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Personal Branding

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 (25)
  • Ryan Colley

    I really appreciate the tips here.  I have been authoring at http://itisrad.com/ for a few months now, one post a day of what I feel is good content.  But it has been hard to bring in visitors.  Partially because my blog is about creative approaches to IT, which is a pretty small target audience.  One thing I have found that is quite helpful is to participate in other community blogs/forums/sites that your audience frequents.  It also helps get your name out there just like guest blogging.  Leave smart comments and drive people back to your site. The guest blogger has been hard though.  I have reached out to about 20 different technology blogs offering to guest post and have gotten no responses.  I would be interested to see if anyone else has tips on how to get a guest posting opportunity.

  • Beth

    Great blog post! Loved not only the information but the examples offered. Really learnt something.

  • http://www.webdesignerjay.com

    Really a great article and full of practical tips and examples. No doubt by giving small freebies or sharing new ideas with the audience you will help yourself. I liked the 4 tips given by the author and the first one specially had made me think my own blog for helping upcoming or new web designers and programmers 🙂

  • Kathleen M Robison

    What can you do to show off your work as a painter without worrying about people stealing the image and copying the painting? Not show a high resolution image? I feel like there’s a fine line between putting yourself out there and asking for your work to be stolen. I might just be naive

  • Mark McGuinness

    I really wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Especially if you’re a painter, where your original is a physical artefact.

    I once interviewed Hugh MacLeod and asked him how he manages to sell so many prints of cartoons he’s already given away for free on his website. Here’s what he said:

    “If you know any website where you can download, for free, a genuine
    Picasso oil painting, or ditto with a Paul Klee or Joan Miro, please let
    me know. “Content” may be trending towards free, but the Picasso or
    Miro Estates are hardly hurting long-term because of it.”

  • Ricardo

    Good ideas! Thanks!

  • Pepde

    Nice. article and the best part was “My next article will offer tips on turning visitors into buyers, so make sure you’re subscribed to the 99% RSS feed if you want to know how to do that.” keep up the nice work.

  • Kathleen M Robison

    I really like the idea of giving some of your best work away for free. In my head I often think that it’s all or nothing, either you give it all away for free and sell ad space, or you charge a premium for products. Good to hear that there is a hybrid model you can use that might actually be the best way to do it.

  • Mark McGuinness

    Yes, don’t give the whole lot away! Hybrid is good.

    And don’t bother with advertising – you need an insane amount of traffic to make that profitable.

  • Ryan Colley

    This was a great read, thank you for all of the suggestions. I have been blogging for a while now at http://itisirad.com/ and have found it difficult to get my message out to my target.  Maybe it is because my target audience is very specific, but it has been difficult.  I have been posting once a day to keep updated and thoughtful content. I have found that being active in discussions on other articles in related fields has helped quite a bit, but as guest blogging goes, that seems difficult to get started.  I have reached out to over 20 technical blogs requesting information about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love to hear any additional suggestions to getting started as a guest blogger.

  • Ryan Colley

    This was a great read, thank you for all of the suggestions. I have been blogging for a while now at http://itisirad.com/ and have found it difficult to get my message out to my target.  Maybe it is because my target audience is very specific, but it has been difficult.  I have been posting once a day to keep updated and thoughtful content. I have found that being active in discussions on other articles in related fields has helped quite a bit, but as guest blogging goes, that seems difficult to get started.  I have reached out to over 20 technical blogs requesting information about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love to hear any additional suggestions to getting started as a guest blogger.

  • Ryan Colley

    This was a great read, thank you for all of the suggestions. I have been blogging for a while now at http://itisirad.com/ and have found it difficult to get my message out to my target.  Maybe it is because my target audience is very specific, but it has been difficult.  I have been posting once a day to keep updated and thoughtful content. I have found that being active in discussions on other articles in related fields has helped quite a bit, but as guest blogging goes, that seems difficult to get started.  I have reached out to over 20 technical blogs requesting information about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love to hear any additional suggestions to getting started as a guest blogger.

  • Ryan Colley

    This was a great read, thank you for all of the suggestions. I have been blogging for a while now at http://itisirad.com/ and have found it difficult to get my message out to my target.  Maybe it is because my target audience is very specific, but it has been difficult.  I have been posting once a day to keep updated and thoughtful content. I have found that being active in discussions on other articles in related fields has helped quite a bit, but as guest blogging goes, that seems difficult to get started.  I have reached out to over 20 technical blogs requesting information about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love to hear any additional suggestions to getting started as a guest blogger.

  • Ryan Colley

    This was a great read, thank you for all of the suggestions. I have been blogging for a while now at http://itisirad.com/ and have found it difficult to get my message out to my target.  Maybe it is because my target audience is very specific, but it has been difficult.  I have been posting once a day to keep updated and thoughtful content. I have found that being active in discussions on other articles in related fields has helped quite a bit, but as guest blogging goes, that seems difficult to get started.  I have reached out to over 20 technical blogs requesting information about guest blogging and have not heard back from one.  I would love to hear any additional suggestions to getting started as a guest blogger.

  • Ryan Colley

    Great article with some nice tips. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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

    I enjoyed this article as it had some
    great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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.

  • Radical Technologist

    I enjoyed this article as it had some great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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.

  • Radical Technologist

    I enjoyed this article as it had some great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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

    I enjoyed this article as it had some great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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

    I enjoyed this article as it had some great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at itisrad.com 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.

  • Theirmind

    It’s so great! welcome to my web site. http://www.theirmind.org

  • goagainstthegrain

    Excellent suggestions. While my site is still small I’ve found that twitter has been a huge help. The networking I have done there has allowed me to share my site with more people who have even bigger sites who share it with their followers.

  • Mark McGuinness

    Yep Twitter’s great for networking – and the ripple effect you describe, when people start sharing your content, is a great side-effect. 🙂

  • Ryan Colley

    I enjoyed this article as it had some
    great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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

    I enjoyed this article as it had some
    great suggestions. I started blogging a while ago at http://itisrad.com/ 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.

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