The Insanely Easy Way to Get More Traffic to Your Blog

by Derek Halpern · 51 comments

Every business who has a blog could use more traffic… you, me, all of us.

Question is how do you get it?

You could spend MONTHS working on your WordPress SEO, but if you’re pressed for time, this simple tactic is the answer.

Keep reading.

The Power of a Transformation

Here’s the deal:

Writing about a good transformation is one of the best ways to get traffic, land major media links, and social media shares.

What’s a transformation?

It’s exactly what you think it is. It’s when someone changes something about themselves drastically.

For example, a story of someone who changed their body from flab to fit. That’s a transformation.

Or as another example, a story of someone who went from thousands of dollars in debt to debt-free.

Those types of stories are transformations, and they’re GREAT for getting attention because people LOVE the contrast between bad and good.

The David Siteman Garland Story

To really nail this point home, the idea that transformations are GREAT for attention, let me share the story of my friend David Siteman Garland, from The Rise to the Top.

Last year David decided he wanted to have a beach body. The problem was, he had the “I am obviously really good at World of Warcraft look.”

But he worked at it, and soon he had what he wanted—a beach body, and a great transformation story. Here’s the picture:

David Siteman Garland Body Transformation

Now check this:

Once his transformation was complete, he was featured on Bodybuilding.com as one of their monthly transformations.

And now, months later, he’s in the running to land a two-page spread in Iron Man Magazine.

How crazy is that?

I bet if I sat David down a year ago, and asked him, “Think you ever have a shot of landing a two-page spread in a fitness magazine?”

He probably would have laughed.

But his transformation allowed that to happen. His transformation got him TONS of exposure and free traffic.

For example, he also landed a COVER story in Small Business Monthly as one of St. Louis’s Fittest CEOs. Here’s the picture:

David Garland Cover Story

(By the way, if you loved David’s transformation, help him land that 2-page magazine spread in Iron Magazine by voting for him here).

The Secret to a Great Transformation Is…

I’ve told people about the power of transformations before, but they almost always say something like, “Well, it’s been done before.”

But here’s the deal:

The secret to a great transformation has nothing to do with whether the transformation was unique.

Why?

It’s simple. EVERY transformation is unique because when you add a new person into the mix, it’s unique by default.

Then what’s the secret?

The secret is CONTRAST. The more contrast between the before and the after, the better.

What If I Never Transformed Myself?

That’s a good question.

And the answer is it doesn’t matter.

You don’t have to be the person who trasnformed. You can simply write about someone else who transformed…much like what I’m doing here.

Or you could write about one of your readers, fans, or friends, and you’re set, too.

Just remember, the more contrast between the before and after the better.

What Types of Transformations Work?

Despite the media being overrun with negativity, the best transformation stories are positive.

No one wants to read about someone who went from fit to flab. They want to see someone go from undesirable to extremely desirable.

Why?

People look at those transformation stories, and imprint themselves on the person who transformed.

Or, in other words, people want to imagine themselves going through that same transformation.

So, unless you’re dealing with some kind of weirdo, no one wants to imagine themselves going from debt-free to debt-ridden.

Now I Pass It To You…

Have you ever written about a transformation that scored you traffic? Leave your story in the comments.

If you haven’t written about a transformation, do you plan to now?

About the Author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.

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{ 51 comments }

Aqif Azizan

I believe transformation can endorse people to trust our blog instantly. Or may I called it social-proof?

Love this idea anyway. :)

Nikhil

yeah.. I love your idea of terming it as social-proof.

Tom

I used to have no traffic. But then I went through a major transformation, and now I get 42,000 unique visitors per day!

Carlton Johnson

Thanks for the post Derek. David, definitely transformed and that is an inspiration because I have the WOW look at the moment (even though I don’t play it) and I need to get ready for a marathon run next year. What you said about the contrast touched a nerve because it goes along with something I was just reading in a best selling book on persuasion titled “influence”.

Rich Cederberg

Great idea, not sure how I’ll apply it yet. People love makeovers…

Jon McCulloch

Oh, I can so relate to this. I was around 180lb at 5″ 5′ with a 39 1/2 waist a couple of years ago.

So I did something about it and I’m now 150 with a six pack. And I’m 47 years young, too, so no spring chicken.

As coincidence has is I put up a Kindle about it today (I won’t spam you with the link).

Anyway, the thing is, my list love the story. Whenever I write about it, I get a lot of responses, including sales.

Warmly,

Jon

Haroun Kola

Great article, thanks Derek!

