Blog traffic tips from blogging royalty, Jon Morrow. Though paralyzed from the neck down, Jon has helped build three of the most popular blogs in the world – Copy Blogger, KISSmetrics, and Boost Blog Traffic (now Smart Blogger). Collectively, they have received over 200 million page views, earning over $50 million in revenue!
Have you ever wished you could peer inside the mind of a blog traffic genius who has masterminded over 200 million page views, like the unstoppable Jon Morrow, and find out exactly how he does it?
Well… here’s your opportunity.
This is your chance to find out not only how he does it, but also, how you can become a very successful (or a more successful) blogger or writer.
But first, a fascinating fact about this guy: He is paralyzed from the neck down!
If you’re thinking “how the heck does he do it?”, you’re not alone!
The Jon Morrow Story
So, who is this extra-ordinary dude?
It’s none other than Jon Morrow, BTG (Blog Traffic Genius).
Jon was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease that progressively weakens the body to the point of complete atrophy, and eventual death. For most families, it would be an excuse to throw in the towel and give up before ever giving life a shot. Not for Jon’s parents.
“I was really lucky to have two incredible parents,” Jon says. “It’s one of the reasons why I’ve survived this disease.”
Paralyzed, yet unstoppable
The only parts of his body he can move are his eyes and lips. His hands, feet, arms, and legs, are almost totally paralyzed, managing the occasional twitch and nothing more.
And yet… he has a life most able-bodied human beings can only dream of.
Using speech recognition technology, he has written articles read by more than 5 million people. He also built several online magazines that have, interestingly, made him a millionaire.
Over the last decade, Jon Morrow helped build three of the most popular blogs in the world, Copy Blogger, KISSmetrics, and Boost Blog Traffic (now Smart Blogger). Collectively, they have garnered over 200 million page views, earning over $50 million in revenue.
His main passion is Smart Blogger (fomerly Boost Blog Traffic) of which he is founder and CEO. Since launching on March 12, 2012, the blog’s popularity has skyrocketed. Here are some highlights:
- It has grown its audience to over 100,000 email subscribers
- It has created a $100K+ a month business based around teaching people about writing and blogging
- It has published viral posts attracting thousands and thousands of shares
Unstoppable Me Blog
He launched his current project, Unstoppable on December 29, 2016. His first post 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face, instantly went viral.
Jon is a traffic genius.Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger and New Rainmaker
And now Jon Morrow is going to tell you exactly how to supercharge your blog and skyrocket your reach.
Well, sort of.
I couldn’t get hold of Jon for an interview, so I did the next best thing…
I scoured the internet for everything on Jon Morrow – interviews, mentions, his blog posts – you name it. I also looked at some of his training courses that I’ve been privileged to be on. And what we have here are Jon Morrow’s Top 10 Tips for Boosting Blog Traffic, Guaranteed to Supercharge your Blog and Skyrocket your Reach.
Want to know the best part?
I am 100% certain that Jon will be every proud of these 10 tips.
Here’s why: Because, as you will soon see, they are his ideas…distilled from his writings, conversations and interviews.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
# 1. Your ideas are your children. You’ve got to nurture them through hard work, diligence, consistency and constant self-improvement!
Your ideas are your children. They are like new born babies. You need to nurture them. And be prepared to work your butt off to see them bloom and blossom.
You’ve got to realize that success doesn’t grow on trees. You have to sweat for it, work for it and earn it. But don’t just work hard, learn to work smart.
In On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, Jon Morrow puts it this way:
If you want to succeed, you can’t wait for the world to give you attention the way a cripple waits for food stamps to arrive in the mail. You have to be a warrior. You have to attack with the madness of a mother whose child is surrounded by an army of predators.
Because, let’s face it, your ideas are your children. Their future is as tender and delicate as that of any newborn.
You can’t just write them down and expect them to succeed. Writing isn’t about putting words on the page, any more than being a parent is about the act of conception. It’s about breathing life into something and then working to make sure that life becomes something beautiful.
That means spending ten hours on a post, instead of 30 minutes.
That means writing a guest post every week, instead of one every few months.
That means asking for links without any shame or reservation, not because you lack humility, but because you know down to the depths of your soul that what you’ve done is good.
You have to realize that your blog is more than just a collection of ones and zeros floating through cyberspace. It’s more than the words on the page. Your blog is a launchpad for your ideas, and you are the rocket fuel that lifts them off the ground.
#2. Take your writing seriously. Be focused on what you want. Be dogged and single minded in your pursuit of your dreams.
Question: Where are you going? How will you get there?
