Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How Fast Should My Blog Grow?


Last Thursday I promised I’d give you an idea about how fast your blog should grow. I want to preface this with a disclaimer.
There are lots of exceptions to how fast a blog can grow. All I’m giving you is reasonable expectations for blog growth. We can all find examples of blogs that have grown incredibly fast, but we should never judge the growth of our own blogs by the exceptions.
That said, I do believe there are reasonable expectations. That growth is predicated on certain variables:

  • The predictability of blog posts—A blog that's posted regularly will grow much faster than one that is posted sporadically.
  • The frequency of blog posts—A blog with fresh content on a daily basis will usually grow faster than one that only offers new content once a week.
  • The consistent use of social media—If you regularly Tweet and post on Facebook abut your blog more people will hear about it.
  • The interaction with your audience—It's critical to answer comments and take time to comment on the blogs of your readers.
  • I’m a huge fan of growing your blog organically, through relationships and targeted social media. Frequently this will cause your blog to grow slower during the first year or so, but this will give you a solid base of readers and tend to speed growth in the following years.
Stage One
In this day and time, networking can usually jump start a blog with 20 – 40 followers at the startup. These followers are your first foundation, but not all of them will be part of your permanent foundation. These are friends and associates who want to help a fellow entrepreneur get started. They’re a great help because they’ll spread the word to their friends and associates who will comprise your foundation.
This means your first six months to a year will see little forward momentum. You’ll gain new followers, and loose some of the original ones. It will feel almost like two steps forward and three steps back. But this is a critical time because you’re cementing the core of your audience. I think of this as gathering the snow and solidifying it into a snowball.
During this time, many bloggers get discouraged from the slow growth because they don’t understand what’s happening. When I talk with someone in the first year of their blog, I try to give them insight into this process so they can watch for it and rejoice as it happens.
Stage Two
After stage one comes  six to nine months of small but consistent growth. Your blog has  enough history at this point to have a proven track record of consistent, valuable posts. This makes your core group more willing to share your site with others. 
During this stage is a good time to search out valuable guest posts. Find people you respect and invite them to write a post or ask permission to repost one of their old posts. This stage is like beginning to roll your snowball through the snow, gathering a more solid ball that will hold together when you roll it down the hill.
Stage Three
This is when your blog really starts to take off. Your blog’s audience begins to grow a lot faster and you’ll begin to spend less tie promoting yourself on social media because other’s will be doing it for you. They’ll be talking about your blog because it’s valuable to their followers and friends, not just because they like you personally.
Now the fun is beginning, you’ll find yourself asked to guest post on other blogs, and you’ll be asked permission to repost your older blog posts. I think of this stage as when you push your snowball off the top of the hill and it begins to gain momentum on it’s own. 
Interim Stage
During this downhill stage you’ll still hit road blocks and times when you have to give your snowball a push. The key is to stay flexible, continue to listen to your audience and don’t let up on the interactions.

As I said at the beginning, this is an organic process and these stages are just loose guidelines of how the growth of a normal blog should be measured. If you’re neglecting one or more of the following things in your blog plan, your blog will probably see slower growth.
  • A regular posting schedule, with a minimum of one post per week.
  • The consistent use of Social Media, especially Facebook and Twitter.
  • Constant interaction between you and your audience by answering comments and visiting their blogs and living comments.
Now I have a couple of questions for you.
Have you seen this kind of growth in your own site?
Where are you in the blogging process, Stage One, Two or Three?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

41 comments:

  1. What a great blueprint fit blogs! And your own blog proved its validity!

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    1. Vonda, your blog also bears out this blueprint!

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  2. Thank you, Edie --- I appreciate your encouragement and ideas in bringing hope and growth!

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    1. Verna, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you're getting the info you need. If you ever have any topics you'd like to see covered be sure to let me know!

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  3. I've been blogging for 4 years. I'm in my 3rd year of blogging everyday. I have seen steady growth. Of course, it's not as much as I'd like to see but on the days I feel discouraged I ask myself, "why am I doing this?" My answer is always, "So others will know Him more." That pulls me back to center and I keep going.

    I also remind myself that I have more readers each day than the numbers in the average church in America. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong

    ...then I go back to writing!

