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Big Ideas

4 Creative Ways to Attract More Visitors to Your Website

It's hard to get ahead if no one sees the incredible work you're making. We break down how to get people to your website, and get on their radar.

“How can I get more website visitors?”

This is one of the most common questions I hear from clients, frustrated at the lack of business their website brings them.

Often, there isn’t much wrong with the site itself — it’s professionally designed, and the portfolio is full of gorgeous work. But it just sits there, in an obscure corner of the Internet, being quietly ignored.Taking a website from zero to a few hundred or even a few thousand visitors a month is not easy, but it’s eminently doable — as long as you recognize a harsh truth about the Internet:

The online world is an attention economy. Attention is finite, and therefore scarce. So if you want people to pay attention to you, you need to earn it.

You can’t expect your work to speak for itself. Most of the time, it won’t. You need to accept that marketing is part of your job, just as much as making.

But the game changes when you start applying your creativity to your marketing — it becomes more fun as well as more effective. Here are four ways to use your creativity to attract the right kind of visitors to your website.

1. Create an amazing blog.

Note the word ‘amazing’. I’m not talking about a blog you only update when you’ve got a new client or exhibition, or something new to sell. I’m not talking about a personal diary where you to post your musings on art, life, and the universe. I mean the kind of blog that grabs people’s attention by delivering outstandingly valuable, useful, or entertaining material — consistently.

Instead of writing, ‘here’s my latest work’, write about:

  • “Here’s how I made it” – with pictures and/or video. Like this or this or this.
  • “Here’s what inspired it” – if you like it, chances are your audience will like it too. Like this or this.
  • “Here’s how you can make one like it.” Like this or this.
  • “Here’s a gadget that makes my work better (and could help  you too).” Like this.

Instead of burying your opinions in long paragraphs of diary-style ‘musings’, put them out there loud and clear:

  • Devote an entire blog post to nailing ONE idea.
  • Start with a compelling headline.
  • Ask yourself ‘So what? Why should anyone care?’ — and make that the start of the post.
  • Give concrete examples.
  • Invite comments by ending with a question.
  • For example: I’m a designer. Use me better.

And don’t forget to ask for the subscription! Repeat visitors are the best visitors, so one of your goals is to build an audience of loyal subscribers. Ask people to subscribe and offer an email option to make it easy.

2. Give (some of) your best work away for free.

Just so we’re clear: I’m not one of those internet hippies who tells you “information wants to be free”, so you should give away all your best work and forget about being paid. (Have you noticed those guys tend to have a comfortable salary or professorship?)

But as Tim O’Reilly has pointed out, for most creatives obscurity is a greater threat than piracy. If no one’s ever heard of you, they won’t even bother to rip you off, let alone pay for your work.

So take advantage of the spreadability of digital content by giving away something valuable and encouraging people to share it with their contacts:

  • the first chapter of your novel (or even an entire novella)
  • a free report or e-book, full of insanely useful information
  • one of the best tracks from your album
  • a design template
  • high-resolution images
  • a series of tutorials
  • videos that anyone can embed in their site

Use a Creative Commons license to make it clear what people are allowed to do with the work. And make sure it’s something genuinely valuable. If you feel slightly uncomfortable about giving away something so good, you’re on the right track. Otherwise, why would anyone get excited enough to tell their friends?But don’t give away the farm. Make sure you have plenty in reserve — products, services, artworks — for the folks who want to take things further and buy from you.

3. Borrow someone else’s audience.

Why build an audience from scratch when you can borrow one that someone else has spent months or years assembling? No, it’s not unethical — in fact, the ‘someone’ in question will love you for it.

Writing high-quality guest posts for popular blogs in your niche is one of the most effective ways to get yourself on the radar of the people you want to reach. Your ‘payment’ is a link back to your site — make a great offer and you could land hundreds of new subscribers with every guest post you write.

And make sure it’s your best work. This is your chance to make a big impression — don’t blow it by sending out second-rate articles and keeping the best stuff for your own site.

4. Get your content into circulation.

Have you noticed that of the three tips so far, only one of them is centered around your site? (No. 2 may start on your site, but the real magic happens when people start sharing it with their friends.) If you really want more visitors, you have to go out and find them.

Social networking sites are not just for networking — they are ideal places to get your content (blog posts, videos, free reports, etc) in front of other people. Use Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to share links to your content. Make use of portfolio sites like Behance to showcase your work in places where people go to look for it.

And be generous — share more of other people’s content than your own. That way, you not only help others (good digital karma!) you also position yourself as a go-to authority, a source of cool stuff who people want to follow.


None of these methods is a quick fix. They require time, effort, and persistence. But the good news is the benefits are cumulative – as your blog attracts links and subscribers, as your free content gets into circulation, and as you get known as a rising star in your niche, you’ll find yourself attracting more and more new visitors for every hour you spend on marketing.And no, website visitors don’t necessarily equal customers — otherwise there’d be a lot more Internet millionaires! Read my next article on turning visitors into buyers here.

Over To You

Which of these methods is most appealing to you?

What have been your best sources of web visitors?

Comments (32)
  • Ryan Colley

    I enjoyed this article as it had some great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at where I try to post one article a day to keep content fresh. It has been difficult to drive visitors to the blog, but maybe some of that is our small target audience of IT professionals.  One thing that has helped a lot though has been staying active in the discussions on other articles that have related content to our blog.  I will say however, we have not figured out the guest blogging.  I have reached out to over 20 technology blogs to inquire about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love any additional tips on getting started with guest blogging.

