This is a guest post by Greg Digneo.
You were so excited to start your blog.
But now, a few months in, you’re floundering. Day after day you obsess over driving traffic to your blog.
You’re a great writer…
And your ideas need to be heard.
But all of your blood, sweat, and tears aren’t getting you anywhere. Despite your hard work, you’re just not getting the traction that you had imagined you’d get when you started just a few months ago.
Writing posts like this is cathartic for me.
They’re an autobiography of my blogging life.
You see, I’ve started many blogs and failed more times than I can count. And this post will allow me to reflect on one of my greatest failures as a new blogger.
Why Dumb Blogging Goals Nearly Destroyed My Blogging Career
Huddle up for a second.
Because I’m about to tell you a secret.
The hardest part about being a new blogger isn’t getting traffic.
I know you probably think I’m nuts.
When I first started blogging, ALL I ever thought about was getting traffic.
But here’s thing thing:
There are dozens of ways to get traffic to your blog.
Yesterday, you might have read that email outreach is the silver bullet. Today, you may read about guest posting. And tomorrow, you will learn about Facebook ads.
In fact, the good folks over at SumoMe put together a list of 130 ways to get more traffic to your website.
It’s starting to feel a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?
Almost like there are too many options to choose from.
You see, that’s why choosing dumb goals almost destroyed my blogging career. I spread myself way too thin. I tried to do everything and be everywhere. And I got absolutely nowhere.
It was like I was running on the proverbial hamster wheel. I was constantly busy. Constantly working on my blog till all hours of the night. And had little to show for my efforts.
I wanted to quit.
I needed to set a goal that I could actually achieve, would allow me to focus on one or two specific tactics, AND move my blog forward so that I was able to finally get off of the hamster wheel.
4 Dumb Blogging Goals New Bloggers Set… And Why They Are Dumb
Since those early days, I’ve started several blogs. Some have been more successful than others. More than that though, I’ve had the good fortune to speak with several up and coming bloggers and have asked them what the goals of their blog are.
Below is a list of “dumb’ goals I see many new bloggers set.
I Want 100,000 Visitors A Month
A little over a year ago, expert marketer Neil Patel started a new blog.
His goal was to show you everything that he was doing to get 100,000 visitors a month over the course of a year.
And he was able to accomplish that goal!
The problem is, most new bloggers can’t set the same goals as Neil. He’s been doing content marketing for almost a decade. He has become an SEO expert. And he is a leader in the field.
In other words, he has taken his lumps and knows exactly what to do in order to get traffic.
New bloggers, on the other hand, have a lot to learn.
And setting a goal that large would be overwhelming.
Before you can generate 100,000 visitors a month, you first need to learn how to get 1,000 uniques per month. Before you can get 1,000 uniques per month, you first need to learn how to get 100.
That’s not to say that your blog won’t eventually get to 100,000 visitors per month. I’m sure it will one day. But it’s a process.
Want To Start A Conversation
I’ll admit it.
I’m so fascinated by the number of comments that Tor gets per post on Time Management Chef. His posts seem to receive dozens of comments.
Being such a relatively new blog, I’m in awe of this.
It’s a testament to his dedication, hustle, and writing style.
My friends Henneke and Jon also do a good job of this as well.
And so many new bloggers that see these blogs with lots of comments and want to do the same thing.
Look, no one wants their blog to be a ghost town. And comments are nice.
But they aren’t the be all, end all.
In fact, some popular blogs are removing comments from their posts altogether.
Before generating comments, you first need some readers, your own writing style, and a unique opinion.
Once you got that down, you’ll have the comments you’re after.
I’m Going to Post Every Day
Of all the goals I hear, this one seems the most difficult to achieve.
Blogging is a grind.
Even when you’re not posting, you’re promoting your posts.
As a beginner, creating new content every day is equivalent to the couch potato waking up one day and attempting to run a marathon.
When I first started blogging, one of the things I completely underestimated was the amount of mental energy that’s required to pump out great content on a daily basis.
