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Exponential Growth in Blogging – Getting Through the Early Days

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of June 2006 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Stuart has posted about receiving his first AdSense payment at Your Money 2 Keep which reminds me a lot of my early days in this game.

The thing I like about Stuart’s attitude is that despite the fact that in month 1 he only earned $1.51 he’s stuck at it.

Many bloggers experimenting with making money from their blogs don’t get past a few weeks into their venture without getting frustrated and throwing it in.

Lets look at Start’s earnings graph:

Adsense Earnings

While it’s pretty small you can see that he’s getting between 40% and 150% growth each month (guesstimate).

While the numbers are quite small to start with it significantly increases when you stick at it.

Extend this graph out another 7 months with similar monthly growth (lets say at the lower end of 40% growth a month) and he’ll be earning around the $1500 mark per month. Make it 70% growth per month for the next 7 months and he’ll be over $5000 per month.

I’m not wanting to hype this or set anyone’s expectations up for that kind of money as a guarantee but when you ask most full time bloggers about their earnings over time you get a very similar graph with very low numbers at first but exponential growth.

Here’s my own graph of AdSense earnings in the first 18 or so months.


I talked about this graph and exponential growth in previous posts here and here.

The take home lesson is to work hard and to stick at it in the early days. Don’t focus so much upon the total numbers but the percentage changes from month to month.

A lot of people set $ figure goals ($100 a day, $1000 a month etc) for their blogs but I prefer to set myself goals of % of growth over time. Neither is right or wrong – but sometimes I think looking at trends can be more motivating and less depressing than looking at total earnings – especially in the early days.

Not everyone will hit this type of exponential growth in their earnings of course – for whatever reason some blogs just don’t take off – but if the beginnings of your graph are slow but steady increases be inspired about the potential growth that could be ahead of you if you keep working hard.

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 hit the $100 payout for the first time this last month as well. Took almost 9 months and the month to month earnings don’t seem to really be growing, but hopefully a few of the projects I have lined up will help that.

    I blame this site for my slow earnings! Kidding of course.

  2. My growth is steadily increasing (though not exponentially) but my AdSense earnings have stagnated. And I can’t figure anything obvious that’s wrong. That’s the situation I’m dealing with now. Any advice?

  3. Those graphs are very encouraging. I just received my very first EFT from Adsense and it was just across the $US 3-digit mark. (Not sure but I think Adsense TOS might frown on revealing the exact number.)

    Because of the payment cycle, I pretty much knew my second month’s earnings just as I received my first official payment. The Adsense income was up ~30%, but in the interim I had added three different affiliate programs, and they ended up being the bulk of my income (even for the first month they were enabled.) One earned almost nothing. One pretty much matched Adsense. And one almost tripled the Adsense earnings. Guess where I will be focusing my efforts?

    As someone who has run a (non-blog) business before, I was very mindful of the actual money I put into creating this venture. My total outlay for month one was about $20US, which was chosen only to give me a good shot at beating it on the revenue side. Not that the money is material, but I wanted the good feeling of turning a profit (no matter how small) in the first month. Amazon and eBay didn’t do that.

    The question is, now that my earnings are definitely ramping, how much of my revenues do I devote to building traffic? And where do I spend them?

    There is much viral marketing to be had for free on the ‘net, but I specifically spent the $20 in the print world (a classified in a trade mag.) Ironically, it has not run yet. We’ll see what happens.

    I would be very curious to know if ProBlogger spends hard money (as opposed to swaps/etc.) in marketing outlay. If so, what percentage of revenues do you consider a sweet spot for maximizing your dollar spent?

  4. Yeh, I agree, it is slow at first, but soon it will start to go higher and higher.

  5. I know your not trying to hype this, but I’d add that growth rates in revenue returns rarely contiune to grow at a steady rate but often start to level out at a given point. I’ve never written a blog where this doesn’t happen, and it’s related to traffic. Sure, you get periods of growth, but you also tend to hit a particular mark then get stuck there for months on end, then on day you wake up and the growth starts again (maybe Google indexing? who knows).

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  7. very true Duncan – there generally is a leveling period – I think most blogs have a natural peak that they tend to level at. Its possible to break through them but it means either having to break into a new audience, find a new angle etc

  8. Thanks for the inspirational tips…I was especially interested in your notion of some people watching money increases and others watching growth factors…. Shows how humans differ in how they track and record facts to motivate growth…. I’d like to hear more about “corporate blogging…. Do you have experience in that area. Great stff here!
    Brain Based Business

  9. I remember when my first website started bringing in like 7 cents a day. I got so excited. I was like, I can make money at this!

    That may sound ridiculous but it seemed magical to me at the time and was a place from which to grow.

  10. You’re own chart well illustrates the issues of planning on steady growth — looks like you’ve just returned to last November’s levels — what happened!!?

