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From 0 to 2000+ Subscribers in 90 Days

Posted By Darren Rowse 30th of January 2008 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

This guest post is one that I’m excited to publish – it’s by Tina Su from ThinkSimpleNow.com – a great blog that I’ve been a big fan of. In it Tina will share some of how she’s grow her blog from 0 to 2000 subscribers in just 90 days.

How I Got 2000 Subscribers in 3 Months

Hi, my name is Tina. I started a little blog called Think Simple Now on September 27th, 2007 with zero experience in blogging, internet marketing or writing. By the time Christmas came, 3 months later, I had 2135 subscribers.

Thinksimplenow

I’m new to blogging, in fact, I read very few blogs. I also do not follow any blogs on blogging, with the exception of a couple of articles read from doshdosh and problogger very early on.

I often get asked how I did it, and I decided to compile this article as a record of my experience with hope that others might benefit from what I’ve learned. I want to show you that it is possible to achieve your blogging goals starting from scratch, using my case as a live example. I’ve learned that there are no real secrets to blogging success, all it really takes is a deep desire to do so, along with an urge to action.

I have three important reasons why my blog has been successful:

  1. Concrete Goals & Focus – You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want.
  2. Content Creation – Where I spend most of my time. Content and understanding your audience is king.
  3. Getting the Word Out – Actionable tasks I did to market my blog. All are easily reproducible by anyone. But only focus on this after area 2 have been in place. Without content, all your marketing efforts will be ineffective.

Each step builds on the last, so it’s important to follow them in order. Let’s break each step down into details.

1. Concrete Goal & Focus

Why Goals?
It is important to understand why you are starting a blog. What is your motivation?
I had 3 motivations (in order):

  • To share my knowledge and experience through my own personal growth on topics surrounding personal empowerment, mental well-being and finding happiness. These are the topics I spend my free times thinking, reading and talking about.
  • My dream is to work in the self-improvement field. I have many product ideas around ways to improve lives. I wanted to create my own audience, before working on these ideas.
  • Achieve my financial goals such that I can leave my job and commit to my self-improvement ventures full-time.

What?
Defining my target niche and the topics I wanted to cover was tricky, but ultimately vital to the success of any business or project. I originally wanted to start a blog around things I’m interested in: self-improvement, photography, technology and entrepreneurialism. I realized that a messy combination of topics might confuse people. Ultimately, if I wanted more subscribers other than my family and friends, the site cannot be focused around me, but rather focused around what my audience needs and wants. My target niche is health/wellness or personal growth. My topic areas are: creativity, clarity and happiness.

Goals
We cannot get what we want if we do not know what we want. Sure, you can say, I want to be rich or happy. But what does that mean? It is important to set clearly defined goals before you start any new venture. Your goals need to be measurable and dated. I find it helps to regularly come back to evaluate my goals. I do this monthly in a traffic journal recording my progress: unique, page views, subscribers and revenue.

For example, my goal when I started was:

By December 31, 2007, I would have 1000 uniques, 2500 page-views monthly, and 100 RSS subscribers.

This goal was revised on October 22 after reaching the original goal:

By December 31, 2007, I would have 5000 uniques, 20,000 page-views monthly, 400 RSS subscribers, $100 in ad revenue.

The new goal was reached on November 29th. At this point, RSS subscribers had reached over 1500.

Summary & Action Items:
To summarize, the following are the major points for the area of ‘Concrete Goal & Focus’. If might be helpful for you to answer these questions (on paper or type in a doc).

  • Why – What is your motivation? Why are you starting this blog? What are you doing that’s unique from existing blogs?
  • What – Who is in my audience? What topic areas will I cover? Describe my blog using 3 words.
  • Goals – Set a specific and measurable goal with a date. Come back to evaluate this goal and your progress periodically.

2. Content Creation

We all know that content is the most important piece, but how do you generate content such that people will want to read, reference and subscribe to it?

First, recall the last time you subscribed to a blog. What was it about the content that made you want to subscribe? The reasons will likely fall into one or more of the following:

  • Highly value-packed content.
  • It provides practical solutions to a perceived need you have.
  • You enjoyed it. It was highly entertaining.
  • You personally connect with the content and style of writing.
  • You felt inspired and motivated.

Now, put yourself in the position of a reader to your site. You know who they are from exercises above. Ask yourself, which of the above situations can your content satisfy? Keep these points in mind when writing. Always write with the intention to generate value and produce work that will benefit others. If you don’t, it will show in your writing.

I obsess over my content, not only because I feel responsible for my readers and want to give them the best quality that I can produce, but it is the only way a new reader coming to your site will want to stay and come back.

