SPI friend and confidant, Corbett Barr from ThinkTraffic, joins me in a unique, hi-def video interview where I ask him a number of questions about getting more traffic to your blog, especially if you're just starting out or you've hit a plateau and need to get off of it.
Editor's Note: Corbett no longer runs the ThinkTraffic.net site. You can find him at corbettbarr.com.
Editor's Note: Corbett no longer runs the ThinkTraffic.net site. You can find him at corbettbarr.com.
We cover a number of important things, including:
- What's working for people right now.
- Corbett's primary traffic strategies (and there's no mention of Search Engine Optimization).
- How to start getting traffic when you have zero traffic and zero connections to people.
- Tips on getting other influential bloggers to notice who you are and link back to you.
- His two favorite tools for keeping track of stats and what to do with those numbers.
- Plus a few more tips…
And in case you can't watch the video, of course I have a transcript! It's located beneath the video.
Here's it is. Please enjoy!
(Or, clock here to watch How to Get More Traffic on YouTube)
How to Get More Traffic to Your Blog with Corbett Barr (in Hi-Def!)
Pat Flynn: Hey, everybody. What's up? It's Pat Flynn from
smartassiveincome.com. I'm really excited to have my buddy Corbett Barr
from thinktraffic.net on the video line with us today. We're going to try
something unique and different. We're both on HD cameras and we're going to
do a lightning round session where I'm going to ask Corbett a number of
questions about traffic, getting more traffic to your site. Especially what
to do when you're first starting out or reach plateaus where it seems like
you're not getting enough traffic. Let's get right into it. First of all,
Corbett, thank you for coming on. I appreciate it.
Corbett Barr: Thanks so much. It's always an honor to be a guest at
smartpassiveincome.com. I appreciate it, Pat.
Pat: We always love having you on the podcast and now in the video. I'm
just going to get right into it because I have a number of questions I want
to ask you. The first question is, and there's a bit of background behind
it. But you have thinktraffic.net, you have corbettbarr.com, you have
expertenough.com and you're also running the Million Dollar Blog Project on
thinktraffic.net. Where you have a bunch of people submitting their own
blogs and you're keeping track of their progress. You're neck-deep in the
blogging world and you understand what's going on. So my question to you is
what's working right now? What's working as far as getting traffic to
people's sites that you're noticing with all your experience in blogging
Corbett: The longer I'm at this and the more sites I start and the more
individual clients I help. The more I keep coming back to the idea that
building a group of true fans, a group of people who are there for you in
and out, who are willing to tell all their friends about what you do
because you have affected them in such a meaningful way. That's really the
way I see forward in terms of building a popular audience online. All the
tricks and strategies, for me, come down to trying to provide as much value
to each individual that you interact with, in the channel you interact with
them in. If it's over a blog post, over a Youtube video. If it's via an
email somebody writes to you or you're talking with someone over the phone.
I try to deliver as much value as possible to each person so you win fans
for life essentially. That always works and that works more now that ever,
Pat: I totally agree. How do you actually give value to people?
Corbett: It starts with understanding your audience a little bit, I think.
Understanding the needs that people have. People have needs and desires,
and I assume that's why people have websites. They're trying to fulfill
those needs and desires. You have to get an understanding of what those
needs and desires are. If you're talking with someone one on one, you can
ask them what they need help with and try to fill that gap as best you can.
