Upon returning from a recent seminar, I had two messages from newspaper reporters on my answering machine. They were both seeking interviews. I also had emails showing that I'd earned several thousand dollars while I was out of town speaking. The orders had all been processed automatically, and the emails were just for my information. It was at that point that I realized my Internet business had truly reached critical mass.
Critical mass is a term that I first heard my friend Jack Humphrey, author of Power Linking, use in reference to generating website traffic and growing a business. Jack used it to define that point at which you could stop actively promoting your online business (for a while) and it would continue to grow and prosper.
I'm sharing this with you because I want you to see the tools that enabled me to reach that point. This article will show you to see why those tools are so powerful.
Let me begin by telling you that it took me eight years to grow my online business to the point where it is largely self-sustaining! I don't want to mislead you there. A big part of success is unwavering persistence.
Now, let's look at the tools I used to reach and maintain critical mass.
1) Search engine marketing. All of my important sites ARE manually submitted to the search engines. I submit and re-submit them "semi-automatically" though. I use a site called SelfPromotion.com. This site allows you to store all relevant data about a site into their database. The software then submits your site to selected search engines and directories.
The beauty of self-promotion.com is that you can then set it so that the software periodically resubmits your sites. It?s truly "set it and forget it" website promotion.
SelfPromotion.com is free, but if you make a contribution, to help pay for the upkeep of the site, you get access to more nifty tools. You can get a free account with them at: http://selfpromotion.com/?CF=Willie 20Crawford That URL lets Robert know that I sent you. I've used this tool for over 5 years now - and love it!
2) Article marketing. I've written and distributed over 300 articles. Articles establish you as an expert in the marketplace, build inbound links to your sites, pre-sell your products, and help you rank higher in the search engines for your targeted keywords.
The power of article marketing is that once the articles are in circulation, and on hundreds... or even thousands of websites, they can work for you forever. I still get traffic to some of my websites from articles I wrote in 1998!
Many online marketers now use articles to market their websites, but they don't do it very effectively. Articles have to be written, and deployed, in a way that they both gain you advantages in the search engines and that they convert readers into customers, subscribers, clients, and fans. That means your articles need SOLID content.
In writing articles (or having them ghost written) you must always remember that people surf the Internet looking for information and solutions to their problems. Your articles must actually provide this information or help them to actually solve their problems. Distribute articles that accomplish this, and you'll develop an endless stream of raving fans, all storming your website for more of YOU.
Writing articles is relatively easy. If you don't know how to write articles though, I recommend that you take advantage of the training available at a site called Content Propulsion Lab. Content Propulsion Lab teaches you not only how to use articles to grow your business, but also how to use multi-media content (such as MP3's and online video). You're shown how to deploy multi-media content in a way that causes the search engines to gobble it up.
I mentioned the multi-media content because, while articles work beautifully, website audio and video is growing at an amazing pace. You need to offer your audience information in the formats that they prefer consuming it in. More and more, this format is becoming audio and video. These formats allow your audience to connect with you on a much deeper level since they see or hear a live person. Connecting with your audience on a deeper level means MORE sales.
I now use Content Propulsion Lab's resources to push my content out to an amazing array of places. I also TEACH others how to do this through tele-classes and webinars featured at Content Propulsion Lab. You can check out all of the mind-boggling capabilities Content Propulsion Lab offers at: http://CashThroughContent.com
3) Viral tools. A viral tool is merely something that, once set in motion, continues to grow, and spread, and benefit you, without any additional input being required from you.
Two of my favorite viral tools are online discussion forums and blogs. Online discussion forums allow people interested in a given topic to congregate and and discuss that topic. Over time, your discussion forum will develop a core following who will help to spread the word, and help to maintain the community. Seek volunteer moderators to help police the forum and maintain standards. Many people will volunteer for a link back to their site, or just for the exposure.
The number of blogs is growing exponentially. Blogs are proven traffic magnets. A blog allows you to share information, opinions, etc. with your audience. If your blog engages your audience they will help to spread the word. At the same time, blogs are visited frequently by the search engines. Search engines notice which ones are updated often and become "trained" to spider those blogs often.
Because blogs are spidered so often, it's one of the quickest ways that I know of to get a new site noticed by the search engines. Just post a link to one of your new sites on a blog that's frequently crawled, and the search engine spiders will follow that link and index your new site. This is VERY powerful to be such a simple technique.
Blogging is very simple, but there are lots of tricks and techniques that offer you an amazingly competitive advantage. My favorite blogging platform is WordPress, which I learned all about from my friend Sherman Hu. Sherman has a series of short online videos that explain practically everything you could ever want to know about blogging with WordPress.
You can watch 22 (yes - 22) of Sherman's videos on WordPress blogging absolutely free at: http://ShermanHuOnWordPressBlogging.com
Other viral tools include ebooks, PDF special reports, MP3 audio files, and Camtasia videos. We can't cover all of these here, but any of them could be created, and then offered to the marketplace. If they deliver tremendous value, or even entertainment, they will be passed along. If you create these viral tools properly, they will lead highly qualified traffic right back to your site.
4) Link Building. People find, and then visit, your sites by following trails. Those trails can be mentions of your url in online or offline media, articles, press releases, and links on other sites pointing to you. The more links you have pointing to you, the greater the chance of someone finding one of those links and visiting your site. So, you should set out on an aggressive effort to build quality links pointing to your site.
Since I value quality links over sheer quantity, I have over the years simply emailed webmasters of sites I wanted to exchange links with suggesting the exchange. Now, I hire others to coordinate link exchanges for me. This is a better use of my resources in the long-run than doing it myself, since there are services that do this fairly inexpensively. To locate one of these services, simply type in an appropriate term at the search engines.
You can also set up an affiliate program as a way to reward others for linking to you. Affiliate program management software, such as the one I use at http://ProfitAutomation.com allows you the option of paying people (on a per click basis) just for sending traffic to you. I do this on a few sites, but on most sites where I have affiliate programs, I pay on a per sale basis. This still generates a lot of one-way links but only costs you when those links make you sales.
There are many, many more techniques that you can use to build a steadily increasing flood of traffic to your sites. I use literally DOZENS of different methods. If you're looking for an "encyclopedia" of traffic generation methods, I highly recommend a course by my friend John Reese, called Traffic Secrets. You'll find John Reese's Traffic Secrets Course at: http://TrafficSecretsByJohnReese.com
The most important part of building your websites' traffic up to critical mass is just getting started. Pick ONE of the methods outlined above and get started. As you verify that a particular method works great for you, and your marketplace, keep using that one and then add others. If a particular method doesn't produce for you, stop wasting your time with it!
One final thought... even when you build your website traffic to critical mass, you still should continue to promote.
Yes, you'll continue making sales, but if you completely stop promoting, sales will eventually begin to drop off. Major international corporations such as Coke(tm) have proven this over and over again. That's why you see these major corporations with MAJOR market domination continue to promote their products and services.
Now that your understand the intricacies of generating self-sustaining website traffic, what are you waiting for :-)
Copyright 2005 Willie Crawford
Short note about the author
Willie Crawford has taught PROVEN Internet marketing techniques to thousands of successful Internet entrepreneurs since late-1996. Subscribe to his free weekly ezine, which helps you cut through the clutter and time-wasting hype. Subscribe now by visiting: http://WillieCrawford.com.