Here’s how I did it…
1. I wrote a comprehensive overview and actionable How To about a topic a lot of people are curious about, but there is little information for.
Instagram bots are an often misunderstood and politicized topic. Having used bots to grow several of my own accounts (and being frustrated by the lack of informative articles there are out there) I set about to write something that helped demystify the practice and make it accessible to the people who can gain real, positive value from it.
The truth is, bots aren’t only used to satisfy political agendas or to artificially boost influencers egos (and paychecks), they can also be a very effective tool for entrepreneurs to reach a larger audience for a fraction of the cost of all other marketing options available on social media. Knowing how to use them effectively can add a great deal of value to a lot of small businesses.
To make it as useful as possible, I write a simple, fun and digestible article explaining everything I know about bots: what they are, how they work, how they can be used to organically grow a business on Instagram, how they should not be used, which are the most effective bot services out there, and most importantly, a step by step guide on how to automate a non-spammy bot by yourself.
(To make as accessible and useful as possible for most Instagram users, I went through the trouble of creating visual guides for all of the elements and how to’s in the article.)
Since most Instagram Bot-related articles you find on Google are either political, no longer relevant, not accessible for most people, or behind a paywall, having this free and actionable piece of information made the topic accessible to the average Instagram user and helped small business owners apply these strategies to grow their business. This not only created value for the people reading it but also encouraged them to share it with others interested in learning.
2. It was published by a large Medium publication with great SEO.
Once I knew the content was useful, the next step was to make sure it reached as many of the right people as possible (right people = people who will find my article valuable).
After reading this piece about how to growth hack a Medium article, I made the effort to get it published on The Mission. Not only are they a great publication read by thousands of curious minds everyday, but being published by a large Medium publication like this one (currently, The Mission & Hackernoon are both in the top 5 largest publications on the platform) increased the likelihood of it being surfaced to a larger readership by Medium’s algorithm, and more importantly, being ranked highly on Google (popular Medium & Hackernoon articles rank highly on Google).
So, after doing some research on their submission best practices, I sent the editors at The Mission a friendly and thoughtful message, submitted the article, and they accepted it for publishing (thanks for believing in my writing Stephanie Postles & Chad Grills — being published on The Mission has changed my life!).
(Usually, my Medium articles get the most traffic within the first 2–3 days of being published.)
3. I promoted it on my social media channels.
Wanting my article to reach as many people as possible, I also promoted it through a photo post, as well as the story highlights, on my Instagram @pinlord.
(My Instagram account receives over 20k visits each week. By placing the article on my story highlights, I’m increasing the likelihood that a higher percentage of that traffic will discover the article in comparison to just posting it on my grid. People would have to scroll a long way down to find it on my grid, and it’s highly unlikely that’ll happen.)
Although those posts only gave the article a slight boost of an additional 50 readers compared to what The Mission was driving, it helped it be discovered by a new audience on Instagram, where it was even more relevant, given that it’s about Instagram.
(Promoting the article to my Instagram followers helped surface it to an audience that was more likely to find it useful vs. Medium’s readership that doesn’t necessarily use Instagram heavily.)
4. It was also promoted on other channels and discovered by new audiences.
After getting over 350 views within the first two days of publication, traffic on the article tapered off at around 15 views per day for the next month (March). Since this is how traffic on most of my past articles had behaved, I stopped trying to promote it (assuming it had lived out its lifespan) and continued to write about other Instagram-related topics.
Through one of my other articles, I ended up connecting with Dylan Hey, who invited me to chat about Instagram Influencers on his Social Media Growth podcast. Surprisingly, when the podcast went live and he promoted it through his social media and newsletter, my Instagram Bot article got another big spike in traffic and my daily views grew to an average of around 30 per day (2x the average prior to the podcast being released!).
During that month (April), I again published a new article and noticed another slight bump in average views to around 50 per day.
(I published my article late at night on the 24th of April, so most of it’s views accumulated on the next day.)
Although I didn’t have the data to pinpoint exactly where this traffic came from (apart from Dylan’s podcast and the new article), the data was telling me that I could greatly increase the readership of my article if a new audience discovered it. The more new people discovered it, the higher the likelihood of it being read by someone who found it valuable, which lead to more people sharing it and it is more highly ranked on Medium and Google. A higher ranking on these platforms again helped more new people discover it. It was a virtuous cycle.
5. I used affiliate links for the subscription-based services I was recommending.
Towards the end of April, I casually mentioned the recent change in traffic to my good friend and mentor Amanda Collins. She asked me if I was doing affiliate marketing, and I told her I had no clue what that was (I know, I know, I was an online marketing noob at that time…).
She explained that I could use affiliate links to get a commission whenever someone paid for a subscription of any of the services I was recommending in my article. Since the article already linked to what I considered to be the best automation services (without getting paid), just switching the links to get affiliate payments was a no-brainer.
After some quick research, I found the affiliate programs and I changed the links for the services mentioned in the article. At the time, it was Instazood, which paid a 10% commission on a $9.99 monthly subscription and Social Sensei which also paid 10% on a $45 monthly subscription (on average).
6. I kept promoting it in new channels to maximize traffic and growth.
Now knowing that I could greatly increase the readership of my article if a new audience discovered it and that I could get paid for every reader that paid for the services I linked in it, I made it my mission to promote it in as many new channels as possible to try and increase its readership (and potentially get paid more).
In May, I released a new article, promoted the Bot article again on @pinlord, and sent out an email to over 600 members of the Instagram Growth Hackers Meetup I organize:
Here are the results those activities had on traffic:
My daily average views went from 50 in April to over 200 by the end of May when the article began to rank on the first page of Google results for the “Instagram Bot” topic.
