Is there anything more frustrating than having a message, a vision and a goal, yet not seeing any results, no matter how hard you work at it? Trust me, this is a problem that I’ve seen many an early-stage blogger encounter.
We start out in the blogosphere with a dream; to rule our niche, to become an authority and often, to make money. When you’ve worked hard for three, six, nine months, even a year or more, and not seen any real results, discouragement is a natural reaction, but with the world of blogging, you need to push through this, or all the work you’ve put in will be in vain.
I’m going to kick off with something of a parable:
A 19 year old guy from the UK starts a tutorial based website. It is effectively a blog, and is run on the WordPress platform most of us know and love. He attracts contributors, who are happy to put their tutorials, mainly about creative subjects (photography, music, writing etc.), on the site, in return for backlinks and exposure for their own webspace.
The system seems to work! The young guy behind the site works tirelessly for three months, creating content, getting others to submit content and trying to promote his website in any way shape or form he finds. After three months his traffic figures are okay by most of our standards, in fact for a personal blog, they would be exceptional given the timescale.
However, the founder of the site has bigger ideas and dreams, and is so discouraged by the fact that the site has currently only made him $15, he decides to put it on the ‘backburner’. Fine, except for the fact that the site slips further down his priorities until nothing is being added at all.
18 months after all of this, with the 19 year old now a 21 year old, still trying to start new projects all the time, he revisits his analytics account for the tutorial site. He sees that many of his tutorials have gained over 5,000 visits in the time since he’s been away.
Now, at the time when he was working at the site, he was putting three tutorials a day online, not to mention gaining Facebook and Twitter followers and making contacts. He thinks about the 500 days when he could quite possibly have put three articles or more online. 1500 tutorials and articles without too much difficulty, with an average of 5,000 visits each (which probably would have been more when you consider the growth aspect he missed out on), comes to a total of 7.5 million hits in 18 months. Not a bad total you’ll agree.
The young man in question still pines about the opportunity he missed on a daily basis. I know because that young man is me!
But in truth, I don’t cry too much about it or beat myself too badly because of the chance that I missed – instead I see it as the learning opportunity where I simply needed to learn to keep ploughing away at a website, blog, or indeed any project in life if I want to succeed. Even if every 1,000 visitors only made me $1, I still would have made an outstanding return on investment, but truth be told I would have expanded with member areas, premium content and eBooks. I’d be making far more than $1 per thousand visitors.
The key to staying motivated for me is to think about my growth in percentages.
Let’s say your blog makes you $20 a month. Well done, for a start, this is a good figure for an early stage blogger, but definitely achievable. You have the framework for a blog to succeed and you’re going to keep pushing it. You aim to grow by 15% a month for the first year. You can easily track this growth. $23 second month. Okay!
By the end of the first year you’re making $107. Okay, it isn’t going to pay the rent, but it’s a start. Let’s say that in the second year your blog growth slows to 12% a month, you’ve already grabbed quite a big share of your niche. Even at a 12% traffic growth month on month, by the end of year two you’re looking at $466 a month. Not too shabby.
Year three your growth slows again to 10% month on month. By the end of the year you’re almost at $1500. Of course your growth isn’t going to follow such a steady path, and there will be ups and downs along the way, but as a guideline, it’s a way to know where you’re going with your website or blog whilst you work away at it.
Why Does It Have to Take So Long?
Well, it’s pretty natural for any form of website to take a long time to pick up speed, especially if you don’t have much money to invest in it to start with.
You’re not going to tackle any niche with 15 articles written over a month. You need to keep at it and know that one day your traffic will pick up. Google will take a while to respect your blog, it will take time to build up backlinks, it will take time to gain subscribers, but all the time you are doing this, as long as your growth is positive, you’re on the right path.
Make sure you’re matching keywords, and one day, if you stay on the right path, you’ll rank in the top few results. Then you can watch your traffic skyrocket and your readership grow to a standard you can monetize.
Sometimes it’s a bit of a harsh reality for people, and hard to take for our generation of instant-gratification lovers in the middle of a huge economic downturn, but if you keep thinking long term, and you know that you can, even if it takes you years, multiple blogs and niche sites, and even some failed ventures, eventually support yourself with your writing online, you will get there.
And I’m on my way – will you join me?
[Image via Creative Commons, riot.]