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When I introduced Ramsay as a new member of the ViperChill team, one of the things we asked you all to do was share some of the challenges you face when it comes to blogging. Though ViperChill isn’t solely focused on the blog medium, it’s an area we’ve both had a lot of success in, and something a large portion of you clearly care about — the post has resulted in over 400 comments since it went live.
Our plan was to use these problems to plan future content that addresses specific needs you have (and we’ll do that), but recently we had the idea to actually answer a lot of them, in public, and hopefully solve a lot of the dilemmas that the average blogger faces. Especially since we’ve both “been there and done that” and know how frustrating it can be when you really want to get going but have some hurdle in the way. I think we’ve solved that…
Myself and Ramsay have put a ton of time into this post, and as a result it’s well over 8,000 words long. Unlike other ViperChill posts where I recommend that you read every word, check out the questions which you think are most relevant to your situation and see how we can help you. Enjoy!
I remember you mentioned before about a strategy where you can do an email publication instead of a blog. Are there updates about results for people who may have tried it? – Jayme
As for the first part of the question goes, I think that has really been my advice all along. Try a number of things that are out there, see what works, for you, and then push that channel as much as you can. For example with PluginID I had huge success with guest blogging as an SEO strategy, and within just 2-3 months I was on the front page of Google for the phrase personal development.
I could have spent time commenting on other blogs, trying to harness Twitter or Facebook, tried to grow an audience on Youtube and so on. Instead, I found something that worked, and kept pushing that channel to get a lot of success for the ‘least’ effort.
I recommend that you try a little bit of everything (including podcasting, article marketing, posting on forums, etc) and then hone in on the ones that are getting you more of the type of visitor that you want. There’s no set answer for each niche or blogging style, so it’s something you generally have to figure out for yourself.
As for the second part, I don’t have any figures from readers. At least not figures that I’m allowed to share. I do know in the ViperChill forums there was a member, Kevin, who successfully reached 80,000+ subscribers in less than a week after following the Cloud Blueprint method.
There’s no way somebody would get that many subscribers to a typical blog page set-up, especially if they’re relying on something like RSS or Twitter only. In my Future of Blogging post I talked more about this, and highlighted a number of high-profile bloggers who have transformed their entire homepages to collecting email addresses, with some more of the reasons behind why I think they’ve done that.
Maybe try mixing the two in a similar way for your own industry, and then you can decide whether it’s better to continue with that mix, or push for one over the other.
Hey David! The topic of “finding your voice” is one of the most common things that I get asked. And to be honest, it is actually one of the hardest questions to answer.
Why? Because strategies for developing your written voice are totally different in theory and practice. It actually reminds me a lot of my martial arts days where the teacher would teach you the technique for a perfect punch and then demonstrate it a few times. It doesn’t matter how well you know it in theory or how many times you’ve seen it done, it matters how well you can actually throw a punch.
And that comes down to experimentation, practice and, sadly, a lot of time.
Finding your voice is really no different. You need to learn the theory of it all which might involve reading other blogs and books that you like. It then involves experimentation where you muck around with different styles and methods until you start to find a groove. And then you just have to repeat the process again and again until you start landing some punches.
One thing is true for both writing and martial arts, however. If you don’t absolutely love the topic you won’t practice it. If you have been blogging for a long time and still can’t find your voice then there is a good chance that you don’t really like what you are writing about.
Speaking personally, I’ve written for blogs in almost every niche. I’ve had fitness, technology, personal development and blogging blogs. I’ve had paid gigs writing for almost every niche on the web. And you can always tell which ones I enjoy writing for because the end result is alive and bubbly and so much more personal. They’re the ones people respond to as well.
So if you want to find your voice I would start at the end and ask yourself whether or not you truly love the topic you are writing about. If the answer is yes then spend more time reading and practicing. That’s the only way to get good at anything – at least for me.
Having a quick read of your stuff I think you are doing really well!
The plan is to create super interesting, great (“purple cow”), mazes and share them, some for free, some for pay. There is some need, but I am not shure if it is strong enough to make money too. It is a bit weird niche. This is also a part of my question. How do you know niche is viable enough? What kind of tests can one do, to check that out. – Igor
I know there are a lot of obscure industries online, but this is definitely a unique situation. I don’t actually know anything about this niche, but that’s probably a good thing, as I can show you how I would tackle the question.