These were the affiliate payments I received in May:
In June, to try and continue building on growth, I once again promoted the article through @pinlord and released another article. These were the results:
(Since the article ranked on the first page of Google, I could count on a significant amount of daily views.)
These were the affiliate payments I received in June:
Although my daily traffic continued to increase (from being on Google’s first page), I noticed that I was getting diminishing returns from my @pinlord posts (people were getting tired of hearing about the article over and over) as well as from publishing new articles.
To remedy that, I changed my strategy in July and promoted the article on my other Instagram accounts: @potteryforall and @macramemakers.
These two audiences found it useful, read it, shared it, and because of that new traffic, the article was ranked as the #1 organic hit on Google for the “Instagram Bot” topic.
These were the affiliate payments I received in July:
From this point forward, I no longer promoted the article on any new channels, but the average daily views increased from 400 in the start of July (before the #1 Google ranking) to around 700 in August (after the #1 Google ranking).
7. I edited the article to provide more value and earn more money.
Now being ranked #1 on Google (and seeing how powerful that can be), I wanted to make sure my piece stayed at the top.
To do that, I made an effort to improve the article in two ways: First, I asked my lovely wife Romany Pope to go through and edit it again to make sure the writing was as good as it could be (she’s a way better writer than I am). And second, I aimed to increase its value by doing extra research and testing out as many new automation services as I could in order to recommend the absolute best ones for different use cases (previously, I only recommended 2).
(I segmented my recommendations in “Cheapest”, “Best Value”, and “Most Effective” vs just a small, general recommendation that I had before I made the edit.)
By doing this, I was not only providing more helpful information to the people reading the article, but I was also adding another revenue source by including additional services that could give me affiliate payments.
8. I negotiated rates.
Around the same time I edited the article, I received a request for a review from one of these service providers. Knowing that I had the #1 hit on Google, and that I was driving a lot of value to their company, I decided it was worth a shot to ask for a higher commission. Here’s what I wrote:
(Not the best written email but it got the job done (also…it was 7AM). The service I emailed is the best in the business so I knew that a long term inclusion in the article is something I felt comfortable bringing up.)
Seeing that negotiating rates was possible, I got in touch with the other services, wrote a similar email, and they also agreed to increased my rates.
Being ranked #1, including an additional service and the increase in rate percentages, resulted in much higher earnings August. These were the totals for that month:
(My earnings almost tripled in August by including a new service recommendation as well as increasing my affiliate rates.)
And that’s how I now earn over $2000 a month from one Medium article 👍🏽.
Although it’s going to be very difficult to replicate these results (I think the stars aligned for me on this topic), there are definitely some strategies you can implement that will help improve the chances of your article getting traffic and earning money as well. These are the most important ones I learned about from this experience:
Write about something you have deep knowledge in, and others don’t. If you’re writing about a topic that not many people have deep knowledge in, your article tends to be more valuable because there are less people able to provide deep valuable information about the subject.The smaller the number of possible articles someone can read instead of yours, the more likely it is that your article will rank highly on Google.
Make your article as detailed and as actionable as possible.Everyone can write a run-of-the-mill article about “The 10 best strategies to do X”. That’s why those type of articles usually don’t have long-term value. Use your unique knowledge and give the people who want to learn about the subject as much actionable information as possible. The more people learn and find your article helpful, the more they’ll go back to it and in turn, the more people will read it!
Promote it to as many new audiences as possible. Getting new audiences to read your article greatly increases the likelihood of it ranking highly on Google (because new people will discover, read it and share it). To do that, you’ll have to promote it in as many channels as possible over an extended period of time (not only when you first publish it). If you don’t have large social media accounts, write something awesome and submit it to The Mission, or reach out to people who have a large following on Instagram or LinkedIn and ask them to promote it for you (I highly recommend that you offer payment or some other type of value in exchange for their service if you want them to say yes.). The more creative and resourceful you are, the more promotion opportunities you’ll find.
Use affiliate marketing for your links, and preferably, recommend a subscription service. If your article is being read by a lot of people, affiliate marketing is a great way to make passive income. It’s even better if you can get a reliable recurring revenue from the affiliate links every month. That’s why subscription services provide so much value: if they get paid every month, so do you. It’s a much more desirable affiliate situation compared to getting a small commission when you sell something once, which is very hard to build large earnings from.
Continue editing and promoting your article. Building a good income from an article is a long game. If you have great content, being able to make money from it is just about having the patience and skill to promote it to enough audiences in order to find the one that will love it and share it. If one audience doesn’t work, then keep testing it on new ones. It’s hard to know from the outset who will like your article and who wont, so make sure to keep editing your article to make it better and keep promoting in order to find the audiences that will appreciate and value it.
Believe me, these strategies work. I also implemented them on my guide on how to make enamel pins as well as the one on how to ship pins and they both now rank as the #1 organic hit on Google for their respective topics.
With the right article and smart promotion, you can get similar results too!
By the way, if you want to go deeper into other strategies that’ll help you grow on social media, read these articles on how I make money on Instagram, how to build an Instagram repost account that makes money, how to create effective Instagram story ads, how the Instagram algorithm works, how to automate your Instagram posts, how to create effective Instagram sponsored posts, how to check if you’re shadowbanned, why your Instagram account isn’t growing, how to increase your Instagram engagement rate, as well as how to measure what an influencer is worth, how to find the most valuable influencers on Instagram, how to reach out to influencers, and how to measure your influencer marketing ROI.