The 5 Stages of Blog Growth: How Your Traffic Tactics Should Change as You Grow

blog stages

If you know exactly what you’re doing, you can build a blog that gets over 100,000 visitors per month in less than year—from scratch.

Chances are, however, you don’t know exactly what you need to do to achieve that, but that’s okay.

The fact that you’re here and ready to learn means that one day, you will know what you need to do to create a fully sustainable business from your blog.

Another factor is the time it takes. Some of you may be able to build a thriving blog in a year, while others may take two, three, or even five years.

During this journey, your blog will progress through five distinct stages:

  1. Blog creation
  2. Initial growth: finding your 100 “true fans”
  3. Scaling up your traffic
  4. Reaping the rewards
  5. Maintaining your success

Download this cheat sheet to get to know how your traffic tactics should change as you grow.

In this article, I’ll outline the five stages of blog growth to help you understand where you’re today and how far you have left to go. 

Stage 1: Your blog is born

Expected time to complete: Less than two weeks.

When you read most blogs on creating an online business and online marketing, the sexy parts involve hundreds of thousands of visitors and profit.

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But traffic and profit are the result; your foundation is the cause of those results. Figuring out the important details of your blog isn’t always easy, but without a solid foundation, you can’t build a skyscraper.

There are four things you need to do in this preparatory phase.

Even if you already have a blog, you may benefit from going over these things again and improving them if you skipped them before.

1. Define your niche

This is the first step—the step where most blog owners fail. It is crucial to know who is going to benefit from your content.

In other words: who do you want to serve?

You don’t need to know how you’re going to do it yet. The products you will make, the content you will create, and your traffic generating methods don’t matter yet. The audience you want to help comes first.

You need to be able to state what type of people you’re trying to serve and be as specific as possible. It’s better to be too specific than too general as you can always expand later.

For example, you may want to serve office workers who want to learn how to eat healthy at work.

Here are 124 niche case studies, both good and bad.

2. Create a reader persona

Now that you know the people you want to serve, you need to learn more about them.

In order to create content that actually helps them, you must understand who they are, how they act, and what they struggle with.

You can learn about your target audience in many ways, for example:

  • in-person conversations
  • demographic sites like Alexa and SEMrush

By the end of your research, you should know your target audience’s:

  • age
  • gender
  • job
  • hobbies
  • beliefs
  • values

You can even give your reader persona a name. Note that all of these have to be as specific as possible. For instance, 25-35 years old isn’t an age, it’s a range. Pick one age that accurately describes your ideal reader.

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In the end, you want to have one specific person in mind you can write for. This will help you create content that resonates with your readers.

3. Create your blog

If you’re going to build a blog-based business, you will at some point need a functional blog.

Unless you need some really unique features, I recommend sticking with WordPress for now. It’s the simplest option to get you up and running, and you can always redesign the blog in the future. Here’s how to install WordPress—it’s pretty simple.

Alternatively, if you’re already running your site on a platform like HubSpot, it might be even easier for you to create a blog.

What I don’t advise you do is go out and spend thousands of dollars on a custom CMS or design. The first version of any blog isn’t going to be perfect, and it’s going to change a lot down the line.

Focus on getting a simple, functional, and not completely ugly blog up and running as fast as possible. Don’t waste weeks or months trying to make everything look perfect.

4. Discover where your readers hang out

Before you can even attempt to draw your target audience to your blog, you have to figure out where they spend their time.

Note that in some niches, you may have to get offline and go to conventions or local meetings to connect with your target audience and get them on your site.

To start with, find the most popular blogs in your niche. The easiest ways to do this is by Googling “top [your general niche] blogs.”

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Create a spreadsheet to keep track of these sites. In one column, indicate if the blog allows comments, and in another, if it allows guest posts. To check for guest posts, Google “[domain name] guest post.”

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Go through any big lists of blogs, and visit each one individually. Look for signs of high traffic such as several comments on each blog post or a lot of social shares.

Add the best ones to your list. You want to identify blogs that your reader persona visits so that you can eventually get them over to your site. Ideally, you want to identify as many as you can, but at least 50. If you’re having trouble getting that many, think broader, e.g., “best health sites” instead of “best nutrition sites.”

After blogs, it’s time to check out forums in your niche. Again, search for “[your general niche]+ forum,” and go through the results on the first few pages.

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If you find forums you believe your target audience visits regularly, record them in a separate section of your spreadsheet. Note the number of members, or active members, to indicate activity and popularity.

Forums typically aren’t big enough to use as a main traffic strategy at any point, but they can help you refine your reader persona and can be used for certain promotion tactics.

Stage 2: Finding your 100 true fans

Expected time to complete: Less than four months.

Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly coined a concept called 1,000 true fans. It really took off when Seth Godin started referencing it in his advice.

In short, he described how anyone could make a great living if they interacted with and had support from 1,000 true fans.

This article was written in the context of being a musician or an artist, but the same applies to most small businesses. A relatively small group of loyal readers can make your business a big enough success to allow you to become a full-time blogger (if you aren’t already).

If you have a new blog, going from zero to 1,000 is a big leap. Too big, in my opinion, and unnecessary.

A better goal is to gather 100 true fans.

When you first begin a blog, you’re starting at zero. No matter how well you research your target audience, you’re going to make mistakes. The problem here is that no one will tell you what mistakes you’re making—at least not yet.

As long as you defined your target audience well enough, you will have the ability to attract your first 100 fans (although it could take a while). These fans will play an instrumental role in the growth of your blog.

Loyal readers will comment on posts and respond to emails. They will tell you when something resonates with them through comments and feedback. They will also tell you when they don’t like something either through a comment, email, or silence.

If you have 100 high quality subscribers and still can’t get any comments or email replies, the problem isn’t the subscribers: it’s your content.

In reality, you’ll likely fall somewhere in between perfect resonance and radio silence. On some posts, you’ll get a lot of engagement (say 10-15 comments from your 100 fans), while others will only get one or two.

Use this feedback to tweak your reader persona and craft content that helps this updated persona. That’s when you’ll start seeing consistent resonance and more rapid growth of subscribers.

So, where are we right now?