Before I go into my research areas, I do want to say one thing. Well-known marketing blogger Seth Godin has always held on to the idea that if you can find just 1,000 people who are really passionate about your topic, then you can have success in your field. In Blogging Case Study I argued the idea that I think this should be more like 5,000.
In reality, even the most obscure niches (like this one) are very likely to have that many people interested in the topic, somewhere. The difference is that it may be a lot harder, and take a while longer, to find those 5,000 people and introduce them to your community. Remember this is 5,000 people who are really passionate about the subject, and not just someone who gives you an email address.
If you’re not sure about the niche, then the kind of things I would look for are:
This should give you a good idea whether you have found a market worth entering. One point I do want to make is on ‘viability’. This may sound naive, but I rarely hear success stories of people who went into something solely for the money. This may not be an industry where you can have a multi-billion dollar IPO after being involved for a few years, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get into it. If you love it, that’s really all that matters.
I know that’s not what most people want to hear – and I know I didn’t when I started out online – but my experiences tell me it’s the advice I should be giving.
Hi George! Whenever I hear this question I always have the same answer: “Subway.”
“Um, what? What about Subway?” is usually the response.
Well, just recently Subway overtook McDonald’s as being the largest fast food chain in terms of number of stores.
Was it the first fast food chain? Nope. The second? Nope. It probably wasn’t even in the first 100!
But there it is, growing at an extremely profitable rate, competing with some extremely well established brands and companies with huge marketing budgets.
So is it too late to start a successful blog? No way!
Is it harder than it used to be? Yep.
I hate blowing my own horn (I honestly do) but Blog Tyrant is a really applicable and relevant example. In just a few months I managed to gain a lot of attention in one of the most saturated niches. And, for whatever reason, people mention my site in the same breath as ProBlogger and Copyblogger – a nice little achievement considering there are literally thousands of blogs on the topic.
My advice to people who haven’t started yet would be to get a blog host and your own domain name (which you’ve done) and create a brand that is distinctive. You don’t need to be Earth-shatteringly original but you do need to find a way to stand out and be memorable. And if you can mix that brand with hyper-useful, ViperChill-style content and some solid marketing then you will win.
If you are experiencing doubts about whether or not you can make it in a saturated niche I think perhaps you need to find out two things: do you believe in the topic 100% and do you believe in your brand 100%? I could be very wrong but I think you need both to make sure you stand out in a crowded market place. You have to love what you are working on and the vehicle from which you are working.
That is the only reason I joined ViperChill – I love the content and I believe in the brand that Glen has created.
So here it is, maybe you have some tips especially on the traffic. Currently I would describe my strategy as “hopefully Google sees the quality and sends me visitors”. – Phil
Traffic is something that every webmaster struggles with at one point or another, and there’s no real one-way to go about getting it. As I said in an earlier answer, I recommend that you try a large number of different strategies (guest blogging, article marketing, forum posting, getting involved in Facebook, Podcasting, etc) and then see which tactic tended to bring you in the most visitors.
When Leo Babauta hit the front page of Digg many years ago with his list posts – when Digg could easily send you 30,000 visitors in just a few hours – he really went all out on that style. Nearly every blog post on his site was a list article (7 Ways to do X, 10 Tips for X) and he hit the homepage dozens of times. He didn’t need to worry about other tactics because he had found something that was working really well for him.
As far as ethics go, I don’t think you have to worry too much as long as you don’t feel bad about the ways you’re trying to get traffic. For example, if you’re leaving insightful blog post comments with your name linking back to your website, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re saying “Great post!” with a link to your website in the comment box, you’re clearly just writing the comment in the hope of getting more people to your site.
Another suggestion would be to make sure you’re not just writing content that only you think is good. I don’t know why your articles are so long, but if you’re adopting this strategy just because you’ve seen other people have success with it, then it may be time to reassess your efforts. My own strategy is always to write what I want to read, but I also make sure to package the content in a way that will get people talking (thanks to things like the headline) and write on topics that I know at least a large part of my audience will be interested in.
Content is everything in getting people to read your site, so don’t overlook how important your posts actually are.
Hey Chris. Nice to see you over here.
