These days, everyone on the block wants to be a blogging sensation. It’s the cat’s meow, as they say, and that must do wonderful things for popularity because the Internet lately has been positively brimming with cat pictures, hasn’t it? All jokes aside, blogs are big. Very, very big. In fact, some people are famous purely for their blogging efforts and these are the people many of us look up to. The thing is, if you’re going to be that kind of star then you need to be taking advice from someone who’s been there and who’s done that. Jon Morrow is that kind of cat – if you’ll pardon the pun – and already lived about 9 lives more than most of us. Before we cover Morrow’s webinar that took place on August 8th of this year, called How to Get Massive Amounts of Blog Traffic, let’s take a look at Morrow himself because understanding his story is the best way to understand why his advice holds such much clout with those inside and outside of the Internet Marketing world.
Much More Than a Mere Survivor
Jon Morrow is perhaps best known as the Associate Editor at Copyblogger and a leading voice at Problogger, but he wasn’t always a superstar of the blogosphere. Before writing posts powerful enough to get over 6,000 Likes on Facebook and 9,000 re-tweets on Twitter, Morrow was a massive failure at blogging. We’ll get to that part in just a moment, but notice that we did not say Morrow was ‘just an average guy‘. That’s because Morrow was never an average guy by anyone’s standards. All his life he’s dealt with opposition that most of us would consider a life-smothering nightmare.
You see, Morrow was born with a medical condition known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative neurological disease that has been working against his physical body his whole life. Despite being dealt a stacked deck by the house, so to speak, Morrow worked with what he was given and let his family help him where they could. During an interview with The Badass Project he told his interviewer:
I was really lucky to have two incredible parents. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve survived this disease. But it’s also one of the reasons I’m able to do these things.
In case you’re wondering what kind of ‘things‘ Morrow has done, let’s take a look at the list he’s accomplished despite being paralyzed from the neck down:
- By age 16 he’d graduated high school
- By age 18 he’d gotten 3 businesses started up
- By age 21 he’d graduated college with a 3.9 GPA
- By age 23 he’d bought & sold millions of $ of luxury real estate
Did we mention Morrow never saw the inside of any of those properties he bought and sold? Are you feeling as if he must have been born lucky? That he somehow built an empire by dumping all that cash he made in real estate into a blog? Well think again. As Jon said in a famed post on Problogger post:
In April of 2006, I was hit by a car going 85 miles an hour.
I didn’t see him coming, and I don’t remember much about the accident, but I do remember being pulled out of my minivan with my shirt on fire. The front end of the van was torn off, gasoline was everywhere, and my legs were broken in 14 places.
For the next three months, I had nothing to do but endure the pain and think about my life. I thought about my childhood. I thought about my dreams. I thought about my career.
Imagine all that struggle to achieve success in real estate despite battling a fatal disease and then having a car accident like this. Many, many people would just give up, but not Morrow. He decided he wasn’t happy in real estate and that he had to take control of his life and his career. He decided to start blogging.
And So a Blogging Legend Was Born – Or Not!
At first, Morrow blogged about what he knew: real estate. He sold everything he owned and began in earnest, leveraging his intimate knowledge of a market that at the time was booming like crazy (this was before the 2008 economic collapse). Yet he found no real traffic and no real success. So he tried a different route, this time interviewing bestselling authors. Considering the sheer number of people who would like to write a book and the fact that these were some of the world’s most respected authors, you’d think he would find incredible success with a blog like that. Nope, nothing happened. When the third blog also went down in flames, Morrow seriously considered giving up for good. Instead of doing that, though, he remembered his real options in life and as he stated in his Badass Project interview:
I would rather die doing what I want to do then die in a nursing home bed somewhere watching TV for 15 hours a day surrounded by other people waiting to die. To me that is the scariest thing imaginable.
Instead of giving up, he bought a critique of his blogs from a respected blogger and he discovered the information he shared with the 700 people who attended this webinar. Before we get to those secrets of success, we need to understand what Morrow says he was doing wrong.