Yes, it takes time to write a 1500 word blog post. But more than that, it takes a lot of brainpower.
As a beginner, I would much rather focus 100% of my time writing one killer blog post per week than write 5 mediocre posts.
Be Like Your Idols
Long before I published my first blog post, I was reading bloggers like Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott, and Brian Clark of Copyblogger.
These guys were killing it.
Then one day I became inspired to start my very first blog post.
I was going to be like Seth.
I adopted his tone of voice. I mimicked his writing style.
And I failed.
My guess is, you followed a similar pattern. You read a few blogs, became inspired by your blogging “idols”, and wrote your first post…
Hoping to be just like them.
Blogging is about self-expression. It took me a while to figure this out.
There is only one me. I’m the only one who can express my point of view. That’s what will make me different from every other blog on the interwebs.
Take it from me, don’t try to be like the next Seth or Gary or David. Just try to be the next you.
And no matter what happens, you’ll succeed.
If I Were To Start A Brand New Blog
When I first started this post, my initial thought was going to give you some general advice on how a new blogger can get started.
A few ideas for goals they can set for themselves in order to reduce the feeling of overwhelm, get off the proverbial hamster wheel, and gain traction for their blog.
But then I decided I wanted to show you specifically how I would start a new blog.
I will show you the initial goal that I want to achieve. And how I’ll spend my first few months achieving that goal.
So let’s get started…
Initial Blog Goal
To get 1,000 email addresses and gain credibility in my niche.
Let’s break this down:
Why do I want to collect email addresses?
From experience, I know that people on my email list are by far the single most responsive readers.
This includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
As blogger Neil Patel said “Out of all of the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them”
And this man has tested a lot of channels.
When I publish a post, I simply send it to the people on my email list, and I know I’ll have people reading it.
So, if i have 1,000 people on my email list, I can reasonably expect that every post I publish will get about 150-200 readers. (And that doesn’t count any of the social shares I get)
Second, I want credibility.
Anyone can buy a domain and set up a wordpress site in a few hours. The easiest way for you to stand out and get people to actually read your blog (and take your words seriously), is to prove that you have some credibility in your niche.
How To Collect 1,000 Email Addresses And Gain Credibility
The easiest way to grow a blog is to get your loyal readers to share your posts with new readers, then convert those new readers into email subscribers and loyal readers.
But if you’re a new blogger and you don’t have loyal readers in the first place, this is a near impossibility.
The first instinct of most new bloggers as soon as they set up their site is to write as much content as possible on their own blog.
However, this is the exact opposite approach I would take.
You see, instead of writing content for my own blog, I would write content for other blogs. This will allow me to leverage their audience, bring them back to my site, and collect those coveted email addresses.
And because I’m writing on other blogs, I’ll gain instant credibility among my readers.
This is a process known as guest posting. And if you’re a reader of Time Management Chef, you’ll see that Tor is an expert at being featured on other blogs as well. As you probably know, he used blogger outreach to get featured on 158 top blogs in his first 14 months of blogging.
In fact, for every one post I write on my own blog, I would write five for other blogs.
Let me show you a simple guest posting strategy that you can start right away.
Find Blogs in Your Niche
The first thing you need to do is find a blog to write for in your niche.
Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant and you’re looking to build your audience. There are two directions you can go in order to find blogs to write for.
First, you can write for marketing blogs like Social Media Examiner or Content Marketing Institute. Both of which are very popular blogs that accept guest posts.
The second route you can take is to write for blogs in the niche that you serve. For instance, if your clients are ecommerce stores, you can write marketing articles for sites like Shopify.
To find a list of blogs that accept guest posts in your niche, you can go to the popular blog Alltop.com.
Apply To The Blog
Once you’ve found a blog that writes for your audience, you’ll have to apply to write for them.
To do this properly, spend some time reading the blog to find a topic that is most likely to succeed. When creating a new post for a popular blog, one trick is to find a post that is already popular and put your own spin on it.
Now you’re ready to pitch the blogger.
