Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I agreed to read Traffic Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Filling Your Websites and Funnels with Your Dream Customers, participate in a 30-day challenge and share on social media. I was curious to review the material and I am sharing my honest opinion about the book and my experience.
Misadventures with Andi will be 12 years old next month so I have “seen it all” when it comes to blog how-tos. I have also worked professionally in brand marketing, focused on web, content, and social media for more than 25 years, so I have seen how the big guys do it, as my entire professional career has been working for brands. That doesn’t always mean I know what I am doing or have the budget to apply what I’ve learned from my work to my blog, but I certainly have had access to a lot of information and practices!
I have also been around long enough to see people hitch their wagons to something really hot, investing a lot of time and money into that new thing, only to have the rug pulled out from under them when that platform or thing changes a feature or an algorithm. Trust me when I say it surprises the big brands too and sometimes that can be painfully expensive (been there, hello Facebook I am looking at you, done that). I’ve seen a lot, I’ve ridden some of those waves as well.
A couple of lessons I have learned over the years are: own your own space and diversify. I have always kept my blog as the home for my core content and used platforms that would send traffic back to my blog. I’ve not worried too much about places (Instagram, I’m looking at you) where I can’t link back to Misadventures with Andi. I have also done a terrible job of SEO, something I think a lot of OG bloggers suffer from (even though I knew about it working for a brand) only taking the time to improve (but not go crazy about) optimization in the last 2 years, but it is still a daily “battle.”
And at the moment Pinterest drives far more traffic to this blog than I am comfortable with, I am tiptoeing around the tool hoping not to mess anything up and that is no way to live, err blog. So I was quite curious when I saw the project to read Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson and try out its methodology while sharing my experience and getting paid. I have coughed up so much money over the years to ebooks and courses, it is refreshing to get paid to try something out!
I decided instead of writing my post at the end of reading the book, that I would use it as a journal as I went through the 30-day challenge, I have documented my process and am posting it at the end. If you follow me on Twitter, you likely saw my daily tweets there, but obviously, I can be a lot more prolific about my process here, so let’s get started! The funny thing is, about a third of the way into the book there was a section on “documenting the journey” and it turns out that it is exactly what my intent was with this post!
Day 1 – Introduce my Readers to my Traffic Secrets Project
Introduce your audience to what you’ll be doing for the next 30 days.
Oh wow, I’m done! Ha-ha, that’s the problem with a verbose storyteller, I just gave you the backstory about my experience, what I have been working on and why I am interested in Russell Brunson’s book Traffic Secrets.
One last thing I will say before we get started. This project had a residual bonus to its activities, a walk down memory lane. As I noted in the opening, I have been in marketing for 25+ years and I have had the blog for nearly 12. I have attended lots of conferences, seminars, and workshops and I have taken countless pages of notes. Despite living in a digital world, I still write notes into an analog notebook. Many of Russell’s content stirred memories of similar concepts from other marketing gurus over the years.
I am not a packrat, but I do hold onto those notebooks and it was great entertainment to go back through and read them in parallel with some of the chapters from Traffic Secrets. Lots of concepts have existed forever, get repackaged, added to, iterated on, etc, and sent back out to the world where a whole new bunch of people can take advantage of. It is the cycle of life of marketing and I enjoyed the added pleasure of re-visiting concepts I had been exposed to over the last decades.
And since I enjoyed it so much, I have also sprinkled some of those nuggets throughout my “notebook” as well!
Day 2 – Who am I trying to reach?
Who are you trying to reach with your social platforms and your website? What are you trying to do for them? How can you create better content for them?
Ultimately I want to reach readers who love Paris. Tons of people have the City of Light on their bucket list (depending on the source of the survey, Paris nearly ALWAYS ranks in the top 10 of places people want to visit, and Paris has consistently been the #1 most visited destination in the world for many years) or they have visited 1 or 2 times and want to learn more.
Given its popularity, there is a ton of content out there and it can be overwhelming to know where to start and who to trust. When I travel, I want to learn about a particular location from someone who has been there many times and I hope my readers do too. I want to be that source of knowledge and I want to create content that helps people have an amazing trip to Paris.
