing Steps 1-3 already. I didn't know much about group boards, so I'll definitely look into those as well as networking a bit more on there. Thanks!
I can't seem to find my Reddit profile. Did you mean your username? I did a Google search and saw that Reddit doesn't enable profiles. Please correct me if I'm wrong. >_<
You should def get on Twitter and Pinterest more often. It will pay off! :)
Reddit does have profiles, it's in beta :)
Here is an example of one in action:
You can post to your profile instead of subreddits too, but it's not very helpful for marketing just yet unless you're a huge account that people check.
Wow that sounds great! Thank you for sharing! :)
Sounds like your on top of your game. Do you have competitors within your niche that are still bigger than you? What are your future goals?
Thank you! I did a lot of research on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) optimization, proper networking/promotion, and how to do things "the right way" so to speak. It seems to be paying off.
It depends on whether you consider the niche to be Second Life (the program in general and all it encompasses) or the avatar creation and customization. The program itself has a few bloggers that are huge and most every player knows. One covers pretty much anything SL related and the other focuses on a specific genre of product that nearly everyone uses. There are other bloggers who have more popular blogs than mine that are more known for people who search for those specific things, too. I don't expect to surpass them, nor would I want to. I just want to be another great resource for people.
As far as my specific topic of customization and creation, I'm not sure if there are other blogs larger than me out there about it. I'd assume there must be but I haven't found them. I do know I've grown fairly quickly and that the larger bloggers have noticed me, so I know I'm doing something right. Second Life has various blogger support & networking groups, so being active in those helps a lot too.
In regards to goals, this is a hobby for me. Optimistically I'd LOVE for it to take off and at least pay for itself, but I know that's not a realistic expectation. The realistic, and honestly the true goal is to help people learn how to make their avatar look the way they want to in game. Views and visitors are great, and they help make my site more accessible, but the thing that really makes my day is hearing that one of my posts helped somebody.
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