You have a brand new blog but no audience (or a very small one). This is your main challenge. You need to get your first 100 fans.

In addition, you have a ton to do. You need to create content, build relationships, create more content, promote your content, and more. But you’re likely the only one who can do it since your blog isn’t producing any revenue.

You need to spend your time wisely. That’s why I’m going to tell you the optimal strategies that you should use to get your first 100 true fans.

Optimal strategy #1: Guest-posting

The core of your initial traffic strategy should be guest-posting. The most common places that your target audience hang out at are likely other blogs (in most niches).

You need to find popular blogs that have a huge audience. A small portion of this audience will be your target audience. You can then attempt to get these readers to subscribe to your site through a guest post. Guest-posting is an important strategy for blogs of all sizes.

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One common mistake people make that you may also make is to try to write any guest post that you think will be popular on a site. However, even if the guest post becomes popular and sends you a lot of subscribers, they might not be the right ones that you want to build your blog and business around.

Instead, find a topic that you think will do well on the blog you’re guest-posting on, but angle it towards your target reader.

For example, if I were writing a guest post on Forbes (which I regularly do), I wouldn’t write a general article on the current state of the economy. Although it might become popular, I would rather write a slightly less popular article about how the recent economy problems affect your business’ marketing plan, or something along those lines.

Always remember that your goal at this stage is to find that small group of 100 true fans and get them to your site. Attract their attention first and foremost before considering the rest of a traffic source’s audience.

Here is everything you need to know about getting results from guest-posting:

Optimal strategy #2: Create the right type of content for your blog

As I’ve already noted, your time is extremely limited. While it might be ideal to pump out a ton of content to get your blog rolling, it’s not the most important thing.

Right now, you have very few (if any) visitors. You don’t need to continuously create content because no one’s reading it.

It’s better to spend time trying to get traffic from other sources before creating a high volume of posts on your own blog.

That being said, you do need some content on your blog, but some types of content are better than others. Writing an opinion post is going to be a waste of time: why would anyone care what you think at this point? That’s not an insult—it’s a fact. You need to build up your expert reputation before writing a post like that.

But certain types of content can work well at this stage. In particular, you should create a few posts that can attract quality backlinks and help you build relationships with influencers. If you do it right, it might even result in some decent targeted traffic.

These magical content types are:

  • roundup posts
  • ego bait posts
  • “poster boy” posts

You probably already know what link roundups are. You ask several influencers in a niche the same question and then publish the results. Some influencers will comment on the post, link to it, and share on social media.

Ego bait describes a wide range of posts. Essentially, you want to appeal to the ego of an influencer or company with a large following. Make them look good by showing that their advice solved a problem for you or someone else. Let them know you created the post, and maybe they will link to it.

Finally, you can use the “poster boy” formula. It’s a lot like ego bait, but it takes the tactic to the next level. Find a few particular influencers, and find a particular piece of strategy or technique advice from them.

Then, implement that advice and track the results. Create a case study of your results that make the influencer look amazing. This will lead the influencer to keep linking to your case study as evidence of their awesomeness.

This last tactic is a lot of work, but it produces results. Bryan Harris was able to get over 400 subscribers with this technique on a new blog.

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Optimal strategy #3: Paid traffic

If you have more money than time to invest in your business, paid traffic is a way to accelerate your growth.

That being said, it’s completely optional. Many successful blogs never use paid ads, while many other successful blogs do it at one point or another.

The big benefit of paid ads is that despite having no existing traffic base, you can create an audience. It can get expensive, especially if you’re new to using paid advertising. It’s very important that you spend some time improving your email opt-in rate before blowing through thousands of dollars.

Here are some of the best resources on using paid traffic to build a blog’s audience:

Optimal strategy #4: Develop social media presence

Last but not least, you have to attend to social media.

Popular social media platforms have boatloads of traffic, and the most popular ones—Facebook and Twitter—almost definitely contain your target audience.

The problem is that any good social media strategy takes time to work. If you’re going to use social media, you have to be prepared to consistently use your chosen platform for months before it starts to pay off with some decent traffic.

If you’re really set on using social media to funnel traffic to your site, you can speed it up by using paid traffic. As I’ve shown on the nutrition site case study, paid ads on Facebook are relatively cheap and can help you build an authoritative page quickly.

I don’t recommend using social media as a primary traffic strategy unless you’re willing to continually invest in it. However, you can still identify one or two channels to start building while you focus on other traffic generation methods.

What about SEO?

If you know me well, you know how much I love SEO and benefit from it. But aside from building authoritative links when you get the chance, you shouldn’t focus on it very much at the beginning.

Gaining the authority and trust from search engines takes several months of publishing high quality content. You should start seeing some real organic search traffic after about a year, and that’s when you can shift more of your focus toward SEO.

Stage 3: Attracting swarms of fans—scaling up

Expected time to complete: 8-24 months

Now that you know almost exactly what your audience needs help with and wants, it’s time to kick your traffic growth efforts into overdrive.

Although you will be growing much faster than you did during the last stage, this will take time too.

Look at the NeilPatel.com blog as an example. I began the blog at the very end of September 2014. In the month of May, 2015, my traffic grew to 63,827 visitors—that took about eight months.

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Consider that it took me eight months to grow to this point even with my experience and personal brand. Additionally, I’m still in the process of scaling up the traffic to that blog, which means it falls into this stage.

At this point, you have some traffic and a good idea of your target audience. Your main challenge now is starting to create great content on a regular basis. In addition, your time is still limited.

Optimal strategy #1: Continue with your traffic-building strategies 

Since now you have to spend more time on content creation, you will have less time to spend on getting traffic from other sources. Nevertheless, you need to continue your traffic strategies from Stage 2.

Although you may have 100 true fans, your rate of growth will be too slow if you solely depend on those fans to spread the word. Instead, as you gain traffic during this stage, start spending more and more time on creating and promoting content on your own blog.

Optimal strategy #2: Create a content schedule

In the previous stage, you started creating content for your blog. Now, it’s necessary to do it on a regular basis. Think about not just those specific types of posts that we looked at but any type of content your true fans may enjoy.

You need to decide how often you want to post and what you will be writing about.

