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The Secret To Growing Your Blog to Its Potential

I recently had a blogger sidle up to me at a conference and ask me to share ‘the secret’ technique that would allow see their blog grow to its potential.

While the blogger was asking with tongue planted firmly in his cheek (he understood that there was no single thing that would transform his blog) I do sometimes wonder if some bloggers are looking for ‘the secret’.

The reality is that looking for a single technique to make your blog grow to its potential is as crazy as looking for a single technique to make your child grow to its potential.

Actually I like the analogy of children growing to their potential… lets go down that path for a moment.

I have 3 boys. They’re 2, 5 and 7.

They started small (of course). Here’s our 2 year old a few minutes after he was born.

IMG 2688 2

He was little (although like all Rowses had a quite large head for his age).

I look back on that photo today and can barely believe that the 2 year old that runs around our house talking up a storm is the same person that I saw born just a couple of years ago.

I look at my 7 year old and am even more amazed at who he’s become already! He has grown so much – physically, emotionally, socially and so much more.

But how did he grow to become the 7 year old he is today?

The reality is that while it seems just yesterday that he was born, his growth has been little by little thing – every day since.

He certainly has had growth spurts where he’s shot up at a faster rate over a month than other months but he’s grown gradually and as a result of consistent feeding, exercise, sleep and nurturing.

As parents we can’t identify a single thing that has resulted in him reaching the point he’s at – it’s a result of small consistent and regular actions over time.

The same is true with your blog.

There’s nothing you can do that will suddenly make your blog reach its potential.

It will grow as you regularly add content, as you regularly look after the readers you have and grow community, as you regularly participate in places off your blog to find new readers and as you regularly nurture it by keeping its design and technical side up to date and working.

You will probably go through growth spurts where you see bursts of activity that results in growth in one way or another – but its what happens between the growth spurts that is just as important.

The key to success in blogging (and in many areas of life) is small but regular and consistent actions over a long period of time.

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. dojo says:

    Making a blog successful means a lot of work and being able to juggle all kinds of skills. Consistency is also key, you won’t make it if you work hard for 2 weeks and then won’t do anything for a month.

  2. Another good one, Darren and pretty witty too! Especially the part about big heads in your family, LOL. I have always told others that running an active websites, no matter if its a blog or your very own social network, its like a garden. It requires you to take care of it, spend time on it and keep it clean or it will die. If you get better at taking care of it and assisting its growth, well you will end up having a big garden full of different things. Its really the same with a blog.

  3. John says:

    Honestly though – this absolutely IS the secret to growing your blog. It might not be the answer that people are looking for when they ask the question, but it’s the most honest answer you can give.

    As you grow you have to remember that each spurt will put you into a new league of competition. The growth rate will slow down as time goes on and your competitors will get stronger – it’s very much an endurance test in the early stages where those who wanted overnight success will fade in and out of existence and those who are looking years ahead will continue to slog along. As time goes by however, it becomes more of an emotional and mental battle to continue to achieve growth. You already have gotten to the point where people can run just as fast and just as long as you can, now you need to outsmart them and not let the emotions cloud your vision of the goals that you have.

    It never does end though does it? I’ve followed you for years, write for you on DPS, and have made great strides in my own little slice of the web, but it’s a never ending battle and there’s ALWAYS something new to create.

    Thanks for the post Darren!

  4. kathyj333 says:

    I keep working at it. I think one of the keys is to keep trying. Some days it gets tough, but I keep at it.

    • So true! Especially with kids!! The rewards definitely make it all worthwhile though. When I take time to ‘pause for applause’ and celebrate the wins, it makes the tough days so much more bearable.

      • Darren Rowse says:

        yep – it’s a constant struggle (although I do get bursts of energy where it all flows). Great strategy though to pause and celebrate.

  5. This is certainly proving true for me – not giving up and just plugging away at my blog consistently is definitely starting to pay off. Staying true to what I do has also made the difference.

    Great, personal post Darren – love it.

