How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself

The above video is one of my favorite presentations I’ve given in 2009, an opening keynote at the last San Francisco WordCamp, titled “How to Blog without Killing Yourself”. More than 700 people from 32 countries were in attendance, which made for a wonderful experience.

The original title was “Scalable Blogging Behaviors: How to Grow from 1 to 1,000,000 Readers” and the content did not change.

In the above presentation, including detailed screenshots, I cover…

  • Why I blog
  • How I blog and select best practices
  • Frequency and tools — best times and days to post
  • Blogging myths and how to harness data for better results
  • Testing design and surprising findings that can be copied
  • How I address comments and community building
  • How I write and research for good social media response
  • 20 minutes of audience Q&A on Twitter, branding, outsourcing, and much more

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed giving it.

Related and Suggested Posts:

The Top-7 Timothy Ferriss YouTube Videos (4 million views and counting)

Timothy Ferriss Experimental Short-Form Blog

Timothy Ferriss in Inc. Magazine – The Secrets of Super-Productive CEOs

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 800 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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494 Replies to “How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself”

  1. Hey Tim–Great video, loaded with useful ideas–and I’m planning to use all of them 😉

    You display incredible humility for a man who’s accomplished so much so early in life.

  2. I thought your presentation was awesome and inspiring and I would like to ask you if you could write all the things you said in a post in your blog..

    You rock, man! hehe..

    =1

  3. Tim, many thanks for posting this. It has some of the most practical information I’ve heard over the years.

  4. Thanks so much for the fantastic video/post. First video where I paused it early on and immediately opened my blog admin to start making changes. Will have to watch it again for all the changes. I think it’s digg, but it would be super if you could plop a few links of names or things mentioned in longer post under the video in the written post. Would also be super great if you could list the plugins you use on WP, you mentioned during the video that they were maybe listed somewhere on the site … didn’t find them. Searching through, testing and deciding on WP plugins is extremely time consuming and not fun!

    Thanks again for all that you do and more importantly all that you share. It’s priceless and very much appreciated to get valuable, trustworthy & quality info web or otherwise.

  5. Outstanding.

    I have seen many blog orientated videos.

    By far the best.

    Appreciate all that you do.

    Thank you

  6. Tim, thanks for the great video and commentary – it’s refreshing input to take and try to apply to the decidedly “not fun” environments necessary in some corporate and government environments – yet where a reasonable degree of levity and more personable dialogue is only more helpful.

  7. Hello Tim,

    I’m a “lazy” creative writing student who made a blog to spur me into content generation. How convenient that I just start a blog and you post this video! 🙂 I found it Google searching for how to make a successful blog, and I appreciate your comments and advice since I am looking for high quality viewers and not for income. Your opinions on site design and other experimentation are very appreciated. Thank you very much.

    My best,

    Greg

  8. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for posting this – I watched with a pen and notepad!

    I signed up for CrazyEgg.com on your recommendation and have to say I’m very impressed with the results. It really is a valuable tool for the price.

    I did have one question for you – do you find that your traffic stats on CrazyEgg don’t match the stats that your other trackers list? I’ve noticed that my CrazyEgg traffic stats are well below my wordpress and AwStats reporting programs.

    Oh, and I just wanted to thank you for your book – reading it last year gave me the courage to quit a job I hated and make a life a love. Thanks so much!

    – Nacie Carson

  9. Hey Tim,

    I just discovered your blog through ProBlogger. I really enjoyed the lecture, and got some new pointers which I’ll most definitely use.

    Cheers,

    Idan

  10. Tim,

    I’m a young blogger who just started his own site about a month ago and have been on a personal learning spree, this is by far one of the most useful videos I’ve seen yet. I read 4 Hour Work Week over Christmas and am excited to read your new book on fitness when it’s released! Keep those Random episodes with Kevin Rose coming, they are great.

    All the best,

    Danny

  11. Hey Tim,

    Great tips!

    Your speaking was good too. It can be improved though.

    You kept apologizing and knocking yourself about your speaking.

    I didn’t notice your mistakes until you pointed them out.

    Also, it distracted me from your content. Stop it!

    That is all. Thanks again for the juicy material.

  12. Cool presentation, thanks for sharing!

    You asked why people do anything. I think we do everything to find out who we are.

  13. Hey Tim!

    Thanks a lot for your Weebly suggestion back some time ago. I have utilized it and have been extremely pleased for a beginner’s website.

    Time to move on: Have you done any posts or have any advice on how to find the right person to build for you an effective lead generating, engaging website/blog combo for a person (like me) who does NOT know code or want to learn?

