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A Secret to Profitable Blogging – Trending Up Over the Long Haul

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Over in my question box reader JoLynn Braley asked me:

“Was there a time when you first started blogging that you became despondent and thought about quitting? If so, what happened that gave you the confidence to keep going?”

This video is all about hanging in there for the long haul with your blog and changing your focus from absolute numbers (like how many visitors or how much you’re making) to focus upon whether your blog is trending up/growing and by how much (percentage wise).

You see early in my blogging ‘career’ I was close to giving up on blogging as an income source because my blog only earned a few dollars a day. What kept me going was that while the numbers were not high – the percentage growth each month was an indication that there might be some potential reward if I keep at it.

Here’s how my earnings looked over the first year or so.

Earnings-1

Not the most spectacular start – but those first few months were already showing indications of where things were headed!

For more on this topic (and for some more details statistics and back story) you might want to check out my previous posts on a similar topic at Exponential Growth and Exponential Growth II.

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. I once quit blogging when I got back to school and now I am back. This was long before I realized I can make money from blogging.

  2. I was wondering what happened on that downward spike?

  3. I mean.. so it’s the people around you that made you to less blog? People who don’t understand blogging will really pull you down. Especially if they are office mates.

  4. Another great video. No wonder so many bloggers give up and abandon their blogs. All other factors aside, staying with it for the long haul makes a big difference in whether or not you will “make it” (whatever that means for you — hopefully you have a goal).

  5. January ’05 looks like it hurt a bit, what happened there?

  6. The thing I think is interesting is how many people let blogging stress them out a bit too much. I think that is why many people give up with it – they expect miracles – and while a positive attitude is key, being realistic with your goals is also important.

  7. I’m finding Problogger very useful. I recently started to monetize my blog, and so the tips are very useful. So far I’m off to a slow start and apart from drips of Adsense income, not much else is happening.

    I’d like to see exponential growth, but I’m going to have to wait until I get more traffic and for readers who do not get ‘ad-shock’. In fact, putting ads in the right place is proving to be the most difficult aspect so far, and I wonder how many people the ads have put off.

    I’m also running a ‘donate to a good cause’ scheme, but, again its proving slow. Still, early days yet, the blog went onto its own domain only at the end of September.

    I shall keep coming back to Problogger though for more advice – the info here is invaluable.

    All the best,

    Alex

  8. Interesting video, Darren

    I also have been blogging for a while and added Adsense more as an experiment as opposed to getting rich.

    I’m not even earning a coffee a day yet but, like you, I am more interested in trends rather than absolute numbers. I am also interested in seasonal variations and how different ad placements perform.

    Andy

    PS. Obvious question – what happened in Dec/Jan 2005 ?

  9. It is not always about numbers or income or trends.

    How about the joy of sharing a topic with like minded people.

    In other words – both giving and receiving niche information among a select group from around the world with the same interest as you.

    The topic matter may not turn you into another TechCrunch or TMZ or Engadget – but it is a nice way to trade hard to find information and get updates from people just as passionate about a subject as you are.

    This is especially helpful for those getting PHDs or doing important scientic research and want feedback from a very esoteric group.

  10. Darn it! Forgot to tick the ‘Notify me of future comments via e-mail’ box. This comment is to achieve that. Sorry.

  11. That is worth watching just for the crazy rap at the end. Great advice too :)

  12. Darren,

    Why did the rate go so much down between, Dec-Jan ? Any reason for thaT?

    Thanks for advice

    ~ Bontb

  13. I think the key thing to take away from this is that you need to stay in for the long haul. It isn’t only percentage increases that motivate you. It’s the things that give you encouragement like good feedback, increases of PageRank and a site reputation which advertisers are attracted to. I’m not sure if I can pull of 30% increases month to month but then again I haven’t been blogging for very long. I find it to be a real thrill to establish a blog; to make it have a presence in your niche.

  14. hello, well I´m from Mexico, I´m new on blogging but I was looking around and found your blog, It´s realy nice by the way… How can i choose what to blog about? or how did you choose?

    hope to hear from you soon.

  15. This was a really encouraging video Darren. I love doing little spreadsheets where I play with numbers and predict various stats around income, RSS numbers and so on. It’s great fun and keep me motivated.

  16. I just started to blog seriously 2 months ago. I’ve created blog for a year but I rarely post anything.

  17. Nice video post! Darren’s told us about a motivational tool that can help, particularly if you can focus on the long term goal of growth and resulting income. It can take a lot of work and time, but obviously it does pay off for some people if they can hang in there.