Some niches do better than others when it comes to comment counts. News, politics, blogging, celebrities, opinion, etc. do very well. Others not so much. So the first question to ask here is whether or not your niche is one that gets a lot of comments. Niches/topics where people are looking on Google for answers to specific questions or problems often have a lot less engagement because as soon as the article is read they leave to work on it.
I think the bigger question to ask here is why you want more comments? Is it an end-goal or are you just looking for some feedback? Or perhaps you want your site to feel more “alive” by showing that people are discussing topics regularly?
When I wrote my ProBlogger article on How to Get 80+ Comments on Your Next Blog Post I mentioned that scarcity is really important. One of the reasons Glen and I get so many comments (I think!) is because we don’t post regularly. When a post finally does come around (and it’s good!) people want to jump on and have a chat. This is even more true if you close comments on old articles like a few big blogs do.
If I remember correctly (Chris and I have had lots of chats), you once mentioned that you thought I should post more regularly. While that may be true for many other reasons, I honestly think it lowers comment counts. I wonder what would happen if you decreased the number of articles you posted and instead focused on perhaps doing more regular guest posting contributions and occasional massively useful posts on your own site?
The other thing to consider is closing comments completely. I’ve done this on a few big content blogs and instead focused on a nice opt-in form and the interactions happening on Facebook. For a while Mehdi from Strong Lifts did this with his blog articles and instead pushed the discussion to his forum. Now the forum has grown so much he is charging for membership and making a great profit!
If you don’t want to do that then I would try two things: asking questions in your blog post titles and then making sure you don’t totally exhaust the topic. I always try to leave a few ends open for discussion even when I write really long and in-depth posts.
So how do you know when your post is up to par or do you just write and go for it? I’d love to hear of your processes are for finalising blog posts. – Peter
Well, one easy way to solve that would be to run your posts through some kind of word processor / spell checker before it goes live. I use Microsoft Word when I think an article is ready, and it helps me to pick up on random errors like duplicating words by mistake or writing business man instead of businessman.
One thing I recommend is to read your post a few times before hitting publish. Read it out loud if you’re not in a library, and you’ll spot errors much easier. I understand why you would be concerned about this, since
pure poor spelling and grammar can put me off reading an article, but a little mistake here and there isn’t that much of a problem.
Though I’ve read this post multiple times before it went live, I’m sure there’s a mistake somewhere. When articles are thousands of words long, it’s hard for there not to be. My real measure for whether a post is up to par is whether I’m excited to hit publish. If I’m excited for the reaction of the audience, and think it’s an article people will really benefit from.
Hi Kimberly. The question of generating more content is something that almost every blogger goes through. This is especially true if you are working another job while trying to build your blog up to full time.
But recently a friend of mine shared a quote with me that sort of changed the way I approach this problem:
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs.
This helped me to realize that I really wasn’t focusing on the types of internet work that I loved. I love blogging. I don’t really love web design and all the other things I was doing to help pay the bills. And once I realized that I found I had a lot more energy to focus on developing the business that I wanted to really throw myself into.
So if you are constantly struggling to find time to write articles and really resenting the fact that you have to keep pumping out content then I’d take some time to assess whether or not you really love the blog. If you do, and you’re sure, then perhaps it’s time to hire some other bloggers to help you build an income producing asset in a quicker time so that you can finally move away from all those other distractions.
Finding good writers can be really tricky but the best place to start is somewhere like Elance or by approaching other amazing blogs in your niche and offering the writers some part time work. These arrangements can be really flexible if you can promote some mutual benefits that might help you reduce the amount of cash you have to pay them initially.
It started as the incredibly true adventures of myself and my husband travelling the canals and bringing up two very young children. Now I would like this blog to be my business and my income… I have millions of ideas but not enough time to implement them. – Narrowboat Wife
The first thing I want to say is that I love the name of your site; definitely a nice-spin on a very peculiar “niche”. The second thing I have to say is that this is a really complex subject, and it’s hard for me to answer it in just a couple of paragraphs. Hundreds of people have written entire books on the topic, and the majority have still left their readers questioning how to handle their time.
I literally have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 huge posts which cover the topic in some way. I would say that number 5, the post where my entire focus is on productivity, is probably the most relevant to your situation.
