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5 Ways to Know if Your Blog is on the Right Track

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of October 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In this post David Wright and Sean Platt from direct response copywriters share some suggestions on indicators of when your blog might be on the road to success.

Starting a blog was one of the most exciting things we have ever done. Building a loyal audience, gathering intelligent subscribers with insightful comments, and making plans for the future were all part of a wonderful first year blogging. The problem for us was that reading about blogging and actually blogging are two entirely different things.

Blogging is hard work. Much like becoming a parent, all the warnings in the world do little to prepare you for the reality.

No blog becomes famous overnight unless its author happened to be famous a couple nights before. Blogging requires hard work and diligent effort for a sustained period of time. Many bloggers give up in the first few months and the majority never see their sixth. I can sympathize. With all the blogs screaming for attention, how are you supposed to know if your work is going to pay off or if you‘re wasting your time?

Outside of tons of visitors, or lots of ad revenue, success is defined differently by different people. Some bloggers are seeking a path to money while others are more interested in simply connecting or sharing their voice. The list below is simply a way of gauging whether or not people are connecting to your blog.

Five ways to tell if your blog has what it takes:

1) Comments

Comments can be both an empty measurement and a solid indicator that things are going well. If your blog is receiving a lot of comments, that’s probably a terrific sign. However, if the majority of those comments ring to the tune of “great post!” then even 100 are rather meaningless. A couple of valuable comments that provoke discussion are far better than double digit comments that are only there for the benefit of a link. It means that people are finding value in your content and interested in engaging you and other readers regarding that content.

Darren previously wrote on 11 ways to get your comments noticed on a popular blog. Use this information to help you determine the value of the comments you’re receiving, while helping you to learn to make your best comments.

2) Subscribers

All growth is progress. If your subscriber count is growing, then you can consider yourself on the right track. Slow and steady wins the race and it can take months blogging to break into the triple digits. Many people, ourselves included, set unrealistic goals for their subscriber counts. This only leads to disappointment and frustration. Be realistic and remember, blogging is a process, not an event. If your numbers show steady growth, then you’re doing something right. If not, then you need to reevaluate your content, posting frequency or perhaps your social media strategy.

Darren has written many times on getting more RSS subscribers. This post has 9 tips to help you find more with a nice video and link roundup.

3) Links

Links are the currency of the net and help to pay for whatever it is your blog needs: traffic, social proof and search engine rankings; all are the direct result of high quality links. And one of the best ways to generate quality links is to produce quality content (and make sure that content is seen). The more recognized you are, the more links you will receive. The beauty of incoming links is that they carry a cumulative effect. After a while, people will start linking to you simply because others are.

Getting links is important. Here are 11 ways to increase your chances of being linked to by a blogger, as previously written by Darren.

4) Friends

With blogging, an ever expanding web of friends and blogging buddies is essential to long term success. You could even make the case that who you know is sometimes more important than what you create, though I do believe the quality of your work must always stand on its own. Strive to meet new people and widen your network as best you can. I’m not saying to strike up phony friendships with people you’d otherwise have no interest in. Rather, find people you are genuinely interested in and can learn from. You will have created a network of mentors that can teach you a lot more than a dozen courses. If there is a natural complimenting of each other‘s strengths and weaknesses, all the better.

As part of Darren’s excellent 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series, he ran a post on Day 15 about finding a blogging buddy.

5) Niche

Many bloggers make the mistake of not clearly defining their niche. I know I’ve made the same mistake several times myself. If you are blogging as a hobby, it is unnecessary to build a fence around your ideas. If you are looking to turn your blogging into profit, or a full-time living, it is essential that you understand the audience you are targeting and how best to market to them.

In this previous ProBlogger post, Glen Allsop talks about how to find your passion and know what you should be blogging about.

Remember, we all define success differently. However, paying attention to the above list and the advice linked within can help ensure your blog lives up to its fullest potential.

