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How To Grow Your Blog (A Recent Email Conversation)

19 August 2010 4 Comments

Recently, a visitor to 20smoney.com emailed me with some questions on blogging, namely how to grow and expand a blog in order to make money on it.  Here is the conversation that followed (published with permission and with anonymity):

Hi Kevin,

I just found your blog today by searching “blog growth” in Google.  I have a seven month old blog that I built from scratch using Thesis and I’m getting to the point I’m sure many bloggers get – I’m wondering if all the work is for something, or for nothing.  I love my niche, feel that my content is pretty good, but struggle to find time to write as frequently as I’d like while working a full-time job.  For the past month I’ve been posting once per week but before that I posted very infrequently, like once ever three weeks – a month.  I know that consistent is better so I’m trying to write as much as I can in advance and schedule posts.  I don’t know about you, but it’s taking some time for me to get the right flow down…

I enjoyed reading about your blog’s growth and appreciate you sharing such detail with your writers.  My question though is what your stats looked like between April 08 when it seems you first started (checked your oldest post in the Archives) and Oct. 09 when you first started counting your income.  Here’s where I am and I wonder if this is similar or dissimilar to where you were:

Aug. 1-16:
296 visits;
1081 pageviews;
avg. time on site: 6:01

July 1-16:
241 visits;
956 pageviews;
avg. time on site: 5:56

Any thoughts would be great.

I wish you continued success!

Kevin: To be honest, I kind of messed around with my blog for the first year plus and got serious in August ’09.  Since then I saw pretty steady growth.

You’re blog looks great and your statistics are pretty good especially the avg time on site.

If you’re frustrated with the speed of growth, I’d ask what are you doing to get your name out there… are you doing any guest posts on relevant websites?  That’s the best way to grow in my opinion.

Are you making any money on the site and is this your end goal?

My strategy with regard to marketing thus far has been primarily Twitter and commenting on other high traffic blogs. The highest traffic blog in my niche is written by a major newspaper website and I’ve been trying to snag a guest post spot there, but it’s challenging.  I’ve been told to write up four or five sample posts at 800 words a piece and submit them to the editor, but finding the time for this is tough.  I know that I need to do it though, because upside could be significant. With regard to other guest posting, I’ve written only one for a person with about 6000 Twitter followers, but nothing came of it.  Others in my niche have offered (probably because they’re not sure what to write about and/or need more site content) but they have less traffic than me, so not wasting my time.

With regard to money, I’m making only a few bucks from Adsense and only $40 a month from an ad.  My goal is to make this my full-time (and with any luck, lucrative) job…

When you say you “got serious” in Aug. 09, what did that look like?  How many hours did you spend, what did you spend time on, etc.

Thanks for your feedback on my site too.  I’m continuing to plug away…

Kevin: Excellent.  Well you have the right approach and it looks like you know what you need to do (with regards to the major newspaper since like you said the upside is very significant).  I’d say that is your key to the next level.  While writing posts for smaller blogs might seem insignificant, see if you can write “faster” articles (not necessarily your best work) for those blogs because they will still help.  The links plus maybe a handful of new repeat visitors could be worth it.  Blogging is all about incremental growth and improvements.  Every single month.  It’s tedious and frustrating at times but over time it works.

With regards to “getting serious” – I basically just upped my game in terms of writing.  I starting writing much more frequently and starting writing more guest posts.  It’s definitely a lot of work but the results have come (and are still coming).

Another worry is that I have no comments!  Is this normal?  I get a TON of spam comments which I delete, but have yet to really get anything from real people.  I’m trying not to worry and just assume that it will improve with blog traffic and popularity…do you agree here?

So it sounds like you’re saying that if you were me you’d get writing those four to five sample posts for the major newspaper?

And do you think 300 words is enough for a post?  I struggle here because most of mine tend to be so much longer which is why I have trouble producing them fast!

Kevin: I would definitely do whatever it takes to get the article on the major newspaper website.

Don’t stress over the comments.  It’s not the ultimate indicator of success or not. I know amazing high trafficked blogs that get little comments and vice versa.

with regards to content length, 300 words is fine for some articles.  For your own blog, I’d do a mix.. some shorter, some longer.  For guest posts you’re going to need longer posts probably at least 500 words and for big sites like the major newspaper site, even longer obviously.

4 Comments »

  • TraderMark said:

    One point I disagree with is comments. I think it *is* important. If you build a community of sorts, your repeat traffic will be much higher and sticky. When people have something in the game, they will be more 'loyal' of a visitor. So I would not dismiss their utility. Also the most commented posts tend to get the most hits as people who are not commenting are reading along. Making a blog a 2 way street (give and take) rather than 1 way (give) will always add to traffic.

    The other main issue I saw is his lack of consistent posting. It's got to be a few times a week at least or else its just going to be random search engine traffic. Don't know what blog it is or the topic but 1-2 posts a day and if not that at least 3-4 a week I believe is key.

  • Life to Live said:

    I, like many others appriciate your willingness to support other people by providing you experience and advice. I have only discovered your blog tonight and have already read a few posts and I have found your articles interesting and unique, and I will be using this blog as a benchmark for myself.

    As is your goal as you wrote in your About page, I am trying to deliver individual and interesting articles to my website, and not just repeating what has be regurgitated before. I would like to know where you get your inspiration for the variety of quality posts.

    I think it also goes to show, if you enjoy helping others and have a bit of know-how to grow your blog, money can be made.

    Thanks for the advice

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  • @McCallsHome said:

    You posted:
    "Kevin: I would definitely do whatever it takes to get the article on the major newspaper website."

    What major newspaper website were you referring to?