Growth May 23, 2020

How to leverage a blog with about 15k monthly viewers?

Gar @gargar454

Hi Everyone. I have a tech blog with a few pages that gets some very good viewership from google searches. For some key search terms they come up as the number 1-5th results.

I do this blogging for my one man consulting shop, however the CTAs and social buttons on it doesnt convert well into driving people to my website or from people sharing the content.

Any tips or advice?

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    Hey Gar, until COVID i was a full-time blogger from an income perspective. I also build a SaaS that helps bloggers increase their affiliate income through analytics and run a newsletter that teaches blogging to developers (ok, enough credentials haha).

    A couple of general tips for you on blog monetization.

    • The only way to monetize "pure traffic" is really just ads. Assuming you don't want to do that, you need to focus on getting the "right kind" of traffic.

    • You're writing what we'd call "info content". Informational content isn't really so exciting to share. It helps people solve a problem but it's not really sharable.

    • If you want to monetize with affiliate links, you need to find affiliate programs that offer tools where you can write a tutorial where THEIR SERVICE is needed to solve the problem. But they also need to be at the right STAGE in their buying journey to make the purchase. For example, let's say I want to sell subscriptions to Adobe Photoshop. Then I might write an article called "When should you invest in Adobe Photoshop" or "Photoshop vs. Canva" -- you see, because clearly people googling for that wouldn't have bought yet. I'm really not sure what kind of software is going to have an affiliate program in the k8s space.

    • If you want to get social shares, I'd suggest more stories and sharable content. For example, something like "10 expensive kubernetes configuration mistakes" (keyword: kubernetes mistakes). People will want to click and share something like that (I'm imagining, I'm not deep in the k8s community) because it's got to do with money, and people will want to "test themselves" when they see a headline like that, and THEN they'll be proud to share because they feel smart if they aren't making any of them haha. Just understand that people will not be sharing your informational articles -- you'd need to write content specifically for social sharing.

    • Lastly, if you want to keep writing info content and monetize it, I'd recommend creating digital products like an ebook. That might also help boost your email opt-in rate, if you had some kind of downloadable resource people could get by joining your email list.

    Let me know if this makes sense. I love talking about monetizing websites, but there's way too much to fit into this tiny post :)

    P.s. If you do want to go for ads, the more premium ad networks start at 30k or 100k monthly visitors. Your main options would be Adsense or Ezoic. Ad earnings are really dreadful right now thanks to the virus though, so with 15k views you might make less than you think.

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      This is amazing tips for content marketing in general. The useful vs sharable content point is very vital, thanks for pointing it out. Sounds like we need both, both of which responds to the right audience at the right time.

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      Thanks for the really thoughtful reply @momoko.

      I don't want to monetize by ads or affiliate links. I also don't want to do an ebook or do an online course. I don't enjoy doing that and I don't think doing those activities makes me happy.

      I really just want to drive traffic to my consulting page and get more consulting contracts. I do think on the consulting side, I have a few problems such as I don't package up items where someone can readily buy. I'm starting to fix that now.

      Good point about the "info content" and I also liked your suggestion on making more sharable content.

      In your experience, should I update the current blog posts or create new ones? On one hand, I don't want to touch some of these blog pages b/c the google magic has been sprinkled on it and I don't want to upset that. On the other hand, maybe I can update it to make it convert better?

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        Hey! The question I have is -- did you intentionally optimize your content for SEO? Or is it kind of by coincidence that it's been ranking because the content is both "well aged" and specific? If it's by coincidence, you could probably improve your traffic but honestly it might not be the best use of your time.

        I would just think again about the "intent" we talked about. Your articles are largely technical tutorials from the brief skim that I did.

        Think about WHO within a company hires you, and WHAT are those people searching for. Is it really the devops engineers who use your tutorials? Do those engineers usually refer you to their boss?

        I'm going to start guessing here...

        For example, do you usually get hired by CTOs and engineering leads? Then maybe content like "Is your organization ready for Kubernetes?" or "When can Kubernetes DECREASE engineering velocity" or "Common kubernetes security holes" or things like that. The type of content that leaders would read who need to decide "It's time to bring in a k8s consultant because my engineers need training after our last major prod incident."

        You know what I mean?

        Maybe you do that already! But that would be my main idea. You seem to already have a lot of "proof" on your site that you're a k8s tech expert. I would write content that targets eng leadership and then promote on places they tend to be (e.g. Twitter and LinkedIn). In those pieces you can reference your tech pieces where they can dig deeper if they want.

