Online Marketing, Blogging, Social Media… It’s All About Traffic

Let’s get the promotional stuff out of the way. In 2013, I was part of a group of 33 bloggers who was asked a question about how to increase blogger engagement. A few months ago I was part of another group of people that includes some fairly big names on a website called First Site Guide. We were all asked to give our 3 best blog monetization tips. I’m included with some fairly well known bloggers, few of whom know me; that’ll change one of these days (gotta have hope). Then about a month and a half ago I wrote in this space about trying to market my latest book on leadership titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy.

Freeways and Purple Buildings
Rick Hobson via Compfight

With all of that, you’d think I would know what I was doing. In a way I do, but in a way I don’t. Let me clarify that one. I know what I need to do to make more sales. I actually know what it takes to drive more traffic to my blog and my websites. After all these years, there’s lots of that kind of stuff I know.

However, what I wasn’t sure of was just how much more traffic I might need to make a dent in selling things online. You know, marketing online isn’t all that much different than real marketing, or offline marketing if you will. In both, it’s all about one or two things.

One, who you know that might be able to help you with things you’re not good at for the mutual benefit of both.

Two, the numbers, as in the more people you can reach, the more traffic you can drive, the better the opportunity you have to be somewhat successful.

The one thing I’ve never really known is just how many numbers you need online to make real sales. I have made a few sales over the years but, being more of a consultant offline than online, I’d never put together any numbers on my own.

Who did I get some numbers from? None other than my old buddy Lynn Terry of Click Newz. I asked her to take a look at the sales page for my book in her private Facebook group to see what I might be missing. She gave me some tips, then asked me how much traffic I’d had. I gave her the numbers and she said “That’s not nearly enough. You can’t make any real sales until you can get at least 3,000 to 10,000 people to your site.

In other words, it takes a lot of traffic, targeted or not, to make any real money online. And those numbers are pretty high.

Truth be told, the only numbers I can get are from Google Analytics, which are slightly suspect. My host, 1&1, doesn’t have Cpanel, which means I can’t look at any traffic figures from them unless I pay an extra fee; sigh. I don’t have a compelling reason to move to anyone else (so don’t even mention whose hosting your site because I’m not switching) because, no matter what people say, they’re as good as any other shared hosting company these days. For anyone who doesn’t believe me, just ask someone how many times Hostgator has gone down in the last couple of years and then ask me how many times 1&1 has gone down in the same period… to which I’d answer “none”.

Rushing to get home on Interstate 405
Matthew Rutledge via Compfight

I know an argument someone will make is “what about niche marketing and niched blogs. Whereas you have a better chance of attracting the people you’re trying to reach, it’s still about the numbers, about the traffic. My book was on leadership, so I reached out to people interested in leadership through my business blog, a couple of groups on LinkedIn concerning leadership, and my articles there on leadership. For me, the traffic wasn’t bad; for making sales, there just wasn’t close to being enough traffic.

Now, that doesn’t mean if you hit upon something that no one else is doing that you won’t make any money at all. What it means is if you’re hoping to make enough money to sustain yourself by selling things online, you need thousands of people stopping by who are interested in what you have to say, then in what you have to sell. Even if you know how to monetize your site, as my buddy Peter wrote in his post called The Truth About Blogging For Money, it’s about getting the right traffic, marketing the right thing, and touching the right nerves.

That’s mainly why I wrote 3 years ago that if you’re going to make any real money blogging you probably need to change your focus to “service” as opposed to product, even if you’re creating the product. Maybe if your product is teaching other people how to make money you’ll get some sales, or teaching almost anything with the right market. Otherwise, you need to decide whether you want to offer writing services, consulting services, training services, etc. That’s really what it’s all about.

Even Ryan Biddulph, who wrote the book and has the website about Blogging From Paradise, admits in the book (yes, I bought & read the book) that most of the money he makes is from freelance writing, although he’s starting to do well selling his books these days. Another famous guy, Darren Rowse, aka Problogger, became the first millionaire blogger by setting up forums and other sites with other marketers and becoming more of a comglomerate instead of purely blogging (selling photography equipment he wrote about didn’t hurt, as he made a lot of money that way, but it was the other stuff that took him over the top).

Let me be clear on this; all of that still takes a lot of traffic, but maybe not as much traffic to make enough money to live off if you pick the right thing you want to do that people will pay for. It’s something to be considered in any case. Give it some thought, and if you agree or disagree, let me know.

16 thoughts on “Online Marketing, Blogging, Social Media… It’s All About Traffic”

  1. Truth to be told, you need a lot of traffic, yes. But baby steps is all I can advice. One day at the time, realistic expectations, quality content and in time it will all be good…The world even wasn’t built over one night 😉

    Kind regards.

    1. We all have to start with the baby steps for sure Anja, but it can help some folks to realize the magnitude of what they need to actually make money online.

