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Is Your Blog Doing Okay?

Last week, I told the story of how I achieved my best month ever on DPS.

While I used that post as a case study to present some ideas that I hoped you may be able to use on your own blogs, there’s a hidden hitch with that kind of post: it can give you the impression that you should be aiming to triple your revenue each time you hone a promotion on your site.

We could take that a step or two further—a post like that could give you the expectation that you should be selling products, or even that you should be monetizing your blog. Neither of those ideas is necessarily appropriate for every blog, or every blogger.

The blogosphere is usually a friendly place, but it’s also a place where there’s a lot of comparison. The old idea of keeping up with the Joneses can be a strong, if subtle influence in a space where we’re all learning from each other’s experiences.

Is your blog doing okay?

It’s only natural for most of us to want to know how our blogs are tracking, and to do that we naturally feel the need to compare them to something. I think the best comparison is your own previous performance, as I did with my 12 Days of Christmas promotion. But early in your blogging career, when you may not have a lot of previous results to look at, you’re probably more likely to compare yourself to other bloggers.

You might compare your blog with others in the same niche (competitors and peers), or blogs in different niches that are of a similar size and age to yours. You might compare the results you got from a particular tactic with the results someone else got by using that same tactic, but in a completely different field.

All of these attempts to benchmark are common, and there’s no doubt that they can be helpful at times. But benchmarking your blog against others, or your performance against others, ignores one very important factor: you.

Are you doing okay?

As I said earlier, I tend to benchmark against my own progress, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

True “success” isn’t a matter of graphs and stats, nor is it a “point” that’s “achieved.” When we ask if our blog’s doing okay, what I think most of us are asking is if we’re performing as we should be. But this assumes that there’s one objective standard that we should meet.

Every one of us is different, each blog is unique, our reader audiences are comprised of different people, and our blogging fits into our personal lives in myriad different ways. So how could there be an objective yardstick for “success” or “progress”? The better question, I think, is more personal: are we achieving all that we’re capable of achieving—and all that we want to achieve?

Within the realm of blogging, I try to improve on my past performance. But that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If the way I went about improving that performance were detrimental to some other part of my life, then it wouldn’t matter how well my 2011 12 Days of Christmas promotion went—I wouldn’t be enjoying “success” or possibly even overall “progress.”

I know, for example, that as a part-time blogger, it’s easy to look at full-time bloggers’ “progress” or “success” and try to push yourself to achieve something similar. But unless you have 48 hours in every day, that’s probably not a) possible b) practical or c) enjoyable.

When you’re wondering how your blog’s tracking, my advice is to look at how your blog’s tracking both in its own right, but also, in terms of how it’s fitting in with the other priorities and things of value in your life.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk more specifically about this, and explain a few of the ways I think my blogging’s going well—and they have nothing to do with sales or stats or marketing. In the meantime, how’s your blog tracking? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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. Tyler Olson says:

    I write a photography news, rumors and reviews blog and agree, tracking performance (health) is tough and trying not to compare to others is tougher. It is fun to think competitively, trying to match peers – but ultimately I look at my growth and traffic compared to previous months. If the traffic is more than last month, I’ve managed to reach a larger audience and I consider the blog healthy. If the blog isn’t growing, perhaps I need to alter something – obviously people aren’t finding what they read interesting enough to share. So far, luckily, that hasn’t happened.

  2. Dwayne@TWC says:

    Being a new blogger myself I was comparing my progress to the progress of others but I quickly got out of doing that. Comparing yourself to others can be detrimental when you obsess over it but if you compare your results to someone you would like to emulate then this can be a motivating factor. As long as YOU are happy with how you are progressing then you are on the right track.

    • Tyler Olson says:

      Yeah, comparing yourself to others as a motivator and not a ‘success’ measurement is probably a good way to go about it.

    • That is a huge trap for new bloggers. Comparing yourself to your fellow competitors will get you no where. At least you got out of the trap as some are still in it. As long as you keep to your plan and progress at least a little per day, you’ll be fine!

