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The Secret to Building a Well Trafficked Blog

Forget the Field-of-Dreams model of content marketing, argues one successful blogger. You can build it and they still won't come -- unless you do this.

What’s the secret of making your blog successful?

That’s a simple one for anyone who’s ever spent ten seconds Googling the question. Experts everywhere respond in unison -- great, compelling and consistent content is the key. That’s true enough as far as it goes, argues successful blogger Justin Jackson in a post recently, but like flour is essential to baking bread, it’s also not sufficient. There are other key ingredients that transform the basic input of quality content into actual eyeballs.

So what’s this yeast that transforms your words in cyberspace into buzz for your business? Jackson explains:

People say the secret to successful blogging is to “keep putting out good content”.

But that’s not totally true.

You could be writing amazing, insightful posts that nobody hears about.

There’s this fallacy that good content always gets discovered; but the truth is that good content needs distribution in order to be seen.

I remember getting my first taste of this when Derek Sivers tweeted out a link to my blog. My site had been chugging along at 10-40 views a day. Even though I was trying to promote my posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and in the comments of other blogs, I had barely broken 100 views a day.

And then one day I decided to email Derek Sivers one of my posts. He liked it. He shared it with his followers, and I had my biggest day yet: 781 views!

That was my first glimpse at the power of networks. Derek’s one tweet had more of an impact than all of my hustling.

Using this technique of piggybacking on more established and connected players Jackson was able to hit a record of 78,763 page views in one day within nine months. (Check out his blog here.)

The takeaway here could be called the Field-of-Dreams fallacy. 'Build it and they will come' may make for a good Kevin Costner movie, but it’s rubbish advice for entrepreneurs in general and for bloggers in particular. Don’t wait for the alignment of the spheres, the benign serendipity of the universe or the good folks at Google to bring your audience to you. Write cool posts and then email influencers who might be interested and who have large followings of their own to introduce to your content.

Have you fallen victim to the Field-of-Dreams fallacy?


Last updated: Sep 3, 2013


Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.

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