Question: How do you define blogging success? How have your opinions of success changed since you first started blogging?

David Wright and Sean Platt are the team of direct response copywriters behind GhostwriterDad.com.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Nice post!

    I like to look at the comments, subscribers and links more than the other 3!

  2. Although my subscription numbers and meaningful comments have increased considerably, for me the best indicator is the friendships I’ve gained since I started blogging. I consider many of my readers…my friends.

  3. Been blogging for 3 months… I see why it’s hard, but I’m gonna keep on trying.

  4. Starting a blog is really hard. I started posting on my blog a week ago and the first thing I learned from blogging is: if you are not working hard, you get no traffic. You must be very active on relevant blogs with commenting them, working around StumbleUpon and of course tweeting. The more you do, the bigger is the chance that someone will notice you.

  5. What about posting comments by myself. It is not a real tracked how popular is the article. Maybe social network start are better way to chek article popularity.

  6. I am still researching on how to get my blog noticed or atleast one or two post noticed. It really pays you as the fruit of effort that we put on.

    Still unlucky even after done some real hardwork.

  7. Creating a dynamic(build community) and trustworthy(educate and help) enviroment for your blog should be a priority.
    The number of comments and subscibers can be perceived as social proof.
    Friendship 2.0, integrating new media platforms(Twitter, Facebook) and building a branded channel between potencial readers and you/your blog can be an eefctive path for growing

  8. i look at the number of subscribers + the amount of direct traffic coming to my photography blog.

  9. At the beginning i used to measure success through comments and visits. With the time I was changing my mind and now I measure the success of my blog based on subscribers (once you’ve reached 3 digits, then the rest comes alone “Eat sh…, thousands of flies cannot be wrong”), SEO and positioning for keywords and visits.

    And that happened once i really understood how mi niche was, of course…

  10. 90 percent of blogger are failure, it is really hard to set up a successful blog.

  11. Thank you David and Sean for sharing this! I agree with you, that blogging success takes time and most people just give up too easily! People used to think that blogging would make you rich over night ->”Just write a couple of blog posts a month and you will earn as much as in your day job in no time!” People were sold on this ideas too get rich quick and when money is the only motivator, it often fails.

    Like you said, getting a solid subscriber number takes time, I believe you should be stubborn enough not to give up before! Don’t let all these hours of hard work, nights of networking, writing, and reading go to waste and stick to it! I truly believe that you will then reach your goals!

    Thank you for putting this back into perspective!

  12. Judging by this list and my experience so far, this blogging thing is a lot harder than it looks.

  13. I feel like subscribers is the most important metric. It means someone has already found you, like what they saw, and commit to see what you do next.

    Subscribers don’t really know what they’ll be getting, but it shows they trust that it will be good because of what they’ve seen already.

  14. Let’s see: #1 – No #2 – No #3- No #4 -No #5 – No

    But I am just an amateur, and it’s a new website, and a new blog.

    I think I can…I think I can….I think I can.

  15. Definitely hard work, but it is fun. I liken blogging to building friendships in real life. You just keep being yourself and trying hard to listen and be there for people. Same things that work in the business world work in the blogging world.

  16. So glad I found this blog via Twitter. This post was so helpful as I figure out how best to increase traffic to my blog. And thanks so much for the terrific links. This is what I love about the Web. Like a little spider I crawled over from Twitter and then went out on other strands until I ended up back here. Pretty good for a woman who years ago only wanted a computer because it was attached to a printer that could churn out manuscript pages.

  17. I personaly find Niche and Friends the most important points to focus on when it comes to building traffic.

    Niche, because blogging is about dealing with a particular area of your life, finding the essence and communicating your thoughts with passion.

    Friends make blogging very enjoyable, an opportunity to grow on a personal level and they also generate the remaining 3 factors: Links, Comments and Subscribers.