If it's a wider audience, then you need to think about composites of
people. Think about the types of people that are in your audience, things
you've learned from reading comments people have left, emails people have
sent you, from conversations you've had one on one individuals, and
basically take that and apply it to your blog posts. You can maybe think
about one or two people as you're writing each blog post, and try to
address those people. If you really provide value to those individuals then
it's likely that you're going to be helping a broader audience at the same
Pat: Here's a follow-up question to that. I'm just starting out and just
put up my blog, I don't have any connections whatsoever, how the heck am I
supposed to add value to people's lives and have that work for me when
there's no one on my site to give value to? What do I do when I'm just
Corbett: Right. So, in that case, the foundation is always producing great
content. So to begin with, you have to create something that's worthwhile
and that's worth people reading. People, when they come to your site,
they're asking themselves the question “Why should I spend any time on this
site when I already know of dozens of sites out there that provide great
content?” And they're giving you just a split second if they do come to
your site. First of all, you have to provide great content so that people
will stick around. If you're just starting out, I usually recommend that
people try to make a name for themselves among other bloggers and other
sort of taste makers within their space. It doesn't have to be the A-
listers, but certain people who are maybe rising stars that you can reach
out to. You do that essentially, by networking with other bloggers, other
entrepreneurs, establishing your expertise on social media. You can
demonstrate that you know something about the topic you've chosen to write
about or create your business around by linking to other resources and by
writing interesting things on social media, that sort of stuff. Also,
linking out to other people is very effective. So, if I'm starting out, I
should start to position myself within the market I'm in, and I can do that
by linking out to other blogs or blog posts and resources online that I
personally find useful. And maybe add value to that, maybe add some colored
commentary to the things I am linking out to. If you do that, if you link
out to other blogs and businesses online, and you name names, let's say you
include someone's name. If I include a link on my blog, and I say “Here's a
resource that Pat Flynn put out, and I really liked it.” You're a smart
guy, Pat. You probably have a Google alert set up so that any time someone
mentions your name you get a little notice about it. Also, if I link to
your blog from mine you'll get a trackback. Those are good ways to get in
front of other bloggers and start making a name for yourself. That opens up
the communication channels, so that eventually, you might be able to create
a relationship with those people and ultimately gain links back to your
site through those.
Pat: You're absolutely right. But what happens if you're doing that and
you're linking out, and you might not be getting as much reciprocation as
you would hope? You're trying to get on people's radars but it's just not
working. What else can you do to let other people know that you exist, and
you're worth linking to and having a conversation with?
Corbett: There's something that works really well for me right now. As you
mentioned before, I started a new blog called “Expert Enough”. “Expert
Enough” is on a completely new topic. It's about learning new things and
becoming an expert at multiple things. This is something I'm not
established as an expert within right now, so I'm basically starting this
process from scratch. What I'm finding that works very well right now, is
to interview people within this topic. This especially works if it's in an
area where people aren't necessarily getting interviewed all the time. If
you're talking about internet marketing or something, obviously, people are
doing a lot of interviews like you and I are doing right now. But, in other
areas, for example, with this topic of expertise, I've been able to reach
out to a lot of the people who are sort of, as I've said taste makers or
people who are at the top of that heap for that topic, and interviewed them
for my own blog and podcast. That sort of thing. That's a great way to
connect with people, start establishing a relationship. Then a lot of
times, after I've finished interviewing someone, they actually share that
interview with their own audience, which is pretty cool. It's a great way
to get traffic back to your site as well.
Pat: That's a fantastic point. I know that whenever someone does an
interview with me and they post it on their site or publish it on iTunes,
I'm always happy to link out to it. That does absolutely work.
Corbett: It's only natural, right?
Pat: Right. Totally. I think it's important to understand that you can't
just write content and expect things to happen. Even if you write the best
content in the world, you still have to build relationships and reach out
and get uncomfortable, I guess you could say, in order to get things to
happen. My next question to you is what happens if you're an introvert, you
don't really feel comfortable reaching out to people? How do you reach out
to people when that's just not in your nature?
Corbett: A couple of things. First of all, don't reach out to the people
you find to be intimidating in your space. Just start reading and following
people. The people that you feel naturally connected with, the people you
feel most comfortable approaching, start with those people. That's the
first tip. The second is I think people find that people are very willing
to get back to you. They're very willing to do interviews. I think that a
lot of people never make progress in these areas simply because they don't
ask. But when you do start asking, I think you'll be surprised at how many
yeses you'll get.
Pat: When you really think about it, what's the worst that can happen?
They're going to say no and that's definitely not the end of the world. I
would encourage everybody to push forward, ask, don't be scared. You have
nothing to be afraid of. Always ask yourself “What's the worst that could
happen?” I really like what you said about asking people who you feel
comfortable asking. I think it reminds me of when I first started out and I
started reaching out to other people. I felt more comfortable talking to
the B- and C-listers. Those people who were maybe just one or two levels
above me, at that point. I didn't necessarily go for the top people. I
found that over time, those were actually the people who responded more.
