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How to Grow Your Fitness Blog to 100,000 Monthly Visitors in Less than a Year

Posted By Guest Blogger 21st of March 2017 Blog Promotion, Build Community 0 Comments

By Alex Chris of reliablesoft.net

How do you build a successful fitness blog? What does it take to start a blog and grow the traffic to 100K monthly visitors in less than a year?

If you have a fitness blog or planning to start one or even if you are just curious on how you can grow your blog’s traffic fast, then this post is for you.

What you will learn in this post is the steps I followed to increase the traffic of my fitness blog to 100,000 organic visits in only one year. I will explain the process I followed and share my experiences so that you can replicate my steps and do the same.

To give you an additional incentive to read this post until the end, let me mention that the organic traffic of the blog at the end of January is close to 600K monthly visits.

How to grow your fitness blog to 100,000 monthly visitors in less than a year

A screenshot from semrush, showing the growth of traffic since 2012.

Have in mind that although what you will read below is the story of a fitness blog, the concepts and techniques can be applied to all kinds of blogs and websites.

So, let’s get started.

I’m sure that you want to see some numbers and statistics but let’s just hold on for a moment.

Let’s rewind and take it from the beginning and talk a bit about the fitness industry.

The fitness industry is often referred to as the ‘million-dollar industry’. On one hand, we have the millions of people searching for ways to get fit, lose weight and unleash the secrets of healthy living.

On the other hand, it’s the companies that make millions per year by selling meal plans, diets, supplements and sometimes just hope to help those people achieve their goals.

In the middle, we have giant websites (newspapers, online magazines, etc.) that provide free information on all topics related to fitness and healthy living.

Someone may wonder, how can a new fitness blog compete with these and gain its share of traffic and money?

Well, it’s a matter of quality. Have you ever heard the term ‘content it’s king’?

It’s one of the most popular advice given by SEO’s the last 10 years and this is for a reason.

Make your content better than the competition and everything else will follow.

So, the first takeaway message from this post is that there is always hope. The Internet is not a place for a few but it’s a place for the many and if you prove that you have something valuable to offer to your readers, you can succeed in any niche you choose.

How to go from 0 to 100K Monthly Visits on Your Blog

Ok, now that everything is in place, let’s get to the details.

The blog is caloriesecrets.net, it was established in April 2012 and by the end of April 2013, monthly traffic from Google was 102,944.

Here is an overview of the monthly traffic for the first 12 months.How to grow your fitness blog to 100,000 monthly visitors in less than a year
It helps you see at a glance your traffic details and the relationship between number of published posts and traffic. This can prove very useful when you need the extra motivation to start writing you next post.The above table is a copy from my notes. I like to keep a simple table like this for all my websites and I suggest you do the same.

Step 1: Get to know your niche

Your first step and before starting a blog in any niche, is to find out as much as you can about your niche.

In my case, I was blogging about fitness since 2008 so I knew the industry very well and I believe this is one of the reasons that the blog’s traffic increased so quickly.

Once you come up with a blog idea, open Google, go to Facebook and Twitter and spend time to learn about your industry.

Find out who are the influencers, which websites rank on the first pages of Google, what type of content they provide, how often they publish new content, what is the average length of each post, what do they share on Facebook and twitter.

Tools like semrush and buzzsumo can help you a lot. Semrush is the perfect tool for competitor analysis. It can give you a lot of information about a domain including ranking keywords, traffic and a thorough backlink analysis.

Buzzsumo can help you identify what type of content gets shared on social media, what type of titles are used and who are the influencers in a niche.

STEP 2: Do your keyword research

A successful blog starts with good keyword research. I’m sure you know this already but it’s necessary to mention this again because any time you spend at the beginning doing keyword research will pay off later.

Remember when I mentioned above how competitive the fitness industry is? This is where good keyword research and in particular long tail keywords come into rescue.