  3. @lazyNadja says:

    if you write blog for someone else, stop it. to write a blog for others is like making photos for others or bying things which I dont like. so I fully agree with Dwayn. curious what will come tomorrow here – please wake me up! ;-)

  4. mephet says:

    An interesting, valuable post. It’s easy, even as early as in my stage, to start comparing my blog to others. It feels a little pointless. I’ve only very recently taken up blogging again (read: less than a week ago) with Ready, Set, Unsheathe, so there’s little in the terms of stats to analyze anyway. There can be value to it, I suppose, but I don’t think it’s the best way for me to evaluate my blog right now.
    Even though my page views are low, I think my blog is fairing pretty well. While I have my doubts and concerns (who doesn’t?), so far it seems to fulfil the purposes and goals I’ve set for it. I’ve already noticed personal benefits from keeping the blog: not only does it make me practice writing non-fiction, but it has actually helped me learn about the subject I’m writing about.
    Your articles have been a great help to me for these past days, thank you for this site. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

  5. When you say “is your blog okay” you could be asking one of two questions – whether it is making money / building traffic or whether you are following a plan. If your main goal isn’t about making money, you can blog freely but if you are considering turning your blog into a financial business, make sure you build a plan as you start to gain traffic and that income as you can start to test what works well and what doesn’t with your audience.

    By doing this, you will be able to keep on track and expand your blog and business through the money you make. Just keep on at it and you’ll do fine!

    • Kalen Smith says:

      Good point Jonny. Although I think most blogs have SOME larger goal than just having fun. Not necessarily financial. It could also mean that people are trying to spread a message about a cause. If you are passionate about something (such as a humanitarian message) you want to know people are reading it. If your goal is to make money, then you want to know the $ are coming in. The big step is to ask yourself at the beginning “what is my blog about?”

    • That’s actually a great reply. Often people ask how to be a successful blogger.. In terms of what? Recognition? Money? Traffic? Subscribers?

      • Kalen – Thanks. I understand most blogs are people’s businesses and livelihoods as well as a way of getting myself out there as I’m looking to be a person within the Media and Publishing industry. In the past I’ve helped out with blogs with an informative message – for instance charities setup for a certain family member or because a story shocked them so much they wanted to promote it and do something about it.

        Michael – I don’t know if you are replying to my original comment or not but thanks! What new bloggers need to understand is – to get the money, traffic and subscribers, you need to be recognised by someone who will pass your link around to their friends. Until that time, you have to play the waiting game.

  6. Todd says:

    At the same time, I’ve been wishing lately for some kind of reference point to know what I should expect at this (early) point in my blogging adventure. I think it could be reassuring to hear from more bloggers who have had some success about when NOT to freak out or over-worry in the early phases. Not to the point where it fuels insecurity or obsession, but just some benchmarks and realistic goals so you can stop thinking about it as much.

  7. Is my blog doing okay? Well, not as okay as it should basically because I’m not getting as many subscribers as I should. But is it doing okay in terms of my goals? I think it’s doing fairly well.

    I started this particular blog to help those starting out in online business and I’ve received tremendous feedback. I go the extra mile for my readers and answer each question personally; on the blog and through emails (for those who mail).

    My objectives are to teach ethical marketing and provide support for online businesses. So is my blog doing okay? I’d have to say yes. :)

  8. Justin Mazza says:

    Great points Darren. It’s common to want to compare our own blogs to someone else. The truth is that we are gaining successes with our blog in one form or another whether it be money, comments, traffic Alexa rank and so on.

  9. Lauren says:

    What I like is to compare my blog with others in its niche from the content perspective: is the content better or worse? Is the quality of what I’m writing comparable to other blogs ? Would a reader prefer to read my blog or this other one? The rest is irrelevant for the moment being. I’m very new to blogging and I’m still learning how to put content together, so strategies to build traffic, monetize, and SEO will be for later.

