Create a Following, Not Traffic

Create a Following, Not Traffic

At the risk of offending someone, let me say it like it is…

“Generating traffic” is a gigantic waste of time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that you need eyeballs on your articles, eBooks, courses, or whatever you might be shilling.

But if you approach the problem the wrong way, and build your business on shaky foundations, you will suffer the consequences sooner or later.

I’ve seen it, and it gets ugly fast. You don’t want to end up there.

So, here’s the problem and the solution.

The Problem with “Generating Traffic”

If your business revolves around driving traffic, then here are some of the problems you’re sure to encounter:

Tunnel Vision

It would be in any creator’s best interest to create traffic from one channel before worrying about adding more.

Most experts, even your online heroes, generally aren’t good at more than one or two channels.

Seth Godin? Blogging.

John Lee Dumas? Podcasting.

Ralph Smart? YouTube.

Take them out of their element, and they do not command the same authority.

Most businesses get their traffic from content / SEO first and social media second. So, it’s very easy to conclude that publishing like crazy is the answer.

But any chucklehead can now generate half-baked AI content and post it all day long…

And that’s what you’re competing with now.

Getting too focused on one channel to the detriment of all others is single-source dependency at its worst.

Getting too focused on one channel to the detriment of all others is single-source dependency at its worst. Click To Tweet

You need at least one backup channel should one fail you. And remember – one or more channels will fail you eventually.

The same can be said for monetization. Many businesses rely heavily on advertising and affiliate marketing (how many times have these revenue streams been impacted by changes from high up?) and haven’t built other revenue streams.

Complete Lack of Relationship Building and Audience Nurturing

When you’re focused on “traffic,” you’re focused on numbers.

300 visits today. 100 visits tomorrow. 400 visits the next day. And so on.

And the thing we forget is that there are real people behind these numbers.

I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone else when I say this, but:

If you don’t take the time to build relationships, nurture your audience, and genuinely care about the people you’re serving…

Your precious “traffic” will start looking for alternatives. People have too many choices nowadays.

Author Dan Kennedy says the greatest sin in marketing is being boring.

So, in your audience nurturing efforts, you can’t afford to be sending nothing but “Hey, there’s a new post on Conceited Guru Self Aggrandizing Fest .com). You’ve got to mix things up and keep it interesting!

And if you don’t have a passion for the audience you’re serving, please, do us all a favor and find yourself another business.

I know it’s hard to start over but understand that there are plenty of people who are more than deserving of the spotlight and have a genuine passion for the niche waiting in line to be noticed.

No Intent

You can create content around every relevant keyword under the sun.

The question you’ve still got to ask yourself is…

Is there any business value in the keywords you’re targeting?

Is there any business value in the keywords you’re targeting? Click To Tweet

Some business owners I know gave up on the idea that the audience they’re targeting would ever respond to aggressive call to actions, so they’re perfectly content driving people to their site that may or may not take any action.

And when I say, “perfectly content,” what I really mean is they are shaking in their little booties wondering whether their precious businesses are going to collapse.

This is an easy problem to solve if you focus on personality rather than content, but we’ll talk about solutions later.

For now, let’s talk about the problem with no personality…

Zero Focus on Establishing Your Personality

Look, you don’t need to be the face of your business…

But someone or something does.

At the very least, you need a mascot.

Many creators get a little too focused on riding the content hamster wheel…

While doing nothing to establish their unique personality, interests, talents, strengths, and weaknesses with their fans, followers, and subscribers.

In a world rife with AI-generated content, humanness is going to reign supreme.

In a world rife with AI-generated content, humanness is going to reign supreme. Click To Tweet

In a world where people can read, listen to, or watch anything from home, real-life experience is going to reign supreme.

Does your plan include human connection? Pressing flesh? Loving on your audience? Hosting live events?

Are you the kind of person people even want to meet?

No matter how hard you try, you can’t fool anyone. You’re not a superhero. You’re human. That’s what makes you relatable.

People are tired of hearing smart people ramble and would prefer to hear you speak authentically from the heart.

If you have no personality to share with others, of course, you’re going to end up having to rely on generating more traffic.

Sabotage

Sabotage is not as rare as you might be inclined to think.

Sure, casually disguised phishing emails are easy to ignore (although the scammers are getting cleverer)…

But if someone wanted to, they could launch a botnet attack against you, and you would have no way of tracing it back to the instigator (this happened to me).

It’s crazy what a little money can do.

Plus, any chucklehead could launch a negative SEO campaign against you, linking to your site from low-quality Private Blog Networks (PBNs) that Google has already blackballed.

If all your eggs are in one basket (e.g., SEO), you’re at greater risk than you might think. Because sabotage usually has a significant long-term impact.

Why Building a Following Needs to be The Focus

Building a following solves most if not all the problems “traffic businesses” have. Here’s why:

You Don’t Have to Hit the “Content Ball” Out of the Park

Many newbies think better content is what’s going to get them noticed.

True, you’ve got to focus on the content (specifically on your unique approach to it), but I have seen far too many entrepreneurs disappointed with the long-term results of trying to one-up their competition’s content to believe this is the way.

(Especially if they are copycatting content without adding any of their SOUL to it – Stories, Opinions, Understanding, and Lessons.)

The great thing about growing a following is that you won’t need to hit the “content ball” out of the park anymore. In the eyes of your audience, you can do no wrong.

There will be those who want to hear what you have to say, on just about any topic, simply because it’s coming from you.

People can get a “top 10” listicle anywhere…

The one thing they can’t get anywhere else is YOU.

