Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog in Less Than a Year

Having promised an appropriate celebration of passing the 1-million-visitors Site Meter threshold Friday, I will do so by sharing the secret of my success. It's the Underpants Gnome Theory of Blogging:
  • Phase 1: Get a Blogspot account.
  • Phase 2: ?
  • Phase 3: One million visitors!
Obviously, the key here is Phase 2, which has been exceptionally disorganized. Some guys work smart. Some guys work hard. Some guys are just incredibly lucky.

The perceptive blog consumer will notice that posts here don't have all those little thingies (Digg, etc.) the way some other blogs do. This is not because I disdain such methods of traffic enhancement, but because I'm such a primitive Unfrozen Caveman Blogger I can't figure that stuff out. It's the same reason I'm still on a Blogspot platform, rather than switching to a custom-designed Wordpress format. Blogspot is so simple that even I can figure it out, and if they'd just offer a few more templates -- hey, guys, how about a template with variable-width sidebars on both sides? -- I might be able to fake that custom-designed elegance, too. I understand basic HTML, but Javascript no can do, and I'm too cheap to shell out the bucks for geek services.

Lacking advanced, sophisticated technological gee-whizzery, I have been forced to employ astonishingly crude Web 0.1 methods of traffic-enhancement, namely:
  • Write stuff people might want to read; and
  • Compulsively e-mail my posts to bloggers who might possibly consider linking me.
Astonishingly crude, but also surprisingly effective. And so we come to Rule 1, the Prime Directive so to speak:
  • 1. Shameless Blogwhoring.
I'm amazed that Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Ace of Spades and the Hot Air crew haven't declared a fatwa against me for the way I relentlessly fill their inboxes with blogwhoring e-mails like Arnold Horshack trying to get Mr. Kotter's attention: "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!"

However, the smart newcomer to the 'sphere doesn't just suck up to big-traffic bloggers who can throw him major traffic (although he does that with a single-minded fanaticism), he also sucks up sideways and downward, to bloggers who might not be able to throw 10,000 hits a day, but who are nonetheless valued contributors to the blogging community.

Little Miss Attila is my favorite example of the "valued contributors" category. Her best recent month was 24K visits in October, but she's been around the 'sphere a long time, is much beloved, and it is bad kharma not to link her. Every so often, while on the hunt for good stuff to blog about, I'll go over to LMA, find something good she's blogging about and link it. Why? Because, among various non-kharmic reasons, she has done the same for me, which brings me to Rule 2:
  • 2. The Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around
Maybe you're not a fan of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, and I'm not saying you should be. But the psychotic drill sergeant gives a notorious rant in which he colorfully expresses an important life principle: When someone does you a favor, find an opportunity to return the kindness.

Reciprocal linkage is the essential lubricant that makes the blogosphere purr with contentment. If somebody's throwing you traffic, you should either (a) give them a link-back update, or at a minimum (b) keep them in mind for future linkage. Because you don't want to end up on the wrong end of a kharmic unbalance in the 'sphere, where you're always taking and never giving.

Every beginning blogger confronts the Zero Hour. You've been blogging steadily for a week or two, sending around e-mails, trackbacking where you can, trying to develop some kind of regular traffic. And then, late one night, you think you might have finally composed your first Instalanche-worthy post and you e-mail it to Glenn Reynolds. You go to bed like a 7-year-old kid on Christmas Eve, then wake up at 4 a.m. and check your Site Meter to discover that your latest hourly traffic is . . . ZERO.

At which point, you want to swallow a handful of sedatives, wash it down with a quart of bleach, slit your wrists and stick your head in the oven. You are a complete and utter failure.

I've never forgotten the Zero Hour, and if I've become slightly less conscientious about reciprocal linkage since then, God forgive me, but I do try. In the midst of a traffic upswing, not all linkage is noticeable on Site Meter, so I check Technorati, which shows linkage regardless of traffic level. And thank you Dad29, thank you Joe Kristan, thank you, Andrea Shea King, thank you Jimmie Bise, thank you William Teach. Damn my lazy thoughtlessness, but please don't doubt my gratitude.

Now that we've scratched the surface of technique, let's address the tricky little subject of content with Rule 3:
  • 3. Memeorandum
Did somebody say "lazy thoughtlessness"? The easiest place to find blog fodder is Memeorandum, which has an algorithmic formula that automatically updates to tell you what the hot topics are in the 'sphere.