When doing keyword research on highly competitive niches, don’t lose your time by targeting the most popular keywords, these are already being targeted by giant websites.

What you should do instead is go after long tail keywords.

This guide explains in detail how to find the long tail keywords in your niche, what I want to add here is the following:

Don’t get obsessed about the search volume of a keyword. Tools may show that long tail keywords have low search volumes but what is more important, especially at the beginning, is to achieve top rankings for some of the keywords (even if their traffic is very low).

This will gradually make your domain stronger and give you the opportunity to achieve higher rankings for more popular keywords.

STEP 3: Create a publishing schedule and stick to it

If you want to get traffic from search engines, you need to have content. It’s as simple as that.

Especially in niches like fitness, you need to have a lot of content. When starting out you should decide how often you can publish new posts, create a plan and stick to it.

When I launched the blog in April 2012, I published 10 posts the same day and then established a publishing schedule of three posts per week, which I keep today.

No matter the season (holidays, time off) or how I busy I am, I will publish three new posts per week. It’s a commitment you have to make if you are serious about your blogging efforts.

How often you should publish a new post depends on a number of things. You should not set optimistic targets you cannot meet but on the other hand you should not forget that the success of your blog, largely depends on your content.

My recommendation is to aim for three posts per week and if you feel you can do more, to go daily. Don’t forget to take a look at what your competitors are doing, this will help you decide on what target to set.

Step 4: Create Quality content

I said in the introduction of this post that content quality is a very important factor for all blogs in all niches.

For health-related niches, this is even more important. When you give advice to people that has to do with their state of health, you should be very careful.

It’s not like blogging about any other subject where you can become an expert through experience.

It’s not enough to be passionate about nutrition or fitness but you need to be an expert (a verified one), so that your readers (and other websites in the industry), will take you seriously.

If you think about it, you have three options:

  • To become an expert – get a diploma or attend courses.
  • To avoid giving any health related advice to people and only share your experiences on how you managed to lose weight or get fit, etc.
  • Hire an expert.

At the beginning, I started with number 2. I’m passionate about fitness and healthy living and I had enough stories to share with the rest of the world.

Soon enough my experience in the fitness industry told me otherwise. To get noticed by other bloggers and websites, I needed something more than just experiences, I needed certified experts that can analyse the science behind nutrition/fitness and this is the point that I decided to go with number three, i.e. to hire experts to do the writing.

It was a huge step, one that added risks and extra costs to a blog that was not making any money yet, but it was a necessary step. I was willing to take the risks because I knew the industry well so I knew what to ask from my writers.

Now, I don’t want to confuse you so let me clarify something. I’m not suggesting that you need to be a certified professional in order to create a blog on any topic you like.

All I’m saying that you need to take into account the particularity of your niche and be in position to create content that is as good or better as to what is already published on the web.

To summarize, my advice when it comes to creating content for your blog is this:

  • Take a closer look at your competitors and create content that is better (both in terms of quality and length).
  • Use case studies and research data to back-up the views / ideas expressed in your articles.
  • Be unbiased. Tell both sides of a story.
  • Don’t try to oversell a product or service, your main focus should be to provide value to your readers.

Step 5: Get your SEO right

Once you have good content, the next step is to get your SEO right. Good SEO will help your content rise to the surface and receive the attention it deserves from search engines and people.

In general, SEO can be split into three parts:

Technical SEO: These are settings that have to do with indexing and crawling, XML sitemaps, URL formatting and other ways to ensure that search engines can read and index your website properly.

On-Page SEO: Techniques you can use to make your pages’ search engine friendly. Things like your page titles and descriptions, text formatting, image seo, mobile friendliness, speed and other settings that can help search engines understand the context (meaning) of your posts and pages.

Off-page SEO: This is often referred to as ‘link building’ and it has to do with getting references (links) from other related websites on the Internet. By doing so, you can gradually increase your domain authority and get better rankings in Google.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. There are many ways to learn SEO and get this right. You just have to allocate some time from the beginning to learn the basics and as you become more experienced, everything will make more sense.

