Last week was an exciting one for Learn to Code With Me. On July 16, 2015, LTCWM hit a huge goal I’d set months earlier: I reached 25,000 unique website visitors in a 30-day time span.
It’s a big milestone, and hopefully just the start of many more.
Because I was so gleeful, I shared the news with my Facebook group. To my surprise, they wanted to hear more about what I did to reach this milestone.
Before I get into the key factors that led to LTCWM’s traffic increase, I’m going to start with a backstory. (Of course, you’re free to use the table of contents and jump around!)
Table of contents
The LTCWM Backstory
When I first started LTCWM, I didn’t have much of a plan.
My primary goal was to document my journey as I taught myself how to code.
I wasn’t sure if anyone would even see the site except for me. I guess you could say my expectations were low.
At the time, I knew little about SEO, content marketing, and all the other things that play a huge part in what I do today. These were all things I had to teach myself, over months and months of trial and error. (And I still have a lot to learn.)
Below is a quick timeline of events.
April 26, 2014: First created LTCWM (read my one-year recap here)
September 2014: Started to take my site more seriously; began to learn a more about attracting visitors, SEO, and other traffic-generation tricks
December 3, 2014: Published my first super high-quality post on skills front-end web developers need
April 2015: Set a three-month goal: I wanted 25,000 unique visitors within a 30-day span, by July 1st. Below is what my month of March 2015 looked like:
Basically, I wanted to more than double my monthly users.
April – July 2015: Worked my butt off and made it to 20K unique visitors…but still not what I wanted!
July 16, 2015: Finally hit 25,000 users in 30 days after I published this post.
That post that went live on July 15, 2015 is where the magic happened.
While I was already on track to hit 25,000 visitors sometime soon, that post sent me over the edge.
Unsure of what “unique visitors” means, and how it differs from sessions? Watch this one-minute video.
Key Things That Helped Me Reach LTCWM Traffic Goal
So, I reached my goal: I more than doubled my monthly visitors.
But…how? Well, there were lots of ways. But I am going to cover only the most important. If I went into every traffic generation strategy I attempted…this post would be be more like a book. And probably a lot less enjoyable to read.
With that in mind, I have this section broken down into two traffic types:
- Quick wins
Traffic Generation Type #1: Longevity
When I say longevity, I mean that these methods produce consistent traffic over time.
They may not always bring in the largest numbers, but they are effective for the long haul.
1. Creating long, detailed, unique blog posts
I used to write short, basic blog posts and publish often, at least once a week. However, I didn’t feel that what I was saying added much value for readers.
As I evolved (and taught myself more about content marketing) I realized this was probably not the best approach.
So, I started to change the way I published in late 2014. This post is one of the early examples.
After seeing how much better it worked (as in, the amount of social media shares that resulted and the number of comments left), I decided to switch over to longer, more detailed posts going out every 4-8 weeks.
Why is this a longevity method?
Because these posts have directly contributed to my increase in traffic from Google Organic. In fact, about 70%+ of my regular traffic comes from Google, organically. Don’t know what “Google Organic” means? Read this.
2. The Advice Column
As always, the idea evolved. And it turned into what it is currently: a steady column, going out every Monday.
Unlike my blog posts, the advice posts are short. Basically, I answer people’s questions.
While it is relatively new and its success is still being measured, it achieves a few things:
- It gets people to come back to LTCWM more frequently
- It involves readers by allowing them to ask questions
- It provides consistent, weekly content
Unlike my blog posts, which are only published every 1-2 months, these play a role in keeping my current audience engaged.
Because it’s not all about getting new visitors. It’s also about satisfying the audience you currently have, so they’ll come back to the site.
3. Guest posting
I have been guest posting for awhile, even back when I wrote on my travel blog.
And yes, guest posting is awesome. But don’t think it’s a miracle pill, because sometimes guest posts don’t bring back a ton of traffic.
Nonetheless, even if a guest post doesn’t generate very much traffic to your site, it still counts as a backlink (which helps your site’s SEO). Even better, guest posting allows for exposure to new audiences.
Just know that unlike long blog posts or advice columns, one has less control over guest posts that go up on other sites. (Which makes sense, right?)
However, the more you start to guest post, the more you learn which sites are better to write on versus others.
Note: just because a site is big does not necessarily mean it’s a good site to write on! In fact, I prefer to write on sites with smaller audiences, because traffic coming back to my site tends to be more targeted and engaged. However, that’s a topic for a whole other post!
4. Saying ‘yes’ to interviews and helping people
This is the same as above, but less work. And you don’t get paid. (FYI: I pretty much only guest post now if I am being compensated. This was not the case at first, but as I have built up my writing portfolio, I have been more able to negotiate for payment.)