A thorough content calendar will help you plan out content for up to a year in advance. At this point, you’re still getting a lot feedback from your 100 true fans. I’d recommend planning your content for only a few weeks or months so that it can be adjusted based on the feedback you receive.

Once you achieve consistent resonance, you can plan your content schedule as far in advance as you’d like.

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Optimal strategy #3: Start considering monetization

Traffic is nice, but the end goal should always be to produce revenue.

If you’re selling a service, e.g., offering consulting, you can do this early on with no issues. It doesn’t take a lot of time to create a simple landing page. Put a link to it in your menu, and drop it in your emails to subscribers when appropriate.

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The long-term goal of your blog may be to sell a product. If you already have a product, you can start selling it during this phase and put some time into improving your conversion rate.

If you don’t have a product, now is a great time to start paying attention to the major pains of your audience so that you can create a product around them. Most products take months to create, so the farther you can plan ahead, the better.

Stage 4: Reap the rewards—getting paid

Expected time to complete: three to six months

The line between Stages 3 and 4 is often blurred. Once you develop a sizable audience (most go with 5,000-10,000 subscribers), you need to monetize your blog as soon as possible. At the same time, you need to keep growing and continuing to do all the growth strategies described in Stage 3.

Optimal strategy #1: Focus on monetization

“Why does it always have to be about the money?”

I know that you might feel like I’m telling you to be greedy by advising to monetize as soon as possible, but it’s the opposite of that.

At this point, you have tens of thousands of visitors a month (at least!).

If you don’t monetize your blog, how can you continue to serve your visitors well? You can’t invest in better content, and you can’t respond to all emails or comments any more. One person can’t service an audience of thousands.

If you really have zero time available to create a product, know that once you have a sizable audience, you will be approached regularly for joint ventures (JV).

Essentially, the other party will create the product; you provide the audience to sell it to; and you split the profit. Don’t immediately accept the first JV offer. Take your time, and only work with someone you trust and respect to provide as much value for your audience as possible.

Finally, you can always promote other reputable affiliate offers if you feel that you’re not quite ready to create your own product.

Optimal strategy #2: Hire

Now that you are deriving some income from the blog, you can start getting some help so that you can continue to help your audience as much as possible.

First, you need to decide which parts of the blog need your attention the most.

Personally, I like to be the one writing my blog’s content (on Quick Sprout and NeilPatel.com), so I can’t outsource that. However, on Crazy Egg’s blog, I’ve hired an editor that has assembled a team of writers to produce content.

Here are the most common areas that blogs usually hire for:

  • product support
  • product development
  • answering simple emails (get a virtual assistant)
  • graphic design (images and infographics for content)
  • web development (for site redesign)
  • content strategy development
  • content writing

Once you’ve identified which parts of your blog require your personal attention, start hiring people to take care of the rest.

Do this slowly, and make sure you’re hiring quality people to help you. It’ll save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Stage 5: Maintain your position on the Golden Throne

Expected time to complete: hopefully, you stay here forever! (or until you sell)

At this point, you have a full-fledged business.

Your blog should easily be generating enough so that you can focus full-time on it. This is the stage that Quick Sprout has been at for quite some time.

In some niches, you will reach this point faster than others, just due to your specific audience and the size of your market.

But if you just sit on your success, you will lose it. Your business is almost always in a state of growth or decline. Obviously, it’s better to focus on growth than let the results of your hard work wither away.

Your main challenge at this point is to continue producing high quality work in the form of blog content and products. Additionally, you still have limited time to take advantage of all the opportunities now coming your way.

Optimal strategy #1: Keep hiring

If you’re doing things right, your traffic is only going to keep increasing. To keep up your quality standards and to free up time, you will have to find more reliable people to add to your small team.

The hardest thing about maintaining a successful growing business is finding and keeping good people on your team. If you find someone who does their job well, pay them accordingly even if you could get them to work for you for slightly cheaper.

This not only keeps them happy while working, but it prevents them from wanting to leave in the future. Not having to continually find, hire, and train people will save you much more in the long run than saving a few dollars on salaries.

Optimal strategy #2: Automate

The great thing about having a significant amount of revenue coming in is that you no longer have to do things you don’t enjoy. Almost all boring parts of running a blog can be automated, either with a paid tool or an employee/freelancer.

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Most hires should be for a specific task. When you hire someone, don’t just leave them to figure out things by themselves.

You need to create easy-to-follow systems that outline what you’d like your employees to do step-by-step. Although initial training will take time, in the long run, it will save you from having to waste time correcting mistakes and changing their work habits to suit yours.

Optimal strategy #3: Be selective

At this point, you are going to get offers to do all sorts of things, including guest-posting and conference appearances.

Since you have very limited time, you need to pick your opportunities carefully. Right now, it’s about getting a little bit more traffic and building your personal brand. Pick the opportunities that will have the most positive impact on your reputation and position as a thought leader in your field.

Optimal strategy #4: SEO

No, I didn’t forget about SEO. By now, your domain has a solid amount of authority and trust, and you should be seeing a significant amount of organic traffic from search engines.

At this point, there are three things you should do:

  1. Evaluate your blog design for optimal “link juice” flow.
  2. Re-evaluate old content, and see if you can optimize for better terms.
  3. Strategically incorporate keywords into your future content.

If you don’t have experience with SEO, you could always hire an expert to help you out, now that you are generating revenue.

Conclusion

The purpose of this post was to give you a clear layout of how a blog-based business grows over time.

Growing a successful blog is not something that can be done quickly.

What I hope you get out of this is that if you use the right tactics at the right time, you will strategically grow your blog and take guessing and luck out of the equation.

You can learn all of the tactics you need on Quick Sprout and the NeilPatel.com blog.

As a final note, never stop learning about your readers and trying to help them. Even though this blog is past the initial stages, I’m still learning how I can serve you better every day through your comments, emails, and viewing habits.

To better understand where you are with your business or blog, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a comment below telling me what stage you’re currently at.

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Comments

  1. Hi Neil.

    Great article. Been following for a while and as I plan my first site your articles have been so helpful to me.