Day 3 – What is my purpose?
What do you want your readers to get from your social platforms/blog? What’s the purpose of your blog?
Simply put I would like you to see me as a go-to source for planning a trip to Paris, that my 50+ trips to the City of Light along with my access and appreciation to French culture via my French husband and my Francophile lifestyle gives me some street cred when it comes to visiting this destination. The purpose of Misadventures with Andi is to share my experiences, tips, and resources and have you benefit from it for your own Paris trip.
Day 4 – Biggest challenge or frustration
What is your single biggest challenge or frustration you are running into right now?
I try not to be negative but it does drive me crazy when someone has only been to Paris once and they write content that says the “ultimate guide” or the “only Paris itinerary you ever need.” There is absolutely a place for people to write about their trip and for others to learn from their experiences, but you can’t possibly have the ultimate guide to anything or know the best itinerary unless you have been there more than once!
Day 5 – Common struggles, common pleasures
What are the common struggles your readers’ experience? What are the common pleasures?
There is a massive amount of information on the web about Paris. It is one of, if not the, most popular place to visit in the world. I believe a common struggle if filtering through all that noise to find useful information that will help my reader plan their trip to Paris. As for common pleasures, I need to dig into this more, but I suspect it is food, cultural experiences, and visiting things that are beyond the standard set of “must-see” places.
One of the nuggets I found in an old notebook was “a confused mind says no” (a note from a National Speakers Association event I attended on February 28, 2009!). Another oldie but goodie from a meeting with an agency that no longer exists: “If you build it but don’t know why they will come once and never come back again”. (May 4, 2010). Both of these notions reinforce that I need to attack the challenge of too much information by ensuring that mine is pertinent and organized.
Day 6 – My ideal reader
How have you identified your ideal reader? Where are you trying to grow (i.e., grow newsletter subscriptions, etc.)
Over the years I have done many persona exercises to hone in on who my ideal reader is. I found various versions in notebooks and for the most part, I have been consistent in what I have identified. My struggle is, there are the identification and labeling of my ideal reader, but then there is the obtaining of my ideal reader, and I am not always sure they match. Unless a reader is a friend, family member, or Francophile, for most people a trip to Paris may only be a once in a lifetime event. I am trying to grow readership (traffic) on the blog and my newsletter (also traffic, but also an email list that I can communicate with on a platform that I own) so I may struggle with keeping readers after that trip to Paris. I am not a niche blog, so my other interests, including the American Southwest, etc. help keep people coming back for more, but how do I ensure they stay coming back!?
Day 7 – My inspirations – websites
Talk about the types of websites you’re looking at for inspiration and why.
I really enjoy looking at sites outside of the travel niche because in my experiences best practices are limited to one vertical. I enjoy sites that follow the Blog Golden Rule (Blissdom, February 2010) which is: Genuine. Generous. Respectful. I am inspired by sites that emulate that! I do definitely spend a lot of time on travel sites as well. Not only because I enjoy travel and like to read about the topic, but also I like to support my community.
Some of my inspirations include:
- Modern Mrs. Darcy who has an amazing book/author website, Anne Bogel knows her niche well and rarely wanders away from it. She has a variety of offerings and I enjoy her site and those offerings immensely.
- Pinch of Yum who not only does this site have a beautifully minimalist design but they do great food photography! They have been extremely successful and as they’ve built that success they have shared a lot of behind-the-scenes and tools and resources and there is something about their Midwest realness that I appreciate.
- I get a kick out of reading Diana Elizabeth’s lifestyle blog. She is living the dream life, which she works hard on and is absolutely the nicest person on Earth. She looks polished and perfect, but she is the first to tell you about all the mistakes she makes – she is so human! She does this thing at the end of her blog posts that keep me reading to the bottom every single time. It is a short 2 sentence update on something Diana is thinking or doing and they are so captivating!
