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The Fine Line Between Blog Visitors Success And Failure

Posted by on Dec 22, 2009

For the past two years, I’ve wondered one big question over all others; what is it that makes one person get thousands of subscribers versus someone getting a hundred.


by Laurence Simon

It’s an interesting question to look at because, though we know that traffic that’s meaningless isn’t supposed to mean all that much, the truth is that traffic really is the key to everything.

If you want to make money you want traffic. If you want readers to see you as an authority on something so that you’re asked to go and speak to others in person and make money off it, you want traffic. If you’re looking for some kind of validation that you’re words are communicating with anyone, you want traffic.

Something I do that I’m sure others do from time to time is check out what some of the top bloggers are saying or doing that seems to be working for them, then compare what they’re doing with what you’re doing. Hey, you know it’s true.

In my mind, I don’t see lots out there better than what I do. I do see some things much different. I see some people write some fairly technical stuff, but not as many of them. I see some folks who write a lot of nothing and rank better than I do, and I’m not sure how that happens. I see some of the big time bloggers who may write only half the time, allowing others to guest post on their blogs. Heck, I allow that myself, but I don’t have a lot of people who take me up on it.

So, what really makes the difference? I think it has more to do with having some bonafides when it comes to whatever it is you do. For instance, John Chow is a guy who’s made a lot of money online. Truthfully, he’s made a lot of money offline as well. People know that, and it gives him a built in audience before he says word one.

Darren Rowse is the same. When you look at her early stuff you see that he had few commenters. But somewhere along the way he broke through, got advertising, was able to show that blogging could make someone a millionaire, and that was that.

Y’all see this book I’m helping to promote, Beyond Blogging, there to the side. Well, every person in that book is a 6-figure a year blogger. Some of those six figures are more than $500,000 a year. Even if those guys didn’t try to make money by blogging, they’d be making some money from blogging.

I’m not mad at anyone who makes a lot of money blogging. Heck, I’m not mad at anyone who makes a lot of money at anything. What I am, though, is wanting the knowledge to figure out how these folks do what they do. It’s not that they all help each other out. It might have been at one time, but no one would have helped anyone if they hadn’t shown something beforehand.

Also, there’s something about participating in the entire blogging community. The way I believe I’ve helped my subscriber number grow is by commenting on other blogs. There are a lot of new people visiting that I might never have met if I hadn’t visited their blogs. Okay, a big ups has also come from both Sire and Kristi in the last month, so I have to give them some big things as well. But I really believe subscribing to lots of blogs so I have something to comment on has helped greatly.

Commenting on other blogs might provide that big difference between success and failure. Things like running a contest might get you a blip, but most of those people won’t stay beyond the first entry. Truthfully, other than finding not only a niche that will bring a lot of visitors but also finding a way to stand out, I can’t think of anything other than commenting on other blogs that will help generate visitors to come to your blog. Well, maybe writing 10 posts a day; I don’t see that happening any time soon.

What do you think about all of this? Share your thoughts on the topic, and let’s see if we can come up with solutions.

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29 Comments »

I think it’s a whole combination of things Mitch – commenting is one, but there’s writing guest posts, being active on other SM like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, being active on forums (fora?)- basically being everywhere!

I’ll let you into one little secret that we learned from the book Beyond Blogging. It’s people’s back stories that make them interesting. You mention Darren – what a story! Training to be a preacher and started blogging to supplement a poor income. Gary Vaynerchuk – Eastern bloc immigrant turned entrepreneur.

That kind of stuff captivates people and makes them hang around to find out more.
.-= Mike CJ´s last blog ..One Year old and the four "C’s" =-.

December 22nd, 2009 | 10:39 AM
Mitch:

Hi Mike,

You’re right, there are those other things. However, I’ve found in my own little testing that there are two things that increase my visitors more than anything else. One is commenting, the other is writing consistent posts. Last year at this time, I was out of town and reduced the number of posts on this blog as a test. My visitor counts dropped dramatically. Also, while I was out of town, I didn’t spend almost any time commenting on other blogs, which could have been a contributory.

