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The Power of Blogging with A Long Term View

Posted By Darren Rowse 25th of November 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Today Duncan Riley, Founder and Editor of The Inquisitr, looks at the time it takes to establish a blog and why it’s not a quick process.

It’s a long tail to the top if you want to blog and win.

How many times do we see headlines like “get rich blogging” or “1 post a day is all it takes.” Blogging has long been sold as a panacea to everyones ills, but the reality is often far from the hype.

On The Inquisitr recently I took a look at 10 Myths of blog marketers and debunked them all, but there’s one interesting one I want to take a step further here on Problogger: the time it takes to establish a blog.

Take it as a given up front that you will not get rich overnight from blogging. But how long does it take? I’ve always subscribed to the view that any blog needs a good 6-9 months to establish itself based on my experience in previous blogs and blog networks. The Inquisitr ended up being true to form, and it was our 7 month that things really took off in terms of traffic and actually making a profit. Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo and the founder of the Weblogs Inc blog network though thinks its longer, and commented recently that he puts the number at 2 years. The semantics may be a case of how “established” you would term a blog to be. I’m not about to spend Christmas on the Caymans from The Inquisitr, but in 2 years time…well, you never know.

But why does it take so long?

The answer is remarkably simple: long tail content.

Let me explain upfront that I’m taking liberties with the term long tail. Eric from Photography Bay touched on the subject on Problogger back in June. when he looked at posts over time, as well as targeting long tail niche topic areas.

The reality is: the bigger your archive of posts, the big your distribution of traffic is, and the higher it grows with time.

Digital Photography School

In Darren’s post November 18 on Digital Photography School he offered lots of stats and graphs, but there’s one that stood out for me: his search engine traffic graph:

Notice how over time the search engine traffic grew and grew. By no means am I precluding other facts, such as great content, extra RSS subscribers, email newsletters or any other method you can and should be using to promote your blog. But if you take away all of that, why the really steady growth over the time? The explanation is more content on the site.

The Inquisitr

To break it down some more, here’s two sets of figures from The Inquisitr, the first image shows July 2008 (our 3rd month), just before we had our first decent traffic increase. The second shows November 1-19, 2008

Notice the key difference marked is between the number of pages receiving traffic over this time: 2,210 pages vs 6,180. Yes, there are other factors involved in our increasing traffic, but having more content over time has a cumulative affect of more page views across the site.

The Base

Internally we use a term called “base” to describe the scenario of days where we have little to no content going up on the site. We try not to have any days like that, but when they do happen they tend to be on weekends. The base figure is the amount of traffic your blog gets without fresh content.

The long tail of content on your site improves your base. For example, every month our base figure has gradually gone up, from less than 1000 page views in our first month, through to 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 and today it’s around 9-12,000. In part, base is a measure of the effectiveness of your long tail of content, the more you have, the more natural search or referral traffic you’ll get on a quiet day.

Balancing quality and quantity

Some reading this will see the post as a justification to fill a blog with rubbish, and lots of it, but it’s not quite that easy. Quantity undoubtedly helps, but quality should always be a factor. You still need to gain links and search engine traffic, and putting up rubbish for the sake of volume doesn’t cut it. You need to balance both: if you’re doing 1 post a day 99% of the time that’s not enough content, but you shouldn’t be doing 25 posts a day, unless you’ve put on a team of paid writers (as I have) to generate it for you.


I do sometimes wish you could get rich quick from blogging, but the sad truth is that it can’t be done. With enough time and patience you can build a successful blog, although it may take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. The key is to keep at it: you need to keep posting even when the chips are down and you believe that you’ll never make it. The bigger your base of content, the better your base traffic number over time, and the better chance you’ll have of long term success.

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. content still the king….quality and also quantity,,,,,good sharing

  2. I completely agree with what you say. It takes time to become big. What one requires is persistence and patience.

  3. Great blog. There is no doubt that even with top quality content and opinion it takes a while a blog to gain traction. I have been writing The Political and Financial Markets Commentator for about 4 months, and have about 250 readers that subscribe by email or feed.

    From what I ubderstand this is not a bad number, but my goal is to get into the thousands, and I understand that it takes thought, time and content to get there.

    Keep up the good work.

    Mike Haltman
    The Political and Financial Markets Commentator

  4. Reality bites! That’s why I immediately jump off from a blog that says he succeeded on a very short period of time. However, it’s still a wonder to me on how to have consistent quality content. For sure, there will be times when you’re not in the writing mood.

