I’m very excited to say that if you’re reading this, ViperChill has now passed the 10,000 subscribers mark. I’m actually writing this sentence (not the post) on March 11th 2010 sitting on a feed count of 4,717 subscribers (I’ll explain this later). In my monthly posts I often say that I don’t have any goals for the site, but if I’m totally honest, hitting the 10k subscriber mark was definitely one of mine.
When I ran PluginID I wrote a blog post after hitting 5,000 subscribers as that was a huge achievement for me at the time. I decided to refrain from that here at ViperChill until I reached 10,000 subscribers which I think finally puts this blog on the map. I’ve managed to grow this site by over 9,000 subscribers in 9 months which is quite rare in the blogging world. Here’s how.
I first want to say that I never actually reached 10,000 subscribers. My feed jumped from 8,500 to over 11,500 according to Feedburner. At first I assumed it was a bug, but it has stayed this way for over a week so I’ll assume everything is working as it should (Feedburner usually drops, not increases). In the rare case that this is still actually a bug, the message I’m sharing here would still be very much the same, so I’m totally fine with that.
I also must stress that the reason this blog skyrocketed is not rocket science. I’m going to share a number of principles here – some which may or may not be new to you – but there are really no secrets that anyone has been holding back from you. What it takes to grow a blog today is still very much the same as what it took to grow a blog two, three, four or even five years ago.
As always though, I like to think I have my own unique take on things.
In many blogging guides the authors always seem to focus on the things that you should do. Remain consistent, pick a popular niche, have a great looking theme, write remarkable content, and other similar advice is often thrown out there. These aren’t bad suggestions, but you can’t only focus on what you do.
The things you don’t do are also, very, very important.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, allow me to cover some of the things I won’t do:
The first point is probably the most important because your blog is nothing without your content, so what you don’t publish is just as important as what you do. There are tons of blogs in the marketing space that cover news far better than I could. Similarly, in regards to point four, there are lots of blogs that will write quick tips to help you get the information you want fast.
I believe I could have had success in either of these routes too, if that’s the angle I wanted to take.
I don’t think using affiliate links would have hindered my growth at all, but it is something that makes me stand out in an industry where everyone is looking to get-rich-quick from their audience. The reason I don’t use affiliate links is simply because I want people to be able to trust my suggestions without thinking I’m just doing it for the money. This leads back to my core focus which I mention later in this article.
Is there anything you could stop doing that would help your blog grow? Have a think about that one.
Every unique feature I implement in a blog design tends to get copied. Do you see the RSS section in the top of the right sidebar here? Those exact images (some of which I made myself) were saved by a blogger and added to their own sidebar without even changing the file-name to make it less obvious. They aren’t just a small blog either; they have over 1,000 subscribers.
My yellow “connect” section at the bottom of all posts – with custom “Tweet?” icon – was also directly copied by someone who regularly comments here and writes about making money online. And, since I started using the “little white men” in my post graphics I have started to see them all over the blogosphere.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so I’m not going to hold any grudges. The point I am making with this though – and the point that most bloggers miss – is that these things are not what make me successful. They’re just one example of me putting my ideas and my creativity into the finished result of this blog.
Hopefully for a while I’ll still be the only blogger with an about page titled “What the F***?” ;).
It’s not just my design where I try to do things a bit differently; there’s a lot about my content that you won’t find on other blogs. It’s fairly obvious that I write very long, in-depth posts so those help me to stand out in the internet marketing space as that’s quite rare. I’ll also only publish something if I’m really happy with it. I’ve deleted numerous 2,000+ word posts because they didn’t meet my quality criteria.
I don’t think that long posts are what make this blog successful; it’s more that I’m doing something different and providing value to people who want information packaged like that. I promise there are more non-readers than readers who would never want to read content this long. The key to my content, in my opinion, is that I write in a very personal style.
My excessive use of “I” and “me” aren’t to satisfy my ego, but because everything on this site is from personal experience. I only blog for one person, and that’s you. The conversational style of writing is very easy for me and I like reading posts in this way, so that’s why I write them. There’s nothing more to it than that.
Although I would love to have this skill, I can’t tell you how to put yourself into your work. That’s because if I did, then it wouldn’t be you. Don’t be afraid to show the real you in your design, your writing style, or the way you connect with your readers and your industry online.
Some people might not like how you express yourself, but you’ll maintain a greater connection with those who do.