Those are the people who have grown with me and some of those people have
since become A-listers and we're kind of partners and we work together and
help each other out. It's like how you and I have been progressing,
Corbett: I constantly harp on this with people. Those initial groups you
form can be incredibly valuable over time. In a year, in two years. In fact
I was just looking back on some posts where I had written about your
success, Pat, back maybe just 18 months ago or two years ago. To think
about where you were then versus where you are now, I think your blog was
maybe one tenth the size it is now when you and I first started talking.
Think about the people around you and look at who are the rising stars, the
people who you know have something valuable to say, and who you can see
doing something big in the years to come. Many of those relationships will
actually pay off in the long run.
Pat: Totally. I want to ask you now about time frame. When you're just
starting out, how long can a new blogger expect to see results? They're
doing these things, linking out, getting interviews from people. How long
until someone gets a significant amount of traffic, maybe enough to
monetize or enough to really get their message out to a lot of people and
influence people in the way they would like? Are we talking one or two
months? One or two years? What are your thoughts on that?
Corbett: That's a loaded question. I like to use, if I can, a kindling
analogy. I haven't tried this before, so bear with me if it doesn't work
out. If you have the right combination of things, if you have a market
that's ripe for information with low competition, if you have really
incredible content, if you focus on the techniques and strategies that are
going to yield you the most benefit for the least amount of effort. If you
do all those things, it's like trying to start a fire with really dry
kindling. Maybe even with gasoline. In that case, you might be able to
create incredible progress in just a few months. If, on the other hand, you
start out in an industry that has a lot of competition, you don't
differentiate your offering, you don't necessarily have anything useful or
interesting to say versus what's already being said, and maybe you're
putting out mediocre content to begin with. That's like trying to start a
fire with wet wood. It might happen eventually, but it's going to take you
a whole lot of effort. My entire strategy when I advise people on starting
new blogs and websites online, is to get them to that point where they're
working with dry wood.
Pat: That analogy worked for me. I think it worked for everybody else, too.
It makes complete sense. I want to finish up here by talking really quickly
about analytics. Keeping track of the traffic that's coming to your site.
How are you keeping track? What are you doing with those numbers, and how
are you analyzing that traffic and what are you doing from there? What are
your thoughts about keeping track of traffic, Corbett?
Corbett: Good question. This is something where I think there's a fine
line. Some people become so obsessed with numbers that they spend way too
much time within the analytics and not enough time producing great content
or being honest with themselves about how great the content is and the
efforts they're doing to get off their site and network with ,people.
There's a balance. On the other hand, a lot of times I talk with people
either that I'm coaching one on one or mentoring and I start asking
questions like, “What are your top sources or traffic” and they don't even
necessarily know that. You have to track enough so that you know where your
efforts are working out, and where they're not. If you're spending a ton of
time, let's say for example, on a social network like Google+, and you
don't know whether or not you're getting traffic from that network. You're
just starting out and there's 100 things you could be working on at once,
and you need to laser focus on the things that work. I would suggest you
look into your analytics. You can look and see if any traffic is actually
coming from the different things you're spending time on. If not, maybe you
need to trim those things. Maybe you don't need to be focusing on those
things, at least in the short term. Instead, look at the top of your list.
Look at the top 10 things that are bringing traffic, and put more effort
into those things. Because it's going to pay off sooner rather than later.
Pat: You know those things are working for you already, so what you can do
is go to those techniques and go to those places and make them work even
better. They're probably working because you're good at that, whatever that
may be. So keep working at them. I don't know if you mentioned, but what
tools are you using to keep track?
Corbett: For analytics I use two tools, and maybe this is a little
obsessive, like I said earlier. I use Google analytics because it's free
and standard. It's also the thing I installed first, so I keep using it for
continuity purposed. But, lately I really enjoy Clicky at getclicky.com.
Actually, that's one, I think, I learned about from you originally, Pat. I
like it because it's real time. It shows a different view of the data, and
it's easy to understand and navigate. Those are the two I use for tracking
straight analytics and people coming to my sites.
Pat: Awesome. Those are the same exact tools I use as well. So I'm glad
we're on the same wavelength. To finish up here I want to give you,
Corbett, the quick opportunity to share a little bit about Traffic School.