    But then, I suppose it won’t hurt so much if we’re as big as Darren.

  5. From the day ever I started blogging, take it long back(smirk!) in Feb 2008, I went thru a number of articles on how the blog shud be and got an overview on how the quality shud always precede the quantity. And I have stuck with that rule like a Solomon’s Word of Blog Wisdom.

    I have started Team Nirvana in July 08 and I do not have much traffic yet. But, as it is still a baby and I am not fully into blogging, I am happy with what it’s keeping up. Ranking good in Google as of yet, its making me happy. I am aiming to take on a team of 2 to post on TN. But, shud look into it more.

    Thanks Duncan and Darren fpr sharing awesome material.

  6. I think it is pretty obvious to those familiar with blogging that consistent posting is one of the key factors in having a successful blog.

    I’ve been guilty in the past of giving up on a blog within a handful of months because it didn’t have enough traffic or generating any income. That’s the wrong mindset to have.

    Having a successful blog does take time. If you write high-quality posts in a consistent manner, you will find yourself running a successful blog.

    The Geek Entrepreneur

  7. Blogs are very tough to stick with due to what you said. However Blogs can be used in many ways to make money other than just by monetizing the blog.

    For example I created a blog for a company with a unique concrete coatings product. Each blog post is an educational case study and optimized per the contractors local market.

    Contractors send their clients to the blog and are presold when they arrive. No selling, thats done by the blog.

    My guess is that very few will profit from ads or even affiliate programs. However blogs are a powerful type of media. Those will great communication skills will use them with great success. Like in sales only about 3% succeed and less than 1% make a lot of money. Blogs are the same

  8. This is a great article!

    Thanks for the tip on long-tail traffic.

  9. Another example showing that there’s no such thing as easy money. Keep at it, don’t give up, treat your blog seriously, and try not to make big mistakes and you’re bound to make it in the long-run.

  10. Another example showing that there’s no such thing as easy money. Keep at it, don’t give up, treat your blog seriously, and try not to make big mistakes and you’re bound to make it in the long-run.


  11. I need to ask what will probably seem like a stupid question but……

    Let’s say you have great, text-rich relevant content and update several times per day. What is the advantage to be in blog format rather than a regular old website?

  12. Great piece and congrats are in order for your success.

    I agree with all of this, but not so sure you need at least a post a day. If you are not in a rush and just write one “biggy” post a week (1500 – 2000) and focus on high quality, surely your blog will do just fine.

    I think Pavlina does it that way allot.

  13. Great post. I have just started ‘serious’ blogging. After having a couple of blogs on blogger which had little success, I realised that I needed to do things the right way. I know the rewards will take time but i’m in it for the long term.

    I have just started a recipe blog (the wife cooks, I eat the results) http://radiancerecipes.com. I only started it at beginning of this month.

    Thanks Darren for the inspiration.

  14. This is exactly the kind of information I need on those days when I just want to give up! LOL! Thanks so much. I found this VERY enlightening!

  15. I just started a blog and I did not think about any long term view. Maybe I can adjust on the way?

  16. I see this happening after almost a year and a half. Google is the key to blog growth. But it’s like watching grass grow it’s so slow.. Better to just enjoy the creative process that blogging should always be. It’s like a romantic relationship. Do you give up because some of them turn out badly? Well maybe some do actually. But if you enjoy chasing a dream you probably will make it blogging someday. I do think that the two year estimate seems more realistic for many. Or possibly three years.
    When you buy a car do you worry very much about whether it takes two or three years to pay it off? Probably not. You just want to enjoy the new toy. So we enjoy blogging as well. And time flies when you are having fun.

  17. i used to get veru nervous about my tiny rate of traffic growth but now i am starting to know that this will take ti…….me .

  18. I did not realize it takes so little time to get a blog to generate income. I do advocate trying to monetize one’s blog on my own blog http://www.SmallBizSociety.blogspot.com but funnily enough, I haven’t been thinking about it for myself. I’ve just been slavishly writing because I get turned on thinking how good I am at it – sure I”m completely delusional. But I write for the joy of it….still, now that I know better, I have to start blogging with a whole different purpose.

  19. Wise words. You said “Keep at it even when the chips are down and you think you’ll never make it.” Thank you. I needed that.

    All your advice, and this post too, are just golden.
    Thanks again.
    BTW, we follow ea other on twitter.

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