    One thing which I’ve been thinking about is something you brought up here: waiting for monetization. I had the idea in my head that I would concentrate on building an audience first of all, and then focus on monetization processes at a later date having achieved some success with the audience building! So, I wondered at what stage you would start to seriously consider monetization? Would it be after hitting a certain target in regard to site visitors? Perhaps your answer might be that you start to seriously consider monetization straight away….!

    Thank you!

    • Michael, You are right on the money with that one. You should definitely consider monetization right away — that’s not to say you should pull the trigger on any plans. You should just have a game plan.

  2. Nicci Bateman :

    This post is like gold!! I’m printing this out right now and going to work through all the points you have mentioned. Thank you so much!

  3. Awesome post as always Neil!

    I’m wondering if you have a ghost writer or you do create all the content yourself on both Quicksprout and NeilPatel?

  4. Really. Golden Tactics .. Simply Amazing.. I will sharing with my team also .. 🙂

  5. William Zimmerman :

    Neil,

    Great post!

    I am starting a College Recruiting Video/Sport Photography business. My customer are the parents of lacrosse players in grades 8th-11th in Philadelphia Suburban area.

    2 questions:

    Is my customer specific enough?

    My other question: How do I get to know their hobbies, beliefs, values without being creepy? What are a few good questions to ask to unearth them?

    Thanks very much,
    Bill Zimmerman

    • Bill, I think that’s very specific and you’re off to a good start. You should try surveying them to find out what they are most interested in. That’s what I often do.

  6. I like the step-by-step approach–very helpful. One of the things that I think is often overlooked is audience. I really appreciated the information on developing a reader persona. Thanks,

  7. I’ve got website about web news, all news connected to what’s happen online. How can I target those people?

  8. Bryan Haines :

    Very helpful post. We just chose our niche this morning for a new site. We are moving into a whole new topic with this site – your point about 100 true fans is great.

    Thanks for the insight and resources!

  9. Suzanne Colling :

    Remarkable Strategies

  10. manish Kumar :

    Anyone can be a good blogger after reading this 😉

  11. Hi Neil,

    Great advice as always! I’ve decided to mirror your $100,000k challenge myself so this post came at a perfect time.

    I think it’s also crucial to mention that people should diversify their social platforms when promoting their content so that they aren’t tied down to one and don’t build their audience on rented ground – would be awful if an algorithm change meant a huge loss in traffic!

    • Matt, hopefully an algorithmic change doesn’t come soon. Thanks for the feedback. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  12. what an article!!! Great tactics, definitely one should follow. Thank you for sharing…

  13. Rued Caspar Riis :

    Hey Neil,

    Still amazes me how high quality your blog posts are. I know you get a lot of help and invest a bit of money in them, but how you do it is so inspiring and a bit scarry 🙂
    4400 words with infographics and all – wow!
    All the best and keep up the good work – I really enjoy applying your tips to my work and startups.
    /Rued

    • Rued, glad you find the tips helpful. Let me know if you need help with anything else. Thanks for the feedback.

  14. Tamas Torok :

    Hi Neil,

    Great post as always. 🙂
    We are currently in a transformation phase with our blog. It means that we are trying to focus on a much smaller audience (I think our content portfolio was too broad).

    After we learnt more about our target audience and finally found our niche (I hope so:)) I expect a much faster growth. Our blog went from 200 visitors to 2700 within 5 months.

    The worst thing in an early stage is that you never know that you are on the right path or no. Too many things can go wrong…

    Fortunately, your posts helped us to avoid lot of mistakes. 😉

    Thanks again!

    Tamas

    • Tamas, it’s always a tricky time when you’re first starting off — I think you’re on the right track though. Keep up the great work and let me know if you need any help along the way.

  15. Hi Neil great nd great post again you are really care about us! Thanks
    Neil can I create a user on my blog in the link with your name nd post your blogs on under you in this way you don’t have to manage it.
    Thanks
    Love from Kuala Lumpur

  16. Johnson Okorie :

    Great post Neil. Navigating round stage 2 is often a major pain for most upcoming bloggers and Neil, it is a major pain. What would you consider the best content for a digital marketing agency?

    • Johnson, share industry news — that seems to always work for digital agencies. Let me know if you need any help along the way.

  17. Just started our blog with first post last week. We already have a product that we’ve been selling at farmer’s markets and we built our web-store earlier this year to sell the product online. We started the blog to help bring visitors to our web-store.

    • Sheena — awesome! Sounds like you’re on the right track. There are so many ways you can go when going that route — let me know if you need any help along the way.

  18. Francisco Rodriguez :

    Hi Neil, great post!

    I’ve had a blog (in spanish) about “strategical planning and marketing” for almost a year. It targets both new and stablished business who need to increase both their sales and brand positioning. I feel like i am stuck on Stage 2.

    Here is my question: What can i do to go through it?

    (Knowing that i write good content, i do promotion on social networks, do on page SEO.. and stuff like that)

    I would really appreciate some help!

    P.S. Page link: http://www.villanuevaconsulting.com

    • You can do a lot via your blog and posts — Have you reached out to other people in your niche to see if they would be willing to share your ideas and thoughts?

      • Francisco Rodriguez :

        Yes Neil,

        infact i’m actually guest posting twice a month on an authority blog in my niche. (www.soyentrepreneur.com)

        That is helping me with the traffic, but my suscribers list is not reflecting any changes.

        Thanks for caring about my situation.

  19. Why is everyone who posts here a complete muppet who truly believes the rubbish this grinning idiot posts

    • Joan — Sorry you feel that way. What do you suggest we do to make it better?

      • Anil Agarwal :

        If you don’t like that post, just don’t comment and leave the blog bro. Why write negative comments?

        Neil, among all the 5 stages you shared, I think getting your first 100 true fans is the hardest part. I know it takes a lot of time to find the TRUE fans who are ready to buy whatever you sell. But that’s the quickest make to hit your online goals.

    • hello Mr Joan, you trying to become noticed.. by posting a negative comment. Anyway it works… ya

  20. neil sir this blogs is 2 good thkx for share it. neil sir plz visit my website and tell me hows this. this is my website – http://gotosky.in/

    • Raju, I would make your content a little more compelling you are just touching on the surface right now. Try to educate your readers.

