The Blogger’s Bucket List: 20 Must-Reach Milestones on the Path to World Domination

The Blogger’s Bucket List: 20 Must-Reach Milestones on the Path to World Domination

It’s okay to admit it.

That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.

That thought which keeps you up night after night.

You want… to rule the world!

You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.

But you’re afraid.

You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.

But mostly?

You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.

The good news?

Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.

World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.

Why Serious Bloggers Need Meaningful Milestones

When you break large tasks into small, manageable ones, what once seemed big and scary isn’t as daunting.

Renovating your entire home? Start by painting a room. Training for a marathon? Walk to the end of your driveway. Want to start a rock band? Get a guitar and start practicing.

Blogging isn’t any different.

Your journey as a blogger is filled with incremental milestones. They start small, gradually increase in size, and culminate with you owning sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Want 10,000 subscribers? Start with 100. Want to quit your job? Focus on making your first sale. Want to be Jon Morrow’s best friend? Get him to notice you.

In your journey as a blogger, these milestones comprise your bucket list. They highlight what you’ve already accomplished, what you’re striving toward next, and what still lies far ahead of you.

To help you in your quest, here are the 20 major blogging milestones (and how to reach each one).

#1 Publishing Your First Post

You’ve been talking about doing it forever.

You’ve been reading blogs like Smart Blogger, ProBlogger, and Be A Better Blogger for months.

You’ve been planning, scheming, and daydreaming about starting a blog for so long that people have started to worry about that glazed look in your eyes.

So don’t you think it’s time you finally wrote your first post?

How to Reach This Milestone

What To Do Next

Once your post is published, it’s time to promote it.

Share it with your friends and family on email and social media. Email it to your subscribers too (if you have any yet).

#2 Getting The First Social Shares of Your Content

Getting your content shared on social media for the first time is a big milestone because each time your posts are tweeted or liked, your content is exposed to new readers.

These new readers are potential email subscribers. Potential customers. Potential allies in your quest for world domination.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Make it super easy to share your posts. Sharing buttons for Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. should be easy for your readers to find.
  • Make sure your posts are worthy. If you write posts that change your readers, they won’t be able to help themselves — they’ll have to share them.
  • Be tweetable. Use short, quotable messages in your posts.
  • Share it yourself. How can you expect others to share your content if you don’t share it?

What To Do Next

Be friendly and appreciative. When someone shares one of your posts, thank them. In addition to being good form, this act of gratitude will increase the likelihood they’ll share your posts again in the future.

To boost the number of shares you receive, try using interesting images with embedded headlines as the featured images in your posts. Be sure to choose a relevant picture, or one that creates curiosity.

#3 Receiving Your First Comment From a Stranger

It finally happened.

The moment you discover someone other than your mom is reading your blog.

Your first comment from a stranger.

It’s the first sign you’re engaging a real audience (not just friends and family).

The first indication your words are striking a chord with readers.

The first evidence you have what it takes to succeed.

How to Reach This Milestone

What To Do Next

Were you raised in a barn? Thought not. So once you’ve received a comment, respond to it. Continue engaging with your reader.

Next, visit their blog and leave them a comment. If they don’t have a blog, thank them in an email.

True, this level of dedication will be difficult once you’re receiving dozens of comments.

But in your blog’s early days? There’s simply no good reason not to go above and beyond to express your appreciation.

After you’ve received a few comments, it’s time to implement strategies to further boost your comment count.

#4 Gaining Your First Email Subscriber

“The money is in the list,” says every blogger (even if nobody has asked them).

It’s cliché, but it’s true.

Email subscribers are far more likely to read, share, and engage with your content than someone who simply follows you on Twitter or “likes” you on Facebook.

Email cuts through the noise.

A person might receive a few dozen emails in a day, but they’ll receive several hundred (or more) tweets from their followers.

If you want to reach the top of the blogging mountain, you must build your email list.

