Some of the biggest blog traffic killers are free

This is a “been there – done that – bought the t-shirt” kind of post about the dangers of “free” when it comes to the world of WordPress.

Some of the biggest blog traffic killers are free

There are plenty of things you can do to kill traffic to your blog – but this post is about some of the “freebies” you can install which will undo all the “right” things you’ve done over the past few years!

WordPress is built on the power of “free”.  This blog is running on WordPress which is free software which you can install on your own hosting account to run your own self  hosted blog.

WordPress is by far the best option for your self hosted blog and is a great way to get killer blog traffic for your blog – so using WordPress is one exception to the “free may kill your blog traffic” rule.

Running WordPress may not require an investment of money – but it certainly requires an investment of time and energy.  See, WordPress is constantly updating their core code.  Some of those updates are to unveil great new features in the software – while others are released to “close” security holes in the code.  Those security “holes” can range from minor annoyances to allowing a spammer use your email account to send spam.  So it’s important to keep your WordPress installation up to date.

However, there are other ways for bandits and bad guys to gain access to your blog.  One path is through the various plugins.  Plugins are bits of code which allow WordPress to do more than the core code allows it to do.  This feature allows each installation of WordPress to be customized to provide the functions needed by the site owner.  Just as the core code is frequently updated, so are the bits of code contained in various plugins – which need to be updated as well.

Another path bandits and bad guys can use to access your blog is through the distribution of malicious code via free themes.  While the themes distributed via the WordPress.org site are carefully screened to malicious code – there are plenty of sites offering “free” themes – and those free themes can sometimes bring unwelcome code to the WordPress party.

I had that happen with another blog I run.  I had installed a free “Adsense” theme but decided not to use it after I activated it.  Like an idiot, I didn’t uninstall the damned thing when I decided not to use it.  BIG MISTAKE!  I was having major resource usage issues on my VPS – and saw that one blog – the one which had the free theme installed but not activated – was the source of my woe.  The site wasn’t getting impressive traffic- but the resource usage problem was eliminated when I deleted the free theme from my installation.

OUCH!

Today – traffic is improving on that particular blog so the removal of that free theme did help with building traffic to that blog.

This blog runs on Thesis which is not free.  As a matter of fact, Thesis is rather pricey – but well worth the investment.  Thesis provides flexibility and its clean code means you don’t have to run plugins to “optimize” your SEO.

Thesis is great – but the basic theme is rather plain and customizing the theme takes time and a level of creativity that personally I don’t possess.  So when I discovered Thesis skins – I was excited.  I purchased one – applied it here – and then worried about the effect that the skin would have on my site’s “SEO”.  That skin required the installation of a “theme installer” on the site – and I wondered how that would work with the SEO.

So – I foolishly tried another skin – one that simply required that you upload an already coded custom folder.  I decided to test this site’s offering by trying one that was FREE.

Another UGH moment!

For the next few weeks, every time I went into my analytics account – I was faced with the fact that something was terribly wrong on this blog.  But I was busy with other projects and didn’t want to deal with the issue so I ignored it.  I ignored it until my site traffic was down to a trickle.

Now I had to face the hard facts that something was amiss – and I suddenly realized that the plummet in traffic began shortly after installing the new thesis skin.

I’ve removed the skin – and now time will tell whether the “damage” done by that particular “freebie” was permanent.

Some of the biggest blog traffic killers are free – but in the long run those freebies can cost a fortune!

The Danger of Free Blogs

The news that the free blog service Yahoo! 360 will be shutting down by July 12, 2009 isn’t coming as a surprise to anyone in the blogging community.

If you’re serious about blogging – especially if you’re blogging to promote or market your business – it is CRUCIAL that you not rely upon a free blogging service for your blog.

If you’re reading this blog post – chances are good that you’re not a user of the Yahoo! 350 blog service.  However, it may come as a surprise that it is the number one blogging platform in Vietnam.

According to a post at the Blog Herald:

The shutters go up for good on July 13 and Yahoo is urging 360 users to rely on the standard Yahoo profile. You may also migrate your blog to several other platforms.

Ah- blog migration.

