7 Things NOT To Do Before You Have A Lot Of Blog Traffic

Everyone reads the articles about what you need to do to grow your blog. From “pillar content” to list posts to holding contests, there are a ton of ways you can increase your subscribers and pageviews on your blog as you strive to take your show full time. However, there are not as many articles that explain what you should not do on your blog before you have the traffic to support it.

Sometimes…there are certain aspects of your blog that can actually be detrimental to your success if you jump on the bandwagon too early in an attempt to jump the gun.

Top 7 Things NOT To Do

So here they are…the top 7 things not to do before you have a significant amount of traffic on your blog.

1. Run A Poll

Polls are a great way to interact with your audience and get feedback related to subjects in your niche. However, as much as you wish your readers were holding on to every article you publish, that just isn’t reality. Not all of your readers are going to see the poll and…on top of that…even the ones that do see it aren’t guaranteed to participate. Do you really want a week old poll on your blog only showing 12 votes?

Social proof is a large part of blogging so you have to be careful about what you display on your pages. It is normally best to hold off on polls until you have at least 1,000 unique visitors a day in my opinion. Do you really think you are getting a great sampling in your niche if you are only getting 100 entries anyway? Probably not…

2. Start A Forum

Forums are incredibly hard to start even when you have a lot of traffic. When you do not have the traffic to support the launch, you will have to work that much harder to get an active community (contests are typically the best way). There is nothing more detrimental to a forum’s growth than silence. If you do have a plan for a forum in the future, look towards large traffic numbers and serious marketing planning to get it off the ground and running.

Bike198’s forum is running on IP.Board.

3. Display Your Subscriber Count

Displaying your RSS subscriber count is a debate in which there are two sides. Personally, I display my subscriber count in certain circumstances where I see fit (you’ll notice it is not displayed on this blog), but if you are planning on displaying your count…I would wait until you have at least 500 subscribers. You are not doing yourself any favors by displaying your 47 loyal subscribers.

There will be some cases (like with this blog) where you might want to hold off on showing your subscriber count even if you have a lot more than that. It is up to you on whether or not that fits inot your plan, but displaying a number that is too low will actually hurt you in the beginning stages.

4. Spend A Large Amount of Time On Blog Design

Until you have a lot of traffic on your blog, you do not really know how your readers are going to interact with your content. While you can guess and predict how your readers will interact and click through pages, spending a lot of time on design when you are trying to grow your audience is a waste of time. There are certain fundamental design elements that you need to have, but the most important aspect of your blog when you are trying to grow traffic is content and promotion.

9 times out of 10…you are going to find that your favorite design element that you are so proud of is worthless. I remember spending a lot of time on a newsletter opt-in form on my homepage only to find that the pop up hover was the source of 98% of my newsletter sign-ups. Spend your time where it counts the most and have a clean design that you can tweak over time as traffic increases and more readers interact with your content.

Need a good looking design? For out of the box themes we recommend Woothemes and WPZoom and this blog runs off of the Pagelines Platform Pro framework.

5. Go Full Time

Blogging is not a “get rich quick” method of making a living. It takes a lot of work over time to build enough of an audience to support a full time income. Most full time bloggers started their online empire while working a regular 9-5 at the same time. If you plan on walking in your boss’s office and quitting today because you found blogging, be prepared to be standing in the unemployment line. Only take your business full time when it can support the full time income.

Ideally, you want to bring in as much income for your household as possible, so you can do like I did and work both jobs as long as you possibly can. Two incomes are better than one right?!

6. Solicit Direct Advertising From Large Companies

I am one of those bloggers that fully supports and encourages monetizing your blog from day 1. However, it is also very important to remember where you stand in the blogosphere and adjust your money making methods accordingly. If you do not have a lot to offer in the form of traffic at this point in time, it is not a great idea to go after larger companies in your niche soliciting direct advertising spots…even if they are cheap. Larger companies have to show direct return for their investment and you are not prepared to deliver the results that requires.

On the flip side of that argument, partnering up with smaller companies in your niche is a great way to make a little bit of income and warm up your readers to the idea of direct ads on your site. It is all about knowing how your traffic levels affect success rates in direct advertising promotions.

When you are ready, check out OIOPublisher to auto rotate and handle direct advertising payments.

7. Ignore The Need To Start Building A Newsletter

If there was one thing I would do over again in my blogging, it would be starting my email newsletter from day 1 instead of down the road when I felt like I had enough traffic to justify the cost. My newsletters on my blogs is the #1 revenue and traffic generator and they also happen to be my readers most valuable option on my blogs. If you want to capture your readers and keep them for the long haul, an email newsletter is essential to success.

I use Aweber for my newsletters and I would recommend going that route as their start-up plans are wicked cheap (can you afford $1?).

