Most bloggers get impatient and want fast growth. We try whatever others suggest to grow our blogs and drive traffic to them. Some techniques work better than others, but no one tells us what to expect, when.

I wanted to ask someone who has been there, so in this third part of my A.S.K. (Answers Sharing Knowledge) series with Darren Rowse, author of Problogger and co-author of ProBlogger: Secrets Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

I asked

It’s not unusual for a blogger to expect rapid success. Based on your 6 year blogging history, when (timeframe), and how did your know your blog was a “winner”?

Darren answered

For me I’m looking for ‘signs’ that my blogs are growing from the very start. It’s not so much about getting certain amounts of traffic at certain points but rather seeing signs of growth and reader engagement.

For example with ProBlogger I knew I was onto something with potential before I even started it because the posts that I wrote about blogging on my personal blog at the time were getting more comments than any other topic.

With Digital Photography School I knew there was potential in the early days because other blogs began to link to it.

It’s all about looking for signs of growth and engagement – not just traffic. You should start to see these (even if they are just very small signs) from the first few months.

For a blog to reach its potential though, you need to give it considerable time. It takes a couple of years to get to its potential.

Reflecting On The Answer

Thank you Darren for sharing your answer with us. It certainly sheds a new light on the time commitment blogging entails.

Darren mentioned we can see growth in other ways than just traffic. Another way we can measure the growth of our blog is by our Google Page Rank. We all start with a ranking of 0/10, and as our blogs grow and gain credibility as being reputable, our page rank increases.

Todays Assignment

Can you think of other ways a blog’s growth can be measured other than in just traffic numbers or comments?

With regard to your blog, are you seeing continual growth?

Were you surprised when Darren said a blog takes “a couple of years to get to its potential”?

I’m curious to hear what you think. Feel free to share your answer.


Read other answers in the A.S.K. (Answers Sharing Knowledge) series.
A.S.K. Darren Rowse – How Does A Problogger Deal With Comments

A.S.K. Darren Rowse of Problogger – How Do We Increase Our Readership
A.S.K. Andy Bailey – What Was The Inspiration Behind The CommentLuv Plugin
A.S.K. Liz Strauss – How Do You Inspire Readers To Join Your Community
A.S.K. Liz Strauss – How To Format Blog Comments To Maximize Comments

Photo Credit: Darren Rowse/Problogger

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Look Who's Talking
  1. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara! I am seeing continual growth, and it’s something that goes in spurts. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, and then one back…other times it’s three steps forward. It’s all part of the learning curve for me.

    And, the more I blog, the more I do believe it takes time for a blog to really reach it’s potential. Credibility gets built up over time, and won’t happen overnight (or in the first few months – will the guy stick around…). When I started, I wouldn’t have guessed this.

    I think growth can also be measured by other people talking about your blog on another site/blog from your own.

    Lance´s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  2. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – Two years for a blog to reach it’s potential is a long time. No wonder so many people give up. At least we’ve only got a few months to go now.

    My PR is only 3. I know I should do something to improve it – but it’s one of those things I’ve not had time to focus on yet.

    Other measures aside from PR, comments and traffic could included bounce rate I suppose. If people were leaving our blogs after the first page that would be a bad sign.

    I’m currently trying to improve the pages with a high bounce rate. Trouble is, one phrase brings me a lot of traffic because it’s number one on Google. But the article isn’t so great.

    If I improve the article, I might lose my number one spot and get less traffic. But if I don’t improve it, it might not encourage readers to hang round. It’s a tough decision.

    Cath Lawson´s last blog post..Why Some Of The Best Business Ideas Suck

  3. Avani-MehtaNo Gravatar says:

    No, I wasn’t surprised with Darren saying it could take couple of years for a blog to get to it’s potential. I plan to give my site 5 dedicated years before taking any harsh decisions.

    I couldn’t think of anyway to measure blog’s success but then read Lance’s answer and agree with it. Although I guess this must vary from subject to subject.

