Leverage the Media to Drive Traffic to Your Site: Ten Lessons From Four Months of Blogging (Part III)

In the beginning, driving traffic to a blog can be very challenging. However, one way to direct traffic to a site early on is to comment on online articles published by traditional media.

When submitting comments on traditional media outlets, there are several rules of thumb one should follow.

1. Go Big

Submitting a comment on the Civil War Widows Forum won’t do you any good, mostly because there aren’t any Civil War widows left. Target media outlets with the largest possible readership like The New York Times. Also target opinion editorials written by famous people with a fanatic fan base and ideally, with whom you disagree. My personal favorite is Paul Krugman, and out-snarking him is my game. Not only do my comments sometimes infuriate his fanatically loyal following, but some of them will come to my site looking for a fight.

2. Go Early

When commenting on an article, timing equals placement, and placement means everything. Few readers ever get to comment 947, but many will read the first three comments after a provocative opinion editorial.

Your goal is to be one of those three.

Of course, getting there requires one to submit a comment shortly after an article is posted. However, most articles seem to hit the wire between nine and midnight Eastern time. If you check the site at those times, you can submit comments at a time when you have a better chance of getting a single digit position in the comment section.

3. Go Often

You never know which comment will strike a chord with potential readers. The more you write, the more likely you will stumble onto a topic that drives readers to your site. It may not even happen until weeks later. But it be less likely to happen if you do not try often.

4. Be Provocative

Never preach to the choir. It’s boring.

If you are a big Krugman fan, it will do you no good to comment on his op-eds. Comment instead on a Charles Krauthammer op-ed by telling him he’s wrong. Just make sure you support your argument with logic and facts, and are prepared for a flurry of counterattacks on your personal website.

Remember. Never kick a hornets’ nest if you aren’t prepared to fight the hornets.

5. Link to Your Site and Have Relevant Content Ready

Some people consider it a form of spamming to leave one’s website address at the end of a comment. If one does not speak to the article in one’s comment, then leaving an address is definitely spamming. However, if one leaves a thoughtful and provocative argument, there is nothing wrong with encouraging further discussion at one’s own site. Not everyone will agree, of course, but those who choose not to include their blog’s address when commenting on traditional media sites will find it harder to ramp their blogs as quickly as those who do not.

Commenting on the pitfalls of President Obama’s latest policy is pointless if people come to your site and find a post on Ranger Pudding Recipes. While there may be a lag between when you post your comment and when you are able to write a longer and more thoughtful piece related to that comment, make sure that lag does not linger for too long.

Is this Strategy Really Effective?

In my experience, yes.

The data speaks for itself.

My comments on various articles and opinion editorials on two publications alone, The New York Times and The Economist, accounted for nearly 25% of referrals to my site in its first four months.

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Business, Education, Mathematics, Media, Predictions, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Leverage the Media to Drive Traffic to Your Site: Ten Lessons From Four Months of Blogging (Part III)

  1. amanatal says:

    Thanks for the information.

  2. pino says:

    Is this Strategy Really Effective?

    In my experience, yes.

    GREAT stuff Sean. Awesome!

  3. My only question about “kicking the hornet’s nest” is will it bring people who will subscribe or read regularly?

    Once all those angry folks have whacked you mostly I don’t think they come again unless you do the same thing again.

    I suppose the key is to maybe have items that might be of interest but not always irritating to the new visitor.

    • pino says:

      My only question about “kicking the hornet’s nest” is will it bring people who will subscribe or read regularly?

      Most of the stuff I read and comment on is the stuff I don’t agree with. This may be why I’m labelled a liberal on conservative sites; I only comment posts where I disagree with the right.

      They’ll come if it’s well written I think.

    • Bruce,

      You are correct in that they probably won’t likely stay in the long term if there isn’t any good content on your site. However, just enough of those folks will keep coming back to make it worthwhile.

  4. Moe says:

    Re commenting on more well known blogs – I sometimes seek well established if not famous blogs that allow your name to be a link to your site (so you dont appear to be blog whoring) – I think best is one that gets under 20 comments per post. They tend to stay on topic.

    I once got a link on Bartcop (just once) and woke up to almost 900 page views overnight. I thought I had awoken to some alternate universe before I realized why. On another occassion, I made the WordPress ‘Freshly Pressed’ page and that brought about 1600 over a few days. Big high! Followed of course, by gloomy lows. Getting back to normal was chastening.

    Also pretty pictures.

  5. At least once in using this approach, I got called a sociology teacher at the community college. The sociology part was kind of painful.

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