The last month has been exciting here at Entrepreneur Campfire.
For the first time since I started focusing my efforts on SEO for Entrepreneur Campfire, I hit 10,000 monthly visitors last month:
10,000 visitors was an interesting milestone for me because a few months ago I told myself…
When I hit 10,000 monthly visitors, I will start documenting my growth as a way to keep track and share the lessons I learned along the way.
You see, for almost half a year now I have been itching to write a periodical report to document my growth here at Entrepreneur Campfire.
But I didn’t feel like I could do that without reaching a significant number in traffic first.
But what would be the right number?
1,000 visitors felt too little and 100,000 felt too much. So I settled for the more moderate but still significant 10,000 visitors a month.
Now that we are here, let’s get started!
Some History: How I Got Started Building Websites
Since this is my first report, I thought it would be a good idea to share a little bit about how I got started creating websites.
Like most people, I created my first website on Blogspot more than ten years ago in 2004. Back then, Facebook was not yet as popular as it is today.
Friends kept up with one another by visiting and commenting on each other’s daily blog entries.
Fast forward ten years later, I created my first ‘business’ website in 2014. It was a basic website I put together to sell web design services I was offering at the time.
With no experience getting traffic to my site, less than ten visitors came to my website every month. Ouch.
Not seeing the results I expected, I abandoned the website and moved on to creating a new website.
I went on to create more than ten websites include a website on productivity, another website on travel and a website about Malaysian towns.
Although I created many websites, I never stuck with any of them long enough to see significant growth. I felt like I was wasting my time.
So in June of 2016, I decided I would make a change. Instead of jumping from one site to the next, creating a bunch of useless websites, I would focus on growing just one.
It Started with A Conversation about SEO
The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus. – Robert Greene
When choosing which website to focus on, I decided on Entrepreneur Campfire because it was best aligned with my business interests then.
At around the same time I decided to focus on growing Entrepreneur Campfire, a friend of mine who I had met through a business course online a few years ago sent me a message.
Wayne had been working on growing his travel site Kuaby alongside his day job and was looking to connect with other people who were doing something similar.
Since I was focused on growing Entrepreneur Campfire, I jumped on the opportunity. It was not easy to find Malaysians who are focused on doing the same thing as I was.
Over the next six months, we became each other’s accountability partner.
Through our conversations, I realized that I had been making one big mistake:
I was not using SEO to grow my website.
I was missing out on thousands of visitors a month because my website was not SEO optimized.
So beginning September 2016, I started optimizing my content for SEO. Since I had zero knowledge of SEO at first, I had to learn everything from scratch.
It was really tough but I pushed on.
At first, growth was slow but after two months of testing, traffic passed 1,000 visitors a month in January 2017:
Seeing good results from using SEO, I decided to switch from focusing on Facebook to SEO as my main method of growing traffic.
Over time, traffic continued growing. At the moment of writing, Entrepreneur Campfire’s monthly traffic is at 12,700+ visitors a month:
Growing Traffic using SEO in Malaysia: Lessons Learned
Although 10,000 visitors is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it is still a challenging milestone for new bloggers to achieve.
Personally, I have not been able to achieve this until this year, which marks my fourth year of running Entrepreneur Campfire.
With that, I would like to share some of the lessons I have learned along the way.
Though we are already halfway through 2017, I hope you can still take away from some of my mistakes to make your own website more successful in the remaining months.
Now let’s take a look at some important changes I’ve made in order to grow Entrepreneur Campfire’s traffic:
I switched from Facebook Marketing to SEO
The most important change I made was to turn my focus from Facebook Marketing to SEO.
For the first 2.5 years of growing Entrepreneur Campfire, my main growth strategy was through sharing interview articles on Facebook.
Although some of my interview articles went semi-viral, receiving a few thousand views each, the traffic could not be sustained past a few days.