Yet, I was on Twitter and would post links to blog posts, including previous blog posts. I’m on LinkedIn and on Facebook, where my blog posts show up. And I’ve written articles here and there as well. They all help, but not as much as the other two.

As for stories, yeah, I love stories. That is a big part of why I like the upcoming book. It’s kind of what I do when I write my newsletters, and my readers seem to like that for the most part.

December 22nd, 2009 | 11:33 AM

I think commenting helps for sure, Mitch. But what has really helped me is my community of Power 50 bloggers. I think blogging alliances can really do much in the way of mutual support, as long as you are likeminded, because they do take a lot of time.
.-= Heather Kephart´s last blog ..Hyenas and Secret Cheerleaders =-.

December 22nd, 2009 | 12:35 PM
Mitch:

Oh yeah, having a blogging community can work wonders. I remember a guest post on Problogger’s site earlier this year talking about it; Darren wasn’t so sure he was in favor of the idea initially.

December 22nd, 2009 | 2:26 PM
malted_tea:

This is me co-signing with @Mike CJ at the power of an accessible back story. There’s also the matter of empathizing with your readers to pull out their back stories and encourage positive sharing in a way that moves the blog’s goals forward and gives everyone “warm fuzzies” for being part of your community.

Seth Godin talks about this in Tribes and models it in the related Ning group…

http://www.triiibes.com/

Lastly, in addition to what everyone has said here, I think putting an a concerted effort into quantifiable branding is helpful.

Again, this is the part where I don’t envy bloggers. I’m way more for evergreen content.

December 22nd, 2009 | 3:42 PM
Mitch:

Natasha, tell us more about your concept of quantifiable branding for bloggers. That is an interesting concept.

December 22nd, 2009 | 4:16 PM
malted_tea:

Oh, I forget to give examples of blogs that are good at “empathizing with readers to pull out back stories and encourage positive sharing in a way that moves the blog’s goals forward and gives everyone “warm fuzzies'”…

http://www.37days.com/
http://maximumcustomerexperience.com/

Sure, they’re both ladies (wink) but I think anyone can do this.

Lastly, I forgot to mention in my first comment that “success” is relative.

Define what it is for you – make it measurable – and then strive to attain it.

December 22nd, 2009 | 4:08 PM
Mitch:

Sure, and you made me have to go pull this one out of the spam area. lol Of course, if we’re going to throw around names, I always find that Marelisa’s blog does what you’re talking about, in a more cerebral kind of way: http://abundance-blog.marelisa-online.com/

December 22nd, 2009 | 4:20 PM

You also have to keep in mind that guys like Darren and Chow got into blogging when it was relatively young so they didn’t have the competition that we do today. It was easier for them to make a name for themselves.

I’m not saying they are not exceptional bloggers, just that we have more to contend with.

I’ve also notice that both guys are intent on building huge subscriber lists, to newsletters or whatever, so that whenever a post is mentioned people flock to them.

Have you ever noticed the amounts of tweets on one of Darren’s posts? They far surpass the comments. Imagine how many followers he has, and multiply that bu those following his followers. Man what a domino effect every time he tweets something.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Has Your Blog Content Been Stolen? =-.

December 22nd, 2009 | 5:23 PM
Mitch:

The thing is, Sire, I have been blogging as long as both of these guys, at least on my business blog, and haven’t quite gotten there. At the same time, with my business blog, I never knew about the concept of commenting on other blogs until I learned it with this blog.

And, you can probably identify with this, don’t you notice you do most of your commenting under the same blog as opposed to finding something to comment on for all of your blogs, where they fit?

December 22nd, 2009 | 5:59 PM

Sure, but that’s only because I am limited in time and so have decided to concentrate on one blog, the one I enjoy the most.

When did you start your business blog, and were you actively posting on it as you are today?
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Has Your Blog Content Been Stolen? =-.

December 22nd, 2009 | 7:21 PM
Mitch:

That’s kind of my point, Sire. Same here; though I write posts on all of them on a continual basis, most of what I comment on has to do with this blog than those.

