Starting a bargain blog: driving in traffic

Traffic 

 

Tonight I want to continue the series I started a couple days ago on how to start a bargain blog. If you missed the earlier posts, you can read first about how to prepare and then considering your content

I want to share one of the trickier aspects of blogging now. And admittedly, it's something I'm still working at. Building traffic. Why does traffic matter? Simply put, the more traffic to your site, the more opportunities you will have. You'll develop a better community among your readers, be emailed more and better deals, and perhaps most bluntly, you will make more money (if this is something that matters to you).

When I started this blog, I averaged around 40 visits a day. I'm now up to about 1,100. Many bargain bloggers get much more traffic than that (and I sure hope some of them will be sure to leave a comment with their ideas!). I will share with you some of the basic things that I've done.

Word of mouth. The most loyal readers have come word-of-mouth. Do NOT underestimate the power of simply telling people about your blog, one at a time. I had some ultra-cheap business cards made at Vistaprint and then I hand them out to friends and family. Just today, I gave a stack of about 30 cards to my mom because she has this knack for striking up conversations at the gym, at the supermarket, at church…she has brought me so many readers! I also keep these business cards handy and have been known to leave them on store shelves with coupons and even hand them to cashiers who were impressed with my savings. This is probably the most basic way to start out.

Networking with other bloggers. When I started out, I emailed a few of my favorite bloggers and introduced myself, asked a few questions, and offered to write a few guest posts. (You can find out who took me up on this by poking around my Guest Posts category.) By writing a guest post on a bigger blog, I was able to get people reading my writing that might not have found me otherwise. To my surprise, many other bloggers were only too happy to have me write a guest post because it meant less content for one day they'd need to come up with. Incidentally, I am always looking for folks interested in writing guest posts here! If you are a new and wondering how to gain some new readers, consider emailing me and pitching me an idea you have for a guest post.  

Sharing your deals with bloggers. Find some HOT online deal? A new rebate? A coupon? If you found such a deal, email it to higher trafficked bloggers in hopes that they might post it on their site with a link back to your blog. This is very common practice and it's how many bloggers have gotten on the radar. Here's the etiquette (as I see it). If you choose to email your deal, be sure to put the bloggers' email addresses in the "BCC" field and not "to" field for privacy reasons. In the subject, make it clear what the deal is. BRIEFLY explain the deal and include the link to your post about it. I then usually end my emails with "if you choose to post this deal on your blog, and if I'm the first to tell you about it, a link back would be appreciated!" A word here. Please caution exercise and good judgement in which deals you email and how often you email. If you send an email or more everyday to the same group of bloggers, it might be appropriate you ask them FIRST if it's OK to do so. Let them "opt in," so to speak. Some of the higher trafficked bloggers in particular get hundreds of emails per day, so be mindful that you're sending them only the very best of your posts. I recently had a blogger ask my permission if she could send me her deals. I genuinely appreciated this gesture. It was very thoughtful. She also asked if I could include her on deals I found. Very nice!


Mr. Linkys and Blog Carnivals. Ever see at the end of Money Saving Mom's Walgreens and Rite Aid posts how other bloggers can "link in" to their deals? These are simple and effective ways to bring some new traffic. Without fail, I always see a ton of weekend referrals from Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom after I've written and linked in my drugstore deals. Because so many people do these deals, I have to work hard to make sure I do my best on these and I often spend hours on Saturday assembling these. If you decide to host a giveaway or sweepstakes, there are places you can link to for those as well. 

Comments. A simple tactic, be sure to leave comments on other bloggers posts. Don't just self-promote. That's called spam and you run a fair chance of getting your post deleted. What I mean by leaving comments is this – be a part of other blogs' communities. If you see that a blogger missed a grocery store matchup, kindly leave a comment with your find. This will show your ability to find a bargain as well as a willingness to support other bloggers (because their readers can now be in on the deal).

Facebook/Twitter. Be sure to let people know what you're doing, and say it in an interesting way. As a copywriter, I know a thing or two about writing a headline. The idea is you want to create interest, and compel the reader to want to know more. For instance, consider the following two Facebook status updates:

"I saved money using coupons today!" 


OR


"Look what I got for less than $5 today!"


If there's a link, my guess is that a reader would be MORE likely to click it in the second scenario than the first. Think about it: there are so many status updates and tweets all day long. You have to be able to write something that stands out. As your blog gets bigger, you might consider setting up a separate "fan" page on Facebook as I've done
here.

Those are a few of my most basic ideas….the sort of traffic-growing tactics most bloggers use when starting out. There are others once you get going. Just remember, you don't just want folks dropping into your site and then clicking away. You want them to stick around and keep coming back for more. So your content has got to shine and be compelling. 

Fellow bloggers, what other tactics have worked for you to drive in traffic? 