- I am a LONG time fangirl of Kristin Luna of Camels & Chocolate who is in the travel niche. I deeply respect her, her professionalism, and what she brings to the travel community. She is no BS, writes in an entertaining and real voice and I enjoy everything she does.
Day 8 – My inspirations – forums
Talk about the types of forums and message boards you’re looking at for inspiration and why.
This is an area that I need to do further explorations. I have not spent a lot of time in forums. Honestly, I think its because of the nature of my day job where I have to spend time in tech forums so I don’t spend a lot of time in them outside of my job. I do pop into the Rick Steves one from time to time because I like to see what questions people are asking about Paris. It goes back to understanding my readers and their challenges and how I can service them. If YOU spend any time into travel forums, I would love to hear which are your favorites!
Day 9 – My inspirations – newsletters and podcasts
Talk about the types of newsletters and podcasts you read/listen to for inspiration and why.
Oh, how I love a good newsletter! I get 100s of them! Even at work, I sign up for a ton of them. My co-workers make fun of me, but I love them! I get ideas on how to do and not to do things, resources, tips, and tricks.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Amy Lynn Andrews Useletter: as the name suggests, these weekly newsletters offer a lot of useful information and resources. The minimalist approach (not so wordy) appeals to me and I find myself returning to it to revisit topics all the time.
- Paul Jarvis: When I first started using Mailchimp and wanted to understand how to use it better, Paul Jarvis was one of the only people out there that had training that was up-to-date, and his training has continued to do so, he updates it constantly. And while I have actually never bought his training, I did subscribe to his newsletter because I like his content. I think I have an appreciation for minimalism not only in life but in newsletters as well because Paul’s are also short, sweet, and powerful.
- Orbit Media (newsletter link in footer): I don’t remember how I first stumbled upon this agency’s newsletter, I know it was from a professional event I attended, but I don’t know which one. What I do know is that I have been reading it for years and finding their marketing tips relevant.
- Pinch of Yum: much like the blog, I enjoy the newsletter. Every month I look forward to one, in particular, the monthly lunch date where Lindsay shares about life, work, etc. I can’t explain why I like it so much, I just do!
On the other hand, I am not a big podcast girl. This is despite running a podcast for my last job and thinking about doing one for my current one. I actually want to do one for Misadventures with Andi, and I have lots of topic ideas, but I haven’t tackled them yet. I am a reader, I don’t have a commute, am not big on music – I like it quiet when I am working, writing and reading, so podcasts have not been a natural fit for me, even though there are tons of really good ones out there!
If I did a podcast, what topics would pique your interest?
Day 10 – Google Keywords
How do you use Google keywords to inform your content?
I like to write and I do not like to feel constrained while doing so, another reason I like quiet when I am blogging. I generally write my content and THEN do keyword research (I use Keysearch.) Once I complete my research I will go back through my content while I am editing and adjust it to integrate the keywords then. I am just not the type of person to research first and write, although that is a very successful approach. I also like Make Traffic Happen Revive Old Content and I have used their strategies. I also like Mike Pearson’s Stupid Simple SEO keyword approach as well. I cherrypick what works for me and try to implement them into my SEO as best as I can.
Day 11 – YouTube
Have you thought about keywords on YouTube and how the keywords you use on your videos are impacting your blog?
Given my professional work as a brand marketer, I was aware early on that using keywords on YouTube is excellent; however, I have never been one to get in front of the camera, I prefer to be the interviewer rather the interviewee. But given Mr. Misadventures talent with the camera and with the addition of a drone into inventory, we decided that we needed to start making effort to create videos to supplement my writing and his photography. We just completed our first one, a montage of footage for White Pocket and we hope to do a lot more video in the future!
Day 12 – The Competition
Look at your top 5-10 competitors. How are they getting creative to drive traffic to their social platforms or blogs?