December 22nd, 2009 | 7:47 PM

First, thanks for the mention. I enjoy “just sharing” your articles, as they are always relevant and useful for my readers as well.

I think one thing that Sire hit on the head is the fact that these guys got started when there wasn’t that much competition.

A second thing that comes to mind is just pure luck. Maybe doing that one post that catches the eye of someone uber popular, and when that person says you are an authority, all of their thousands of readers start checking you out, and then boom – traffic, new readers, and more all with one recommendation.

All in all, I think if you post useful content, and are genuine with your readers, in time you will grow successful. It may not be as quickly as you prefer, but it will get there.

~ Kristi
.-= Kikolani´s last blog ..Twitter Direct Messages – Best (and Worst) Practices =-.

December 22nd, 2009 | 10:27 PM
Mitch:

Hi Kristi,

I hope you’re right. I know that it took Darren two years to get popular enough to really start making the better money, but I’m now at the two year mark for this blog. Of course, this isn’t a niche blog, so maybe it’s much different, but it is growing, albeit slowly. Yeah, I think that pure luck thing is a good call.

December 23rd, 2009 | 1:56 AM

Hi Mitch,

I think that sometimes growing fast isn’t always good, as tends to happen with fads. Your blog is like a bottle of red wine, it gets better with age.
Blog commenting in the way you do is the best way to build your backlinks but by god is it time consuming, I do it myself now and again, not as much as I should – too much to do and not enough time.
.-= Peter Davies´s last blog ..The Self Improvement Giveaway Event =-.

December 23rd, 2009 | 3:21 AM
Mitch:

It does always come down to time, doesn’t it Peter? Still, I have to admit that if I could blog full time, life would be great.

December 23rd, 2009 | 9:16 AM

I realize I need to make a schedule of sorts for blogging which includes posting, commenting, socializing, etc. I tend to slack off on the commenting, but have subscribed all around so I’m at least notified of new posts. I think if you really want to make money and have a good niche, then you just have to keep marketing and spreading the word about what you have to offer.

What could possibly help you is a shortened and free version of your ebook. Maybe give people a taste and then they will buy the full copy. Not that I’m an expert on this by any means, but a lot of people are leery of ebooks and love getting something free. Maybe?
.-= Anne´s last blog ..Sledding, Bunny Tracks, & Lost Roosters or What I Did On My Winter Vacation =-.

December 23rd, 2009 | 10:13 PM
Mitch:

Hi Anne,

You know, you’d think that would work, but I’ve found that it doesn’t. For my book, I do have a sample, the entire first chapter, and that hasn’t ever helped to generate all that many sales. Of course, I’m talking about my management book, which is a tough topic to market in the first place, but I have tried that. That book is also almost 200 pages; I’m not sure a free sample for an ebook that’s around 54 pages works as well, though I could be wrong.

I don’t really have a schedule, per se, to visit blogs. I do it mainly in the evenings when I decide I deserve at least an hour to relax a little bit. Sometimes it stretches into a couple of hours, which is just fine with me also. Heck, maybe that’s my schedule. lol

December 24th, 2009 | 12:17 AM

Anything that you want to happen in your blog or site comes from traffic. Readership, subscribers and even income comes from traffic.

It’s all because of GOOD and SOLID traffic.

Nice article Mitch!
.-= Jp Manching @ Beginner Blogging Guide´s last blog ..Organize your Twitter! =-.

December 24th, 2009 | 5:22 AM
Mitch:

Thanks JP. It does all come from traffic, but getting that traffic can be an interesting cat and mouse game at times.

December 24th, 2009 | 10:42 AM
Mitch:

The reason I said that about the content, Dennis, is because both Sire and I tried to run contests last year. I thought I had pretty good giveaways, and what happened is that after the contest ended traffic dropped dramatically. Since Sire’s contest was relatively recent, I’m not sure how his went. Maybe you keep a couple of folks, but the overwhelming majority are stopping by for free stuff, then moving on.