What I did from the very beginning was to fix the technical SEO issues and for every published article, I did some basic on-page SEO optimizations, especially with the titles and images.

Now, everybody with an experience in blogging knows that link building is crucial for rankings. I also knew this in 2012 but for those that remember, this was the year that Google released the Penguin and Panda algorithms that gave a special attention to bad linking practices.

So, I decided not to do any form of link building but rely solely on the quality of the content (as well as the methods you will read below), for getting natural backlinks to the site.

My advice for beginners is to follow the same path i.e. until your blog is at least six months old and has a decent number of posts with quality content, not to engage in any form of link building.

After that period, be selective as to the techniques you will use and don’t push it too fast. Build your link profile slowly and avoid any kind of shortcuts.

Step 6: Promote Your Work (besides Social Media)

We all know that social media is one of the fastest ways to promote your blog, especially if you are willing to spend a few hundred dollars on Facebook ads, but it’s not the only way to reach new audiences.

While I did start a Facebook campaign to increase my fans, which was more efficient at that time than it is now, I also looked for other ways to promote my blog. In particular:

  • I added the blog to the Chrome Web Store. This was a hidden source of traffic since thousands of people added my chrome app to their desktops and they also got new notifications every time a new post was published. I did not expect this to work so good but as they say, you will never know something unless you try it. Unfortunately, after the latest changes to the chrome web store (June 2016), this is no longer the case.
  • I created apps for Android Devices and Microsoft and uploaded them to the Google Play, Amazon Play Store and Windows Store. The competition was less (compared to today), and these apps generated a decent amount of direct traffic.
  • I also verified the website with Health On the Net– an independent organization that checks health related websites for compliance with a number of things. This did not generate extra traffic but it helped in building trustworthiness which is equally important.

Step 7: Don’t forget about your users

While so far we have talked about the importance of content and SEO, you should not forget about the user experience.

The first thing that comes in mind is of course the design of the website that has to be easy to use and user friendly, but there also other incentives you can provide to users so that they can come back and re-visit.

What I did is to create a set of Free tools (free diet plan, calorie counter, calorie calculator) to help users achieve their weight loss goals.

This helped a lot in getting repeating visits and creating a community around the website. In addition, it was a great way in building a large email list for my newsletter.

The take away from this section is to think of ways to make users engage with your content and give them incentives so as to re-visit.

What about money?

I deliberately did not mention anything about money and how I was able to pay for all the content and tools, but I know that this is a part that you want to read so here are the details.

At the beginning and for a few years the website was operating at a loss. This was not a surprise for me, I knew it from the beginning and I took the risk.

I knew that in order to make real money, you needed a lot of traffic but I also knew that in order to get good traffic you needed good content and tools.

The website makes money from Adsense. The last four years it generated a nice five-figure amount. Enough to cover for the initial expenses and also to provide a decent monthly revenue.

At some point, I did try to test other ways to make money by creating my own products (related to dieting) and through affiliate marketing but at the end I found that Adsense performs better.

With Adsense you don’t have to worry about creating products, managing sales and customer support but you settle for less profit.

I know that other companies are probably making more money from my content than I do but at this stage and with the lack of time, I decided that Adsense is the best way to go.

Conclusion

To sum up this post, let me give you some pointers you can use when working on your own blog or website.

First: There is no secret recipe for creating a successful blog. Everything is laid out in front you and it’s the same for all blogs in all niches:

  • Create engaging content
  • Good on-page SEO
  • Careful off-page SEO
  • Consistency (stick to your publishing content)
  • Build a community around your blog
  • Be patient and work hard

Second: Get to know your niche really well. This is part of your job as a blogger, it’s not an optional task. You need to know what your competitors are doing and what is working for them. Spying on your competitors is not a black hat technique, it’s a way to make your content and user experience better.