    Avani-Mehta´s last blog post..Staying On Diet Without Offending The Host

  4. Scott McIntyreNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting observations on blog growth from Darren, Barbara.

    One alternative way I think that blog growth could be worked out is how much the blog is being ‘mentioned’ in the blogosphere.

    I understand there are ways you can track this using special google alerts.

    This might be useful in judging how much positive ‘buzz’ or word-of-mouth a blog is generating.

    Of course, it’s not automatic growth will follow but I’d be surprised if a blog attracting positive comments in the blogosphere isn’t also on an upward turn.

  5. I go by continual growth and not by numbers. Once a week I check to see if I had more traffic than the week before. Once a month I pull a chart for my growth since the beginning of my blog. I am happy to report a nice line that goes up *smile*. My other methods of determining success are reader engagement, and link love from other sites.

    Am I surprised that it will take several years for my blog to really take off? Nope. Right up front I gave myself 5 years. I know that’s a lot of effort to put in without seeing tangible benefits for a long time, but I’m doing what I love, so it’s all good.

    Urban Panther´s last blog post..Creativity the MacGyver way

  6. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t really look at the numbers except once in a very long time. For me, my blog being a winner is regular and consistent publication with posts that are appreciated by those who visit. I’m not aiming for a major-league blog.

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..On a Yellowstone Beach

  7. BetsyNo Gravatar says:

    Thank God!!! I’m not old enough to be a has-been!

    Betsy´s last blog post..MOMENTUM

  8. BetsyNo Gravatar says:

    Or would that be a never-been? 😀

    Betsy´s last blog post..MOMENTUM

  9. Writer DadNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Cath. Bounce rate is important. I feel great about my work when I see that people are sticking around for a while.

    Writer Dad´s last blog post..At Least I Don’t Have Zits

  10. FriarNo Gravatar says:

    My Blog only went “live” 7 months ago. There was a sharp increase in readers for the first 3-4 months, and then it tapered off, but there’s a slow steady increase that hasn’t maxed out yet.

    On days when I post, I typically get anywhere from 100 to 250 hits a day, and I might end up with 20-40 comments per post. I don’t have tons of visitors, but I have a small group of loyal readers who come by all the time.

    Good enough for me. Considering it’s just a part-time hobby, and I haven’t really tried any of those tricks to maximize my traffic.

    If I DID try some of those tricks…..Hmm. Who knows what I could acheive?

    But right now I can’t be bothered….Too much of a time committment. I just have too much other stuff going on right now!

    Friar´s last blog post..Getting to Know More People in Your NeighborHood.

  11. I would say getting links is also a sign of growth. Maybe even more importantly, it is a sign as to how enthusiastic people are to your blog and specific posts. That being said, some people are very good at asking for links – so this in of itself isn’t necessarily tell all.

    I wasn’t surprised by what Darren said about the growth of a blog taking a couple years. That being said, we all hope we will be the ones in which we are the exception to the rule and grow a lot faster than that!

    We are seeing growth, and continue to push for further growth.

    Bamboo Forest´s last blog post..Make This Halloween a Ghost Dad Halloween

  12. A couple of years sounds reasonable. Of course, there are blogs around us that gained huge exposure and following in just the first few months, but those are obviously the exception.

    One of the reasons I’m trying to slow down is that I want to do this for the long run – I want to still have MomGrind 2, 3, even 5 years from now. So it’s very important to me to avoid burnout.

  13. I read a lot of Darren’s blog before beginning my blog, so I knew about the long time frame. My blog isn’t for everyone, nor is my writing where I want it to be. I recognize my blog may never rise to the top of the charts — that’s OK, there are at least 10 people I know who totally enjoy it, get it, and grow from it, so that’s enough for me.

    SpaceAgeSage — Lori´s last blog post..Diagnosis: Amnesia — and we all have it!