  18. I think a big percentage of people that quit blogging just after a little bit, are the ones that got into it late and aren’t that use to the whole social online thingy, maybe they are business people looking to reap the rewards of quick cash online, but like anything built up to be great you have to work at it, just with the internet you don’t have to work that long for it, but you still have to work that hard for it…

    I’m one of the younger bloggers, but I’ve had personal rambling blogs on free sites for well ever since they started. Before blogging people like me were on social networks like Virb, pownce, twitter, before that myspace, xanga and friendster, before that AIM, MSN, Yahoo messenger, before that Forums, and before that IRC chat rooms. So we’re use to not making money for talking about our passions, life or what have you online.

    btw love the intro music for that video lol!

  19. Very nice post!
    Thanks so much for that perspective!
    That is quite an encouragement.

    (btw, like the music!)

  20. You have your own rap song?! That is so awesome.

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for this quality advice. I really applies to almost any startup business as well.

    Love your blog. Keep up the good work!

  21. well the curves look quite good for you and your website popularity.

    cool

  22. Always like the video posts you do Darren and the music/rap was great!

  23. Heh, I remember how excited I was over my first dollar revenue when I opened my fitness blog. I have no idea why. I have no intention of making this my career. It’s just a little hobby for me because I enjoy talking about health and fitness. Still, it was very neat to see an actual revenue number! :)

    Gal

  24. Good post, Darren. Nice theme song there. :)

  25. Sometimes i got the same feeling when the situation is not good like when my proposal for Ads submission is rejected because of my low traffic and then i stop posting on my blog until my mood is back to normal. One of the thing i always do is to come to successful blogger website like Problogger and read some of articles that might inspire me. So far it works for me..

  26. Hey Darren, thanks for the encouragement.

  27. What great timing. I had started 2 blogs and after a couple months felt like I was talking to myself and I threw in the towel. I just began a new blog the first of this month and have been looking at the traffic stats.

    Even though you are talking about money earned from the blog I think this message applies just as strong to visitor growth or subscriber growth for a blog.

    This short bit of advice could well mean the difference in my view of success for the article marketing hobo.

    Thanks Darren

  28. I’m also curious about what happened from Nov. to Jan. with the fall of visitors.

    Starting in September 2007, I’ve decided that I’m going to keep posting and continue to develop my website and blog as if I had 1,000 visitors per day (even though it is only averaging 50 visitors per day).

    As I learn more about SEO and other methods to get the word out, hopefully the numbers will increase also.

  29. Nice rap.

    Some wise advice. After a while of blogging and making basically nothing, I’ve gotten numb. Every once and a while I’ll get really frustrated, but doing like you said and setting goals has helped me see potential in my earnings.

    I think I’ll make 30% revenue increase per month a goal of mine. $500 per day. I’ll take it. That’s more than I’ll be making this week with my hourly job.

  30. Hi Darren! This was an excellent video! Nice music ;)

    I just started a new blog, my first English one. This might be very dangerous because of some language mistakes I’ll make, but I’m really looking forward to improve my written English during the process of blogging.

    I hope new readers will understand that English is not my first language and that my main goal is to reach more people with my blog and my sport gadgets.

    Best Regards from Germany

    Markus

  31. Darren, thank you so much, you don’t know how much that means to me to get your feedback…well actually you do because you’ve been there before (what you mentioned in your video about feeling like giving up blogging before).

    When I asked you that question I was feeling pretty despondent (and sometimes still do), had gotten down with all of the spam comments that were making it through Akismet and Bad Behavior, lack of “real” comments, lower traffic #’s than I want, and just kinda wondering if I was really helping anyone out there with what I’m blogging about.

    On top of that, I do want to earn my income from this….I put so much time into it and if I am able to give value to some folks out there then I want to do this full-time, and why not earn an honest living from it?

    I can’t say that I’m making tons of income right now, but I am going to pull out my data since I started monetizing my blog in May and do exactly what you have suggested….look at the percentage increases, and then set some goals for myself for increasing those percentages from here on out.

    Besides that, the biggest message that I am getting from you is to keep on going…..you’ve said this before but you are the perfect example of what you’ve built over the long haul. What if you had quit after 6 mos or a year? You certainly wouldn’t be where you are today, and I wouldn’t have found your site because Steve Pavlina wouldn’t have written about you in one of his articles, recommending you to his readers (that’s how I found Problogger months ago).