    If a site is seeing a steady increase in traffic then I’d say you’ll see a corresponding increase in income, with sudden increases seen due to better add placement, relevancy and so on creating sudden spurts — once you reach a certain traffic level, it’s far “easier” (and I use that term loosely) to double your CTR rather than your total traffic, yet the revenue change is the same…

  11. What causes the exponential growth? Is there anything you can do to foster it?

  12. Not to sound like a totally cheap date, but I have just hit the $2 mark for the past week andd up to around $5 for the month. I have a very new blog, but I’ve been doing all I can to pump it up and spread the word. I’ve said this before, on Problogger no less, but this is maybe the best money I’ve ever made.

    Every time I check my ad stats and see a whopping new .20 cents, my heart goes pitter patter, no joke. I only hope I can have a similar growth pattern as some of the other blogs out there. And, if not, I guess I’ll have to remember that having multiple sources of income is the way to go…even if that just means other blogs.

    Good luck, folks.

  13. Thanks for the link Darren and Duncan. Also good to see another SW Blogger.

    I’ve also been in business before, 3 to be exact (but who’s counting) all of which exumed copious amounts of money from me with very little return, or at least a very delayed return. I totally agree with David Hobby that this is the best business going for such a small outlay.

    For those who are also still hanging in there keep reading these pages. Darren has been an inspiration and blog knowledge guru.


  14. The blog I run gets about 7K visitors a day, but only a few dollars in adsense revenue. I don’t know if its good for that number or not, but even though traffic has increased adsense revenues have not grown in the same proportion. Just out of curiosity what kind of percentage growth does everyone here see a month? For me I’m stuck at one of those levels right now and have been for about three months,

  15. Anonymous says: 06/02/2006 at 5:20 pm

    I made $900 in my first month of blogging and I put a serious effort out. I’d tell you what my blogs are but no need for additional competition. :) Do you think $900 in my first month is good?

  16. Anonymous says: 06/02/2006 at 5:21 pm


    You need to seriously review and optimize your adsense! With 7k in visitors per day you should be making a lot more than “a few dollars”!!!

  17. One problem that the Asian bloggers face is that Adsense gives less money for clicks from Asian visitors of the blog. For example, if someone downloads fireforx from Google adsense from South Asia, Google gives only 10%-15% compared an US visitor.

  18. @CX: It depends a lot on content, ad placement, and where your visitors come from, but I’d expect to be earning more on 7k visitors – for example a blog that I run with around 150 visitors per day earns several dollars. If I had 7k visitors with everything else being equal I’d expect to be on over $100 per day. Mileage will vary dependent upon subject matter and what ads are served.

  19. I gotta congratulate stuart for his perserverance. I just started this present blog and have inserted some ads, but it is definitely not making anything yet. However, I have an another blog which i started in May 06 and it earns a paltry 10 to 20 cents per day. hehehe.. I stuck to it mainly because I enjoyed blogging there.
    I am seriously trying to make a living out of blogging through this present blog of mine and sure hope thing will pick up like you said so!

  20. I think the best advice to anyone attempting to increase their earnings from a new blog is to keep at it. If you can get past the disappointment of not making thousands in your first month, and look at any income as being a positive step, you can make easily make it grow month on month with a little effort.

    One thing that pretty much all long standing bloggers have in common is they started small and made little in the first few weeks, but over time built up their reputations and content which now provides a steady income.

    To those of you earning very small amounts, don’t be disheartened, we’ve been there and suffered ourselves (some of us are even still there).

    My personal disappointment came when a steady income dropped when google re-indexed, and it took 2 months to get my site back up to its previous income levels. When the income is small, these drops can have a big impact.

    A sidenote to Charlie (post #12), I believe you easily increase your earnings by simply rethinking your current adsense placement.


  21. I really like the idea of goal setting. Last month I managed to break two goals for my restaurant review site and the ads aren’t even well placed. What’s my current goal? $4/month. That’s right :) I’m not going to worry if I miss it this month, or the next month, or the next month… just so long as I do reach it, and I’m sure I will with some effort.

    Wow, Jan 05 must have been a downer!

  22. I’ve tried various optimisation strategies (ad placements et al) and noticed a northward trend in earnings. However, the past few weeks it’s all gone south so-to-speak!

  23. Darren,

    You mentioned about blogs having a natural peak. Can you elaborate. Unless you are talking in millions of viewers per day range, I don’t understand the basis of your thoughts.

    As for the main topic, I am yet to find any rhyme or reason into AdSense growth pattern. However one think I have noticed for sure. AdSense doesn’t like sitewide changes. It bumps down EPC almost immediately.


  24. Great post. I need inspiring stuff like this to get me through the early days of new sites. The funny thing, is that I have been through it before. I built up a site 2 years ago to the point it was bringing in around $500 a month. It could have grown much more, but I was putting very little work into it. I decided to see the site and made a decent profit. But now, I realize that blogging is in my blood and I am starting over from day one. Now I really wish I still had my previous site if only to use it for traffic for my new projects. Live and learn!

