The Traffic Building Formula

Traffic. It is that thing we all want more of. It is that big barrier faced by all new blog owners. Like an unscalable summit. How do you get it?

This post breaks all the various strategies and tactics into a 6-step formula which unifies them all.

The Traffic Building Formula

Traffic. It is that thing we all want more of. It is that big barrier faced by all new blog owners. Like an unscalable summit.

Without traffic, we’re left talking to ourselves. And all of our big plans for our blog or business fall to the wayside.

Traffic is like blood flow. In the same way that a limb of your body will fall asleep and go limp when blood flow is cut off, the same thing will happen to your business without traffic. You get no traction, no list, no sales, no nothing.

Is Getting Traffic Supposed To Be Complicated?

Now, the funny thing about traffic is that we tend to complicate the hell out of it. And by doing that, we make it seem more scarce for ourselves.

[Tweet “The funny thing about getting website traffic is that we tend to complicate the hell out of it.”]

See, we human beings tend to value those things which have the most complexities on the line. Money, for example, is inherently a pretty simple subject. Yet, it has been made complicated. And most people barely know where it even comes from. So the result is that we never have enough money.

Well, traffic is much the same way. It seems as if it is hard to get, but the truth is that we’ve just made it complicated. All these little traffic strategies and little tactics people talk about, it leaves people chasing all these things and traffic seems very complicated.

Well, as I’ve said before, one of my big strengths is the ability to take a big subject and simplify it. I’m a “big picture” sort of guy. It is just my nature. But, I also believe that true power comes with simplicity. The moment we make things complicated, we lose.

So, I’ve boiled the topic of website traffic down to a simple formula. I touched on this formula in my last blog post, but I thought it deserved a post on its own.

The Formula For Building Your Website Traffic

The traffic getting formula is this:

  1. Find out where your audience is at.
  2. Find out what they need and want.
  3. Go where they are and give them what they want.
  4. Tell them to meet you on your home turf for more.
  5. Have them opt-in to your email list so you can tell them when new stuff comes out.
  6. Rinse and repeat.

Now, you read this and you might be thinking one thing…

But, Dave, That’s Too Freakin’ Simple

You might be thinking this is so simplistic that it won’t work. And you may want to run and find comfort in all those fancy tactics and such that all the “traffic gurus” like to talk about (and sell).

What about SEO? What about link wheels? What about PPC and Facebook advertising? What about content syndication?

All that stuff is fine, but I still think it all boils down to this same basic formula. And to concentrate on all those tactics separately would be like trying to tear down a tree by individually pulling off all the leaves. Don’t forget there is a big-ass trunk there and you can cut the whole damn thing down by tackling that.

The other thing is this…

Yes, it IS simple. But, it also takes work. Good ‘ol sweat equity.

People waste SO much time looking for shortcuts that they never make any headway. If you rededicated that time you spent looking for shortcuts into actually executing the basics, you just might get somewhere.

The Formula Explained

So, let me expound upon these six steps just a bit.

#1: Find out where your audience is at.

Your audience is out there already. They just don’t know you exist yet. So the very first thing you need to do is find out where they’re hanging out. If you want to reach them, you’ve got to spot them first.

So, go out and find them. Look for other blogs they’re reading. Social media groups. Forums. Magazines. Youtube channels. Podcasts.

Oh, and I would actually keep a record of these things as you go. Maybe in a spreadsheet. Really get the lay of the land.

#2: Find out what they need and want.

Your audience is on these other sites and you want them to come to your site. The way to do that is to give them something they need and want. See, this is pretty simple stuff, really.

So, you keep your ear to the ground on these channels and see what people are writing and responding to. What are they asking for? What kind of content is getting the most reaction? Also, what are they BUYING?

You can also engage in active intelligence gathering. Instead of just observing, you instead take an active role in asking questions designed to get at people’s needs and wants. If you’re in a forum, you can ask questions. Same with social media groups. You can even post quick little surveys if you want. Just be aware of the fact that you don’t own these channels, so be respectful of the people who do and obey their rules.

#3: Go where they are and give them what they want.

This is where some people get it wrong. They start posting stuff on their own blogs and just hope the magic Google gods bring the people in. Thing is, you’ve already established that your audience is in these other locations, so you going off and talking someplace else isn’t going to reach them.

You’ve got to bring it to them. But how?

Blog commenting (and I mean meaningful comments, not BS). Active participation in social groups and forums. Guest posting on other blogs. Contacting owners of these other communities and seeing how you can help them. Youtube video responses. Becoming a guest on their podcast. Interviewing them.

I mean, get creative. But, at this point, you need to be spending a lot more time OUT THERE on those other channels than you do on your own blog.

#4: Tell them to meet you on your home turf for more.

So, you’re out there being active on these other channels. You’ve got to give them a place of your own to meet up. And, that’s your website.

So, link to yourself. But…

THINK before you link. Be respectful of the community you’re in and don’t link spam. Also, don’t just point a bunch of dumb links to your blog homepage. Instead, link to stuff in context. Linking to your blog should flow with the conversation.