I especially like their "Featured Posts," sort of a random grab-bag of stuff that will occasionally feature some lefty shooting off his mouth in pure idiotic moonbat mode. Grab that sucker by the neck and give him the Mother Of All Fiskings, with enough vitriolic ad hominem to make sure he never forgets it. Because buddy, the lefties will turn right around and do it to you if you ever rate "Featured Post" status, and there's nothing like a vicious flame war to earn your spurs in the 'sphere. Which brings me to Rule 4:
  • 4. Make Some Enemies
We'll have none of your "bipartian civility" around here, you sissy weaklings. This here is the Intertoobs, and we're As Nasty As We Wanna Be. The fact that The Moderate Voice has turned into a reliable vessel for DNC talking points should tell you all you need to know about the fate of bipartisanship in the blogosphere.

At the same time, however, don't confuse cyber-venom with real-world hate. Maybe Ace of Spades really would like to go upside Andrew Sullivan's head with a baseball bat, I don't know. But at some point you understand it's just blogging about politics, and you start wondering if maybe it shares a certain spectator-friendly quality with pro wrestling. For all we know, Ace is spending weekends at Sully's beach shack in Provincetown. (Next on Blogging Heads TV: Can "Bears" and Ewoks Be "Just Friends"?)

Some readers might remember when I first kicked Conor Friedersdorf in the knee for "insufficient cynicism." Conor is, in real life, a nice guy. But he's also (a) young, and (b) as earnest as John Boy Walton. So I got into a habit, when he was at Culture11, of kicking him in the knee with some regularity. It's the Fraternity Initiation Principle: Pledges must be abused by their elders, and learn to be properly respectful, or else one day the ambitious little monsters will strangle us in our sleep. (Cf., my suggestion that George Freaking Will should be air-dropped on Jalalabad from a C-130.)

A couple days ago, hunting around for a reason to link my friend Russ Smith's SpliceToday, I happened upon a column by Russ's young minion, Andrew Sargus Klein, offering a particularly insipid argument for federal arts funding. Now, having been born and raised a Democrat, and arguably having never outgrown my obnoxious youthful arrogance, I can actually relate to Klein's insipid argument. Stupid is as stupid does, and when I was 25, I might well have written something equally stupid. But the boy will never outgrow his stupidity unless he gets whomped on the head some.

Easy as it would have been to ignore Klein, I hit upon the delightfully fun idea of laying into him in Arkansas knife-fight mode: If you're going to cut a man, eviscerate him. So I quickly composed a hyperbolic ad hominem rant, with the thoughtfully civil title, "Andrew Sargus Klein is an arrogant elitist douchebag." I forward-dated the post for Friday morning, and sent Russ an e-mail to the effect of, "Hey, hope you don't mind me abusing your office help a little bit. Nothing like a flame-war to build traffic. Don't let on to Klein that I'm just funnin' around with him."

I'd hoped to bait Klein himself into a response. However, before that could happen -- as if intent on illustrating how to make a fool out of yourself by taking this stuff too seriously -- one of Klein's friends offered up a comment:
Andrew Klein may be arrogant and elitist but he could craft logical arguments around your bumbling hypocrisy all day and night.
Of course I never bother "craft[ing] logical arguments," sweetheart. It's a freaking blog. If you want logic, subscribe to a magazine or buy a book. Pardon my double-entendre, Lola Wakefield, but people come here for the cheesecake. Logical arguments are a dime a dozen on the Internet, but sexy hotness . . . well, that reminds me of Rule 5:
  • 5. Christina Hendricks
Or Anne Hathaway or Natalie Portman or Sarah Palin bikini pics. Rule 5 actually combines four separate principles of blogospheric success:
  • A. Everybody loves a pretty girl -- It's not just guys who enjoy staring at pictures of hotties. If you've ever picked up Cosmo or Glamour, you realize that chicks enjoy looking at pretty girls, too. (NTTAWWT.) Maybe it's the vicious catty she-thinks-she's-all-that factor, or the schadenfreude of watching a human trainwreck like Britney Spears, but no one can argue that celebrity babes generate traffic. Over at Conservative Grapevine, the most popular links are always the bikini pictures. And try as I might to make "logical arguments" for tax cuts, wouldn't you rather watch Michelle Lee Muccio make those arguments?
  • B. Mind the MEGO factor -- All politics all the time gets boring after a while. Observant readers will notice that the headlines at Hot Air often feature silly celebrity tabloid stuff and News Of The Weird. Even a stone political junkie cannot subsist on a 24/7 diet of politics. The occasional joke, the occasional hot babe, the occasional joke about a hot babe -- it's a safety valve to make sure we don't become humorless right-wing clones of those Democratic Underground moonbats.
  • C. Sex sells -- Back when I was blogging to promote Donkey Cons (BUY TWO!), I accidentally discovered something via SiteMeter: Because the subtitle of the book is "Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party," we were getting traffic from people Googling "donkey+sex." You'd be surprised at the keyword combinations that bring traffic to a political blogger who understands this. Human nature being what it is, the lowest common denominator is always there, even if it's sublimated or reverse-projected as puritanical indignation, which brings us to . . .
  • D. Feminism sucks -- You can never go wrong in the blogosphere by having a laugh at the expense of feminists. All sane people hate feminism, and no one hates feminism more than smart, successful, independent women who've made it on their own without all that idiotic "Sisterhood Is Powerful" groupthink crap. And if you are one of those fanatical weirdos who takes that Women's Studies stuff so seriously that you're offended by Stephen Green's sexist objectification of Christina Hendricks and her mighty bosom -- well, sweetheart, to paraphrase Rhett Butler: "You should be offended, and often, and by someone who knows how."
So, there you have it: Five Rules For Getting a Million Hits On Your Blog. There are probably another two dozen rules, but I'm too lazy to think of what they are right now. And to be honest, if it weren't for that old picture of me in a Speedo, I'd probably still be 20,000 hits shy of the million mark. Some of us are just . . . blessed with exceptional modesty. And some guys get the steak knives.