Third: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you are starting out now, you may not get it right from the first time. That’s normal to happen. Learn from your mistakes and try again.

It took me years to get organic traffic to my first blog, caloriesecrets was my fourth attempt in the fitness niche.

Take ProBlogger as another example. It is a highly successful blog with millions of monthly visitors in one of the most saturated niches on the Internet, but this did not happen overnight. Darren has been working on this blog since 2004 and before that he already had two years’ experience with other blogs.

Don’t forget, good results come to those who take blogging seriously and work hard.

Share you own story or questions in the comments, I would be more than happy to answer them.

Alex is the Digital Marketing Manager at Reliablesoft. He blogs regularly about SEO and Digital marketing and his work has been referenced by leading industry websites. You can find him in Twitter (@reliablesoftnet)

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  • Hey Alex ,

    Nowadays, people are really into taking care of their health and fitness blogs are pitching high.

    Just a couple of days ago, I read an article about maintaining the weight you have and that was something I would recommend everyone.

    Before starting, it’s important to know what you’re diving into. Knowing about your niche and your targetted audience is required.

    Keyword research and the basic SEO understanding will help you grow.

    People have their own post schedule.

    An informative article indeed.
    ~Ravi

    • Hi Ravi

      The nice thing about health and fitness blogs is that they fall into the category of what we call “evergreen content”. A good fitness post that is published today, will most probably be valid 10 years from now and this is very important when you try to grow a blog.

      Thanks for commenting
      Alex

  • Great Post! Let me extend a bit on it as some readers may wonder if this is still possible and maybe even with less content posted per month. We grew from 0 to 100.000 visitors just recently, within a few more month over a year. Even better. In the same time we build as well an email list of almost 50.000 subscribers and a Facebook page with 10.000 fans – meaning that we are not completely dependent on Google. The niche is similar, health and fitness related. We decided to follow a very similar strategy but published only once per week. Instead of doing extensive keyword research we just decided to go with the topics readers asked us about via email. But we still optimized every article on page for a specific Keyword. With the time we saved on producing more content on our own site, we created guest posts especially in the beginning of the Blog. The backlands really helped to gain Googles trust and over time as well to build a subscriber base. So even when the initial numbers from this article are from 2012, even today in 2017 it is still possible to pull off.

    • Hi Jascha

      Very nice story, thanks for sharing. What you described is another proof that there are many ways to build a successful blog, even today in 2017. What everyone needs to understand is that if you work hard and have a solid plan to follow, sooner or later results will come. Patience is key.

      Thanks again
      Alex

  • Great post Alex! As a matter of fact, if you are new to starting and growing a blog, this is a great article to read, even if your business is not in the health and wellness industry. I personally believe that growing your blog traffic does come down to a lot of blog promotion, as a matter of fact, I think Darren himself was right by saying in one podcast that promotion can be, or should be a large part of your blogging efforts.

    • Hi David

      Promotion is a large part of your blogging efforts, I totally agree with this. Once you have good content on the blog and you feel confident that people will like it, then it’s about time to start spending time on blog promotion. As I said in another article, “Good content will get you to the first page of Google and Good promotion will get you to the top positions of Google”.

      All the best
      Alex

  • Hello Alex,

    It is great to read your story, wow getting that much traffic in a year is indeed awesome and I am sure these tips from you will help all others out here.

    Thanks for a wonderful read.

    • Hi Praveen

      Thanks a lot for your nice comments. All the best with your blogging efforts.

      Thanks again
      Alex

  • Hi Praveen,

    Thanks a lot for your nice comments.

    All the best with your blogging efforts

    Alex

  • As a fitness blogger myself, this post was very helpful. I’m still getting the hang of basic SEO and keywords, but I know I will get the hang of it eventually. Congrats on your success!

    • Hi

      Don’t lose your patience, if you are starting out now, it may take some time to master the basics but after that, everything become easier.