But, also important is the next point…

#5: Have them opt-in to your email list so you can tell them when new stuff comes out.

Here, read this and tweet…

[Tweet “If you’re not growing your email list from day #1, you are FARTING UPWIND.”]

Your email list is your leverage. It is what will grow your footprint. And if you are doing all this work to bring people to your blog, you are totally farting upwind if you’re not making every effort to get them to subscribe to your email list. Without doing that, the stats show that most of those new arrivals to your site will simply bounce off and not come back. And then where the heck are ya?

So, sign up for an Aweber account and start building your list. And most definitely read my blog post on list building: The List Building Formula.

And when you link to stuff on these external channels, don’t just link to your blog homepage. Point them to a relevant blog post or OPT IN OFFER. And, if you link them to a blog post, make damn sure there’s an opt-in on that page.

#6: Rinse and repeat.

This process is never complete. There is no point where you can just relax. The market outreach efforts have to continue all the time… and really you should ALWAYS be spending more time on outreach than you do your own content.

So, What About All Those Traffic Tactics?

Many of them work just fine. But, they all pretty much do the same thing in that formula.

If you’re concentrating on SEO, well you still have to do the formula.

Whether you’re trying to build traffic organically or use paid traffic, you’re still doing the formula.

All those traffic tactics are just execution models for doing the formula. But, where you try to dive into one of those tactics without realizing that this formula is the guiding line for you, you risk going nowhere. Case in point, you can run paid traffic into something nobody wants and it is still going to fall flat. That’d be a violation of point #3 above (“give them what they want”).

Your Next Step Is…

If you’re struggling with getting traffic to your blog, then I want you to purposely walk through this formula.

I’m bettin’ that most bloggers who are struggling with traffic are spending almost all of their time creating content on their blogs and tweaking layouts. They’re off in a world of their own spinning wheels and wondering why nobody is joining their party.

This formula will get you out of your own head and into THEIR head. That’s where you need to be. So, get off your own blog and get out there where your audience is.

Then, purposely do each step of the formula. Concentrate on each part. Write out your action items for each step.

And make these actions a routine part of your week. If that means you have to slow down on your own content creation, then so be it.



  1. I so agree with you David on this one but I use to make it a lot harder then it was too. Once I understood and put myself out there it really only took me about four months total before they started showing up at my door on a regular basis. It’s been a steady stream ever since and if you keep giving them what they want they’ll remain loyal.

    It does sound simple and we tend to complicate things because we just think there is much more to it. I say stick with your formula and you just can’t go wrong.

    Great share, thanks so much.


  2. Excellent post, David! It really IS that simple 🙂 Back to basics and keep it simple, eh?

    I see people are struggling with finding their audience but if you know your purpose, it shouldn’t be hard to find whee your audience play either. I think before bloggers roll their sleeves up and get started with this simple 6-step formula for blogging success, they need to figure out why they are blogging first; what is it that they want to achieve with their blog and why anybody should listen. then – it gets easy (well, it still needs hard work but it;s pretty easy when lookig at the buig piture and knowing the steps along the way :D)

    1. That’s a great suggestion, Diana. Knowing what you would like to accomplish with the blog, your core competence and what kind of problems you can help people solve, and most importantly, who can benefit the most from your blog are great questions to answer before getting into hardcore blogging.

  3. Yeah, too often it’s way too easy to get stuck at our own blog rather than go out there and find people to engage so we can actually discover what other people want from us.

    Very true, Dave!

    This is a simple strategy and one I’ll be putting into full use going forward myself. And getting the list going from day one is so crucial but it’s still unfortunate that, in today’s world, too many people still find getting a list build to be too complicated or just not necessary.

    Oh, how necessary it is!

    Good points and loving the podcast!

  4. Any thoughts on figuring out where the target audience is? I’ve tried to search for Twitter bios with little results. I’ve found a few popular blogs and regularly leave meaningful comments but they result in few visitors (15-20 a day). To my knowledge there isn’t really any obvious forums for my niche. I’ve found one but there’s no activity at all. My main focus at the moment will be guest blogging but I feel like I’m missing out.

    1. Stefan,

      Are you talking about the blog with your name on it? I checked it out and… I think you need to narrow down your focus. Recipes and procrastination tips on one blog? Its just too general. Plus, the branding of the blog doesn’t communicate any value to anybody. Just a little circle logo of your name, which doesn’t mean anything to people.

      That said, any of those topics you talk about have tons of people out there talking about it. They’re big niches in and of themselves. Really not sure how you can’t find anybody. But, it looks like the problem is traffic, not finding where people are hanging out.

      1. Thank you for your reply David. It’s for a new blog I’m about to launch. The niche is related to fashion and I’m targeting Swedish women between 18-30 years. Pinterest and Tumblr aren’t big in Sweden and most popular stores only have the same 200-500 followers on Twitter. I’ve been able to locate one forum but there’s only 2-3 posts a day so I’ve declared it inactive.

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