  6. Philip Allen says:

    “The key to success in blogging (and in many areas of life) is small but regular and consistent actions over a long period of time.” – This is so true, Darren. It’s the small things, done consistently that change our lives. And also our blogs. :-)

  7. Fairly new to having children myself, I can definitely relate–as I’m sure many parents can–to this post. Now just about to cross the 11-month threshold, your picture brought a reminder of an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world…almost a year ago. I love the tie-in here to blogging. Good old fashioned tender loving care, like raising a child, seems to be an awesome parallel to growing and sustaining a blog. Like raising our son has been, there are occasional challenges to face, and successes to celebrate, every step of the way. I never really bought into the idea of a quick or easy way to do blogging. I think there is a “smart” way, though, and the bloggers who learn to capitalize on new ideas, and things like collaboration, can really position themselves well. I’ve been writing online for quite some time now, but, admittedly, blogging, like a newborn, is fairly new to me as of a few months ago….I love it though and, like our son, wouldn’t trade it for the world! Great post, Darren!

  8. Thank you for writing such an informative topic! Creating a blog and growing it to the fullest potential is a full time job. You have to be able to do multiple things at the same time. Consistency is viral for a successful blog. I have an agenda I keep to keep track of my multiple blogs and make sure I am spending the time and quality it needs to grow.

  9. barbara says:

    Thanks, Darren! You always give such good advice on blogging. Having just recently started my own, it is still in the baby stages..:-) I do have a couple of people who say they read it and like it, but that’s about it so far. I’m not really sure if I set it up right for anyone to follow. My question is…are you supposed to announce that you’ve posted a new entry every single time you do, to your followers on Twitter and Facebook? I can’t decide if that is too much, or if I don’t maybe I should. My blog is not for business, just about everyday happenings. Thank you so much for you insight!

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Barbara – I definitely would tweet/fb a link to new posts on my accounts but my accounts are definitely blog related accounts. The challenge comes when you have a FB/Twitter account that is more personal. This is why I’d recommend blog related accounts so that your personal accounts can be more for friends/family.

      • barbara says:

        Thank you, Darren. I do post a link to my blog to FB and Twitter most times when I’ve added something new. I’ve been enjoying learning the process and writing and your posts are very much appreciated!

    • Barbara, excellent advice from Darren. And you know what? If your blog is personal but you think your friends won’t mind reading it – would may even enjoy it – why not sharing it on your personal accounts? Many blogs started to get traction this way, by sharing with friends and friends of friends.

      I recommend however starting a business page on Facebook because you never know when you’re gonna get more serious with blogging and want to build a community of people, and in the future perhaps clients ;)

      • barbara says:

        Thank you, Delia. I only have the blog and FB and Twitter, and they are all only for personal writing. I don’t know what a business page would be, as I am not affiliated with any kind of business. I just enjoy writing and hopefully someone will read my blog and enjoy reading it. I sure appreciate your response and will continue to learn as I go along.

        • You’re most welcome. Even if you do not have a business, you can create a “business” page – actually a fan page for your blog so more people can follow you there (they don’t need to be your friends on Facebook).

  10. Straight to the point. I like that Darren. I always tell my students that consistency in adding new posts and taking care of their readers will take their blog far.

  11. Awesome post, Darren, that’s exactly what growing a blog is about!

    I like to say that blogging is a lot like staying healthy: exercise, eat well, sleep well, drink plenty of water daily. However, check your progress once a week or so.

    In other words do not expect results overnight, it’s not gonna happen and you’re only setting yourself for discouragement and failure believing it is going to be some kind of miracle shortcut.

  12. I like comparing blogs and bloggers to music and musicians. Singer/songwriters keep adding more songs to their list to keep the audience on their toes. Dave Grohl could have used Foo Fighters to play Nirvana knock-offs until he died. But he got out from behind the drums and added himself to the picture.

    Bloggers who add more of themselves to the mix turn the same corner.

    (Speaking of adding, this middle child of three always looks out for other middle kids. And we always find new ways to feel sorry for ourselves. Sort of like a hobby. You don’t want to encourage that. I have two boys.)

