Is Anybody Listening? A Parable on Not Quitting Your Blog

No one is listening!

This is a Guest Post by Ben, a 21 year old blogger from the UK. He writes about a variety of different subjects including the Music Industry and his quest to Make a Living Online.

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.

Think Percentages

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.]

  • Ivan Chan

    Great post, Ben. Thanks!

    It’s easy to think just because we’re doing business online that success is going to be “fast” or “passive”. That’s just not true. Business – online or otherwise – is going to take time to develop.

    Be patient, hang in there, and don’t forget to celebrate the little wins!

  • Jeremy Myers

    I’m in! I too started too many projects last year, and then, following your advice, narrowed it down to just one. I still wonder if I chose the right one, but it is the project that gives me the most satisfaction.

  • Paul Barstow

    Hi thats a great post I have been at this game about 2 months and I am enjoying it however I am not sure what is good traffic for this early on in the game. Blog started 6th feb stats are:

    Feb – 225 visits (92 unique) mostly me lol
    March – 657 visits (354 Unique)
    April to 16/04 – 712 visits (532 unique)

    Is that Ok or not I am just not sure, their is definite growth but just not sure. I am front page for niche terms as well including ‘product press release’ I just wondered if thats good, bad or indifferent.


    • Charles Specht

      That’s great traffic, Paul. Keep it up.

      • Paul Barstow

        Thanks Charles

        Its great to get some encouragement as you know this blogging thing is a lonley business when you are just starting.

  • Charles Specht

    Great article, and I loved the parable also.

    Typically, about how long is the “tail” for a brand new blog to really start seeing search engine traffic, repeat visitors, etc.

    6 months? 1 year?

  • Bloggoround

    Thanks for the tips and encouragement Ben.

    I guess there is no “microwave dinner” blog formula.

    Oh well, back to blogging along.

  • Ben

    Thanks for your feedback guys.

    Paul, if you keep growing at that rate, in a years time you’ll be doing very very well for yourself I’m sure.

    Charles, I agree that you need to match long tails if you’re going to get organic traffic in early stages, even a low competition short tail keyword can be tough to master.

  • Kharim Tomlinson

    Way to go Ben. Keep up the good work man, glad to see you guest blogging and this post was lovely :)

  • Tyler Herman

    I think you still have the same problem that caused you to quit in the first place.

    You don’t have a business model.

    Getting lots of traffic is not a business model. If you would have spent all that time and got all that traffic and still not been making a living from the site… that would have burned you even further.

    Another way to think about it. Look at all the time you spent on that site and the time you didn’t spend getting those millions of visitors. If you would have gotten a part time job at a fast food restaurant making minimum wage, and worked during those long hours and invested that money, you would have made a whole lot more.

    It isn’t about getting traffic it is doing something with the traffic you get.

    • Ben

      I do agree Tyler, traffic certainly isn’t everything, but with the right monetisation strategy the visitors and subscribers I could have gained would have given me a great platform, even if I hadn’t made as much as a minimum wage job. The only point I was trying to make was to not be discouraged when traffic is hard to come by at the start :)

  • Meghann Chapman

    Just what I needed to hear! Being a full time college student, mama, designer and ex-cosmetologist, I feel its terribly hard to focus and put the time needed to really propel my blog forward. I’ve been keeping up with it for just over a year and the only keeping me going, sometimes, is the fact that at least my long distance family still reads. However, I read a post like this and see that it IS growing {however slowly} and that’s a reason to keep pushing through.

    Thanks so much for the pick-me-up. Great article.

    • Ben

      Thank you Meghann, glad to help! It can be tough, and we all struggle to find time when we’re busy, but growth is always good! You’ll get there, stick at it.

  • Kristin

    I’ll be at the one year point in June, which seems crazy! Still very little traffic, but I’m committed to it because a lot of the popular “traveling with kids” blogs out there are for people that are willing to spend a zillion dollars on a family vacation. Trying to keep other financially limited families (like my own) in mind… but it does get hard to stay motivated! Thanks for the pep talk.

    • Ben

      It’s a competitive world out there in any niche, travel is a tough one, but it is important to push through even with small traffic, focus on the rewards for years to come, even if there wont be any for days to come…

  • kent julian
    • John Saddington

      great stuff kent!

    • Ben

      Too right, Kent!