For those of you who don't know, Traffic School is a course that Corbett
comes out with a few times a year. He opens up the doors and has applicants
come in and fills it up, and closes the doors and really works with the
group. I'm very happy to be an affiliate for this course. As you know, I
don't really promote things very much. But when I do, it's only for things
I'm really, really confident in and proud to put my name with. So, Corbett,
I would like to to explain a little bit to everybody what Traffic School is
Corbett: Sure. Traffic School is essentially a comprehensive program that
takes you through all the ins and outs of building traffic. It's not just a
bunch of bolt-on tactics or strategies. It's actually a comprehensive
framework based on something I call the Thriving Audience Framework. This
dives into your fundamentals, the foundation you need to be building on
your website. Including things like the unique selling proposition, your
differentiation, your branding, your design. All of that sort of stuff. It
then dives into content and what it really takes to create epic content,
that will almost spread the word by itself if you do it right. How to
create highly shareable content, that sort of stuff. Finally, it gets into
the promotional elements. How do you make a name for yourself? How do you
get off of your site, find out where people are hanging out and then bring
them back to your own site? It goes through all of that in a comprehensive
way, sort of step by step. There are lessons, including lesson plans and a
workbooks for people to go through. In addition we also have 16 very high
powered, well-known guest instructors within the course. People like
yourself. People like Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. People like Chris
Guillebeau. Danielle Laporte, Clay Collins. A number of well-known, very
successful people are also in the course teaching individual lessons to
people. So this is actually opening up soon. It's sort of a limited
engagement, because we like to get a group of people in all at once during
an open enrollment period. And then run through that group of people as a
class. We also have a number of very successful alumni. I think the results
speak for themselves. If you look at who's gone through the course and how
successful they've been. People including Danny Iny from Firepole
Marketing, Natalie Sisson from The Suitcase Entrepreneur, Scott Dinsmore
from Live Your Legend, Sybil Chavis from The Possibility of Today and on
and on and on. We have a number of very successful alumni and I like to
talk those people up. Because as I was look through today, at all the
people that had gone through, I was fairly proud to see who had gone
through that. I think that speaks for itself. Thank you.
Pat: That's awesome. You know, a number of people that I've actually
referred through my affiliate link to Traffic School have come back to me have said thank you, and have seen boosts in their traffic as well. So anyone who really has a site and you're maybe not seeing enough traffic and you have a little room for education in your life. I highly recommend Corbett's course, Traffic School, which is the perfect name for a course.
Corbett, again, thank you so much. If you want to go through my affiliate
link, that's smartpassiveincome.com/trafficschool (I make some money if you buy). No spaces or dashes in there. Just smartpassiveincome.com/trafficschool. If you have any questions
for me, or for Corbett, feel free to leave a comment down below and I'm
sure we'll get back to you. Thank you, Corbett, for taking the time, your
wisdom and education here on the SPI video, or Youtube channel, blog,
whatever you want to call it. I guess we'll see how these HD videos come
out. Again, thank you so much. I can't wait to talk to you again.
Corbett: Thanks so much, Pat. I love being on. I'm a huge fan of what you
do. I appreciate it.
Pat: Thanks again. Take care.
Also, I wanted to be honest and let you know that at the end of the video I give Corbett a minute to talk about Traffic School. (Full disclosure: This is an affiliate link—I earn a commission if you purchase)
No, he doesn't have a bad driving record (actually, well—I can't confirm that) but he does have an amazing course that I've been happy to recommend here on the blog in the past. He opens up the doors just a few times a year and he will be doing so again tomorrow (Tuesday) for only 100 new students, and I've always gotten an amazing response from those who have purchased through my affiliate link. (I make a commission if you buy)
He's also giving new members full access to his How to Start a Blog that Matters course, which I'm very familiar with as well.
Thanks again to Corbett, and if you have any questions about Corbett's tips and driving more traffic to your blog, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Cheers, and all the best!
P.S. And in case you're curious (a number of people on YouTube have asked me already), I'm shooting on a Canon Rebel T3i with a 50mm f/1.4 lens and recording with a Sony Wireless UWPV6 Lavalier Microphone. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through these links.]