  10. Chandra says:

    I’m so new at this, I’m not even sure what you mean about tracking or how I know that. I do look at my stats and see my page views. It’s only been a week and most of mine are from Facebook. I feel successful though. First, I’ve overcome massive self doubt and set up the blog and blogged for 7 consecutive days. Second, I’ve figured out how to add Amazon links and pictures. I’ve researched and added to, learned about, and improved every day. So far, I’m a success in my book. Lucky for me, I’m too technologically handicapped to know how to track another blogger’s success, so I don’t have to worry about comparing myself to them!

  11. Maria Behar says:

    This is a very helpful post! When I started blogging, I was indeed comparing my blog to those of others. I bewailed the fact that I was apparently not attracting that many followers. Then, one day, I had my first giveaway — on my fiction blog, “A Night’s Dream of Books”. BOOM!! All of a sudden, my follower count nearly doubled! That was in Sept. of last year. In December, I had another giveaway, and got even MORE followers. Sadly, though, I’ve noticed that very few of those new followers have actually commented on my subsequent posts….

    I’m a part-time blogger, unfortunaely. I work two jobs, so I basically blog on the weekends, although I do try to get some blogging time here and there during the week. Sometimes I go to bed around 1:00 AM! Not good, since I have to get up at 7:00 the next morning…

    I can’t help feeling jealous of the full-time bloggers…I know one who’s a stay-at-home mom. Well, I checked out her blog archive a couple of months ago, and discovered that, in one particular month, she had published 45 posts! I don’t know how she could do that…with a baby to take care of, housework, and who knows what else…I can’t possibly compete with HER. Besides, she also seems to be a speed reader! She’ll publish more than 10 book reviews each month! I wonder if she has help with the baby and the housework. I really don’t know how the HECK she does it! And it seems like every time I turn around, she’s hosting yet ANOTHER giveaway! Of course, her follower count is currently over 1200…

    Anyway,…guess I’ve just got “the blogger blues”… I wish I had a twin who could go to work in my place. Lol.

    Thanks for the post!! : )

  12. Shayna says:

    I think my blog’s doing okay for a 6-week-old site! :-)

    About 200 daily visitors and 300 e-mail subscribers so far. No money, but then I haven’t tried to monetize – I’m focusing on audience building at the moment.I’ve read conflicting advice on whether to monetize now (with a small audience) or later.

    I agree with other commenters who have said not to compare your blog with others. It’s sometimes hard for me to read real accounts of how others have achieved “explosive growth” for their new blogs – but those blogs always seem to be about blogging, marketing, and making money online. Useful, to be sure, but totally different from my niche (English teaching)!

  13. Carlos Ramos says:

    I am a new blogger and I know what you mean: The need to compare with other bloggers or just look at something that looks like progress. I got a little into the ‘Am I doing okay?’ and found the answer was no: when I began around two months ago I never thought that blogging would require much more skills that I anticipated.
    But, I still am blogging, because I really like to do it :). Thanks for pointing out the fact that, above all, I have to do okay first.

  14. Hi Darren,

    This message is immensely powerful.

    Create. Stop comparing. Comparison is a toughie for most to handle. Either you are superior, inferior, or simply keeping up with average, being mediocre, when you compare. It’s why I advise most people not to play the comparison game when it comes to blogging, because most can’t emotionally detach from the numbers.

    Each person has different goals, different amount of time to devote to blogging, all types of factors. You can’t possibly compare yourself to someone with different goals, with a different drive, living in a different set of circumstances. It makes no sense.

    Comparing myself to others in the home based biz sector killed my cash gifting club for a bit. My numbers were poor – in my mind – when in actuality, after I pulled back, although my opt-ins were lower than some top level folks a while back my conversions were sensational. But I compared the stuff I felt was not working, because my numbers appeared weak, and it killed my marketing campaign and growth.

    Create. Forget competing. Focus on writing posts and view stats with a healthy sense of detachment and you enjoy the blogging experience so much more.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Darren.

    Ryan

  15. maman says:

    okey, thanks for the post. this is the time to make change,,,

  16. Great post Darren.

    I think that when you are just starting out blogging, and the progress and growth are more visible over a shorter period of time, then you can safely say your blog is doing okay and comparing it to others is not all that important.

