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5 Ways to Know if Your Blog is on the Right Track

In this post David Wright and Sean Platt from direct response copywriters share some suggestions on indicators of when your blog might be on the road to success.

Starting a blog was one of the most exciting things we have ever done. Building a loyal audience, gathering intelligent subscribers with insightful comments, and making plans for the future were all part of a wonderful first year blogging. The problem for us was that reading about blogging and actually blogging are two entirely different things.

Blogging is hard work. Much like becoming a parent, all the warnings in the world do little to prepare you for the reality.

No blog becomes famous overnight unless its author happened to be famous a couple nights before. Blogging requires hard work and diligent effort for a sustained period of time. Many bloggers give up in the first few months and the majority never see their sixth. I can sympathize. With all the blogs screaming for attention, how are you supposed to know if your work is going to pay off or if you‘re wasting your time?

Outside of tons of visitors, or lots of ad revenue, success is defined differently by different people. Some bloggers are seeking a path to money while others are more interested in simply connecting or sharing their voice. The list below is simply a way of gauging whether or not people are connecting to your blog.

Five ways to tell if your blog has what it takes:

1) Comments

Comments can be both an empty measurement and a solid indicator that things are going well. If your blog is receiving a lot of comments, that’s probably a terrific sign. However, if the majority of those comments ring to the tune of “great post!” then even 100 are rather meaningless. A couple of valuable comments that provoke discussion are far better than double digit comments that are only there for the benefit of a link. It means that people are finding value in your content and interested in engaging you and other readers regarding that content.

Darren previously wrote on 11 ways to get your comments noticed on a popular blog. Use this information to help you determine the value of the comments you’re receiving, while helping you to learn to make your best comments.

2) Subscribers

All growth is progress. If your subscriber count is growing, then you can consider yourself on the right track. Slow and steady wins the race and it can take months blogging to break into the triple digits. Many people, ourselves included, set unrealistic goals for their subscriber counts. This only leads to disappointment and frustration. Be realistic and remember, blogging is a process, not an event. If your numbers show steady growth, then you’re doing something right. If not, then you need to reevaluate your content, posting frequency or perhaps your social media strategy.

Darren has written many times on getting more RSS subscribers. This post has 9 tips to help you find more with a nice video and link roundup.

3) Links

Links are the currency of the net and help to pay for whatever it is your blog needs: traffic, social proof and search engine rankings; all are the direct result of high quality links. And one of the best ways to generate quality links is to produce quality content (and make sure that content is seen). The more recognized you are, the more links you will receive. The beauty of incoming links is that they carry a cumulative effect. After a while, people will start linking to you simply because others are.

Getting links is important. Here are 11 ways to increase your chances of being linked to by a blogger, as previously written by Darren.

4) Friends

With blogging, an ever expanding web of friends and blogging buddies is essential to long term success. You could even make the case that who you know is sometimes more important than what you create, though I do believe the quality of your work must always stand on its own. Strive to meet new people and widen your network as best you can. I’m not saying to strike up phony friendships with people you’d otherwise have no interest in. Rather, find people you are genuinely interested in and can learn from. You will have created a network of mentors that can teach you a lot more than a dozen courses. If there is a natural complimenting of each other‘s strengths and weaknesses, all the better.

As part of Darren’s excellent 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series, he ran a post on Day 15 about finding a blogging buddy.

5) Niche

Many bloggers make the mistake of not clearly defining their niche. I know I’ve made the same mistake several times myself. If you are blogging as a hobby, it is unnecessary to build a fence around your ideas. If you are looking to turn your blogging into profit, or a full-time living, it is essential that you understand the audience you are targeting and how best to market to them.

In this previous ProBlogger post, Glen Allsop talks about how to find your passion and know what you should be blogging about.

Remember, we all define success differently. However, paying attention to the above list and the advice linked within can help ensure your blog lives up to its fullest potential.

Question: How do you define blogging success? How have your opinions of success changed since you first started blogging?

David Wright and Sean Platt are the team of direct response copywriters behind GhostwriterDad.com.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. work at home says:

    Yes all Signs are really noticeable if our blog is good track or not.

    I think that subscriber is great matter here. If our subscriber is going increase then we come to know that reader are enjoying our blog.

  2. I really like your tips. The best one is about comments. There may be 100 useless comments put only for the sake of a link.

