If you are a regular Leaving Work Behind reader, you will know all about the LWB 100. For those of you who are brand new to the blog, the LWB 100 is a list of blogs that I published two weeks ago today. It features the 100 best blogs for “leaving work behind” – with topics ranging from internet marketing, to social media, to freelancing.
Producing the list was no small undertaking – it took me countless hours to collate the sites, rank them, and put them together in a presentable fashion. And once I had published the post, it took me another few hours to individually contact each and every person on the list, informing them of their ranking and asking them to share.
But it was time well invested. The day I published the post, I had a record high number of visits (782). The day after was a new record – 1,372 visits.
In the seven days leading up to the LWB 100 being published, the blog was averaging 210 visits per day. In the seven days after the post was published, the blog averaged 632 visits – a threefold increase.
If you think that the above screenshot looks like a healthy spike, check it out in the context of the period since the blog’s launch in June 2011:
But a higher than normal level of traffic wasn’t the only benefit. My number of Facebook followers has gone from 95 to 155 in two weeks (it took me 4 months to get to 95). I have seen comparable levels of growth in Twitter followers, RSS subscribers, and newsletter subscribers. These effects are far more beneficial in the long run than a brief spike in traffic.
And then there were (and are) the indirect benefits – I have gotten to know some new bloggers in my niche, and would like to think that there is a fair amount of goodwill flowing around the blogosphere due to me taking the time and effort to curate such a list.
Cutting To The Chase
I will be totally honest with you (as I always am) – there were two reasons I wanted to publish a list like the LWB 100:
- I thought it would be a great resource for my readers
- I thought it could be an effective post for boosting traffic
I didn’t expect it to have the impact that it did. I thought that it would give me another small nudge in the right direction, but not the hefty push that I got.
At this stage, you probably want to know how any of this benefits you. Please let me make something clear – none of this is intended to be a boast. After all, my traffic levels are minuscule. But if this list had been published on a bigger blog, the impact would have been proportionally larger. The relative impact of the LWB 100 was huge, and the lessons learnt from the process can be applied to a blog of any size.
With that in mind, let’s take a detailed look at what makes good link bait, how the LWB 100 came together, and how I promoted it.
What Makes Good Link Bait?
A link bait post can be any number of things. Typically, it has to be exceptional in some way – it has to stand out from the crowd. It could be an expose, something controversial, or you could be the first to reveal some exciting news in your niche.
Another form of link bait is a valuable resource. This could manifest itself in a number of ways, such as a study that produces surprising results, or a list of top resources in your niche. Does that last one sound familiar? Of course – that is what I did with the LWB 100.
How do you know whether what you are doing is link bait material or not? One good rule of thumb is as follows – the longer it takes you, the more likely it is to be link bait. This is a broad rule, and doesn’t apply in all cases, but is something to take into consideration. If you are expending a great deal of time and effort to produce something that is not readily available elsewhere on the internet, people are likely to respond by sharing it.
A Link Bait Case Study – The Process Revealed
So you know what kind of effect the LWB 100 had on my blog’s traffic, and you have an idea of what link bait is. Now I want to show you what I did, and how I did it. I am hoping that you can take something away from this post that you can use on your own blog, to similar (or greater) effect.
1. Producing The Post
As I have already mentioned, putting the list together was no small task. What you might not appreciate is that finding an absolute minimum of 100 quality blogs is a considerable undertaking. Whilst you may think that you know 100 blogs in your niche, you might surprise yourself if you actually tried to list them.
The challenge was not just in finding 100 blogs (although I eventually found around 150), but in ensuring that they were all of a certain quality. I needed regularly updated blogs that were full of useful content, which meant that I needed to manually review each and every blog that I wasn’t already familiar with. This took a while!
There are some really time-consuming tasks in such an undertaking that you really do not appreciate until they are on top of you. For instance, just creating the links for the list itself (with the correct anchor texts and alt tags) took 20 minutes! Categorizing the blogs was another time-consuming task. And that is not even to mention the data points I had to collect, collate, and use to rank the sites.
Here’s the thing – there will be posts that you spend a lot of time on that don’t get the attention they deserve. I say that from experience. But what you need to focus on is the average return on your time investment. If in the future I put a whole load of effort into say 3 link bait posts, and one of them blows up like the LWB 100 did, I will be happy.
2. Promoting The Post
Good link bait doesn’t necessarily self-propagate, and the LWB was no exception to that rule. I spent a great deal of time personally reaching out to every blogger on the list and politely asking them to share it if they saw fit. I doubt the post would have been nearly as successful without me putting a lot of time into this vital stage.
The response was far more positive than I expected – around 50% of people in the list responded and told me that they had shared. What really surprised me is that quite a few of the heavyweight bloggers were gracious enough to take the time out to respond to my email and share the post. The likes of Brian Gardner of Copyblogger, Sean Hodge of Freelance Switch, and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income are a credit to the “A List”.
As for the people who didn’t respond – there is little point in speculating why they didn’t get back to me. Some people just won’t – it’s a numbers game. The absolute key for me is in being genuine and thoughtful when you reach out to people. I abhor spamming in any form, and was determined to not be seen in such a light by the people I was contacting.
Should You Produce Your Own List?
I don’t want you to come away from this post thinking that you should do your own version of the LWB 100. Such an idea may work in your niche, but I don’t want you to limit yourself. There are a huge variety of ways in which you can produce link bait, so don’t restrict your thinking. Just bear the following in mind:
To produce wildly successful posts, add value where it is (a) in demand, and (b) not readily available (tweet this).
Sometimes, people may not even know that they want what you have to offer. For instance, you could publish a post demonstrating why a popular service isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be. People wouldn’t know that they wanted this information until it was in front of them. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
What Has Worked For You?
I am sure many of you have had posts that have been far more successful than the LWB 100. So please, share with us here – what has been your most successful form of link bait, what kind of effect did it have, and how did you do it? Let us know in the comments section!
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Blyzz