    When you’re in the game a little longer, and correct me if I’m wrong, but then huge growth will be seen when evaluating a longer period of time. Then little things like optimizing certain content even further when you evaluate your stats, and after implementing the changes and improvements you start seeing the results of your efforts, then your blog is doing okay. Regardless of what’s happening with your competition.

    I am not saying that comparing your blog with others in your niche is a bad thing, as we all know that most of our improvement ideas come from what the market respects and want, which a lot of the times you can find out by studying your competition. But what I am saying is, that if you still see results after implementing changes, regardless of whether positive OR negative, you see things happening and you are growing, which enables you to make changes accordingly.

    I am doing okay thanks… :)

  17. Ferb says:

    I love my blog, but It does not going the way that I expected to be. I love to see the number of social media’s growth and especially, the number of comments growth. But they don’t actually grow at all, I don’t understand WHY.

    I figured out the problem on Twitter. Some blogger are visiting my blog and one thing they do is Tweet my post, however, they don’t actually comment on it and that is what I’m looking for as well (maybe they only want to grow their Tweet number). Hopefully, someone can help out of the problem.

  18. Archan Mehta says:

    Darren,

    What a fabulous post. And an accurate analysis. Your ideas here are to the point and on the mark.

    The key point, however, is what is “out there” versus what is happening “in here.”

    Our social conditioning is about making comparisons: how do I stack up? By contrast, peace of mind and a feeling of happiness you will achieve only by delving deep into your own heart and soul.

    The success and wealth of others need not deter you. It need not be a source of frustration or jealousy. You can be happy just doing what you do best and realizing your true potential. Thus, how do you stack up against your self? How far are you willing to go to be the best you can be? seem to be the more pertinent questions. I can never be Darren, Leo, Charlie or anybody else, but at least I can be me.

    That means putting my heart and soul into my work. You can reap the fruit only by planting the seed and feeding the soil with water and songs We should not be harsh. We can be gentle. And lead with a smile.

    Cheers.

  19. Rita says:

    I’m a consumer writer, I’m reaching thousands of readers with consumer information on my blogs. It’s like publishing your own newspaper, only you get to decide what to put in it.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  20. Johanna says:

    I agree, it’s all too easy to compare yourself to others in your niche and get ‘the blogging blues’. At the heart of blogging you have to love what you’re doing; the writing, the learning, the strategising and the meeting new people.

    To begin with my page views flat-lined, for a very long time. Such a long time in fact that I thought I would one day get a medal from some higher blogging Deity, just to tell me I did good to hang in there.

    Then I got one or two readers and I was ecstatic. And they liked what I was writing. Said they benefited or were amused (See it didn’t take much to keep me happy!)

    Of late though, I’ve been tipping the 200 mark and although I still have to learn how to engage my readers more and get more comments, I’m over the moon. I know I’m not the best at this, I’m not a young geek, but I love it. I’m not going to give up or compare myself to other better business minded bloggers, because that’s not who I am, or what I’m about.

    Don’t compare. Just keep creating. That’s what I think.

    I’ll probably be 90 before I have a well-read, well-loved blog that maybe earns me some money. But who cares. It will be a nice pension!

  21. Blogging is like my one of the regular routine, but the thing is on my blog the visitors ratio is quiet low and i wan to grow up with more visitors, i tried so many things to get visitors on my blog, some work some are’nt. So, my question is how can i get number of visitors on my blog.

  22. Everyone seems to own a blog these days. Perhaps, they have their own reasons. Some of them just blog for “killing time” as they call it. Some other bloggers earn money by doing so. We have to concentrate on the latter set of people if earning money is your main goal.

  23. It’s always best to have goals, make a plan to reach that goal, and use tips from the great bloggers to improve your plan, but you shouldn’t change your goals unless you want to or better yet, have achieved your initial goal already.

