Experiments in Driving Traffic

If you follow this blog you likely know that last month the designers at Automattic were given the following challenge:

Pick a colleague’s post, and explain why you chose that one. Outline a plan for the post to get 1,000+ views. Imagine that you have a US $20 budget to work with.

I chose Ashley Vonclausburg’s post titled, “Why Automattic’s remote design team is anything but isolating.” I selected this post because I think currently there is a lot of interest from people to learn more about remote work and I think her honesty, humility, and the relate-ability of the post would likely lead to high engagement and inspire readers to share with others.

Before working on this challenge I knew how to casually drive traffic to get more views but I had never explored the intricate details, complexities, and roadblocks encountered when trying to drive traffic is a big way.

I began by digging into a few resources on the topic to get a better understanding:

Ebook: Grow Your Traffic, Build Your Blog

Getting More Views and Traffic

Put Your Money Where Your Blog Is: Should You Pay for Traffic?

Some of the high level things I took away helped me ideate approaches I would try if I were going to follow through on actually trying to drive traffic to Ashley’s post.

Follow relevant blogs and leave thoughtful comments to raise awareness of your own content

This seems pretty obvious but it was actually something I had never thought of. It makes sense that being engaged with a community of people that care about the same things as you do would likely drive interest to your site and content. Since Ashley’s post might be relevant to both people wanting to learn more about remote working, as well as design, it could be great to post on sites like Designer News or forums for people traveling while working such as Nomad List.

Put some thought and energy into driving traffic to your archives

While you want to keep content on your site fresh, there will always be content you publish that remains timeless and evergreen. Why not try and promote those posts to drive both visitors and engagement? One thing I might try on Automattic’s Design blog would be to surface some of the categories we already have a little better by adding a Categories widget underneath the Archives sorted by date widget. If we categorized this post for “Remote Work” or “Design Stories” and surfaced these categories a little higher it might be easier for a reader to find Ashley’s post if they were also interested in these topics.

The pros and cons to paying for traffic to your site.

While paying for traffic can be hit or miss, it’s an easy way to experiment without using too much money or time. We have a $20 budget for this challenge so why not! If the content is human and engaging, which Ashley’s post is, it could resonate with people and turn from paid traffic into organic traffic. With paid traffic you can also be specific about the audience you think will find this post the most compelling which gives you an advantage over sharing to anyone and everyone. The downsides to paid traffic are that while you might get more eyes on the post, but it doesn’t guarantee engagement. They might read Ashley’s post and never come back.

Cast a wide social net

Finally I would also try and drive traffic in ways that I know have worked for me in the past by using social media to Tweet or post on Facebook. Since a lot of my friends also work in the design and the product world, it’s pretty much a guarantee that at least a few people would be interested enough to click and read.

These strategies may or may not get me to my goal of 1,000 views, as driving traffic is less a formula and more an art, but it would be interesting to start here and see what works best.  

By Courtney Burton Doker

Design systems practitioner, design director, product designer, collage artist, and amateur zine publisher. Inspired by the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.