      Good luck with your blog.

      Alex

  • Hello Alex,
    really an informative article to read……., Loved your tips for the better traffic on blog, specially the Step 7: Don’t forget about your users as we should always design our blog or site which is to be user friendly. Your article will really help me and other bloggers to boost th etraffic on our blog.
    Thanks for the great content,, really loved it.

    • Hi Gaurav

      Thank you for your nice comments. A user friendly website is important and an incentive for users to re-visit your website and this creates a number of other benefits.

      Best
      Alex

  • Hey Alex,

    Some people start a blog because they have a lot on their mind. Others use it as a source of venting. While others use it to build a brand and get their name out there. Sure search engine optimization and great headlines will help, but if you’re not providing great content, people will quickly stop visiting your site.

    It’s human nature to want to trust each other. Many fitness bloggers make that hard, as their feelings and message tend to sway to-and-fro depending on what products they are currently pimping and promoting. Eventually, thanks for exploring these valuable steps and tips.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

    • Hi Amar

      I believe that one of factors that can bring success in the fitness industry, is to stay unbiased and tell both sides of a story. If you create a blog for promoting a particular diet or product, you cannot go far.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Alex

  • I’m wondering if this goes against the ‘Less is More’ concept that is now prevalent in content marketing. It seems that it is easier to rank fewer content. But that may not be the case for some niches. Is the fitness niche about having more content? I derived this from your table.

    • Hi Aira

      If you can create lot’s of good content on a regular basis then for sure this is better than ‘less is more’. The most important factor is the quality of the content and not the quantity. In the fitness niche, there are hundreds of blogs that create good content on a daily basis and if you want to get your share of traffic, you have to ‘compete’ with them.

      All the best
      Alex

  • 100,000 Monthly visitors in less than year i can’t believe it or maybe it’s just me who is way back in SEO.

    • Hi Anna

      It is possible, if you follow a good plan and willing to do a lot of work. For sure there are a lot of websites that achieved far more better results than 100K in a month. My story is just one example of the many.

      Thanks
      Alex

  • Hi, I have just started with a health blog but after the recent Feb 7 Google Algorithm update thinks looked shaky. I lost another website, I mean all 100+ links came down crashing to 0. After reading this off-page seo details, I guess I will have to be more concerned with content quality to get some really useful backlinks. Thanks for the detailed info. I will surely follow these as much as possible. Thanks again.

    • Hi Srujan

      My advice is always to play by the rules to avoid worrying about Google updates. If this didn’t work for you now don’t get discouraged, start a new blog and learn from your mistakes.

      Good luck!

      Alex

  • Ion Doaga

    That’s the kind of experience I’m looking to achieve.

    I’m at the stage of starting my fourth blog in the health and wellness niche. I really hope that my new blog will grow, bring in much traffic and make money (I also like the option to earn through Adsense).

    Your post was an inspiration read for me today.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Ion

      Thanks, I’m glad that you liked the post. When I started out, Darren’s success was an inspiration for me (and it still is), so find your inspiration and keep focusing on your goals and I’m sure that sooner or later you will get there.

      All the best
      Alex

  • Those are great tips for promoting a Fitness blog. Thanks.

    • Hi Luca

      Thanks!

      Alex

  • Perhaps these are really important not just limited to fitness but for everyother blog on the internet. Thanks Alex for great information.

    • Hi Matty

      That’s correct, all the concepts explained in the post are important for all blogs in all niches and are not limited to fitness blogs.

      Thanks
      Alex

  • Super tips here, content is king and getting your SEO right with plugins like Yoast make life easier. I find for me Pinterest, Twitter and FB are great traffic drivers after organic SEO and I schedule tweets and statuses and push evergreen content too. I post frequently and sometimes several times a day.

    • Hi

      I agree with you that Yoast SEO is a great plugin. I also found that Facebook and Pinterest can be great sources of traffic too, especially if you are publishing evergreen content.