  24. I think I get sucked into this trap when I am not careful. I compare my blog, which while important is primarily a hobby, to the blogs of people who make a living at it and come up short. I have to remember that I do not spend ten or more hours a day working on my blog, so I probably won’t get the same results.

  25. It is so hard to “measure” your progress on a new website. I am 4 months into my site on figurines. I am seeing very small but daily progress. When you start at zero it can take a long time to grow to any real type of traffic numbers and perhaps even longer to monetize. My plan was to get to 100 daily visitors then try and monitize the size. I have done some small link building and now realize links add to page rank which adds traffic.

    So you progress from start at zero to 100 visitors in 1st month, then 200 visitors in 2nd month, then 450 in the 3rd month, then 700 in 4th month. Now in my 5th month I will get over 1200 visitors. I am not sure if this is good, bad, or nothing but it does seem to be progress. I believe I can see light at the end of a long tunnel as far as getting to enough traffic that I can actually monetize the size.

    It feels good to at least have traffic progress. While not a lot of traffic it does feel like I am making some progress.

    Lladro

  26. Rick says:

    Thanks Darren,

    It’s a real balance to strike between enjoying what you write about, and trying to earn some money in the process.

    I like the idea of, as another commenter said, having my own newspaper/magazine. I can write about what I want, and never get a rejection slip. However, this joy is short lived compared to the constant rejection of no comments, no ads clicked, no email sign-ups….I need to stop before I get too depressed.

    I’m just over 6 months into it, and am tweaking constantly based on what I see and read from excellent sites like this one. Fortunately, I’m in it for the long haul, and this is supposed to be retirement income which is around 10 years away yet.

    I do like looking at the ‘money plots’ that I see occassionally. I looks like the 1 year point is around when the blogs start doing well (at least pay for themselves). I know this can’t be generalized, but have others seen this in their blog?

    Rick

  27. Monty says:

    I love blogging. When I started I worked with a system where we were content producers online. The fact that is it now blogging is a whole new world to me.

    In this new world and new environment, I’ve come to see blogging as a way to show how we reflect our lives. As I progress to be more authentic; I see my growth in writing more consistently. I see my growth in comments left on my blog. I see my growth in even the ability to connect with my audience on and offline. But to me the best way to see growth is through mentorship.

    To have that accountability partner that checks to see if I’m truly ok. The mentor to see if I’m on track with my goals and objective and commitments. To me, the mentor relationship is the most key component to seeing if my blog is ok. And expert in the space successful at doing what I want to do.. just make the work a lot easier.

  28. Noel says:

    Definitely think you need to know what your own blog goals are before you can decide how well you are doing … and, since you don’t know exactly what a competitors goals are, that will never be the best measure of your blog! Thanks for another thoughtful article.

  29. Peter says:

    I agree, comparing your blog to others should only be used as a motivator and not a measurement of success. In the past I would get very frustrated when comparing myself to others but I realized the only element of real importance was if my blog was improving from what is was and that it is continuing to get better. Thank you for the post. Very good to hear reinforcement on this subject.

  30. Daniel says:

    Probably best to set goals(our own personal targets) to be reached within certain time frames, otherwise we will waste too much time.

    As far as comparing our sites to others(regarding level of success) there is nothing wrong with doing this to a degree. Though, by doing this, if we do not gain the amount of success(Progress) we had hoped for and the sites we are trying to emulate are streaking ahead in leaps and bounds, this may be morale crushing for us.

  31. Glynis says:

    My blog is doing okay but could be doing a little better. I broke my knee cap last fall so, of course, my blog suffered and is still suffering a little.It’s only been in the past 2 weeks that I have put the kind of effort into my posts that I think is acceptable. My next move is to have posts in which I am putting my all into it. At this point it will stay a blog of part-time.

  32. kc says:

    I am just getting started in blogging, never having done it before I had no Idea what to blog about when getting started. So I chose something that I am pasionate about. And that is mind body and spirit. How the mind and body and spirit can heal itself. While not wanting to pay for a blog. I chose a free blog. kc-world.blogspot.com. I don’t realy know anything about blogging so it will be interesting to find out what happends.