Mr. G

I did wrote about transformation.

It was this past Easter Monday and in my post I compared immigration to resurrection.

Immigration is transformation and, in some sense, it can be like born again.

Cheers,

G

Nikhil

Well, I also read something on these lines in a post somewhere. The thing about transformation is preservence.

And I think SEO is all about being regular. It does payoff in the long run, considering you are doing the right thing.

And yes transformations need not be unique. Its just something positive from highly undesirable to highly desirable. Rightly Said.

Sean Davis

I promoted David’s contest on Facebook yesterday. I hope he wins it. I love that we’re both from St. Louis!

I don’t have a set plan in my mind for a transformation story right now. It would take some thought. It’s definitely a style I’d consider in the future, though.

Robert K

When I come to think of it, transformation is one of the cornerstones of a successful personal blog.

My blog at EnglisHarmony, for example, is actually based on a transformation – “how I went from a struggling English speaker to a fluent one” – and most successful personal blogs use this approach to relate to their audience and create rapport.

It’s most obvious on the “about me” pages – Hi, my name is …. and only a year ago I was sitting behind my desk in my corporation job…. now I enjoy my life as a location independent freelancer and I’ll show you how you can do the same!

You see – the same transformation from zero to hero, and it works beautifully!

Regards,

Robert K

Mike Yasieniuk

Not sure how to apply this to my design blog where we give away free PSD files and provide web design info. I don’t think anyone reading my blog would get excited about seeing pictures of me with my shirt off. The blog is http://www.bestpdfreebies.com. This idea of transforming people is great and looks like it works fantastic for self help, and other more personal blogs but i’m struggling to find a good transformation for my blog. Thoughts?

Derek Halpern

That’s easy. You offer PSD files for web designs. You can simply find people who used your PSD files and incorporated it into their web design.

For example, here’s the design “before” they had my PSD file. Here’s the design AFTER they had my psd file.

Mike Yasieniuk

Thanks for the response Derek, I’ll give that a shot!

David Siteman Garland

Thanks for much for the love, Derek. And I would say anything that is inspiring and visual is going to help people the most. Doesn’t necessarily have to be fitness. A question peeps can ask themselves: What drastic changes can you make in your life that will inspire others?

Jason

I can vouch for this strategy, it definitely works! This is one transformation story I shared with my readers and it was very popular: http://strengthrunning.com/2012/01/meet-lydia-a-mom-of-4-who-lost-over-80-pounds-and-changed-her-life-with-running/.

I found it’s best to use other people so you don’t alienate yourself as “lucky” or “elite.”

Rodney Daut

I think that it’s important to look at why this particular transformation was picked up by various media because not all transformations are equally newsworthy.

First, it’s not the degree of transformation that made it newsworthy. I’ve seen people with a lot more fat make much more dramatic transformations that didn’t get picked up by the news although they were on blogs or in competitions for weight loss on Facebook. It must be something about who made the transformation. This guy was CEO. And CEO’s are not known for body building. Since a CEO getting fit is something new it becomes newsworthy.

Another factor is the transformation is something people in our culture care about. If he transformed into a stamp collector we might not care. But he became a fit executive instead.

Another factor is the difficulty of the transformation. Transforming your body from flab-man to he-man is difficult, many fail at this. If it was something easy like changing his style of foot wear no one would care.

Also it helps that there are already publications devoted to helping people achieve this kind of transformation. Body building. Fitness. Weight loss. These have their own media outlets devoted to them. I know people who transformed branches they found in the forest into bonsai trees – you won’t see them getting written up in major media (although I must say it is amazing to see such a transformation).

Mary | A-List Blogging Bootcamps

I agree, Rodney. Just any transformation won’t cut it. I think it has to be a transformation that people desire. The flab to fit story works because so many people are desperate to lose weight.

Another story that works is the one I experienced – going from huge debt and no Internet experience to a six-figure blogging income within 3 years. It works because so many people are struggling financially and are searching for answers.

A key factor is the personality of the protagonist in the transformation story. The hero has to be likable so that the readers want to identify with him or her.

As bloggers, we need to use story-telling skills to show how endearing the hero is, how impossible the mission was, how the hero nearly gave up, and what the turning point was that made him or her find success in the end.

Given all that, you can see why stories, like “How a morgue attendant morphed into an alien”, or “How I turned my cat into a dog by mistake” just won’t work…

David

Thanks Derek. It’s posts like this one that give me new ideas OR help me to remember good ideas from the past. This totally makes sense at a gut level. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Richard

Transformation applies best for business blog… but what about personal blogs?