  25. Chris says: 06/03/2006 at 2:47 am

    $900 first month == pretty good, even very good (depends on upfront investement in adds if none then good)
    7k visitors per day but only few dollars? very bad. you could have like 2000$ per month from that. just better placement, better content, better targeted adds.

  26. #16

    That’s how I’ve been feeling about the whole Adsense thing. I’ve been trying to rearrange things via Google’s hotspot areas, post adsense ads below posts and these tricks boosted by CTR to 1% or so. It’s still not very high, but since I have a tech audience maybe they’re just not as apt to click on the ads even if they are blended in with the page.

  27. Stinky says: 06/03/2006 at 4:05 am

    I started my blog in December 05, made $140 in the first month, $300 in the second and $600 in the third. Had my best day on the last day of March and then Google did something 1st April, have made $150 for each of the last couple of months.

  28. well, thats very encouraging. indeed not everyone would have a such a chart if he or she doens’t come up with any inspirational ideas in the blog. In fact the content of the blog determines the most of how much you’re gonna earn and whether or not will the number of visitors be growing. So, be extra careful when picking the topic:)

    thanks for the sharing

  29. Anonymous 2 says: 06/03/2006 at 4:28 am

    Wow Anonymous! $900 in your first month is astounding. You must have a serious niche blog topic, with high paying ads to accomplish that. I can’t fathom that traffic alone for a new blog could accomplish it. ;)

  30. I started my weblog in mid October 2005 making it nearly 8 months since the start. In that time I can reveal that I have not even broken the $10 mark. To tell you the truth I am currently as far of the $10 mark as I am from Darren Rowse all the way in Australia. Having said that I am not yet prepared to give everything up and return to mundane life.
    The topic that I write about, namely relations between Islam and the West should in theory have a good size audience. I am informed by numerous websites and blogs and please correct me if I am wrong that a good size audience translates into Adsense dollars however this has not yet happened to my weblog.
    I always write and live in hope that one day divine providence may shine good fortune upon me.

  31. well, thats very encouraging. indeed not everyone would have a such a chart if he or she doens’t come up with any inspirational ideas in the blog. In fact the content of the blog determines the most of how much you’re gonna earn and whether or not will the number of visitors be growing. So, be extra careful when picking the topic:)

    thanks for the sharing

  32. Setting a percentage growth goal is probably good after your site has been established a while. My income my second month was 5 times the income of my first month. It might sound good but it was only possible because I was starting with such a small number. My third month I had about a 40% increase and I’m happy with that. I don’t think that growth will be sustainable though.

  33. My earnings have crashed quite a bit lately, despite increasing traffic. April was over double March.. May was slightly less than April.. but June looks like it’ll be half April again. It’s not always up-up-up, even on increasing traffic. Advertisers are definitely spending different amounts, because my CTR is almost the same, the ads look somewhat the same, but the earnings are way down per click.

  34. […] I was inspired by Daren Rowse’s post on ProBlogger.net, Exponential Growth in Blogging – Getting Through the Early Days, which describes the exponential, leapfrogging patterns of blog growth that are typical to healthy and ambitious blogs, and explains how to set personal benchmarks for success. […]

  35. Anonymous says: 06/04/2006 at 2:58 am

    CX, I would love to take a look at your blog…I bet with a little optimization you’d get bucketloads of clicks and $.

  36. […] I was inspired by Daren Rowse’s post on ProBlogger.net, Exponential Growth in Blogging – Getting Through the Early Days, which describes the exponential, leapfrogging patterns of blog growth that are typical to healthy and ambitious blogs, and explains how to set personal benchmarks for success. […]

  37. […] I was inspired by Daren Rowse’s post on ProBlogger.net, Exponential Growth in Blogging – Getting Through the Early Days, which describes the exponential, leapfrogging patterns of blog growth that are typical to healthy and ambitious blogs, and explains how to set personal benchmarks for success. […]

  38. […] Have some increasing earnings – Darren posted recently about looking at % growth in earnings each month rather than setting a $ goal. This makes plenty of sense to me. I’m just happy that so far this month, I’ve suddenly gotten Adsense clicks every day. […]

  39. I started a blog in 2005. After more than a year, I earned $100. This year, it has grown faster, but not much. It’s only recently that I’ve begun optimizing my ad placement and have started to see results. I have a new site that is starting to show promise. I have to go back and “fix” my old sites with lots of content.

  40. […] you have no doubt read on Problogger before, the goal for most bloggers is exponential growth. Not all blogs reach this point though. For many of us it is quite difficult enough to find steady […]

  41. Darren thanks for the list. After going down it and making notes I am finding I am doing more things right than wrong. That is pretty incredible to me since I am self-taught about everything when it comes to blogging.

    My blog earned its first payouts the first month and that was really exciting. I’m learning more daily and some of it right here.

    Thanks for the notes and tutorials that are helping me so much. Even if I have already completed something, it validates that I am on the right track.


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