    Thanks Edie! Your posts are always so practical and encouraging!

    blessings!
    Dianne

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    1. Dianne, that's a great way to look at it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  4. Thanks, Edie. I've been stalled with a certain number of followers for a while, but your comments make me realize that's typical for the stage I'm in. I appreciate your continued advice and support!
    Linden

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    1. Linden, I wanted to to help people like you see that they're not doing something wrong, and that growing a blog takes time. It sound like you're right on track. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Great stuff, Edie. You're absolutely right about faithfully visiting others' blogs and commenting. That's THE best way to grow -- It really is all about community!

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    1. I have made some of the best friends that way! And, I got to meet a few of them in person finally at the Blue Ridge conference! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Thanks, Edie!! This is great stuff!

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  7. Good stuff, Edie! I think I'm either in Stage I or II. I've been blogging regularly for about 8 months now, and have 26 followers and 10 or so email subscribers.

    I'm curious about the guest posting. I've done a few interviews with debut authors, but have never had a guest post. I've guest posted on one site and am being interviewed on another.

    What's the etiquette or "rules" behind (1) asking someone to guest post on your blog, and (2) asking if you can guest post on theirs (or do you just leave THAT one up to them?)?

    Thanks!

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    1. Great questions! I don't usually ask someone if I can guest post on their blog (there are exceptions and I'll share those in a minute). I approach it by asking them if they'd be interested in guest posting on my blog. Normally they'll reciprocate by asking me to be a guest on their blog. If it's someone I know well, I may ask if they want to trade blog posts ever.

      It's always a compliment to ask someone to guest post on your blog. If it's someone I think might be too busy to write an original post, I'll ask if they have a post they'd like to share.

      The exception is if it's a bigger blog or if they have guest posting guidelines listed. Then, I'll follow their guidelines and submit an idea.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for dropping by!

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  8. Great Advice. I think I'm in stage 2. I will apply your advice

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  9. I started my blog last month, thanks to your ACFW class. I have only 20 followers, and I don't know how to find out how many are subscribed. I'll be surprised if my blog grows quickly, as it's low on entertainment but high on practicality--short grammar lessons MWF and writing tips TT. Interestingly enough, my hits span the world--everywhere but Africa and South America.

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    1. Steph, I love your Grammar Yammer Blog! I've recommended it several times. I think you'll find your growth mirrors the stages I mentioned and probably will grow a little faster than normal.

      As far as how to tell how many are subscribed to your blog here's a link to an article I wrote about that very question. Be sure to read the comments because I answer additional questions there. http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2012/03/learn-how-to-navigate-feedburner.html

      I hope this helps, thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Thanks--I did it! *big grin*

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  10. Edie,

    My writing blog is about four years old. I don't recall exactly when I started it and it has gone through one facelift, so giving it an age is difficult.

    So is assigning a stage. If pressed, I'd say Stage II. Or maybe a transition from I to II.

    I only recently began tracking subscriptions (thanks to the ACFW course you led in April). At present I have 15 subscribers.

    I have made a deliberate choice not to do other forms of social media, so have no followers that I know of. I don't know how to track RSS feeds, so can't give you a number on that.

    The number of comments have increased steadily over the past four years, though they are still sporadic. I blame myself for that in part because I'm still looking for my specific focus. I'm getting closer, I'm just not quite there yet.

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    1. Carrie, we all have to make choices about what works for us and what doesn't. I applaud the fact that you know your boundaries. That's something I've struggled with in the past.
      Keeping track of the comments is a good way to see your blogging community grow stronger. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Edie, this is perfect. I've been wondering about my growth for awhile, and your post helps me see how my blog fits into the big picture. I've been at it for 6 months or so and think I'm transitioning into stage two. I'll keep commenting, and I have recently added another day to my posting schedule. Thanks so much!

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    1. Julia, I think you're hitting your stride and doing well! Thanks for coming by to visit!

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  12. Edie, thank you for your helpful information. As far as the stage of my blog, I have no idea. From reading it, do you know? As you know, I started my blog last April. For the longest time, I'd get discouraged from the lack of subscribers, followers and commenters. Nan has helped me see that those are just numbers and that it doesn't define me as a writer. For the longest time though, I thought it did. Thank you for your love and for your support in my writing and my life on a personal level. Love you my precious friend!

