I recently published an article on the traffic I’ve received to my blog during 2010 and as I mentioned before most of that traffic had come in the last 30 days. Some of you may have been wondering what sparked the increase in traffic and today I’ll tell you how I did it with the help of forums.
Using Forums to Drive Traffic:
Using forums to drive traffic is something most bloggers overlook but after I show you some traffic graphs later on in this post you’ll see why you should start doing it with your own blog regardless of which niche you are in, but first let me show you the tactics I use to drive traffic intelligently. I prefer to go with the long term value approach in participating in forums. I like to contribute to the community and help out others because not only can you learn a lot from other members you can also build friendships, potential partners in link building or projects etc. So the suggestions below are almost the same type of thing I’d say about blogging – provide value first to readers and reap the rewards later. I’ll explain this in more detail later, but let’s get onto the first stage of participating in forums.
1. Setting Up Your Forum Profile
This is the first step that most people miss and is one of the most crucial. Anytime I go to a new forum I immediately set up my profile with my avatar picture, fill out my location, my Twitter profile, my interests and my home page URL. So right off the bat people know you’re more serious about becoming an active member in the forum community because they can see your face and some personal information about you. Of the information you set up in this stage the most important aspect is your signature. All forums have different rules which you should always read but generally they allow you to at least put one link to your blog in the signature.
This is one signature style I like to use:
What this signature says to me is that you should visit my blog especially if I just helped answer your question and it does so in a manner without being self promotional. It is also catered to the strategy where you go around the forum and help answer people’s questions.
2. The Intro Post
This is the first time you have to make a unique impression on the forum readers as well as the staff members with your first post. I’ve found staff members tend to interact in the introduction forum more so than in any other section so this is where you can get banned for being an idiot or make a unique impression and connect with some new potential friends.
Here is how most people title their intro post: “Hi, I’m new here” and as you might imagine this does not get many views or responses so I prefer to go with a different approach and do something like this:
With the first thread title I both establish the fact that I’m a potential legitimate source of information (full time internet entrepreneur) and that I have a sense of humor. The second one is more around being mysterious and funny at the same time. The end result is that more people click on my welcome thread than others. Just look at this forum where almost every single person did a standard boring intro. Which thread do you think they want to click?
In the thread itself what I do is introduce myself and provide some background telling people about how I lost my job in October 2009 and have been a full time internet entrepreneur ever since. Depending on the forum rules I’ll mention my blog or not but never in a way that is self promotional. If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers that you don’t know would you walk up and say “Hi my name is Chris look at how awesome my blog!!” No of course not, so this is why you shouldn’t do that in forums either.
3. Provide Value by Answering Questions
Now that you’ve introduced yourself and potentially answered a couple of questions about your background it’s time to start proving your worth as a valuable member. What I like to do is go through all of the sub forums and find questions that haven’t been answered or places where my input will add value to the conversation and start responding. I always try to make my answer as descriptive and useful as possible. The more people you help and questions you answer the more traffic you’ll drive to your blog via your signature. Sometimes a forum member’s question can be answered by a blog post you already published and in this case you can just link to it there. Most moderators won’t care about this as long as it is useful information; however, this varies by forum and again is another reason why you want to read the rules.
4. Post Threads with Useful Information
After introducing yourself, answering numerous questions on the forum and adding value you can create a thread with useful relevant information designed to help the members solve a problem. I generally try to take my time on a forum and don’t usually try to post a thread with useful information until I’ve already been active and answering questions on a forum for at least a couple weeks or a month. After this stage then I’ll write very lengthy and in depth threads that are full of great tips, strategies and information (like I try to do here on this blog). In fact, many times I’ll take what I’ve already written on this blog and shorten it into a more concise forum thread with easy to read bullet points. As an example, I updated the data from my Amazon tips blog post I published here in January and reposted it on the Warrior Forum:
I know people on the Warrior Forum are always looking for tips to earn more money so this would be a great way to give back to the community and share something I’ve already written that 99.9% of the people on that forum have probably never read. As you can see above that thread was a big success and has over 10,000 views in just over 2 weeks.
5. Replicate This Strategy
Now that you’ve done it once you can replicate this strategy across other forums (again you’ll need to make sure they don’t have rules against cross posting threads) but the point is that you always want to be adding value and helping members. People appreciate that and will visit your blog if you link to it prominently in your signature. The only thing that will hold you back is the amount of time you want to spend. I have accounts with most of the top internet marketing and entrepreneurship forums and when I get tired of my usual daily grind I’ll hop over to those and answer questions and/or post a useful thread. Eventually I’ll see a law of diminishing returns where most of the people will have heard of me on a forum and either decided to subscribe to my blog or not, but that won’t happen for a long time. Besides, most of the reason why I interact on forums is to learn from others and establish friendships / business partnerships anyway.
My Traffic Results:
The stats are a week old because as I mentioned before I’m in Hawaii on vacation and wrote this post before I left, but as you can see by both this graph and the chart off to the right I actually drove more traffic to my blog from the Warrior Forum than Google! It’s all about providing value in the forum by answering questions and posting threads with useful information. You can see that two of my top five traffic referrals were both forums and if I extended this down to the top 20 referrals you’d see another five forums with triple digit visitor numbers as well. I’ve been the most active on the Warrior Forum, which is why most traffic came from there. I will post more great threads on the other forums and I should see some good results from the other forums as well (granted Warrior Forum is one of the biggest related to my blog’s purpose).
The goal is always to provide superior value and to genuinely help people. If you come across as fake or aren’t really at the forum to help people than you’ll either get banned for being self promotional or people will be less likely to visit your blog because you’re not really adding anything to the conversion. I believe I’ve been pretty successful at providing value in the forums I contribute at based on the traffic stats above. In fact, I bet a good number of you reading this blog post right now because of a question I answered in a forum for you or a thread I posted with useful information.
I believe this can work in other niches, but I’ve found it to be most effective with webmaster/ blogger / make money online type blogs because there are so many forums designed to serve these communities. What do you think?
Have you tried using forums to drive traffic to your blog? If so how are your results?