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How to REALLY Create a Popular Blog From Scratch

Posted on the 02 May 2013 by Ana Hoffman @AnaTrafficCafe
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make your blog popularNot all blogs are created equal.

Some blogs take off like wild fire within weeks of their creation, yet some might take months to even start seeing the light of day.

Your blog might be one of the latter ones.

You write great content, yet your competitor’s blog with mediocre posts seems to get all the website traffic.

Not all blogs are created equal.

For instance, when Guy Kawasaki created his blog, he had the benefit of already being a famous persona in business and online. No wonder he had nearly 4,000 daily visitors within weeks.

Chances are you are not Guy Kawasaki.

But that’s OK. Because neither was I.

So you and I can have a real heart to heart on how to REALLY make a popular blog starting with nothing.

In the beginning, there was… hard work.

No other way around it. No silver bullet. No secrets.

Just plain old-fashioned “let’s drink lots of good coffee and stay up at all hours of the night, work around your family schedule and any other commitments you might have” kind of work.

And start from the beginning.

How to Make Your Blog Popular: Hurdle 1

Best Bloggers Are Natural Hackers

Traffic Generation Cafe is certainly not the first or the only blog to talk about how to increase website traffic. There are plenty others that paved the way.

Yet, here I am, alive and kicking and growing.

What’s my secret?

You know that phrase: “think outside the box“? I hate it.

There’s no such thing as the dreaded “box”. YOU are the only box that you need to worry about.

You see, all great bloggers are natural hackers. They took a good look around, measured themselves against their competition, and went against the grain.

Do you have what it takes?

The very first question you have to ask yourself is this:


Is your content AWESOME and unique? Is it infused with personality? Does it help your readers to solve THEIR problems?

What is your unique selling proposition?

The opposite of the above would be:

  • your content is generic and can be found on every other blog in your niche.
  • you don’t offer any unique point of view on your blog.
  • you don’t have a “hook” that would keep your readers coming back (usually, the best hook is a mixture of personality and the unique angle at solving your readers’ problems).
  • you focus on the things YOU are interested in and don’t provide any solutions to your visitors.

Start there.

Examine your blog as impartially as you can.

Ask a friend. Ask someone to take a look at your content and give you an HONEST opinion.

Don’t do anything until you get over this hurdle.

By the way, if you want to see if you fit into the “hacking” category, check out this series of 4 blog posts, which I was a part of, titled “Best Bloggers Are Natural Hackers” – incredible idea from Kiesha Easley!

How to Make Your Blog Popular: Hurdle 2

Find Your Voice

The best voice you can give to your blog is the one you ALREADY have.

Don’t create a blogging “persona” that is a far cry from who you really are.

If you do that, there’s only that long that you can carry on with it and this will eventually become the weight to drag you down.

Example: I am not a story-teller. I don’t do fancy. I am generally not good with words. Especially considering that English is not my first language.

What I am good with is giving straight actionable advice. I speak my mind and I do it well.

However, I didn’t realize it until my first blog became an obvious flop.

I got tired pretty quickly of trying to be the kind of writer I really wasn’t and my readers noticed. Soon enough I heard crickets and that’s when I knew it was time to reinvent myself… to simply go back to what I knew how to do best.

Now let’s get down to business: stop talking about the “Whats” and get to the “Hows” of how to build your popular blog from scratch.

1. Create Pillar Content Right Off the Bat

Your next step is to write, write, write.

Don’t do anything else, but write.

Edit yourself without mercy.

Come up with brilliant ways to write about the same old stuff everybody else is writing (if you can’t come up with anything fresh) from an entirely different point of view.

Provoke your readers’ minds.

My very first post on TGC was a humongous list of 202 Bite-Sized Tips To Insanely Increase Your Blog Traffic.

Why 202? No reason.

I just wanted to create the biggest list of its kind and I did.

Needless to say, it brought me a lot of traffic right off the bat and the post was mentioned on several prestigious blogs after that.

2. Create Social Proof

Ever came to a blog that was so quiet you weren’t sure it was even alive?

