It hurts me to write this.
For years, I’ve been “the traffic guy.” Not only because I’m good at getting it, but because it’s the question on the top of every blogger’s mind:
“How do I get more traffic to my blog?”
To some degree, this entire site is an answer to that question. You’ll learn more about getting blog traffic here than maybe anywhere else on the web.
But there’s one giant problem…
It’s the wrong question.
And I’ve known it for years.
And I’ve said nothing.
Not because I’m an asshole (well, maybe). No, the real reason is I felt like we were serving the needs of the market. People wanted to know how to get more traffic, so we created courses teaching them how.
But Then I Noticed Something Horrifying…
A large percentage of our students couldn’t significantly increase their traffic, no matter how hard they tried.
And the worst part:
It wasn’t their fault.
They were doing all the homework. They were applying our techniques.
Except none of it was working. Not for the vast majority of them, anyway.
At first, I thought it was because we sucked. Maybe our techniques didn’t work, maybe the homework was too difficult, maybe we were just lousy teachers.
But then I noticed something…
A small percentage of students who initially struggled would all of a sudden take off like a rocket. For six months, they worked their butts off and got nowhere, and then BOOM, they would get so much traffic they could quit their jobs and become full-time bloggers.
So, I started investigating. What were these students doing differently than all the others?
Did they work harder? Were they better writers? Were they just smarter? Did they have powerful connections?
Turns out, the answer was none of the above.
The only commonality between all of our success stories is they changed the question they were asking. Instead of asking how to get more traffic, they asked a different, much less obvious question.
And it changed everything.
The Single Most Important Question for Beginning Bloggers
Ready to hear the question?
Here it is:
“Is my blog capable of getting traffic?”
I know, it probably doesn’t make any sense.
Is it capable? Of course it’s capable! Every blog is capable of getting more traffic.
Actually…it turns out the answer is no. People think you can start a blog and build it blogging about anything, but you can’t.
Of course, that statement isn’t surprising in and of itself. It’s logical that some really bizarre topics like square tomatoes or diamond drill bits could never support a popular blog.
But the reality is worse. Far worse.
The Brutal Truth about Building a Popular Blog
After working with thousands of students, I can confidently say there are only a few hundred topics where blogging really works.
For instance, ever noticed how many parenting blogs there are?
Or marketing blogs?
Or social media blogs?
There’s a reason why. Blogging works really well for those types of topics.
But there aren’t any popular blogs about retirement, weddings, or becoming a better real estate agent.
And here’s the real shocker…
There never will be.
Yes, there are millions of people interested in those topics. Yes, it seems like you should be able to build a blog around them.
But you can’t.
Doesn’t matter how hard you work. Doesn’t matter how smart you are. Doesn’t matter how many connections you have.
In fact, it’s impossible to build a popular blog around 99% of our passions.
Let me explain why…
The Seven Tests Every Blog Must Pass
For months, I researched what blogs succeed and fail, and I found seven criteria or “tests” every blog passes before it becomes popular.
And here’s the thing:
To have a viable blog, you need to pass all seven tests. If you can’t, your blog will never succeed, no matter how hard you try.
On a more positive note, passing all seven of these tests practically guarantees you can build not only popular, but a money making blog. All that’s left is doing the work to make it happen.
Ready to find out what the tests are?
Here you go:
- Size. The vast majority of popular blogs have a total market size of at least 5 million people. And that’s a minimum. Most top 100 blogs have a total market size of 200 million or more. To be clear, that’s not how many readers they have. That’s how many readers they could have if everyone with an interest in the topic read their blog.
- Age. The vast majority of blog readers are between the ages of 30 and 55. If you’re targeting an audience younger or older than that window, such as teenagers or baby boomers, it’s almost impossible to build a popular blog, simply because these people don’t like reading blogs. Not yet, anyway.
- Longevity. Because blogs publish content on an ongoing basis, you need an audience that has an ongoing interest. Ideally, it’s a topic like personal finance or social media that changes all the time, and so people want to read about it forever. What you don’t want is a topic like wedding planning or pregnancy, because people are only interested in those subjects for a few months.
- Language. In general, blogging as we know it is confined to the English language. Yes, it’s totally possible to build a popular blog in Japanese or Spanish, but the traffic techniques are totally different, and it’s much, much more difficult. In my opinion, it’s far more efficient to use other more traditional methods to build the audience, such as advertising.