Try different styles and test which your reader responds to the most.

The following are tips related to content creation that’s worked well for my blog:

  • Intention – Set the intention to generate the best and most valuable content possible. Hold nothing back when you’re writing. Your honesty and genuine intentions will shine through in your writing. I like to write as if I’m talking to my best friend, giving them the best I have.
  • Use Personal Examples – People love stories. This allows them to relate with you on a personal level and connect with you as friends.
  • Pictures – Use appropriate and vivid images to go with your article. Whenever possible, always use images, but don’t over-do it. I would use no more than 3 images per article in a typical case.
  • Length – I prefer to post less often and write longer articles that covers depth. I post twice weekly and at length 750-1500 words. The length is out of necessity to cover topics thoroughly. I do try to keep things concise. Make sure all content are relevant. Do not be verbose for the sake of length, it will show if your writing and will turn people away. If you were a reader, would you be able to focus your attention long enough to read the whole article?
  • Lists – Use numbered lists and bullet points whenever it makes sense. Bold key words. These make reading easy and effective for scanning.
  • Short Paragraphs – Be as concise as possible. During editing, see if you get the same point across using less words.

Summary & Action Items:

  • Intentions – Have your reader’s best interest in mind.
  • Needs – What needs are you fulfilling with your articles? Is it a need that people actually have or one that you think others need?
  • Observe & Model – What kinds of articles do you enjoy reading from other blogs? Pick out common characteristics and model after them.

3. Getting the Word Out

Once I was armed with my goal of reaching 100 subscribers and had my content in place, I started to promote my blog. You may have the most valuable site in the world, but no one will benefit if they don’t know it exists.

Offline & Email
I pretty much lived and breathed my one simple goal of reaching 100 subscribers. Everywhere I went, I told people about my goal and my blog, and people were willing to help. This include every physical person I met and anyone who emailed me: co-workers, girlfriends of co-workers, friends of family, person sitting next to me on a plane, new friends I met on facebook, photography clients … everyone.

I added a note about subscribing to my email signature, so it appeared at the foot of every email I sent out. I emailed all of my friends when I launched, asking them to support me by subscribing.

Connecting with People
Connecting with readers and potential readers is an essential part of my blogging success. Not only does it help my blog grow, but I absolutely love it. I have made many good friends this way. When people like you and feel that your content is valuable, they will tell their friends about it. I quickly discovered that many of my readers were emailing links to others, and referring many new subscribers.

I’ve given extra effort to reach out and connect with others. It was a process which I took personally. I made sure every comment was responded to and no emails were left ignored. I no longer respond to every comment due to time limitations, but I still respond to every email. If a comment was especially good, I would email the person to thank them and include a copy of my response to their comments, especially if it contained questions.

I used to email every person who commented with a thank you note and would ask them to consider subscribing. Then I discovered the Comment Relish plug-in that did this automatically.

I also connected with people through facebook, by visiting groups in my niche and befriending individuals. I’ve made some great friendships this way, and was even inspired with new article ideas.

Leaving Your Mark: Comments & Directories
Comment in other people’s blogs, especially ones with related topics. Make sure to leave thoughtful and relevant comments, otherwise, it will be viewed as spam. I found a list of personal development blogs, and made a point to visit every one and leave a comment when appropriate. Again, make sure you are not spamming. Bloggers are often curious of who the commentators are and will visit your site. On popular blogs, you may need to leave comments regularly to be noticed. If your content is good, bloggers will link to you when appropriate, others may even add you to their blogroll.

I’ve submitted articles to article banks, blog carnivals, and rss feed directories. I stopped article bank submissions when I learned about the google penalties for duplicate content. In an effort to save time, I outsourced these three tasks due to their repetitive nature.

Networking with Bloggers
Reach out and meet other bloggers. You never know who you’re going to meet or how you will be able to help each other. I feel that you cannot do it alone, you need a community of friends. “We are stronger together than we are apart“. I recommend keeping a contact list of friends, so it’ll be easy to get in touch with one email. This is also valuable when you need last minute help with social media.

This model helped me tremendously: To get what you want, help others get what they want, first.: In a email reply from Maki, he ended his email with, “Let me know if you need anything,” which left an impression on me. From that point on, I told people about Maki’s site whenever I had the chance.

Since then, I started using it in my emails as well. But it is important to be genuine. Always lend a hand to help other bloggers (within reason) and do not expect anything in return. If they end up helping you, great, if not, I don’t recommend harassing them.