Robert K

Hi Richard,

I believe this transformation approach actually works best for personal blogs. Nearly all successful blogs have some element of transformation in them – most commonly it’s the blogger himself having undergone an amazing transformation in terms of changing lifestyle, physique, financial state etc.

Next thing, quite naturally, is to use that effect as a platform for creating interest, building readership and eventually converting sales.

Rgds,

Robert K

Joe @ Retire By 40

I’m writing about quitting my corporate job to become a stay at home dad.
Many people are supportive, but I get tons of negative comments too. Oh well, can’t please everyone.

Ara Kazanjian

I hope you’re right! We’ve soft-launched our site to highlight precisely what you discuss here. Still tweaking the design and gathering content to seed the site. I’ll let you know in 6 months.

I can tell you now that your thoughts are always compelling and I look forward to your posts. Thankfully we don’t have to wait 6 months for those.

Brad Campbell

Congrats to David for the awesome transformation. Thanks for the post – I can absolutely see how featuring a high contrast rags to riches story would be great motivation and link bait for my blog…

Off to start blogging.

Thanks again,

Brad

Greg Traver

Derek,

What a great idea! I know what I am going to be working on this week! Although I have touched on the story about how eating organic food helped to turn my health around, I never really made it a major focus. The tip you gave about using others transformations opens the door for everybody to be able to come up with a solid idea that applies to their niche. Thanks for ANOTHER solid article that smacks of success!

Mike Turco

What if the transformation is boring? Does this still work? I do computer stuff. “How I transformed my file storage from on my computer to online/anywhere I want it” sounds pretty dry.

Nicholas Tart

Hey Mike, I’m interested in how you did that. It may be dry to most, but people who share your previous frustrations will be interested.

Mike Turco

Thanks, Nicholas.

I’ve just been having a difficult time relating a lot of Derek’s advice to my own site, but what he says makes sense and I’m working on it. Did you hear that interview on his social triggers site regarding “fascination”? It was awesome and I would really, really like to accomplish that kind of thing on my site.

Mike

Dror Bekerman

I don’t think “insanely easy” is true. Writing about a transformation might be easy but you first need to make one and most transformations are far from easy.

Susan Fujii

Hi Derek!

You are absolutely right. Just look at how many people love programs like “Extreme Home Makeover” and all of the “before and after” segments on talk shows. :) (I love those, too!)

The absolute highest-converting page of my website is my “Who Is Kung Fu Girl?” story which is the story of my transformation from total naive financial idiot (I was clueless, in debt, and had a collection mark on my credit report) to an SEC Accredited Investor.

It’s hopefully inspiring to others trying to do the same, and almost everyone can relate to being the underdog in some aspect of their life. I love reading other people’s transformational stories, too– it gives me hope for my own changes!

Thanks for the great article!
Susan

Louise Gallagher

I write about transformation every day — based on living joyfully in the now. I was an abused woman. Went from being given up for dead by my family to the miracle of my life when he was arrested and I was set free. I write about what it takes to be in the now, living life for all I’m worth — from wanting to die to loving life is a significant transformation.

What I haven’t done well is position my story as a ‘transformative’ story — so thank you for the ideas. I’m going to ponder how to reframe my blog to focus on the transformative angle!

Cheers,

Lance Nelson

Thank you Derek,

Another excellent post – you have already given me a few ideas… such as my personal transformation (I was a bored banker in UK) now a full time travel blogger, with no boss and now having time to ski / paraglide. And thinking about it reporting on other people here, both Bulgarian and expats, who have have had transformed their lives. Thank you once again.

Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate

Pretty funny.

Jeff the Entrepreneur

Action speak louder than words. Documented results could really make a big difference!

Brad

That is a cool story and a great way to demonstrate how to leverage it.

Sean Mal

So, basically it’s about BEFORE and AFTER. When we say “transformation”, big changes come to mind but it doesn’t have to be like that.

roby

Hi Derek,

I thought about writing a transformation about myself.
I’ve started a “blog” about race cycling about a specific race in France, a real heavy one.
But I am in doubt whether it would be a good idea to write a transormation story about myself; I could however, because I am loosing weight and training more than ever.
But at the same time I feel I must be an expert on the topics that I write about and I think this could be in contrast with one and each other.
Am I wrong ?