- Network. For a blog to really take off, you need an audience who is networked with each other through social media. Moms talk with each other on Facebook, foodies hang out on Pinterest, bloggers and journalists are big on Twitter. As a result, they are easy to reach. If your audience isn’t hanging out on a particular social media platform, on the other hand, it’s almost impossible to get any traffic.
- Influencer. If a blog topic is viable, you pretty much always find and affiliate yourself with influencers who have already built up their own audiences in the space. Sometimes they are bloggers, sometimes they are podcasters, sometimes they are best-selling authors. The key point: with a little research, you can easily find 5-10 influencers or “thought leaders” already dominating the space. If you can’t find any, there’s always a reason why, and it’s never good.
- Desirability. Last but certainly not least, you need to like the audience. Surprisingly, this is the number one reason a blog stalls out following a period of rapid growth. After attracting a small audience, the blogger discovers they can’t stand them, and they stop writing because it’s not fun anymore. The moral of the story: make sure you like the people you are trying to attract because you’ll be hanging out with them for years.
Are You Depressed Yet?
Chances are, your blog fails at least one of these tests.
And you know what that means, right?
It’s curtains. Goodbye, dear one, we’ll remember you fondly forever.
At least as far as getting a bunch of free traffic is concerned.
You can absolutely continue writing, but it’s never going to attract a lot of readers without spending a fortune on advertising, and I’m guessing that’s not your cup of tea.
The Good News…
You can always launch a new blog. If you choose a viable topic, you might even be a little stunned by how quickly it grows.
Because you see, it’s easy to grow a blog that passes the above tests.
This blog got 4,379 visitors on the very first day I opened it. Granted, some of that was due to the promotion strategy I used, but a big part of it was I chose the right topic.
In fact, all of the blogs I’ve started over the last five years have taken off like a rocket. Not because I know some special traffic secret, but because I chose topics capable of supporting a popular blog.
The question is…how?
How do I consistently choose the right topics for blogs when everyone else is mystified?
The answer is…
…you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. 🙂
Just make sure you’re on our email list because I’m not announcing this to the public just yet. I want our loyal readers to get it first.
232 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Bloggers Struggling to Get More Traffic”
Jon, you couldn’t be anymore right in what you’re saying.
Blogging doesn’t work for every niche, and you need to find out if your niche is great for building a blog. If people aren’t interested in that topic, then no one will read your posts. Which is why you have to find your target audience before you start your blog to see if this will work for the niche that you want to blog for.
Can’t wait how you will tell us to find the right topics for blogs, that is some key information!
Will share this on Twitter Jon.
All the best
Thanks Benjamin. 🙂
Hi jon Morrow,
I’m so lucky I found that website ! & Your work is very awesome and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts this post for me is so much informations, very helpful. Thanks Once Again 😀
Will share this on My Facebook Page And Blogging Whatsapp Group 😀
Good Luck and Best Wishes 😀 MORROW 😀
Although I like what you said, I am 15. Maybe I’m an outlier, who knows.
I really feel thrilled when I read your posts. I must tell you I have a deep respect for you. How bravely you are doing all this. I read your story. Salute to you Jon. You are a source of inspiration for me. Wish I could meet you some day.
I think my blog passes these 7 tests. I write about self-improvement. What is your advice about this topic? I think it has too much competition.
Shall be waiting for your next information about the right topics. I wish you all the happiness and good health.
Self-improvement is quite possibly the best topic for blogging. And don’t worry about the competition. That’s another myth. With blogs, there’s no such thing as oversaturation or too much competition. Never happens. I’ll write another post at some point explaining why.
Thanks for your input Jon.
This I find I’m really agreeing with. The more blogs there are in an industry, the more I feel interest in that industry spreads. If no one was talking about Facebook marketing on the net, it’d be hard for a person to get into it. But because there are so many people talking about it, it gets new people interested, and then the ball gets rolling. By comparison, Pinterest has very few people talking about it, and thus the ball’s a lot smaller. At least that’s how I see it.
Anyway, great post, and a lot to think about. Not sure yet if I 100% agree that a blog has to have all 7 of these tests passed to be successful free traffic-wise, but it’s possible! I definitely think you need to have the majority of the bases covered, though maybe you could have a successful blog without one or two.
I am totally agreeing with this here and I would recommend you to push forward with your blog idea about self-improvement. Popular topics always have room for another voice and besides many people read more than one blog.