Don’t be shy, people are incredibly kind creatures by nature. Drop them an email to introduce yourself, either make a genuine comment about their site, or ask a simple question. Do not start email conversations with asking to be linked, asking to review your blog, asking too many questions. Avoid philosophical questions, keep emails short, be friendly and honest. Try practicing on me: Feel free to drop me a line to introduce yourself at tina[at]thinksimplenow.com

Linking
I linked to other blogs whenever possible in my articles. It doesn’t cost you anything, and helps someone else out. If you feel uncomfortable with this, ask yourself, would you like to be linked by other blogs? If the answer is yes, then remember my motto: “To get what you want, help others get what they want, first.

Through my linking to other blogs, not only have other bloggers noticed me but I have made many new friends. As a result, I’ve also been linked by larger sites like lifehacker, dumblittleman and lifehack.

Social Media & Networks
In the first few weeks, I was getting like 15 hits a day, mostly from my mom and boyfriend. One day, I was blessed with 150 hits coming from StumbleUpon based on a user submit. I was fascinated and was determined to become a power user. You can check out my profile here. I did well on StumbleUpon using the same motto: “To get what you want, help others get what they want, first.” If you want user reviews, give lots of user reviews to others. If you want others to stumble your pages, stumble other people’s pages. Again, do so without expecting anything in return. And, when you do receive something, treat it like a gift and thank the giver.

Just as I was starting to feel de-motivated, my big break came on November 17th when one of my stories made it on the front page of Digg and subsequently on the front page of Del.icio.us. Digg now had my attention. Using the same motto as all my efforts above, I befriended Digg users and became a loyal contributor of the community. I like to Digg top upcoming stories (close to becoming popular), newly submitted stories and ones submitted or favored by friends. If you want to get a Digg user’s attention, start Digging their submissions regularly.

I like to keep a consistent profile across all social media sites I participate in. Use the same avatar image and use the same username. Your image and username is your face to the network, people will recognize you if they find you in other networks such as Mixx, Propeller or Twitter. But if you use different images, it’ll be difficult to keep track for your online friends. Also, I don’t recommend changing your avatar often. Some users on StumbleUpon will regularly update their image, this is really confusing and forces me to remember them by username only.

Summary & Action Items

  • Tell everybody and ask for help: in person and over email
  • Connect with readers via email
  • Install Comment Relish
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Link to other blogs whenever you can
  • Make 5 new blogger or social media friends weekly
  • Join StumbleUpon and Digg

Parting Words

I often hear people say things like “I just can’t get people to subscribe. What can I do? My advice is to stop repeating this sentence and start focusing on what it is that you want, instead of what you lack.

Develop the mentality of abundance instead of competition. Focus on your readers, obsess over their experience, have a clear goal and go after it with your whole being, without a minute spent on reasons why you will fail. I have seen over and over again that:

When desire is mixed with faith backed by massive action, the probable becomes possible, every time. No exceptions.

I wish you continued success with your blogging and other life ventures. Keep your head up high.

About the Author of This Post:

Help and support Tina by subscribing to her blog at ThinkSimpleNow.com to get motivational and empowering articles like this one delivered twice a week. She’ll love you for it. :) Read more about Tina here.

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. @Shawn (the 2nd Shawn to leave a comment not the first) – happy to take some criticism on the content on this blog – but it comes across better if:

    1. you say something constructive – ie make a suggestion of how it could be better rather than saying something generic

    2. you do so with a real name/link so that we can have a conversation

    The other thing I’d encourage you to do is realize that when you leave a comment that you also leave your ip address which can reveal what other comments you’re left on a blog – and in doing so reveal who you really are. There’s no need to leave more than one comment on a post under different names – just say what you need to say, say something that is constructive, don’t be afraid to say something negative as long as you do it with a little respect and we’ll all learn something from it.

  2. a fantastic pretty girl with fantastic happy blog. that’s amazing!

  3. Well said Darren.

  4. Fantastic! Fantastic! I love to here these online marketing stories. You should be very proud of yourself. Its refreshing to see these strategies.

    Megan Vaillancourt
    http://www.PassportMentors.com

  5. Hi,

    This is the best post that I have ever read which shows how to be a successful blogger. Thank you so much for this. You taught me a good lesson.

  6. Fantastic post Tina! I found it via my facebook profile as Problogger is listed in my blogfriends app. I have visited your blog and have favorited it too.

    I think I need to get over the idea that my friends and family wouldn’t want to read my blog! I haven’t promoted it to them as I have in the social network arenas so maybe it’s about time I did to increase the readership. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

    Most everything else you have written about I have already done and have seen an increase in readership since I made my options of subscribing via RSS or email more prominent!