So I often saw my traffic spike for a few days, and then taper off quickly after the initial social shares:
(sharing the WordPress stats here because GA stats are not available)
To sustain traffic using Facebook Marketing meant that I needed to share at least one share-worthy article on Facebook every day.
Creating a 3,000 – 4,000 words interview article usually takes me two to three weeks. To publish one every day would mean I had to multiply my efforts or even hire a big team to help me do so.
This was not a strategy that I was interested in.
After talking to my friend Wayne, I realized that it would be better for me to switch my focus to SEO instead.
SEO traffic is more sustainable and does not depend on constantly pushing out viral articles.
Although I won’t argue that there are many benefits of Facebook Marketing, but for now, I have found that SEO helps to deliver a higher return on investment for a website of Entrepreneur Campfire’s size.
I said ‘No’ to projects more often
For the last three years, I have been receiving ongoing requests for collaborations on different projects. At the beginning, I really enjoyed working on new projects.
I felt like I was learning something new each time. But over time I realized that every time I said yes to a new project I was taking time away from an old project.
In the end, I was only giving a fraction of my attention on each project, causing each one to end up with mediocre results.
So this year I decided that my most important mission is to ‘Say No to 99% of projects.’
Since the beginning of 2017, I have turned down more than 80% of the requests made and cut down on the number of projects I was working on by 75%. Now, I only have less than five projects on hand at any one time.
Now, I only have less than five projects on hand at any one time.
By decluttering my project list, I created more than 30 hours a week to focus on the projects I had chosen.
I can finally spend 3 – 4 focused hours a day working on the most important projects in my life. Because of that, I finally see results of my hard work.
No matter how hard we want to deny it, time is indeed a limited resource for each of us. Saying yes to too many projects can be exciting, but the downside is that unless you have a big team working with you, you won’t have much time for each one.
I can count more than 20 projects I have been involved in which started off with a lot of excitement and then quickly flamed out.
The success of a project goes far beyond just creating a Facebook page, a logo, business cards and a website.
Those things may make you feel like you are progressing, but until you see $$$ in your bank account, it’s not a real business.
On that note, I have also witnessed successful business owners who don’t have a Facebook page, business card or website. However, they are successful in what they do because they care about helping their customers.
I update my blog more often
When I first started Entrepreneur Campfire, I was focused on writing interview articles like this one:
Interview articles are great for two things:
One, interviewing someone is a great way to get to know people you would not normally meet. I’ve met a number of great friends this way.
The other thing about doing interviews is that I get to ask about things I am curious about. I’ve learned a lot from the interviews I have done with young entrepreneurs around South East Asia.
The only thing about them is that they take a long time to produce. One interview article can take me anywhere between 2 – 3 weeks from contacting the featured guest, writing up questions and then producing the final write-up.
In trying to grow my traffic, I decided to publish more often, between 3 – 5 articles a month. This meant that other than interviews, I had to also write articles that take less than a week each to produce.
Having more content, especially high-quality ones, on your website means there is more for Google to crawl around. The more Google has to crawl around your site, the more easily people will find and visit your site, increasing your traffic.
I focus on one marketing channel at a time
I used to think that I needed to be everywhere:
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
When I started, I used to spend a lot of time creating photo quotes for my Facebook page:
Although engagement was reasonably good – people liked and shared my photos – but it never led to people taking action that mattered most like clicking on my articles and reading them, or subscribing to my newsletter.
After some consideration, I decided not to spend any effort on my Facebook page until traffic from SEO on my page reaches a reasonable number.
Though there will be people who will be more successful with promoting their brand using more than one channel, for now, this uncluttered marketing strategy is working well for me.
I decided to be more open about trying new methods for growth
Although I had known about the importance of SEO since I started my first business website, I intentionally avoided it because it seemed too technical to learn.
What a shame. If I had taken a step towards learning instead of avoidance, how far along I would have come by now?
Because of my resistance to learning something completely new, I delayed my website’s growth.
Nowadays my mantra is, ‘Never try, never know’. If there is a new way of marketing and growth, I am now more open to trying it out, even if it means I have to spend many hours in a day away from my business to learn them.