And it all starts with that first subscriber.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Sign up for an email list. MailChimp has a free version, but if you want to send autoresponder emails, you’ll need the paid version or another email marketing provider such as AWeber or GetResponse.
  • Prominently display an opt-in form. Once you have your email list, you need to put your opt-in form front and center where readers can easily find it.
  • Have a compelling call to action at the end of your posts. A focused CTA will increase the likelihood that readers will subscribe.
  • Update your signature. Include a link to your opt-in form in the signature of your outgoing emails, as well as your posts in blogging forums.

What To Do Next

Make your new subscriber feel welcomed.

When someone subscribes to your list, your welcome email should be warm and inviting.

Encourage them to ask you a question. Tell them to follow you on Twitter and say hello. Give them a link to an unexpected freebie bonus.

(But don’t do all three at once — you might scare away your only subscriber!)

#5 Getting Your First Backlink

Search engines love backlinks — they help them discover how pages are related, and in what ways.

Landing a high-quality link from a relevant website is great for SEO and results in more search engine traffic flocking to your website. And who doesn’t want that?

When a website links to yours, it’s effectively telling Google, “This dude is cool. He’s with me.”

Want to rule the world? You need Google to think you’re cool.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Create Massive Value Content. Epic posts are commented on, shared more, and linked to more often.
  • Embrace blog aggregators. Low-hanging fruit such as AllTop are effective, easy solutions for bloggers looking to start building a link profile.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for backlinks. Email outreach is time consuming, but it can be a highly effective method for acquiring backlinks.

What To Do Next

Numerous untapped backlink resources are available to bloggers willing to tap them. Directories, aggregators, audio sharing sites, and more offer valuable links with minimal effort.

#6 Reaching 100 Visitors in a Single Day

In your blog’s early days, visitors are scarce. Occasionally, you’ll wonder if anyone is reading your blog.

But slowly, little by little, your numbers creep higher and higher.

And then it happens.

The day your blog reaches triple-digit visitors. The day your hard work begins to pay off. The day you get your first taste of power.

Intoxicating, isn’t it?

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Promote on social media. Keep sharing your content on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Use hashtags to widen your reach.
  • Promote daily. While you shouldn’t publish daily, you should most definitely promote every day.
  • Concentrate on beginner-friendly traffic-generation techniques. Videos, infographics, and the like don’t work for beginners the way they work for established bloggers.
  • Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Poor navigation, lots of ads, and a mobile-unfriendly design will alienate your readers and make them bounce from your blog.

What To Do Next

Implement strategies to keep readers on your blog longer.

Linking to other posts on your blog, displaying related posts, and encouraging readers to leave comments are all effective methods for keeping visitors on your website.

#7 Receiving Your First Piece of Fan Mail (Well, Email)

This is strange.

You receive an email from a stranger, but it has nothing to do with male enhancement or an unexpected inheritance from overseas.

It’s an email from a reader. And she’s telling you how much she enjoys your blog!

Your first “kudos” email from a reader is a big milestone for bloggers, and those who go on to rule the world receive many of them.

How to Reach This Milestone

What To Do Next

Reply to the email. Thank your reader for contacting you, and try to answer any questions they may have asked.

But don’t stop there.

Follow them on social media. Visit and comment on their blog. Subscribe to their list, if you like what you see.

Your response will make a lasting impression in the mind of your reader. Don’t waste it.

#8 Getting Your First Negative Comment

After weeks of praise, attaboys, and well-wishes, you receive your first negative comment.

You try to laugh it off by making a “these are where the tears would be if I could cry” joke, but it doesn’t work.

You’re confused. Hurt. Maybe a little angry. (Plus, your spouse quickly reminds you of the time you cried like a baby watching Field of Dreams.)

Don’t let it get you down. As you gain in popularity, criticism is inevitable.

Consider it a badge of honor – every popular blogger receives negative comments.

It’s proof you’re on the right track.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Find your unique voice and stand out. Don’t be another me too blogger — be distinctive and memorable.
  • Be a troublemaker. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.
  • Keep doing what you are doing. Haters are gonna hate. Just shake it off.

What To Do Next

As much as you would like to respond to the negative comment with a barrage of sarcastic wit and venom, don’t do it.