Photo courtesy stock.xchng


Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this information. I just started a new blog, http://www.foodfunfamily.wordpress.com

    It is not a deal-finder blog, rather a blog where I share recipes, and specifically ways that I get my kiddos (ages 5 and 6.5 yrs) to eat healthy foods. As well, a portion is about hospitality and frugality.

    I have been trying to build traffic, even though I am just getting started and have been reading your blog for a while (specifically since we moved back to WA from CO about 18mths ago). I appreciate the deals you share, has helped me tremendously. (We were able to cut our grocery bill in half for a family of four and still eat healthy foods!)

    Keep up the great work.
    Jada

  2. says

    I also share my blog with people in the grocery store. I love having a personal touch and when they see me in the isle with all my coupons wondering what I am doing. I last month I taught a class at my church then was asked if a article could be written about us and it did http://www.enterprisenewspapers.com/article/20100224/ETP03/702249931/-1/ETP if anyone is interested in reading. I just got word that it might be in the herald on monday :) That’s exciting. http://www.couponconnectionsnw.com
    Amber

  3. says

    Thanks for all of the great tips! I just started my blog 3 weeks ago and it’s going great, but sometimes I just need some more help. I made business cards on Vista Print and I plan on handing them out to all my friends, family, and even strangers I meet in the stores. Check out my blog:
    http://www.crazycouponmomofcil.com

  4. Christy says

    What are some of the “big” blogs that we should look at and try to get our blog on to? Thanks!!

  5. Jen says

    Thanks so much for this post. I am beginning the process of trying to build traffic. I got the business cards all set and have began some “networking”. I wish there were more blogger type forums,etc. Do you have any you could point me to? Thanks!

    • arussell says

      Since sharing this, I’ve found Savvyblogging.net and BloggingwithAmy.com to be VERY helpful. There’s a BlogFrog community and Twitter hashtag for SavvyBlogging I use quite a bit.

  6. Sara says

    How much does it cost to get a blog site started? What all do I need? Domain name, web hosting…etc. Thanks!!

  7. Trina says

    Thanks for the info. I have many coupon saving tips on almost everything. I’m starting a blog and I find your information to be helpful. Thanks!

  8. says

    Hi,
    My name is Corina and I’m starting up my coupon blogging site. I am very fresh at this so please excuse me. I would first like to say I love your website and I bet it has taken you years to master! You have so much information and it is easy to navigate. I’m hoping you will be willing to give me a little advise. As I said I am just starting and am feeling a bit overwhelmed because I dont know where to start! I’m doing coupons, printables, deals, and match-ups. I feel like I should have content on all these pages and I pretty much have none. Do I just start by doing all the leg work and going through the ads and posting them, and linking to coupons? It seems like that could take days to do and by that time the ads may be close to ending. I know your very busy and hope you can find some time to offer me some guidance. I have some blog posts pre written and would be happy to offer you a guest post or a link to your site from mine. I appreciate anything you have to say. Thank you. http://bransonmomma.com P.S I tried to send you an email, but your email link at top of page didn’t seem to be working. Please send me a private email back if you can.

    • arussell says

      Corina, I just tried the form it’s working. My email addy is angela @ thecouponproject dot com.

      Yes, I should state in case it’s not painfully clear, that running a coupon blog is a LOT of work, particularly if you do all those coupon matchups yourself. (As you go, the matchups do get easier, but I spend usually about 2 hours per matchup per week.) Many of us now have assistants or teams of people working for us to help deliver the amount of content needed to stay relevant in this VERY competitive niche.

      Please note that I posted this how to run a bargain blog series well over two years ago and I would probably now encourage you to think twice about doing it! I’m not saying don’t do it – but I am saying, make sure you are passionate about the topic, that you have a lot of time available to put into it, and realize that you will have to be a self-starter and able to figure things out on your own – you will need to be able to jump in and figure out what you need to do to get your site up, build a community and monetize the site. I do consider this niche saturated meaning that there are almost too many coupon bloggers out there already, so for that reason I’d also encourage you to think long and hard about what different bent you will add – this will be vital for building the traffic and community you need. Right now, GF coupon blogs and whole living coupon blogs are gaining some traction as a niche within a niche.

      I sometimes get asked if I can personally mentor new coupon bloggers, and unfortunately that is more than I’m willing to do for free beyond the advice I’ve already taken the time to offer here. I would say – make sure you’ve read some of the newer posts in my blogging category – thecouponproject.com/category/blogging. I’d also refer you to bloggingwithamy.com = she’s got an EXCELLENT site that takes you step by step on building a blog and I believe you’d find it most helpful!

      Good luck & best wishes on your journey!

  9. says

    This is a great start – keep after your passion coupon bloggers :) Write about what you know, love and do well and traffic will follow! I agree with keeping your content as original as possible. I started out on Blogger and after 6 months moved to the site with it’s own domain. My site is Capturing Inspirations, focusing on money-saving deals, but also on healthy living! I enjoy it – and I think that’s important! You need to love what you do! Good luck!

    http://capturinginspirations.com

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