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Starting A Successful Blog Is Like Planning An Invasion


This post was written by Alan Skorkin. Alan shares his thoughts about software development, people and teamwork on his blog skorks.com.

Every blogger wants to be successful, it is only natural. We often start out blogging about something that is our passion and we want everyone else to be just as excited about our passion as we are. It is therefore surprising just how many people have no concrete plans regarding what they want to achieve with their blog (let alone how they are going to achieve it) beyond vague dreams of grandeur. I understand that it can be difficult to set yourself concrete goals, you may not really know what you’re capable of and so much is simply beyond your control. But, I have a trick that you can use whenever you’re starting a new blog (or want to kick-start your existing blog) that will help you focus and put everything in perspective.

Think of your blog as a country that is planning an invasion. What does an invasion have to do with the internet, I hear you ask? Well, consider this. What you want to do with your blog is to take over the internet (i.e. be successful), but the internet is a big place and you probably won’t be able to hold the whole thing, so what you’re really trying to do is carve out a little piece of the internet for yourself (being the supreme ruler, god and emperor of it is strictly optional :)) and that is exactly what an invasion is all about – at least in the classical sense. Whenever you’re planning an invasion you don’t just send your troops out to ‘see how they go’ and ‘play it by ear’ the first thing you need is…

A Strategy

Every grand strategy starts with a grand objective. Where do you want to end up and at what point will you pronounce yourself a success? You need to know what you’re working towards, it gives you your general direction. Once you have a direction, you need to map out – in broad strokes – how you will achieve your grand objective. What are the steps on the road to your goal – these are your milestones. Get 1000 subscribers, have at least 100 blog posts published, guest post on 10 of the top 100 blogs, get at least 300 visitors per day from Google, these are all great milestones and can form part of your strategy. And don’t forget to set yourself some deadlines, you’re invading, not going for a leisurely stroll, you don’t want to be at it forever. This is all well and good, I hear you say, but how do I reach each of those milestones? For this you need…

Superior Tactics

A grand strategy is necessary, but invasions are not won with grand plans, it is all about having superior tactics from battle to battle. In the blogging world it comes down to:

  • how targeted your posts are – make sure your posts fit your niche, otherwise you dilute your message. It can make tactical sense to creatively jump out of your niche once in a while, but in general you want to play to your strengths (presumably you chose your niche based on your strengths). You will fight better and last longer (i.e. write better posts) and you will constantly reinforce your message.
  • how timely your posts are – learn to know what’s happening in your niche, find out what’s important, what’s hot and what everyone is talking about. You need to know when and where to strike to achieve maximum impact. People don’t want stale content, that doesn’t mean you always have to break news, but a timely opinion piece on a hot topic can bring a tremendous amount of exposure.
  • how your promote your posts to give them maximum exposure – you can’t just use brute force all the time, sometimes it helps to use terrain to your advantage. In blogging terms that means you need to promote your posts, use the social media terrain and let it do half your work for you.

Even with all these efforts it can still be tough, you’re targeted and you’re timely, but the terrain is vast and there is just so much ground to cover. Plus the more ground you cover, the more you leave your flanks exposed, not a good situation. You will need some help, you have to find yourself some…


Often you get stuck in a rut, you hit a stalemate, you and the internet are just equally matched. This is where having allies comes in really handy. It sometimes makes sense to band together with another invader, you’re both after the same goal and there is more than enough territory for everyone. You can help promote each others content or provide a fresh voice on each others blogs, and you don’t have to band together with just one, sometimes a coalition is a good idea – everyone benefits. You might even try to get the support of a major power (a top blogger), that can be a real bonus, all you have to do is be creative and persistent in your approach (a little luck doesn’t hurt either). And of course don’t forget the local powers (the social media power users), these can make the outcome of some of your battles a foregone conclusion. A successful invasion can be largely about relationships and the internet is no different. But of course, no amount of allies will help you win your battles if you don’t…

Win The Skirmishes

Skirmishes are the bread and butter of any invasion. They are not glamorous and there are lots of them, but together they combine to let you succeed when you fight your major battles. In blogging the skirmishes are your daily (or at least) regular periods when you produce your content. It is not a glamorous time and it is not very social, but it is the bread and butter of a successful blog. You need to make time to regularly produce content, it doesn’t have to be daily, but you do have to keep doing it. The more skirmishes you fight the more you wear down the enemy, or in the case of blogging the more content you get out there the more chances you have of being noticed. There is one thing though, that will always jeopardize your chances of winning your skirmishes (and battles)…

