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.

Thinking Positively – Day 24

Thinking Positively – Day 24

This past Sunday, I completed my two-year intensive leadership program. I must admit it was a little anti-climactic, but I’m happy to be done and I’m starting to settle in for a couple of low-production weeks (most of my time will be – and already has been – dedicated to laying in bed).

As I’m starting to find my personal equilibrium again (though gradually), I thought a productive use of this space might be to share some of the “inspiring, uplifting, or informative” videos I’ve been watching and what I’ve been getting from them.

If I have any massive breakthroughs or “aha” moments I will be sure to share those with you too, of course, though I’m embracing more and more that healing (healing of the mind, the body, past trauma, etc.) can be a gradual thing.

I’m all for miracles, and I’ve already experienced many in the last 23 days, but I am also surrendered to the sometimes-necessary journey to recovery.

Habits of the Rich

This was bar none the best video I watched recently:

In it, Ralph Smart shares five (six) habits of the rich, which are as follows:

  • The rich create twice as much as they consume. They focus on service and giving back, not on the money. This was my favorite insight, but that probably doesn’t surprise you. After all, I love making things.
  • The rich don’t keep all their money in the bank. They invest in themselves, in tools, in real estate, and so on. I continue to invest heavily in myself, but after watching this video, I also feel like I have permission to invest more in my passions.
  • The rich prioritize their health. They prioritize their health so they can spend more time creating wealth. This has literally been my top priority in the last month or more.
  • The rich associate with movers and shakers. They surround themselves with people who can help them, especially mentors and teachers. Thanks to the previously leadership program, more than ever, I am surrounded by successful people, willing collaborators, and loving mentors.
  • The rich are lifelong learners. They always want to learn more. They realize that one insight can take them to the next level. And wouldn’t you know it, I learned something from this video!
  • The rich work smart. And they even work on the weekends. They are willing to put in the time to become masters of their craft. I have not yet found a way to do this in a healthy, sustainable way, but I’m open to learning.

That’s it for Now

I’ll be back to share more tomorrow.

3 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021

3 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021

For me, the last four months of 2020 were kind of tough. That said, I still learned a great deal that is now benefiting me in a significant way.

In this post, I wanted to share some of my discoveries with you. If you take these to heart and implement them in your creative workflow, you will set yourself up for more success in 2021.

1. Level Up Your Association

I’ve talked about how I accidentally weaned myself off social media before.

But now when I go on social media, I see it as an opportunity to hang out with my Dream 100 and learn from them.

For example:

On Twitter, Ty Frankel (you can find my podcast interview with Ty here) is always dropping value bombs on how to build a six-figure agency. And I’m learning lots from the way Ralph Smart shares and promotes his content.

On Medium, I’ve picked up quite a bit from Tom Kuegler and his Medium strategies (and yes, they are working!). I learn from his headlines and content ideas as well.

The point is that, while social media can be a blackhole of stupidity, if you follow and model the right people, and interact with them, you can learn plenty and create valuable connections.

It takes some work to curate your feed (that’s something I should write a post on as well), but if you do this, you will think bigger, set bigger goals, and accomplish more. That’s the power of leveling up your association.

2. Publish Daily

For me, publishing daily is not a decision. I wake up every day knowing that I will publish. This is in service of my future self, as I know I will look back on it later glad I made the decision.

This isn’t to suggest that you must publish long-form, definitive, comprehensive, skyscraper guides all the time. To me, their conversion rates are a little suspect anyway.

My average post is somewhere in the 900- to 1,300-word range, but I’m not saying you’ve got to go to those lengths, either. By the way, I also publish my share of 100- to 500-word posts.

Your posts can be long and detailed, if need be, or they can also be short and pithy. It’s a matter of how many words you need to get your point across – not how much you can pad your content.

It’s a matter of how many words you need to get your point across – not how much you can pad your content. Click To Tweet

Derek Sivers and Seth Godin publish their share of short form content, and you will find that this is the exact approach they use – they focus on the message, not on the word count!

You can take a cue from Sivers or Godin, or even Austin Kleon, who tends to share more visual content with some commentary wrapped around it.

But what is the benefit of publishing daily?

My friend Chris Naish started publishing comics on January 1, 2020. On December 15, he announced that he’d drawn 200+ comics and gained 18,000 followers on Instagram (congrats, man)!

Chris Naish comics

I’m not going to make any promises regarding what publishing daily will do for you, as I don’t have any standout results to report on after 161 days of consecutive publishing.

Then again, I am still refining, and I was able to 5x my Medium income, even though it’s still small.

The point is that if you are a creative or creator, you will always have something to promote or share with the world. And publishing daily can help you build a following and get your projects in front of more people.

Publishing daily can help you build a following and get your projects in front of more people. Click To Tweet

3. Plan Your Weeks

I’ve been doing #StrategySunday planning sessions for a little over a month now. I’ve even shared about how these sessions can improve your life.

Although I’m a big believer in following my heart, using my intuition, and even leaving large unplanned gaps in my schedule, there’s simply no denying that planning has made me more productive overall.

Again, I’m not suggesting that you follow my example to a tee and plan on a Sunday. You can do what works for you.

Sunday works for me because of my publishing schedule, which I’ve detailed on my about page.

Although I believe in being in action, it’s also good to take a step back and think. When you do, you can:

  • Determine how to structure your week for productivity
  • Achieve more clarity on your goals
  • Brainstorm tactics and ideas
  • Eliminate tasks from your to-do list that aren’t high priority
  • Attain a big picture view of everything you need to do and what matters to you most
  • Create a routine that serves you
  • Cut unneeded expenses and increase your spend on winning tactics
  • And more

Just don’t force yourself to do something out of obligation. You probably won’t follow through on it.

Do everything (or as much as you can) on your own terms. That way, all your efforts will be in service of you and not the other way around.

Do everything on your own terms. That way, all your efforts will be in service of you and not the other way around. Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

As you look to create new habits in 2021, keep it simple, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. In most cases, working on one high level habit (until it is fully integrated), is of greater benefit to you than trying to work on 10 habits at once, because there’s a good chance you will give up.

Find what works for you and keep doing it, because at the end of the day, what works for another may not work for you.

What are you doing to set yourself up for success in 2021?

Let me know in the comments below.

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