  14. Wow, thanks for the enjoyable presentation – it was one of those rare occasions where I found myself so absorbed by the video that I nearly clapped at the end! haha

    You have triggered a lot of ideas in my head, and inspired me to go ahead and try them out.

    Thankyou!

  15. 4 Hour Workweek… interesting and good stuff.

    But what if someone writes the “3 Hour Workweek” ? … then the ball is rolling and soon no one will be working at all

  16. So I commented on this post somewhere near the top, I clicked the “Notify me of followup comments” button as well. Even though this post is more than 2 weeks old, every day or so my inbox fills up with 12 or so more comments. I’m beginning to get a taste of what it must be like to sit down at your computer, and open your inbox….it must be a horribly terrifying thing for you on days when you hope to get anything else done.

    Cheers

    -Matt

  17. Hey Tim,

    Great talk! I decided to try to apply some of the techniques you discussed. I’ve always thought the little box you have at the end of each posting linking readers to other blog posts was a great idea, so I’ve used it on my blog too. Hope you don’t mind the emulation!

    Have fun in China.

    Nat

  18. Finally was able to watch the whole video, though I sometimes need to click the ‘pause’ button so the whole thing could load before I could continue. And this video turns out to be very good information. Hmmm….small details like changing ‘Categories’ into ‘Topics’ makes a difference? I’ll definitely try that. Automating love life? That’s new.

  19. Just wanted to drop a big thanks to Tim. In the past 7 months I’ve executed over 200 behavioral experiments, started and finished writing a book that will be published by Oxford Press next year (on accelerating the pace of discovery in neuroscience), got into the best shape of my life with Thai boxing training 3 times a week, 2 camping trips to Joshua Tree, a camping trip to Catalina island, a 10 day trip to the Galapagos with the requisite time to appreciate the local evolutionary history, got my wedding planned (to be performed next month), and developed a practical philosophy website that will be launched in 1 month. All without neglecting to spend QT with the fiancee. Couldn’t have done all of that without the tips on this blog and in the book. Thanks!

  20. As a self styled “Slow Blogger” I have to admit finding it difficult to marry the slow ethos (which, btw is very much NOT about being lazy or slothful) with the current expectation and advice that bloggers should be regular and immediate to be successful. This talk was a god send to me! Not only did blow apart the current myths about what you need to do to have a successful blog, but gives excellent advice on how to build an successful blog without killing yourself trying to post every day! Great post Tim, I say lets all become Slow Bloggers, Vive LA Slow Revolution!

  21. Thanks for sharing so much of your research Tim. I have two followup questions:

    1. You don’t seem to have any duplicates in your “Most Popular” section. Is that on purpose?

    2. When you include video in a post do you find that most people watch the video and read the post?

  22. Very interesting lecture, thanks 🙂 I’m visiting your site for the first time but have heard of your book because quite a few of my successful guy friends are fans. Keep up the good work!

  23. Tim — One thing you mention that’s perplexed me is the posting day/time. In my thinking, the posting time (I’ll just use time to make the examples easier to discuss) is irrevelant because its when the reader finds post is when the blog post “exists” for that person.

    So if the best posting time is 10am because that’s when all your readers check your blog, if you post anytime after 11am, then when they read it the next day, it will still be at 10am that they first saw it. It seems to be a “if a trees falls in the forest and no one hears, does it make a sound” kind of a problem.

    I’m sure you’ve A/B tested to prove that those day/times are best for you, but I haven’t been able to determine the exact logic of why something like that would actually affect traffic. I’ve tried similar tests on my own small blog, but I think the size of the blog affects the test rather than the testing conditions (I have a niche blog of about 200/day with steady growing readership, but not enough readers to make a difference on posting times/days).

    One thought I’ve had that may affect the posting day/time (theory anyway), is that your posts have more potential virality (is that a word?), so its not the probability of someone reading the post, but of them tweeting, re-blogging or just plain telling someone about it; and the day/time that its released affects its travel pattern. In the same way that the flu travels better in the winter, but not in the summer.

    Your thoughts on this conundrum would be appreciated. And I thoroughly enjoyed the video (and my wife suggested the name of the post should have been — “How to Build a High Traffic Blog without Your Family Killing You”.) 🙂

    Thanks in advance for your answer!

  24. Great video. My physics teacher first turned me on to your site and i was immediately hooked. The way you life is amazing. I just want to give you props. Your video was extremely informative especially since I’m experimenting with blogging but I have a question about what you said in the beginning. You said that there was quicker ways to make money than blogging. I was just curious about what they were. I’m headed to college on a scholarship, might be playing baseball, but could use some extra income.