Believe in yourself. Take your writing seriously.
Be a learning machine.
Be passionate enough about your blog that you invest in yourself. Jon Morrow is not only driven, but he’s also passionate about continuing professional development and self-improvement.
I once received this email from Jon after I signed up for one of his online courses:
I’m proud of you.
Chances are, we’ve never met. I don’t know anything about you, except for one tiny little detail:
You believe in yourself enough to invest in your future.
There are over 70 million bloggers in the world, but do you know how many of them ever invest in any kind of education for themselves?
About 250,000. That’s less than 1%!
But guess who achieves all of the success online?
The 1%. The tiny fraction of bloggers who take themselves seriously.
Unstoppable Me Activities: Jon is a workaholic.
In the first several years, he worked 80-100 hours a week, and even now he usually puts in at least 60 hours. He works hard, but in a smart sort of way. That’s because he’s incredibly organized. Hear him:
You want to know how I’ve accomplished so much? Here’s my dirty little secret:
I have a calendar. I put the tasks on it that will help me move to the next stage. Then I do what the calendar tells me.
It’s boring. I hate a lot of stuff the calendar tells me to do. I also get really tired of having to schedule everything.
But you know what?
Nothing else works. Here’s why: We are procrastinating fools.
He uses a system from Dan Sullivan where there are two types of workdays:
- Focus days where he concentrates on one big task, such as writing a blog post or a report. The whole day, he works on nothing but that one task. No phone calls. No emails. He doesn’t go anywhere. He also turns off his cell phone and disconnects from the Internet. And then he focuses.
- Buffer days where he groups up a whole bunch of little tasks into the same day, including staff meetings, interviews, coaching calls, financial matters, whatever. He schedules them back-to-back, so he’s forced to move quickly and get everything done fast. It’s exhausting, but it also frees him up to ignore that stuff on his focus days.
For Jon Morrow, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are focus days. Tuesday and Thursday are buffer days. He tries (keyword: try) to take the weekends off.
Think: how can I work hard and smarter?
#3. Read voraciously and write until your hands hurt
To hone your writing skills and become a better writer, you must read. Read as if your life depends on it.
But more importantly, you must also write. You see, when it comes to it, writing is similar to playing a musical instrument: Practice makes perfect.
You become a better writer by writing.
There’s no shortcut.
It’s not a surprise that Jon Morrow reads 2-3 hours per day, and often uses every moment of his life as “research.”
In terms of writing to improve your writing, I can’t think of a better tip than Brian Clark’s 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer. He says:
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
This is something Jon practices religiously.
Jon spends around 10 hours writing each blog post. And for years, Jon wrote a minimum of 2,000 words a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. He never, ever took a day off. Not Christmas. Not his birthday. Not even when he was sick.
“Is that extreme?”, he asks.
“Yes, I suppose, but I wanted to be the best. Point to the top person in any field, and you’ll find someone who went to extremes to get where they are. So, I did too. It’s no coincidence that’s when I created my best work.”
#4. Master one of the most important skills every serious blogger must have: The ability to make your readership curious!
The headlines you choose for your blog posts serve the same purpose as headlines in a magazine or newspaper. Their number one job is to grab the reader’s attention. They either draw the reader in, or push them away.
Your goal as a blogger or writer is to craft captivating headlines. Jon Morrow calls them winning headlines. He recommends you spend a quarter to half of the time you spend writing the post on the headline. For example, he spends an average of 2 hours writing his headlines!
This is an art that you must master. According to Jon, “If you look carefully at any great headline, you can distill it down to a fill-in-the blank “template” that works for almost every topic in any niche. The best writers I know have thousands of them either saved to a file on their computers or floating around in their heads, where they can reference them at a moment’s notice to develop a winning headline of their own.
Stir up your readers’ curiosity. Jon puts it this way, “The more curious your headlines make people, the more they’ll read your posts. The more they read your posts, the better your chance of building a relationship with them. The more relationships you have, the more influential you become in your niche.”
And here’s my little contribution to help you craft better headlines: 78 Headline Hacks: A Cheat Sheet For Writing Blog Posts That Grab Your Readers by the Eyeballs.
#5. Learn the art of writing the compelling intro.
If the job of the headline is to grab your readers by the eyeballs, the job of the intro is to pull them into the rest of the article like a Dyson vacuum cleaner. A compelling intro is like a beautiful work of art – you feel so utterly mesmerized by it, that you’re sucked into the rest of the article.
And Jon Morrow is the master of the compelling intro, often using it as a hook to pull his readers into the body of the article!
