Success usually comes to those who are too busy to look for it – Henry David Thoreau
One of the more interesting phenomenon’s I see in the “blogosphere” is that some blogs quickly become a huge blog success, while other blogs struggle to grow at all.
I would be lying if I claimed I had any reasonable explanation for this. I must also admit that I often wonder why Side Income Blogging hasn’t been more successful. Actually, I’ve done far more than wonder, I’ve given this whole topic considerable amount of thought over the past month.
I’ve been blogging since 2006, and started a number of different blogs and websites. In most cases, I saw a progressive growth in both traffic and earnings from month to month. Side Income Blogging is the first blog I’ve built that hasn’t seen that same growth trend. In fact over the past few months, I’ve seen a very slow downward trend in my traffic. Frustrating to say the least…
I started Side Income Blogging in 2010, a little over 3 years ago. The site still receives on average about 100 – 150 unique visits a day. The personal finance blog I started in 2006 was received well over 1500 visits per day at the three year mark. Again, this “phenomenon” has caused me to really wonder. Have I failed? Does my content suck? What am I doing wrong?
I know many of you wonder the same things, as I receive emails from some of you with the same questions. Here are a few things that I’ve come to realize as I’ve thought through this over the past few months.
Comparing your blog success to someone else’s is waste of time
The number of factors that play into a one blog’s success and another blog’s struggles are just too vast. As a result, trying to figure out the formula that site XYZ used to get 1000 visitors in a year vs. your formula for getting 100 visitors in 3 years in near impossible. There are of course a few “best practices” that you can follow. These best practices like: search engine optimization, promoting your blog, building an email list, etc. will certainly help, they won’t guarantee a rapid rise to success.
You are unique and your blog is unique. Your path to success is also unique. Comparing yourself to somebody else is really easy to do – I struggle with this every single day – but it really is a complete waste of time. Spend that time focusing on more important things, that will help your blog grow.
Why you are blogging drives your blog’s success, not the raw numbers.
Are you blogging because you are passionate about your topic? Are you blogging to earn money? Are you blogging to help others?
Who doesn’t like to earn money right? I do. In fact earning income is one of the primary focuses of this blog as is teaching you how to earn money from blogging. The irony is, I don’t earn much from this blog, at least not directly. The majority of my monthly earnings come from my services work. Not really how I had planned for things to work out, but it works. I get at least 2-3 new clients a month from this blog.
The fact is though, while I like to focus on earnings, the real reason I started this blog was to help you. I remember telling my wife when I brought Side Income Blogging online for the first time, something very close to:
The “how to blog” niche is really saturated, and I doubt this blog is going to a be a big success like my personal finance blog was, but if I just help one person, it will be worth it.
THAT was the core reason I created Side Income Blogging. Would I like it to reach the level of Problogger? Absolutely, who wouldn’t? But if I return to the core reason I created this blog, it was to help people. Based on the mail and comments I get each week, Side Income Blogging is helping people each and every day. That alone makes this blog a success and keeps me motivated to keep writing.
So ask yourself: Why are you blogging? If you’re blogging to earn money, and three years later you still aren’t…well, to be honest, it might be time to consider other options or at least take a hard look at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, because you should be earning a good amount in three years, especially if earning money is your goal.
If you’re blogging because you love the topic you’re writing about or maybe you’re interested in helping people, than if you have 1 reader, you’ve met your goal.
The right topic goes a long way to your blog’s success
Your blog’s topic can have a significant impact on your growth and success. Blogs about blogging, like this one, are a dime a dozen, and getting your voice heard above the thousands of other voices all yelling to be heard is tough. Honestly, it’s much hard than I imagined.
Your blog’s topic could be hurting your growth as well. Almost everyone has a blog these days. In 2006, when I started, blogs were new and starting a blog and growing it quickly wasn’t hard. Fast forward to 2013 though, blogs are everywhere and about almost any topic. As a result, blogging is hard and getting harder each and every day.
