In my six months of blogging, I have experienced a steady growth in the number of RSS subscribers. Keep in mind, I have spent a total of $10 marketing my blog — paid last January to Matt Coddington when he first started Net Business Blog. Other than that, I have had no paid reviews, no sponsored posts, and no other link-buying for my blog.
I would not say my growth has been phenomenal – far from it. Phenomenal would be Freelance Switch scoring 3000 RSS subscribers in their first few weeks.
However, I would say that due to my consistency and interest in improving the quality of my posts, I have seen steady growth in the past six months. Take this chart showing my RSS subscriber growth, for example:
I would like to dissect the past few months of blogging and explain the reasons my blog has grown at the pace it did. First, it took me over 3 months (from January to April) to reach 100 subscribers. After that, it took one month to hit 200 subscribers, effectively doubling my readers. Two weeks subsequently I hit 300 subscribers; 400 came in another 3 weeks. What accounted for those huge leaps in readership and why did it take so long to hit 100? These are the questions I seek to answer in this post.
I maintain that consistency and patience can pay off big when it comes to blogging and business growth. First, it is my belief that blogging is a game of “survival of the persistent.” There are 100,000 blogs started each day, but very few of them last longer than a few days, let alone a few months. By being committed to blogging over the long term, you will surely “out-blog” those of dubious motivation and effort.
Reaching 100 Subscribers: John Chow Jump-Started My Success
Time from 0-100 Subscribers: 3 Months
When I started blogging last January, I wrote a review of John Chow in the 10th batch of his “Review My Blog” campaign. He no longer runs that campaign due to getting banned by Google, but when he quit he was at batch 87!
At the same time, I spent a good amount of time commenting on John’s blog and managed to be a top commentator there for an entire month. Interestingly, through John’s blog I met many other up-and-coming bloggers, such as Jane May, David Wilkinson, King Nomar, Matt Coddington and Josh Buckley. All of those guys I have known for about 6 months now – that represents years in Internet time!
Even though it took three months to hit 100 subscribers, it makes perfect sense why this was the case. As I mentioned earlier, blogging is a game of survival of the fittest. To earn the respect of other seasoned bloggers, you must put in your dues. You must go on when you want to give up. A huge amount of respect (and new readers) came after I hit the 3-month mark. They say if you can spend three months of consistently blogging, then the next three months is that much easier. (Psychologists report this is true for other habits, too.)
Reaching 200 Subscribers: The Power of A Contest
Time from 100-200 Subscribers: 1 Month
After I reached 100 subscribers in late April, I decided it would be fun to hold a contest. The contest theme I decided was to celebrate my 1000th comment. I had 800-something comments and I knew that I would be getting the 1000th one in May, so I held a two-part contest. First, anyone could enter by just casually leaving comments on my blog for that month. Whoever left the 1000th comment would win $25, a graphic design, and a review of their blog. I also held a separate contest — with the same prizes — for anyone who wanted to write about the contest.
Despite only receiving six entries for part two of the contest, the contests generated a significant amount of traffic to my blog and effectively doubled my readership in one month. In other words, what took me three months to do previously took one month now.
Reaching 300 Subscribers: Getting Linked By ProBlogger
Time from 200-300 Subscribers: 2 Weeks
After I had doubled my reader base, I essayed to blog for both quality and consistently. If you blog for both quality and consistency, your blog traffic numbers will go up, week after week. However, if you slack on either of these dimensions, expect your readership to drop.
In early May, I was linked to by ProBlogger. Being linked by Darren was gold for me – that sent me 50 new RSS subscribers in one day – AND they stayed! Anytime you get linked to someone bigger than you who blogs in the same niche, it leads to the highest quality traffic! Thanks, Darren!
Coincidentally, two weeks later, I was again linked by ProBlogger! Of course, that sent another heap of high-quality traffic to me and helped propel me to nearly 400 subscribers by the end of the month.
For those of you who are wondering, the two articles in which Darren linked to me were:
Reaching 400 Subscribers and Beyond
Time from 300-400 Subscribers: 3 Weeks
Only in the past month have I reached 400 subscribers, and unfortunately, due to work and vacation in the past month, I have taken a significant amount of time off from blogging. I said earlier that if consistency or quality drops, then readers decline. While that has not been entirely true for me in July, my growth has started to level off. I attribute that to my lack of consistent blogging this month.
Consistency is something that I will definitely focus on in August and the rest of the year. The more I have been reading “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” I am realizing that blogging is a limitlessly powerful tool for marketing and communication. This realization has inspired a new wave of motivation to blog for quality and consistency!
I hope that by explaining what I did during the past few months, you would start to see what contributed to my rise in traffic and readership. The most important lesson acquired by analyzing my growth is that of time. As long as you maintain a high standard of blogging and do it consistently over time, you will appear more trustworthy and authoritative in your niche.
Blogging is something I would like to do for life. There are so many reasons blogging is worth doing; perhaps its greatest reward is the wonderful and talented people I have met along the way. No amount of money earned would make me think blogging is a waste of time. Hey, even the billionaire Mark Cuban still blogs!