The Forumla for Failure in Blogging
Shockingly, engaging content was not Morrow’s problem – he had loads of it and it was all top quality. He fully understood SEO friendly site design, too. In just 60 days he’d managed to get 40 subscribers so it wasn’t that he couldn’t interest people in what he had to say, it was that he couldn’t interest enough people in what he had to say. That is due to a formula that Morrow says most people believe will work because it is what is said constantly. That formula looks like this:
- Step 1 – Write awesome content
- Step 2 – Spread the word to promote that content
- Step 3 – Well, we aren’t quite sure what this step is…
Therein lies the problem, according to Morrow. This mysterious third step is never discovered and it leads to what he calls ‘The Cycle of Doom‘. That cycle goes this way for most bloggers:
- Get a big idea to start a brand new blog
- Leap into action & start setting it all up
- Nothing happens, even with content there’s no traffic
- Give up in frustration deciding it’s all pointless
- Possibly get another big idea & do it all over again
Sound familiar? For those of us who have tried blogging and ended up bailing, it is all too familiar. Morrow doesn’t tell us that the problem is our content stinks. He doesn’t tell us that the problem is we lack patience and should have held out longer. No, instead he attacks the formula we are taught and shows us that the problem is that mysterious Step 3 above. What are we missing, you ask? Connections, that’s what!
Reach Out & Touch Someone… Popular
Popularity, Morrow explains, is where it’s at. Without popular bloggers talking about your blog, there will be no traffic. Google isn’t going to discover you until other bloggers ‘jump you in‘. Google, as we have said time and time again, looks for sources it trusts who point to your site – that is SEO in 2012 Yet, you can’t get people to point to your site if they don’t know who you are. This is true for nearly any business on the web today and those who do not learn this early on are still living in a pipe dream where you simply build a website and millions of people flock to it. This is not Field of Dreams, folks. This is real life and not focusing on intelligent ways of generating traffic will doom your site. It’s bad for most sites, but for blogs? It’s a catch 22 for blogging success that Morrow describes with an often quoted expression:
The easiest way to write a book that becomes a bestseller is to already be a best-selling author.
Cute, you say, but how does this help me? Morrow has you covered. He furthers his case by explaining that the world of social media is not that much different from the rest of the world. Most people who have bestselling books on The New York Times‘ bestseller list are authors who have achieved that status at least once already. They have connections. They know popular people, most likely authors who also had a book on the bestseller list or the agents, publishing houses or other parts of the book publishing world that works with such authors. Morrow found out the hard way, by interviewing many of these authors, that an expression many of us know is wrong. That expression is:
It’s about who you know.
Morrow changes it to:
It’s about who knows YOU.
This, he tells us, is the key to success. Popular bloggers need to know you before they are going to mention you to anyone. You can’t just email these people up because they get tons of email and everyone wants a favor out of them. If you ask for anything, you’ll be considered spam. You can go around trying to get a thousand small and relatively unknown blogs to give you links and talk about you, but this will not do much good for you. The same is true on Twitter – it is not being mentioned or re-tweeted by thousands of little known individuals that brings someone on Twitter tens of thousands of followers. It is being mentioned by just one popular person on Twitter with an enormous following that will get people to follow you in a hearbeat. Another way to look at this is by considering what we teach in the Insider’s Club about SEO: a single link from a bigger site a with higher PageRank gives you more benefits than tens of thousands of links from junk sites. See how this works, now? You can’t go viral without the help of the ‘big players‘ spreading the word. Popularity online flows from top to bottom, not from the ground up.
Yes, There’s a Magic Formula Involved
What Morrow got told during his critique is what set his mind to working on what would become the magic formula for his success online. To paraphrase what he was told:
You’ve already got great content. Start making a deliberate effort towards building relationships with influencers on the web.