Getting Distracted By The Scenery

There is always more to learn in the blogging world. There is a lot of info, much of it free and you can keep reading and learning indefinitely. But while you might get knowledge or satisfaction from watching the scenery, it is also how you get ambushed. You look around at the beautiful trees (or helpful blogging info) and before you know it you’re ambushed and have lost the skirmish (not writing content) and ultimately the battle and the war. You have your strategy and you know what tactics to employ, these may or may not be the latest and greatest, but they’re tried and true and they do work – stick to them. And if you really want to give yourself some motivation and kick this invasion up a notch try…

A Blitzkrieg

In a blitzkrieg you hit the enemy fast and you hit them hard, and you keep moving before they get a chance to recover. This means you brainstorm an idea for several successful posts or a series of posts, then you write them all and then you release them in quick succession and go all out promoting each one. I don’t mean release them one minute after each other, but instead release them judiciously. Build some hype around the first one and before it starts dying down, you release the second and build hype and promote that one, and then do the same for the third. Don’t give them a chance to recover. A blitzkrieg series of posts can really allow you to move far in short period of time. The allies you built before will really come in handy here (to protect your flanks as you move forward). Sometimes though, all this is not enough, none of it seems to work because you have forgotten one of the most important things…

The Logistics

Your invasion will only continue to have momentum as long as it is well supplied, ratty equipment and threadbare clothing will come back to bite you eventually (invading Russia in the middle of winter has proven this time and time again :)). For you this means, looking at where your blog lives and maybe sprucing it up a little while you’re at it. Make sure your blog is hosted reliably, a poor host can really cost you. It doesn’t mean you need to pay an ëarm and a leg’, but it does mean you server should be able to handle traffic spikes that you will no doubt supply through your promotional efforts. At the very least you need to make sure you have a caching solution of some sort in place (e.g. WP-Cache plugin for WordPress). It is really embarrassing when your blog falls over after a small traffic spike – almost as embarrassing, as realizing your tanks are not water proof when you need to cross a river. Oh and do invest a little bit into your blog design it will pay off handsomely in the long run. Everyone enjoys a unique and cool-looking design, it may not be the major selling point of your blog, but it does add that little bit extra. Finally, if you remember nothing else, always remember this old maxim…

No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy

What this means in terms of an invasion is that no matter how good your strategy and tactics are it can all go to hell in a second when you’re in the thick of things. The key is being flexible enough to adjust to these changing conditions, take advantage of the opportunities and minimize the losses you take from circumstances you couldn’t foresee. In blogging terms it means – well, exactly the same thing. You need to have a grand plan, you need to set milestones for yourself and work towards achieving them, you need to know how you will promote your content and your blog and you need to build relationships to help you do so. But above all you need to be flexible enough to adjust to anything. If something is not working for you, scrap it and try something else, figure out a different way to approach that A-List blogger instead of giving up. Find a way to advertise creatively rather than using Adwords like everyone else. Always remember this, you can become as successful as those who have come before you by emulating them, but to surpass them you will need to forge your own path. I wish you a successful invasion!

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. Look great this tips
    I like it
    If we take it as long investment
    we will think out of our mind

  2. Hehe, great analogy! Let the battle commence!

  3. I have had one successful blitzkrieg so far. I spent maybe a few hours more on a particular post and wanted to make sure people read it. I went all out posting links to the article on several forums, and in comment sections of major blogs and I even emailed a link to the article to a few pages and got it reposted.

    My traffic jumped from about 20 a day, to 1000 people over the next 2 days. So yes, you gotta have a strategy or else your just “peeing in the wind” :)

  4. Great post Darren! I’m about to launch my second blog maybe next week and I want to make it very successful from the go.. Very inspiring material!

  5. I love your analogy. Very well constructed – and it made me smile :) I’ve definitely gotten distracted by the scenery from time to time, but I’m going to do better from now on!

    Blitzkrieg time!

    On a slightly related note – the link to skorks.com is broken.

  6. it was amusing…yet imprints the message on how to become a successful internet blogger.

  7. Haha, excellent little metaphor! It actually made quite some sense.

    I’ve been using the allies technique and I’ve gotten a modest boost in traffic, though nowhere near as much as I want to be.

    Sorta OT, but is there a reason why Google indexes fluctuate? I had about 15-16 posts indexed a while ago and now it dwindled down to just one. How does that work?

