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.

It’s Just That Easy

It’s Just That Easy

But it rarely is.

It might be easy for us.

But you can’t assume it will be easy for your customers, clients, students, participants, or subscribers.

What’s obvious to you isn’t always obvious to others.

I know. As marketers, it’s our job to sell everyone on the idea that our tactics, strategies, methods, and approaches are easy. Framing is critical.

But is what we’re selling quantifiably easy?

If someone can confidently write 3,000-word blog posts, they’ve got a part of the process down.

But if you came in and added three steps to the research process that potentially added four weeks to the development of the content, you can’t call that easy. Simple, maybe. But not easy.

You can tell people what to do in no uncertain terms. But if gathering four leaders with two assistants each is not part of their know-how, you should not assume they understand the “how” well enough to deliver on the requirements.

When most people can’t perform the job as expected, it means something is missing in the training. It could be empowerment. It could be the process. It could be examples that illuminate the path. Whatever it is, can you honestly say you’ve set up your people for success? If not, there’s room left for improvement.

Critically, nothing is just that easy. Things become easier over time, as you do them repeatedly. But until then, it’s a lot of banging one’s head against the wall.

You Are Already Being Represented

You Are Already Being Represented

“We don’t want anyone taking our proprietary, custom-designed images.”

So, the graphical assets are locked up.

That’s how these decisions are typically made. But it’s short-sighted.

Every company needs a media page, a place where people can freely access and download their logos, pictures of their founders, product images, and other relevant assets.

Why?

The alternative is to force the people who want to (and may even be required to) talk about you online to take poorly cropped, bad-quality screenshots and use them on their blogs and websites. What exactly does that do to your online brand and reputation management?

Consider:

How do you want the people that come to your business – customers, bloggers, podcasters, influencers, affiliates, the media – to represent you?

Because know it or not, you are already being represented.

Did Anyone Stop to Think of Conversion?

Did Anyone Stop to Think of Conversion?

Everyone is obsessed with more views and more engagement.

The funny thing is that, as I’ve been saying all along, more views or comments don’t necessarily lead to better marketing or business results.

Check out the James Schramko YouTube channel. You’ll see that the podcast episodes on his channel get, on average, 50 to 100 views.

Yet I happen to know for a fact that his business makes eight figures annually.

To get his results, you would need to obsess over what your target customer is looking for and creating it, not on better ways to get more eyeballs on your content.

What is a Social Media Page?

What is a Social Media Page?

The convenient shorthand “page” has become common parlance to describe any social media URL.

This verbiage is acceptable for common public use, but I would urge you to rethink this terminology if you you’re a creative or entrepreneur.

At the least, there are three distinct types of destinations:

  • Profiles. This refers to a personal profile. It’s what you signed up for when you first joined Facebook. You can use your profile to share about anything you want, including your business, but guaranteed it’s one of the first things people will see when googling your name. Make a good impression!
  • Pages. This could be a company page (i.e., LinkedIn) or fan page. Technically, there is no such thing as a “fan page” on Facebook, only pages. But a page is distinct from a profile for the primary reason that you can accumulate “likes,” which reflects the size, popularity, and reach of your page. Pages also allow boosting and advertising.
  • Groups. A group is like a community discussion forum. It’s a place where people can gather to ask questions, interact with each other, discuss their favorite burger, promote their upcoming performance, and so forth. If you’re a group owner, you’re the facilitator of the community.

Why does this matter?

Because each type of “page” was designed with different functionality. You literally cannot perform the same functions across the board. You may be able to accumulate “followers” for a profile, but you can only accumulate “likes” for a page. Others may be able to post on your “wall” or comment on your posts, but the only place where you can create a sense of belonging and community where others are free to contribute is a group.

If you want to teach social media or digital marketing in any capacity, make this distinction.

If you want to be effective in your own online marketing efforts, make this distinction.

And if you aren’t clear on how these destinations differ, study.

Marketing is Not the Hard Part

Marketing is Not the Hard Part

Knowing whether something is worth marketing is, especially for the solopreneur or independent business owner.

When you’ve created a product or service with resonance, it will almost seem to sell itself. Put it in front of your target audience, and they will respond.

When you’ve created a product or service with zero resonance, it will sit on (virtual) shelves mostly untouched. Put it in front of a larger audience, and the chirping of the crickets will be deafening.

Now, there are many shades of grey in between – products with some resonance, products with a little resonance, and so on.

But we’re usually much too quick to turn to tactics before creating something that’s worth marketing.

I have no tactical issues. I know all the platforms and can share my products to hundreds of channels blunt force trauma on zero budget, and maybe even sell a few.

Will it be worth it? Not if it means pulling myself away from what I’m good at so I can spend all my time and energy doing what anyone could do.

You’ve got to know whether you have something worth marketing. That’s the hard part.

Make things that are worth promoting. Then promote them. The appropriate time to discuss tactics is when your product is the strategy.

The appropriate time to discuss tactics is when your product is the strategy. Click To Tweet