  21. Anshul Raghav :

    Wow!! What an article….I hope this will help to build some good traffic for my tech base blog…cheers….. 😀

  22. Yogesh Patel :

    Very effective and careful case study. I am sure you have passed all those stages and this post is your experience keeping in line with current techniques.

    Informative, saved it for later read.

  23. Hey Neil,

    Thanks of course for this article! I’ve into a bit of a wall with my outreach to other site and bloggers. I’ve worked on a few different approaches to not ask for anything initially and share their content on my site and social etc. I’m getting limited results with others sharing my stuff or linking to it. The content we’re putting out is high quality and in depth (really that isn’t the problem). Let me know if you have any suggestions to improve my outreach tactics.

  24. All this sounds easy to do, but it really is very complicated 🙁

  25. Thanks for sharing great article. Visitors my blog very low and make me frustating

  26. Great article sir, this website very useful. Thanks

  27. Hi Neil, great post.

    My question would be: when you should START to act in order to monetize your blog? Adsense and other ad networks: since day1, after a week..or only after you have a considerable amount of traffic?

    Starting affiliating platform like amazon … from day 1, or later? or after ad networks? Because for sure you won t monetize without traffic,…but it is also true that having the ads and affiliates tools already setup may be useful?

    This is my real doubt.

    Many thanks!

    • John, great question. I would line everything up to go live once you are ready. I think planning everything out is a great first step.

  28. Hey Neil,

    Thanks for the awesome post. I’m still in the beginning stages of growing my blog. I haven’t devoted much time to it this year but I’m quitting my job this week to focus on it full-time.

    I’m been following you for years and I’m finally taking action. I know I have a lot to learn but I’m confident my site will provide tremendous value to my niche.

    I’m actually modeling your content for my audience.
    Thanks for everything 🙂

    • Mauricio, congrats on the big step. Let me know if there is anything I can do do to help along the way.

  29. Nayomi Whittam :

    Hi Neil,

    This is really great post again you are really care about all people!

    Thanks

  30. I think this is where most people struggle. When they start to blog/build a site, they do need to have certain knowledge to offer. Something that they really good at.
    If not, why anyone want to accept their guest post.

    Many of my friends are AdSense Publishers. They don’t have a lot of money, but they don’t have “a story” to tell either. So, they take other people contents and rewrite it.
    I don’t think the people who takes this path will able to write a guest post on someone else’s blog. Because it takes credibility.

    And I think many people start a blog not from the position as an expert, but from someone who is learning. I guess that’s why so many blog is about blogging.

    My question is at the beginning how to convince other people to take our writing, when we are still a nobody (not an expert)?

    • Juan, I think a good tact to take is to educate your audience — that’s always a great first step. I think if you provide value the followers and readers will come naturally.

      • Yea..but the speed…. I’ve been blogging every day for 1,5 years, night and day literally. And my site visitors is still around 600 according to G.Analytic.

        From financial point of view, this is bad.

        Even though, I know I’m helping people based on emails I received.

        ——-
        I have a question a bit off the topic. Can sites with short, not in depth posts outrank sites with long, in depth posts, through quantity?

        By Short it means 300-500 words post.

        I have tried to write posts with 7000-10000 words. But the traffic from Search Engine is almost flat 0. I don’t receive Google Love. Sometimes I’m thinking what the use I spend days for these posts, if no one reading it.

        • Juan, they definitely can. It’s all about the content you produce at the end of the day and the message it provides. If it resonates with shorter copy then you’re golden.

  31. Rajkaran Singh :

    Thanks for the super stuff. This is going to help me a lot.

  32. David Throop :

    Neil,
    This is simply an amazing post. I took a copious amount of notes as I was reading. This is an incredibly valuable post for an informational blog, but it left me wondering about one area.

    A question I have is, when starting out as an affiliate site, how do you sit on monetization?

    Say that the blog is an affiliate site designed to promote a niche product to the specific audience.

    If the intent is to sell the product, do you recommend focusing on informing and educating your audience before monetizing?

    Thanks again for spending the time to write and develop, then share this content with us all!

    • David, you should definitely follow that strategy. I always try to teach and inform before I sell anything.

  33. Dinah Houston :

    I’m a gifted and talented teacher, on summer break, learning wordpress, and switching my athlete recipe blog while still doing lots of recipe development and food research. Thank goodness I found you.

  34. What we have in this article is some really solid advice that is well laid out.
    I have seen some of this same advice previously. But it was in a membership product that cost a couple of hundred pounds and here you are giving it away for free.
    Having read this I think that you have another true fan! Thanks.

  35. Nilantha Jayawardhana :

    Very informative post Neil. Thanks.

    I wrote my first guest post on SML on January and I got more than 900+ visitors from it. I made about $200 from it. In the next month my traffic was lower than January, but I made about $350.

    We should optimize our blog to achieve maximize our profit.

    I updated my post, I customized the design of my blog. Therefore I made more $$$ than January with a low traffic than January.

  36. Love your posts Neil. You take so much time and effort into creating long engaging and relevant content. I can see why you’re a success at what you do. Certainly something we can all aspire todo when creating our own online marketing strategies.

  37. Hi Neil,

    Again directly from my inbox to your blog post. (Always i am too late to comment)

    Started blogging as a career and every day learning more and more. I never thought that how bloggers are so helpful. On my list you are at first place Neil.

    The most important in the online business is traffic. We can grow traffic quickly by paid traffic. I think newbie bloggers doesn’t go for paid traffic firstly. They always want to get free traffic like as me!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing an informative article with us. Would love to learn more from you Neil. Keep it up bro.

    Have a nice day!

  38. Well, I’m still at step 1, defining a niche to explore. I made the design of the blog starting from a given template. I have some thin content and feel I should choose a niche and develop the blog and myself in that direction. I find your tactic relevant and business oriented so I’ll stick to it.

  39. Neil this is the best content I read so far. I just started a blog last month on http://www.businessingambia.com
    I am still haven problem to increase traffic. My target country is Gambia which is about 1.8 million population with about 200,000 internet users. How can I increase my subscribe rate. I also don’t know anything about SEO. I am relying on the plugins.
    Neil and other readers, you advice will be highly appreciated.

