How I got 2.1 Million Visitors to my blog

It’s been 5 years.

5 Years, over 2 million visitors and a hell of a lot of fun (and traffic!).

No, I’m not talking about this website, but another one I own which talks about Martial Arts movies. It’s had it’s up and downs and experienced a lot of publicity in it’s time.

Over the years this website has range from 1000-2000 visits per day, mostly from SEO, and despite me putting far less effort into it these days it seems to keep following that trend.

It’s reached a fairly passive level of work and is a cool asset to have up my sleeve.

But how did I grow this website to 1000-2000 visits per day?

It was a lot of work, but more importantly a lot of learning.

There is a pretty basic formula I was able to discover through trial and error, playing around with content ideas, keeping active and always pushing forward.

So I thought I’d share with you here exactly what I did so you can grow your traffic and hopefully get even better results than I did. Some tips may apply to you and some may not.

So here we go!

I aimed for low competition

As I mentioned much earlier, this website is about Martial Arts movies.

When I first got interested in watching martial art movies I went online and did a search. Whilst there were plenty of movie reviews around, there were hardly websites specifically any dedicated Martial Arts films.

So I considered throwing my hat into the ring to start watching movies and writing reviews – but I wanted to make sure I could compete so I did some solid research and still it seemed to be a low competition topic.

Beyond that, I also searched for certain things to see if anyone had written about them, both in the beginning and whilst growing the website.

So I started the website about a topic in a space that had hardly any other websites and I also wrote posts that had little or low competition in Google Search Results.

These days more of these sites are up, but getting in early definitely helped secure my spot :)

I started a blog

It may seem obvious but yeah, I started a blog.

Blogging is an easy platform for really pumping out articles and reviews without having to find a home somewhere on your website for them, since they all end up in your blog feed.

But there’s more to it than that.

The blog has a theme and a mission. The first post I wrote introduced the website and a concept behind the whole blog. I found a list of the top Martial Arts Movies (250 movies) and my mission was to review them all.

So now people weren’t just reading movie reviews, they followed me on a personal challenge and then connected with me as I went.

People don’t just want an anonymous voice, they want a person to connect to and get information from. But that leads me to my next point.

The focus was on offering value

I know, I watched a tonne of TV – but I built my reviews based around informing people of the style of action they would find and if I would recommend the film.

The website was about suggesting good movies to watch.

So people had a resource of finding recommendations for martial arts movies as I slowly ranked all of these films on my own list they could refer back to. I offered a central and easy spot to see which movies I recommended, linking off to each review.

I further expanded on this by writing about the actors themselves and useful blog posts full of recommendations based on a theme. I offered valuable information for anyone who was looking to see some quality martial arts films.

I sought out people willing to promote me – and many did

Now getting onto the fun stuff!

Sure, I created a Facebook page and Twitter Profile and posted there, but being new I had no fans whatsoever. So I needed to leverage someone else’s audience. I looked up a number of people in the space, such as actors and fan pages,leaving comments and sending messages.

I didn’t straight up ask for a share, I instead focused on talking to them first and creating a connection. With one person in particular (an actor named Scott Adkins) sharing my page. More on that here.

This lead to about 500 page likes that day and kick starting the blog at about 200 visits per day. Which gave me a solid start instead of trying to reach a single person at a time and building that way.

I then listened to my audience and tailored a lot of the social media content to their liking, which gave my page a very high engagement rate and lead to a lot of traffic. But the real growth came from search engines afterward as Google’s algorithm recognized the social signals and gave me a good boost.

I hit a wall, analyzed and made adjustments

The initial boost took me so far, but things began to plateau.

As the initial novelty of my reviews started to wear off, a small group of people kept reading but a lot of people dropped off. I still had decent traffic but growth had stopped since I wasn’t getting the social signals.

This was a sign that the content I producing wasn’t something people really wanted that badly.

So I experimented with a bunch of different ideas and also checked my analytics to see what was performing best. I then moved my focus to a couple of areas, including top lists (more on that down the page).

You Tube Channel

I started a small YouTube channel

I noticed that videos I posted on social media, made by other people, were getting the most interaction and engagement – especially short music videos with a mixture of fight clips.

So I made my own!

These videos did relatively well with one of the videos getting millions of views (currently just under 5 million views).

The medium worked well since video was the same medium as the martial arts movies themselves. I linked off to the website and it still drives traffic to this day. The key for me here was to share and reshare videos and prompt other people to share also.

However, I did stop at one stage because the next tip really took me to the next level.

I limited writing reviews and focused on lists

I phased out the movie reviews almost entirely.

I accomplished my goal of reviewing the films on the list as my analytics clearly said one thing – film reviews get hardly any traffic while a few ‘Top List ‘ posts I wrote brought in most of the traffic.

So I wrote a series of list posts and took the traffic of the size well over 2000 visitors per day.

This works because people on search engines quite often want quick answers – like which “Donnie Yen movie to watch next?” and lists give people a number of quick and easy answers whilst being SEO friendly.