Anyway – interviews and related activities are great because they can put you in front of more people. They can also give you a backlink at times, which is good for SEO.
One thing I’ve been doing over the last few months has been ramping up my Facebook activity.
People complain about Facebook (even though they shouldn’t). For me, though, it’s my best source of consistent traffic from social media.
Data above looks at June 16 – July 16. The only reason Reddit is so high is because of the recent post. I will get to that in the next section—quick wins.
Note: Back in early June I did experiment (cheaply, very cheaply) with Facebook ads. However, this was before June 16th, so any results from this did not contribute to my 30-day goal.
Traffic Generation Type #2: Quick Wins
Most of these are very hit or miss. And don’t provide the best quality traffic. But can bring “quick wins”. Especially when I have new posts.
Although StumbleUpon has brought lots of new people to LTCWM, the quality is nothing thrilling. Traffic rarely signs up for my email list, and stays on the site for short periods of time. (Much shorter than average.)
Similar to StumbleUpon above: quality is not the best. (It can vary, though.) But when I have a new post, it *can* (not always) bring in some high volumes. However, the amount of traffic coming from Reddit plummets fast.
Reddit is something you need to be careful with. As you can see, my 45 places to learn to code for free post did well on Reddit.
I typically don’t post new articles on Reddit, only on occasion. (In fact, I didn’t even post this one—I commissioned my boyfriend Matthew to do it, since he is very active on Reddit. If you make an account solely to self-promote, your posts will probably be downvoted!)
So, why did LTCWM get so much traffic on the 15th and 16th of July?
Without those last few days of high volumes, it would have taken me longer to reach 25k. So what did I do to hit my goal on the 16th?
A few things:
1. New post on LTCWM
As I already mentioned :) This new post got shared a bunch on Twitter. Almost all of that peak, minus the guest posts, stems from this post.
2. Guest post(s)
The day before and day of, I had two guest posts go up on other sites:
- “25 Best Job Sites for Finding Your FIRST Developer Job” went up July 14 on Skillcrush
- “11 Ways to Get Freelance Clients to Come to You” went up July 15 on CreativeLive
Without a doubt, these two posts played a part in creating an extra bump in the traffic.
As mentioned above, I had my boyfriend submit a link to the web development subreddit because he is way more active on Reddit than I am. Because I don’t use it often, I always feel weird posting to Reddit to self-promote.
Question marks because I am not sure how it happened. I tried figuring it out, but no luck!
Data above just looks at July 15th and 16th, 2015. These are the top 10 places bringing traffic to my site on those two days.
The only source on the list above unaffiliated with the new post, or a guest post, is number nine: fullstackpython.com.
One other huge factor played a part in hitting the goal.
One of the biggest contributing factors has nothing to do with marketing, SEO, advertisements (which I don’t do), or other promotion techniques.
It has to do with hiring people to help me.
I first began getting outside help in early 2015. I started small. But without a doubt, this has allowed me to grow my site by giving me more freedom to focus on other things, as well as work faster.
The two main people that help with LTCWM are:
- Sarah: my virtual assistant, who helps with a range of LTCWM stuff
- Kate: writer/editor. Helps me edit posts for LTCWM/guest sites.
I work with others, too. But not as often as those two.
If you want to grow your site, or business, you can’t do it alone. Or you’ll go nuts trying to do everything at once.
The Only People in Online / Content Marketing I Trust
Before I go, I wanted to share where I learn most of my strategies for SEO, social media, and general traffic generation.
These are the three main people I follow when it comes to marketing, SEO, etc.
For the record, this ebbs and flows. I follow certain people more intensely at some times versus other times. But right now, these are the top three.
It’s great to take advice, but don’t listen to too many people at once, or you’ll just get confused. Everyone talks about different things.
What’s next for LTCWM?
Glad you asked!
Generally speaking, three things:
- Creating my first-ever product (!!!!!)
- Continue to build my email list
- Keep growing the LTCWM community
As far as marketing efforts go, specifically:
- Continue to experiment with different kinds of traffic-generation methods (such as video and other kinds of visual content)
- Possibly create an Instagram account just for LTCWM
- Perhaps start to take advantage of LinkedIn
- Maybe even create videos on YouTube
Before I head out, I’d like to give a special thanks to everyone who has followed me along for the ride!
If it weren’t for you reading my articles, sharing them on social media, signing up for my email list, etc.—I wouldn’t be *here*!
So, thank you! I am still in shock that the LTCWM has grown and evolved to where it is today. And I am so excited for the future :D
I know this was a high-level look at LTCWM’s growth. If you have any questions, ask me in the comments below.
PS – Since July 16th, I have now hit 28,000+ unique visitors in 30 days :-0 :-)