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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)
  • Tracey G

    Build relationships online: get to know people in your niche via twitter and commenting on their blogs. People who know, like and trust you are more likely to retweet your content, leave comments, or link to your blog, all of which will lead more visitors to your site. Thanks for your great suggestions, Mark.

  • Eric Evenstad

    Thanks Mark! I appreciate you taking the time to respond so thoroughly. I really enjoyed that autoresponder blog, thanks for sharing! I think getting started on that will be next on my list. Thanks for the advice on blog creation too. I think I’m gonna go with your “create an amazing blog less often” advice. While, I don’t mind writing, its a daunting task for me to regularly come up with topics and do the necessary research, but I’m sure that will only get easier with time.

  • Jessica

    Really great tips and strategies.  Thanks for being so open with them, Mark, and not making me sign up for all sorts of stuff I don’t need to get to them!  As a really, really new blogger, and a new solopreneur as well, your advice will be invaluable.  Cheers!

  • Mark McGuinness

    Glad to hear it was helpful, all the best with the content production|!

  • Mark McGuinness

    Nice job! I’m guessing you built some strong backlinks and search rankings, to get that much traffic without writing anything new. So that’s definitely a good sign.

    As for whether you should continue, it depends what you want. Is the site meeting your goals? Is there anything else you want to achieve that the site could help you with? If so, it could be good to write more. If not, maybe you could concentrate on optimizing what you already have.

  • Mark McGuinness

    My pleasure – remember, it can be done!

  • Mark McGuinness

    Great summary.

  • Mark McGuinness

    My pleasure. If you’re really new to blogging, make sure you’re reading Copyblogger.com and Problogger.net – lots of great advice on both sites.

  • Baiju Solanki

    Really good sensible tips. Some are obvious, but still aren’t used by many ( namely your truly 😉

  • Nicole Williams

    Hi Eric, I’m in a similar position with a new blog so understand your thoughts on producing content. Also 100% agree with Mark – quality over quantity! Also found a couple of things that make it easier include adding “Blog This” http://www.google.com/support/… to your toolbar (of you are using Blogger). This means you can easily create draft posts from websites you visit so you can share this with your readers at a later stage when you have time to write a full post. This means I have a large number of draft posts waiting, while some will never make it to my blog, I know I have a number of ideas ready to be focused on. I also use existing posts to lead onto others – for example I recently wrote about a partnership between Huffer (fashion designer) and Absolut vodka for NZ Fashion Week – this then spun off into several more posts about other brands activities during NZFW.   
    I also take a notebook everywhere and constantly jot down ideas or take pics with my phone to remind myself of things – whenever inspiration runs dry a flick through these usually gets me going again.
    Also when you do find time to write – try to knock over a couple of posts and release them over the coming days/weeks.   
    Hope this helps too 🙂

  • Mark McGuinness

    “Man needs more to be reminded than instructed.” – Samuel Johnson;-)

  • Mark McGuinness

    Thanks for sharing your process Nicole, I can relate to what you say about stacking up drafts and seeing which ones make it to the final cut!

  • Eric Evenstad

    Thanks for the ideas Nicole! I’ll definitely give those a shot. I’m all about the idea notebook, I won’t leave home without it. I guess I just need to start turning those ideas into actual drafts, and I especially like your idea about writing a few posts at once and releasing them over time. It seems like getting started on blogs is always the toughest part, but once you get going its easy – might as well take advantage of that! 

    Thanks to you and Mark, you two have taught me a ton! 

    All the best,
    Eric

  • dissertation writing uk

    nice post! thanks alot! i like it!

  • Kenymanchego

    Thanks for all these tips. I’ll try to make my website more “visible”.
    It’s hard anyway.

    http://www.behance.net/kenyonm

  • Syresourcesblog

    Any suggestions for http://www.syresources.com? Would appreciate suggestions via http://www.syresources.com/p/c

  • SPJPGRD

    Nice and simple!

  • Jonah Goldstein

    Well, it’s certainly not a list of easy steps.  It’s a part/full time job.

    Recently I’ve been trying to garner some eyes and ears and am using a playful, promotional minisite to steer users.  It got picked up in a couple of good lists and tweets and hope it’ll continue.  it took a night to build, but i’m a designer/dev, and your average person would have to hire someone (not exactly an out of the box solution):  http://jonahgoldstein.com/ahoy

  • Alexia

    What about if you are starting to get confused about your ‘niche’ – if, for example (obviously not a leading question whatsoever), you are starting up an online clothing boutique, but your branding and message are about the process of making that clothing, the reasons/challenges behind the decision to go this crazy path (i.e. the story), and a handful of activities related to the clothing in particular.  Do you write about all of these ‘topics’ or do you pick one and go for it hell for leather?  Any advice anyone could offer?

  • Bartolomeo Koczenasz

    No 1 is one i follow the most.
    Create the blog that has amazing post and CONVERSATION and even MORE good things to read within the comments
    http://www.bartsmiles.com

  • Aripublishing

    Good Advice! Each week we try to add something new to our website to keep people coming back. Since out original startup we offer what we call ebookies for people who wish to sample our authors short story work, free professional services, free samples of our novels, we have animated our logo and created video book trailers for our novels and are presently in the process of adding a slideshow of our books at the home page. have a look at http://www.aripublishing.com

  • Kevin

    Thx for this article. Good tips in it.

  • sheila

    Great article, thanks for sharing! Definitely some ideas I haven’t thought of before. The examples you included really help, I’m an “examples” kinda girl 🙂

  • Deb Booth

    Great ideas, well presented… now, to find the time to IMPLEMENT them!  Thanks for posting this.

    Deb Booth
    http://www.differentlightstudi

  • Ayn

    Thank you.  Helpful to read all these reminders — in one place.  Let’s see if they work on our upcoming site.

    -Ayn Carrillo Gailey
    Chief Content Officer
    http://www.nakedprincess.com

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