  8. Wonderful analogy!

    A couple of my previous blogs died an unmourned death out on the battlefield because I failed to have any clear objective in mind (and, in retrospect, I was probably fighting completely the wrong corner anyway…)

    With my current blog, Aliventures, I took much more time to think, plan and organise things beforehand, and I’m working a lot more strategically with guest posts etc — and it’s definitely paid off. The blog has around 180 subscribers after being live for just over a month; that’s about five times faster than on the first “pro” style blog I attempted…

    Thanks for such a well-thought-out, entertaining and informative post!

  9. Right out of a military college, and applicable outside the gates. Thanks for the inspiration and reminder of the offline paths to success.

  10. The idea seemed nice, but I am not sure about the details. I think that when it comes to the internet and blogging, it is more about subtle seduction. It is just like in the stories about a beautiful woman who is out there trying to seduce the king and make him WANT to give her everything he has got. First she makes him notice her, than she makes him take interest in her, and then she will make him open up his heart to her.

    An attack would not be the correct metaphor. I think that blogs usually grow slowly, slowly until the reach a critical mass.

  11. Danny says: 08/23/2009 at 2:41 am

    I’d rather plan an invasion…

    To me, the key to a good blog is you need to know a lot of people OFFLINE that are interested in your topic. That’s a built-in reader base from the onset.

    Secondly, SPELL CHECK and check your grammar and links before you post. Even if I’m interested in the topic spelling errors turn me off cold…time to move on….

  12. Your post makes me want to play ‘Risk’ all of a sudden.

    But I like it when you place yourself as going into war with some country.

    It’s true that in every business (I treat my websites and blogs as business) there must be a strategy or plan on how to market to the mass or targeted crowd.

    If plan A does not work, move on to plan B. or C or even D.

    Change or flexibility is what we must always be in the world of business.

    Just like a war, its either you win or lose.

  13. The invasion is the first step, it’s what you do in the long run that’s most important. Great post just the same, but I don’t think that blogging is either you win or lose, you can be a mediocre blogger and not the complete ruler of that topic.

  14. Love the analogy. I’ve been trying link building by commenting on blogs. Need to consider adding other methods as well.

  15. Very cool post. Brought blogging into a whole new perspective.

  16. Love this unique style of post. Nicely done, comparing blogging to invasion! ;)

    Thanx, I will have to work on my strategy to grow a blog!


  17. Totally agree with you, And adding to your thought: Bloggers should treat blogging as a long term business which should have a defined goal and then they should go ahead with discipline, Patience and consistency towards achieving that.

  18. I love this analogy!

    I was thinking that I need to plan more and be more deliberate with my blogging.

    Thanks Alan (& Darren, of course) for this great post!

  19. I don’t like this analogy of blogging (or business in general) as warfare at all. I would rather describe it as a game…

  20. Great use of blogging and an invasion, it really got some points across that I’d forgotten, thanks

    Off to put my troops back through boot camp

  21. Great post, with the most powerful tips being having allies and having a strategy to begin with. Putting that strategy into use is the real key and often the problem is getting distracted by the shiny objects which Alan nicely warns about.

    If I’d add something it would be to form that strategy before even beginning; doing market research a bit, form a strategy and then execute that plan with confidence.

  22. Blogging is like invasion. Then you will need a whole lot of soldiers, meaning links that direct back to your blog. I kind of like this idea. It seems many things in this world follows a bunch of universal rules. Interesting.

  23. hmmm…maybe I should have read this piece *before* I announced Kitchen Jam’s soft-opening. Then again, mounting an invasion over jam and preserving might be overdoing it. ;)

  24. I always trying to have allies for me, this is the most part in blogging , give something to take something back .. or in other mean , socialize in a friendly way.

    great post, thank you

  25. Good battlefield metaphors, but you need more of them! Last heading should be “When to Retreat.”

    If you’re new to blogging, don’t pay for advertising. Get it for free. There are many ways to do this: email people, comment on other blogs, mutual linking, hand out fliers you print cheaply, word of mouth. The only money you should be paying is your hosting and domain fees. Make money through AdSense and Amazon Associates. Everyone else is doing it, but it’s tried and true.

  26. Good battlefield metaphors, but you need more of them! Last heading should be “When to Retreat.”

    If you’re new to blogging, don’t pay for advertising. Get it free. There are many ways to do this: email people, comment on other blogs, mutual linking, hand out fliers you print cheaply, word of mouth. The only money you should be paying is your hosting and domain fees. Make money through AdSense and Amazon Associates. Everyone else is doing it, but it’s tried and true.