Ready To Rock It Out?

Sometimes the strongest asset we can have is knowing what not to do. It is up to you to spend your time wisely and create assets that grow your business instead of constricting it.

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Gregory Heil December 8, 2010 - 1:26 pm
Hey Robb, thanks for this article. Like you said, nobody is really writing about what to WAIT to do. There were a number of good takeaways here, and in general I felt like I had already realized most of these on my own. Glad to know I've been doing it right! One question for you: I've looked into Aweber, but at $19 per month after the initial month, it is definitely not cheap for someone who's just starting out. Are there any other more affordable options out there that you would recommend?
Robb Sutton December 8, 2010 - 1:32 pm
Honestly...not really. The issue you run into is that there is also no easy way to transfer your list to another provider if you decide to change in the future. Everyone would have to re-opt-in to your list.
Jack December 8, 2010 - 1:43 pm
Hello Robb, I personally prefer aWeber but $19/month really is justifiable for someone who's just started in the blogging world. I believe there are ways of automating the transfer but even if there isn't copying and pasting 1000 subscribers is better than paying $19 in the beginning. There's also no reason to move to aWeber if someone prefers Mail Chimp.
Robb Sutton December 8, 2010 - 1:48 pm
Having used both, I prefer Aweber...but MailChimp is a great option as well. They just started doing that first 1,000 free deal recently.
Gregory Heil December 8, 2010 - 2:02 pm
Was just doing some research on the differences between the two. Is it true that affiliate ads are forbidden in MailChimp emails? http://mywifequitherjob.com/mailchimp-vs-aweber-a-comparison-of-two-email-marketing-providers/ http://www.articlesproductions.com/f61/aweber-vs-mailchimp-589/
Rhys December 9, 2010 - 3:27 pm
It depends. If you have a link to a book that you've reviewed on your blog, and include the review in the newsletter, then that's fine. Those sales letters though are against the TOS. At least that's my understanding. Always good to ask though :)
Gregory Heil December 9, 2010 - 3:32 pm
Thanks for the response, Rhys. I think I'm getting a feel for this.... I skimmed through Mailchimp's TOS today, and I couldn't really find anything that directly related to this topic. One more question: Let's say I create a product and write a sales letter and send it to my list. That would be ok, wouldn't it?
Rhys December 9, 2010 - 3:38 pm
As long as you are not in it's list of niches that they don't allow, I think you'll be okay. Just don't quote me on this!
Jack December 8, 2010 - 1:37 pm
You may wish to take a look at Mail Chimp. It's free for 1000 subscribers I believe!
Bhavesh December 8, 2010 - 1:43 pm
Dude I have a question ....Should one launch his own product(not free product) before he/she gets a lot of traffic
Robb Sutton December 8, 2010 - 1:47 pm
You can. Obviously your results are better if you have more traffic but a good affiliate program can bring in traffic from other sources while promoting your blog as well. Typically, I am a fan of giving away the farm in the beginning to build a loyal following and then filtering in paid products over time.
Chris C. Ducker December 8, 2010 - 1:57 pm
Hi Robb Great stuff, as always. Totally agree with the 'not starting your email list' point. I made this mistake, blogged for around a year or so (every now and then) before starting to collect emails, and although the numbers were not huge - I'm pretty sure that I would have had at least 500-600 people subscribed from that earlier period. Shame... Time... It's one thing you can NEVER get back. Keep rockin' Chris
Todd@PhitZone December 8, 2010 - 2:40 pm
Oh man, I wish I would have read this a couple years ago. I did pretty much everything that you just laid out not to do. The forum ended up being overrun by spammers, and I spent all of my time moderating every comment. Upon the advice of some "in the know", I posted my tiny amount of subscribers. As soon as I saw "81 subscribers" sitting there staring at me, I took it down. The funny thing about the newsletter is that it is how we started off--with an "ezine", but then switched to the blog. Now I'm doing the newsletter again to accentuate the blog.
Black Seo Guy December 8, 2010 - 2:53 pm
Another thing if I may add, is not to add Google adsense..only add it if its a niche site. this make you look like you're just in it to make money..not a good look. "Black Seo Guy "Signing Off"
Robb Sutton December 8, 2010 - 3:03 pm
Absolutely. Adsense only makes income with a lot of traffic anyway...so all you are doing is making your blog look cheap in the process. If you want to take up room to get your readers used to advertising, clean affiliate banners work even though they don't convert well.
Jen December 8, 2010 - 3:01 pm
Robb, These are great tips I am using in my brand new blog. I honestly could not have set this up myself without the help you gave me! It is still a work in progress (just launched last week) but I am excited to get content up and just received my first shipment of over $300 in free gear to review! Thanks, Jen http:///velomom.com