  25. Tim,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject of traffic.

    This is one area of website design and blogging that still frustrates me. Working hard to increase Page Rank and build traffic.

    Arrrr.

    Rob

  26. Just love this video! Excellent Tim. Learned a lot – in particular liked the stuff you explained about StumbleUpon.

    – Mike Michalowicz

  27. I appreciate the focus in “The 4-Hour Work Week” on setting immediate deadlines. Having always been a natural procrastinator, ie:artist type, I thrive only when I have a deadline that is broadcasted to the world. Since watching the video on blogging, Timothy has convinced me, as well as others I see, that my business would benefit from an ongoing dialogue with an audience that has the same goals.

    Instead of just writing for the blog though, I thought I would combine the dreamlining with the blogging without killing yourself idea. So here is my idea with an immediate deadline broadcasted to the world. Write a book in three days (what a fun challenge, but it will probably feel like I’m killing myself) and then use excerpts for the blog to help promote the book. Does that sound silly? I conducted online research on the process and am excited to take the plunge.

    Regarding the outsourced matchmaking mayhem, I think that Timothy should have used his obsession for testing to find the perfect girl. Here’s the scenerio: set up a special blog or website with various topics that Timothy is interested in. Add other topics that would give a clear indication, if clicked on, that the prospects should shop elsewhere. Send an invitational link to the prospects, and then analyze the data. Voila!

    Blog on.

  28. Awesome info Tim. I particularly liked the tip about grabbing pictures from Flickr. A simple yet effective way to add some style to the substance.

  29. I just want to say thank you tim for really opening my eyes on how to get more out of my life and realizing that there is a lot to life that sometimes we deny ourselves. Has anyone ever felt that you deny yourself of things you truly want with weird rules or obstacles that are created by yourself???

  30. The whole thing about community and the thrill of interacting…to me it feels like every comment is a gem, a visit, an honor…thank you for your brilliant advice and for sharing your success. Rori Raye

  31. Tim,

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! It was perfect timing for me to. We’ve just updated our site from an in-person consulting approach to an online approach to be able to help more people – of course, this was inspired in part by your book too. So, we’re in the process of implementing the suggestions on the site. Su.pr is great too. Plus, I’ve recommended your blog and book so many times on our site, I thought I should say thanks on yours.

    Thanks again & enjoy China.

    – Patrick

  32. Insightful, direct, and most importantly usable information.

    Enjoy China, I just got back myself, beautiful, diverse country. From chicken feet noodles to endless mountains- everything is new and exciting there!

    Xie xie!

  33. ¿Querés un amargo? Read that you like mate, I’m glad that you can get “yerba” where you live. Send you a big hello from Buenos Aires.

    Keep on rollin’

  34. Another screen shot suggestion.

    If using Firefox as your browser, you can use the addon/extension called fireshot. Even the free version will allow you to capture the visible portion or the entire page.

  35. Hey Tim,

    I’m found your blog through your book, which i read in Danish: “4-timers arbejdsuge.”

    I love your blog, and this video is a great inspiration for me on how to improve my own blog. Thanks alot!

    May the force be with you.. 🙂

    – Jacob

  36. Thanks, TIm! Great content. I learned more usable tips from this 50min video than I have from much more time consuming methods of research. Your blog is a personal favorite. Thanks for continuously living up to your brand standards!

  37. Hi Tim

    I am an Aussie entrepreneur wanting to market some Aussie made and owned mineral make-up/natural cosmetics in India/US. Can you please advise the smartest way to do this?

    Greatly appreciate your time

    Karen

  38. Great stuff, this will come in handy with my new blog.

    In terms of the blogging engine, how do you compare WordPress and Blogger? Clearly you’ve chosen the former, but why?

  39. Good stuff…as usual. I’ll have to watch it again when I’m not glued to MMA on HDNET Fights! Bad timing on my part.

    LK

  40. Tim! O inspiring, kind/fun and useful fellow human!

    Got ideas for Town Hall meetings?

    It occurs to me, listening to your observations on your “living room” approach to comments, that “if I wouldn’t tolerate it in my home, I won’t tolerate it on my blog” philosophy applies to the current health reform town hall “meetings”. Newscasters frame these as orchestrated by the insurance lobby. Maybe so, and I say, this is just plain rude behavior. Where does our idea of democracy excuse civility? Do you think a way could be found to establish some living room core ethical agreements between participants at the outset of each meeting, i.e. Three Principles of the 21st Century Town Hall Meeting so that we could actually have national conversations in which we learn from each other? If so, suggest on blog, the big O?