You’ll Know What to Create Next

If you have a following, they will tell you what they want from you next. At times, you won’t even need to ask!

Imagine not having to guess what your audience wants from you. Imagine not having to spend untold hours setting up a sales page or creating new offers only to be met with crickets…

And instead taking dozens or even hundreds of pre-orders on your next course because your fans, followers, and subscribers have told you what they want!

One of the reasons “traffic businesses” have trouble staying afloat is because their offers are based on what they think their audience wants, not on what audiences have specifically asked for.

How do some entrepreneurs make bank on small lists? This is how. They listen to their audience and act on the information available.

Reduced Risk

Virtually everything that’s a threat to a traffic business isn’t a threat to a “following business.”

Consider the following:

  • Tunnel vision? Not a problem, because people want to follow YOU, and they will follow you on their favorite channels. Even if one of your accounts gets deleted, you’ll have others to fall back on.
  • No intent? It’s all good. Not every piece of content you create needs to be focused on intent. If you prioritize relationship building and audience nurturing, your followers will buy from you, even if you don’t do content perfectly, sometimes without prompting. Trying to sell too aggressively might even hurt you.
  • Sabotage? It’s okay, you’ll get by. Even if your website goes down during a launch, your followers will be like, “Oh my god, her site got flooded with traffic and it shut down!” You’ll become a legend. Your followers will DM you via social media and check in to see if everything’s okay, which is another valuable touchpoint you can leverage.

Concluding Thoughts

Don’t think in terms of traffic. Shift your mindset. Think in terms of people, of human beings, of individuals just like you who have wants and needs.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, orient your marketing message around the people who are taking time out of their days to check out your stuff.

Remember – everyone wants to feel important. Everyone wants to feel like they matter.

In a time when most people are struggling with health, finances, and relationships, if you can be a beacon of light, you will build a business that matters to others. And that will solve your traffic problem.

Toxic Editing: I Don’t Need You to Mark My Paper

Toxic Editing: I Don’t Need You to Mark My Paper

I get it. The Medium community is trying to be helpful. But sometimes it’s a little toxic.

Out of nowhere, people come and mark up your writing like they were the master editor of all master editors.

“Comma here, bad spelling here, missing ‘to’ here…”

Or they tell you that you shouldn’t hit a carriage return after every sentence, because, let’s face it, their reading preferences are far more important than anyone else’s.

Give me a better explanation. I’m willing to hear it. But I’ve read W3C’s website and what they have to say on the matter, and they say to use short sentences and paragraphs to improve usability and accessibility.

So, before you get too carried away, oh mighty overstudied grade three English teacher, let’s set a few things straight.

English is Not English

The first time I saw the word “mum” I was sure it was slang or a misspelling. But I did some research, and I stood corrected – that is the accurate spelling in the UK.

American, Canadian, and Australian English all have certain nuances. I know because as a ghostwriter of hundreds if not thousands of blog articles, I’ve had to navigate these differences at times.

Your cereal box AI writing assistant may have told you otherwise, but to the audience I was writing to, I was using the correct spellings.

Never, ever, ever become too reliant on machines to tell you what good writing is. That’s plain lazy and often objectively false. And it fails to consider the audience. Which brings me to my next point…

Audience Matters

I have been in the music business for a long time. I write to my audience in a particular way, because of what I know about them. And I have received many compliments for my work.

Understand – I would not write the same way to people reading a book about psychology, for example.

So, if I sneak in a creative sentence or two, don’t be alarmed! It could be that I’m creating a connection with my audience, or it could also be that I’m intentionally getting my readers to stop and think about what I just said.

You can’t write the way everyone else does and expect to get different results. You’ve got to interrupt patterns to stand out.

You can’t write the way everyone else does and expect to get different results. You’ve got to interrupt patterns to stand out. Click To Tweet

There is more intentionality behind the way I write than you might be inclined to think. Again, I’m a seasoned ghostwriter for industries and niches too numerous to mention, so why shouldn’t that be the case?

On occasion, I have also been known to share a work in progress on Medium, pieces that have yet to be polished to the nth degree. I should not be made a martyr for that!

Writers Should be Allowed to Take Creative Liberties

What is English, if not one of the most flexible languages in existence? If we truly want our writing to stand out, why shouldn’t we let ourselves go a little crazy from time to time?

As history has shown, language is not some set-in-stone, set-and-forget thing. The way we talk and the words we use is continually evolving.

I had to look up “AF” and “SMH” when everyone and their dog started using these texting abbreviations like they were hotter than the latest Taylor Swift track. Because I could give a crap about trends.

The point is – what is considered an incorrect sentence one day suddenly becomes the most hauntingly beautiful the next.

I’m not saying that one should break the language. I think basic conventions are well worth following.

But don’t you let yourself go crazy from time to time? Haven’t you ever attempted to craft the weirdest sentence you could?

You should give it a try sometime. It’s liberating.

Final Thoughts

Look, I understand that some of you truly are trying to be helpful. I assure you your work is appreciated by some members of the community.

You may still want to consider who you’re criticizing before you do it though.

I am in no way saying I’m beyond reproach but as the self-published best-selling author of seven books and thousands of blog articles, I have a good handle on what works and what doesn’t.

(It’s amazing how many people don’t even understand the topics they’re writing about…)

I do enlist the help of a capable editor when I need it, but as an editor myself, I do have the ability to self-edit, and you won’t find too many writers who can do that well.

So, kindly find another article to lambast. I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.