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How to triple your Twitter traffic in 7 days

Tweet

This is an actual traffic graph for my website last week.

Traffic in general increased by 439%. Traffic from Twitter increased by 10 times. I know it sounds like a line straight out of Cash4Gold, but it’s true. I used no special tricks. I did not pull any favours. I did the same amount of work. I actually posted less. All I actually did differently was correct a simple mistake I habitually made without thinking about it. This is a mistake you probably make too, and it’s very simple to fix.

Like me, you probably have a small-to-medium sized blog, with readers from just a few visits a day to several thousand. Like me, you think you’re doing your best, and you aren’t entirely clear on how to improve. Also like me, you feel that “your time will come” or something, and that slow and steady wins the race. Yet another part of you wishes you had a bigger audience right now.

Well, what if you could get both?

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past month studying how good bloggers get traffic to their sites and keep it there. Many of these people, I know personally, but never asked them for advice, and didn’t do what they did.

I went at it my own way. That was stubborn and stupid.

The result was a smaller, less responsive audience… an audience I care about a lot, actually, but with a growth curve that wasn’t satisfying for the work I was putting in. Like you, I work hard on the posts I put out and make sure they’re very interesting, and that’s very satisfying.

But the posts were not working for me. They were throwaways– not investments. They weren’t delivering what I needed once they were out in the wild. To do that, they needed more.

So, here it is. Here is the problem I solved and, along with it, the results.

Stop writing 7/10 posts

Be honest with yourself. Like me, most of your posts are probably pretty boring. The content itself may be fine (I’m very proud of mine), but the way in which they’re delivered is probably kind of dull. Some of my favourite posts on this blog have great content. But they need better delivery.

Examples include All Belief is Religion, which I love but was Facebook liked by no one, and The Privatization of Culture and Illusion of Depth, which is so obscure that it’s a miracle it even got any views at all (mostly from existing subscribers, I’m guessing).

If you’re anything like me, you write your posts, and your titles, with yourself as audience. This results in a majority of posts which rank 6, 7, or 8/10 with the outside world.

Last week, if I didn’t have a 10/10 post, I didn’t publish at all. This resulted in three posts instead of 5-7, and many more subscribers than I’ve gotten in previous weeks combined.

The real breakthrough

Here’s the main thing, though– the real transformation. When I stopped accepting 7/10 posts, I also stopped having 7/10 ideas. I started having 10/10 ideas, and suddenly I started recognizing them, and I suddenly had three in the span of one week.

Much of the difference has to do with titles, as well as opening statements. This post from last week started as You Are Nowhere Near the Edge before I realized I could do better. As a result, it became the most liked, tweeted, and commented-on post in the history of my site. But the content was the same.

But that post wasn’t alone– the whole week was better. I was able to produce writing that will work for me longer than any posts I’ve written in probably the last year. I can only imagine if I’d written posts like this one with this principle in mind.

This realization is frustrating, because it feels like a lot of time and effort was wasted. Fine, but this means you already have a bunch of ideas you can call upon and improve– in my case, this means years of backlog you can work with.

This week helped define what I wanted to be to my audience, and it helped me understand what I wanted this blog to be about. It helped me see what people on Twitter respond to. I had a kind of realization, one in which the content really does market itself, and if it doesn’t, it’s because the delivery is simply not strong enough.

You know this already

What’s nuts about this is that I’m telling you stuff you already know. I knew all of these things going in too. I wrote a bestselling book about the social web, for God’s sake. I would never advise a client to write posts like I did– instead, I would advise them to write things like 23 Snacks For All-Night Gaming, which hit the top of Digg pretty much as soon as it was published, and built audience and links very easily, because that’s what it was designed to do.

But I wouldn’t take my own advice. Why? Because I thought I knew better. And yet, I can look at tons of “social media experts” or whatever and point to all this content that simply does not cut it. But they don’t know how to fix it. They don’t know it’s a mistake because it’s inside their own gates.