The summary of the post – which involved more research than I would like to admit – is that I didn’t really find any productivity secret. The answer is generally what we all know it is, even if we don’t want it to be, and that’s to put your head down and just get things done. Productivity and time-management is a challenge for pretty much everyone on the planet, so you certainly aren’t alone.
One thing I do want to say – which is more relevant to your situation – is that everyone has tons of ideas for their business. Next week we’re launching our next premium software on ViperChill and it has taken months to put together. You can be sure there are 10 other plugins and services I have ideas for and would love to share with the world, but it all takes time.
Do the thing that is likely to take you the biggest step forward to where you want to go. The thing that is going to have the biggest impact on your business either in the least time or with the least effort (these aren’t necessarily the same thing).
If you look at my blog you can see that the whole thing really knocked my confidence and I’ve stopped blogging – I need to get started again. How do you get your motivation up after a blow like this ? Any tips on managing this kind of abuse? – Susan
This is a really interesting question, especially for people who are managing communities that are attached to larger brands.
For example, in my guide to social media for small businesses I talked about an example of some Twitter-hate that the Australian airline QANTAS was receiving after grounding all their planes to resolve an internal dispute. Their social media people had their work cut out for them as the negativity flowed in for weeks and weeks. Should they address it? Or should they ignore it?
It can be a really complicated issue.
The first thing I would recommend is creating a “comment policy” where you outline what will and won’t be tolerated in the community and the comments. If you lay it out clearly and someone breaks the rules then I would just delete the comment and move on. This is especially true for anything personal, racist, etc.
If, however, they are making comments about the site or something to do with your service then I think it is important to address the issue publicly in a quick manner and then try and move the conversation over to email. For example, some big Australian brands on Twitter will say something like, “Sorry you’re having problems. I’d like to help. Please contact me on xyz to sort it out.”
This type of approach shows other readers that you want to work out issues that are going on while not really encouraging your comment section to become a complaints area.
In terms of getting your confidence back from this type of event, I’m probably not the best person to ask! I am pretty darn sensitive and get upset at negative feedback whenever it happens. But if I really look at it, I think perhaps this just shows that I care and is maybe a good thing however much it annoys me when it happens. I just try to see it as an opportunity to develop patience and move on.
My main point is really now trying to find my own group of online friends to click with and help support each other. I think I need to stop being a one-man show so much. – Luke
I have no advice for this. Why? It’s not something I’ve ever really done myself. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been involved in a number of mastermind groups, had people who I agreed to chat to regularly on Skype to keep each other motivated and have been a member of exclusive forums with the aim being that everyone helps each other grow their businesses.
Though each one tended to help initially, and some even for a couple of months, they’re not really something I put much importance on any more. Though I have a fairly large audience here at ViperChill, there are practically zero bloggers that I talk to on a regular basis. Most of my close ‘contacts’ are just too busy working on our own things.
I know there are people who have had success with this kind of thing, and I’m sure someone in the comments will give examples, but since it’s not something I do personally, I have to urge you to question whether it’s worth worrying about.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but I would be far more concerned with playing games till 3am every day (at least if you want to build a successful business) than finding people to support you through your challenges. There are forums, Twitter, Facebook and Skype available as and when you need them, but you certainly don’t have to dedicated time to a regular support schedule.
Hi Shayna! It sounds like you are well on your way but, of course, this is a question that we all need to ask ourselves regularly.
When it comes to making a profit with a blog I think there are a few important points to think about.
So if you are passionate about what you do and you’re working hard on the blog as if it was a real business then it comes down to goal setting. Give yourself a time period like two years to make a set amount of profit. And during those two years set yourself little milestones so that you know you are on track. If you don’t do this it is really easy to get distracted and lost along the way.
The last important thing to think about is whether or not there are any other players in your niche turning a profit and making a good living. If you can look around and see examples of success then take some inspiration from their example and learn from their mistakes and lessons. If other people out there are doing it there is really no reason why you can’t as well.
Also, as a little side note, it appears your blog loads it’s mobile theme even when viewing on a PC.
If you could help me with that it would be awesome! – Bobby
Hey Bobby; that’s a great question, and something that I think everyone should do. The thing I love about the potential in blogging is that there is literally room for people writing all types of content with totally different styles in every niche. Some people ‘write’ with images, some do huge in-depth posts and others might just write a few hundred words to make you think. Though each style may be used in the same niche, there’s a different audience who is interested in each class.