  • Ryan Colley

    One thing that has helped a lot though has been staying active in the discussions on other articles that have related content to our blog.  I will say however, we have not figured out the guest blogging.  I have reached out to over 20 technology blogs to inquire about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love any additional tips on getting started with guest blogging.

  • Dave

    I agree with point #4, and sharing your content with all your outlets, facebook, google +, twitter, groupie, and that way it can be shared with more people.  One challenge is writing a new post everyday.

  • Mark McGuinness

    I certainly don’t write a new post every day! There’s really no need, unless you want to.

    Go for quality, not quantity – much better to write one really good post a week than 5 so-so pieces.

  • Mark McGuinness

    Partly it’s a matter of choosing the right blogs to approach. It’s great if you can get onto one of the top blogs, but those bloggers will always be harder to reach, due to the volume of pitches they receive. So you might want to start with some of the smaller blogs.

    Once you’ve selected a blog, make sure you tailor every pitch to the individual blogger – make it obvious that you’ve read their blog and make sure the article is bang on target for that particular audience.

    Another thing that can make a big difference is if you’ve established some kind of relationship with the blogger beforehand. Bloggers love comments, so leave several good ones and they should notice. Twitter and Google+ are also good places to strike up a conversation.

    If you’ve done that, then your pitch isn’t arriving in their inbox ‘cold’, so you’ll have a better chance of getting a response.

  • P.

    I re

  • P.

    It’s an amazing article. I just started a new blog. With some positive articles to motivate people to follow their dreams. Be free to leave your comments.

  • Sergio Martín

    My website has like 6K to 10K visitors a month within a year, I just offer entertainment & I certain agree sharing your work/website to other social networks like Facebook/Twitter helps a lot. If you already have a base on that you’re halfway done, I speak from experience.

  • Ryan Colley

    Thanks for the tips Mark.  I am getting more and more involved in discussions in technology blogs. I need to learn to be patient too!  Building up a group of internet peers takes time and trust, it isn’t as simple as just throwing a site up.  Learning that as I go!

  • tony bordonaro

    very good …cant wait for the next one …how to turn those visitors into customers …aha   the holy grail !!!

  • James Hussey

    Well-said, Mark, when you talk about digital Karma and NOT being an internet hippie all at the same time.  Glen Allsop is a classic case study of this at – he gives the farm away, and has one of the biggest audiences online.  

    As for converting traffic into customers, that comes naturally and all depends on your methods…(answering Tony Bordonaro’s comment).  Pat Flynn of is someone to watch: natural sales from his solid content.  Provide value > earn trust > people want to buy.

  • Mark McGuinness

    Thanks James, Glen and Pat are both excellent examples. And maybe I’m a bit of an internet hippie after all. 😉

  • Mark McGuinness

    Nice job on your site Sergio! Those are indeed some very cute kittens.

  • Mark McGuinness

    “Building up a group of internet peers” – that’s a great goal to aim for, and the thing a lot of people miss. I’m going to start sounding like a hippie again, but community is at the heart of this stuff.

  • Eric Evenstad

    Mark, thank you for the article. This was very helpful to me. I’m new to the blogging world, learning more everyday from people such as yourself. Its really great how bloggers and social media people are so willing to give and help out others. So thank you for that. The problem with generating traffic to my site is that it just doesn’t have enough content on it and creating that content is very time consuming. Do you think its a bad idea to pay people to write blogs at the beginning just to get content up there or is it best to stick with your “create amazing blogs” strategy from the very start? Also, with only 20 or so visitors a day, is it too early to sign up for an email management site like aweber?

  • Mark McGuinness

    My pleasure Eric. If time is a concern and you want to maximize the effectiveness of your site (and any content you create) you might want to start by creating an autoresponder email sequence… to build your mailing list. Sonia Simone calls this ‘the lazy marketer’s best friend’ because you only need to create it once and it keeps working for you automatically.

    Re creating content to attract traffic – the key issues are quality plus relevance to your customers’ needs and desires. So I wouldn’t recommend paying people to churn out posts unless you’re very confident they will do a good job. Better to post something amazing once a month than something average several times a week.

    If you really don’t have the time or inclination to create the content yourself, then how about partnering with a writer? If they have a share in the business, they will be just as motivated as you to publish stellar content. And if they enjoy writing it will be relatively easy for them to produce good articles on a regular basis.

  • Vailancio

    Nice read!

    My blog is getting 20k to 30k vistors per month even though I havn’t written anything in past 1 1/2 year. I started it 2 years back. Do you thinks its a good sign? Should I continue writing.

  • Vailancio

    think* sorry

  • Matthew

    Another great post Mark. Sometimes I need the encouragement from a post like this to keep things going.

  • Theeflodocs

    FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @kaiyo_tweets

  • Theeflodocs

    You will not be dissappointed with the tweets i have produced @kaiyo_tweets!

  • mursallo

    wonderful comments I’m from and I’m looking to build a Blog and keep it writting to get my visitor on the site…..thnks 

  • paramendra

    Well said. 

  • Hearpreneur

    Great ideas! Give and you shall receive! At we try to give as much as we can to promote entrepreneurs and their ventures.  Your posts rings true! 

  • Tarık Çile
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