There is no lack of competition in the Paris space. There are a handful of sites that I visit and read to see what they are doing. My biggest competition comes from sites where people actually live in the city. The niche sites focused on uniquely Paris content mostly do an extremely good job of producing content (they have a solid grasp of SEO), others not. Then there are many sites that produce Paris content based on a single trip and depending on their approach I am either uniquely curious (someone’s impressions after a first trip provides great a great research opportunity for me) or I am annoyed because they created the ultimate guide or itinerary and are now a Paris expert. Yuck.
Day 13 – Elevator Pitch
In three sentences or less, what is your elevator pitch?
In many ways reading this book has been like revisiting the 31 Days to Build A Better Blog Challenge I did in 2009. I started blogging in July of 2008, I went to Blissdom, my first blogging conference in February of 2009 and participated in 31DBBB in the spring of that year. This free challenge put on by Problogger went a long way to cementing certain blogging principles into my brain and many of the activities I went through in that challenge, such as my tagline and elevator pitch have stuck.
I always start with: “Misadventures with Andi is about the merry musings of a feisty foodie slash globe-trotting wannabe Frenchie!” then I will add 1-2 more sentences in context to the situation whether I am at or speaking with someone in the travel industry versus a lifestyle brand etc. When I first created this pitch/tagline/phrasing I also had “lit-chickie” in there because I am a bookworm, but I decided to drop it because although I do write about books from time to time, that wasn’t a core focus. I try to stay true to my “roots.”
MERRY I’m a very positive person and don’t blog about things I don’t like, don’t do bad reviews or vent.
MUSINGS I write about my thoughts and experiences – the people, places, food (very important), and products that intersect my everyday life.
FEISTY FOODIE My world revolves around food. And I’m opinionated about it too– no fast food, avoiding processed foods. I advocate local and fresh.
GLOBE-TROTTING Grew up an Army brat, caught the gypsy bug and have traveled and worked all over the world.
Wannabe FRENCHIE I’m a francophile, married to a French guy, always trying to get my inner French on.
Day 14 – Why do I read social content?
What makes you read someone’s social content?
Generally speaking, I read someone’s social media because I have a personal connection with then. I have either met them in real life or I have “known” them online for a very long time. I gravitate to genuine people. After that, I read social media content about those things that interest me: Paris, general travel, food, minimalist lifestyle, outdoor activities, and wildlife. I follow brands I believe in and whose products I like. I like to be entertained, informed, or inspired.
This is the point where the book shifts. The first half covers concepts I am familiar with as well as comfortable, it was an excellent review of classic brand development and I appreciated the review and the reminder of its importance. It also motivated me to prioritize some projects I have been working on. One of the most important concepts that Russell walks the reader through is determining your Dream 100. It is something that I have done in only limited ways in the past and something I need to take the time to complete as I just started a few lists while reading the book.
The second half of the Traffic Secrets is content I am less comfortable with simply because I do not offer a product or service. That doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. After all, the book is called Traffic Secrets and all bloggers want traffic! Russell took us through advertising and content creation on several channels and funnel creation.
Day 15 – My favorite call to action
Pick your favorite call-to-action and try it for yourself!
My favorite CTA is “Try it for FREE” but I don’t offer a product or service in which I could employ that call to action. I do offer a blog assessment and a LinkedIn profile review but those are really hard to try for free!
Day 16 – Hooks
Talk about how you’re using hooks with your audience.
Thus far I am not using hooks other than to promise content that is engaging entertaining, informative, and/or inspiring. However, I have been planning 2 hooks: one to drive traffic and one to drive subscriptions to my email list. Both center around Paris content. The email subscriptions one has a hook to get a package that includes a set of printables that can be used when planning a trip to Paris and another set that is purely for entertainment. I will be launching both my hooks in the next 60 days!
Day 17 – Personal connections
How do you connect personally with your audience and why?
When I first started blogging I connected by reading other blogs and commenting. At the time commenting was the social currency in the blogging world and I build a lot of relationships (that I still have today) by doing this. Then came social media. Other ways included lots of blogging conferences (at least in the early years of the blog). But as I would like to attract more than just other bloggers I try to do that by responding to comments on my own blog, seeking out Francophiles in forums and on social media, and briefly while I was in Phoenix (although I did do this in Paris as well) by creating offline networking events. Now that I am in Raleigh, I will attempt to do that again once the world is a little more normal!