    Few useful comments are far better than 100s of use less comments :)

  3. Great post.I have been blogging since 6 months and have good readers on my blog

  4. ITrush says:

    Hmm, if everything fails.. keep trying, who knows right?

  5. Mal Keenan says:

    Thanks for this. Some very useful tips.

    I’ve just started taking blogging seriously even though I’ve been in the business quite a while. My brand of blogging until now has been for search engine bait. I’ve just recently changed course and am enjoying blogging quite a bit.

    It’s slow progress as you say. I believe persistence is the key. I’ll keep at it.

    Mal Keenan

  6. Bob Wagner says:

    Great information, Being a new (serious) BloggerHow do you feel about StumbleUpon? I read it is a great way to make your subscribers soar if you can get high ranks there. Any suggesstions in doing that?

  7. One thing that serves as an indicator for me is the number of returning visitors. When I post something new, day by day I find that more people come back to read it. While the email subscription growth is an indication, it doesn’t always show the subscribers actual interest.

  8. For me I define success as waking up each day with an urge to work on my site, adding new content and trying to improve it even if I’ve had bad days with traffic and earnings. Yes getting a lot of visitors and making money is a goal – which will grow over time, but the minute I lose passion in what I am doing is when it is no longer a success.

    I would also add ‘bounce rate’ to the list as achieving a good bounce rate is a good sign of things are moving in the right direction.

  9. erman says:

    hello, i am a new Blog begginer , i find that your articles are very useful and interesting, here by i will let you know that i put your ideas in ” Five ways to tell if your blog has what it takes: ” in my article title ” Belajar Tentang Blogging Nih.. “, it is in Indonesian. Ofcourse, i did not forget to write your site in my article. Let me learn a lot from your articles, Thx a lot..:)

  10. Well, drat. I guess that means things aren’t going so well for me…yet.

    – and my site looks so handsome, too. ;)

  11. Ravi Spielberg says:

    Most people don’t understand that a lot of hard work is needed to get to become a successful blogger; it’s rarely an overnight occurrence.
    I like comments best if you can generate them (like the question just did:)) because you get a true picture of what your blog is to people, as opposed to what you think it is. Subscriptions usually come after the comments to me; especially from repeat visitors, like a second step to growing a worthwhile blog.
    Friends and link love make it all the more enjoyable. You feel like part of a great community…and you get the added impetus to give more back to everyone

  12. Links are the only important thing for our blogs. The more links the more traffic. The more traffic the more money. The more money, the more happiness.

  13. Ciarina says:

    Blogging success for me would be more of a community. I’d love to see my visitors and subscribers writing quality comments and discussing the posts, sharing their ideas and their thoughts on the topics at hand. It works both ways too: my blog gets attention, their blogs get attention, thanks to their comments (especially quality ones).

    Even though I’m classified nowadays as a hobby blogger (I have no niche, so to speak), my opinion for success hasn’t changed: it’s still all about the community. The numbers don’t lie, but in many ways, it isn’t an accurate gauge on how much of an impact a blog makes on its readers.

  14. Jonathan says:

    Greetings Darren:

    I was wondering if you could help me understand how to know who subscribes to your rss. In other words, if I’m going to offer something for free for subscribing, how do the person who subscribes? I can see the number of subscribers on feedburner, but how do I know the person behind the number?

    Thanks, I enjoy your posts.

  15. Ron says:

    Thanks for the great post Darren. I certainly agree that Niche is the most important thing for a money making blog. Currently, my blog doesn’t have any real direction, and monetizing it is not my goal right now.

    I took the approach that I will just write free-spirited and see where my blog takes me in the coming months. If i decided to monetize it, great, if not, oh well

    I started my blog to write about any topic I enjoy, and I am a happier person because of it.

    Keep up the great articles.

  16. the agony and the ecstasy of blogging. i needed this post today, a strong salve for a wounded soul. i blog to find warm emotional connections and engage in intellectual discussions on art and craft.

    i can see from my numbers that i have really good readership and it grows every day. i just wish more of them would share their opinions and insights with me. I want to learn, too!

  17. Suzanne Vara says:

    Darren

    These are excellent points. Blogging is not easy as even if you set a time to blog life does not always run on your time schedule. The parent analogy is great as what a change of life when having a child.

    Finding your niche and what readers like and then expect from you is a way to increase readers and subscribers. Also the time that you actually post the blog. This tells a lot about the location of your readers and when the best time to reach them is. Listening to your readers is a big part of blogging, especially for new bloggers.