No comments, no tweets; just sitting there, lonely and forgotten…

Yes, I know – I am sad for the blogger as well.

Existing engagement encourages more engagement. And that, my friend, is what social scientists call Social Proof.

I do understand your dilemma though.

You have a new or fairly new blog that hasn’t quite developed a following yet.

So how are you to prove to your visitors that you are worthy of their attention?

How do you get that initial push, that first comment, first tweet?

That’s where I come to the rescue. On the white horse and all.

  • Have enough posts: forget about bringing traffic to a blog with a couple of posts. Completely counter-productive.
  • Launch without comments: If your blog is not getting much traffic or comments, post without comments first. As your traffic grows, you can always open the posts for discussion later.
  • Create a commenting tribe: That’s right: take the matter of no comments into your own hands. Create a group of like-minded peer blogs and start commenting on each other’s posts. How to Drive Traffic To a New Blog Through a Commenting Tribe
  • Create more tweets: Here’s an easy way to create Twitter social proof: have more than 1 Twitter account! Or more than 2, or even more than 3. When I first started, I had 6 Twitter accounts. To learn more about my Twitter strategy, go here: How to Get More Followers from Twitter Fast.
  • Create more Facebook shares: It’s even easier to get more Facebook shares. All you do here is find some existing niche tribes on Facebook (just search for “your keyword” plus the word “tribe” in FB search), join the tribe pages, and start posting your links. Of course, it’s good etiquette to not just spam the pages, but check out other posts as well. Also, here’s a great post on how to get more Facebook fans (so that you can get more Facebook shares).
  • Limit Choice of Social Sharing Buttons: Don’t ever display buttons that your readers aren’t using. For instance, I noticed on my blog that I rarely get any Diggs. Since I am not an active Digg member and will never become anything close to a power player on that site, I simply removed that button from my blog.

Great post on the subject at

  • Building Reader Engagement Is Difficult, Or Is It? [25+ Tactics, Tools and Examples]

3. Create Profitable Alliances

Call it what you want: alliance, partnership, JV – all roads lead to Rome.

This works no matter what stage your blog is in, how much perceived authority you, as a blogger, have, how big your readership is – the only thing that matters is VALUE.

We all have something we do better than the other blogger, know more about something than the next guy – we all have something to offer that someone else might want or need.

So, working together with other bloggers to achieve the greater good…

Ways to create alliances:

1.   Links / Mentions

One of the easiest forms of collaboration, it happens to be one of the most effective ones as well.

I’ve benefited greatly from it through creating more traffic from the mentioned blogs, as well as more comments – at the very least from the bloggers themselves, from being mentioned on their blogs in return, from referral business even, like consulting clients, blog audits, etc.

2.   Promoting in a post

Every once in a while, I like to highlight specific bloggers and the interesting projects they are currently working on.

For instance, this post was originally written for Danny Iny‘s incredible “Engagement from Scratch” book, in which 30+ co-authors explain how they built an engaged and loyal audience, and how they would do it if they had to start all over again.

So now that I mentioned Danny’s book, I am hoping to butter him up to keep me in mind and possibly mention my blog in one of his future tremendous guest posts for some incredibly popular blog.

How did it work, Danny?

3.   Guest blogging

Yes, I can hold this note for a long time.

Imagine you’d like to network with a blogger who seems to be simply unapproachable because of his/her strong reputation in the blogging community. The kind of blogger you really would love to get to know better, in other words.

You can’t and shouldn’t just send them an email, however nice it might be, introducing yourself and letting them know you are after a piece of their attention.

Of course, not.

But submit an awesome blog post, start commenting on their blog, and sooner than later they know who you are and you are on an email basis with them.

Sweet spot to be at.

That’s how I developed a relationship with Yaro Starak from, for instance.

I’ve been a regular contributor to E-J for about 8 months now (take a look at some of the posts I wrote there) and now that Yaro knows who I am, he was very willing to contribute to my post on banner advertising as a viable income stream from a blog.

4.   Introducing each other

It happens all the time.