  18. Monica says: 10/21/2009 at 4:55 am

    While this is excellent advice, I am still struggling to determine where to begin with starting my own blog. I have a niche picked out, but I want to be sure to set it up with the future in mind. Any ideas? I have a domain name idea that I think works well…but after that I am having a hard time deciding which step is best to take!

  19. Niche is the main and most important part of the blogging success.Useful niche can build better readership base.
    It’s true that comments measures the progress of the blog.
    For me the long list of subscribers measure the success of blog.

  20. I already feel very successful as a blogger with all my current buddies and new ones arriving out of the blue, but seeing my Alexa rank drop below 200,000 then 100,000 would make me very happy. (I think) :)

    I’m not so sure about subscribers counting as a success indicator — a lot of those are spam. A LOT. Or am I the only one experiencing that?

  21. I would add repeat visitors to your list. Ideally people like and trust your posts, subscribe to your feed and come back for more whenever they see a new post. One more would be Twitter retweets that include a link to your post. The more of these you get, the more you grow your following.

  22. I look up first to Niche then Subscribers then Links then Friends and im sure with great content, Comments will follow

  23. Excellent stuff. I think that a lack of comments can definitely be one of the most disheartening things when you’re developing a blog. You see all these extensive discussions on other blogs, you want to be part of this social *network*, but it feels like you’re writing in a vacuum.

    The good thing is that developing a blog commenting strategy and making sure that you take the time to interact with other writers isn’t really a chore. There’s so much material out there that there should always be something that you want to talk about, a blog post you want to agree or disagree with, and that’s all there really is to blog commenting. So long as you don’t neglect that activity, it will provoke a long term benefit in visitors and engagement on your own blog.

  24. When I first started blogging it was all to make a buck and I thought to be successful I had to be able to make a living off of blogging.

    After blogging for about nine or ten months now I have started taking ads off of my site and getting more excited about followers, comments, and making new friends.

    I think it all changed when I realized I enjoyed writing about the outdoors almost as much as actually being outdoors.

  25. I’ve had my blog for 4 months now and I have been encouraged by some of the comments I have received. However, I have come to realize that it does take hard work. Currently, I try to add a new post every 3 days. Thank you for this article. I now have other items to watch out for to let me know if I am on the right track.

  26. Great post!

    Hehe, just kidding :)

    Some very valuable points there that are nice for me to read as it reassures me that I’m on the right track with my blog. I don’t want to stagnant.

  27. Be blogguer is a job that requires discipline and perseverance, I think if it’s the money we do a blog a little longer we delay in getting results because we focus on what we have earned and not to write quality content.

    ser blogguer es un trabajo que requiere disciplina y constancia, creo que si es por dinero que hacemos un blog nos demoraremos un poquito más en obtener resultados dado que nos concentraremos en cuanto hemos ganado y no en escribir contenido de calidad.

  28. I’m going with the slow and steady: average 12 new aweber subscribers per month over 6 months. One subscriber dropped, open rate 55%. I’m cool with this. I’m learning the ropes. It feels right. I would hate to have a huge pop in subscribers or traffic, and not know what the heck was going on… when I got back to low numbers after the spike.

    @jannie: I’m just about to drop under 100,000 for the 7 day average. It feels *good.*

  29. Great Post.

    I actually think that fellow readers are actually encouraged to leave comments if your blog already has some comments on your blog post or blog. When ever a reader sees that your blog doesn’t receive any comments it will most likely also not comment. So I think getting comments is pretty much a importent indication on how visiters perceive your blog.

  30. Let’s hope that getting the first 100 subscribers is the hardest part!

    There are still a lot of perceptions about the Internet and it’s very hard for me to get many of my friends to subscribe to my blog because they are scared of spam. Even when I convince them that I’ll be the only person to get their email address and I already have it anyway the fear is still there!

    Maybe it’s easier targeting a younger and more computer savvy audience.