  13. I love this analogy with raising children!! Takes the pressure off trying to get it right in the first couple of years when you think about the long-run :)

    Also, I’m learning so many different ideas about child rearing these days now that I’m actually a parent and it’s the continual trial and error where I see the most benefit. I guess my blogs are similar too in that respect. Keep reading and networking to gain more knowledge on how to grow your blog, but don’t forget to do what feels right and just ‘be’ with your blog now and then to let it guide you. Thanks Darren. I love your posts, but this one in particular has got me thinking! :)

  14. Hi Darren, It’s pretty much interesting topic. I love the way that you added that small but regular blogging is good technique.

  15. Neha patel says:

    hi Darren, i really like this concept about head of family and blog. both want some extra care for grow.

  16. Hi Darren,

    Cute boy ;) Neat analogy too. We grow in bits and pieces, and so do our blogs. Stick to the basics. Create, connect, and with patience you can succeed through blogging.

    Thanks,

    Ryan

    • I agree, he is a cute boy. Blogging requires a lot of time and it needs maintenance. Not to mention, it is a tedious task. Moreover, hardwork means everything when one engage into blogging.

      Thanks for this post. :)

      • Consistency, Hard work, being always motivated (even when no-one comes to blog) is enough to get and touch any height in Blogging, I have experienced it and I believe everyone can easily get dream result but for that they need to DO. I want to tell you that the number does not really matter, what matters is to find your tribe and people who are your loyal readers and perhaps customers one day. :)

  17. Loved the way you showed the similarity between raising a child and taking care of your blog :) very good point, positive changes don’t happen overnight most of the time!

  18. Susan Jones says:

    I think the parenting analogy is a great one for growing a blog – or any new business.

    Consistency is definitely important but something I have personally found just as important is momentum. Lose the momentum and it’s like your business dies just a bit – just like that baby is not going to do so well if you stop feeding it for a while!

    I try to keep momentum going in my blog and business by implementing as fast as I can while also keeping an eye on the strategy – asking “what am I doing this for?” This allows me to take lots of action and make sure it is also focused. Whenever I make steps forward on those strategic things, the business seems to grow a lot.

    Another hack I use a lot is one I learnt from you Darren at the Problogger conference last year. That is to set a strategic goal and then consistently work towards it for half an hour a day. It’s amazing what that consistent half an hour can accomplish!

    • Darren Rowse says:

      thanks Susan – I think goal setting is a big part of it. Its actually true in parenting too – we set goals with our kids and it helps them focus and move through challenges.

      • Susan Jones says:

        Setting goals with my kids helps ME focus and move through challenges too. I often think “He won’t behave like this when he’s 20″ as a way of reassuring myself that it’s all a process.

        I guess a blog’s the same – having the long term view in mind gives us perspective about where we are right now and what’s important.

  19. Olga says:

    Hi Darren!

    What a nice insight (as always). This is basically what many new bloggers don’t realize (that it takes time and many little efforts before you take your blog or any other project at a higher level or make it a success. I’m your big fan, constant reader and love all of your books.

    P.S. English is my second language but as I love this language deeply and I studied it at university I have an “eye” for all kinds of typos. I noticed one (actually two) in this great post. It’s in the title (where there is it’s instead of its) and in the first line. In the third paragraph the word “blog” appears two times. I hope you won’t be offended that I brought this up but I thought you might want to know.

    Best regards,
    Olga

    • Darren Rowse says:

      thanks – those slipped through

      • I used to be a grammar freak, which is funny considering English is not my first language – I think it’s coming from my technical writing background…

        Anyway I used to be one as I said, until I read something Seth Godin said, goes like this (very approximately):
        “If I show you the most awesome piece of writing ever and all you can see is a typo I made in the title, then you are giving up your humanity and kindness for the need to be right.” Or words to that effect.
        I always think of that when I notice a typo/grammar mistake… Just sayin’

  20. Great analogy. And sometimes you just wing it too.. Like with kids! And that photo is gold!

  21. Syed Shah says:

    well I fully agreed with you and would like to add beyond time to make blog to its full potential a strong will power is necessary… you have to feel that no body is out there that can beat you… etc.

  22. Great post – that sounds similar to “the slight edge” mentality” preached by Jeff Olsen. The small things you do each day that make the biggest impact over the course of time.