If you thought learning how to build a successfulblog is difficult, try migrating your blog to a new platform!

I’m trying to come up with a “word picture” to effectively illustrate what the experience is like.  Somehow  “a full IRS audit” and “root canal” don’t fully capture the experience -because while painful – they are both relatively short lived.

Blog migration is hell – there’s no doubt about it.

There’s almost no easy to way to migrate from one platform to another and even if you do achieve complete data transfer – there’s still that pesky issue of readership.

When you migrate your blog – you will lose readership.

When you migrate your blog – you’ll not only lose readers – you’ll also lose all the incoming links you spent weeks/months/years building.

It’s like starting all over again.

Which is why, when most business owners decide to make the difficult decision to move their blogs- it’s frequently from a “free” blog platform such as WordPress.com to a “self hosted blog” where THEY have control over the domain name and the WordPress installation.

By the way, if your business website is currently “living” on MySpace.com, Facebook.com or one of the many free blog hosting platforms such as WordPress, Blogger or LiveJournal – you might want to begin making plans to migrate your web presence BEFORE you HAVE to make the switch.

Fortunately for 360 users,  Yahoo did provide plenty of “warning”.   (They quit offering support for the service back in 2007.)  There was once a popular image hosting site which shut down with absolutely no notice a few years back and unfortunately, that’s a much more common scenario.

Have you built your business on “free” blog hosting?

If you have – it’s time to put “plan B” into action – because the only thing WORSE than migrating a blog is having to do so in 45 days or less.

Blogging for Dollars

It sounds like the ideal job – doesn’t it?  Launch a blog – write about what you want to write about and wait for the cash to come ROLLING in.

One website promises the following:

Own a cash-generating business about your favorite hobbies or interests! You decide what you will blog about.

  • Get quickly out of debt while enjoying longer vacations and driving nicer cars!
  • Your blog will never sleep! It’s online, making money when you’re working, playing and even sleeping!
  • Generate additional wealth! With a blog you can keep your day job and blog for a few minutes a day to create a huge supplemental income!

Wow – what’s not to love.  I can create a HUGE supplemental income by just writing about the things that interest me.

Did I mention that the site above offers to share all of this with you – for FREE!!!

Unfortunately, creating an income through blogging is neither fast nor easy.

Not by a long shot.

I find it interesting to note that the biggest “perpetrators” of these blogging schemes are not actively blogging themselves.  The website making the promises above is not a blog – it’s a static one page website.

In Blogs and the Art of Deception, I write about an online hustler who has created a website that LOOKS like a blog – complete with “fake comments” to gain your trust – and your credit card information.  When I did a search on the term “blogging for dollars”, I found the website mentioned above and it has it’s own set of “deceptive practices” – all in pursuit of the goal of getting you to TRUST the site in question as “legitimate”.

Unfortunately, I’ve actually gotten phone calls from the desperate people who have been duped by these con artists.  The most heart breaking phone calls I get are from the people who have spent their life savings – often in the $8K range – to invest in one of these “make money online” programs –  only to discover that blogging for dollars is neither fast nor easy.

Sometimes people have to get duped before they get “smart”.   I wish I could “save” them from the experience – and try to do so with this blog and others.  However, some will realize that there really IS incredible potential online – that blogs really ARE an easy way for someone without a lot of “tech savvy” to create a web presence online and they’ll  start looking for REAL answers.

Sometimes, they’ll stumble upon my Blog Power Launch program.  Other times, they’ll pick up a copy of my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results.

When I’m telling the tale – I’ll be sure to let you know that it isn’t quick – it isn’t easy – but if you know what you’re doing – and you’ve got a sound marketing strategy behind what you’re doing – then there is definitely a great income to be made blogging.

One essential key to blogging for dollars is creating posts that people will use to find the content you’re offering.  This requires using KEYWORDS effectively.  Pick up a copy of the now free report – Fast Track to Blogging Success to learn more about how to create a blog that will generate revenue for you.