Painfully simple, isn’t it? Morrow didn’t pitch a product, he shared real advice here. He talked about precisely how he got 1,036 subscribers (not just visitors) to his blog in under 60 days. Here is what he said to do and in the exact order he said to do it:
- Connect with list owners who read & like your work
- Create content targeted to the audiences of those list owners, explain how this content benefits them & ask them to promote it
- Convert visitors to your site into subscribers by offering a free gift to subscribe
The ‘list owners‘ Morrow speaks of could be those with a traditional email list or they could be owners of a popular LinkedIn group, bloggers with a popular RSS feed, or even those on Twitter with a massive number of followers. The point here is to reach out to popular people and discover what their audiences come to them for. Then you create amazing content for those audience members and offer it to the popular person in exchange for a link. The free gift he talks about could be anything from an ebook to a webinar, a free report, a free video or even plug-in for a blog that you had designed. Morrow tells us that 95% of people who visit a site will never return unless they subscribe. That’s why the free gift needs to be good enough to convince them to subscribe to your blog. Therefore, you must use your byline with care.
No Niche Too Small, No Niche Too Big
Guest blogging, Morrow’s real specialty, is the heart of this webinar. The full title of the event, by the way, was ‘How to Get Massive Amounts of Blog Traffic Even If You’re a Total Newbie with a Brand New Blog‘ which more accurately describes what Morrow is trying to get across. He says you can achieve incredible levels of traffic to your blog and thousands of subscribers in weeks, not months, if you follow his advice. The niche you are in does not matter at all.
For those bloggers in tiny niches or who are establishing a niche of their own, it could be tough to find bloggers in a similar niche. Morrow says not to worry because these bloggers can find others in a totally different niche and create content designed to appeal to that niche that connects to the smaller or non-existent niche. For example, a person running a blog exclusively about growing lime trees may find that there is no niche for this or even much of an audience for lime tree growing tips or even for tree growing tips, but they may find a niche like landscaping or Florida living can use content geared to those audiences.
For bloggers in a large and already established niche, things should be a little bit easier. Guest blogging is still what Morrow recommends, but he tells us to think about as if we are a small band at a rock concert. We are the ‘opening act‘, as he says, for the big act (the popular blogger we are guest posting for). In this instance, the goal is to create quality content for the audience and make the popular blogger proud to have displayed our content.
Why Do All of These Things Just to Have a Popular Blog?
While those of us in business know exactly why running a popular blog is smart – it can turn an impressive profit – Morrow suggests that the stakes are higher. He cites the importance of sharing what we have to share, no matter what our specialty or niche might be. Blogging can change the world, Morrow believes, and it is up to bloggers to make themselves popular so that readers can discover them and gain from the content they blog about. A blogger’s real duty is to gain that popularity and help those they can help. Morrow receives encouraging correspondence from those who read his blog on a regular basis and even cites a case where someone about to commit suicide read a blog post of his and decided not to take their own life. It’s cases like this that inspire Morrow not just to blog, but to teach others how they can make a difference in people’s lives while at the same time generating an income for themselves.
So what do you think? Is all this effort to build a popular blog that is a real business worth it? We’d love to hear what you have to say so be sure to leave us a comment below. Also, if you have any questions let us know and we will respond as soon as we can.
Resources Mentioned in this Post
- Serious SEO Success: Creating Engaging Content – Discover how quality content equals SEO that gets results. We will show you what it takes to get your audience engaged so that you get the most from every visitor.
- How to Properly Structure Your URL’s for Optimal SEO Benefit – The way you format the URL’s of your site does make a difference in SEO. Learn the right way and save yourself hassles in the future.
- Effective Marketing: SEO and Getting Links in 2012 – Success with Internet Marketing today depends on who you listen to. Read about how SEO has changed and why new approaches must be pursued today.
- Mike & Troy’s Insider’s Club – Why not learn from the best? Club members get the benefit of years’ worth of experience from seasoned Internet Marketing veterans. You’ll find straight talk & real strategies that work plus personal help.
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