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I am a long term Tim Ferriss fan and regularly nerd out on the learnings from his podcast.
Having started a new blog recently I was searching the internet for advice and came across an old video of Tim’s entitled ‘How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself‘. Whilst it was originally posted in 2009 it was nearly all still relevant today.
Needless to say I got my notebook straight out and started noting down tips to improve my blog.
I made a fair few changes to my site on the back of it and have seen some great benefits. Below I share my 6 biggest learnings with you in the hope you might find them useful too!
Tim is really clear that the upper right hand side of your blog is the most valuable place to capture your audience’s attention. This space for me was originally wasted with a search box and some social media icons. The main aim on my site at the moment is to get e mail subscribers so I have now changed this section to be a ‘subscribe now’ box.
Copy matters and Tim gives an example of the way he changed the word ‘tags’ to ‘topics’ in his sidebar and got a much higher click through rate.
I had to go one step further as my tags were essentially a meaningless,random collection of words. I deleted all my tags and started again putting tags into four headings: the type of article, what the post was about, where it was based and what we saw whilst we were there. This gave me a really good system to classify my posts and make them easy to navigate.
You can also see I used a system to re classify them: ? is for the type of post, . is for the subject, @ is for where the post is set and # is for the things we saw whilst we were there. These are quite unique tags for my niche of travel blogging but I’m sure you could come up with a similar system for your site.
This along with re heading them in the sidebar to ‘topics’ has seen much more interest in this section of the blog and is drawer visitors deeper into my site.
“Readers are biased towards new material”. Tim described he had taken the date off of the top of his blog posts so people weren’t worried that articles could be updated.
I used the plug in ‘WP Date Remover‘ to do this as I am not very proficient in coding. This plug in allows you to choose which categories you do and don’t want dates on. I have left the dates on my travel based posts but removed them from my evergreen content, as in theory they should be timeless!
Fairly self explanatory. It felt like really good practice to draw people in with a ‘7 Reasons to Subscribe’ page in the same way Tim does. You can see I have also lodged it in my main menu bar at the top of the site so people can easily access it.
I don’t have a massive email list at the moment but am seeing a decent click through rate to this page so it is helping. I also often link to it from my sign up boxes if people aren’t convinced.
If you want to see my full example check it out here.
Another simple idea I’ve borrowed is to add the read time at the top of some of my longer posts to make decision making easier for my readers. Tim calculates this on an average of 250 words per minute which he uses as an average.
The way Tim really levels this up is by giving a low resistance point of entry by highlighting what he feels are the key points and then giving a separate read time for these. This makes absorbing the content quick to start but with he hope the reader will eventually decide to come back and take it all in.
Ok, I’m not going to lie to you I don’t get alot of interaction on my blog at the moment but I have saved Tim’s thinking behind the way he manages comments for future reference.
He says there is enough negativity in the world that you have no obligation to let it spill over onto your blog. Treat your comments in the same way you would your living room at a party. Heated debate is more than welcome but personal attacks, snide comments or abuse will get you kicked out!