      All the best
      Alex

  • Thank you for the information on creating a successful blog. Much to think about.

  • So, I can Sum up the things as Content+Persistence+SEO=Success.
    Thanks for the million dollar advice. Sticking to a blog in its early time is the hardest task. But once you stick to it it will return you good value.

    • Hi

      Yes, that’s the formula that worked for me the last 15 years! Ask any succesful blogger and it will give you the same advice. Sticking to a blog, especially at the beginning is indeed the hardest task.

      Thanks
      Alex

  • This is such a perfect read for me! I am a new fitness blogger (about to have 3 full months under my belt), and I had been wondering about how to grow my traffic. Somehow, I signed up for AdWords Express within my first month of blogging. It got me wondering how much of my website traffic was coming from them vs. my grassroots Facebook sharing. I decided to take this month off to see. So far, I’m getting around 10 visits a day. Last month (with AdWords), I could easily see 20 or more a day.
    What is your opinion? Should I spend the money on AdWords as I’m growing my site?
    (I am posting daily and have been since January 6.)

    • Hi Sarah

      If you are not selling anything on your blog, spending money on Adwords will not get you far. The best way to succeed in the long term is through good content and SEO. If you are selling a product then use Adwords as long as it is profitable for you.

      All the best with your new blog!

      Alex

  • Hey Alex,

    Some individuals begin a web log as a result of they need plenty on their mind. Others use it as a supply of discharge. whereas others use it to create a complete and acquire their name out there. positive programme improvement and nice headlines can facilitate, however if you’re not providing nice content, individuals can quickly stop visiting your website.

    It’s attribute to need to trust one another. several fitness bloggers create that tough, as their feelings and message tend to sway to-and-fro betting on what product they’re presently pimping and promoting. Eventually, thanks for exploring these valuable steps and tips.

    With best needs,

    MD. Rezaul Hoque

  • Thanks for writing such a great post with tons of helpful information.
    I operate a blog with over 500,000 international readers. It has been in existence for nine years. There have been times when it is frustrating and very time consuming. It all evens out when my readers post supportive, insightful comments.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Marie

      Thanks for your comment. Getting good comments from the readers is indeed very important and helps you get through the difficult times.

      All the best
      Alex

  • Hi Alex,

    First of all congrats on your blog. I don’t think a lot of new bloggers realize just how much work goes into building a successful blog.

    Like you, I’ve tried to build more than one blog. My last blog was in a niche I hated. I just got into it because it was profitable. While I did make some money, I was never writing articles for it.

    When it came time to writing articles, I hated it. This time around, I am in a niche I love and enjoy writing articles.

    Which is great because I know that I am going to need a lot of articles to grow it. Thanks for sharing your journey to success. It let’s us know that it’s going to take time to build our blog.

    Have a great day :)

    Susan

    • Hi Susan

      Thanks a lot for sharing your story with us. If you are not passionate about the niche, you cannot succeed in the long term, that’s true. It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication and the only way to survive is to do something you enjoy.

      All the best
      Alex

  • That’s amazing Alex! My blog is in it’s third month but I’m not seeing that much traffic from the search engines yet. Pinterest is my number 1 traffic referrer for now.

    • Hi Alvin

      Don’t give up just yet. Work on your SEO and grow your blog day by day and everything else will follow.

      Best
      Alex

  • Thanks for the article Alex! SEO is something that I’ve neglected, now going on two years of blogging. Also, understanding my niche has been a challenge as I still am trying to wrap my head around the direction I need to take.

    I love the intersection of history and fitness; basically how improving these two can make us more powerful people but I guess consistency in one direction is the best course of action.

    Thanks again!

  • It really amazing to see the effort you put in for your posts. Nice to know that the number of posts count can increase blog traffic. Thanks for the post.

  • this post is really helpful for getting more subscriber and growing blog