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7 Essential Things You Should Be Doing When Your Blog Is Still Young

Posted By Darren Rowse 27th of November 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This is a guest post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Write To Done.

These days my blog, Zen Habits, no longer has the problems of finding its identity and finding an audience … but there was a time not too long ago when Zen Habits was just a baby going through the inevitable growing pains.

And yes, I remember struggling to find new readers — to just let people know I was even there. The early days of a blog are the toughest, by far.

But they don’t have to be. When a blog is still young, just as in childhood, it can be freer, carefree, and fun. Everything is a learning experience. Best yet, a young blog has endless potential — it can be anything (except perhaps President of the United States).

So if you’re the owner of a young blog, here are seven things I recommend you do, based on my experiences:

  1. Create amazingly useful content. This is the most important thing you can do the first month or two of your blog’s existence. The next item (branding) is also important to think about as you start, but in terms of how you spend your time, writing amazing and useful content should be 95% of what you do. Your design, ads, technical stuff … all that can be worked on later. Right now, write your butt off. Create tip-packed posts that will knock the reader’s socks off. Read more: What Makes Great Blogwriting?
  2. Create a great brand. When you first create your blog, you should think a bit about the brand you’re going to create. When you create a brand, you are sending an unspoken message. What unspoken message do you want to send? Start by defining your target audience, then by figuring out what desires you will tap into. Then craft an unspoken message that will be true to yourself while tapping into those desires. Use that unspoken message to craft your brand (the title of your blog) as well as everything else you do, from blog design to post topics to the tone you write with and more. Read more: Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do.
  3. Network with other bloggers. When you first start out, you might not know many other bloggers. Rectify that situation by commenting on other blogs in your niche, and sending friendly emails to other bloggers whose blogs you enjoy. Offer to collaborate with them, to do guest posts for them (see next item) and in general be helpful and friendly. Develop a relationship with other bloggers — it’ll pay off in the long run.
  4. Write guest posts. One of the absolute best ways to promote your blog and your brand, and to find new readers, is to write guest posts on other blogs with readers who are among your target audience. Of course, it’s hard to get a guest post slot on big blogs when you’re just a little guy. So start with blogs that are just a little bigger than you — if you have 10 readers, go for a blog with 100-200 readers. If you have 100 readers, go for a blog with 300-500 readers, and so on. Before you start doing guest posts, however, be sure to have 10-12 solid, powerful, insanely useful posts on your blog. You want your new readers to come to your blog and be struck by a great first impression. Every guest post you write should be as amazingly useful and tip-packed as the ones on your blog (see first item).
  5. Experiment and have fun. Once you’re a blogging powerhouse, you have thousands of readers’ expectations to live up to. You have to put up great content every day, and each word is scrutinized. So take advantage of your youth as a blog — have a blast! Experiment, try out different writing techniques, imitate other blogs, try humor and rants and moving personal essays. Try to write a post that will become popular in the social media. Find your voice as a writer. Seek inspiration and write whatever you’re inspired to write.
  6. Get out there, often. Now is the time to start becoming more visible, and to spread your brand as much as possible. Comment on many other blogs, participate in blog carnivals, send links to other bloggers and see if they’ll share them with their readers, participate in contests. Be visible.
  7. Seek out your potential. You can be anything you want to be when you’re just starting out. Figure out what that will be. Aspire to great heights, and seek to raise your level of blogging each step of the way. Find your path to greatness as a blogger. Try new paths, and find what fits you. Follow your passion, your inspiration, and above all, enjoy the journey!

For more great tips on blogwriting, see my blog for writers and bloggers: Write To Done.

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. I remember the time when I first started blogging. It was fun. Now that I recall those times, I guess I more focused then and wrote pretty interesting content. The most important thing you have to do with your new blog is to experiment and test its potential.

  2. I have just started blogging, so this is really useful information for me. Great site Darren.

  3. Great tips Darren. I am a big fan of yours. For a new blogger like me, your advice is simply fantastic.

    The problem I am facing is how to find other bloggers in my niche. I write about Toddler Nutrition, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there that is really driven by science.
    Anyway, I am focused on building content right now..so I guess this can wait. If you have any suggestions, I sure would be grateful. Thank you


  4. I remember reading Zenhabits back when it was a small blog. All of a sudden, every one of his articles ended up on digg’s front page. Additionally, I started seeing guest posts everywhere (Webworker daily, Problogger, a Leon Ho interview on Lifehack).

    So, I have one question for you Leo: How were you able to have so much to say in so little time?

  5. Hey, Leo! Great to see you here on Problogger! And, thanks for the great beginner blogging tips! : )

  6. Hello!
    I have to say that this is very nice and good article – specially for all beginners in blogging! Good job indeed!

  7. These are really very helpful tips to me, because my blog is still young..! (Me too!!)

  8. thanks.. this is nice. it can be intimidating to come up with new blog ideas.. but it’s good to know that there is a freedom in being young.. very little pressure and expectations.

