Plus, since hearing about Dole Foods billionaire David Murdoch, Amy and I have been reading Think and Grow Rich. That powerful book insists you must have your mind set on a definite dollar amount and commit it to writing.
Another book we are reading together, Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, stresses the value of blog content as a durable asset:
Blogs are almost never an overnight success — they build cumulatively over time. Every time you write an article that has links into it from other sites, that article can get found by people browsing the Web on those other sites forever. That same article can get found by searchers in Google for various search terms forever. That article might also attract visitors who might subscribe to your blog. The great thing about that article is that the page, the Google rankings, the links, and the subscribers are all durable assets. Once you write that article, it gives you value forever. When you write your second article, the same thing happens. And so on. A blog is a durable asset that delivers durable value that lasts.
A startling thing happens every now and then: Some blog post that I wrote weeks or months ago suddenly catches fire — multiplying traffic (and the resulting revenue) by a factor of ten or even a hundred.
Web analytics must be monitored to catch traffic spikes
If you’re looking at your Web stats from yesterday or last month and noticing a spike, there’s not a lot you can do with that information except perhaps learn something for the future. I prefer to check a real time Web analytics service like Clicky many times each day to see what’s going on with my website.
Upon waking up this morning, I immediately saw that my website traffic was extraordinarily high, and that it was all coming in to one specific blog post: “Metal detector enthusiast in Staffordshire finds huge hoard of gold treasure.”
This was a news story that I blogged about last September. A man in England named Terry Herbert slightly altered a little rhyme he customarily recites to himself before his metal detecting activities, and he wound up finding an astounding 1,400-year-old hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver worth at least 3.3 million pounds.
It’s a great story — but what was sparking the sudden interest almost six months later?
Clicky showed me that nearly all of the website traffic was coming from searches — especially Google searches for “Metal Detecting Enthusiast Discovers 1,400-Year-Old Treasure.” That’s a very specific phrase, and unusually capitalized to boot. Why would so many people all over the world suddenly search for exactly those words?
Running the same search myself, I discovered a National Geographic video by that same title featuring Terry Herbert and his metal detector.
Completing the loop
I immediately updated my blog post to add a link to that video, as well as a recent BBC story about the Staffordshire Hoard. Experience has taught me that when your visitors are looking for something specific, the best thing you can do is help them find it.
Then, because I’m a big believer in completing such circuits, I added a comment on the video’s page to direct viewers to my blog post. This was tricky, because the comment system there does not allow links or URLs or even slashes. Instead, I asked people to visit MarkCz.com and search for “metal detector” to see additional news stories and links to photos.
Within seconds, Clicky was reporting dozens and dozens of new visitors showing up at my home page and searching for “metal detector.”
More links inbound and outbound
For extra measure, I added an Amazon.com link to my post — a link to a White’s Electronics Metal Detector, the same brand used by Mr. Herbert in the video. This way, if one of my visitors is interested in taking up the hobby (or purchasing anything else at Amazon.com), I will benefit from it as well. So far, there have been over a dozen clicks to the item, but I won’t know whether any metal detectors were sold until the report is available tomorrow.
Finally, to prime the pump some more, I used the TweetMeme retweet button at the top of my own post to trumpet my little traffic spike to Twiiter. Moments later, Kristin_in_AT was using the same button to tweet my post out from Vienna, Austria.
I also noted the event in my Facebook stream and added the post to my StumbleUpon favorites. I have occasionally been able to drive swarms of website traffic to certain blogs I read using StumbleUpon, but so far today it has had no effect on my own site. StumbleUpon is quirky. It sometimes requires submission from several different users before a new URL is circulated.
All of the above took only a few minutes and little extra effort, but I think it was well worth it. Now the spike has passed and I’m back to work on other people’s websites, but my traffic for the day is already several times what it would normally be, and the ad earnings are following accordingly. My old post has been improved with new information, and I have also written this new post — yet another “durable asset” which may prove helpful to my readers and profitable to me over time.
Or, all at once out of the blue.