  41. Tim

    Thanks for that and to think I found your site totally by accident looking for some Jquery stuff…

    I haven’t even watched all of your video but Crazy Egg looks great, I agree with the “most popular” thing , the bounce rate on my site is crazy but I have implemented something similar last night and am hoping to see immediate results.

  42. You are awesome. Your videos are superb, you have so taken this blog up a hundred notches since I first started reading it, and every bit of advice you give works. Thanks, Sarah

  43. Hey Tim this cracked me up with this:

    “I know what you’re trying to do, even with the nofollows, please, I know..:

    I just thought to myself, I hope those suckers aren’t as savvy as you are. Dude you are real, don’t change.

    Peace man. I have the hard cover and autio book.

    Thanks for “The Magic of Thinking Big”

  44. So. I go on Problogger, as me and my wife are starting a blog that providing tips and tricks of how to not just survive, but enjoy a long distance relationship. Looking through their blog tips, I came across this video.

    Granted, I didn’t have a good impression of you to start with. Back in my less smart days, I read some negative reviews about you and your book, believed them, and never paid you any more mind from then. Then, I saw the video on Problogger, said what the hell, his advice has been sound so far, sat down and watched it.

    Easily the single best move I’ve done since starting to blog. Your advice is priceless, you are clearly intelligent, organised and focused, a thinker, and not at all like your negative reviews described you (disinformation in an article on the internet, who knew, huh)?

    So. I’ll be looking around your blog, reading your posts, and seeing if I can’t pick up any other good tips from you about blogging and lifestyle adjustment. In the meantime, keep doing what you do, you’re doing great at it.

    More as it develops

    NFG.

    1. Thank you for the comment and kind words, NFG! I had to learn early on in blogging: you’re never as good as they say you are, but you’re never as bad as they say you are 🙂

      Glad to have you in the community here,

      Tim

  45. “you’re never as good as they say you are, but you’re never as bad as they say you are”–Randy White, another gentleman who was as humble as he was outstanding.

  46. You changed my entire business life! In 8 months I went from being an agent in a financial planning firm to owning one with 160 agents. I followed your book exactly…and to think many said it wouldn’t work 😉 It has worked like a charm. Now starting heavy into Adwords as per your recommendation. Thanks!

    -Joe Adkins

    1. Wow! Congratulations, Joe! That’s an incredible accomplishment. Hope to cross paths some day…

      All the best,

      Tim

  47. As a little side note… StumbleUpon is EVIL!! It will suck you in and hold you captive for ages.

    Definitely set a timer if you plan to use this site, especially if you are the type to get lost in whatever it is you’re looking at, and follow links all across the web, like I do. (Hey, how do you think I found this site? Which led me to StumbleUpon, I might add!)

    If nothing else, this site has at least made me conscious of when I’m wasting time, even if I can’t always stop! 😉

  48. I was very surprised of how many things that I don’t use that you covered in your video. Some nice simple little things that make an impact and have gained me more targeted traffic to my SEO Blog.

    It goes to show you, that a person can learn new things even with many years of optimization experience. It was great learning from your video and looking forward to learning more about what makes your blog work!

  49. Is the effect the same if I use a dropdown menu for my categories and rename it, Topics? Of course, I would need to change the “select category” to “select topic”. Just wondering if the dropdown menu would get the same response?

    Steven

  50. Great post Tim. Really useful and something that I will come back to so I can watch your presentation over and over again to make for better blogging.

    Cheers

    Matt

  51. Great post Tim – lots of awesome information for me to incorporate into my own blogs. I’d also be interested in how you use Social Media to promote your blog. If you ever decide to outline your strategies on that, I’d be grateful.

    All the best and keep the great content coming,

    Cheers, Niro

  52. I absolutely loved this video. I took three pages of notes and watched/listened to it three times . . . so far.

    Right now my challenge is to get traffic TO my web site and PARTICIPATE, and not so much manage the masses. I will get there.

    I’ve read a couple of great articles on how to spark the flow to my web site. I would love to hear your story, so if I can’t find it in your archives, I will be ringing back in.

    Thanks again. Namaste

  53. Thank you. I said I’d give this guy 3 minutes and then stop watching the video… then I watched the whole thing while taking notes. It is very generous of you to share these tips, which I will implement tomorrow.

  54. Hi Tim,

    dieser Blog Post ist echt sehr gut. Er hat mich auf viele neue Ideen gebracht meinen Blog zu optimieren.