Delete the comment, ignore the comment, or respond to it in a professional manner. But whatever you do, remain calm. Don’t let the insults fly.

Others will see how you respond, and it will leave an indelible impression of you in their minds.

#9 Landing Your First Guest Post

Sooner or later, you’ll discover that commenting on other blogs and making friends on Twitter will boost your traffic only so far.

You need to reach new audiences.

As the marketing crowd would say, you need fresh eyeballs on your content.

In other words, you need to write a guest post.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Find your target. While it may seem like a good idea to write a post and then find a blog, it’s better to select a blog first and tailor your guest post around their audience.
  • Thoroughly read the guidelines. Make sure you know what’s expected of you, and avoid making dumb guest blogging mistakes.
  • Proofread! Take the time to properly proofread and edit your posts before submitting them.
  • Stay positive and persevere. Sometimes you have to contact your guest post target two or three times before getting accepted. Persistence often pays off.

What To Do Next

Your job isn’t finished once your guest post is published. No siree, Bob.

You need to promote the post on your social media accounts. You need to email the post to your mailing list (even if it’s small). You need to respond to any comments readers leave on the post.

And, most importantly, you need to thank the blogger or bloggers who gave you the opportunity to write for them.

#10 Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”

When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.

You’re no more knowledgeable than you were two minutes earlier, but your words suddenly carry more weight. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).

To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.

Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Create an awesome About Me page. Tell your story, share testimonials, and be sure to mention you’re available for interviews.
  • Help A Reporter Out. Sign up for HARO and you can receive emails twice a day listing people who are looking for quotes from experts.
  • Make your Contact page easy to find. Don’t have one? Create one.

What To Do Next

Take advantage of the networking opportunities an interview or expert roundup creates.

If you’ve been interviewed, respond to those who leave comments. Engage with them. Give them a reason to visit your blog.

If you participated in a roundup, you now have some common ground with the other bloggers who participated.

Follow them on social media. Tag them when you share the roundup on Twitter and Google+. Send them emails saying how much you enjoy their blogs.

#11 Hitting Your First 100 Email Subscribers

Finally.

After having single- and double-digit subscribers for what seems like forever, you finally reach 100. One hundred individuals decide they want updates from you.

These first 100 subscribers are arguably your most important.

They’re the ones who found your blog in its early days.

They’re the ones who decided to follow you before you were popular.

They’re the ones likely to be your biggest supporters.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Be a broken record. Keep finding reasons to mention your mailing list.
  • Give something away. Entice readers to subscribe to your list by offering something of value. And the sooner you have an opt-in bribe to offer, the better.
  • Promote your opt-in form on social media. Add an opt-in form to your Facebook page. Link to your form in your Twitter and Google+ bios.
  • Ramp up your guest blogging. With a little planning to maximize results, guest blogging is an excellent method for building your email list.

What To Do Next

Why not survey your subscribers? You’ve built a small tribe and it’s time to discover what they think.

Find out what kind of content they want you to create, and what kind of content they wish you would stop creating.

To encourage participation, turn your survey into a contest.

#12 Seeing a Post You Wrote Go Viral

Wow. That was unexpected.

One of your posts takes off. It goes viral, as the kids say.

At its simplest definition, a viral post is one which has a life beyond your own promotion of it. As such, it gets considerably more clicks and shares than your typical post.

And, as a result, your blog receives a nice (if temporary) bump in traffic.

Even if it’s short lived, a viral post means more eyes on your content. And that’s just what a prospective world ruler wants.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Write compelling content. If you want a post to go viral, it must be worthy.
  • Use social metadata. The better your posts look when shared on social media platforms, the more likely people will share them.
  • Be visual. Use stunning, shareable images in your posts.
  • Use an intriguing headline. Jon’s Headline Hacks has some great tips for headlines that go viral.
  • Make it easy to skim. People read only 28% of blog content. Make your content easy to skim, and you greatly increase the chances it could go viral.

What To Do Next

Since the bump in traffic is only temporary, you must capitalize on it. You must turn as many of those visitors into subscribers as possible.

Make sure your call to action is clear and singularly focused. Offer a “free PDF version” of the post as a content upgrade for users who subscribe.