UPDATE: Probably special mention should be made of Kathy "Five Feet of Fury" Shaidle, who never heard of a fair fight. She's one of those people you don't want angry at you. A ninja blackbelt in Rule 4, when she goes at an antagonist, it's a knee in your groin and an elbow in your eye. However, she also keeps the customers satisfied with some naughty pinup hotness. (Rule 5!) That rare creature: A Canadian we like.

UPDATE II: Linked at Conservative Grapevine.


  1. I have no idea what you just said, but the "million hits" headline drew me in, almost as quickly as your pictures of pretty girls.

  2. The pleasure is all mine.


  3. Without wearing too much brown lipstick about it, your blogging has a conversational effortlessness about it.
    You manage to stack "49% goof-off" atop "51% serious" in a consistent way.
    That, and the Google Reader making it very easy to subscribe to a whole bunch of crap has you easily in my top 10% favorites.
    And I will paster you at CPAC for an autograph on the book, just so you're not caught off guard.

  4. "Conversational effortlessness" -- Smitty, you've got no idea how hard I work at faking the "effortlessness" of it all. That scene in "Animal House" with Otter and Boone golfing: "Don't think of it as work." ("Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damned glad to meet ya!")

    Anyway, thanks for everything and remember: The key to success is sincerity; once you learn to fake that, the rest is easy.

  5. I doubt that Ace would want to take a bat to excitable andi's head in real life..

    for the most part, that AIDS infected blood would splatter..

  6. Congrats. 1 million ain't too shabby.

  7. I am going to link this post to my site in the hope that I will get some of that sweet wraparoundishness sent back my way.

    If you don't, we'll duel.

  8. Wow, a well read blogger offering some strategic insight to us proud bottom feeders. Great advice and very much appreciated. Thank you.

  9. A mil! Wow! I celebrated the day I hit 50. *sigh*.

    Am linking now....

  10. Hell, I'm popping champagne when I hit a thousand.. any month now..

  11. Robert, a tad bit too Gonzo, and hard to follow.

    But anyway, good read overall.

    Here's my thoughts:

    You need to have a reputation in politics first to succeed in political blogging. The success I've had with Libertarian Republican - now in the 800 to 1,000 uniques a day set - is mostly due to my 6 years as Ron Paul's Senior Aide, and my founding of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and my over 25 years of hardcore activism with the Libertarian Party. Everyone in the libertarian movement knows me, loves me or hates me.

    I don't think you can be some obscure computer dweeb who never picked up a stack of pamphlets and walked precincts for a candidate, or wouldn't know a petitioning clipboard if it smacked you upside the backside, and jump into success with political blogging.

    May not be everything, but a political reputation, good or bad, ahead of time, helps enormously.

  12. You forgot Rule #6: Write a post about how to increase traffic. Who can possibly resist such a post, even if just to skim it?

    You come highly recommended from American Power Blog, so I will probably blogroll you...Come on, karma.

  13. Awesome! Simply awesome! Oh, and right on...too! - TheScroogeReport

  14. number one (#5) is Nude in Mexico City

    ...a Spencer Tunick special!

  15. Like a good student, I have applied myself!

    Eva Longoria Parker Helps Test Rule No. 5


  16. This was fantastic and gave me a lot of good ideas. Thank you for writing this! Your blog has now turned into a daily addiction that I check often throughout the day.

  17. @Angel:
    The cool kids are using Google Reader or other RSS unit.
    You get all of your favorites sent to you, can organize them, blow them away in bulk if you get behind (though not this blog, obviously), forward posts to others, etc.
    Then again, as with cigarettes, if you're not already hooked, maybe you don't want to start...