    I have had a break over the last month having the kids at home and now that school has begun, I am keen to get back into my routine of blogging and networking. Thanks for the inspiration :)

    Bless

  7. Getting 2000 subscribers is a great achievement. Well Done! Whilst I think it is essential to have defined goals, any blog needs to be focussed with great, well written content. These skills can take time to develop!

  8. Tina,

    Congrats,

    I am VERY proud of you. I hope to follow in your footsteps and will be watching you closely.

    Thanks for sharing..

  9. BRAVO!!!

    That is what I am talking about. You Better Work Girlfriend.

    Brilliant. Inspiring.

    I have one question – Can I post this article on my site? (with the footnotes, of course) I would love to share it.

  10. To be honest I think there is little bit more to this story then we are being told. If you think about it for a second. We have girl who claims to have no experience starts a blog and goes from zero to whatever number she has now. Just like that….. I do not buy it. The blog is well done, but she was well advised and knew what she was doing before she even did her first post. That said it does not distract from the meaning full content she has on the website. A lot of things she writes about really do make a better world.

  11. As someone who has been close friends with Tina for a very long time, even before she got into the world of blogging, there is one very key ingredient to success many of you might overlook. Tina started her studying her material many many years before the blog. In a sense, she is an expert in her field. This shows through in her content- the content is 100% real, and if you meet Tina in person you will see this.

    She had a great idea with (and this is important) a big market, and has executed it well. Her article makes it very clear- there are a lot of powerful tips and tools out there to promote your content, but underneath it all is- well- great content.

    Idea + REAL Content + Big Market + Execution + Perseverance = Success.

  12. @Tina. Thanks a lot for your comments. I am very proud you look into my blog and make three advices. I would make the changes as soon as possible, I am not a programmer and changing things are quite challenging for me, but I am a tought guy I will survive.

    I will visit your blog often. Thanks a lot!! People will know about you in spain.

  13. She’s good. Plain and simple.

    Peace.

  14. Thanks Tina, a fascinating story, and it introduced me to your excellent blog…

  15. Amazing post Tina..For a change I see a post from an expert who’s explained the basics as well…Iam currently in a very similar situation to what you felt when u started out…this post gives me a lot to think about…thanks:)

  16. Great Post Tina… I’m relatively new at blogging and I think this will definately help me out. I’ve got tons of content, but very few subscribers.

    Have a great day!

    -B-

  17. Thanks, Tina! I just downloaded the Comment Relish plugin and have set my goals for increased subscribers, uniques and page views. For those of you interested in subscribing, check out my travel blog: http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/about-beth/blog

    (Hey, I gotta start somewhere – eh?)

  18. As a follow up – I just added a fantastic plugin to my WordPress site. This plugin allows me to place Adsense code anywhere within my posts and to change the code based on what ad size I want to run and the content I want in the ad.

    http://www.acmetech.com/blog/2005/07/26/adsense-deluxe-wordpress-plugin/

  19. hi tina,
    thanks for the reply.
    I like the frequency of your post. Posting everyday feels scary to me.

    Its a lot of hard work. I hope it is paying off.

    Vineet

  20. Ths great advice and I would like to congratulate you on your achievement. Yopur advice is sound but what works for some may not work for others.

    Thanks

    Regards

    Richard

  21. This is great advice and I would like to congratulate you on your achievement. Yopur advice is sound but what works for some may not work for others.

    Thanks

    Regards

    Richard

  22. Hi! I loved the article. I got some great advice. Apparently, Comment Relish is a WordPress plug in. Do you know of anything similar for Blogger other than gmail? Thanks.

  23. This is a very informative and upbeat article. I really like when writers blog based on their own lessons learned. readers see credibility in that and also learn their own ways.

  24. Very good article Tina, awesome! Your blog is great as well. Keep up the good work!

  25. I liked this post. In fact its the first time in a long time that I opened notepad and actually took notes.

    As some of the gentler “snowflakes” pointed out there isn’t a whole lot of brand spanking new info but that isn’t the point. She starts off telling everyone she isn’t a blogging Guru people. What she did do was focus on her goals, apply persistent, consistent actions to their achievement, and then move the markers.

    Someone pointed to the massive effort and time spent linking and commenting, and “Stumbling” and Digg-ing as if it were cheating…Ummm…I feel for you if you don’t have what it takes, but that IS what it takes to get the results that Tina saw. You gotta roll up the sleeves and do the work.

    I think everyone can use a voice to refocus them from time to time and this post, this voice worked for me.

    Thanks to ProBlogger and thank you Tina!