  27. Cool post Darren!

    I also believe passion is not enough alone to get in and stay in blogging. Blogging has a lot of aspects that a blogger should be prepared of. Just like a battle, you have to see the bigger picture before the grand attack. Indeed, asking why would be a great start. It will lead you to your goals and objectives that will set you on track. For me, you should find the motivation and use you passion to overcome daily skirmishes. Sometimes it is a struggle. I can say that this is one of the most arduous tasks of a blogger. Stimulating the mind to produce an updated, interesting and valuable content- your sword and shield in the battle.ss

  28. I really enjoyed the combat scenario perspective…very cool.

  29. Thanks for the advice. I will definitely try the blitzkrieg strategy. I have a lot of good content on my blog but I have yet to get to word out. So now I’m just going to promote the heck out of it. Please check it out http://www.livingwithballs.com

  30. Thanks for the great post, I can’t tell you how many times I keep getting distracted by the scenery.
    There’s just so much to learn starting out that by the end of it you don’t know which way to lauch your invasion.

  31. @Matt I have found the blitzkrieg strategy works extremely well, especially when it comes to social media. It is really hard to capture the attention of social media users with one post, but several in a row in quick succession and you’re much more likely to have them remember your name or even retain the visitors.

    @TheManRevolution the google index is distributed across many machines in many datacenters, when you’re index for the first time you might just be in one datacenter and so if that one is not available for some reason it looks like your pages are lost. It takes a little while for your pages to proliferate to multiple machines in multiple centers, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

    @Tanya Birch I do see what you’re saying, and seduction can be a viable strategy. But I have also found that a direct approach can work just as well, you will get noticed either way but it can be a lot faster.

    @Danny a lot of people underestimate the benefits of offline promotion, the people closest to you can and should be your first fans, you just need to let them know :).

    @Robby G many invasions are nether win or lose (although winning is preferable), we have had plenty examples of that recently and historically speaking truly successful invasions are not common.

    @Sanjeev correct although you don’t even have to think of it as a business (unless that’s what you’re trying to build), you can also think of it as a hobby. You would spend a lot of time working on your hobby because you love it and would keep doing it no matter what, eventually you become really good at it. Blogging is the same.

    @Andy exactly, you have to start with a goal in mind, it can be difficult, but ultimately until you get a long term goal, you will probably just be marking time with your blog, which would be unfortunate

    @Pat Steer (Gaelen) you would be surprised, people love jam, I know I do :). Food is big these days, there are many food related blogs and sites and you can pitch jam from so many angles. Go out and find yourself some allies and the go start a jam revolution :). The cross-promotional possibilities are endless. Although I would recommend dressing up your headlines a little bit (e.g. what everybody ought to know about strawberry jam or 5 jams that can cure what ails you etc.) and maybe having a few more posts (I am sure you’re working on that) before you begin your invasion.

    @Richard X. Thripp that is certainly good advice although I would add that you should do what you’re comfortable with. If you have some money to spend on advertising, by all means give it a go, you’ll learn something if nothing else. You might also consider holding off monetizing your blog until you have built more of a relationship with your readers. It’s one of the rules of sales, build a,connection first before you try to pitch anything even if it is just adsense :), but then again it all depends. I remember that Darren has covered this before more than once.

    @Alex Lim perseverance is very important, I guess that’s why passion does help, since you’re more likely to stick to it if it is your passion in the first place.

  32. I like to think of my operations in terms like this. My admin panel is my war-room and I have different offices of command:

    Design (look and feel of blog)
    Content (quality and quantity of posts)
    Campaign (promotional tactics, locations, status)
    Maintenance (updating, cleaning, fixing, etc)
    Growth (added features for readers)
    Association (affiliates and partners)

    I’m still working on this perception as it is in my head, but I think the more solidly one gets the whole theme down, the more they’ll be able to take action and secure their blogs operations. ;)

    – G. E. Marrs (MusiciansDojo.com)

  33. Very interesting way to put it. Blogging certainly isn’t an easy task, and coming up with fresh content daily is even more difficult. I’ve noticed that by honing my writing skills, I’ve begun to produce better content and just yesterday one of the bigger blogs picked up a snippet of one of my posts and posted it with a link. I got around 300 hits from it yesterday, and almost 200 today. For some reason I’ve been getting a lot more traffic from Google since I started to post at least one article ever day. I spend at least four hours per day on my blog, and I have a simple Blogger template. My goal is to achieve a margin of success with a free application before I go to WordPress and my own domain and hosting.