    Mach weiter so…dein Lifestyle ist einfach super und inspirierend für alle 🙂

    Ich hoffe dein Deutsch ist schon so gut, dass du dieses Kommentar verstehst.

    Viele Grüße aus der Nähe von Berlin

    Thomas

    P.S.: Wenn du das nächste Mal in Deutschland bist, lade ich dich herzlich in meine Heimatstadt in der Nähe von Berlin ein 🙂 Wünderschöne Landschaft und nette Leute…

  55. Tim – although we have not met I consider you a mentor of mine and I appreciate everything you have done and are doing for this world. Awareness and consciousness is what this world needs. My new blog/site will greatly benefit from your wisdom – to positive change and an even better tomorrow.

  56. Great video, I like how you broke everything down in a way that I can relate to. Sometimes books and articles can get too technical making me feel lost. However, your video was real practical and easy to understand.

  57. this post intrigued me but unfortunately the video doesn’t seem to be working. I checked on other sites as well and haven’t been able to get it to play. Anyone else having this issue?

  58. Tim,

    Thanks for the great post. 4HWW helped me refocus my life back to passive income which I sort of lost as I rode the real estate wave. I look forward to the new book.

  59. Tim – Thanks for the post. Timely for me as I’m starting a blog to supplement my e-commerce businesses. Could you talk a little more about Stumbleupon advertising? I did a quick test and spent $50 to send traffic to a recent post. While the users rated the post up to 5-stars, it hasn’t gone viral or generated any additional Stumbleupon traffic other than the paid traffic.

    I find a $50 CPM to be quite expensive. Also, any other paid services you might recommend?

    All the best,

    P.S. Loved your book. Bought several copies for my friends. It helped me quit my hated investment banking job to start a profitable e-commerce business.

  60. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the fantastic video. I appreciate the instruction on testing blog page design aspects. I can’t wait to implement your clear ideas.

    Cheers!

    Sherry

  61. We are working on a new company blog at moment and your the man when it comes to what we need to do to get it right. Thank you in so many ways!

  62. My favorite moment….”The Cleanex Of Love Life Automation”…I don’t know Tim that could be your next book. Something you touched on in your talk was the indirect value you get from creating your blog. You have found the right balance of having fun, being your authentic self in your voice, and adding value. People sense when you’re having fun and will pay attention even as you “break the rules”. Your name or brand tends to become a verb when you are expressing yourself and your clearly defined values while connected to your passion. The moment you do that people want to carbon copy your success. Thanks for your candidness about sharing what you know and what you don’t know. Witnessing that is inspiring. And when people connect to you, it is amazing the power of your influence. I wonder how many media temple sales were made just based on your suggestion. I know I looked at your blog and decided to give them a try even before I saw this video. Cheers Tim. I hope your travels are going well. Peace and Light, Shawn “Mr. Symphonics LIve” Randall

  63. An excellent and instructive video presentation. You really think out of the box. I enjoyed the video very much.

    Thank you,

    Nieves Segura

  64. is there any other way to view this video ? i prefer to view this on my ipod touch when i on the go …. , thanks

  65. Very incisive as always Tim, your tips are really straightforward and make so much sense. I’ll be following them to the letter

  66. Tim. Great video. So much great information in there that I enjoyed watching it for the information but also enjoyed it. I love your philosophies and the notion of you actually enjoying your blogging and doing it for fun. It is great that it doesn’t give a feeling of controlling your life. Great stuff and I will be back looking at more. Keep the content coming. Thanks again.

    ~ Joel

  67. Tim! I enjoyed this vid. I’m glad I bought your book at San Antonio airport. I was so elated to find you are a language nut like me. I was gov trained in two and have hobby learned a bunch more. I translate Korean at home. Actually translating from home is how I make a living. I know of your prowess but I have ideas that flatten out the learning curve. I can put together something or we could chat. Okay; I’m gushing.

    Take care.

    Tom

  68. Hi Tim,

    Thanks so much for the post!Enlightening as always. I think everything your teaching is so great, especially for this new generation of entrepreneurs and dream realizers. I’m just entering into the blogging world, and want to thank you for helping me and so many others avoid a bunch of unnecessary heart ache.

    By the way, is it cool for us to put our website address in the website field when commenting?

    Also, I hope its okay if I use your disclaimer for the blog I’m creating. (giving credit to the source of course) email me a let me know if it’s not cool.

    Much Love & Gratitude,

    Katie

  69. Hi Tim,

    I have another question on the popularity box on top of your page.

    What are the factors that determine a popular article in this box? Is it the number of views? Or comments?