  9. This was a great post. My blog is about a year old and I’m getting out there pretty well but you can never have enough advice. Thanks!

  10. Great Tips.

    I’d like to add Social media networking. It is awesome how one can build a brand and visibility to their blog by being an active participant on social media like twitter & facebook.

  11. Great Post, I love how he says enjoy it while you can. Most bloggers have the opinion of this is the hard time, and when your popular that’s when it get’s easier, which isn’t necessarily true.

    I definitely agree with his having several killer posts, before doing too much advertising comment. You need to have something to keep your readers. You also need a really nice archives system, so that they can navigate through your site. Setting up a a top posts thing or most commented should do the trick.

    Guest posting is one of the best ways to get new readers, and advertise your site. And I’ve been surprised how many bloggers are happy for the day off, assuming you can write a good post. I mean you won’t get away with a problogger or john chow on the first month of your blog, but you can try for slightly large sites then yours. What’s the worst that could happen right?

    Great tips, and I’m going to check out your sites now.

    Jonathan Muller

  12. Leo –

    Launching a blog is like raising a child – so many people get caught up in the “baby blog blues”. Just like raising human children, it takes time to get your blog from baby to teenager – and just like human children – there are different trials for each stage.

    While the mechanics of blogging are amazingly easy to master, creating a successful blog is actually much HARDER than it looks.

    Thanks for sharing your insider tips from someone who has been there and done it well!

  13. Darren this is great, thank you. I’ve been feeling the urge to start a blog and have been collecting ideas for content. I like the idea of experimenting and having fun, it makes sense to just play with it and find your voice while your blog is young and carefree. The create a brand part I hadn’t considered, so that’s something I’m going to do some homework on now.

  14. This is a great post, thanks Leo. I have already started my To-Do list using your suggestions.

  15. I wish someone has told me these tips when I was getting started about five years ago in blogging.

    Your advice is spot on. When getting started, every visitor counts. I like to play the game of doubling my RSS subscribers.

    From 10 to 20, 20 to 40 and so on.

    When reaching about 500 or 1,000, it becomes easier because of the regular followers and readers are already there.

  16. Seven Points that I’m sure will help me and anyone else
    that visits our UpperRoom Storage of Great Content as
    this at upperroom’s Bookmarks at delicious. Yea, Darren
    this is a Great Post by Your Guest -Leo Babauta of Zen
    Habits. I’m attempting to grow a Blog with Thoughtful
    Comments Myself. This work is not all about me, just
    sharing my gift from God. Thank You for Solid Tips, that
    we are grateful for when we read Your Blog.

    Be Blessed always…Peace!

  17. As a brand new blogger, I like this posts. Easy to read and understand and quite powerfull stuff!

    I Love it!

  18. I have been blogging for several years on a personal blog, but recently started a professional blog that teaches non-technical people how to use social media.

    My professional blog is the one that I need the most help with building into a reputable brand.

    There are so many great ideas on here; many thanks for the blog post Darren and Leo.

    Now, about those guest posts…anyone in need of a guest blogger?

  19. Darren:

    Thanks for the great post. I am in the process of going through a strategy to build my blog as we speak. So I am glad that alot of your tips I have or will implement. One tip that I knew about but yet experiemented with is the Guest blogging.

    I assume that the blog post you place on the guest blog you can post on my blog as well. Is this the protocol?

  20. I would be interested in a guest poster Erin, check out my site mastersofseo.com to let me know if your interested. The template is a little messed up right now, :) but I’m fixing it lol. Email me at [email protected] if your interested.

  21. @TwinToddlersDad one suggestion I would have is to start posting at parenting forums. I wouldn’t start by trying to promote your content, but just start making connections with other parents. Not only will you have people who will be the target market for your content, but you’ll also get a good idea of what sorts of topics your audience will be interested in.

    I run a forum that is primarily mothers with children and I do all I can to help promote any bloggers on my site. It’s win/win for all concerned.

  22. A lot of truth in these tips, Leo, thanks! As a one year-old blogger, I have to say, I wish I enjoyed the time as a “young” blogger even more. Now that I’ve attracted a few thousand readers the “scrutinization” of each word certainly becomes a factor is how you write, and what you write about–right or wrong.

    One thing I’ve done personally to offset these feelings is start a new blog in a slightly different niche. This way I can “experiment” there and apply some of the lessons to my primary blog.

  23. Thanks for the great post Leo – my favorite is number 5, experiment and have fun. Being able to write and have fun with it is such a gift! My goal over the next year is to take more chances and if I fail, so what?

  24. Great post! As a fairly new blogger, I really needed this info. I was lost on how to find new readers, but I have been moving towards providing informational posts more often. Guess I was on the right track!

  25. True words, all of it.

    My blog is about 3 months old and instinctively I’ve done most everything you list. It has been very effective and I am as happy as a clam.

    If you are brand new, or if you are considering starting a blog, pay attention and follow this advice. It’s good stuff.