Being open to learning new ways to grow your website can help accelerate your growth in surprising ways.
Plans for the Future
Keep growing: A New, Loftier Target
When I first starting working on the SEO for Entrepreneur Campfire, I set a low target of 1,000 organic visitors a month.
But since I was starting at below 100 organic visitors a month, even 1,000 visitors – ten times my current traffic – felt a bit high for me at the time.
When I finally did achieve it in January, the numbers on the screen felt surreal. I quietly hoped that it would not taper off like my social traffic did.
When I started noticing my organic traffic grow a little every week, I decided to push the bar higher, resetting my new target at 10,000 visitors a month.
Again, I felt like I was overreaching, but I decided that a worthy goal is meant to feel a little audacious.
My 10,000 visitor goal took me four times as long to achieve compared to my 1,000 visitor goal. At one point I almost gave up, thinking that I was probably not skillful enough to get there.
I pushed myself forward by telling myself every other day:
‘don’t give up. You won’t lose anything if you give it your best shot.’
Eventually, I did reach my target of 10,000 organic visitors a month.
So my next target is… well, I suppose there’s no surprise here:
100,000 organic visitors / month
I have a lot of strategies I am going to test in order to achieve this target. Although I am keen on sharing them right now, I learned a year ago that it is better to stay quiet about your plans until you actually take action on them.
Although I am keen on sharing them right now, I learned a year ago that it is better to stay quiet about your plans until you actually take action on them.
So I will keep quiet about these strategies until I am done testing them. So do subscribe to my newsletter if you want to get an email once updates are released 🙂
Why am I doing this?
I started Entrepreneur Campfire to give advice to people about how to start and grow a business.
In my second year of building content for Entrepreneur Campfire, I realized something important:
Rather than just be a library of theory, content on Entrepreneur Campfire will be more useful if I had experience in what I was talking about.
Who would you trust to give you advice on your car?
Someone who fixes cars? Or someone who has only read about fixing them?
So this is why 90% of what you read on Entrepreneur Campfire comes from my personal experience.
With content about SEO and marketing, I didn’t want it to be any different.
I had wanted to write about SEO since two years ago but looking at the pathetic level of traffic my site was getting from SEO, I decided against it.
Instead, I told myself, ‘Let me write about SEO when I have test driven everything I write about.’
Documenting my journey in growing traffic using SEO, I felt, could be a good reference for people who are on the same journey as I am.
When is the next update?
When I was deciding on the frequency of this traffic update, I decided there are two main options:
I could write an update every month.
Or I could write an update when I hit a new milestone.
At first, I was inclined to writing monthly updates like my friend Wayne:
But later I realized that it would make more sense to write an update when I hit my next milestone.
The reason for this is because unlike Wayne who is tracking a few metrics in one report, I am only tracking traffic at the moment.
This means that if I were to write a monthly report, there wouldn’t actually be much to write about. So I decided that I will produce an update when I hit my mid target of 50,000 visitors a month.
When will that be, you ask?
Since there are so many variables, I can’t tell you now when exactly my update will be.
But if you want to get an email on all my blog updates, just remember to subscribe to my newsletter at the end of this post.
So, What’s Next?
I plan to publish SEO focused articles
I have some SEO and content marketing focused articles planned.
These articles will be targeted at beginners who have no prior experience in SEO and/or content marketing.
The upcoming SEO article series will cover topics such as:
- Keyword research for beginners
- Writing articles both Google’s algorithms as well as humans will love
- SEO tools you can use to supercharge your organic traffic
And more! I am planning more articles as I go.
So if you are a small business owner or a marketer trying to help your company grow organic traffic, stay tuned for the SEO articles series.
Remember to subscribe to my newsletter by entering your email below. I will send you updates I feel are useful for your growth. (Don’t worry, I don’t email very often :))
If you have any questions about what I have shared, hit comment below. I will read every one.