The Truth About Traffic and Conversions

I’d like to preface this by saying that it’s not intended to be a complaint, or to blame anybody for my perceived shortcoming. I understand there’s a lot that I still need to do to achieve the level I desire, and that there are things I could have done better/differently along the way. This is just a commentary on a process that I’ve been through. A sorta “results report.” Cool?

I’m learning that no matter what I thought in the beginning, getting traffic and conversions is a lot harder than it seems. Even having big names promote your work and appear on your site is not a guarantee that visitors will come, or that those who do will hand over their email address.

Sign me up!

My site’s been up and running for about half a year. In addition to tapping into some pretty big pools of potential visitors, I’ve had some pretty good exposure with people of influence. Some of that exposure has been by my design in the form of interviews. Some has been to my surprise.

In the beginning I was really excited. I was so extremely hopeful. I was going to hit 10,000 subscribers by Christmas 2015, I just knew it!

Hehehe . . . that girl . . .

First, I sent out an email to all of my friends and family. “I did it!” I told them. After 9 months of pulling my hair out, I finally launched my site. I invited them to sign up for my email list so they could hear about what was going on. 2 of them did. 2. And neither was my mother.

I did B-School last year. So, I’m part of a huge FB group: 4300 strong. Loads of people launch their websites into that group . . . and there’s a lot of curiosity when somebody does. How does hers look? What is she selling? Is she prettier than me? Does she have 10,000 subscribers yet? Oh my goodness, is she going to be on Marie TV??????

I was sure that when I launched into that group, I’d get 176 subscribers. (I don’t know why I had that number in my head.) The day I did my big unveiling, I had 578 visitors stop by. Exactly 0 of them subscribed. I think 3 commented on my FB post. Clearly I hadn’t done anything that was impressive, or made very much sense to that audience.

After Jeff Goins’ Tribe Conference, he wrote an article about apprenticeship. He included links to a handful of articles that attendees had written about the Conference – including one of mine.

I braced myself for all the traffic. I polished up my opt-in, ready for all those downloads. I waited with baited breath . . . for all 19 people who drifted over to read my article. None of whom subscribed.

After that, last fall, Jeff was super generous and posted about me on his Goins, Writer FB page. A cool little write-up about how he believed in what I was doing and believed I would succeed. He encouraged people to check out my work.

I was so humbled, and so grateful.

It got some good play in the FB comments. But I can’t say that it really generated any traffic over on my site or upped my FB like-count. He was even super cool and tweeted about me at the same time and encouraged his audience to go follow me on Twitter – about 5 of them did. There was a mention on Instagram, too. Not much came from that, either.

I did 6 really cool interviews with some pretty big names:

That. That was going to make a splash, I was just sure of it. Right?

Well, not so much. Even with half of my interview guests promoting our interview to their audience, it didn’t really bring the throngs my way. And of those that did come, a much smaller number than I would have anticipated actually signed-up with me.

Plenty of great stuff did come from the interviews and the experience itself – most importantly all the people that were helped and educated by our discussions. But in terms of audience building, they were quite short on ROI.

In addition to all of that stuff, I also outfitted my site with all today’s hottest “must haves”:

  • The expensive subscription to LeadPages – that has captured not one single address. Not one.
  • The SumoMe “slide in” box – that one’s caught a few.
  • The MailMunch “top bar” – the best converter of the three.

But just having these on my site has not created mad conversion. In fact, the emails, ads, and affiliate webinars from these companies drive me crazy. Cuz they market and say that their thing is the thing that’s gonna make the difference. It’s not. Their thing alone is not gonna do it.

Seriously . . . all that stuff – seems like any one of them could have brought the house down, right? I sure thought so. And as they passed by, one by one, and didn’t do what I thought they could/should do for my lead capture, I watched my initial platform-building fantasy drift away, and the cold pavement of reality take its place.

It’s important to note that I don’t expect those influencers to do the work for me, nor do I think that I don’t have more work to do. In fact, I absolutely realize that I have loads more work to do.

And, when all this stuff was going on, there were some inherent problems with my overall package – website clarity, my opt-in wasn’t good (still don’t have a good one), I didn’t understand how to promote them well, that kind of thing. (There is a huge learning curve here. I’m still on that curve.)

The point is that these kinds of “events” and site upgrades, in-and-of-themselves, weren’t enough to get loads of traffic or gobs of subscribers. And this really was a wake-up call for me.

And I think it’s important to note that I’ve done some pretty in-depth analysis of what I need to do better and what is/was missing from all these instances. It’s just way too much to include here.

