I just got an email from a reader of my main website (Runblogger.com) asking about audience building strategies for a new blog (a running blog in his case). This is a great question, and it’s an issue that almost every blogger must deal with when first starting out.
When I first start writing Runblogger I had an audience of zero (I don’t even think my wife looked at the site!). I had only been active on social media for a few months, I had little knowledge of what search engine optimization was, and the entire blogging world was new to me. I had little focus, and no real plan for how to build the site.
My nature is to research the heck out of anything I do, and so I began reading books on blogging (Problogger and Blogging Heroes were particularly helpful) and started to play around with various audience building strategies. Slowly but surely my traffic started to creep upward, but it didn’t happen quickly.
To demonstrate my own experience, below is a screen shot of monthly Runblogger.com traffic recorded by Google Analytics from Feb 1, 2009 through March 1, 2014 (click on it for a larger view):
That line on the far left is awfully flat!
In fact, it was almost a full year before my site traffic really started to pick up. And it was almost 18 months before I realized that a blog was a viable source of income. In short, had I not been patient and persistent, I’d likely still be working as a college professor rather than the owner/writer/editor of a successful niche website that has become my full-time job.
I want to emphasize this point: unless you have an existing online following from another site, or some other existing platform/audience that will help draw traffic to your site immediately (e.g, you’re a famous book author, public figure, etc.), you really need to take a long-term view when starting a blog. Don’t get discouraged by low traffic numbers initially, if you put in the necessary effort they will rise over time.
I’m not going to lie, building a blog requires a lot of hard work, and you need to be persistent in doing what is needed to help grow your site. You can’t just create a site, put up a few posts, and hope that people will flock to you. It simply doesn’t work like that.
There are a lot of steps that can be taken to hasten the process of growing a blog, many of which I employed myself when growing Runblogger. In future posts I plan to tackle some of the strategies that worked best for me. Next up I’ll discuss the graph below, and why I think that little upward blip in August 2009 occurred. Stay tuned!