Robb Sutton December 8, 2010 - 3:02 pm
Awesome!!!! That makes my day. I love hearing beginning success stories!
Jamie Ferguson December 8, 2010 - 4:56 pm
Great article Robb. I wish I had seen this sooner since I've already made two of these mistakes, but have quickly learned from them. I need to start working harder on my newsletter though. It's the one thing I have not been able to keep up.
Mike December 8, 2010 - 5:17 pm
Good tips. I feel prey to a few of them and it has knocked me off my horse. Mike
Jenny December 8, 2010 - 8:34 pm
Great tips! I wish I would have started my e-mail list earlier than I did, but since I was only 2 months behind after launch, I didn't miss out too much. Spent a lot of time on my design though. However, I'm a designer and it's really important to me. I think it's been a huge part of my quick success so far. Branding is everything.
Robb Sutton December 9, 2010 - 5:57 am
Jenny, I really like a lot of what you have done with your site too. Great job.
Jenny December 10, 2010 - 5:04 am
Thank you. :)
Andrew Edney December 8, 2010 - 10:58 pm
thanks Robb - very useful article Andrew http://usingwindowshomeserver.com
Keith Bloemendaal December 9, 2010 - 10:41 am
Great stuff Robb. Just to add to the newsletter part, I think it is really important to actually give value to your subscribers, not just blog broadcasts and affiliate pitches. If you can't do that yet, then don't bother starting yet.
Robb Sutton December 9, 2010 - 3:29 pm
Very true... And there are ways to make those more personal and add non-self promotional content to them as well.
Barron December 11, 2010 - 11:31 pm
Robb, great set of points. Thanks for fleshing this out. Found it through @justindickmeyer. Glad I already knew most of these but there are one or two I need to pay more attention to as I grow my sites.
Dojo December 13, 2010 - 1:56 pm
In all fairness Aweber IS NOT $1. It's for 1 month and then you pay almost 20. That's something I wouldn't do, especially since there are FREE plugins you can install on wordpress to do THE SAME THING. I have it on my site and it works super OK. And I don't need to splash over 200 bucks/year for something that works for free. I absolutely agree on most of the things you have mentioned here. Thank you for all the good info.
Lisa January 7, 2011 - 4:12 am
Robb, really excellent tips. Especially the blog design aspect. I used to waste hours tweaking when now I spend hours twitting! More productive for sure. All the best, Lisa
Anonymous January 7, 2011 - 9:24 pm
I'm a new blogger and I have managed to avoid the top 6. But that darn newsletter keeps haunting me. I am just dragging my feet about it. ARGH! i will start it Monday! Thanks for the reminders and the push.
Pete Carr January 13, 2011 - 10:19 am
Hi Robb, What a great list of "Not To Do's". There is a right time and a wrong time for everything. You have highlighted well the right time not to do something. Really insightful post, Thanks Pete
Pete Carr January 13, 2011 - 10:19 am
Hi Robb, What a great list of "Not To Do's". There is a right time and a wrong time for everything. You have highlighted well the right time not to do something. Really insightful post, Thanks Pete
Pete Carr January 13, 2011 - 10:19 am
Hi Robb, What a great list of "Not To Do's". There is a right time and a wrong time for everything. You have highlighted well the right time not to do something. Really insightful post, Thanks Pete
Pete Carr January 13, 2011 - 10:19 am
Hi Robb, What a great list of "Not To Do's". There is a right time and a wrong time for everything. You have highlighted well the right time not to do something. Really insightful post, Thanks Pete
Pete Carr January 13, 2011 - 10:19 am
Hi Robb, What a great list of "Not To Do's". There is a right time and a wrong time for everything. You have highlighted well the right time not to do something. Really insightful post, Thanks Pete
Pete Carr January 13, 2011 - 10:19 am
Hi Robb, What a great list of "Not To Do's". There is a right time and a wrong time for everything. You have highlighted well the right time not to do something. Really insightful post, Thanks Pete
Blog the bank January 24, 2011 - 10:39 am
Great post I just started my blog a month ago I'll be sure to imply your tips thanks.
Entrepinoybank February 22, 2011 - 1:55 pm
I planned to quit my day job when I'm earning 1k/month. And beginning January this year, my earning surpassed that amount. But I realized that it's not yet the proper time to resign from employment. I need to plan my early retirement, save more, and get an educational plan for my two daughters before going full-time in my online business. Maybe, I need a year of carefull planning and strategizing a gracefull exit.
Sneblot February 22, 2011 - 10:19 pm
Cheers for the advice Robb, just taken my subscriptions and page views off my blog. I'm not really into making this my full time job just something that can give me a little extra money while I'm studying product design at University so here's hoping I can get enough traffic to be that successful. http://weirdben.blogspot.com
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