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:
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.
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.
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?
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 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 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.
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.
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.
There’s a conversation I’ve been having with myself and others. I’ve been stuck on it for a while, and I’m aware that I’ve been stuck on it.
Even with everything I’ve been able to accomplish to this point, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with my work life. And I’d like to shift the ratio from 80/20 client/me to 80/20 me/client.
I remind myself that my business is self-funded, and bootstrapped, and I must do whatever it takes to keep it afloat. And that might mean working long hours and making certain sacrifices.
I’m also aware that the conversation itself is entirely in the realm of survival. Survival is instinct, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it does cause a certain malady I like to call solution blindness. Symptoms may include feeling stuck, aversion to trying new things, and missing opportunities that are right under your nose.
I shared my predicament with one of the leaders in the leadership program I’m taking, and they offered an answer I hadn’t heard yet.
It wasn’t around social media, or SEO, or building an SMS list, or some other digital marketing tactic.
They simply said:
Uncover what’s authentic to you and highlight that because that’s what people will be drawn to.
I wasn’t expecting that answer. It caught me off guard. It drew me right out of the recurring conversation I’d been having.
Yes, some people have a marketing problem. Some have a sales problem. Some have a trust, credibility, authority problem.
But some just need to know and to be who they are. Because being who they are would attract the right audience.
Digital marketing tools are a dime a dozen, especially nowadays…
Digital marketing, content marketing, and SEO are fast evolving fields, and the best solutions of the yesteryear aren’t always suited to battles on the new frontiers of Web3.
While this will surely be a moving target, I was recently asked, so my favorite digital marketing tools (that I currently use or used to use) are as follows:
These digital marketing tools don’t just let you syndicate and distribute your content (we’ll get to that a little later – under the heading of “Social Media Automation”). They also let you repurpose existing content in meaningful ways. For example, turning an audio podcast into a video snippet with your podcast artwork and progress bar.
Repurpose.io is the ideal solution for those who are regularly live streaming and want to turn their content into snippets and distribute it across a wide array of social networks.
You can easily take your content from YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Zoom, Google Drive, Dropbox, or your podcast and share it out on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
I primarily use Repurpose.io to distribute my podcast to YouTube, but I have also used it to create clips I share across a broader range of social platforms.
Campaigns & Funnels
So, you want to set up a multi-step landing page / sales page offer just like the pros. What tool should you use?
My campaign / funnel builder of choice is 10XPro (not to be confused with Grant Cardone, 10X Growth Conference, 10X Rule, or anything of the sort).
I built the entirety of Content Marketing Musician and all associated products and programs on 10XPro. It was fun and easy, and the customer experience is great, both on the creator and the user side.
Besides, 10XPro is versatile, whether you want to set up memberships, fan clubs, courses, members forums, or otherwise. You can even build out your own affiliate army with their software.
You can read my full review of 10XPro here.
Data & Analytics
You need a way to measure everything you do. Sure, you can do some of this manually. But given that there are near enterprise level solutions available for free, you probably won’t need to become a spreadsheet fiend to stay on top of your metrics.
Google Analytics is free. It’s comprehensive and powerful. It’s the ideal solution for tracking your website’s traffic.
The downside? You need to be an engineer to understand how some of it works. I recently started diving deeper into the world of conversion tracking (related to analytics), and I don’t get it. But I will keep learning until I do. You’ve got to keep challenging yourself.
Collecting emails and sending campaigns needs to be at the top of your marketing totem pole. And you need the right digital marketing tools to make this happen.
There are many Email Service Providers (ESPs) out there, and they’re all quite good. In a manner of speaking, they all do the same thing too. But are they all comparable in terms of functionality and pricing? No.
My favorite solution is ConvertKit. It’s an excellent option for creators because it’s easy to use, it allows you to sell infoproducts and paid newsletters, and it’s free for up to 1,000 subscribers.
Plus, they produce some excellent content showing you how to grow your list, build your social media following, sell your art, and more.
When it comes to growing an email list, I swore by Leadpages for years. I don’t use them anymore because the basic functionality is all built into 10XPro (which obviously does a lot of other things), but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.
From setting up popups to landing pages, Leadpages gives you all the tools you need to capture your traffic and increase your email list by leaps and bounds.
Link in Bio
Who knew the “link in bio” trend would catch fire? Well, apparently those watching the creator economy movement did, because now there are several viable competitors to Linktree.
Koji is not an improvement on what’s available. As I see it, it’s a category creator.