Here are some examples of Jon’s intros:
- Jon calls On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, “the article that shook the internet.” Apparently, within moments of being published, hundreds of people were sharing it every minute, eventually bringing in more than a million readers. The comment form was so flooded with notes from readers, it had to be turned it off! It begins with this opening:
The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, but I have bad news.”
He paused, looking down at the floor. He looked back up at her. He started to say something and then stopped, looking back down at the floor.
That’s when Pat began to cry.
- 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face, which has 622 comments and has been shared over 74,000 times. Here Jon opens as follows:
It’s not a joke.
The only parts of my body I can move are my eyes and lips. My hands, feet, arms, and legs, are almost totally paralyzed, managing the occasional twitch and nothing more.
And yet… I have an amazing life.
- In 20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap About, which has 218 comments, Jon begins:
A troubling thought, isn’t it?
You’re slaving away at your blog, but you can’t help wondering if you have a shot in hell of getting anyone to read it.
What makes you any different from the millions of other bloggers hoping for attention?
- Then there’s the opening question in 5 Myths of Traffic Generation That Seriously Need to Die. He asks:
Can I be straight up with you?
95% of the advice on the web about how to increase your website traffic is totally useless.
- In introducing his Blog Traffic Blueprint course, he opens this way:
It’s sad, really.
Everywhere you look online, somebody is offering you a magic tactic for getting more traffic, but just how many of those tactics work for somebody who’s building a blog from scratch, without a whole bunch of content and links and authority?
Not many. Maybe one or two, but the vast majority are completely useless to beginners.
As you can see from Jon’s examples, writing a compelling intro is an art.
The good news is, it can be learned.
Here’s why: I don’t believe anyone is born with the ability to write compelling intros! Everyone has to work at it. And there are lots of materials available to learn from.
#6. Develop networks, connections and relationships with the influencers in your niche
Content may be king, but connection is key!
Connection to the authorities and influencers in your space or niche. These are the most authoritative people in your space. The power brokers. Bloggers with influence, whose names ring a bell.
Every niche has them.
To fulfill your potential as a blogger, you need a leg up from one of them.
Jon Morrow puts it this way:
Remember the old saying, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know?” Well, nothing could be truer for blogging.
At its core, blogging is a popularity contest. No, it’s not as childish or spiteful as what you might’ve gone through in high school, but it’s still about having the right people like you. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say it:
Your connections are far, far more important than your talent as a writer, your expertise regarding your subject, or even your persistence and dedication.
The reason I’m able to get so much traffic is because I’m friends with dozens of extremely influential people. Just my closest friends have more than 2 million collective followers on twitter, and all of them will happily share any post for me anytime I ask.
Jon suggests strong relationships with at least 3 authorities or influencers in your space. But how do you go about building these connections?
Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Café refers to this as “influencer marketing”. Ana provides insanely valuable content at her Traffic Generation Cafe. And she is perhaps the only blogger I know who writes about influencer marketing in a way that makes you want to go out and just do it!
Listen to her: “Simply put, influencer marketing is the process of identifying, targeting, and connecting with individuals that have influence over your target audience rather than trying to reach that audience all on your own.” Check out her amazing, practical and simply awesome post: Be Memorable: 10 Practical Ways to Successfully Get Influencers’ Attention. Once you’ve read it, you’d come back to thank me!
Here is another brilliant article on how to build meaningful relationships with the influencers and authorities in your niche. Katharine Di Cerbo’s awesome post in Smart Blogger titled: How to Build Relationships with Popular Bloggers (Even If It Scares You Silly)
#7. All posts have two audiences. Write and publish posts that are targeted at the two audiences.
According to Jon Morrow, all posts have two audiences:
- “The people who read them.” I call them your primary audience; and
- “The people who link to them;” I call these your powerful audience, the movers and shakers in your niche.
If you want traffic, you’ve got to satisfy these two audiences. So, who are the people who link to your posts? The influencers in your niche that you’ve developed relationships with.
You should write posts targeted at those connections – the influencers and authorities. Don’t ignore your primary audience – they still matter – but think about what those connections would find irresistible to link to.
#8. Although there are five different traffic strategies, Odds are, only one of them will work in your specific situation. Find that one strategy and master it.
There are 5 different traffic strategies. Jon calls them:
- The mafia method. This is where you woo the big players in your niche
- The rocky technique. The is where you provide killer content that pulls in the readers like a magnet
- The fan base formula. This is where you discover where your fans hang out online and get them to drive traffic to your blog
- The traffic short cut. Getting traffic through a lead magnet, an opt-in page that converts like crazy, targeted ads, optimizing your email list
- The infiltration game. Leveraging the power of Pinterest, Reddit and Stumbleupon.