    Slow and steady is exactly right as a blog that stays consistent is everydays news where a blog that has a huge traffic day and then dies the next day is yesterdays news,

    Thanks for the insight and inspiration to know I am on the right track with my blog.

  18. Hyla says:

    I used to think that blogging was all about stats and how many companies noticed you. Then I realized that I am blogging for me, not companies. Im less stressed now, I dont check my stats every week and daily number hits are dropping. And that is ok with me because I know that the people reading my content are interested in what I have to say not all of my giveaways.

  19. Darren this is awesome and it gives the complete mindset of starting blogging with an focus niche.

    You are right that this all basic this are very important to know first before start blogging

    I have also done that mistake before that not focusing in one niche, providing everything in blog.

    Later on I understand we need to maintain different blogs or website for different niche and it that way we make money.

    Blogging is not All in 1, it’s all about 1 in 1.

    Thanks for sharing this article and I have learned great thing from here.

    Alam

  20. I wonder how Darren and Sean and everybody here found his niche. How do u differentiate between passion and niche? What one is passionate about may not be a niche coz there are many others who are better than him on this amtter. Or it may be something one is passionate about and is very good at but there’s not enough critical mass out there who may be interested in this matter.

    Please advise. Thanks!

  21. Lukman Doank says:

    I’ve just setup new blog, I hope my blog on the right track based on those indicators..

  22. Great looking set of tips. As for the niche, I still see so many blogs that are unfocused. In fact, some pitch several topics that are so unrelated, like pet care and cell phones on the same site!

  23. I have a blog 2 months old now. I worked about 10 hours on one of the posts with research and graphic design and production. It just got tweeted by Smashing Magazine and Just Creative Design. In the last few days, it’s been about 10,000 hits. The bottom line is that its better to make one great post than 2-3 mediocre posts, and there is no way to circumvent the need for real work. Good blogs are good because real work goes into all their posts. It’s actually pretty hard, and you can’t sustain what you don’t really want to do. But if you love what you do, the work is transcendent.

    In the interest of seeing how much work a tweet-worthy post can take, take a quick look here:

    http://bonfx.com/19-top-fonts-in-19-top-combinations/

    Or simply google “font combinations” and look for “bonfx.com” in the first few results…I know many of you aren’t interested in font combinations, but that is not the point of the above link…

  24. David and Sean,

    Right on guys. I was reflecting on success and how we can truly define it. I asked the community around a site I write for and here’s the top ten definitions they came up with:

    http://simplyblog.net/10-definitions-on-being-a-successful-blogger/

    I know you’ll enjoy it! Cheers!
    -Mig

  25. I have just started blogging, and I do find all of this challenging – so thanks. I don’t want to ‘monetize’ my 3 blogs (travel, gardening, handcrafted jewelry) but I wouldn’t mind at least somebody taking a look at them – maybe even once! So I have a long way to go to achieve ‘success’. I do appreciate all of this advice.

  26. Umar says:

    awesome post….very nice description

  27. Joi says:

    I’ve found that certain niches bring about more comments than others. I have some blogs that get killer comments and interaction while others….. nearly zilch.

    Some are more apt to subscribe to rss than others, too. With my cat blog, for example – few actually subscribe to the rss, but they jumped on the e-mail alerts.

    The number of people linking to you is a great way to give your blog a check-up. Also, the number of tweets you get is a good indication.

    Thanks for a great post!

  28. I’m starting to get some quality comments on my blog. But my overall traffic numbers are still pretty low. But I’ve barely been doing it a month, so I’m just going to keep plodding away at it.

    Problogger.net has been a good source of advice, inspiration and ideas for me.

  29. I think the main problem many newbie bloggers face is choosing a niche

  30. Red100 says:

    The problem is that online advertising doesn’t pay enough to support the costs of news reporting. ,

  31. Paul Hassing says:

    Many thanks, David and Sean. I wish I were more advanced so I could say something better than ‘great post’. But I’m afraid that’ll have to do till I break my own triple digits. Best regards until then, P. :)

  32. Hi:

    Thank you for the article!

    I do agree with the article completely. All of those are signs of that a blog might going the right direction. However, I was more interested in answering the question posted at the very end of the article: “How do you define blogging success?”

