Compared to other marketing blogs that have launched in 2012, Social Media Sun has enjoyed quite a bit of success. We’ve had some awesome guests, we’ve attracted a ton of traffic and for some time our posts were averaging nearly 500 social shares.
Every project is going to have a different level of potential. The success of a website depends largely on the size of the audience, amount of competition, the resources available (both monetary and resources that stem from the resourcefulness of the staff) and other external factors (I once had a friend have their roller derby website explode in popularity after a nationally televised roller derby league launched). All things considered, Social Media Sun has done fairly well.
You can do just as well with your blog or website. Your goals shouldn’t necessarily be tied to numbers like page views and Facebook likes, but instead steady growth. As long as everything is improving, you’re still doing something right. When growth slows down, or comes to an abrupt stop, it’s easy to lose your motivation.
How Did I make it Successful?
2012 wasn’t the best time to start a blog focused on social media or inbound marketing. The Internet is already saturated with blogs on these topics and the overall audience for this niche has been decreasing steadily since last summer. I’ve always maintained a small personal webmaster blog however, and developing the site was something I was interested in.
Our audience and reputation grew quickly at first because I found answers to common problems that other fresh blogs couldn’t. Social Media Sun was given a Page Rank of 4 in less than 2 months because one of the first things I did was launch an application that built our backlinks at a tremendous pace. I had some help from a few friends that were already well known in online marketing circles and I maximized three sources of social media actions that few people adequately combine. As everything progressed and we continued posting new content, it proved to be a viable strategy that promised growth.
There are Compromises
One of the things that I knew was important for any website entering a crowded blogosphere was quality. Quality in the writing, quality in the design, and quality when it came to the people involved. I spent two weeks adjusting the design and customizing our theme until I thought it impressed me. With all of the graphics and CSS involved, I had to sacrifice load time to accommodate design features.
I also made the initial mistake of accepting guest posts from contributors that wanted little more than a backlink. As long as their posts were above average and they conformed to our identity verification processes, I would usually accept their posts.
A Perfect Storm
Now, eight months after we launched the site several of these decisions have come back to haunt me. The application that had the added benefit of generating backlinks, the compromise when it came to load speed, and the links we’ve given to guests that are engaged in getting most of their backlinks through guest posting websites like My Blog Guest have combined to stop our progress in search engine referral growth. Combined with a recent drop in referral traffic from social channels, even with decent social sharing numbers, the growth strategy that once worked so well doesn’t seem as promising anymore.
While our traffic was taking a hit, our commenting system developed some problems that hurt engagement and cost me several hours last week that would have usually been dedicated to working on other aspects of the website. I didn’t put all our eggs in one basket, but all our baskets were hit at one time.
If I could sum up everything I know about promoting websites on the Internet into a short statement, it would be to find out what works, do it as long as you’re seeing results, and experiment with other strategies if it ever quits working for you. There will be bumps in the road and things are always hardest when you’ve been weakened by stress. The important thing is to reflect on your assets and strategy, clean house, and come back harder than before.
You Never Know Unless You Try
Building a blog correctly from scratch is much easier than re-formatting an existing blog to mitigate problems. I still feel like we’re doing well because there are lots of compliments from people on social networks, we have a close knit community around the site and most metrics still indicate that we’re above average. I don’t think we’re meeting our full potential though. The on-site comments have waned recently and I haven’t had the time to create the type of content that I want to produce.
Over the coming weeks I’m going to institute a new strategy that combines tactics that are still paying dividends with new styles of writing, new subjects, new guests, new features and focused goals that both the staff and readers will be aware of. If I can’t breathe life back into this website, I probably shouldn’t be teaching you how to breathe life into yours.
At the end of the day, promoting things on the Internet and optimizing websites for business is what I’m good at. I welcome the opportunity to address questions with my own website and hope I can use any success I have in pointing the gun back at the target as a lesson for our readers. Some of my strategies will surprise you; sometimes you need to concentrate on other things to get answers to the problem at hand.
I hope that you all stay tuned to see what is in store for SMS and take these words to heart; make a plan and follow it as long as it’s working. Experiment all the while, and find a way around if your current road is blocked. Turning around is easier than you think because you’ve really just started your journey – moving forward however will afford you the chance to cover hundreds of miles and end at a destination other than the beginning.