12 Biggest Blog Traffic Killers

Blog Traffic KillersBlog traffic – new and repeat visitors coming to your blog to read – to comment and possibly to buy the products and services you’re promoting.  Increasing blog traffic is a sign of success, while decreasing blog traffic is a reason for most bloggers to panic – with good reason!  Your blog is either growing or dying and your blog traffic is the indicator of your blog’s overall health.

This list started out as a “top 5 blog traffic killers” and then grew to “the top 10 blog traffic killers” – however, I forced myself to stop at listing the top 12 biggest blog traffic killers.

12 Biggest Blog Traffic Killers

1. Post infrequently and erratically.

Going on a posting frenzy – posting two or three posts per day and then going weeks without a single post is a great way kill your blog traffic.   Visitors and the search engines prefer to see content published on a predictable schedule.   Make a commitment to posting at least once a week to your blog if you want to increase blog traffic.

2. Create blog posts that don’t stay on track.

A while ago I subscribed to a magazine called “Cooking Light”.  The reason I subscribed was because I wanted to read new and healthy recipes.  (I won’t lie to you and say that I would actually have tried to PREPARE said recipes – that’s a lie I prefer to tell to myself!)  I was positively confused when the bulk of the magazine’s content focused on exercise and self improvement.  It’s not that I’m not interested in exercise and self improvement – but that’s NOT why I subscribed to the magazine.

People have “expectations” when they subscribe to your blog.  You’re here because this blog is about making YOUR blog successful.  While you might be interested in diet tips or exercise advice – if I’m going to share that kind of information with you – I’d darned well better “wrap” it in “make your blog successful” paper!  Going off topic is a GREAT way to lose blog visitors!

3. You’re not commenting on other blogs.

Making pithy and relevant comments on other blogs in your niche is a great way to attract blog traffic to YOUR blog.   If you are leaving comments on other blogs and those comments are NOT bringing traffic to your blog – then review the comments you’re making and/or the blogs where you’re leaving comments.

4. You’re commenting on the WRONG blogs.

I had one client who was constantly commenting on what she assumed was a popular blog.  I have NO idea why she thought this blog was popular – there were no other comments and the blog’s Alexa ranking was in the 8 Million range.  OK – I do know why she thought this guy’s blog was better – it was because the blog’s owner was a published author.  She had bought his book and for some reason,  the fact that he had published a book made his blog “better” than hers.

However, because his blog was NOT popular -in effect, my client was simply communicating with the blog’s author.    The blog’s author was obviously “checked out” with regards to his blog anyhow because he never responded to her comments nor left reciprocal comments on my client’s blog.

5. You’re acting like a TROLL

In literature, a troll is a fictitious, mythological creature who is obnoxious, hideous and dedicated to achieving evil ends.   On the internet, a troll is someone who posts content with the intention of stirring up trouble.    The goal of a troll is to stir up trouble – period.   There are people who think that troll like behavior is a great way to increase blog traffic, and it might for a while.  The problem is, acting like a troll merely brings in “drive by readers”.  These people are  seeking a “fix”.  They’re at your blog to see more of what you delivered via the comment section they just read.  They’re at your blog with the purpose of seeing who you are shredding next.  If you can’t deliver – they’re gone.

6. You’re not paying attention to keywords.

When A-list bloggers share how they get blog visitors, the search engines are ALWAYS at the top of the list.  Choosing the best keywords for your blog is an important part of building blog traffic.

7. You’re not linking out to other bloggers.

Leaving comments is not the ONLY way to reach out to other bloggers.  Linking to other blogs within your post is a great way to “reach out” to other bloggers and when they reciprocate, it’s a great way to build links.    Jen Patton has a great post on How to Find Other Bloggers with whom to trade links.  (Whew!  Almost ended THAT sentence with a preposition!)

8. You’re not making the most of your 10 seconds.

10 seconds – that’s all the time you have to make a GREAT first impression. 10 seconds is all the time it takes for a visitor to decide whether or not they’re going to hang around a read more.  Too many plugins, bloated image files, a poorly coded theme or even a poor web hosting provider can waste those valuable 10 seconds by making the visitor wait for your blog to load.

9. You’re not using images in your posts.

I know – I know – bloated image files are a reason for long load times – but I’m not talking about using bloated images.  I’m talking about using high quality professional images properly sized for use on your blog.  No where is the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” more relevant than on the web.