  14. chrisNo Gravatar says:

    My page views have consistently grown but my comments have stayed the same and my subscription hasn’t really moved.
    I’m not in a hurry though. My strategy is to stay with it and eventually when I’m physically and emotionally ready for an explosion than I will pour all my efforts into it.

    chris´s last blog post..Opportunity Amidst Economic Distress

  15. Linda AbbitNo Gravatar says:

    Off-blog emails from readers and new relationships and opportunities formed from those contacts keep me going while my stats are plodding along slowly in the right direction – up.

    Some people have taken the time to write to me privately rather than comment, and that is very satisfying personally. I may not have huge numbers, but I know I’m touching and helping people anyway.

    As others above have said, I’m in it for the long haul and didn’t think I would have “overnight” success in the blogosphere.

    Linda Abbit´s last blog post..How a Bus Stop Helps Prevent Wandering in Alzheimer’s Patients

  16. I agree with Cath – bounce rate could be a way to measure the success of your blog.

    However it really depends on your goals. If your goal is to get people to sign up for your newsletter, then you’d measure the success of your blog based on how many people link from your blog to your newsletter (or sign up from there).

    Or perhaps you provide a service. You could measure how many people link from your blog to the sign up page.

    Growth on my blog: slowly but surely. I tend to get a lot of traffic but few commentators as I don’t comment on other blogs too much.

    I wasn’t too surprised to hear that a blog could take a couple years to gain momentum. That’s normal in business. Rarely do you start a business and it takes off immediately. It’s usually a two-year rule to get the ball really moving.

    John Hoff – eVentureBiz´s last blog post..How Can A Blog Help Your Business?

  17. John EdwardsNo Gravatar says:

    Slowly but surely is definitely the way to go. This can be frustrating but as long as you enjoy what you’re writing about should not be a problem.

    Before you know it you’ll have a lot of user participation which I have always considered the real sign of success.

    John Edwards´s last blog post..Glenwood Real Estate

  18. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    The Dr. said this morning that I will just know when I am ready to go back to exercising and walking so much – it will just feel right.

    When I think about it, I think I will just know when my blog is “just right” and the right growth and connections will be there for me to “feel” that it is right.

    I can feel that having been ill has stopped my blog growth. I was too ill for a couple of days,worried for a couple of days and now feel that I am started to heal that situation and have forward motion again.

    One step at a time, and good time management, perseverance and patience will support good content. And some of the best writers were not discovered until after they died! There’s a sobering thought on a Monday morning!

    Patricia´s last blog post..Factoid Friday: ANTS or Automatic Negative Thinking

  19. Eric HammNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Barbara,

    I’d have to agree with what Lance said about going in spurts and 2 steps forward/1 step back. Things that cause these ups and downs are guest posts, commenting on other blogs (or lack there of), whether or not I put out posts that others connect with, etc…

    Another sign I can think of when it comes to blog growth would be seeing your name and/or blog mentioned in comments on other blogs. Things like, “Eric Hamm mentioned this the other day on his blog.” Something that gives you the sense that this person frequents your blog and is proud of it.

    Eric Hamm´s last blog post..To Another 33 Years!

  20. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. I read this last night and didn’t want to comment first because I couldn’t answer your question. Still I don’t have anything to add about measuring the success of my blog except to agree strongly with what Lance has said.

    The last time I looked, my PR was 4 and I don’t even know how that happened. It’s only been 4 months. The blog sees consistent commenters but I don’t have the amount of traffic or links that I thought would result in that number. I keep thinking it must be a mistake…

    I haven’t thought about how long I will aim to be blogging. I don’t think the numbers will have too much to do with it. I enjoy it too much to stop.

    BTW, I really appreciate how much information and insight that comes from each one of your posts Barbara. You pack a lot of punch with few words. That is hard to do!

    Davina´s last blog post..Awakening To A Balanced Life

  21. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Lance – Yes, blogging is very much that way, “two steps forward, one step back”. I’m guessing even seasoned bloggers experience the same.

    You’re right. We are often “talked” about on other blogs, but not necessarily linked to, and it entices others to find us.