I tell people almost everyday to blog on what they’re passionate about. I still stand by that statement, but it’s a little more complex. To make success easier, you not only have to blog about a topic you’re passionate about, but you have to also find a low competition niche. If you’re new to blogging, and at the point of choosing your niche, I would suggest paying a great deal of attention to competition. Spend time researching competition and see who you’re up against. I would strongly advise picking a niche with medium to high traffic, with very little competition.
If, like me, you’re all ready well into your topic choice, you just have to accept the fact that your growth curve will be longer, possibly significantly longer. I’ve accepted this, and honestly am ok with it. I’m too stubborn to give up, and I couldn’t quit anyway. I love writing on this blog.
Blog success is often about pure luck
I know people won’t like this one, but it’s true. Bloggers always want to attribute their success to hard work and skill.
The reality is that many blogs make their way to the top quickly due to blind luck. I saw an instance of this just the other day. A reporter for a major news outlet ran across a blog while doing some research for a story. They liked the blog, and linked out to it in their article. BOOM, huge traffic rush, lots of visibility, and suddenly this blog that’s been struggling to grow gets a huge gush of wind in it’s sails. Instant success.
For most of us, that doesn’t happen and I’m certainly not going to hold my breath waiting for it.
Blog success if often about who you know
Indulge me for a minute, but I want to share a personal story about my son with you …
When we moved up to the North Carolina mountains in 2009, I honestly had no idea of the negative impact it would have on my oldest son. He loves to play football. He lived for it and it was the one thing that he was truly passionate about. He put his heart and soul into it. He went to every practice and every game, and played his heart out. He put everything he had into it, and as a result, expected big things from it. That’s partially my fault, as I constantly told him that hard work and dedication pays off – while I still want to believe this is true, I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not that simple.
Life is far more complicated, especially in today’s world and social politics often play a big role in our lives. Often, being successful is more about who you know than what you know. My son learned this lesson the hardway, and it broke my heart watching him learn it. Fortunately he is an incredibly strong kid, otherwise I am afraid it might have broke him. See, he seldom played, and when he did, it was only for a short time, and often in the 4th quarter if his team was winning. He was devastated. He hoped an tolerated it for more than 3 years, and finally half way through his senior season, he quit after a game where he wasn’t allowed to play at all.
Driving home from that game, I watched my hardworking, ever passionate kid, break down and cry in the back seat was probably one of the worst things I’ve had to deal with as a parent. When he was little, I could just pick him up, hug him and make everything ok. But now…I felt helpless, and there was nothing I could do.
Football here in the mountains goes back a long time, and we very quickly learned that the kids that actively play have father’s that played, have influential parents, have parents that make substantial donations to the football organization and have parents that all went to school together and are all originally from here.
My son was an outsider, and no matter how hard he worked, no matter how well he did, he was not going to get the same amount of playing time as others. I honestly to this day don’t understand how those coaches sleep at night. How could you not play a kid that worked so hard? I can count the number of times he missed a pass on my two hands. The boy can catch a football.
While it disgusts me, this same lesson applies to blogging. There is a “clique” in your blog’s niche, and if you aren’t in it, it’s going to negatively influence the growth of your blog. Building relationships and using those relationships to your advantage is an age old tactic that applies to blogging as well.
Unfortunately for me, it’s not a game I am willing to play. I refuse to build relationships just to benefit myself. I value two-way positive relationships with people I can rely on and trust. In fact, on Google+ I have un-circled many “big players” because I don’t like them, because I don’t agree with the way they do things and because they aren’t approachable and don’t reply.
Unfortunately, who you know can have significant impact on how quickly your blog grows. Be very aware of this and accept it.
These of course are just a few of the big factors that play into your blog’s success. There are many many others as well. While we all like to think we have full control our blog and it’s growth, we don’t. There are many other factors out of our control that can have significant influence.
Two important lessons I want to leave you with:
- Focus on the reason you started your blog and don’t get caught up in the numbers and earnings game.
- Pay attention to the things that you can control, and ignore the things that you can’t.
Me? As mentioned, I started this blog to help others about a topic I’m passionate about. I intend to continue doing just that, regardless of the numbers.
Photo by: mckaysavage