You have to push how edgy your content is, and how sticky it is. Add handles, make it more blunt, or appeal more specifically to an audience. Push it closer to the edge. If you do this, it will get retweeted, and linked to, more. Your content deserves this.

At the beginning of this article, I stated that you could triple your traffic from Twitter. Using the stuff stated above, I actually multipled it by 10. So I’m being conservative with this headline, instead of hyperbolic. But think about it this way: Triple the traffic means triple the chance for a subscriber, and triple the chance for a comment. It means triple the chance for a tweet, too. Finally, it means triple your chance to have an impact on the people that need it.

At some point, it may not be necessary, and you can be like Seth Godin and publish whatever you like. Until then, follow this advice. If you feel that this is “below you,” and that you’re better than needing to resort to “cheap tricks,” I suggest you read about the archetypes of the fool and the trickster. Realize that the only way to get speak the truth to power (tell people what they really need to hear) is first by getting them to listen. It’s all fine and good if you want to sit in your corner, but I’d prefer to have a wide reach. I imagine you do too.

So try it. And good luck. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment, and please tweet this out if you feel it’s useful. Thanks. :)

* Filed by Julien at 10:00 am under social media, tips


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

Check out more of my blog, my free book or add me on twitter. Also, we're hiring. Check that out.

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49 Responses to “How to triple your Twitter traffic in 7 days”

  1. OhDoctah Says:

    You are right on the money. If you would have asked some of your friends they would have brought you to this conclusion. I hope you are doing well friend.

  2. Julien Says:

    Totally. Everyone around me STILL SEEMS to be doing it though!

  3. Matt Says:

    If it we’rent for your 10/10 idea – this wouldn’t be my new favorite blog. I’m not ass kissing either.

    Dont Be A Fucking Pussy was great, needed to be said, and should be read by more people – everywhere.

    That post prompted me to think a little more outside the box and more “direct.” I did and my last post was one of my most popular yet.

    Good stuff here – keep it up!

    • Julien Says:

      Matt, this should have been your old favourite blog! But somehow I just wasn’t able to bring people here properly, you know what I mean? Don’t ask me why it took so frikkin long to find this out.

  4. Dave Sohnchen Says:

    It’s really irritating how quickly content get stale. Thanks for the push to keep it fresh and snappy. My numbers have steady but I couldn’t figure out how to increase them. I realize now that I’m just getting lazy. I still work hard but don’t spend as much time on snappy delivery or provoking titles.

    Thanks for pointing out what I already know but I’m not doing.

  5. Sarah Wallace Says:

    When I first started writing my blog, I felt that I should blog at least three times a week but after awhile I felt like I was just writing “pulling this out of my ass” posts.

    Back then I would get a spike in hits mostly when I post something.

    Now, I blog whenever I’m inspired. Sometimes I go weeks without a post but I have found traffic to my blog increases everyday, even when I haven’t posted anything.

  6. Steve Haase Says:

    Julien, congrats on finally taking your own damned medicine. :) Rejecting content that’s not a 10/10 is hard, but we’re wasting people’s time (and our own) if we publish stuff that isn’t actually great.

    And the connection between making the effort to make your stuff outstanding and the increase in traffic is motivation enough for me to start digging deeper for my own blog posts. Thanks for giving us all a look under the hood, Julien, and for the inspiration to take our content all the way.

  7. Mike Marinelli Says:

    This post is way more challenging than Dont Be A Fucking Pussy. With that one you just needed to get moving. If you follow the advice here, you need to actually do some thinking – that is real work. At least for me.

  8. Ray Says:

    Loved the book, can’t wait to read the new one. Have been a subscriber to your co-author’s blog for awhile, but never really felt the same connection here…until yesterday. Added the RSS feed as soon as I finished reading yesterday. Great post! Much like the anticipation for the new book, I can’t wait to see how you follow that post up.

  9. Jake LaCaze Says:

    Without a doubt, this is not a 7/10 post. And before someone makes a smartass comment, yes, it is ABOVE a 7/10.

