Most of this post is really just a way of clarifying my own thoughts and putting a plan down so I have something to follow. These are 7 goals I have for the first quarter of 2008.
1) I’d like to get 350 RSS. I value RSS subscribers more than other traffic because I know they will be viewing whatever I put up. Personally, I have seldom unsubscribe from RSS feeds. When I have done it, it was because they had too much traffic (I couldn’t keep up with the crap Digg was sending me for example). RSS traffic tends to be smoother and I think is a better overall measure of average readership than even Daily Visits.
2) I’d like to get at least 3 mentions from either major media outlets or Technorati Top 100. This is all of course dependent on me doing something worth linking to. If I can do this, it will help achieve #1.
3) Get above 1,000 unique IPs per day. I can spike above that currently, but I will have to sustain steady growth to get to that point by the end of
4) Get into the technorati top 60,000
5) Have the photo sites I listed previously up and running and bringing in some amount of AdSense revenue > 0.
6) Be at least the first two pages of search results for “Travel Blog” on Google.
7) Widen my lead on the Bloggers Choice Awards. I’m really obsessed with this. You get an acrylic trophy if you win. I haven’t won a trophy since the national debate tournament my senior year in college.
I don’t think these are outrageous goals. There are people out there with sites worse than mine who are doing this. But I doubt it will happen without effort on my part. It could very well be that I get a streak of luck and most of these could be achieved within two weeks, but I doubt it.
How I get there is really the big question. I view traffic as a ratcheting phenomenon. You get 100 people to your site, 10 return, 5 subscribe to RSS, and 1 might put up a link to you. That link will increase the number of people coming to your site by some small percentage. You build up the small percentages to end up with a long term large number. Here are the obvious ways I can get from here to there:
1) Entrecard. For a period of several weeks, this was probably the biggest thing to drive traffic to my site. However, I got in near the beginning and now that more people are in the system, it is getting harder to get attention. The way the system works, it doesn’t really make for quality, long term traffic. Moreover, if you do want to get a lot of traffic, you really have to work at it dropping cards on other sites. Entrecard is great for starting out, but the opportunity cost of constantly dropping cards is high and the marginal return is low over time. I’ll stay in the system, but I don’t foresee putting much effort into it. I’d also dumb BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog under this category. They are good for a small steady stream of viewers, but nothing overwhelming. Moreover, they all target other bloggers who are looking for the same thing as you: traffic.
2) StumbleUpon. This is by far my largest traffic generator. This is true of most people. I think I’m going to eliminate all the buttons under each post (Digg, Slashdot, Del.icio.us, etc) and just have a single SU button. Getting to the front page of Digg is near impossible as is Slashdot. I’d rather make it obvious to people to click a single button rather than play the Digg lottery. As I mentioned previously, I spent $25 on StumbleUpon this week and it seems like a good investment. I’d be more than happy to funnel more money to SU if i can earn some on AdSense. Then again, you can easily get thousands of stumbles for nothing, it is just more random. FYI, if you are reading this, I’m pretty sure you are more likely to get stumbles if the initial stumble and review are NOT from the owner of the blog. (Hint, Hint)
3) Podcasting. This has been hanging over my head since the start of my trip. I’ve been shooting some video, but nothing has come together. The fact is, if I have a half assed video podcast on iTunes, I could easily get more people subscribed than I have RSS subscribers by a factor of 3 or 4. Easily.
4) Site Redesign My site is fine. I get lots of compliments on it. However, now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I have an idea of what works, what doesn’t and I’d like the site to be tailored to me. I’ve started the process of doing the redesign, including getting a logo. The one feature I really want to add is to put a Google Map in the header, ala Hitch50.com. The mapping part is already done, now I just need to integrate it. Also, I’m going to build the site from scratch with search engine optimization in mind to help achieve Goal #6. Same with the other photo sites I’m starting.
5) More personal branding There really isn’t a lot of ME on my site. Part of that has been a conscience decision and part of it is just the difficulty of taking photos of yourself when traveling alone. I’m not comfortable doing it, but I think it has to be done. A video podcast will go a long way in achieving this, as will the site redesign. USE THE POWER OF THE DIMPLES That being said, I have no desire to make every photo one of me. Most travel sites are nothing but photos of the people traveling and they are designed for friends and family.
6) Getting Help If it wasn’t for my daily photos, the content on my site would be sucking right now. This is because I spent so much time working on promoting the blog the last month and reading up on things like web marketing, SEO and advertising. These are not productive uses of my time. I should be out seducing women and taking photos of mountains and megafauna. Getting a webmaster who can do some of the back end work for me will be huge and let me focus on what ultimately matters: being a modern day Indiana Jones. The fact that this post is longer than anything I’ve written in a few weeks on my main site is telling. Much of the above could be done by another person helping back in the US.
7) Guest Blogging I’ve been writing for some other travel sites, but it hasn’t really resulted in my much traffic or name recognition. I’ll probably do some more of this, but in the end, my goal isn’t to be a free lance travel journalist. I want to build a brand and a name. I probably have one of the largest National Geographic collections in the world, and I can’t honestly say I remember the names of any of the article authors.
And obviously the most important thing….
8) Improve the content of my site. All of the above means nothing if I can’t do this.