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    1. Jamie, I think you're moving from stage 1 into stage 2 - and doing very well.

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  13. I recently read a blogger's post about the growth of her blog. She attributed her amazing growth to doing lots of link-ups. I have no clue what that is. Can you enlighten me? Thanks!

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    1. Cathy, I think link-ups and memes are best fully explored in a future blog post. But they are both sign up lists on someone's blog. They're fun to do and I'll try to post about them next week. Great question! Thank!

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  14. My blog is going through these stages and I can see it's beginning to get around out there in Never Never Land. I'm beginning to get more comments here and there, and I've had new comments on old posts. My question is when is it too soon to repost old posts? Is there any guideline to follow when doing this? (Like do you say it's an old post or do you just repost it on a new day?

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    1. Oh, also, when I reply on your blog, there are no hoops to jump through to reply. Is there a way to make it easier for people to comment on the site?

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    2. Celeste, I think you can reuse a blog post as soon as its relevant again. Probably 6 months on, especially in the early growth of a blog because the audience is changing.
      As far as comments, on Blogger, go into your settings to adjust the "hoops" someone has to go through. I just (with this post) changed my comments to the "embedded" option. This allows me to answer each one as I wish. A few weeks earlier I got rid of the word verification option.
      Blessings, E!

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  15. Thanks Edie. Your posts are always so helpful. Understanding the stages helps me keep things in perspective.

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  16. Most helpful Edie. I am definitely in Stage I! I need to check to see how many are subscribed and I have only a handful of "followers." Was it mentioned at the Christian Writers Boot Camp about considering not including "followers" on our website/blog? I've read not to post followers from other sources as well. I'm thinking of only offering the email subscription and not posting followers. What's everyone's opinion about that?

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  17. Sorry...that was not written very clearly! I've read, from other sources, not to post followers on your website. What are your thoughts?

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    1. Sally, great question. I've got a blog post about followers that I think will answer this pretty well. http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2012/03/small-stepsgiant-gain-blog-follower-or.html
      As you can tell, I recommend bloggers concentrate on subscribers rather than followers. There's nothing wrong with having the follower gadget on your blog, I still have mine. But it doesn't add much value to your blog.
      I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, E

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  18. Thanks for the advice. I've recently just started blogging about dealing with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility via the Christian perspective. I'm also chronicling about the last days of my thirties, which is a bit unnerving to say the least. I appreciate your input.
    www.agirlonthedoorstep.com

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  19. Wow, this post was very encouraging for me. I keep reading everywhere from all these bloggers who have been blogging for one year and are making several hundred dollars a month and have a thousand followers. So, I've been feeling pretty discouraged with my low, low numbers after one year.

    After getting all that off my chest, I am most definitely in stage 1. Seriously struggling to get my foundation started. I've kind of given up on the social media, because I have next to no followers on those, so I don't see how it will help right now.

    Thank you for this article, I will be saving it and referring back to it. Very insightful. And sorry to leave such a long comment, this just really struck a chord with me. :)

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  20. This is great information. But, I'll be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed figuring out what to blog about on a regular basis. I'd say I'm in stage 1. I remodeled my original blog this summer after I sought advice from other writers. I'm looking forward to more great information in your course.

    Thanks, Edie.

    Penny

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  21. Thank you! I just started my blog three weeks ago and I've been working hard in it, but this is the only thing I've found to give me any idea of how I'm going? Do you know what is a 'normal' amount of followers for the first couple of months? Would be nice to gage how I'm doing even though i write because i want to write!

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    1. Welcome! I just visited your blog, and followed it through email. I started this blog in mid 2008 with about 12 followers. By the end of six months, I had 16 (some different) followers and the end of a year, 25. I saw much more growth in the second year. Of course people were not as plugged in to social media in 2008 as they are now, so that would change the numbers some.

      Please feel free to email me with questions: ediegmelson@gmail.com

      Blessings,
      Edie

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  22. Excellent article, Edie. You're a great teacher - I ALWAYS learn a lot from your articles.

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  23. Just started my blog on writing competitions and this was very helpful.

    http://www.seanocarolan.com

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