  31. This is a great site. I read about it on Fruitful Vine and decided to check it out. I definitely have a niche blog. And the comments do tend to rack up pretty quickly. But now I’m working on growing my audience. I think I’ll be spending a lot more time on your site!

  32. Thanks for posting. With so many stats to look at I often get frustrated with information overload. But this list simplifies it, and will help me move the bar forward.

  33. So you’re sayin’ I’ve got a chance!!… :)

  34. I just wanted to say that I read problogger everyday:). I started blogging in April of this year. Just the other day for the first time I had 59 viewers, yeaa lol. I know this isn’t alot, but it’s better than the five or lower that I mostly get. I guess either no one likes gardening or my blog stinks lol. I am trying a craft blog on word press, just started this one other day. but it is hard to do a blog if you have no idea what your doing, like me but I try. So far I have no subscribers, but it is still there so far. As for my blog, sure I would like to make some money, but also like to do it for a hobby besides gardening.

  35. I can say that after one year in blogging, my blog is really improving compared on what it looks like when I was just starting.

    And for me, subscribers/loyal readers and friends are the most important for building up a blog into success.

    Thank you for this post. :)

  36. Nice post. Usually reader participation is a good indicator for the success of your blog.

  37. With regards to comments, I find the best way to get great comments is to ask a question or write about a provocative topic and then engage people when they respond. Reply to their comments, ask them more questions, etc.

    The issue of niche is important too. I have a specific niche for my blog and when I want to write about something that falls outside of that, I tend to blog about it on BlogHer.

  38. Thanks for the article, Darren. I go back and forth on comments. I had them closed initially – after I read (and logically agreed with) Steve Pavlina’s blog post on comments and managing them takes time away from creating content, and perhaps a forum (if you have the traffic) is a great place to let your readers talk. I also wonder if it’s possible to have a passion (and slowly develop a niche) over more than one area. I would not want to choose between some of my passions, only to develop them further- and writing about them. Anyway, I feel new to blogging every day and that’s one reason I love it, regardless of how I rank :)!!!!

  39. I like your tip about asking an open ended question. Its a really good tip because people are inclined to provide an answer to your question. I am definitely going to try to include this in my posts from now on.

  40. nice, i never heard about niche factor before, thanks

    however, i just have the number 1 and 2 yet

  41. Thanks! They really did make a huge difference on our blog. I’ll add your feed to my Google Reader too.

  42. I usually look on the comments on my blog & google analytics tools to track visitors.
    Although WordPress plugins like Most popular posts & Blog Stats are of great help in tracking website’s performance.

  43. I surely define blogging success by how much earn that blog have. I call it success if already get a good earn. :D

  44. This is a problem indeed. A successful blog that I think is one can bear the loneliness all the time, focus on blogging his own niche and never to be garish, break out naturally step by step, day by day. Even if others don’t take it as anything seriously, but he is still crazy about what he is doing now, with a good appetite, keep masticating and mull them over and over

  45. Thanks for the nice post. The popularity of a blog depends on the participation of it readers though commenting and subscriptions

  46. So, I will not write great post!

    I believe quality comment is surest way of knowing one’s blog is right track.

    But if comments, subscribers are not growing, but still if unique visitors keeps increasing steadily, I think one should be happy about his blog!

  47. Hi

    A nice post.
    I would like to understand why you have not talked about the amount of traffic on the blog as a measure.

    I totally agree that RSS & Email subscribers is a more important metric but I would like to know your thoughts on the traffic part.

    Thanks
    Vivek

  48. According to my research on subscriber, most of the readers are robots and the rest are real people and evil spammers. So, to clarify yourself… readers do have their own minds and the number will drop if they are not reading your article.

    That is all…

  49. Finding a blog niche is probably the most difficult. Creating a blog on a popular topic usually means too much competition. Now if you have some original and useful content to back it up then competition won’t matter.

  50. This is a very commendable effort, keep it up.

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