Have you noticed a trend of people creating more detailed guides? You know, ones similar to my guides on SEO, growth hacking, content marketing, or landing page optimization that I have released on Quick Sprout?
What you may not know is that although I was the one to make the creation of detailed guides popular, I wasn’t the first one to come up with the concept. I actually borrowed the idea from Moz, who released the beginner’s guide to SEO a few years ago.
When they released an article talking about the fact that the guide has received over a million visitors to-date, I decided to take that model and streamline it by producing a new guide each month.
So far, I’ve created 10 guides:
- Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing
- Advanced Guide to SEO
- Advanced Guide to Content Marketing
- Advanced Guide to Link Building
- Definitive Guide to Copywriting
- Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking
- Definitive Guide to Landing Page Optimization
- The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience
- Double Your Traffic in 30 Days
- Double Your Conversions in 30 Days
When I first started out, some of the guides only received 68,319 visitors, while others received 128,582 visitors, but I quickly learned what to do and what not to do. Since then, all of my guides have been getting at least 361,494 visitors.
If you want to create guides that generate hundreds of thousand of visitors, here is what you have to do:
Only write on advanced topics
I noticed that every time I released a guide on a topic that has already been beaten to death or one that is basic, I barely got any visitors. For example, the guide to online marketing for beginners only received 68,319 visitors.
On the flip side, my guide on growth hacking has already received over 414,209 visitors.
Every time I release a guide on an advanced topic, I receive at least a few hundred thousand visitors.
The same trend exists with my blog. Every time I write on an advanced topic and give detailed steps, my traffic goes through the roof. And basic blog posts tend to flop.
If you are going to invest the time and energy into writing a detailed guide, make sure you pick advanced topics that are continually growing in popularity. You can check this by using Google Trends.
All you have to do is enter in a keyword or phrase of the topic you are trying to write about such as “growth hacking.”
As long as the graph is going up and to the right at a rapid pace, like the graph above, there is a good chance that if you write on that topic, you’ll get a good amount of traffic.
Once you have your advanced topic, you are now ready to find a writer.
How to find reputable writers
If you are a natural born writer and you have the time to create a detailed guide, that’s great! If you don’t, then you’ll want to search for a writer.
A great place to start finding them is by browsing other blogs in your space. Look for popular writers who get a ton of social shares per post as well as comments. Also look for writers who write in a casual tone as you don’t want a writer who writes as if he or she is drafting an essay.
If that doesn’t work, post a job listing on Craigslist, and you should find affordable writers who are good.
Once you find a few, you’ll want to interview them before hiring. The easiest way to interview them is to look at their past work and have them create a table of contents for your guide.
This will help you determine how knowledgeable they are about the subject matter you chose and how thorough they are with their research.
Once you find a writer, you should negotiate pay. You would want to pay them upon completion. Try not to pay them more than $10,000 for a 40,000-word guide. Ideally, you should be paying them around $4,000 to $5,000 for a guide.
Longer isn’t always better
I’ve written guides that were anywhere from 20,000 to 45,000 words long. The one thing I’ve learned is that guides that are 20,000 to 30,000 words long tend to do as well as the ones that are 45,000 words long from a traffic perspective.
So, from a cost perspective, you are probably better off paying for a 20,000-word guide than for a 45,000-word guide.
I’ve also learned through testing that the optimal number of chapters per guide is roughly 7. Having 10 or even 14 chapters won’t drive you much more, if any, traffic. And making your guide into one or several long pages, instead of 7 chapters, will typically drive you less search engine traffic in the long run.
For example, the guide on doubling your traffic in 30 days and the one on doubling your conversions in 30 days get on average 313% less search engine traffic than the other guides due to the fact that they were formatted as one long page instead of being broken down into multiple chapters.
Lastly, from a design perspective, the more chapters you add, the higher your price quotes will be for illustration work. Which is why I recommend you limit your guide to 7 chapters and an introduction page.
Don’t forget to include experts
One of the biggest traffic drivers to these guides is Twitter. I quickly learned from a few of my guides that the easiest way to get more Twitter traffic is to include expert interviews.
Including industry experts throughout your guide will give you the reason to email them upon releasing it, and they will be much more open to tweeting and promoting it. You’ll also find that other people within your industry will be more open to promoting it because the guide will be considered reputable due to the fact that industry people are talking about it.
My guides that have expert round-ups received at least 3 times more Twitter traffic than the ones that don’t.
If you are going to invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into a guide, you would be foolish not to include expert opinions within it.
Pay top dollar for design
The one thing I learned from others is that you can’t take design for granted. Even before Moz, hundreds, if not thousands, of other websites released detailed guides, but Moz was the first to make a detailed guide look pretty. They spent over $20,000 on design just on the beginner’s guide to SEO.
By studying the competition, I quickly saw that the guides that looked pretty tended to get a lot more social shares. This is why I spend so much on design at Quick Sprout.
On sites like Dribbble, you can sift through illustrators and find people who can make your guides look beautiful. On average, you are going to spend $10,000 to $20,000 per guide for an exceptionally good designer, and around $2,500 to $5,000 for a decent designer.
File types matter
Once your guide is done, you will have to find someone to code it. You’ll want to create an HTML version that you can place online. This way people can link to it and share it, and your search traffic should increase.
In addition to that, I highly recommend that you create a PDF version that is compatible with mobile devices and tablets. I didn’t do this with my first two guides, and I literally got over 300 emails from people asking to either make the guide compatible with their mobile devices or requesting a PDF version.
To make things simple, I use Uberflip as it is an affordable piece of software that ensures that your PDFs will work on mobile and tablet devices such as Kindle or iPad.
Don’t forget to promote
Before you release your guide, you’ll want to spend a few days hitting up people within your industry, letting them know about it. This is important because you can get them to promote the guide via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Although it sounds simple, it works well. I just shoot off emails to people within my industry and say:
Hey [insert your contact’s first name],
Hope things are going well for you and [insert your contact’s business name]. I know you are busy, so I’ll keep this email short.
I just wanted to let you know that I am releasing a free guide for our industry, and it is going to teach everyone about [insert the topic of the guide]. I’m doing this because I feel the industry could use more education, and I love helping people.
I would greatly appreciate it if you can tweet it out or share it. You can find the guide here: [insert URL]
[insert your name]
A lot of people will ignore your email. But typically 5% to 10% of the people you email will promote your guide. This will cause a ripple effect as more people will see it and then promote it as well.
If you follow the steps above, you’ll start attracting thousands of more visitors to your site, generate more backlinks and improve the recognition of your brand.
Guides are one of my favorite methods to market a business, and it has been extremely effective for me because I follow the tips above.
You don’t have to spend tons of time or money creating these guides. You can always write them internally or have your in-house designer make them look pretty.
Nonetheless, you should be creating guides on a regular basis. They are so effective that I release one every month.
So, what do you think about creating guides?