  2. I wouldn’t worry much about Cpanel stats. Personally, I think the numbers we see in there are not only unreliable but out right ridiculous. CPanel shows I get Many-X the traffic than Google Analytics and it has always been like that. Those tiny sites that love to share traffic numbers that you know are exaggerated are often going by C-panel stats.

    Cpanel Webalizer shows HBT got 68,647 visits / 57,5527 Hits last month (June). Google Analytics shows 6,042 Pageviews / 4,056 Sessions during the same period. Now that’s a HUGE difference.

    I’d love to think Webalizer is right but I know Google has a better grasp on that. Actually, I’m pretty sure the actual number of visitors was around 14. lol

    As far as monetization, it’s tough. I think many of us know what to do, it is just a matter of what we’re willing to do.

    For example, I know if I create three products (main product, up-sell, and optin), and set-up a complicated funnel system I can make a mint with webinars and Facebook ads. My head hurts just thinking about that.

    1. Good points Brian. There are blogs I read where, if I put in all that effort, I’d hope to not only make money but lots so that I wouldn’t have to do it again for six months. However, after all these years I realize it’s just not realistic for everyone to do. It doesn’t negate that it probably works though.

      1. Ah-ha, I just figured it out. You’ve become accustomed to working vacations for a few months and kicking back like Travis McGee (A favorite book character of mine) for the rest of the year. 😉 I just realized you have a better lifestyle than many of the “full time” bloggers with far less work.

        Which brings me to my lame excuse. I work 60+ hrs/wk Mon-Fri and always felt if I worked the online thing full time I’d do very well. That’s actually a lame excuse because many others have faced far bigger challenges and found success. It’s all about what we’re willing to do and finding the guts to do it.

      2. Working vacations… hah! lol The life of an independent consultant is dicey at best. When I’m working I make lots of money fast. But there are long gaps between each gig, which can get scary. If I had it going okay with online sales I’d feel a heck of a lot calmer…

  3. Yeah Mitch. Bullet points woulda been great. In fact I think you might wanna start using my webhost, BeachBall Hosting because…. Oh wait, JK, I ACTUALLY read your post before I left a comment. 🙂
    Yes, baby steps and consitancy are key.
    Visitor stats? Yeah, who knows? Like others have said, one will give you X and another Y and another Z number of visitors or hits or whatever and all are so dramatically different. Personally, I use Google Analytics Summary that is on my WordPress dashboard and I do not worry too much about it. But I am small fish. Maybe when I get bigger… Baby steps…

    1. Are you actually trying to sell anything Troy? Truthfully, that’s the only time when traffic really means anything; otherwise, it’s just vanity… which I’m not going to say I don’t have. lol

      1. Generally I am not trying to blatantly sell anything. Although my two main sites are not primarily about sales I do have some sites that are specifically designed to sell things. My two main sites do you have Amazon affiliate links on them. So yes traffic is a good thing if people end up buying off of Amazon. I like to think that there are some websites that are not selling anything at all, it is not just about vanity for them and that they are in existence just to help benefit mankind and share some sort of positive knowledge or message

      2. Interesting thought. Thing is, at a certain point, if you continue writing a lot, you either already have money or you’re hoping to get a little something out of what you do. On this site I market my books, which I think is fair since I wrote them, but have you ever noticed at the bottom of comments, just above the comment policy, the thing I have there where, if you like the post, you can donate something to me? I’m doubting it, as most people haven’t noticed it, and I put it there way before I added the comment policy (which no one reads lol). Anyway, over all these years I’ve had 2 people who’ve donated $5; in actuality I don’t think that’s so bad and I think it’s fair because I’m not begging, but definitely giving the opportunity for people who might really like something to show me some love. 🙂 Heck, I might have to write about it because I don’t think I ever have; now that’s a bad marketer… lol

      3. There are plans set in place for the future for my site. Specifically the smiling site. Book projects coffee mugs stuff like that. And when Oprah finally gets a hold of the site then the floodgates shall be opened. At least that’s the vision

  4. That’s all it takes. Have good content and have someone or something promote you and Viola! Traffic and whatever that brings whether it is leads or sales or partnerships or ???
    One of my sites is modeled after a site that was doing ok until it got picked up and written about on a major news publication such as Wall Street Journal. It blew up and got huge immediately.
    You know my story of Tony Robbins retweeting me on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and the increased traffic that had for me. Just last week it happened again with a very popular restaurateur who I mentioned in a tweet which resulted in hundreds of retweets and over 100 new followers.
    So Mitch if we could just find that one person or entity that likes our message and who will use their platform to share or work, the increased traffic and the benefits could be huge.

    1. I almost had that a couple of times. However, it was also during the time that someone I knew locally first started looking at this blog, and he attacked both of them. So much for me. lol

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