    Hi Catherine – Yup, you and I aren’t too far from the two year mark. It will be interesting to see what happens after we get over that “bump”.

    That’s true. Bounce rate does show how long a person stays on our blog, so a low one is much better. On your pages that get high traffic, could you add additional links to the bottom of the post to attract the readers to dig deeper into your blog?

    Hi Avani – Planning five years out is a great idea. That is certainly more realistic than expecting fast growth.

    Hi Scott – Yes, Google Alerts are a great way to track who is saying what about us – not only positively, but negatively, as well. (I’ll be writing more about that later in the week)

    Hi Urban Panther – You bring up a great point. When we look at our stats, we need to look at week to week or month to month. Watching stats on a daily basis could be discouraging.

    Hi Mike – When we know our readers appreciate what we post, that makes us feel like a winner, doesn’t it?

    Hi Betsy – You are TOO funny! 🙂

    Hi Writer Dad – Yes, it does mean a lot when our readers take the time to dig through our archives and read our previous work.

    Hi Friar – Definitely! Growing a blog does take time. Since most blogs are hobbies, they often take a back seat to living life.

    Hi Bamboo – Inbound links play a big part, and Google loves to see that, too. I believe that becomes a large factor in our page rank.

    Hi Vered – I hear you. If we want to be around for the long haul, we certainly don’t want to get burnt out early. That’s easy to have happen if we’re not careful.

    Hi Lori – Isn’t it a great feeling to know your words are helping others? Just one can make a difference.

    Hi Chris – You’re being very realistic. You know what you need to do if you want more growth, but know it’s not something you have the time for now.

    Hi Linda – That’s another great point. We do get emails from people whom our blog has helped. With word of mouth, they may also send others to read our work.

    Hi John Hoff- You’re right. A blog is very much like a real life business. They both take time to build and gain credibility. Patience pays off, doesn’t it?

    Hi John Edwards – User participation is a great sign of success. And as we all know, that usually takes time to build.

    Hi Patricia – It’s good to know you are feeling better. I agree, it is one step at a time.

    Oooooh! That is a sobering thought, “…some of the best writers were not discovered until after they died!”

    Hi Eric – Oh yes, blog growth is usually seen in spurts. Like you said guest posting, commenting, etc…, can affect our numbers. When we realize this, it makes those downtimes a lot easier to accept.

    Hi Davina – A PR4? That’s superb. Mine didn’t go to a 4 until I had been blogging for over a year. Although I don’t put a lot of weight on my page rank, others strive for a high number due to their ad campaigns and the like.

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate them and your continued support.

  22. Avani-MehtaNo Gravatar says:

    @Cath: I am not sure whether this will work or not, but anyways here it is : Write a few additional great articles using the phrase. Then link those at the top and bottom of your page which has a high bounce rate. Because you are adding only a few lines, I doubt it will affect your google ranking. If people don’t like current article but they find more articles on the same topic which interest them, they are bound to click on those links.

    Avani-Mehta´s last blog post..2008 Blog Review and 2009 Plans

  23. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m glad I’ve got 2 years!

    I think, to answer the question about measuring growth, it is something you feel. Each blog is so unique – no benchmark is going to have the same meaning for all blogs. You either feel enthusiastic about your blog, and want to keep going, or you don’t.

    I didn’t know about Google page rank before, and I just checked mine, and it’s 3. What is THAT supposed to mean?!

    Robin´s last blog post..How A Lot Of Wind Changed My Plans

  24. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I have decided to think long term with my personal development cum spirituality site. It wasn’t supposed to be this way but going onto this path has taken me by surprise. I am extremely passionate in the topics I write about. There is so much more to learn and I am awed by the possibilities of where my path can lead me to.

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..Can You Read My Mind?

  25. Jeremy DayNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    These are very thought provoking questions. Here are my answers.