  23. I so agree with this post. I think everyone hears of bloggers who do well very quickly and make lots of money but that is a few and far between. I think most people do not realize that if you do a blog the right way, alot of time and energy is put into it and if not, it doesn’t become a success. I have had my blog about 3 years now, and am just starting to get PR emails on a daily basis, from all avenues. It is a great compliment for a project that has been a lot of work for me the last few years, but also something I really enjoy. I am hoping to make it a full time profession, or have it lead to something related to the blog, and therefore I treat it as such.

  24. You hit the nail on the head! A successful blog, like anything else in life, takes work and dedication day by day. Just like raising a family. Writing, researching, building your community – these all take time. If you’re not able or willing to devote the time, energy, and personal resources necessary to make it interesting and engaging for your audience, there’s no point in starting a blog because you won’t keep it up.

    If you choose topics that you’re passionate about and that inspire or excite you, you’ll find the energy you need to keep going – and your audience will feel it and be drawn into your narrative. That’s the root of a successful blog.

    And what would any parent be more passionate about than their children? Lovely child, Darren – what a fabulous photo / memory to have.

  25. Kim George says:

    Great post Darren. I certainly can attest to the growing pains that I am experiencing with my blog. Patience is definitely key.

  26. Arbaz says:

    Consistency is the key to blog’s success.
    Along with creating the content that instantly connects with your audience, it should be straight to the point and should engage your readers.
    BTW Great photo :)

  27. Jessica says:

    I love the analogy and its so true! Its hard as by nature I am impatient and want my community to grow as fast as possible! But all great things come with time investment and dedication. I just saw the 31 Days blogging book. I may take a gander. Thanks for the article!

  28. Josh says:

    Hmm. While I agree with your analogy that a blog is something that should be nurtured and almost loved like a child, or at least a business, in order to grow. There is one thing that many pro bloggers consider to be the holy grail of growth (and almost a secret!). Obviously, this would be guest posting and being taken under wing by one of the giants such as yourself, Copyblogger and the like.

    Of course, there are thousands of blogs, all competing for attention. So, it is almost impossible to be found by these popular blogs. This forces us to forgo the “secret” and stick to slow growth. I guess we can’t all have the popular blogs, though, because if we were all popular–none of us would be.

    Thank you, Darren, for your insight yet again,

    Josh

  29. Well, I like where you are going now. I wonder if my comments will become more consistent here now because of this shift. The analogy of a child is pretty good. I would add to your philosophy or comparison by saying your blog, along with consistency and little actions also requires an open mind surrounding it (room to grow) and a nurturing environment; a community. See, just like a child, we trust our blogs development in the hands of the community we nurture it in. In this case, us, your subscribers, who hold you accountable for your content and actions. In the long run, I have predicted that, should writers, like you me, and others that embrace the journey here, remain true and continue to approach with right action and intent, that eventually we will all have connected somehow on some level where we are freely working together, sharing and refining…eventually actually forming the “nodes” that allow everyone to grow….and change for the better. Let’s face it, these blogs are a reflection of US, and if we don’t grow and change allowing the space to do so, neither will our blogs.

  30. Sarah Bauer says:

    As with children, with blogging it’s important to stop and take a look around every once in a while to appreciate the present moment. Blogging is hard work, and the effort pays off in the little things, such as cultivating connections with other bloggers and influencers. Enjoy the journey, the process, and you’ll be a better blogger for it!

    Cheers,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  31. Jeremy Myers says:

    So true. Small, consistent growth with quality content over time. I have been blogging for 10 years, and slowly growing, bit by bit every year. I am now getting 50,000 pageviews per month, which isn’t a ton, but I am happy with it right now, and the fact that I am still growing.

  32. So very true, Darren! Man, do I love your story, your honesty, and your constant giving away of value to your readers! Please keep up the amazing work that inspires us all over the world!

    - Most sincerely,

    Jeff Emmerson

  33. Susan says:

    Hi Darren,

    I totally agree with you, I would like to give my analogy. Blog is like a tree. When you start a blog, it is same as seed. Slowly Slowly seed grows to plant and then tree, but it is possible only when you water the seed regularly. Similalry, like water, content is the main part of blog. You have to add quaility content to your blog to make it popular. I have just started writting a blog (http://www.allassignmenthelp.com/blog) and finding ways to make it more suitable.