The bottom line is that it’s a building process. One that takes time and effort and consistency. And what I’m learning is that:

  • there are a million pieces to this puzzle
  • we don’t necessarily know what pieces we need at what time
  • we don’t really know how exactly the pieces go together
  • the process will look different for every single person

I’m learning that to get the droves of traffic and subscribers requires a special cocktail of somethin’ magical that I’m still cookin’ up.

And as long as I stay true to the heart of my mission to help people, I’ll get there.

It just. Takes. Time. Loads of time.

And work. Lots and lots of work.

So, have you steeled your heart, prepared for the wake-up call, and committed to the long-haul?

I have.

Will you share your traffic/conversion story with me?  I’d love to hear about your experience.  Drop me a line in the comments, hey?

24 thoughts on “The Truth About Traffic and Conversions”

  1. Teresa: You’re a sweet breeze after a cloudy day I had yesterday. Good post and a reminder that things don’t always come over night. I guess if they did, everyone would be doing this, huh?

    Glad to see I’m not alone in this fight. Let’s just keep swinging our punches, though – deal? One day, we’ll get in the ring. No doubts.

    1. Thanks, Jeff! Oh, yes, I’ve committed to the process. No doubt. You’re doing great work, and great things are coming your way . . . I just know it!

  2. Fantastic post Jo! Want to know my traffic and conversions /list building experience? Read your post again lol! Spot on! I’ve come to the same realization. Am I chasing numbers or a way to make a difference in the world? So funny. Lately I’ve gravitated towards my fiction pieces, when my Tribe on Walking Deeper are drawn to my non-fiction, inspirational writing. Go figure. I still love writing both, no matter how many are listening. God has a plan, and I’m ready to ride it out. Great post!

    1. Doris, haha I love it! Thanks for chiming in. Definitely so much value in the writing itself. Keep pressing on, girlfriend! I, too, love living His plan. 🙂

  3. This was a fantastic post that dispels many of the fantasies that we (or at least me), as growing bloggers, have. I appreciate your candidness and can definitely relate to the —“this is the big one, wait for it…wait for it…!!” mentality. I thoroughly enjoyed this read! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reading, and responding, Lauren! Glad you enjoyed it. I love that: “wait for it . . . wait for it . . .” 🙂 Followed by: “oh. um. ok.” LOL!

  4. Hey Jo. Thanks for sharing and being so open. Great stuff.

    As for your questions, my traffic is still pretty low but it’s steadily increasing. Of course, it’s spiked dramatically every time I’ve guest posted. I just decided to slow down with guest posts until I update my site to davidvillalva.com.

    And when it comes to my opt-in rate… if someone’s seeing my pop-up on my home page (only place I have it set up), I’ve got a 26% conversion rate on it. It’s solid but I created (what I consider) a compelling freebie to achieve that conversion rate.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience. You’re right, it can take a long time to grow an audience.

    1. David, I always appreciate your perspective. Thanks for lending it here. I believe your high conversion rate because you have a KILLER opt-in. That’s the kind of goodness we all should strive for. And you’re an awesome person, too. So there’s that. 😉

  5. Yes it’s sobering stuff. We all hope we will be different and blow up overnight! I know I did. Still do some moments:) I really new at this but I have tried (for the last 2 weeks) to do something generous for someone once a week. To look for a random opportunity and even unrelated to my blog. Both times people have signed up and both times it has made me feel good
    More motivated and positive. So I’m thinking there’s something in it:)

    1. Bernadette – what a fantastic approach! Giving and generosity is an excellent way to lead. Would you consider doing a little write-up about it and sharing it with our FB groups? I think that would be really helpful for people to see.

  6. The vision of what I wanted to do with my blog quickly plummeted, not because of traffic issues, but because I went from 5 different people who were going to contribute to being the lone writer after about a month. A new post every day in a variety of genres, crazy awesome giveaways, and an extensive go-to list of product reviews turned into me writing sarcastic parenting humor.

    I love to write. I love my blog. But it’s definitely not what I envisioned it to be. I have new big plans for my solo act, but they will only come one at a time. I’m also working on my opt-in. It’s been written for a few months, but the layout isn’t something I’ve been giving my time to. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ll get there, one post and one subscriber at a time! I’m in it for the long haul!

    Before I go, let’s talk about you writing, “And neither was my mother.” I laughed out loud. Great post Jo!

    1. Haha, thanks Amber! That means a lot to me coming from such a great humorist as you. I can’t wait to see what comes of your blog and all your hard work. I think you’ve done a great job “salvaging” a project that sounds like it kinda derailed. So great! Big things ahead, my friend . . . big things. 🙂

  7. This sounds like a cry from the deep, like ‘I’m here, house trained and interesting, doesn’t anyone want me’ kinda stuff. I have precisely 1 person signed up to my website, not one of them any of my family or close friends. Of course I’m no where in your league or experience, so I guess there’s little hope for me. But hey, a call for help cannot be ignored, so I’m signing up to you just for the hell of it. Just one observation if I may. I get really irked when a pop up appears in the middle of reading something, enough to put me off and trip the switch. You might like to re-configure when yours pops up. It might be seen as desperate to others. Look forward to reading what you have to say. Pecker up!

