You want a blog with hundreds of thousands of visitors, right?
In a few short years, David Waring and Marc Posser have built a blog with over 300,000 monthly visitors. In the following interview, you can find out how they did it.
Success Harbor: You and Marc Prosser are the founders of Fit Small Business. What is your business background?
David Waring: Marc and I met at Forex Capital Markets (NYSE:FXCM) where he was the Chief Marketing Officer and I was the Head of Sales. Marc joined FXCM as it’s first employee and I joined as the 9th. During the time we were there FXCM grew to over 700 employees.
In 2007 I left FXCM to start my first company InformedTrades.com which provided education to traders of the FX, stock, and commodities markets. That site had the largest youtube following in the financial services space when my partner took it over in 2009 and I got back into the trading technology space with another NYC-based startup.
Marc stayed with FXCM through their IPO in 2010, and we started Marc Waring Ventures LLC (owner of FitSmallBusiness.com) in 2011. While we own several sites in different industries, FitSmallBusiness.com has been our primary focus for the last 2 years, during which time we have grown to over 300,000 visitors a month.
In addition to being my partner in Marc Waring Ventures, Marc is also an angel investor and advisor to several successful companies in the new media and financial services space.
Success Harbor: You have started Fit Small Business in 2013. What were your goals with the blog?
David Waring: Yes we started it as a business from the beginning. The original idea behind the site is that we would provide primarily how to content on how to start and run a business. While we felt like there was a lot of good content out there for online businesses, we found that the information available to the average brick and mortar business owner was pretty poor.
So, while much of our content is relevant to any type of business, our primary focus is businesses that deal with people primarily in person.
What we found after building the site for a year, was that our product reviews and recommendations which were a much smaller part of the site, where actually our most popular content by far. This caused us to make a pivot in early 2015 and focus more attention on researching and write about the products and services that small business owners need to run their business.
Success Harbor: What were the most effective ways to drive traffic to your blog in the beginning?
David Waring: Our focus was and still is primarily on SEO. Writing super in-depth content and then spending as much time promoting that content as we do producing it.
Success Harbor: Can you give us some specific examples of marketing/getting more visitors to Fit Small Business today?
David Waring: Our traffic strategy is pretty simple. We invest heavily in content and have 2 full-time writers and 2 freelancers focused only on content. Then we spend as much time and resources promoting articles and have a full-time person in addition to Marc and myself that focus on getting the word out about our content and building relevant, high quality and non-spammy links.
Success Harbor: What is your process for selecting new article topics for Fit Small Business?
David Waring: We have several different categories of articles that we focus on which correlate to what we feel is most relevant content to our brick and mortar business owner audiences. Examples would be marketing, finance, management, and then industry specific content for specific businesses like real estate and salons.
Once we have an area in mind that we want to focus on we brainstorm what we feel are the types of questions that a small business owner researching the topic might have as well as ideas for resources they might find useful. We also talk to business owners and other professionals in that space for more ideas.
Once we have our list of ideas we use the Google Adwords keyword tool to get a feel for how much traffic there is in different areas and look for other ideas that we might not have thought about. Once we have that we have a proprietary method that we use to determine how easy or difficult we feel it might be to rank, and we prioritize articles accordingly.
Success Harbor: What is your research method to write in-depth articles?
David Waring: We have 2 full-time writers on staff and 2 freelancers who focus exclusively on researching and writing articles. Where other sites might spend a couple of hours researching and writing an article it is not uncommon for our writers to spend several days.
The first step is to look around and get a basic understanding of the topic from whatever freely available information we can find. Once we have done this we develop a list of questions that we want a better understanding on and then talk to industry experts on the topic to get in depth answers. We also ask them what questions we should be asking that we have not yet asked.
If we are writing a product or service review, whenever possible, we use the product or service ourselves and speak to all of the companies we are reviewing directly.
The analyst then writes the article, I edit it with them, and then we post it to the site.
Success Harbor: How much traffic does your blog get in a month?
David Waring: We get over 300,000 visitors a month. We have been growing traffic pretty steadily 5 to 10% a month since inception.
Success Harbor: What are the most effective SEO tactics for Fit Small Business?
David Waring: Writing in-depth articles and then focusing heavily on building relationships with those in the industry that can help get the word out.
Success Harbor: What advice do you have for bloggers who want to build solid relationships in their industry, to help them get the word out about their content?
David Waring: My two biggest pieces of advice here/things that have worked for us are:
1. Focus on quality of contacts, not quantity so you can spend the time to research and do customized approaches. I get 10 to 15 emails a day from people wanting something from me, and I would estimate that 1 in 50 of those emails is tailored specifically to me. It is obvious that the large majority of people are taking a shotgun approach and sending the same form email to hundreds of different sites. The 1 and 50 that actually shows they have done their research and pitch me with something tailored are much more likely to stand out.
2. Do something for the site you are trying to build a relationship with before you ask them for something. A great example of this is broken link building tactics where you compile a list of broken links for a site before asking them to add a link to a high-quality piece of content on your site that replaces one of the broken links you point out. Another example would be to participate actively in the comments of a specific site before you reach out to them for a guest post or other opportunity.
Success Harbor: What are the most effective content promotion tactics that you are using today?
David Waring: Probably the most effective thing we are doing currently is building lists of resources from around the web, by reaching out to experts in the industry and asking them for their best tip or resource from their site. In addition to creating a great piece of content, this also gives us a ready-made list of industry influencers who are now much more likely to promote the content.
Success Harbor: At what point did you start monetizing Fit Small Business?
David Waring: 2 months in.
Success Harbor: How many different ways are you able to monetize Fit Small Business?
David Waring: 90%+ of our revenue comes from affiliate relationships.
Success Harbor: What mistakes do you see bloggers make?
David Waring: Focusing on the quantity of content instead of quality, and not spending anywhere near enough time promoting their content.
Success Harbor: Most bloggers fail before they are able to monetize their blog. What advice do you have for bloggers who fail to get any traction?
David Waring: I probably sound like I am beating a dead horse here but it’s all about producing better content than what’s already out there and then spending a lot of time promoting that content. It’s the simple stuff that works, most people just aren’t willing to put in the effort.
Success Harbor: What metrics are you looking at to determine if Fit Small Business on the right track?
David Waring: We look at overall traffic growth, time on site, and the conversion rate on the products and services we recommend on the site. We also monitor comments closely to make sure that our readers’ experience with the products and services we recommend are in line with our analyst’s review and expectations.
- If you are willing to do what most bloggers are not willing to do, you can build a blog/website and grow traffic to hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.
- Find an under-served niche.
- Super in-depth content and rigorous content promotion = great SEO.
- Pay attention to your traffic statistics. Create more of your more popular content.
- Research keywords in terms of competition and traffic before you create content around it.
- Build quality relationships to help you promote your content. Think quality, not quantity.
- Start monetizing your blog early. Fit Small Business started monetizing 2-months after they went live.
- If you want to succeed, you must commit to content promotion.
- Affiliate revenue is a viable monetization model.
- There are no secrets to building a successful blog. Create better content than what’s already out there. Then, aggressively promote it. Most bloggers are not willing to do what it takes to build a successful blog.