Your task is to find out which strategy best suits your current situation, and master it.
To find out more, check out Jon’s course Blog Traffic Blueprint.
#9. Master your craft. Learn and perfect the recipe for writing popular blog posts.
There is a science to writing blog posts that go viral. Something Jon Morrow calls a “recipe”. As Glen Long once said, the secret to a popular blog is “popular posts”!
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, not exactly. Because you’ve got to then figure out how to write a popular post!
And of course, there’s the added problem that nobody knows how a post will be received until they actually hit the ‘publish’ button. So, is there is a way to give your next blog post (and the one after that and the one after that) the best chance of being your most popular to date?
Apparently, there is!
Hear Jon: “For years now, we’ve been developing and refining a system that makes writing extraordinary blog posts MUCH easier. It works in every niche. It works for every topic. It works for beginners and experts alike. And if you commit yourself to learning it, you’ll write the most popular posts of your life. Guaranteed.”
Here’s how Jon stumbled on the “recipe” for writing popular blog post.
It happened shortly after On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, the article that shook the internet was published.
It wasn’t Jon’s idea at all.
In truth, the entire post was an imitation of a post by Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger and New Rainmaker.
Of course, Jon’s story was original, but the headline, the structure, even the cadence of the sentences – it was all parroting Brian’s work.
And the worst part?
Brian was his boss. He’d taken Jon under his wing a couple of years previously, teaching him more about writing than he could’ve learned in a century anywhere else.
And Jon felt like he’d just ripped Brian off.
For days, Jon waited for Brian to call him on it. He was so guilt ridden, he pulled up the homepage of Copyblogger every day, expecting Brian to have published a post titled, “Jon Morrow Is a Dirty, Despicable Copycat.”
But Brian didn’t. In fact, he didn’t say anything.
After a few days, the agony of the deception was eating Jon alive, so he called Brian and confessed. Jon said he expected Brian to yell at him, to fire him, to threaten ruination and shame.
Instead, though, he got perhaps the most important lesson of his career.
Jon Morrow Copyblogger: The conversation that changed Jon’s writing forever
“Hey Brian, it’s me. Let’s get this over with.”
“Get what over with?”
“Whatever you’re going to do to me for copying your post.”
He was silent for a few seconds, and then he burst out laughing. “You’re worried about that? Dude, I’m honored. You could’ve written that post a dozen different ways, but you chose to use my work as inspiration. You couldn’t have given me a bigger compliment.”
“Nobody’s work is totally unique,” Brian said. “There are only so many recipes. The only thing that changes is the ingredients.”
Jon was thunderstruck. “Recipes? There are recipes for writing?”
Brian laughed again. “Your post was a Three-Act Story. So was mine. It’s one of the oldest recipes of all time.”
“Huh. Is there anywhere I can find a list? You know… like a recipe book for writers?”
“Not that I know about,” Brian said, “but study the work of the best writers, and you’ll find them for yourself.”
And so Jon Morrow did.
It took him another five years, but one by one, he found and perfected a dozen different “recipes” for writing popular posts. Jon says writing popular posts is now as straightforward as cooking up a batch of your grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies. You just have to follow the direction.
And the recipes?
Jon shares one of them here. It’s the one he calls “The Storyteller”. Referring to How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World, his article that has had the most share on Problogger, with over 1 million shares, Jon says:
It was a post where I used a three-act story, forming the recipe I now call “The Storyteller.”
Let’s break it down…
In a Storyteller post, the headline often has three parts, and each part corresponds to a subhead in the body of the post. For example, “How I Quit My Job” is the first subhead, linking to Part #1 of the headline.
A little secret:
The reason this headline works especially well is because each part is also a highly desirable benefit of its own. People dream about quitting their jobs and moving to paradise. Topping it off with getting paid to change the world is just irresistible.
The opening sentence, “After all, that’s the dream, right?” also connects directly to the headline, responding directly to the three promises. I call this style of opening the “Conversation Starter,” because it uses a conversational question to bridge the gap between the promise of the headline and the rest of the post.
#10. Never, never, give up
It took Jon Morrow about five years to earn his first dollar blogging.
During that time, he started four different blogs, working on them at night and on the weekends. The first three failed. Despite investing hundreds of hours into each one, he made too many mistakes, and he eventually had to shut the blogs down. He didn’t earn a penny from them.
Each time a blog failed, he seriously thought about quitting. He felt like he was putting in all that time and energy for nothing.
But it wasn’t true. He was learning.