When I was writing in the personal development niche, I think my unique selling point was that I was very young (yeah, I know that can’t be replicated so easily) and very open. If I thought I was bad at something, I would say so, and try to improve…publicly. I also had totally different viewpoints and experiences to most people getting into the field at 30-40 years old, which I think made a difference and helped me to grow a large audience.
The first obvious thing then that sets you apart from everyone else is not being afraid to let your own perspective and life experiences come through in your content. There’s absolutely nobody on this planet who has gone through all of the events you have, so don’t be afraid to use them to help you base an opinion on your subject topic…and stick with it. Not everyone is going to agree with what you have to say, but as I’ve said before if you’ve blogging for everybody, then you’re blogging for nobody.
The style that will generally work best for you is the style that you like to read the most. Do you prefer quick, to-the-point information in your niche or in-depth reports. Or maybe articles more focused on graphics and including entertaining video. You don’t necessarily have to do a totally unique style – someone has probably done it all already – you can then focus on simply offering the best value using that style of publishing.
The only issue I have with using my real name online is when people Google me that I know in real life, and they don’t know about my online endeavors; it’s kind of awkward. – Octavian
This is a really cool question because I was almost the same age when I started blogging. Of course I really had no idea what I was doing and didn’t take it seriously for many more years but I was in high school when it all started. So I know where you’re coming from!
I was obsessed with martial arts, fitness and weight lifting at that stage. I just wanted to write about what I was trying with my own training. And after a while other people got interested and the blog gained some traction.
One thing I noticed was that when a friend or relative found out about the blog they either really didn’t care that much or were really happy for me. There wasn’t much negativity – especially because all my friends at school were in to similar things and so were happy to support me.
So to answer your question I think it all depends on what you are writing about and whom you are targeting. If you have a lot of experience in the area or are writing a “journey” type blog that records your experiences then it might be totally fine to use your real name. If you aren’t that experienced with what you are writing about then maybe you could get some other writers on board and manage the behind the scenes, big picture stuff.
Using a pen name is probably better than going anonymous because people will find you easier to bond with. You just want to make sure you do it in a way that you can still go on TV and speak at conferences if you get really famous!
Obviously the “making money online” niche is HUGE, but what about smaller niches (like mine, Real Estate Investing). It seems easy to make money with “making money” sites or “how to blog” sites (just refer people to Hostgator and you got it). But what about the rest? – Richard
Well, first of all, here’s the thing about the make money online niche. It’s huge, but at the same time it’s tiny. Sure there are tens of thousands (if not more) blogs covering the subject, but a far smaller number actually generates any kind of respectable readership. Also, you’re likely to be slightly skewed to how many blogs there are on the topic because it’s something you’ve been researching. If you decided you want to become a Forex trader and start researching the topic online, in a few weeks you’re going to think there are a ton of Forex blogs.
It’s purely based on where your attention lies, and it’s giving you that viewpoint. There are just as many blogs on business, health, personal development, personal finance and so on. Steve Pavlina and Leo of Zen Habits consistently make tens of thousands of dollars per month with their self improvement blogs. Ramit Sethi and Timothy Sykes make a living from their personal finance and Forex sites. My friend, the owner of Freshome, makes a very comfortable living from his.
JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly and Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar in the personal finance niche have made a liveable income from their sites for years.
I do understand your concern, since at times it can seem like everyone and their grandmother is blogging about this industry, but there are tons of success stories outside of this niche, I can promise you that. If money is your main concern before getting started, then I must really stress that you’re thinking about the wrong things. Michael Arrington took home at least $15M last year when he sold his blog TechCrunch, a blog just covering the latest tech start-ups. As I covered in my future of blogging post, he’s still writing on the subject, even though he never has to work again.
First of all I have to really commend you on creating a blog that helps people. That, to me, is the most important thing and I think if you really do your best you won’t have any regrets later on because you’ll know you’ve at least helped a few people out.
So how you do you grow that community?
Well, when it comes to personal development and overcoming problems you’ll notice that people are attracted (most of the time) to other people that they perceive as having the answers. Sick people go to doctors, sad and depressed people go to psychologists and unfit people go to personal trainers. You see it in religion, business, etc. It is all about a person with a problem finding someone they perceive as having the answers.