    My favorite part of your post was this little line: ” I wrote a bestselling book about the social web, for God’s sake.” Why? Because you’re admitting that, although you did co-author a bestselling book about the social web, you have not let it go to your head and are willing to admit that you still do not have all of the answers and are prone to make mistakes on your own blog.

    That, in my opinion, makes you much more authentic and human.

  10. Brad Says:

    I was excited to see this title, as I’m new to social media and doing much research for a project I’m working on. I read about half this article, and just got bored. The information presented I’ve already read, so I think you’re missing an important aspect – being creative and unique.

  11. Jackie J. Says:

    @Brad – Being creative and unique does garner attention. So does adding value to your posts and Julien did just that by giving tips to blogging better.

  12. Elaine Spitz Says:

    Julien -you make it sound so easy. And of course it IS easy, in a way. You have great ideas. The challenge is looking at your own writing as if it were coming from someone you don’t know or even care about. Still working on that…

  13. Dave Delaney Says:

    Wait, you mean this isn’t about getting cash for gold? Damn. :P

    I think you’re right about 10/10, I’m guilty of publishing content that’s not a 10 in my mind. However, I’m pretty happy with my recent stuff.

    Using the WordPress editorial calendar plug-in has helped me map out my posts. This way, when something isn’t a 10 yet, I can shift it in the calendar to return to later.

    Thanks Julien!

    • Julien Says:

      Dave, interestingly enough, the guys who created that calendar plugin also made this site.

      In other news, “pretty happy” doesn’t cut it. 10/10 or nothing. Any post can be that way if you put in the extra elbow grease.

  14. Brian Clark Says:

    Copyblogger has been telling you this since January 2006. And we’ve been friends for how long?

    Just saying. ;-)

  15. Brian Clark Says:

    By the way, if you’re going write content like this, get a better web server. My tweet just knocked you down.

  16. Roger Says:

    I see allot of web stuff and this tweet caught my attention. It’s the same principle to get a high open rate on your emails to your data base. Common sense but seldom practiced. You got me to stop and think myself. I failed to even rate my posts how bad is that. People are despreate for things that work and in a world where they are overloaded with info this is one sure way to get it. Great post.

  17. Octavian Mihai Says:

    Good points. I think it’s more about telling people what they want to hear.

    I pulled a prank on my blog on April 1st about a creative class manifesto… it was picked up by Richard Florida and my twitter traffic exploded… I had trouble explaining to those who didn’t get it that it was a sarcastic trick.

    Probably we all need a personal underground private journal and a simple and direct 10/10 “commercial” blog.

  18. Gail Says:

    Everytime I write I try to remember my audience is tuned to WIFM (What’s In It For Me). So my headlines always talk benefits to them just as you did with this post. Nice job!

  19. Derek Oxley Says:

    Your tweet pulled on my coat tails so I tuned in and I wasn’t disappointed thanks for sharing..

  20. Jeff Esposito Says:

    Spot on post as was the Don’t Be a Fucking Pussy post. Advice that should be followed and no one should think they are below doing the 10/10

  21. Brad Says:

    @Jackie J and @everyone else. Please, someone help me understand. What exactly was said in this post that is so “unique” and worth reading? The author says it himself —-
    “What’s nuts about this is that I’m telling you stuff you already know. I knew all of these things going in too.” —- I really think all these commenters have mushy brown noses. I guess these commenters aren’t looking for tips or advise (as this is old news) but instead a nice story from a well known author.

  22. Christian Says:

    Damn straight. This post proves you are not a fucking pussy ;-) 10/10!

  23. Chris Says:

    I think this message should apply to comments as well. Just not this one.

  24. Chris Says:

    In truth, I wonder if there is a correlation between 10/10 posta and 10/10 comments that follow it.

  25. John McLachlan Says:

    Thanks, Julien. In this one post you have taken what’s been said in so many other places but made it much more clear without bland inhuman sentences. There’s a lot packed into this one post. Oh, that makes it’s a 10/10.

    Be Bold or Go Home.