Day 18 – Building Connections
Share a story about how you built a connection with someone in your audience.
I did this a lot more frequently when I first started blogging and shame on me that I have not been doing it proactively! I have built fabulous relationships in the past, even to the extent of meeting them in person, with several readers. It usually starts with a comment and then I check out their blog and social media and start following and commenting and finding intersections of interest. Many times I have invited people that I like to be interviewees in one of my series or to do a guest post because I want my readers to see just how awesome they are. I do this a lot on Instagram and Facebook as well. I have made some really good online friendships that have lasted for years.
In general, I try to connect with my audience by being real, positive, and passionate about what I write about!
Day 19 – Defining my offer
My offer and how it relates to my business.
The offer that I am envisioning is intended to be a resource when planning a trip to Paris as well as add a little bit of entertainment and fun. I don’t think we have enough fun in our lives (one of the reasons why I created my Paris coloring sheets) so if I can (stealing from Marie Kondo) spark a little joy – why not?
Day 20 – Polling my readers
Poll your readers to determine their frustrations and challenges.
I used to poll my readers every single year, but have neglected to do so for the last three. Shame on me. Particularly since the last 3 years have seen such big changes in my own personal life (18-month RV trip completed, move to Phoenix, then move to Raleigh) but that is no excuse for checking in. Russell’s book has reminded me of the importance of understanding my reader’s pain points and desires. Lost track of that, lose track of your North Star. I commit to having a reader survey by the end of the summer!
Day 21 – The offer
Share your offer.
Well, here is where the rubber meets the road. As I previously mentioned on Day 16 and Day 21, I have been working on a set of printables that I think will be enticing and attractive to Paris lovers. This printable will be sent to anyone new who signs up for my email list. I will also send it to my existing email list so they don’t miss out. Truth be told I would like to eventually have a product or service to offer. I have a couple of ideas, but nothing really baked yet.
Day 22 – Clear up the clutter
Clear your mind and your inbox! Today’s a good day to unfollow people or businesses that are not important to your goals.
This one is easy for me as I can’t stand clutter! Whether it be physical or digital, if it isn’t organized it severely cramps my writing style, I cannot write unless I have a clean, quiet space. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters as I love to read them, but I also go through and clean out my subscriptions when I am no longer interested in the topic. I clean through the people I am following on social media as well. Lastly, I am a “zero inbox” (look it up) kind of girl, especially for work. I do not like to see anything unread on my laptop of iPhone and I have followed the zero inbox methodology for a VERY long time!
Day 23 – Building relationships
Building your business is building relationships. Interact with the groups, pages, and businesses that are part of your Top 100.
At the moment, the only way to continue building relationships is online. I spend a lot of time in Facebook groups and am connecting with people that way. I am on them every day and interacting with lots of people. However, once physical events are a reality again I would like to try to recreate in Raleigh what I did in Phoenix with my photographer partner when we founded Click Collaborative.
Day 24 – Standing out in a crowd
How do I elevate myself in a group of like-minded people?
I think this is increasingly harder on the internet! If I think of this from a pure content perspective, I like the concept of “skyscraping” which is mentioned in Russell’s book but is something I learned from another online marketing guru. The reason I like it is that it forces me to “do it” better. Elevating the level of content and information (in a useful manner!) cannot be a bad thing for a reader. I know from getting my HFI certification as a Usability Analyst that readers are on auto-pilot so I need to create content that stands out, which helps my reader in a way fluffy content does not. So I hope to stand out by offering more in-depth, more detailed, more real-world experience based on my 50+ trips to Paris.
Day 25 – Share an offer.
Share an offer.