These same list posts went completely viral on social media despite, at this stage, having a bit of competition to work against (this was no longer low hanging fruit). I learned a few things about blog posts and SEO, leading to the next tip…

I made a point to write 3000 – 5000 word posts more frequently

I noticed my longer posts often performed better, but they were also top list posts.

So I investigated and found a number of articles talking about how blog posts with over 2000 words often performed the best. Backlinko touches on this here, although the word count has dropped a little in recent years.

So I aimed to make my blog posts comprehensive.

A good tip for this is to turn each item in a top list into a short 300 word article, or make each subheading a short 300 – 500 word article. So instead of writing a 3000 word article, you write 10 short 300 word articles.

I started an email list

“The money is in the list”

Creating an email list is one of the best things you can do for you existing traffic. Once people sign up you drastically increase their chances or returning (assuming you actually email them).

Email gives you the option to touch base with your audience far more effectively than using Social Media as it doesn’t come down to algorithms and likes as much.

People who have signed up to an email list that offers value will continue to read those emails, so you can strengthen your connection with them.

I created an autoresponder series

I created an automated funnel that sends out a series of emails over six months, starting frequently (every 2 or 3 days initially, and slowly dialing it back to once every 10 – 14 days, in order avoid being too aggressive and prompting people to unsubscribe.

Email can easily turn 1 visit into 10 or 20 repeat visits. That’s a powerful factor in increasing traffic.

This auto-responder series has a number of emails within it designed to sell affiliate products and means that for every visitor that signs up, they are likely to return a number of times over 6 months (the current length of the series of emails).

I send out occasional updates between this to keep things fresh, but it’s only about once per month at this stage.

While this still isn’t the highest source of traffic for me, it is definitely making me the most money as my audience is used to me, trusts me and follows through with purchases via my affiliate links.

I constantly promoted old posts

You may note that I mentioned the sharing of older content on my email list once people signed up.

This is a great way to get people onto those old posts but I also promoted old posts on Social Media using tool like Buffer and Revive Old Post.

You can also make a point of linking back to older posts within your new posts so that when people land, they continue to explore your website and consume your old content. This will decrease your bounce rate and improve the quality of your traffic.

This is something a lot of people don’t do but it has really helped me rank a lot of the articles on my site.

I have more information here about promoting old posts if you’re interested.

pageviews

I worked on my website speed

A slow website sucks and people don’t hang around waiting just to read from it.

I took a lot of steps to drop the load time of my site right down so that less people would bounce and I’d get more traffic from search engines.

I wrote a post on this exact process right here called How I Managed to Speed up WordPress – from 20 to 2 Seconds Load Time.

Basically, I removed all of the useless BS from my design.

I redesigned, moved all content above the fold.

I started off with a really tall header/navigation and elements above each blog post.

After getting my hands on the Divi Theme, I simplified the blog layout and put more effort into the other pages. I brought the post content up as high as possible, and simplified it.

When I discovered over half of my users were using phones, I made the design dead simple and put effort into the logo to sharpen up the appearance without having too many crazy design elements distracting on the page.

This meant people could land and see what they wanted straight away. This helped to keep people on the website.

I decreased posting frequency, but continued to update old posts

Since the website has hundreds of decent posts already, there was no need to update so frequently.

As most people finding the site now are new visitors, it’s more efficient to funnel them through the email list and show them existing content as the value remains the same as I keep the posts relatively up to date.

I started with 3 or 4 posts per week and was pouring everything into this website. I now batch a number of posts with the aim of posting one per month since I covered so much ground with the site and have reached a point of diminishing returns when it comes trying to think up with new topics.

There’s always more that can be done, but not making this my whole life was important as it wasn’t intended to be a business that replaces my fulltime income (despite the fact I do make a nice little chunk of passive income from it).

To grow and move onto other things to make online business more manageable, I have been slowly converting this site into more of a niche site that is less hands on but updated enough to keep delivering value to my audience.

I built an asset, both for myself and martial arts movie fans and now I do my best to maintain that asset.

Now it ticks over seamlessly…

The only reason it worked was value and, for a while, consistency.

I found the most searched for topics and personalities in my niche and wrote resourceful articles about them, giving people an easy place to stop and learn more.

I do my best to keep up engagement, but overall it’s a very passive website now and I believe sometimes it’s best to move onto other things. Every so often there might be a little surge of interest and work to breathe a little more life into it, but otherwise keeping a consistent monthly update seems to be working for now.

Using a Computer

You can do that same!

The above property wasn’t only a good project, but it was a fantastic learning curve that allowed me grow as an online blogger and content creator.

Experience speaks volumes so all I can say to you is give it a go!

If you already have a website, hopefully this has helped you to learn how to grow it. If you haven’t got a website yet, check out my free email course to get started.

Otherwise I’d love to hear any questions or thought you may have below! Thanks for reading and let’s keep the conversation going :)