You know someone I want to know? Requesting an introduction is in order, assuming, of course, that I already networked with you, linked to you, and am on a first name basis with you.

Twitter is great for that, by the way.

Just recently Gail Gardner from thought that I should definitely be introduced to Donna Anderson from, and within minutes of that idea the following tweets were sent out:

how to create an alliance on twitter

how to increase traffic through Twitter alliance

Now, thanks to Gail, Donna and I have become each other’s fans – who knows where that relationship will take us in the future!

5.   Swap ads

Simple enough, yet with a twist.

Find a blog with an untapped audience!

Don’t just go to a blogger you are already sharing the readership with. Find someone whose content doesn’t compete, but rather compliments yours.

Then approach them with the idea to swap ads and “exchange” traffic.

6.   Offer your freebie as a bonus

Know someone with a great product and think your freebie will make a great bonus to it?

Everyone loves a good bonus and as long as it’s not in competition with the product – naturally, this should be an easy deal to make.

7.   Co-registration

This is a great way to build email list.

Get some bloggers with great newsletters together and start promoting each other on a thank you page your new subscribers will see right after they sign up to your list.

“…I think you’d really love to check out these newsletters I subscribe to and know to provide tremendous value:…”

Here are more list building tips.

8.   Product co-creation

Yes, everyone wanting to make any serious money online needs their own product at some point.

Having hard time with that idea? Have no clue how to even approach it?

Partner with someone who is in the same boat – two heads are better than one.

Better yet, find someone who already has an idea or is in some stages of development of a product, but needs your expertise to make it complete.

You can even start with something as simple as Kindle publishing.

9.   Special discounts

Have a product already?

Offer a special discount to the readers of a particular blog.

Exclusivity is still a hot commodity and will guarantee to bring you red-hot traffic ready to buy.

10.   Run a contest.

This one is definitely better done with a partner or two – less work, better results.

The really hard part is attracting some strong sponsors; connections are the key here.

However, if you’ve done the initial steps listed above and already positioned yourself as an authority figure in your niche, that shouldn’t be a problem.

How to Make Your Blog Popular: Hurdle 3

Let your readers know who you are

Time and time again, I see this happen: a FACELESS BLOG.

No “Here’s what you can learn on this blog…

No “Hi, I am so and so…

No “here what I am all about”.

No “feel free to get in touch with me”.

BIG mistake.

When I come to your blog, I – your average reader – want to see the man/woman behind the lines.

I want to know if you are worth my attention. I want to know that, if I were to ask you a question, I would get an answer.

Your blog audience engagement starts with this:

1.  Your About Me page.

This is a good place to talk about… well, you. Let your readers know who is behind your blog. Why are you blogging? What are you blogging about? Why should I read your blog?

Very important: DON’T get carried away.

Yes, it is a page about you, but not really. It’s still about your reader. It’s about you showing them that you are worth a look, a read, a comment.

It’s still ALL ABOUT THEM.

Check out my About Me page and pay attention to the first few paragraphs, where I am really not talking about myself, but rather letting my readers know why I deserve their attention.

Need more inspiration?

Check out this post at

  • 12 of the Best About Us Pages on the Internet

2.   Your Contact Me page.

Equally as important.

Accessibility counts.

Here you add whatever you feel comfortable adding. Some ideas:

  • your phone number
  • Skype, AOL, Yahoo messenger ID
  • social networks (Twitter, Facebook, and such)
  • a “Contact Me” form (I use plugin called “Contact Form 7″ on my blog; there are plenty of others to choose from).

How to Make Your Blog Popular: Marketing Takeaway

You know why all blogs are not created equal?

Because some of them are created by doers and others are created by spectators.

DOERS are people who read about it and then go do it. They are the go-getters, the bottom-liners, the achievers.

SPECTATORS are people who read about it, but don’t implement it. They are the side-liners, the “I could never do what she did” crowd, the eternal students.

The good news here is that YOU are the one who chooses which camp you are in.

Hope you enjoyed the post and would love for you to share it with your social media circles!

traffic generation cafe how to make your blog popular

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