This is the exact pitch I use every time to get a guest post accepted on a popular blog:
“Hey [First name of blogger],
Over the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles from other marketing bloggers.
After reading many of the posts, I’ve noticed that posts about [Insert topic] do well in terms of traffic and shares.
For instance, [insert a specific post in that topic here] got 132 tweets.
I would like to submit an article titled [insert headline].
I would love to know what you think.
Just copy and paste this script, and you’ll have no trouble getting a post accepted… assuming it’s good!)
Create A Landing Page To Collect Emails
Now that you’re guest post is all set to go, you’ll need to convert as much of the traffic you can into email subscribers.
And the most effective way to do this is by creating a landing page.
A landing page is a page on your site (duh!) specifically designed to capture email addresses. Usually, these pages give away something like an ebook or white paper in exchange for the email.
To see how to do this correctly, hop over to Tor’s page where he gives away his free course “Learn to Crush Your Goals in 14 Days”.
Write Every Day
I’ll be perfectly honest.
If you decide to implement my plan, then you may discover guest posting is becoming very competitive.
And the biggest blogs only accept the best writers.
As a new blogger, I would start with smaller blogs to guest post on and then work my way up to the most popular blogs in the niche.
That will give me a chance to find my voice and hone my craft.
You see, writing is a skill that needs to be developed.
And the only way to do so is by practicing. Every day.
What To Do Next…
I’ve laid out a few goals that doom most new bloggers.
And I’ve shown you what I would do if I was just starting out.
But I really want to help you set and achieve YOUR blogging goals.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to offer 3 free 30 minute consultations to the readers of TimeManagementChef.com to help you set your blogging goals and discuss a plan of action to achieve them.
Here’s how to win this consultation:
- Share this post on your favorite social network using the purple share buttons below.
- Leave a comment stating the goal of your blog and the biggest challenge you need to overcome to achieve that goal.
The three people with the best comment will “win” the consultation. (I’ll let Tor decide! 🙂 )
Oh, by the way, even if you don’t “win” the consultation I’ll be hanging out in the comments section the next day or two answering every question and comment I can.
Greg Digneo writes for TimeDoctor, a time monitoring and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams. If you would like to see where you and your team are spending your time during work, then try TimeDoctor free for 30 days.
I help online entrepreneurs NETWORK with influencers and position their BRAND so they can attract the right CLIENTS fast. Award-winning blogger.
Very nice article!
My goal right now is exactly the one you wrote: Getting 1,000 subscribers.
However, I don’t feel this is a much different goal than “I want X visitors a month”. Traffic and subscribers are intimately linked.
I say that because I feel into the trap of being overwhelmed and unfocused (as you describe for the traffic goal) pursuing my subscribers goal. There are as many strategies to get more traffic as there are to get subscribers.
I have been realizing how I wasted my time only recently and am now refocusing on guest blogging as well (since this is what worked for me at the beginning).
You share some guidelines for guest blogging here, but for a more (like 1000x more) detailed overview of guest blogging, I strongly recommend this recent guide from Alt Turan: http://www.seanogle.com/guest-posts/how-to-guest-post
I hope it’s ok to share this link. I have nothing to gain with it, I’m only sharing it because it’s extra valuable and people interested in guest blogging need to know.
Thanks for the comment and for the link.
There are subtle differences between get x traffic and get 1,000 subscribers. If you’re just trying to get more traffic, then you wouldn’t worry about increasing your subscriber rates. You may not worry about spending time creating content upgrades, or A/B testing your offers. Things of that nature. You’d use that time writing and promoting your post.
Increasing subscribers is more next level thinking. You will obviously need traffic. But you’ll obviously need to get people to convert. The question you need to ask yourself is: Which would make a bigger difference to your goals?
Hope this helps.
Adeel Sami says
Long time! How have you been? 🙂
And extremely the best post I read!
I totally understand these are the most of the sure goals that mostly new people set for themselves.
And yeah, first one is the traffic goal. And then the posting frequency.
