The Four Stages of Growing a Blog
This is a guest post by Kevin. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Growing a blog to a successful, monetizable state is a long journey that requires a great deal of effort and dedication. Most bloggers fail to realize their initial goal of developing an income producing blog. I believe there are four stages of growth that a blog must pass through in order to achieve this goal. These stages can be described as follows:
Stage 1: Getting Established
The first stage of growing a blog is simply getting established. The focus during this stage is primarily content and blog setup. Most of your effort will go into creating a sufficient quantity of quality content for a sustainable blog launch. I believe a good way to do this is to actually write anywhere from 10 to 50 articles prior to launching the blog.
Basic blog setup tasks like SEO and plugin setup is also a part of this stage, although this takes much less time than creating the actual content. You also want to make sure that you get a handful of backlinks simply so that your blog gets indexed by the search engines. I typically like to do this the natural way of getting a backlink and letting the search engine “naturally discover” your blog versus submitting your blog to be added to the search engine. I’ve noticed a more quality indexing of your content through this more natural process.
Most people fail in this initial stage by focusing on monetization. You’re not going to make any money in the early stages, so you may as well ignore it.
Time to complete stage 1: 3 – 6 months
Stage 2: Traffic Growth
You’re ready to enter the growth stage if you have an established blog with quality content. You’re starting to get a handful of comments and maybe even some regular readers. You’re also getting some traffic from search engines based on your indexed content.
The growth stage is marked by traffic growth, subscriber growth, and the start of some income produced by the blog. Even at this point, traffic growth is still more important than income growth so it is there where we will focus. The growth of traffic is created by continuous quality content plus the addition of quality backlinks.
The best ways to get the backlinks are not the easy ways. I think it is good to assume that Google is smarter than we think they are and know how to weigh hard-to-get backlinks versus easy-to-get backlinks. As such, I don’t place much emphasis on backlinks in comments, forums and social media. The better backlinks will come from guest posts and natural backlinks (when someone decides to link to your site because they like what you have to say). Establishing relationships with other bloggers can help develop backlinks, since building a relationship with someone will make him or her aware of your existence.
The backlinks serve two purposes. First, it actually drives traffic to your blog and hopefully, some of this traffic turns into regular visitors. Second, these backlinks help your search engine status which is crucial.
Make a goal for yourself to write two guest posts per month on quality blogs with established readerships and preferably solid Page Rank numbers. Of course, part of this process of getting guest posts on blogs is convincing the blog owner to publish your stuff and a link to your blog.
Stage 2 is a long process that can go on for months, even years. The growth will be slow, but the goal is for it to be consistent. Some blogs based on some helpful circumstances and maybe even a little luck will get through this stage rapidly, but for most of us, you’re looking at a longer process.
Time to complete stage 2: 6 months – 2 years
Stage 3: Maturity & Monetization
The maturity stage in most business cycles usually refers to a leveling off of growth. In blogging, maturity doesn’t necessarily mean the slowing of growth. In my opinion, it simply means that achieving the same growth rate doesn’t require as much effort. I repeat, this stage still represents significant growth in traffic.
Because this stage does not require the same level of effort in producing quality content for your blog as well as other blogs (guest posts), you should now put effort into refining the monetization of your blog. This can include signing advertisement deal, optimizing Adsense performance and possibly trying out some affiliate programs. With that said, quality content still must be continuously produced during this stage.
In addition to continued growth in traffic during this stage, you should definitely see significant growth in income. It is during this stage, that you can begin enjoying some of the fruits of your hard work of the previous months and years.
Time to complete stage 3: 6 months – 1 year
Stage 4: Maintenance
This stage is very interesting because there are several big blogs that do very well that have let their blogs deteriorate with regards to quality and perhaps quantity of content. The reason for this is usually because they no longer have to produce the same quality of content in order to continue growing and driving significant income. Could they grow even more and make even more money if they didn’t let their quality slip? Probably, but it is probably a natural tendency of bloggers at this stage.
With that said, not everyone falls into that trap, but the point is that the level of effort required to maintain a blog that has successfully reached this stage is significantly less than the effort required during the previous stages. Once blogs reach this level, it has almost reached a self-sustaining point where the readers continue to grow and spread the word without your encouragement to do so. Content is still required but it is not nearly as important as it was in previous growth stages.
In this stage, there is significant income potential. Possibly career replacing income potential. Most blogs don’t reach this level. In fact, it’s probably a tiny percentage of the blogosphere.
Tips To Get Through The Stages
1. Blog about a topic that you are either really interested in or are already involved in professionally. This will help you continue to produce content when it becomes difficult to continue to do so.
2. Approach growing your blog like growing a business. It takes time and requires work. There are few short cuts.
3. Understand ahead of time that growth will take time, and you are likely to become discouraged at times. Be persistent.
Kevin owns and operates 20smoney.com, which is a blog focused on developing income streams and taking a business-like approach to blogging.
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36 Responses to “The Four Stages of Growing a Blog”
I found this article very useful. All the things were very well explained. The stages mentioned are the steps to success in blogging. So one should not overlap the different stages. Just make sure first that one has completed a particular stage and then proceed to the next stage. Time is the key in blogging and patience is must for success.
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Thanks a lot for this great post. This encourages to keep plugging away and focus on the priorities. I’ve been blogging for only about a month now and have been watching traffic progress and gradual growth from about 10 a day to about 30-40 visitors a day now. My view count is just 6,000 this first month, which I know is not much but it’s steadily climbing. Also reader comments are starting to collect on more and more of my articles, and I am up to 15 feed subscribers. I know this is very minimal increase, and it can be discouraging to not see the big numbers that the big boys get, but I constantly remind myself to keep at it, focus on content and make good friends. This article has come in just the right time to really pick me up and kick me harder. Thanks!
I enjoyed reading this article..I am a new blogger and I think first two point is very critical and sometimes difficult to attain..but for good and permanent traffic unique content is the first requirement!
Great article, Thanks Kevin.
I think having a plan is very important! And knowing that you are not dead in the water (as so many new bloggers feel when they don’t have any traffic).
A great article – as usual.
Thats an awesome post is dailyblogtips.com.You are exactly correct and clearly explain each stages of a perfect blog.I at sensehow.com need your help to know at which stage im now!!! thanks for the post.i Will tweet it!!
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