So if you want to grow a community around solving people’s problems my advice would be to find some really cool people from different fields to get involved. It might be writing articles on a regular basis or it might take place in a more informal Q&A session like Glen and I are doing right now (you’ll need people cooler than us though)!
One way you could do this is designate one day/week a month as the day that you tackle “x” problem. Let’s say this month is about diabetes.
What you could then do is go out and approach a few experts in the field (doctors, nutritionists, people who have cured diabetes through exercise and diet, etc.) and ask them to answer some questions via email for an upcoming blog post. Make sure you tell them about how the exposure will help their businesses.
You then go out and do some guest posts about the event or ask relevant blogs to send out a question to their readers that you can put to your expert panel. Finally, on the day you invite all the participants to promote the event on their own blogs and social networking sites and you sit back and watch the interaction.
This type of structure could work really well because you aren’t asking the experts/personalities to hang around for months and years writing about all sorts of topics. You could have days about health issues but then move on to things like home renovations, finances, mortgages, raising kids, dealing with loss, etc. Or if you wanted to make the blog narrower in scope you could keep it on the same topic and just ask different experts. For example, if it is about neck pain you might ask a GP one week then an acupuncturist, physiotherapist, sports player, etc. in subsequent weeks.
However you choose to do it I think the most important thing is to make sure you have strong personalities/experts that produce helpful content. The community will have difficulty forming unless they think there is someone that they can learn from or lean on and often if they are just looking for a shoulder to cry on they’ll end up talking to Facebook friends.
So, all-in-all my biggest blogging: problem includes choosing a profitable niche that I am passionate about; fears include spending a great deal of time on something that I may or may not enjoy but will not gain enough subscribers; and frustration is writing high-quality, high-value articles in a reasonable amount of time. I am still a new-born to this field, but hey its still frustrating. – Tim John Jr.
Hey Tim, I recommend that you read a few of my previous answers in this post, as many of them are relevant to your profit vs. passion internal debate. In short, I believe that the passion has to come first. Neglect that, and you can generally forget about the profits. At least with blogging.
As long as you’re niche isn’t ridiculously obscure – like a blog for people who enjoy drinking Gatordate – then I really wouldn’t worry too much about not being able to gain enough subscribers. Actually, what I should really say is that I wouldn’t worry too much about their not being an audience who is interested in the same topic. With enough time and focus on the right aspects of blogging, there’s no doubt that you’ll get the readership.
As for your last point, I would say that there’s no reason to rush to hit a certain posting schedule. I’m pretty much the “poster boy” (I hope I’m using that phrase correctly) of having a random posting timetable. Length isn’t necessarily what takes me a lot of time — my productivity article was half the size of my future of blogging post, yet took twice as long to put together. I think you have the right focus in that you do want to write high-quality, high-value articles. One every week is enough when you start out, and then you can slow things down a little once you do start to grow a readership, if you find even that is too difficult to keep up with.
All that’s left to say is; just get started. Your worries and concerns will generally take care of themselves once you actually get going. After all, if you love the niche, it’s rarely going to feel like work anyway, and the only way is up. The best time to start was yesterday.
Moreover, there is virtually no engagement on the site, in the comment section (apart from occasional few) despite of the fact that I have 2400+ Fcebook fans and 1500+ email subscribers. – Abhishek
G’day Abhishek. The first thing that I have to say here is that I honestly think that “blog engagement” and “Adsense revenue” are two goals that aren’t always compatible on the same website.
Now that I’ve said that I’m sure everyone will send me links to dozens of sites that use Adsense and also get a lot of comments but I really think they are the exception and not the rule.
Why? Because every time someone clicks an Adsense ad they are gone from your site. You’ve lost them. That potential email subscriber and “brand advocate” who would comment on articles and share your work might be gone for good. If your aim is to get more Adsense clicks then by definition there will be less people on your site interacting with your content.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like Adsense in some situations. The first blog that I sold made most of its revenue from Adsense clicks. But looking back, I can’t help but wonder whether or not I could have had more success if I’d focused on soft-selling affiliates while growing a mailing list. Or, better yet, marketing my own products like eBooks and training courses.