    1. I think your level of community is #1. 20-40 comments is pretty significant. Kudos to you Friar. Im getting closer to that, but I know it takes time.
    2. I am seeing pretty good growth, especially the # of people who take time to comment. It is much appreciated.
    3. Being a business person, I know the rule of thumb for success in a new business is 5 years. Thats when you really start to make profit. If you aren’t in this for the long run, you might as well stop right now. There are plenty of ways to be active in the blogging community without having a blog.


    Jeremy Day´s last blog post..Interview with Yan: Author of Thou Shall Blog

  26. CarolineNo Gravatar says:

    Another great interview! I love coming here on Monday for A.S.K! Anyway, I am seeing more growth as bloggers link to my blog in their posts (I love that!). I am not surprised that it takes years to build up…with more and more people creating blogs today…I think will take even more time to build a loyal following!

    Caroline´s last blog post..Stop and smell the roses…

  27. MayaNo Gravatar says:

    I am in this for the long haul. I think 2 years makes a lot of sense. Some blogs do so well in the first few months but I really think it is consistent engagement and quality posts that keeps people coming back …

    I am not doing so great on the subscriber level but it has been showing constant improvement. I do think reader engagement has been getting so much better, so that makes me feel really good. I still have a number of things on my blog todo list and I hope each of those will make a positive difference to my blog!

    Maya´s last blog post..Embracing our cultural identities at work and in life can only be good for us

  28. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Robin – You’re well on your way. 🙂 I have to agree we can “sense” whether we’re going in the right direction or not. It it starts to become a chore, change is needed.

    Google ranks pages 1-10. The way I understand it is the higher the number, the better your standing is with Google. This is especially important for those who are looking to get ranked high in search engine results Although a blog can be successful with a lower page rank, a higher number supposedly gives it more creditability with Google.

    Hi Evelyn – You wrote that comment with so much passion I have no doubt you’ll be blogging for a long time.

    Hi Jeremy – Like you, I think community is VERY important. Our readers/commenters help and support each other and create a circle of (cyber) friends.

    Blogs can be very much like a business, and for some, become one. You’re right. Settle in for the long haul and enjoy the ride.

    Hi Caroline – Thank you. You’ve brought up a great point. There are a lot more blogs now than there were when Darren started. Like you said, it may take longer for that reason.

    Hi Maya – You’ve got the right idea. That consistent engagement and quality posts will lead to success. I would also say, don’t overwhelm yourself to the point that you forget to enjoy the journey.

  29. When you get an email from a reader some day out of the blue (and for no reason in particular). That’s a sign that you’re doing *something* right!

    Or when you over-hear people talking about you on Twitter (I use for that).

    Or when people link to your blog (or a specific blog post). That’s another healthy sign. I set up Google Alerts to track who’s saying what…

    Anyway, each of these things give you a little insight into the progress you might be making since it’s not always apparent (sometimes, people don’t comment but they’re reading and linking to you).

    Ricardo Bueno´s last blog post..[A Video] It’s Not Just Text Anymore!

  30. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Barbara –

    I think working on your blog is working on your life and I think your blog grows when you grow.

    I think the most important starts from the inside. If you’re not happy with your blog, flaws and all, then that’s a growth blocker. If you roll with the punches and keep at it, including changing your approach if it’s not working, it’s tough to fail. The only failure is giving up.

    Rather than think of overall blog success, I like to think in terms of success as … one post at a time.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..One Pitch at a Time

  31. […] Read other answers in the A.S.K. (Answers Sharing Knowledge) series. A.S.K. Darren Rowse of Problogger – When Do We Know Our Blog Is A “Winner” A.S.K. Darren Rowse – How Does A Problogger Deal With […]

  32. […] succeed after a couple of months. Darren Rowse of Problogger recently said in his interview for Blogging Without A Blog “For a blog to reach its potential though, you need to give it considerable time. It takes a […]

  33. […] fact, when I interviewed Darren Rowse of Problogger, he verified that by saying, It’s all about looking for signs of growth and engagement – not […]