December 24th, 2009 | 10:44 AM
John Sullivan:

The post makes a lot of sense because I would be in awe of people like Chris Brogan etc who can fart and people say Lovely 🙂 Here’s the FACTS 🙂 We are building a group all of us have been successful in that we haven’t quit:) Here’s what I wrote on my blog tonight
Blogging is a craft and with any craft discipline and determination brings skill and skill brings opportunity.

Opportunity brings success. See you on the top.Now we have to take risks and work even harder then those goofs that still have the limelight.SO
On Jan 1st I’m offering 7 bloggers a chance to co own my domain bloggerluv.com
each day I will write about some lucky blogger, the others can write as often as they want or at least one a week,this way WE are all working on the same page and the authors page will have do follow links and hopefully the group effort will make it well worth it 🙂
@ Mitch I’m seriously considering you to take over the blog for a week, this will let you tap all my people etc and you can write about you your ideas your site everything 🙂
I see to many bloggers not RTing or helping each other a joint effort guarantees success 🙂
Keep me posted if you were serious cause Iam the only other person wants to use it to dog some new lame ass blogger that messed with my boy extremejohn as fun as that would be I have to get real serious now :)I just passed my second year it’s showtime 🙂
thanks
@Sire that bloggerluv offer is definitely open to YOU 🙂
GET SOME LUV 🙂 LOL Thanks Mitch
.-= John Sullivan´s last blog ..Merry Christmas to all bloggers around the world =-.

December 25th, 2009 | 2:22 AM
Mitch:

Hi John,

First, I am serious in my bid. I think it would be a lot of fun.

Second, glad to have your point of view on this topic. You know, I figure the A-list bloggers have earned their bones so that they can sometimes go off on a tangent with their posts. John Chow talks about restaurants and his travels often, and sometimes Chris Brogan throws up a couple of lines and moves on. For me, every once in awhile I decide to break things up by throwing in some videos I’ve come across just for entertainment purposes, but for the most part I’m writing a lot of stuff because I’m trying to make my mark on the world.

This can be a true community of bloggers that can help each other grow to at least being close to the top, so that we can keep on sharing with those who might follow behind us. I believe in that, and I always hope many other people do also.

December 25th, 2009 | 1:22 PM

As far as contests go, most folks are 200% willing to participate if money is involved. Writing millions of posts a day was once my dream but I’ve now kept it @ a reasonable, twice a week as it fits in nicely with my regular work schedule.
.-= Udegbunam Chukwudi´s last blog ..Make Your Feed Subscribers Get You More Traffic =-.

December 25th, 2009 | 1:34 PM
Mitch:

Udegbunam, people love knowing what a schedule is like so they know what to expect. If you can maintain that kind of schedule, it’s all good.

December 25th, 2009 | 2:13 PM

I like the topic of the article here. I think the success of John, is somehow effected by his strategy of marketing. He say other guy to write about him and his blog, in return he will linkback to them. So by which he get one extra publicity on the blogsphere.

Darren is also one very old guy on blogging, and write most of article on blogging which help reader.
.-= chandan´s last blog ..Search latest work at home jobs here =-.

December 26th, 2009 | 1:44 AM
Mitch:

Hi Chandan,

True, getting other people to write about you can work wonders with your blog and your websites, and everyone, by now, has written about both of those guys often.

December 26th, 2009 | 9:05 AM

You stressed the importance of blog commenting. Others says they lack time for this task. But I think there must be a way to deal with this challenge.

Thanks Mitch for this interesting post.
.-= Jose Anajero´s last blog ..Merry Christmas To All =-.

December 27th, 2009 | 8:01 PM
Mitch:

Thanks for contributing, Jose. Here’s my general take on it all. Either you do something or you don’t to try to help bring visitors to your blog. You can pay for it with money or you can pay for it with sweat equity. Personally, I feel the sweat equity is worth it; I’ve met some great people that I never would have met if I hadn’t visited other blogs and commented, or at least read what they and some of the people they linked to had to say. In the long run, it really is a community that likes to share and visit with each other, and you can’t get that kind of loyalty by paying for it.

December 27th, 2009 | 8:45 PM