    I am a fairly new to blogging and to start out, I have been reading the 279 Days to Overnight Success by Chris Guillebeau (http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/overnight-success/) to get me started. What was really interesting is that he doesn’t claim to want to get the best indicators that show how great his blog is. On the contrary, he seems to be only doing just enough to support this own lifestyle.

    And that is how I would define blogging success: does it support the goals that you want to achieve? That implies that you must have some sort of goal set, otherwise you will not be able to know if you are successful or not. So, even tho all of the indicators mentioned in the article can help you indicate if you are the right track, by no means will they tell you WHEN you are successful.

    Best,
    Tomas

  33. Siraj says:

    Niche should be picked up first, it is your area of expertise or topic you would blog about.

    I was involved for my mom’s food blog since 2006, which is in Bangla Community blog. Comments gives the feeling that people are reading or liking what I was writing. On those community blog there was nothing we could do for SEO. But over the time my mom’s kept her self running her blog, maintaining her readers well, answering their comments and suggestions for cooking. Specially her recipes, and cooking advise established her that the contents and recipes are unique and authentic. Sometimes she could not right her blog in regular basis.

    So niche and passion is the first thing for a blogging success. Your reader is your asset for the blog. Keep your blog running with a new and unique post in regular basis, and of course do your blog SEO done. For my VoIP blog SEO has started working, without any advertisement of the blog it has been attracting 200+ pageviews everyday. Not bad for a 5 months old blog.

  34. Rab says:

    How about another one for the list? Quite simply unique user stats and return visitors

  35. I think it would be interesting to see how long you have been blogging and how many post views you get in a day. Maybe some of your readers will be interested in posting this information.

    Thanks

  36. I am loving your site. One great post after other. I have just started blogging and I thinks I will spend a lot of time in this blog.

  37. ecommerce567 says:

    I like very much your way of presentation.. I got more useful information on this blog.. Thanks to sharing the useful information….

  38. darren says:

    what an unbeleivable site.will spend all day in here i think.

  39. Kristine says:

    I never took blogging seriously…until I became a freelance writer, so I guess I blogged seriously out of necessity. But really, I’m quite thankful I came across this blog.

    I think Siraj was right – niche should be on top of the list. It’s the definition of your whole blog, anyway. And from there, you’d be bringing more people to visit, to comment, to subscribe and to link. I mean, that’s what I’m trying to do…hopefully, one day, everything would pay off.

    Measuring blogging success depends, but I think the best success for me is when I read comments from readers. At least I know I have readers who are interested with my posts. :)

  40. Rita says:

    I’d like to get more comments. I’ve been blogging for nearly two years now for baby boomer consumers. I’ll go back and read Darren’s posts on how to increase your comments.

    Rita, blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  41. I believe in one thing and that is constant rising in everything showing that your blog is on the right track.

    It can be comments, earning, subscriber and other relevant terms.

  42. titan says:

    i agree with that. Comment, links, backlinks and popularity. It will comes if you play well.

  43. SEO Services says:

    Great point !It’s really useful.I really like to read.I am sure that I will be following the advice given in this blog .Thanks a lot,for sharing such an awesome list.Keep blogging…

  44. Nacho López says:

    I think that the most important in a blog is have a lot RSS suscribers. 1 reader is more powerful than a visit.

  45. It took m a year of poking around to find my niche, marketing & promoting books. The best way I’ve found to increase my subscribers is to read comments on other’s blogs. The substantive responses cause me to follow their links. I don’t follow “Great post” links.
    I’m discouraged by my mere 30 subscribers, but hopefully my time and content will pay off.
    Blessings,
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Children’s Author

  46. I’m a new blogger and it’s more of a personal thing for me but you gave me an idea how to make my blog work for me.

  47. work at home says:

    Although my blog subscriber are not increasing afterall I gain new PR3 on my blog. So I can say that my working is something going good. I will have to work more so that I can success.

  48. Markco says:

    I just started a new blog called http://mybumbusiness.blogspot.com and I’ve been using the tips found on your site to try and grow my base. Already after one day I have several phrases on google linked to the articles that in turn link to my site.

    Thank you so much!

  49. BloggerGirl says:

    Very good post.
    I have a question,
    how can i know how many subscribers do I have?

  50. Flek says:

    Awesome post. Actually am new to blogging. Started a blog recently but not in the right track it seems :(. Reading this article shows that. I must do many more things. Thanking you very much.