So if you really want to improve your comments and engagement I would think about whether or not Adsense is the right fit for your blog.
And if you want to get more Adsense clicks and grow your income that way then I wouldn’t worry too much about comments because your main goal is to get those clicks happening.
Another reason that you might be having problems with visitors and Adsense clicks is that your site loading time is a little bit high. I have a screen capture of your site compared to ViperChill that I got from this website speed test tool.
As you can see, your site is taking around 3 seconds to load while ViperChill is under half a second. When I visited your site it seemed to be quite a lot higher than three seconds so you could take a look at Glen’s article on improving website loading time and see if that helps. People are super impatient these days and a slow loading site will really increase your bounce rate.
I would love to pretend that this was some genius idea to finish off the post, but I (Glen) messed up and answered a question Ramsay had already assigned to himself when we were decided who responds to what. Since we didn’t discuss our personal answers, I thought it would be good to place them here side-by-side to see how we differ, and also offer more advice in one place on a very popular question.
One of the first steps in having success at anything is knowing it’s possible, so it’s great that you have some reference material to go from. I’ve highlighted a few times on this blog, the story of PluginID and how its growth snowballed after reaching a certain plateau of subscribers.
It took 7 months to hit 500 subscribers, 1 year to hit 1,000 (and this is when having 1,000 subscribers was very rare) and just 3 more months to hit 4,000. After a year and a half, the Feedburner chicklet showed 7,000 readers. I put a lot of that down to my own audience marketing my content. Basically, as long as I kept putting out great blog posts, my growing audience would share that to an increasing number of people, and this continued with every article that I wrote.
So, my first recommendation would be to make it very easy (and beneficial) for your readers to actually share your posts. Write content so good that people naturally want to share it with their audience. Not only will you reach like-minded people, but you’ll grow your readership as well.
Another good thing about being aware of sites like Rowing Journal is that you can glean the kind of content that your audience likes to read and share. Looking at their sidebar I can see multiple articles that have 7-8,000 views, and while I don’t recommend copying them directly at all – at least look into the reasons people have enjoyed those topics. Read the comments to see what really gets people excited and participating.
Do this for other sites in your niche as well, and with a bit of consistency, your words will be reaching more eyeballs in no time.
This, really, is the most important question in blogging because without new growth you are not going to succeed. Lately a lot of big bloggers have been talking about how the most important thing is having a small number of loyal followers but, to be honest, this really isn’t the full picture.
Yes it is extremely important to have a great troop of readers who comment and share your content. But the end-goal shouldn’t just be loyalty. Why? Because when it comes to selling a product or making a living from your blog the only thing that matters is reaching more people. Apple didn’t become the biggest company in the world by selling to the same group of people – they did it by expanding their market constantly. Pat Flynn doesn’t make his huge monthly affiliate incomes by selling to the same crowd either. You have to grow your audience all the time.
So how do you do it?
Bloggers never really seem to talk about that word. They mention things like commenting on other blogs and SEO for bloggers but rarely do they talk about a wide-arching and comprehensive marketing strategy. And that is exactly what is needed. A blog is like any other business – it grows only by marketing it.
There are all the usual things you can do like guest posting, creating viral content, making videos on YouTube and improving your Google rankings. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to just those methods. Last week Glen showed us the example of a guy who challenged the President of the United States to a Poker game and got massive mainstream press coverage. Why would we limit ourselves to purely “traditional” blogging strategies when there are marketing methods out there that have been making big companies big cash for generations?
So in answer to your question about expanding your following I would suggest doing all the usual stuff but then at the same time make sure you are studying marketing. Buy some books or take some online courses and really develop an interest in what marketing can do for your levels of growth. Treat your blog like any other business in this respect.
For your blog in particular you might want to see what rowing institutions you could partner up with – shops, colleges, etc. – and see whether you could add a regular article to their mailing list or newsletter. You could also try and get in touch with some Olympic rowers for interviews and then try and get some main stream press about the chat.
This is going to be the last post on ViperChill for a while as the team is busy working on the launch of our next premium WordPress plugin (hopefully just a week to go). Myself and Ramsay put a ton of work into this post, and really hope that it’s helped out a number of bloggers reading. We would love it if you leave a comment to let us know what you think or add your own feedback / questions into the discussion…