  40. Great blog Neil..I own a content writing firm and have jut launched a women magazine (you can have a look here..www.womansaga.com) ..I have tried to cover all issues related to women..right from health to fashion to beauty, money and shopping. Is this a mistake, as it won’t allow me to get authority in any particular niche?? Right now my blog is 2 months old and getting 1000 unique visitors everyday..
    Since, I didn’t get your blog earlier..I already took first two steps towards monetization- got adsense as well as affiliate approval.
    Do you think..I made lots of mistakes..as my audience is stuck and not growing at a rate I would like it to be..A guidance would be appreciated a lot!
    Thanks

    • Jane, where do you think you made a mistake? I am sure it wasn’t a mistake just a learning curve you are getting over.

  41. Hi Neil,

    Another great post.

    Monetizing right away I think is the hardest. Even though I’m getting a decent amount of traffic and comments on some articles (site is just over a month old so far), I haven’t made a dime which I’m okay with. Google Adsense has certain requirements so I’m not going to attempt to sign up until I get about 50 pieces of content.

    So getting any ad revenue is tough. Even if I had AdSense enabled, I’d probably only have a few clicks and a few dollars from that anyway. I also have affiliate links, but they’re just “kind of there” as I write about what I like and not to recommend products per se. And I’m not a consultant and don’t make my own products. I use my site as basically a portfolio of my various data analysis projects (no specific niche) and to teach others.

    • Vazoof, sounds like you are doing everything the right way. Keep up the great work and let me know if you need help with anything else.

  42. Michael Bely :

    Neil, your post contains a good portion of useful information.

    But what I found arguable is the time to success on the second (most important as I see it) stage which is about to get an initial traction in popularity. Of course it depends, but IMO for example 4 months to get 100 true fans is too optimistic for a typical newbie blogger.

    Of course, if it’s a person who knows (and can) how to do everything and an expert in a niche, then these time frames are pretty realistic. But unfortunately not for most people out there (my opinion of course)

    I’ve just found that too many beginner bloggers give up too early with their blogs because they expect just a couple of months to get a good traction, which does not happen.

    Anyway, your post (and your blog in general) helps people quite well to get over the difficulties in blogging and shorten the span when the success comes.

    • Michael, thanks for your thoughts on the subject — they are very helpful. I think it’s all about being persistent — good things come in due time 😉

  43. I am right going to try the step on link roundups, sound very genuine to me, I remember writing a “top best” type of post and one site I mentioned in the post threw free links and traffic to the post and I believe the link roundups technique will be just like this multiplied by the number of people I am going to mention in the post if all freely agreed to participate to this.
    Thanks For sharing

  44. isaac guerrero :

    Hi neil great post.

    I still haven’t heard your opinion when it comes to ssl and the seo benefits

    Do you think is worth it to get a ssl for a blog.

    Are you planing on using a ssl for your personal blog neilpatel.com

    Thanks

  45. Hi Neil,

    This write up is what one would deemed “Beast Mode”. No Hold Bars of Sound Information.

    Have you ever thought about writing a blog post topic…How To Write an SEO Rich Blog Post in Another Language…??? Just asking

    Great Job,
    Alfonso

  46. Great post Neil,Would you recommend Onlywire or Socialadr to get started with social media?

  47. I can’t believe all that info you gave was for free!! I’m taking notes like I’m in school again .
    Thank you so much.
    My blog is about 3 months old- traffic ranges from 30-300 a day.
    How do I find out what my readers are interested in?

  48. Enjoyed reading this, particularly as I’m starting to think about “personas” more and more. One thing I found over on copy blogger is they actually add a picture of the person they are describing to the fact sheet.

  49. Neil,

    Great stuff, as usual, and always lots of information to step through.

    I’m currently reading through about everything of yours I can on growing a blog, driving traffic, and marketing. This is another great resource with steps. My site over at http://www.thebrainflux.com has pretty limited traffic, so trying to increase my social media presence on facebook and following along with you on NS.

    The growth of your blogs seems pretty incredible. Looking forward to your next monthly update for NS.

    • Eric, glad you found it helpful. I look forward to hearing much more from you — let me know if I can help in any way.

  50. Hi Neil,

    Call me a pedant, but should this be “you are today”:

    ‘In this article, I’ll outline the five stages of blog growth to help you understand where you’re today and how far you have left to go’

  51. Daniel Daines-Hutt :

    Hey Neil,

    Great post-i’m about to go crazy on guest posting myself

    I set a recent challenge to try and build a new site to :
    130,000 visitors
    10,000 email subscribers
    $66,000 in revenue in 66 days

    Today is day 7 and im at
    300+ visitors
    166 subscribers
    0 cash flow as yet

    My next stage is to build some low end monetisation products or service to help lead into my core service (Building retargeting conversion funnels for business)

    I just ran a free campaign with an ecommerce store for a case study and we raised over $18,750 in sales for only $114 in facebook marketing/retargeting in 48 hours!

    Would love for you to check out the site (in my names hyperlink) or to go and give the reddit thread a look!

    https://www.reddit.com/r/DigitalMarketing/comments/3at2ro/66k_in_66_daysfollow_along/

    Will be back here in 59 days when the guest post methods have made me a “poster boy” for your methods!

    Daniel

    • Daniel, great to hear — thanks for sharing all these stats and your experiences I am sure they will be helpful for others. Let me know if you need any other help along the way.

  52. Ita Maulani :

    This article is very large. I am happy to read it because the discussion is very deep and covers many aspects. Although, I need to read several time to understand and apply it in practice. Thank you, Mr. Neil Patel.

  53. Working on getting a local travel opinions blog through the roof. Trying to focus on niche local content. Finding it tough to generate it though. 🙂

  54. Kaushal Patel :

    Hi Neil,

    I was looking for this kind of information. I am planning to start a blog in near future. I was conscious about how to start and from where to start. Whether I will get traffic on my blog or not. But after reading your post on first stage, now I am relaxed as I think I should not think about traffic right now and should concentrate on my blog and content first.

    Really a read worthy post.