These two are the most common (sorry to say wrong as well) goals the new bloggers expect in the start, getting them from the very start of their blogs.
They often ignore the importance of networking and only focus on writing the content. But content alone cannot do any magic for you if you do not have any network, part of any community and known in the world.
For the comments and all these other milestones they often get inspired by the ones who are established; they ignore the hard work they given in. The years they worked and tirelessly. And efforts they made to develop their network.
Become a unique voice on the topic you love and stick to it, one day you will hit the success and for sure!
Awesome reading it, Tor! And you know what I am going to do? 🙂
Sharing it on my social life! 😀
See me often!
Thank you very much for reading Adeel.
You’re absolutely right. A blogger who blogs alone will surely fail. They need a network to help promote their content, get ideas, and even just commiserate.
Gabriel St-Germain says
This is a great post. I like especially like what you said about trying to find your own writing style instead of copying others – this is very important to stand out from the
I think setting goals isn’t necessarily dumb – as long as these goals aren’t turned into expectations. Because on the surface, it seems easy to make a lot of money blogging…
On the surface, all we see is the “income reports” that boast incredible earnings or the gurus who claim to make millions…
But once you try it out for yourself, you realize that to be successful with your blog, you must treat it like a business and put consistent hard work into it for a long period of time.
That’s why people who set high goals and have unrealistic time expectations tend to get quickly discouraged from blogging, and often give up.
My recent round-up on the biggest challenges to starting a blog talks about this and more, and features some pretty big names (Tor Refsland :), Zac Johnson, Matthew Woodward and more). It turned out really well and is a great resource for new bloggers: http://www.propassiveprofits.com/blogging-common-challenges/
Greg – thanks again for the great post.
Tor Refsland says
Thanks a lot for your comment, Gabriel.
Yeah, Greg did an awesome job.
It´s funny that way. If you treat your blog like a business, and you work in it like a business…
then guess what?
Cool things are starting to happen 😉
Jewel Hossain says
Really Nice Article!
I ain’t a blogger. but I am regularly read the different blog. because I want to improve my English.
I read this article very carefully. This article is recommended for Who want to be a blogger.
Tor Refsland says
Thanks for your kind words, Jewel 🙂
Have a great day!
Karan Bhagat says
Hey Greg & Tor,
The first one is the exact mistake I did, this shows that mistakes done by most of the bloggers are almost same and if they find posts like this then there is a chance someone could get saved.
What I used to think was : “There are literally billion of internet users and it won’t be tough to get 10,000 readers a month”, LOL, that was a crazy thought but at least it can provide me a good laugh now.
Definitely a worth reading blog post.
Tor Refsland says
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Karan.
Yeah, I think most of us have set too big goals in the start BEFORE we had any real experience on how to create traffic to a website 😉
I am a newbie blogger and started my new health niche site and I find very confuse for what to do with my blog. Here I got a worthful content for what to do for my blog so that I can own a good blog at last.
Keep sharing the useful content with the newbie like us. Thanks for the content
Tor Refsland says
Thanks a lot for commenting, Shilpa.
Glad that you found useful content on my blog 🙂
GAURAV KUMAR says
These are the really common mistakes that I also have made in the beginning of my blogging career. But with the time I have learned from my mistakes and start focusing on my own potential. I started writing for my readers than just for competition.
Things have changed from the day when I started focusing more on my readers.
Tor Refsland says
Thanks for commenting, Gaurav.
We have all done a truckload of mistakes. As you say, the important thing is to learn from our mistakes.
Have a great day!
Very informative blog post. Keep rocking with the great post
Tor Refsland says
Every blogger’s interest and the aim are to get more traffic.
But they failed due to not following the proper guidelines.
You have made a clear statement on it.
Tor Refsland says
Thanks for commenting, Aravinth.
I really appreciate it.
Have a great day 🙂
Lyons Elsa says
Thanks for sharing such wonderful information with us. Keep sharing such useful content with us in future.
Tor Refsland says
Thanks a lot, Lyon 🙂
You got it!
Have a great day 🙂