  18. Great!
    Now I have to post pictures of babes in bikinis on my blog.

    I have to admit that my students would probably love it.
    The administration on the other hand ... not so much.

  19. Sex sells? I wish that were true. I've been trying to sell a book about sex - without too much luck, albeit also without too much effort.

    Maybe, oh gentle, cynical spirit, you can help? The book is "Naked in Haiti - A Sexy Morality Tale About Tourists, Prostitutes & Politicians."

    You can get there through

  20. You forgot one, which is something that AllahPundit is doing over at HotAir:

    6) Make a thread about Sarah Palin.

  21. Excellent work on cracking a million. My blog is crashing headlong towards 200.

    Anyway, I thought since you are so successful, it might be a good idea to post a link to myself here ; ) Hope you don't mind.

    Actually some equally unsuccessful bloggers have opened up what we hope will be a crappy shirt site that will also crash headlong toward 200 visits in its first year.

    My favorite ones are the Domestic Right-Wing Extremist shirtsAnyway, thanks for linking to me ; )

    And keep up the great blogging!

    I don't know. Maybe I should start running spell check or something.

  22. What a great post, and what a great website find. Your whimsical writing style capable of bringing the big stick when it needs to is fantastic. I've guessed at some of your blog rules, but seeing them enumerated like this is actually quite helpful. I'll put them to good use in shamelessly plugging my own humble site, Wellsy's World. Congrats again on the million hits, and keep up the good work.

  23. Thank you for this post! Keep up the great work!!

  24. Aha!
    So THAT'S how it's done.
    Well, then you get to be my first blog trick (hah), because I'm linking you to the blog run by my best friend and I:
    We're updating more regularly now that there's so much to be pissed off about. Still in its infancy, but what the frak, you know?

  25. Hey McCain: Great stuff, you witty and naughty devil. Great advice.

    My next post will be titled: "Obama super sized stimulus includes free money, sex, beer, drugs and a full bikini wax!"

    All the best kid. Colonel Robert Neville blogspot com. Melbourne Australia.

  26. The name of your blog also helps. It's not who you know, it's who you might be. Or something like that.

    I didn't know you were supposed to e-mail posts to the Biggies. That seems kind of pushy.

    Very interesting stuff. I may break a million if I live to be several hundred years old.

  27. Another great tip to get one million hits to your blog is here.

  28. Thanks for the education. I only started this past April and have become consumed with trying to learn how to do this stuff well. Er, what I really mean is not to look like the amateur I am. I'm having great fun anyway, just learning.

    Your Koestler quote will be my guide.

    Thanks for sharing.

  29. Great Post!!

    I found myself laughing out loud.

    In the spirit of the post, here is a link to my modest little blog.

    Mr. H

  30. Congrats on your first million, I having a hard time trying to get hits on my blog where I write original stuff, I'll keep searching

  31. Being a grandma some of this is way over my head, but I'm willing to learn. I did catch the bikini part and do have a pic of me partially in one from days gone by and if that will work I can post it on American Freedom. I am going to see if I can find the one of The Other McCain in the speedo salivating over the thought.

  32. I love that. Make some enemies. I can't tell you how many hits that has provided me. I love it when I get their attention.

  33. Taking the master's advice I started another blog Hair on Fire all about senior sex, humor, jokes and some serious stuff. Didn't want to mix the sex stuff with politics.

  34. Alrighty...I'll compulsively link to you and give you 12 extra hits a week if you compulsively link to me.

    Oh...and Bungalow Bill is right...Enemies friggin' rule...

  35. I was referred here by Red. (Rule #2) She thought I would enjoy this blog. She was kinda right. I don't just enjoy it, I freakin' love it. I like your style and your sense of humour. I always like reading someone's mind in the written word. I'll be back for more!!

  36. Mr. McCain, you are on my Blog List. If anyone ever hits my blog, they are bound to come 'round here as well.

    P.S. I've made a lot of enemies over the years without even trying. I suspect that I have a bright future as a blogger.

  37. Making enemies is my game!

    Check out my blog...

  38. OK, here's my shameless Rule 1 link to you with my application of a Rule 5 posting here:

    I'm doing my best to work on Rule 4 too. Oh, I put you in my blogroll too for a bit more whoring credit

  39. Thanks for making us the blog of the day!

  40. One of my 12 followers sent me a link to your post. I think he is trying to tell me something. I thought everyone wanted to read about grumpy farmers and I would be an instant blog hit. It is good to have a goal...

  41. Some very nice points here. I especially liked the everybody hates feminists part :-)