  55. Very cool post, Neil. 100 fans idea is really cool. So, anybody here who wanna be my fan, please. 🙂
    Best regards,
    Waqar

  56. Damian Martin :

    I Will be a Good Blogger After Reading this Detail Post. Thanks

  57. What is different if you have an online magazine instead of a blog? Sometimes it’s difficult to make the knowledge transfer from Blog to Magazine. Most magazines don’t build e-mail lists and only go for social media. Social media reach decreases, so perhaps still building e-mail lists?

  58. Evelyn Guzman :

    This is perfect; just what I need from Neil Patel, thank you very much. But whether I can do them all is a different story. I can try though, can’t I?

  59. JONtotheworld :

    Hi Neil,

    Thank you so much for sharing. This post is what I personally needed as I am still at the starting phase of my blog. It’s already about six months but what I needed the most is focus.

    I will be working on attracting my first 100 true fans now. That’s the focus that I am talking about. 🙂

    Regards,
    Jon

    • Jon, awesome! Please let me know if you need any specific help along the way. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  60. article is too big but it is very very usefull to newblogger

  61. Thanks Neil,

    I have recently heard about your blog and you give me great motivation. I will soon start my blog based on your advice 😉

  62. Ville-Veikko Helppi :

    Hi Neil,

    And thank you for all these great posts – really love reading your thoughtful ideas, tips and stories.

    However, I noticed this morning that your email had gone in SPAM folder. Any ideas why this happened? Maybe a good topic for you to cover in your future articles 🙂

    Thanks again, and keep up the awesome work!

    Best regards,
    Ville-Veikko

  63. Michael Karp :

    Hi Neil,

    I really like the process you laid out here. It puts every step into perspective.

    I’ve got a few plans to execute over the next few weeks that’ll hopefully take me from initial growth to scaling up my traffic (and to making a full time income).

    Will let you know how it goes.

  64. Thank you so much for sharing this post. It will be a true learning for a beginner like myself.
    One question thou?? I am running a blog from past couple of months which mainly focus on 3 different niches ( online marketing, travel & online education). Should I continue posting content in these niches on my blog OR will it be wise to use 1 niche per blog?

    Thanks

  65. WOW!!!! Great article very useful. I enjoyed for reading this and learn alot. Thanks for sharing this.

  66. Just launched my first blog last month. I’ve been searching all over the internet looking for the best strategies for growing my blog. And this post here is like a gold mine. Thank you Neil for this amazing post. I will be using this post as my roadmap.

  67. Connor Rickett :

    I’m riding that guest posting train. Unfortunately it appears to be coal-fired, but, hey, it does alright on the downhill bits.

    By the way, gold star for making the arrows on your gears in the 5 Cogs of Marketing infographic actually rotate consistently. You can’t put a dollar value on that.

  68. Hi Neil,

    This is my first time here commenting. I want to tell you first that your post is awesome and that you are doing a real great work ( I have already read many of your post here and in Neilpatel.com).
    I just want to point out one thing. You said: “It’s better to be too specific than too general”, so the more a blog is focused on a niche it will be more helpful. But I have a little wondering: Don’t you think that this strategy of being too specific has been used too much? It may have worked for some but not for everyone. I think that to be on a niche and cover also the subjects that are related to it can be a good start. It’s in the middle, not too specific or too general. Just in the right spot to well cover a niche and it’s complementary subjects.
    Wouldn’t it have more chances that way?

    • Oussama, I think that’s a good strategy if you can make it fit with your brand — sometimes its a bit harder to do so.

  69. Hi Neil. Thanks for this post. As a reader above said, I am going to print this out…it is like gospel! I am such a fan of your posts and regularly click on my newsletter from you to read the content as it is so helpful!

    I am 3.5 months into my blog and I think your point about ‘its not your readers, its your content’ really hit home with me! I am going to listen to the readers and gauge response to particular posts more. This will help articulate content that gets more readers. Thank you as always for your openness with helping bloggers grow their sites! Cheers from Sydney, Prasanthi

    • Prasanthi, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for the feedback and please let me know if you need help with anything else.

  70. Cathy Mayhue :

    Hi Neil,

    Finally I made it to your blog, I have been hearing a lot about you at other blogs about your innovative ways of internet marketing and building up subscribers list. Today I came and visiting your blog was completely worth it, I am bookmarking blog after blog. This was the first one.
    I have a question though, have you used tumblr? I have just started using it and do not know, how to increase followers? Some experts told me that it is important to publish atleast 25 posts/day or some even say that you must just following others in the hope they will also follow you. Can you offer any inputs?

    • Cathy, I haven’t really used Tumblr a lot — If you have any tips would love to hear them!

      • Cathy Mayhue :

        My experience with tumblr is only 2 months and in this short period I have learned that one should keep posting quality content and hope for the best. One of my posts went wildly viral, attracted 26k notes so far. Funny thing is that I never expected much from that post and lots of other posts, which I carefully crafted and thought they would create a huge splash did not succeed to that level, some of them did not attract even a single note. So in tumblr you never know what will eventually succeed, you just have to keep forwarding your best foot forward.

        But your suggestion on preparing a persona of a reader could be a pointer towards cracking this riddle, it is making sense to me. If I prepare a fictitious profile, spelling out all the personality traits and hobbies, I could come up with more successful posts.

  71. Hey Neil

    Great information, I like the process. Looking forward to doubling my blog’s traffic too.

    Sandile

  72. Neeraj Joshi :

    Hi Neil really interesting and valuable information, hope now i will be a good blogger. Dear Neil thanks for your post. really helpful and easy to understand, your screen shots making it much easier, thanks again

  73. Thanks a lot and Neil I am sure your advice and your thoughts will definitely help me because I am also going to start my own blog in a short period of time and I learned a lot from your blog post…

    Thanks Once Again Neil.

  74. Hi, I’ve been reading your posts for a little while now and they are very informative, but I have always had a question regarding round ups and ego bait in the back of my mind.

    If I was to write an ego bait article, say the top 5 designed blogs and I link to each one. If I then reached out and they all end up linking back to me from their site in some shape or form. Wouldn’t Google class them as reciprocal links as we are both linking to each other?