    There is one website “www.textteaser.com”, It summarizes the whole blog post into points, which can be added to the end of the post as conclusion.

  34. marty says:

    It’s always nice to be reminded that its marathon not a sprint .In theory I know it takes time.But it is so easy to get discouraged especially after so many successful bloggers and seeing how they are doing.But we have to remember they had to start somewhere success is not instantaneous

  35. Kashif says:

    So your blog will keep growing and a day will come when it will be of age and leave you alone to go out and live with someone else.

    Just saying.

  36. Tas says:

    Thanks for this article :) People always think blogging is easy and full of quick wins :s

  37. Ash says:

    It’s so true. Blogging is very much a marathon not a sprint. A lot like investing in property or stocks (value investing as opposed to technical analysis based investing)

    Great to be reminded of this fact. Thank you.

  38. Thanks for the reminder buddy,

    Best,
    Anders

  39. Sebastian says:

    Wow, comparing the blog with your children was very insightful. Thank you for that. I definitely learned a lesson about being patient.

  40. Susan Neal says:

    Great advice – I think there are probably lots of blogs that could have made it big if the bloggers had just stuck in there and stayed the course. Like most things in life, good blogs take time to mature.

  41. I like this comparison. Really it is the same thing that grows a baby and a blog: passion, love, and commitment.

  42. Great post! It illustrates our infatuation with immediate results, but you crystallize a very important fact; growth is gradual. We must remain consistent in our endeavors for it if we are to reach “success”. Thank you for this great post and great reminder :).

  43. Sohel Kadri says:

    “Slow and steady wins the race”- One thought can be equal to this whole post. I’m one of the problogger. I was also done many mistakes in beginning of blogging. I have made more than 100 blogs (now i switched to different account as my google author rank becomes low). First I make one blog and failed to control it and again I make second and samething happens due to several reasons like low visitors, template error. But every blog I made teach me something. Because of that I can set up one awesome blog with every important thing under 15 minutes (except posts).

  44. I agree completely, its about committing to taking small steps each day toward your goal and watching the fruits of your labour come to life. I grew a successful blog for 3 years but recently decided to begin a new blog as my direction completely changed so I am now starting from scratch all over again. Going through the process second time round is definitely easier but I still need to remind myself that it is consistency and persistence that will pay off over time!

  45. What a great post Darren! And you are so right. Today, people are looking for that magic pill or “secret” to get them overnight success. Just as you said, it does take consistent work. For this reason is why I tell my clients that they have to blog about what they love. Focusing on what they love and what brings them joy won’t seem like “work” and they won’t be focusing on the growth but instead just enjoying what they are doing.

  46. There are no secrets, there is hard-work and there is motivation. These two sutras, are what i believe guide us in the right path without any guidance. But for that, we need patience, a lot of it.

  47. Je says:

    I am just starting in blogging and I could say that my experience as a blogger is just like a baby! I hope someday I could grow my blog into something others can truly enjoy.

    Thanks for this post, I’m starting to make a reflection..

  48. Aditya says:

    Sometimes we are always in a hurry to be successful without considering that successful blogs out there are not built instantly. Patience and hard work is the key

  49. Hello Darren, Your comment “Actually I like the analogy of children growing to their potential” says it all. I mean your approach to blogging. Until and unless you care about your products (here your write-ups), you cannot bring the maximum potential through them. When blogging, you have to nourish it in every possible way. What I have found in most bloggers is that they start blogging thinking to earn money in the first place. However, this idea is wrong in itself because “Helping” people becomes secondary here. Monetizing a blog is not difficult but making people or target audience getting glued to your blog is difficult. My motto is: Serve your target audience, money will follow. It will not happen overnight. You have to give time to it. darren is surely a success story before us. Thanks Darren for showing the way to success. :)

  50. Youngisthan says:

    I 100% agree! It takes times for any website/portal to grow. As you keep adding quality content which adds value, then it’s a matter of time that your site will be visible. There are no shortcuts to success.