If you read the bullet-points further up you’ll notice that one of them said “Claim I’m a guru or expert.” You won’t be able to find one sentence in the 70,000+ words I’ve written here that even hints at the idea. Other people may think of me as one, and that’s not a bad thing, but when you get to the point where you start thinking of yourself as one then a few things start to happen:
I remember reading an interview with actress Jennifer Garner where she was asked how she feels about all of the praise that she gets. Her response was something along the lines of: “I don’t listen to the good stuff because then I’d have to take in all the bad stuff too.”
I try never to put people on a pedestal because at the end of the day, we’re all just humans. It’s this mindset that will help you to never put yourself on a pedestal ether. Nobody is really “better” than somebody else. When I was in Amsterdam I met two of the girls from my favourite TV show in the UK, Hollyoaks (very blurry pic). I just joked around with them like I would any other girls and I could tell they actually appreciated it.
Yet, just because you are “just another human,” it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve very big things. I hid my age online for a few years because I thought it would hinder me from getting internet marketing clients, but I didn’t let my age stop me from thinking I could make thousands of dollars per month helping companies succeed online.
If you’ve been following this journey from the start then you’ll know that ViperChill is just a case study to show you what is possible. I didn’t specifically aim to grow this blog so fast so quickly, but I knew I could do it because I think big and work hard.
“If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
Remember in the intro I mentioned how I was writing that sentence in March? It’s not a lie. I simply had the belief that this site would grow to a large size, even before I was half way there.
I didn’t get lucky on the way or have some famous blogger teacher me the ropes. I simply thunk (thunk should totally be a word) big, knew what I needed to do, and started doing it. We aren’t cut from a different cloth so there’s no reason you can’t do exactly the same.
Although ViperChill is now one of the biggest internet marketing blogs in the world, it’s really towards the back of my mind in terms of priorities. I love writing here and I love seeing the audience grow, but I spend only one or two days per week actually doing anything for the site.
My other activities – buying and building niche websites – simply takes up far too much of my time. It’s how I make my living, so I need to dedicate most of my attention to it. Because I only spend a few hours per week working on this site, I have to be very selective about how I do spend my time.
The most important thing I can do, by far, is work on writing an article. That is what keeps the blog going and it is the reason I have almost 12,000 subscribers in the first place. Everything besides this is secondary. I’ve had to make my contact page pretty uninviting because I was spending so much time answering emails that I never had the chance to even write posts.
Besides writing posts, the second most important thing to me is participating in the conversation. I’ll always personally reply to at least 30-40 comments on each post (sometimes 100+) because I believe that if people take the time to comment then they deserve the time for me to give a response.
If I had more time I would be more active on services like Twitter, leave comments on other blogs and try to build better relationships with readers, but right now my schedule just doesn’t allow that.
If I only gave you 5 hours per week to work on your blog, what would you spend it doing? With that question your mind should instantly zone in on the things that you believe are important to your blogs’ growth. If you aren’t spending most of your time doing those things, and instead spending more time on sites like Twitter, then maybe it’s time to change things around.
As I’ve mentioned in a few posts: I only write on topics I want to read about personally and I will write as much as it takes to really cover a topic in-depth. Although I do only write on subjects that pass my personal interests, I do have a clear focus which helps me dictate the direction my posts go in.
My goal with this website is to help people make money online and build remarkable websites. You can view them as one thing or you can view them separately. Either way, the vast majority of posts are written with this aim in mind. I’m telling you this because I think it’s very important that you have your own focus as well.
Whatever it is that you blog about, it’s very useful to know what it is that you want to help people with. This simple vision will help you flesh out all posts, come up with new ideas, and find the right audience for your blog.
I don’t even think good blogging advice anymore is to “pick the right niche”. I think “know how you want to help people” is far more effective.
The only reason I can say I have over 10,000 subscribers is because you guys took the time out to subscribe (it’s free!) to the RSS feed. I sold PluginID when it reached 6,500 subscribers so I’ve never grown a blog to this level before and therefore I’m really excited about the future. Although there have been quite a few haters on this journey and I’m sure there will be many more, the support I’ve received from you all has been amazing and it’s the reason I keep coming back with new articles.
I hope I’ve gave something back with the articles I’ve posted recently; especially with this one. I didn’t want to overlap ideas and I think it fits in nicely with the post on growing PluginID to 6,500 readers. Although I simply can’t reply to all emails, I do make sure I read every single comment and will continue to do so, so please keep them coming.
It has been a fun nine months. Thanks for joining me on the ride!
P.S. If you’re reading this in Google reader, could you please click the ‘like’ button just below this sentence? I’m running a test and curious about the results (which I will share here).