Use one of the dozens of available WordPress plugins designed to help you boost your subscriber count.

#13 Getting Mentioned or Followed by an A-list Blogger

When Bob the bellhop from Bolivia mentions you on Twitter, a small handful of people will see it.

That’s nice.

But if Chris Brogan, Pat Flynn, or Jeff Goins mentions you on Twitter, a small army will see it.

That’s even better.

When you’re mentioned or followed by an A-lister, it means much more than a small bump in traffic.

It means you’ve made it onto the radar of someone with influence.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Link to A-listers in guest posts you write, and let them know about it. Most will be appreciative, and many will share your post with their followers.
  • Buy their courses or services. Want a sure-fire way to get A-listers to notice you? Give them money! As an added bonus, you’ll benefit from their vast experience.
  • Reach out to them. Identify the bloggers of influence, and put your content directly in front of them.
  • Ask them to participate in expert roundups. Participants in roundups almost always share them.

What To Do Next

Just as a couple should keep wooing each other even after they’re married, you should continue doing the things which caused the A-list bloggers to notice you in the first place.

Keep sharing their content. Keep leaving comments. Keep engaging with them.

#14 Hitting Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers

Now we’re talking.

Around the time you hit the 1,000 subscriber mark, your emails begin to carry more weight.

You’re able to generate traffic for new posts simply by emailing your subscribers.

Even better?

You can begin making real money from your blog.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to make at least $1 per subscriber each month — more if you really know what you’re doing.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Have a dedicated landing page. You should have at least one page focused on one thing and one thing only – getting people to sign up.
  • Say yes to pop-ups. Yes, some people find them annoying. But they work.
  • Harness the power of webinars. They create a sense of urgency, but without being “salesy.” Plus, you can run one even if you have a limited budget.
  • Do more guest blogging. In case you haven’t yet picked up on the theme: guest blogging is an awesome strategy for gaining subscribers.

What To Do Next

It’s time to think about monetizing your blog.

Affiliate programs, sponsored content, digital products, and consulting/coaching sessions are common methods for making money with your blog.

And speaking of those last two…

#15 Successfully Selling Your First Product or Consulting Session

You tried your hand at sponsored ads. Maybe you even had a little success with them.

But eventually, you aim higher.

You decide to offer your skills as a coach or consultant.

You decide to create your own digital product because you like the idea of unlimited income potential.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Define the who, what, and how. To be a successful coach or consultant, you must know your audience, what they need, and how you can help them.
  • Choose a topic you know inside out. If you’re writing an e-book, pick your topic wisely.
  • Repurpose content. If you have been blogging for any length of time, you have a collection of archives begging to be turned into a self-published e-book.
  • Master the art of ethical persuasion. Focus on benefits rather than features.

What To Do Next

Don’t rest on your laurels.

Once you’ve created your first product or course, create a sales funnel with an email autoresponder series.

Then start work on your next product.

#16 Reaching 1,000 Visitors a Day

When you reach 1,000 daily visitors, your blog will be perched at a level many bloggers never see.

Your blog has momentum, which means your mailing list starts to grow on its own.

You’re selling more products and services.

Your social media shares are increasing too, which is bringing even more new visitors.

Putting it another way, your hard work is paying off.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Strategically promote on social media. What gains traction on Pinterest won’t necessarily gain traction on Twitter, right? When promoting, always be mindful of the platform you’re using and adapt accordingly.
  • Become a SlideShare master. For many bloggers, SlideShare is an enigma. Unfortunate, because you can easily repurpose content with SlideShare and bring in thousands of new readers.
  • Think outside the box. Communities like Triberr and networks like BroadedNet offer bloggers additional avenues for driving traffic to their sites.
  • Start taking SEO more seriously. Ranking for keywords and optimizing your blog for Google (and Bing) are a must to take your traffic to the next level.

What To Do Next

Resist the urge to publish more often. Even though you receive traffic bumps on the days you publish, your time will be better spent on promotion.

If anything, scale back on your blogging and focus even more time on promotion.