Cheers,
Roby

Madeleine Kolb

I loved the post and the comments. I blog about aging and often write about transformations–my own or those of others. Some examples:
*** stopping dyeing my hair and letting it grow out white and loving the way it looks (a huge deal for women)
*** being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and learning to manage it with diet and exercise alone (no meds)
*** finally getting up my nerve to join Toastmasters. I was a finalist in a writing contest (“It’s never too Late to….”) with this one.

The possibilities are endless.

Neil McNerney

Great idea. I’d love some feedback on this as a story:

I am author of a parenting book that helps parents become better at dealing with homework issues. I’m a family counselor. My idea is to profile a family (with their knowledge and permission) as they transform from being frustrated and ineffective to being calm and effective. I could do before and after interviews with both the parents and the student.

Feedback?

Neil McNerney
Author of: Homework -A Parent’s Guide To Helping Out Without Freaking Out!

Anton Amoto

This great post reminds me to stay motivated and calm. Chaging shape is my big challenge in the next 90 days.

Thanks for the alert Derek ;-)

Pat

Great post. I’ve been thinking to write such a transformative story. My blog is all about golf for women. Like most golfers, I have lots of room to improve. I think my reporting how I lower my handicap and what I do to make it happen might be of interest to my target market. Unsure if I should give a regular report on my progress, or wait till I succeed and then tell the tale. What do you think?

Angelo

That’s a tricky call isn’t it? Is it more interesting to take your readers along for the ride? Or to see the final product? Maybe both!

Instead of waiting to get to your final handicap (in golf, that could take years – or a lifetime – isn’t that the best and worst thing about golf!) maybe chronicle how you lower your handicap by 5. And then create a separate article on how you lowered your handicap by x% or by 5 in JUST 3 weeks! Perhaps a short term transformation article that you blast out as a press release. That way your quest for your final handicap doesn’t overtake your ongoing blog.

fas

That is only if you are offering such a product or service.

Russ

that sounds like great advice – if no traffic is the current trend, then you must change something otherwise you will continue to get poor traffic. Build content and value – please your userbase

wilson

Nice article. And a really nice transformation story.

Tyler

My wife and I are in month two of traveling and working around the world indefinitely.

After a month in Panama and our current two month swing in Mexico, we’re off to Europe for six months, where we’ll stay in London, Scotland, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, south of France, south of Spain and Portugal.

Taking the leap to become Digital Nomads felt BIG; actually living and working on the road feels completely natural. Our travel blog (built on Thesis, of course) is here: http://owlandbear.org/

PS – I’m loving the Custom Sidebars plugin, which really allows me to organize the content on the site in some interesting ways.

Howard Decker

Funny this post should come out today – we just published the story of a disabled US veteran’s amazing tranformation! Check out underscoopfire.com for more.

Erica

Hi Derek,

It’s so interesting that I should read this now.

I have literally done what you have suggested and turned myself into a transformational story in the hopes that I might start a movement of women who say no to dieting.

I have been overweight and suffered miserably because of it most of my life. And today I am finally fit, healthy and feeling so happy in my own skin … it’s incredible. I can’t believe how it feels. And I did it all without dieting.

I have a dream … (sounds corny to say that I know) … but I have a dream where one day we will all be empowered to get in the best shape of our lives by not following traditional diets and sometimes dubious diets to do it.

I started a blog back in January and wrote every day about what I was experiencing … trying to find out and pin point exactly why I had failed at every diet I had ever tried.

I nailed some things, and I reveal them all in my blog.

It is my deepest desire that my journey to hell and back may inspire just one person to do the same …

I’ll let you know if it works ..

Thank you for sharing this post.

Sincerely,
Erica Jean

Nomadic Traveller

Love this article…it gave me ideas on what to write on my travel blog.

Can you consider my blog going from $2 – $3 income monthly income to more than $40 and rising this April 2012 already a transformation? Actually I have noted that my Google Pagerank have been updated too from 0 to pagerank 2.

I hope the transformation I am experiencing would continue and climb higher so as to become more exciting. :)

P.S. I am a Thesis user too!

Christina

Hi, Derek.

I absolutely love this post. Thank you for giving a very spesific and documentary correct answer to the question “How to get more traffic to your blog”.

Personally I often tend to read Before-and-after-posts, makeover-posts, and personal How-I-achieved-this-type of posts. I find them inspirational and motivational. I think that’s similar to what many other people think of these types of stories as well.

Greetings from Norway :)
-Christina

TJSerbick

Great article! I am currently thinking about a transformation story. I’m not sure it will work for me but the thought is there and that is the purpose. The key would be the contrast. The distance between the before and after.