  26. Great tips! While I have been blogging for a few years now most of that is for client’s blogs. I now have my “baby” up and running and these helpful tips are going to make it much easier to get my blog past its infancy stage. :)

  27. AWESOME advice! I’m happy to say, these are exactly the kinds of things I’ve been doing, and I’m having a BLAST!

    I think I’ve found a new favorite author! Thanks for writing this post!

  28. It is always cool to go through Leo’s articles. I’m a great fan of Leo. Thanks for your helpful article, specially for me, since my blog is also at its young stage.

  29. Great tips. I always try to write good content in every post. People will come back to a well written blog that gives them value.

  30. Great post and extremely helpful to a newbie blogger like me. And I must say, I’m real fan of lists blogs so this is right up my alley. I’m bookmarking as we speak.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work on Zen Habits.

  31. NO one mentioned getting the Problogger book? ;-)

    I got mine 2 weeks ago and ate through it in 2 days. It’s the perfect book for people just starting out! I really recommend it!

  32. Finding a great Joint Venture partner has been the solution to my blogging. I had a sole blog for a while and found the weight of that coupled with a 10 hour day to be more than I could handle.

    Caused me more stress than I needed. I now share blogging duties with my partner, Deanna. Blog life is great now.

    Kind Regards

    Glenn Seymour

  33. found this post “Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do.” a couple of days ago…. it is amazing, everybody should read that.

  34. I’ just started an new blog and agree that these things are definitly essential.
    The most important: GOOD CONTENT!!!!!
    Networking with other bloggers is sometimes a little bit difficult.
    But the most important thing is: Have fun blogging and everything will work fine and you will have success.

  35. There are many things I should start doing I guess…

  36. “Of course, it’s hard to get a guest post slot on big blogs when you’re just a little guy. So start with blogs that are just a little bigger than you — if you have 10 readers, go for a blog with 100-200 readers.”

    Honestly, it’s a total waste of time guest posting on a blog with readers below 1000.

    And it’s not hard getting a guest post slot on big blogs when you’re just a little guy. I guest posted on QuickOnlineTips (16k readers), ProBlogger (68k readers), and DumbLittleMan (59k readers) when my blog had only 9 readers…

  37. Thanks for the great tips Leo. I think I’m on track, my goal right now is to really get good content out there. Once that’s done I’d like to move to guest posting. The rest will come from there.

  38. This is a great post for me, since I have just started a blog. I am still in the first stages and it is good to know what steps I need to take to get it off the ground.

    I plan to use this 4-day weekend to make changes to the design, but more importantly, my goal is to write at least 3 REALLY good posts.

    I found your blog Write to Done to be very helpful as well and I will sucbribe to the rss.

    Thanks for the advice.

  39. Darren,

    These are great tips. I am still a very blogger and I don’t think I have a good brand. I did not think of this when I first started. What would you recommend for me in this situation?

    Should I start a new blog or should I just keep at it trying to build a brand name. I often feel like my title is stupid and I should start over or change the url and title.

    If you could give me a recommendation it would really help.

  40. Having a brand new blog, I read your post hoping to find a nugget of useful information. Instead, I found a boulder! (lol) Great post, Leo, and thanks for the advice.

    The Geek Entrepreneur

  41. Thanks for the encouragement to write my butt off. I’ve started my blog coming off unemployment. Now doing temp work as a receptionist (not my life calling, but good to have so cash flow for now until something else better comes along), I’ve got all this time sitting here at this computer at work. I.e. they don’t keep me very busy. So while I have the time, I’m working most of the day on my blog, and brainstorming tons ideas to write on. That inclucdes content that will target the audience after the holidays.

    Thanks too for the thoughts on “branding”. Very helpful as I seek to keep my blog focused on something that connects with people’s desires–even in a recession.

  42. I have been blogging for a number of months and would enjoy feedback on my sites. I have enjoyed reading the Problogger and have found many of the tips useful and a great encouragement to continue blogging.


  43. These are great tips. I am still a young blogger but I am starting to come out of the hard times. My blog now has over 300 subscribers and growing. With a few more months I believe I will crack the 1,000 mark.

  44. captivating read. I think most new bloggers forget to do number 4 until later on in their career.

  45. Great tips, but aren’t you branding your blog a bit too much in this post, Leo?

    Hehe, reminds me of this post https://problogger.com/do-you-make-these-mistakes-in-guest-posting/ – Point 5

  46. Thank you for your great advice. I just started my blog – BetaTales – a couple of weeks ago and is experimenting with different ways to attract readers.

    And as a journalist in my professional life I couldn’t agree with you more that writing great content always must be number one.

  47. my blog is still young, only 5 months old. we have been reading up on ways to beef up traffic and definetly appreciate the help. without spending any money we are already between 150-800 hits a day. thanks everyone!


  48. Thanks for the great advice! My blog is about a week old, so this insight is extremely helpful…

  49. Leo thanks for the good tips. Much appreciated!

  50. All good advice. Content Content Content. You can package and promote until you’re red in the face, but if your selling crap you won’t ever get off the ground.

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