Why massive web traffic is mostly worthless

The other day, I was browsing Reddit when I stumbled upon a question in r/blogging:

reddit-blogging-question

I got this! I got this! — I thought. I shared my story: how I managed to use my old personal blog to escape the retail world and get a staff writer job at Laptop Magazine.

I got a few upvotes out of it…but more importantly, there were a lot of great questions. One of the things I saw asked, time and time again, is how bloggers can get more traffic to their website.

The problem is: this is the wrong question to be asking. Continue reading

022 : Why you should have started a blog yesterday

Dann Berg by Michael ShaneIn this week’s podcast episode, I share how I escaped the retail world and got into tech journalism. It’s all because of a little personal website I started. I also explain how you, too, can benefit from starting your own website — even if you don’t want to get int journalism — and how to do it.

This is a special edition of the podcast because there’s no guest, it’s just me! I ended up getting so much feedback and so many questions about last week’s podcast that I wanted to tell my story in more depth.

If you don’t yet have your own website, you need to listen to this episode. When you’re ready to get going, I’ve embedded the first tutorial in my video course.

If you found this helpful, please use my Bluehost affiliate link to get your hosting and domain!

Check out the rest of the videos here!

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021 : Pitching, press, and passion with TechRadar’s Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne of TechRadarWhen I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up taking a theater class as an elective freshman year (my mother’s suggestion) and loved it. I took more and more classes until I was eventually staring in almost all my high school plays (oh god, don’t click that link).

It only seemed natural to carry that passion over to college (as I still had no idea what I wanted to do) so I enrolled as a Theater major. But when I got to college, I just didn’t feel like acting any more. It was my creative writing classes that were the most fun for me, so I switched to an English and Creative Writing tract. For my honors thesis, I wrote a play.

But I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I graduated, I got a job in the mall at French Connection selling clothes. I was still working retail when I launched my first blog, IAmDann.com, and just wrote about random stuff. Seriously, go back to the first posts on IAmDann.com and check out the unorganized and unfocused content I was producing.

But I kept writing, and kept posting content. And after a couple years, I had a realization:

I was a writer who wrote a play and had a two-year-old blog.

As I was doing all that work, it didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything. And even though I didn’t have much focus during any of that time, I suddenly had a pretty impressive sounding CV.

I used that blog to land a full-time writing job at LAPTOP Magazine, and the rest is history.

When people say that you should follow your passion and do what you love, it’s because someday it’ll be valuable. If you love video games, and write a short post after every video game you play, it won’t feel like work. You might not even get any traffic. But eventually you’ll have a massive portfolio of work and you can turn that into a real, paying job.

My guest today is Joe Osborne, Reviews Editor at TechRadar, who is passionate about technology and video games. Unlike me, he had focus from early on, writing for small local blogs and systematically working his way up to his current position. In this episode of the podcast, he shares exactly how he did it, what he looks for in pitches, and shares his thoughts on the future of tech.

This episode is just plain fun, and it goes to show that you really should be pursuing your passion, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere as you’re doing it.

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Why you should always use the alt attribute

Google search result for busy calendar

I noticed something strange this week when I was looking at my blog stats: I was getting traffic through direct referral from BuzzFeed.

How odd, I thought. What on Novice No Longer could possibly be relevant to BuzzFeed?

It wasn’t my homepage that was linked, but a specific article: Getting a busy and being social for the socially awkward.

The link was from an article titled 28 Problems Every Type-A Person Will Understand. It wasn’t until I viewed the article and got to number 18 that I realized the relevance — they weren’t linking to my article exactly, but to an image that I used in the article. They just wanted a picture of a busy calendar, which I included in my post.

I headed over to Google (using incognito) and did an image search for the words “busy calendar.” The picture from my blog that BuzzFeed used in its post was the first result.

So how did I get a picture for my blog to be the top image search result for a fairly common phrase (which ultimately resulted in a link from BuzzFeed)?

The answer is simple: alt attributes. Continue reading

007 : Getting The Verge to take notice with Dan Seifert

NNL PodcastWhen you’re launching a new product or service, getting press on a website like The Verge can really be the deciding factor between massive success and slipping into obscurity. Yet entrepreneurs still make the same mistakes, over and over, when emailing and pitching journalists.

Dan Seifert is a Reviews Editor at The Verge and his email inbox is constantly full of pitches from both solo entrepreneurs and professional marketing companies. In this week’s episode of the podcast, we talk about which emails get replies and which get instantly archived. He also shares the common marketing tactic that comes off as insulting, and how to best build a rapport with journalists before pitching.

After listening to this podcast, you’ll be able to write pitches better than 90 percent of your competitors. And that’s not an exaggeration.

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