An eye catching image is the key to grabbing the reader’s attention and focusing them on the content of your post.  A well chosen image is a GREAT way to make the most of those vital 10 seconds.

10. It’s all about YOU – YOU – YOU.

Narcissistic rants don’t play well ANYWHERE in social media.  Whether it’s blogging or Twitter – if all you can talk about is YOU then expect to kill the traffic to your blog quickly.

11. You’re not plugged in.

Let’s face facts – there are some times you absolutely must blog about breaking news within your niche.  If your blog’s niche is pets – then if you weren’t blogging about the big pet food recalls when they were happening – it looked like you weren’t plugged in.  It’s one thing to ignore politics on your pet products centered blog – it’s another to ignore a breaking story when your niche is politics!   Smart bloggers use Google alerts as a great way to find out when content hits the web about any given topic.    You can use it to alert you when people are talking about you- your blog or your topic of choice. 

12. You don’t do any marketing for your blog.

Your  blog is just like any other “product” any “business” needs to promote.  If you’ve got a blog and you want more traffic (a.k.a. “customers”) you’re going to have to learn to market your blog.    Remember, marketing is simply communicating with potential customers (a.k.a. readers) that you’ve got something that they want or need.  Yes, marketing is really that simple.  If you prefer “spreading the word” to the term “marketing” – then feel free to think of it in those terms.  However, marketing is NOT a dirty word… it’s just gotten that reputation because of marketers making the mistake #10 – making it all about THEM – THEM- THEM.  When you view marketing your blog as simply a way of letting other people know you’ve got a nice place to hang out and share information – well, then marketing doesn’t seem quite so “horrid” anymore – does it?

I could easily make this 101 Blog Traffic Killers – but then again that’s one of the great things about blogs is the ability to engage your readers in actual two way conversation.  What would you add to the list of the biggest blog traffic killers?

Secret to Blogging Success – Staying On Track

writinghandsCan you do it?  Can you write two- three- four times a week (or perhaps a day) about a single subject?  Do you have enough passion and even stamina to create blog post after blog post around a central “theme” or topic?

It’s something you must consider as you map your course for blogging success!

I was recently at a blog which claims to be blogging about starting an online business.  I’d been watching via my RSS feeder as the author went through methodically outlining the steps to starting a small business.  So far so good, he was creating great, tightly focused content for his newly launched blog.  “Here’s a blogger who’s destined for blogging success,” I thought.

Then, today I saw the title for his most recent blog post.  It focuses upon his diet which is the result of a myriad of health problems from which he suffers.

WARNING – WARNING -WARNING!  CONTENT DETOUR AHEAD!!!

The blogger I observed above is making a CLASSIC blogging mistake.  He created a blog and jumped on the “blogging about making money online” bandwagon because he thinks THAT is the path to blogging success.

Unfortunately, while his blog posts titles contain essential keywords needed to help his blog do well with the search engines – his posts on “make money online blogging” lack passion and purpose.

However, as I read his current blog post on his current diet where he eschews meats, animal products or cooked foods in search of better health – I saw a spark – a bit of passion around THIS topic as opposed to his previous posts in his series of  “how to make money online blogging.”

Gary Conn has a great post on Make Money Online Writing About Things You Have Passion For where he shares this bit of inspiration and wisdom:

So my advice to you is to really sit back for a minute and figure out a topic that you have a lot of passion for. When you figure that out, apply everything that you have learned while operating a make money online blog and apply these skills to your other blog that covers a topic that you have passion for. If you do, I think soon you’ll see an increase in your month to month earnings.

See, if you find a topic you’re passionate about then creating blog posts will be literally as easy as falling off a log.  It’s when you try to pursue a “profitable” blog niche that you’ll run into trouble.  You’ll not only have trouble creating posts, you’ll have  trouble marketing your blog as well.

Choosing the right topic  – a topic about which you’re passionate about – is the most basic key to blogging success.  When you’re passionate – you’ll find it easy to stay on track – and most importantly – you’ll find your “passion” will be exposed in many if not all of your blog posts.