I’ve got nothing as I am not ready to reveal my upcoming resource, but I do “offer” you this as it is something that I have been thinking of while reading Traffic Secrets and again brings me back to the time when I was studying user-centered design and that is that our short term memory only lasts 15 seconds. And then there is the “Rule of 7” marketing principle that your prospects need to come across your offer at least 7 times before they take notice and take action. That repetition is effective. Sometimes we think we are nagging or spamming, but in reality, it just takes humans longer to digest what you are putting out there. I also take it to mean that I need to deliver my content in multiple mediums through multiple vehicles, something which I don’t always do!
Day 26 – Frameworks
Since I currently don’t have a funnel, let’s talk about frameworks.
I think one of the best things that Russell delivers on in this book and which allows his books to have longevity is that he teaches a framework. These frameworks can be applied to platforms and processes. Notably to the social media trend of the month, etc. From the beginning of the book to the end, no matter what Russell is writing about the framework is repeated over and over (hmmm, maybe he also knows about the rule-of-7…).
In the book that framework involves:
(1) Understanding the history or the goal of the particular platform (or medium)
(2) Finding your Dream 1oo on that platform (ALWAYS goes back to that Dream 100 concept)
(3) Publishing strategy and plan
(4) Working your way in
(6) Buying your way in
(6) Filling your funnel
Day 27 – Platform fatigue and domination
Since I currently don’t have a funnel, let’s talk about frameworks.
Towards the end of the book, Russel writes about conversation domination. I like the placement of this particular chapter because I can see that some people in their enthusiasm for identifying their Dream 100 and mastering the framework that they may go a little overboard, over even feel overwhelmed. It is important to remember (and this is mentioned in the book) that you do NOT need to be on every platform out there AND the way you interact on each platform should be unique, they are not all the same and have their own culture for interaction. If you tried to be everywhere at once you will not only be fatigued, but you will not have a strong presence because you will be utilizing the peanut butter effect. Pick and choose what platforms you want to be on, master them, then maybe add to your repertoire, don’t try to do it all at once!
Day 28 – Email lists
If you have an email list, focus on that here. How can you grow your list and set reasonable goals?
So I do have an email list, but I only have it on the bottom of my home page so if you don’t enter there and scroll down you won’t see it. That is terrible. But I HATE pop-ups so I have avoided them for forever. However, I recently saw one on a friend’s site that is very subtle so when I have my sign-up offer ready I will do a better job of actually promoting my email list! I would like to add 50% more readers to my email list by the end of 2020. That’s my goal!
Day 29 – What I have learned
What you have learned through this challenge?
I certainly “re-learned” a lot! Concepts that I have been exposed through either my job, conferences, books, and/or e-courses over the years re-surfaced and the book had a nice flow and tied the concepts together very nicely. I think one of my favorite parts was the first portion of Section 3 (Secret 16) which is the smallest and last section of the book. Russell described the 2 distinct paths that he had an option of taking when he was first starting 15 years ago: the branding route or the direct response route. Russell firmly stepped into the direct response route, while I am firmly planted in the branding route.
But in the end, you have to play with the other team to be truly successful and that’s where Russell learned about and started building funnel hubs (or what I would call landing pages) that follow what I consider to be classic information architecture. He developed nice, branded funnel hubs and was able to capture an additional population of leads in doing so. Now it is my turn! I need to embrace the direct response team going forward and better integrate those strategies into my site.
Lastly, I learned that I have a long way to go before I would consider myself an entrepreneur, but it is a journey I feel better prepared for after reading the book.
Day 30 – Final Impressions of Traffic Secrets
Wrap it up! Talk about your overall thoughts on having completed this challenge.
I am grateful for this campaign. I would have never picked up Russell’s book otherwise, but I encourage you to do so! My own prejudice against funnels and funnel hacking would have prevented me from the opportunity to read this valuable (and evergreen) resource. You can get the book for free ($9.95 shipping) or you can buy it directly from Amazon (but you will pay more and miss out on bonuses) so I suggest you check out the Traffic Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Filling Your Websites and Funnels with Your Dream Customers site and get it there.
I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes journal of the 30-day challenge that I participated in while reading the book. As a reader of Misadventures with Andi (Thank you! Merci!) I think you will benefit from some of the insights that I garnered as well.
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