  26. I think it is important to work as you outlined above in any business. Regardless of blog or fish store, you should always have specific features – benefits, goals and be willing to do things for people so they become your friends (or customer)

  27. Congratulations on the great work getting all those subscribers, the blog is great and I’m sure it will be added to my RSS reader.

  28. I’m concerned about networking with other fitness bloggers. Their sites, which mostly seem to be hard-sell and full of hype, disturb me and are the opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish. Yet I’m afraid of alienating these popular fitness writers.

    I can’t decide what to do about this, yet.

  29. Mark Tan says: 02/22/2008 at 7:15 pm

    Congratulations Tina. This post gives me a lot of inspiration. I’m just starting out, just like you did 4 months ago and this gives me hope that it can be done and hopefully in the coming months I can achieve something.

    Many thanks

  30. Best article I’ve read on blogging advice, to date. Great tips Tina. I love your attitude of giving in order to receive. It is truly one of the greatest things you can learn. In that spirit, if anyone would like me to review or stumble their blog, come visit my blog and drop me a line and I’ll do my best to help you out. =)

    http://jonathanmead.com – Authenticity, Clarity, Balance

  31. Very good information Tina. Nice blog as well. Keep up the good work. I will be returning. :-)

  32. Tops! I learned some new stuff I will try out next week to get my subscribers up, thanks Tina.

  33. Great info and story. I’m about 100 days into my blog and get about 100 -150 visitors a day to my blog who spend an average of 2 minutes reading my content. 68% are new visitors and about 40% go and read older content. I don’t know if this is good or not.
    Certainly I can use a lot of help. I appreciate your efforts.

  34. Darren … any chance of loading a CSS for print? By the time I got here, there were 133 comments. With all due deference, that’s about 20 sheets of wasted paper — I’m here for the meat, not the gravy. ;-)

    Tina … I thank you for putting all of that meat in a single article. The reason the article is long is because you actually had something to say. Keep saying it.

    I have ADD. If I can handle the length, anyone should be able to. ;-)

    My own blog goal is simply to improve my unique visits each month while developing better focus for each blog I write … all of which are horribly fuzzy. I think a recent narrowing down will help my religion blog but I’ve still to create some promised work.

  35. This is a most enlightening and insightful post. Tina’s article is totally open and transparent. I can sense her sincerity in sharing her experience and knowledge. She truly does what she preached on the point where she was saying to treat her readers like her best friends and to share the best she has. This point can be seen from the article that she wrote. I believe all would agree with me on that too.

  36. Inspiring post.You need to give in order to get.In blogging it means being there for your readers and participating in the discussions and helping in any other way possible.Publishing interesting content on a regular basis is the key.

  37. I recently added a video channel to my blog. At first I was trying to sell educational videos related to my topic. Click the video, pay with credit card and watch away. Great service but not a lot of takers.

    Once I started to add free videos the content started to jump. Just had my first 500 visitor day and sites been up a month.

    My blog doesn’t get quite the traffic yet.

    Thanks for the post Tina!

  38. Hi, Tina!

    Good post!

    I like your phrase: “When desire is mixed with faith backed by massive action, the probable becomes possible, every time. No exceptions.”.

    Best wishes,

    Elvis

  39. Tina,
    Very inspiring. I am new to blogging and internet marketing and I really like your approach. Very good insight into how to drive traffic.

    All the best,
    Ray

  40. Your blog is great and so are you, so you deserve all this success! Thanks to post

  41. Thanks for posting a great article, this certainly is a ray of hope for bloggers who started few months ago and are about to give up because of lack of results.

    Thanks again!

  42. Fantastic post Tina! I found it via my facebook profile as Problogger is listed in my blogfriends app. I have visited your blog and have favorited it too.

  43. Dinesh says: 07/11/2008 at 3:54 am

    Thanks again Tina for sharing your wonderful ideas on blogging.

  44. Great article Tina and well done on reaching then surpassing your initial goals. It’s interesting to read an article like this that takes you through the process from start to finish and beyond. :)

  45. Tina,
    I, too, set specific goals for my blog, which was first published on June 15.

    My goal was 5,000 after the first year, I may triple that now after reading your real-life example and finding out that it is absolutely possible!

  46. Very good article Tina, awesome! Your blog is great as well. Keep up the good work!

  47. Nice post, I feel motivated. I will be returning

  48. Thanks for the great article!!! I’m looking forward to putting your advice to use.

  49. Tina,
    You are a great blogger.

    I Wish you success!!!

  50. Great story, That’s so awesome what a person with goals can do.

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