    Thanks again Darren, you’ve given this blogger, sitting here at her keyboard some inspiration today, and even brought tears to my eyes. I really needed this, and I bet that there are other bloggers out there who are also going to get the same inspiration from you. Thank you. :)

  32. So if growth isn’t exponential we should give up trying to make money on our blogs? That’s the message I’m getting out of this one.

    Ouch. >

  33. I write a blog primarily because I enjoy it. It’s fun and it’s interesting.

    Earning some money for it would be a bonus. It would be great if I could earn enough even for the blog to pay for itself, but although the ads are well tailored to the site, only a few readers look at them, so it might be unrealistic to expect very much financial reward.

    Doing it for the money produces too much anxiety and disheartenment would soon follow. Enjoyment should be your first priority.

  34. Hey Darren,

    You continue to inspire the brand new bloggers out there. We have only been up for three days, and we have seen an increase in our RSS subscribers.

    We totally get your point about looking at percentages instead of the raw numbers.

    Another great post!

  35. I find the biggest detractor to my motivation is finding other sites that are basically doing the same things as mine. Once I get over that, however, I look at those sites a little closer and make sure I’m doing more than they are at whatever we have in common.

  36. Love the intro song. It’s hilarious.

    Thanks for this post. it’s very informative, and has helped motivate me even more!

  37. I think Darren must enjoy producing this blog, otherwise we would not enjoy being here. He is fortunate enough to make a profit from it, too – even more enjoyable!

  38. Many successful folks will tell you that perseverance is half the battle. I’ve almost called it quits on my podcast – The Working Podcast – several times. It’s so labor intensive… but I love doing it. Why not click on my name above and show some love?!

    I agree that trends can show important signs of demand. So I’m in for the long haul! And monitor those metrics!

  39. Your advice is spot on. Not sure about the music though. :)

    I’m seeing 30% monthly growth consistently in my main blog, and that gave me so much incentive when the actual numbers were still small.

  40. At this stage the money I earn from blogging is more like a sign of recognition than anything worth going to a bank about. Monetary earnings at the moment are just another statistic I use to measure how I’m doing.

    I appreciate your time scale in this. I think that if after two years, if I was still not making a living from blogging I would, if not give up, I would certainly cut down!

  41. Blog content quality can help you to increase your blog popularity. Some creative activity can also help yo increase your blog popularity.

  42. Bloggers can go without the high income easily. Is the lack of traffic that discourages most bloggers, most. Is just ironic that traffic usually controls the level of income.

    Would anybody here choose just one month of high income over one month of exposure, resulting in a surge of traffic?

  43. thanks everyone for the feedback – the slip in December 04/January 05 was when I disappeared from Google for 6 or so weeks. It taught me a lot of lessons – particularly about not relying upon any one type of traffic and diversifying your interests.

  44. Darren, I really pay close attention to your suggestions, recommendations and advice for bloggers. I haven’t been blogging online for a very long time, and haven’t made any money at it at all, and that’s ok with me. I write because I love to write, and fortunately my readership, comments and traffic are steadily growing. I guess that means I’m doing something… right. Thanks much!

  45. My blog action is a tribute to the environment…with Leonardo DiCaprio, award-winning animated shorts, and newsbites from leading conservationists from around the Globe.
    Check it out.
    Julian
    http://www.ijulian.blogspot.com

  46. Money always seems to be one factor for people to get into blogging, however, for new bloggers, the money oftentimes comes slow.

    What keeps me motivated are the encouraging comments my loyal readers leave on my blog.

    I’ve believe “to blog” is easy, but to sustain a blog over a long period of time takes commitment, perseverance, and a love for sharing knowledge.

    Rap music? That was a surprise, Darren! Now I can’t wait to see what the next “tune” will be.

  47. Hi Darren,
    Thanks for the words of encouragement, you know how difficult it is at the beginning. It’s nice to hear that you weren’t born with a pr5 rank.
    Great suggestions to keep our eye on the percentage of growth rather than get stuck on the numbers.

    Thanks

  48. Hi Darren,

    I also wanted to know what happened in Jan 05? Great suggestions for all of us.

    Cheers,
    Carlo Selorio

  49. Disregard my post… you already answered my question.

    Cheers,
    Carlo

  50. Darren – Great stuff. I’m just starting to get into this blogging stuff, and the advice from the video is great. Love your stuff. Thanks!

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