  34. very catchy title xD

    another great guest post that will hopefully be put into action by the good few over here

    …this is SPARTAAAAA!

  35. Hey Alan

    How are you ? This was really a nice post with different perspective.

    Sounding like Sun Tzu’s “Art of war” but I think you should mention more in these kind of points –

    “how your promote your posts to give them maximum exposure -”

    Looking forward to read more posts from you.

  36. Awesome post!

    That’s what I call a fun read! Thanks


  37. Great Jod Darren! I’m about to launch my second blog maybe next week and I want to make it very successful from the go..

  38. Interesting post. It’s a good way of looking at a blog launch.

  39. @Web Marketing Tips promoting blog posts is both an art and a science, I can’t claim to have all the answers, but here are a few tips.

    Everything depends on the niche you’re in, while some promotion strategies will work for a particular niche, the same strategies will fail for another niche. Unless you can find a mentor in your own niche you will need to figure out what works and what doesn’t by trial and error.

    Darren has covered this before in some of his posts as well as in the 31 days challenge, but here are some ways:
    – social media is always a good one, but don’t just spam all of them submit to a few where you think your post can work, twitter is a favorite these days, but try some of the others depending on what content you write (stumbleupon, digg, reddit). Maybe niche networks can work best for you (I have found that to be the case for me).
    – be aware of google, don’t write for search engines but do know if what you’re writing about will have a chance of being found through search engines, this is more of a long term strategy.
    – promote yourself more than you promote particular blog posts, I don’t mean being boastful, but building authority within your niche, so that your name becomes more recognised. Once again this is more long term, but definitely powerful. Some ways to do this would be guest posting :), writing for mainstream publications, speaking at conferences etc.
    – ask your audience to promote your post for you if you think it is particularly deserving
    – ask your ‘allies’ to help you promote your posts which are once again particularly deserving.
    – advertise if you can afford it

    There are many other strategies to promote blogs and blog posts. The bigger your audience becomes the easier promoting your blog posts becomes (as you would expect), so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get tremendous results quickly.

  40. Don’t forget the importance of the peace process. Japan and Germany were once enemies of the US and in a complete shambles and because of rebuilding efforts have become powerhouses and allies. I think this is a part of your analogy that needs to be considered which is helping out those who have been crushed or left behind.


    RW Jackson

  41. Excellent post!

    As a beginner in the initial stages of creating and organizing my own blog this post has really gotten me fired up. It makes me realize that I need to have a well thought out direction before I actually begin the battle…

    Gotta get more ammo, maps and maybe new uniforms…


  42. Before attacking anything else, we should be in full battle gear aight!

  43. OK, let’s play the game of the generals!
    Very good analogy. It’s good to start the invasion of the Internet before it takes over our lives 100% (if it hasn’t already) I’d hate to go through another colonization process.

  44. Totally agree — what an appropriate analogy. I just launched a new corporate blog — it took about 6 weeks of strategizing, tweaking and constantly re-evaluating options — with momentum building day by day until the launch. Because this was not my first corporate blog, I had a pretty good idea going in on what would be required — plus I had resources in IT and a good art director to help me along.

    I very much recommend you set a definite launch date as it keeps you focused on getting it live — it’s too easy to keep delaying it because of some issue or another.

  45. Interesting perspective, for certain.

    It very much is like a battle on lots of days. I would also say that it’s important that a new blogger realize that they are in this for a long time. If you’re going to win the 100 year war, you need to keep on it and revolve your battle plans around the strategies that are directly related to changes in the blogging environment.



  46. thanks for these great tips

  47. Good tips, but the analogy is offensive. People die in invasions.

    Also, the mindset is all wrong. The internet is large and plentiful, there is plenty of room and resources aren’t scarce. This isn’t a battle, but something to work towards cooperatively.

  48. “Go out and find yourself some allies and the go start a jam revolution :)”
    A jamvolution it is! My plan is to rise up slowly, infiltrate the ranks of food bloggers and emerge as a life-force by skill, daring and the formation of strong alliances. A good apricot chipotle jam can hold its own against all comers…if you don’t get it on your fingers and get your keyboard all stuck together.
    Seriously, appreciate the input!

  49. I’ve read some posts over the years with great analogys but this one has to be one of the best!

  50. great post, especially liked the part about being flexible since things can change

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