        Last thought: Your consulting should be a solution a problem, right? So maybe before some of your complex articles, you can outline all the steps and have a call-to-action like, "Does this sound complex to apply to the system you have today? Book a 30 minute consultation and we can see whether my skills and your organization are a good fit" (Not the best sales copy but you get the idea). But again, that won't work if the engineers are reading your content but the teach leads are the ones who reach out to you.

        I use that last tactic for affiliate marketing sales. Ultimately IMO it's all kinda the same, but adapted to the audience and the problem. Hope that gives you some ideas!

        EDIT: To give you can idea from my experience, I once wrote a blog post about "7 absolute truths I unlearned as junior developer" about my journey going from junior to senior/lead. I got a solid handful of people from known companies reaching out to me about engineering manager roles because of that article. I believe, it's because people who like the content there are engineering leaders looking to hire good managers.

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          It was unintentional. I just started writing about technical stuff I was running into and it started to rank very high. I think you are right. The people that are reading my blogs (the DevOps Engineers) are not the people that are hiring me. I have yet to talk to someone that say they got my contact info from their engineer because they read my blog. I have had smaller startups reach out to me because they were trying to fix a problem and ran across my blog. They also happen to be the manager b/c they are the only DevOps engineer. I think those are unusual cases though.

          What you said about targeting the CTOs/managers makes a lot of sense. They are the ones that needs to know I am here and able to help them out.

          This is awesome feedback!!! Super appreciate it. Going to brainstorm on some ideas.

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            You're welcome! Good luck with your consulting business!!

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              Wow! This was like a public consultancy work! Congrats to @momoko for taking the time. I think there is a lot of valuable information in what she wrote. A lot of people start with technical blogs (myself included) and it is very hard to channel the visits into something useful for ourselves/our business.

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        @momoko Just saw your Blogging for Devs email course...that is exactly what I need! I signed up =)

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          Yay! I hope it's helpful :) I also just came across this free course you might find useful, which reinforces a lot of the points I'm making above:

          The content is very heavy on showing how to use this particular SEO research tool which is pretty pricey at $99/mo, but the main concepts of converting search traffic into customers is present. It starts by picking the right keywords, with volume, who have the intent that makes them your target customer :)

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            Thanks...checking it out. Im not sure if ill buy it though =)

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              The course is free, and you can apply the concepts broadly once you learn how to use other tools :)

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                Oh...even better! I noticed all of the videos were just on youtube. Going to check it out.

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    Hey Gar, just reading your topic here. I'm actually very interested in how long/how you got to the 15k a month.
    I've started my blog/domain 2 months ago and only hitting 1k a month unique.
    I do understand it's just a beginning number, but would love to hear how long the 15k took you!

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      Checkout my conversation with @momoko above. I just kinda fell into that number. I was totally not trying to target that number. I was just writing some technical blogs on my experience with Kubernetes and how to troubleshoot it. On some blogs with very distinct error messages I found that those blogs ranked very high in google when you search for the error message and was getting a lot of hits. I then started to create blogs that had distinct error messages. Some of those also do very well. I would say I have about 5 pages that gets like 600 readers per day or something like that.

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        Thanks just had a read through, very interesting topic and I totally get it where @momoko is saying you might be targeting a different audience with your blogs than your consulting business.

        But nevertheless very good at writing down a problem many people are searching for!

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    Hi, I had a look around your blog and site, you certainly seem to be highly skilled with Kubernetes. The couple of things that occurred to me were;

    You tend to jump straight into the technical stuff. What might help is talking more generally about the problem and why you have solved it in the way you have . That way you are boosting your crediabilty and experience at solving these problems and showing that your team is good at what you do.

    The other thing was that you CTA button is pretty wordy. You've got lots of posts put different buttons with different copy on different posts and experiment to find what works best.

    You could also weave in some links to your products into the text itself which should work well if you make it look natural.

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      Good idea about an intro to the post on why you have to solve this problem. Going to update a few of the top blog posts to see if that helps.

      I just recently put in the CTA button on the bottom. That is a fair comment. Ill try to make it shorter and try some that are inline to the blog to see how that converts.

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    Seems like straight up affiliate linking would be an easy choice as you already rank high for whatever product / keywords. If you are not familiar, take a look at /r/juststart and /r/affiliatemarketing

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      Hmm...i don't think i want to monetize with affiliate links. I would rather drive the traffic to the home page and into my consulting service.