Yes, it’s a link in bio. But it’s more than that. It’s free, it gives you access to your analytics, and you can take advantage of a variety of mini apps that let you:
- Collect tips and donations
- Crowdfund your next project
- Create Cameo style videos
- Sell locked content and NFTs
- Set up an eCommerce storefront
- Embed your media content
- And more, all from your link in bio
Here’s my Koji link in bio in case you want to have a look.
Going live is a popular way of attracting an audience. But if you want to put a bit of production value behind it, you’ve got to take advantage of the right digital marketing tools.
Most content creators probably know about StreamYard by now. It’s a popular solution for live streamers of all types, whether it’s podcasters, entrepreneurs, YouTubers, or otherwise.
I made a whole $5.55 live streaming last year. That apparently wasn’t enough to keep me going with it. But whenever I’m thinking about live streaming, StreamYard is what immediately comes to mind.
I especially love the ability to multi-stream to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, and other destinations.
If you’ve got a website, naturally, you want to drive as much targeted traffic to it as you possibly can. Search Engine Optimization is key to your success.
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is the most cost-efficient SEO solution out there, and it’s undergirded by Neil’s own desire to help entrepreneurs succeed. His main way of paying it forward is with detailed articles and videos that answer every question you can think of.
Patel’s team seems to be adding new features on a regular basis too, so Ubersuggest will only get more powerful over time, and is unlikely to increase in price.
I have personal experience with Ahrefs. I even got to contribute a few articles to their blog in the past.
Their software is admittedly awesome. Finding keywords opportunities for your website is a cinch with Ahrefs, and that means you can get results fast.
And while not astronomical, they are expensive enough to be priced out of reach for many creators and independent entrepreneurs who already have multiple SaaS subscriptions. It generally takes six to 12 months for you to see any benefit from your optimization efforts. So, $100+ per month seems kind of a steep price to pay while waiting for your efforts to pay off.
Social Media Automation
You aren’t posting everything manually, are you? That’s just silly. Of course, you do need to automate intelligently, or your posts probably won’t be seen. Here are some digital marketing tools that help.
Facebook / Instagram Creator Studio lets you schedule and manage your posts (for Facebook and Instagram) natively for free.
TweetDeck is a free tweet scheduler for Twitter that also lets you monitor engagement activity and hashtags or other interests.
Jetpack is like a Swiss Army knife for WordPress. I especially like the “Publicize” function which lets you post to social media automatically the moment a new post is published – Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and multiple Twitter destinations.
OnlyWire might be a little old school, but it’s one of those digital marketing tools that has stood the test of time. It lets you automate posting to 20+ social networks. I especially like that it connects to destinations like Blogger, Medium, and LiveJoural.
I have not used it in a while, but it is very cost effective, and I have been thinking about it again recently.
Meet Edgar (or Edgar, or whatever, I don’t care, sorry OCD people) is bar none one of the best solutions for automating your social media. You can store every post you create into a library and have Meet Edgar continually draw from it without you having to add anything new (though you will still want to keep adding periodically). It works great if you already have a big repository of content to work with.
Meet Edgar connects to Facebook Pages and Groups, Instagram Feed and Stories, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Company Pages.
They do have a free trial, and their pricing seems to have come down a bit, but in my experience, you basically need the most expensive plan for it to be worthwhile.
Final Thoughts, Digital Marketing Tools
The above should be a good starting point for the average creator, independent entrepreneur, or solopreneur. You don’t necessarily need to use all of them, and you probably won’t. But depending on your focus, and which area of your career or business you’re looking to enhance right now, it would be worth looking into relevant options.
Most tools here are still modest in cost, even though those pesky enterprise solutions can look mighty sexy at times. Start humble, and in time, you’ll be able to grow into bigger shoes. And don’t forget to replace tools as needed. The best teams are always on the lookout for the next thing that might enhance their workflow.
You did a lot of great work yesterday.
With each new post, your body of work grows. And it represents a great opportunity. If not now, then in six to 12 months, when SEO kicks in. Of course, there’s always the chance that some of the content will do nothing for you.
But the world, unfortunately, doesn’t care that much about what you created yesterday. The archive can continue to benefit you and your audience, sure, but there are no guarantees that whatever reputation or authority you’ve built up will hold up tomorrow based on what you’ve created yesterday.
Even if you’ve got it, and you know you’ve got it, people want to know that you’ve still got it.
A creator needs to keep creating. They need to take their eyes off the stats and instead focus on finding their voice, developing their message, becoming better communicators, understanding human psychology and copywriting, telling better stories, and enhancing their leadership.
Don’t give too much thought to what has already been done. Surrender your thoughts to what’s next.