    1. Hey Robert! I originally wrote this as a “real-life” perspective on work vs. platform building in response to a thread in Intentional Blog Course. So I can see how as a stand-alone, it comes across like what you said. I’m also really passionate about sharing truth in response to our perceptions about online business or creating an online presence. I feel like there’s a pretty wide gap between what we think (and what marketers sell) will create results, and real life. As far as the pop-up – ugh, I hear you. I told myself long ago that I’d never have one for exactly that reason. But, word on the street is that it’s the way to go, so I’m giving it a run for its money. On a computer, it should slide in from the side when you’re most of the way down the page, not jump in and obstruct your reading. Are you on a mobile device? As far as your results – keep going! Your audience is out there, too. It’s just going to take some time, and a lot of hard work, to bring it all together. So keep putting those pieces together, and keep getting yourself out there! I believe in you 🙂

  8. It is tough; we all are suffering it and, as you say, I think it takes a mix of things to engage people. It is not only getting the traffic but offering something unique that catches the eye. But to get there one has to work a lot, a lot, a lot. And I don’t even think that subscribers will do the work. AFter quite some time, I have noticed that Subscribing means nothing if the audience is not enaged. Yeah, it is a number, but I think that what will really get you out there are comments and sharing because they care about your work.

    I hit 25 subscribers today (which I am really proud about) but I am still working on getting them so in love that they will share and comment. I think THAT is the real work.

    I appreciate your honesty and you sharing your story. I bet it will be useful to all the people that is currently going trough the same process. Even if it doesn’t solve the “problem”, it is nice to see that you are not alone.

    1. Hey Alba! Congrats on hitting 25! Each milestone is important. And I always remind myself that if I am writing to 100 people or 1000 people or 10,000 people, I’m really writing to 1 person: The one who’s reading it. I absolutely agree with everything you said, and I think you hit the nail on the head – that the comments/sharing are what make the difference. I see all the effort you put into engaging in others’ work, so I think you are well on your way to making that machine hum – in the giving first. And, it’s true that subscribers don’t make a hill of beans of difference if they’re not engaged. So the overall number really is relative to their interest. You are a wise woman. You’re gonna make this thing happen, I just know it! Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

  9. Jo, thanks for the reality. It really is a journey and not an event. I appreciate your honesty. That’s what will attract and it is already turning heads. Just keep doing EVERYTHING to as sustainable degree consistently.

    I have the same frustrations. That word folows me around like a stray dog. I somehow have to make friends with it. It likes a varied diet is what I have learned! AND eats little and often.

    I’m with you and I believe in you finding that magic. Keep careful notes and we will follow in your footsteps.

    1. Oh, Gill – you bless me, sister. Ah, that word: frustration. Somebody needs to find that dog a doghouse! <3

  10. Love your honesty. It’s seems that is part of who you really are – real, honest, willing to share low points as well as success stories. This really encourages me.
    I’ve noticed just how many awesome programs and products there are to get in-on. And I do. And i get overwhelmed trying to keep up w all of it.
    For me, the hardest part is having a really great site w things people really need and want.
    I’m feeling I need to work on my site (content, products, “wow”, etc) more than attract people to it. Thots?

    1. Hey Steve! Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so happy to hear that you were encouraged by this post! I absolutely hear you about the overwhelm of potential routes to go. Here’s the conclusion I’ve drawn: I’ve realized that I’m no good when I’m trying to focus on too many things. So I’ve chosen to commit to one project at a time; get that to where I feel confident; then add the next layer. What that’s looked like for me is that I finished up my interview project last fall (mentioned in this article), got through the holidays, and am focused on Tribe Writers and a daily writing habit for at least the month of January. (Daily writing habit to continue all year, but getting that dialed in is my current project.) My website needs work, but I lost a lot of writing life to fussing with that, so I am letting it ride for now. I may have that backwards, but I find that if I’m not creating content, then I’m not actually “doing the work” and not improving in that way. Website is next for me. I would say that if you do make working on your site your main project for now, it can’t hurt to still try and bring in the traffic, even while “under construction.” Making the effort to bring them in, and giving them the opp. to connect with you is better than totally putting that off. And, what you said here: “For me, the hardest part is having a really great site w things people really need and want,” I think that’s a common sticking point for most of us, really. The one thing that if we could crack that code, we’d be on a roll! Let me know how things go for you. Would love to hear what brings you results. Best to you!

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