    Thanks
    Bradley

    • Bradley, you shouldn’t run into that problem because the links back wouldn’t have all the same anchor text and landing page associated. Give me some specifics so I can guide.

      • Thanks you for the reply Neil. I haven’t started writing anything yet. I’m just trying to learn a little before I start a blog and it’s something I always wondered about. Thank you clearing that up.

        Bradley

  75. This is just AWESOME stuff 🙂

    Thanks for the post Neil

  76. Hi Neil,
    That’s some valuable information. I wan tot ask you that once a blog reaches some good traffic numbers in 4 or months, how to scale it up? Like when you feel that you have done about everything you can do to promote your blog?

    • Michael, keep up what you did to get those numbers and then test and optimize from there. That’s how I do it.

  77. Thomas Charlie :

    Thanks a lot Neil I am sure your advice and your thoughts will definitely help me a lot because I am also going to start my other own blog in a short period of time and I learned a lot from your blog post…

    Thanks Once Again Neil.

  78. Oleg Yakubenkov :

    Neil, Thank you for great post!
    Very usefull

  79. Hi Neil

    As usual very well written detail article, its extremely useful for starting a blog from scratch. some of the very unique/important point mention to make blog successful. thanks for sharing.

  80. Hey Neil, Jose here!

    Thanks for this great post.

    It’s so great and I know that you’re such a busy guy that my only question is: How do you find time to write all your posts yourself?

    How do you do to run more than one blog and keep producing such valuable content in a consistent basis?

    Take care!

  81. Karsten Fink :

    Hi Neil,

    respect! nice to read another post of yours! It occured to me that I really enjoy reading your posts as you directly and personally address your readers and you really seem to know what they want. Another thing I really appreciate is your directness. I keep returning and it’s just as you said: “You can learn all of the tactics you need on Quick Sprout and the NeilPatel.com blog”

    You wanted to know what I’m up to at the moment. I have finished putting the greater part of my German grammar (it’s called “eine wesentliche Grammatik”) on my site, I guess I’m somewhere around stage 3 or 4 and still thinking about what and how to offer.
    Also I am wondering how much good content to offer for free. Also technically I have been studying a lot of books on programming, because I don’t want to depend on wordpress. My system which is based on files (no database) is another ace in my sleeve that maybe one day I’ll pull out. The site doesn’t look smashing as I am not a very good designer, but (I hope anyone else sees this too) it’s got quality content on language learning. What do you see?

    Best regards,

    Karsten

  82. I realy enjoyed your articles about Stages of Blog Growth and I enjoy sharing the information with my facebook friends

  83. Gert (gipfelrast.at) :

    Dear Neil,

    thank you for this interesting post. I didn’t start my little blog with the goal of monetization, yet as it seems to become slightly popular the thought has occurred to me 😉

    Thanks for those very helpful and and inspiring steps, very helpful!

    best regards,
    Gert

  84. Great depth article, great research as usual. One more helpful article, thanks for it.

  85. Archit Agarwal :

    Hey neil , am not able to see my comment which i did in morning ?? have you removed ??
    if yes then why ??

  86. I don’t remember how many time I have comeback to this post again and again to track my step with your completed guide

    since I was nobody, nobody will hear me and that is true…

    so I implemented the Superboy poster in my posting.

    Today I realize that Superboy poster formula is amazing, I got more than 100 subscribers in the past 3 days

    thanks for your guide Neil 🙂

  87. I am on first stage. tell me about choosing a broad niche or narrow niche like seo when starting a blog?

    • Atul, can you be a little more specific?

      • I want to increase my traffic. so tell me how I can get more traffic- by choosing a broader niche or a narrow niche?
        In nutrition case study, you told that choosing a broader niche like nutrition help you get more traffic.

        • Atul, start broad and you’ll find that you can narrow it down along the way. You’ll learn a lot and gain insights.

  88. Neil,

    My previous comment was not approved and not answered.

  89. Great information for someone like myself who is just starting a blog.
    Signed up for the free course to Double Your Traffic but haven’t got the Email Subscription Request yet.

  90. Neil, first off: thanks for your constant content publishing – you’re a machine! I’m wondering if you have a good guide / resource to tracking blog growth. Specifically a template to copy or follow.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Jenna, I just create spreadsheets and track traffic numbers along the way. I also reference google analytics to get a more comprehensive picture.

  91. I want to blog on the latest News. Is it a profitable niche? ?

  92. Neil Wilston :

    I read your blog posts. They are really helpful.

    Thanks

  93. ranjeet vimal :

    I always read you mate

  94. James J-Pierre :

    Fantastic post. I always enjoy lengthy posts when I come here.

    I am currently starting to do guest posts. I’ve been avoiding it for the longest, but I realize it’s something I should have been doing.

    I jumbled around in the beginning, but have finally cleared my mind and hatched out a plan that will work for my site.

    I actually just came from your other site (neilpatel.com) and read a post on obtaining traffic. Reading this post after has definitely put me in the right direction.

    Also found out, the audience I was aiming for is not the audience for my site.

    As you can see, you have helped me out a lot. I won’t go on so I don’t make this comment to lenghty.

    Thanks again Neil

  95. Thanks Neil This was very helpful. I’m going to focus on stage 2. I have a few viewers a post. I think creating round up posts will be helpful. I have a ton of sites I get inspiration from so I think i’ll use those as my round up posts. I also need to build relationships. So commenting on forums and the best blogs in my niche. I’m always torn between writing what inspires me and what others want to read. it’s hard to find a balance. But let’s hope this works!

    Nicky
    http://www.sincerelybalanced.com

  96. Thanks a lot Neil for sharing these amazing tips. I always believe that the content is the king and the way you write and present it in front of the readers, will help you to generate more traffic. The 5 stages present a clear image of the growth that can be attained by the bloggers. I am trying hard to write more and more content and I tink, someday I will succeed. Thanks
    Tom
    http://www.makemyassignments.com

  97. I am so glad I came across this post. I’m in the process of finding my first 100 loyal fans, and – stop me if you’ve heard this before – I’m impatient.

    After reading this article I have a better understanding of the timelines I should be following. Thanks!

    Nick
    http://www.livingwithaddisons.com

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