  26. Brad Says:

    Ha ha … Ok I give up with you guys.

  27. Chris Says:

    @Brad Sometimes it’s just interesting to see how people experiment and evolve. What specifically were you wanting that you didn’t get?

  28. Brad Says:

    @Chris, that’s a good question. I’m not sure what I was expecting, something new to aid in my research. I’ve been programming for years, and I feel I’ve very technically savvy. I’ve however only been in the Social Media seen for a few weeks now (due to a new project I’ve been assigned). I’ve read about a 100 articles now on blogging / twitter / facebook / etc., and so I came to this article from twitter looking for something new. The content in this article is nothing new, its just a story. I can understand how many like this article, but for my purposes I really didn’t take anything from it that I’ve already read elsewhere. Are people just commenting here so that they throw up a link to their homepage?

  29. Vic Dorfman Says:

    Fo sho, Julien.

    I’d rather let my blog hibernate a little bit before awaking it with a crappy post.

    Good Vibes, brother!
    Vic Dorfman

  30. Chris Says:

    @Brad there’s been some “common wisdom” out there in the social media world that suggests people find time daily/constantly to produce content (tweets, blog posts, whatever). I think part of this is SEO-related and part is guised as engagement. But it’s really hard to do and maintain quality. Not to mention the tolls it takes on your creative ability when there’s no time to allow thoughts to find any depth. I don’t know how you feel, but this mass content creation really stops feeling authentic quickly. It definitely stops being fun and starts feeling like some cracked out inhuman is polluting my feeds. Fortunately, Julien has been one of the people I’ve enjoyed reading (despite his own criticism). So his story is interesting to reflect on; he changes habit and opts for a new standard of quality. And the result, a 10x traffic increase, seems to be noteworthy.

    So that’s what I got out of it anyhow. I don’t know what other people’s motives are for commenting. It doesn’t matter to me, really. But I enjoy reading good dialogue when it emerges. Hope that helps.

  31. Diki W.N. Says:

    You are right about the delivering.
    After looking at many successful blogs I realized that the only difference between boring blogs and successful blogs is that the latter was speaking OUT instead of just speaking.
    It is similar to the way people talk. No matter how great and genius the content is, if one speaks not so confidently with no passion people wouldn’t even pay attention. In the blogging world, people would just enter the blog skim through and leave.

  32. Rufus Dogg Says:

    I like the 10/10 idea, but if the answer to getting more traffic to a blog post is to use a title like “Don’t be a Fucking Pussy” I am going to pass. It isn’t me. I think it shouldn’t be anyone who is seriously into social media in the world outside of geeks and freaks (no offense.. kick if you want, but you know I’m a dog, right? :-) )

    The number one trafficked post on my blog is titled “I hate AT&T Wireless.” It wasn’t at all what the post was really about and attracted a LOT of people who just wanted to rant. My editor used “Seth Godin is a big fat idiot” for a post on his blog which gets a ton of traffic but not traffic he is really proud of (though he stands by the content.. Seth even commented and that led to a connection. But still…)

    Success is nice, but sometimes getting there while still being true to yourself is nicer. And it’s all a journey anyway and you need to be happy with whom you travel.

  33. Martyn Chamberlin... Says:

    Julien, you can read articles on CopyBlogger all day that basically say the same thing as what you’ve written here. And yet, coming from you, it’s completely different. It’s like I’m going to take you more seriously or something.

    Meanwhile, I’ve decided to only post 10/10 posts. Unfortunately, those kind of premium ideas don’t hit me very often, so I’ll be blogging a lot less. Friday was the last time I’ve written anything…

    But in the long run, you’re so right. It’s a better way to live.

  34. Ara Pehlivanian Says:

    It’s funny how often we need reminding of things we already know. I applied your wisdom to my latest short story’s title and content (I’m writing 365 of them in as many days) and I got a retweet! Thanks for pushing me to push myself. Much appreciated.