For example: targeted advertising. Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and more offer bloggers the ability to advertise and bring in additional traffic to their sites.

#17 Reaching 100,000 Visitors in a Month

When you reach 100,000 visitors in a month, you’ve reached a level of success most can only dream of.

At this level, practically anything you try can be lucrative.

How to Reach This Milestone

What To Do Next

Dig into Google Analytics and learn how to make the most of its data. Discover which topics and posts are performing best, and optimize your blog accordingly. Identify your most important traffic sources, and adjust your outreach efforts.

And if you haven’t started monetizing your blog yet, you’re leaving real money on the table each month. Get started!

#18 You Hit 10,000 Email Subscribers

As Jon Morrow likes to say: 10,000 subscribers is the “magic number.”

With 10,000 subscribers, publishers beat down your door to give you a book deal.

With 10,000 subscribers, you could make a full-time living as a coach or consultant.

With 10,000 subscribers, you can easily sell a course you have created.

In short, earning a six-figure income from your blog is entirely realistic when you have 10,000 subscribers.

It’s arguably the most important blogging milestone.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Lure Amazon e-book buyers to your opt-in page. At the end of your Kindle e-book, offer a bonus chapter to readers who come to your website and subscribe.
  • Use Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards. It’s like having embedded landing pages within your tweets.
  • Create content upgrades for all your most popular posts. Bonus material customized to individual posts can significantly increase your conversion rates.
  • Use Facebook ads in tandem with Facebook opt-in pages. In a case study, one blogger was able to add over 17,000 subscribers in six weeks using Facebook advertising to funnel readers to her Facebook opt-in page.

What To Do Next

Look for ways to improve your email open rates. It doesn’t matter how big your list is if nobody bothers to read your emails.

As your list grows, and your humble blog starts to look more like a viable business, you may need to trade your email provider for a more sophisticated solution, such as Infusionsoft that can handle e-commerce and relationship management as well.

#19 Finally Earning Enough Money to Quit Your Day Job

It’s the dream of most bloggers — this one included.

Being able to quit your job and blog full time means you’re able to quit the rat race. It means you can set your own schedule, pursue your passions, and spend more time with your loved ones.

It means you’re the boss.

How to Reach This Milestone

  • Charge premium prices. This allows you to devote more of your time, which means your premium price comes with premium service.
  • Outsource certain tasks. Time is money. And when you reach a certain level of success, your time (and money) can often be put to better use.
  • Promote affiliates. In addition to high income potential, affiliate products require zero investment.
  • Create joint ventures with other popular bloggers. Build a product together or just make it attractive for them to promote your products.

What To Do Next

Don’t quit your job just yet! Instead, create an exit plan.

Decide what kind of financial buffer you’ll need just in case things get tough. Your buffer will depend on your risk tolerance and personal situation, but a good rule of thumb is three to six months of salary in the bank.

Use the time leading up to your departure to ensure your blog is running smoothly by the time you quit. Automate everything you can. Create processes to ensure you can work as efficiently as possible. Because when the paychecks stop, you don’t want any additional drag.

#20 Achieving World Domination

You did it.

They said it wasn’t possible, but you made it happen.

The world is your oyster. You’re the master of your own destiny.

And it’s all thanks to your blog.

What To Do Now

Take a vacation. You earned it. Maybe even move to paradise.

Then get back to work.

So What’s Your Next Big Blogging Milestone?

You realize they’re yours for the taking, right?

The niche you want to dominate?

The house in the Hamptons?

The sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads?

They’re all out there… just waiting for you.

They’re waiting for you to decide, “Today is the day I’ll make my dreams come true.” They’re waiting for you to stop reading and start doing.

So, don’t just sit there.

Work out where you are on the list and what you must do to hit that next big milestone.

And let’s do this thing.

Because the world isn’t going to rule itself.

About the Author: Kevin Duncan runs Be A Better Blogger, where he uses his very particular set of skills to help people become the best bloggers they can be. As a free bonus, he’s written a special post just for Smart Blogger readers: How I Went From Unknown to Boost Blog Traffic Writer in Six Months (and How You Can, Too).