And something kept him from giving up. He knew never to give in.
It was Winston Churchill who famously said:
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
Over the years, it’s been shortened to “Never, never, never give up”. And Jon Morrow learnt this very early on in his life from his mother, Pat. Jon tells the story in 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face
My mother rammed her hands into my ribs, forcing the air from my lungs. I coughed, the mucus rattling deep in my chest.
And then I screamed.
A few weeks earlier, I’d caught pneumonia, a respiratory infection that’s dangerous for a healthy person and a near-death sentence for someone like me. I didn’t have the strength to cough the mucus up myself, so doctors taught my mother to thrust her hands into my ribs, supplying the necessary force.
And it worked, but then something terrible happened:
My ribs cracked. Worse, the bones would grind together and fracture a little more every time my mother helped me cough.
But we couldn’t stop. If we did, doctors were absolutely certain I would suffocate and die.
So, literally hundreds of times per day, my mother would shove on my broken ribs. I screamed, I cried, I begged her to stop. Still a child, I couldn’t understand why she had to hurt me so much. Even today, I marvel that she could bring herself to do it.
But she did. For weeks.
One night, when I was lying in bed, wheezing and whimpering, she brought this little plaque of a quote from Winston Churchill and put it on the table beside me. It sits on my desk now.
“Say the words,” she said.
I shook my head. “It hurts.”
“Whisper them, then,” she said, and so I did. Every night, she would push on my ribs a dozen times before going to bed, and every night, she would make me whisper the words…
Never, never, never give up.
Hokey? Yes, but it worked.
I never gave up, not because I was strong or brave or special, but because my mother wouldn’t let me…
Wrapping Up – You can become a very successful (or more successful) blogger or writer.
Let’s face it.
We can’t all be blog traffic geniuses like Jon Morrow.
But we can all ignite our blogs.
We can all boost our blog traffic.
And yes, we can all become successful bloggers and writers.
Are you ready to become a successful blogger?
I’ll let Jon Morrow have the last word:
Most people in wheelchairs believe it’s impossible for them to get a job, travel, or support themselves. It’s not that they don’t want it — they are aching to do all those things — but no one they know has ever done it, everyone around them assumes they will never do it, and so any time hope starts to kindle inside them, they ruthlessly crush it because, in their world, it’s not realistic.
Switch to a reality where it is realistic.
For several years leading up to starting my own business, I ruthlessly eliminated anything that even suggested I was powerless and replaced it with concrete proof that I wasn’t. In other words, I deliberately “brainwashed” myself into believing I could do the impossible.
I listened to podcasts and audiobooks that told stories of people accomplishing incredible things for 4-8 hours a day. The goal? Drown out the negative. Anytime I was around negative people or having negative thoughts, I would pop in the earbuds and listen.
Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Christopher Reeve. Hours every day, I listened to stories and motivational speakers suggesting I could do anything, and in time, I believed them.
I refused to hang out with other disabled or impoverished people. Not because I thought I was “better” than them, but because they represented what I was, rather than what I wanted to become. To replace them, I found a real estate club I could join for only $100 per year, and I brazenly asked the top investors in the club if they would take me to lunch and answer my questions.
Amused by the cocky kid in a wheelchair, they agreed, and suddenly I was spending 2-3 hours a day with millionaires. By the end of the year, I thought of myself as one of them, not because I was rich, but because I now spent more time with them than anyone else.
I replaced all TV time with reading time. TV is full of stories of murder, betrayal, and pain. It’s riveting, but it also messes with your mind. Once I figured this out, I started going to the library every day instead of watching TV. After about a year, I finished every book of interest to me, so I switched to Barnes and Noble.
I couldn’t afford the books, so I sat in the aisles and read them cover to cover, my caregivers turning the pages for me. Within a few years, I’d read hundreds of books on self-improvement, investing, philosophy, psychology, and diet. My brain became an encyclopedia of actionable, realistic ideas for making my life better.
Day by day, month by month, year by year, my conception of “realistic” began to stretch, and I saw the world entirely differently. Not just because of positive thinking, but because I had replaced everything in my reality that suggested anything less.
You can’t think your way out of a crappy life. The only way out is to construct a world where incredible things aren’t impossible; they are expected, even commonplace. Then you must live in that world, spending more time there than you do in the current one.
In time, it will change you. Your thoughts, beliefs, and actions will begin to reflect the world you constructed, rather than the world you live in. Bit by bit, you will become a different person, a better version of yourself, someone capable of achieving things the old you couldn’t…
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How has the life of Jon inspired you? What have you found useful when it comes to boosting blog traffic?