  35. Mike Says:

    I’m with Chris, where is the meat to this? Saying only write 10/10 blog articles is pointless. 10/10 to whom? It’s almost like saying only swing at good pitches. How do you know what people want to read, which titles will really become viral (outside of the obnoxious)? Is the basic premise don’t blog just to blog? Good advice, but won’t get you a 3x increase in twitter traffic.

    That being said, I did click on the link because of the title!

  36. Ara Pehlivanian Says:

    Mike,

    I think the point he’s trying to make is that we don’t challenge ourselves enough. I know that I often focus on highly niche subjects that maybe three people in the world would care about. Or I’d write a pretty decent post only to give it an abstract and convoluted title.

    Nothing illustrates his point more clearly than my feed reader. I may, *may* read one full post out of the fifty I skim. And what will hook me to read that one post? Its subject matter, but more importantly, the title.

    So I’m with Julien on this one. I need to learn to be my worst critic and kick my own ass into shape if I’m to make any impact at all with my writing.

    Peace,
    A.

  37. Zach Cole Says:

    Content is king! I’ve heard this many times before, but perhaps articulated quite as well as it is here. Thanks so much for the insights, Julien!

  38. Samuel Parent Says:

    Like you say, we all know this already, we just need to apply it. We’ll I started immediately after reading your post – re reading planned posts and revising titles so they are more provocative. So far (1 day) so good.
    Thanks Julien for driving the point home.

  39. Ryan G Says:

    Is it the content on the blog that attracts people or is the affinity you have with others in general that gives your blog its affinity?

  40. James Says:

    Great post….I aim for one post per week but have been spitting some repetition lately and so I’m gonna start making this my rule 10/10 or the trash

  41. Theresa Delgado Says:

    Thanks for the reminder – on something that I should not need reminding of.

    Great post!

  42. Robin Browne Says:

    Ok. I read all the comments to make sure no one said what I want to say (part of what I do to stop being a pussy and do the work required to add value).
    I totally agree with provocative titles but question the “post only when you have a 10/10 idea” for one main reason: consistency.
    Folks like your fellow social media rock star, Mitch Joel, wisely say successful bloggers post consistently. They add that the demands and discipline of regular posting keeps your mind in idea generation mode – and that leads to more 10/10 ideas than the mental laziness that can come from inconsistent posting.

  43. Brian Swichkow Says:

    AWESOME post! I’m constantly telling clients to post things conversationally and not for them down the throat of the audience. Use language that hints at what the audience will get from the post, don’t sum up the entire post in the title. Tickle people’s curiosity and you will blow their minds.

  44. Daniel Decker Says:

    I’m right there with you in the realization of this and working to apply it to my own sphere. I, like you, am excellent in advising clients on what to do but have not done so well at taking my own medicine. Wonder why that is? Why some of us are like the plumber with his own leaky pipes.

    Regardless, thanks for the nudge. Good stuff.

  45. David Cain Says:

    Ah, yes, this is absolutely it. January has made this principle crystal clear to me. Posting once a week (putting in 6-8 hours per article), I ended up with three 10/10s in a row, and they all went viral. Boom, boom, boom. Massive surge in traffic and it hasn’t receded.

    Then this last post, I wasn’t feeling it in the same way. People liked it, but it felt very 7/10 for me. 55 Facebook shares instead of 1800. Extreme difference.

    From here on in the strategy is clear. I have to produce content of top caliber, or nothing at all. Why take time away from writing to “market” my blog, when I can have a thousand people doing that for me just by writing a single exceptionally good post?

  46. Turndog Millionaire Says:

    So obvious but like you say, overlooked by so many (by me too I’d like to add)

    A case of not doing as you preach!

    I think my titels can be quite good, but they can, and NEED to be much better. However my opening sentences are dull and always the same. I certainly need to create a more enthralling catch because this is what will make people stay (which is where they will read your useful content)

    Very good article and i’m glad to see you seeing some growth

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  47. Siraj Wahid Says:

    I receive less traffic from twitter, i was searching for something that would give my twitter traffic a boost and here it is. Thanks for the article.

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