The more popular the topic the more ‘buzz’ surrounding the topic, which means more people talking, tweeting, searching, sharing, etc. In other words, you don’t have to create the buzz to take off as it is already there.
If self-improvement would already be too saturated, how does it come that there is space for people like James Altucher and Tim Ferriss. Although their interest somewhat different, in their podcasts they often interview similar people, yet both their podcasts are very popular. They lift on a popular topic and they stand out with their unique voice.
Jon, thank you so much for this gem and insightful post. I agree that everything starts with the core of our strategy behind the blog. Research matters and asking the right questions before starting is decisive for future success.
Thanks again for this post and I will be sharing this!
Love this! It is hard sometimes to look at something you love and have put time into and analyze it on a pass/fail basis. But, sometimes it is what needs to be done.
I believe my blog passes all 7 tests, which makes me feel good! A huge boost is right around the corner.
Another idea to keep in mind is what does success mean to you? While a blog about pregnancy might not be able to explode and make a full time income, if your goal is just to help people through those 10 months and you are doing that, then are you not successful?
Everyone has different goals!
Very true about having different goals.
To be clear, this post is about building a “popular blog.” If popularity isn’t your goal, none of this applies.
Do you close comments on posts a certain period after publishing them? I’m leaving this comment as a reply to a comment beacause I honestly think I’m probably missing something somewhere…I’m probably going to be making a fool of myself.
Anyway. I started a blog earlier this week. It really hasn’t gained much traffic and I know there are things that I’m doing wrong. For starters, it’s a Blogger blog hosted by (You guessed it!) Blogger. I would say the topic is self-improvement. I started the blog because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now. I got sick of sitting on the side waiting for “just the right time” (I know now that such a time never comes if we don’t make it happen). The problem? How can I start a proper blog if I can’t even get traffic to a free one? How can I invest in something that seems like it’s destined for failure? Is there something I can do to help a “real blog” succeed? I feel a little lost now. My 1 week of blogging has only proved to me how difficult running a successful one will really be. I get the idea people are just bouncing off as soon as they land there or something. I mean, 5 posts 0 comments. The future looks bleak here.
Strangely enough, I feel good to have made the mistakes I’ve made up until now: I think they’ll help me do better if I learn from them. But I’m at a complete loss for what my next move should be. Keep pushing my 1 week old blog that isn’t performing? Close it down, grow up and get more serious? I don’t know…
But thank you for THIS blog Jon! The information you offer here is really unique and to a large extent more realistic than what other blogs offer.
For instance, I’ve found your take on social media to be quite realistic. The only social site that has gotten me views is Google+ and it really only gives me a few views (and only when I share links). The other one I tried was Pinterest to share some of the picture quotes I made for my blog. What a waste! People will only find you if they know who you are and WANT to follow you. But how do you start something like a blog from scratch and build awareness of your actual existence online? That…is the question…
Thank you so much. Its a great motivation for me. I am feeling quite enthusiastic about my topic. Have a clear vision now.
Ha, first you tell us that you’ve been giving us rubbish advice for God knows how long and then you suggest that we start a new blog if our current blog isn’t working.
That “stellar” advice coupled with your lackluster posting schedule makes me wonder why I even have this site on my bookmark bar at all.
That’s not what I said, Greg. All of our traffic advice is 100% rocksolid. It just has a prerequisite: the right positioning.
But yes, if that’s the way you feel, you should probably unsubscribe.
Ooooh! I think I’ll note this as a lesson in how not to take B.S. from a reader. Rock on, Jon! 🙂
I agree with Serena. Take that bookmark down and bugger off!
This is one of the best posts I have read and serious food for thought!
Thank you Jon!
@Greg – Ew. Just ew for your comment. I’ll tell you what I always tell my 5-year-old son when he’s being a bully to his little brother: the world already has enough mean people in it, no need to add to their numbers.
Seriously, why bother?
Thanks, Candis. I was thinking the same thing, I just didn’t know how to say it. 😉
Hehe, glad I could be of service 😉
Just checked out your site – love the line “Have the Audacity To Make Good Money From Your Creative Work”.
Just downloaded your manifesto – looking forward to reading it!
Well said Candis. 🙂
Just a quick, self-satisfied, thank you.
Had it not been for your advice, I’d have probably continued slip-sliding down a dark alley towards oblivion. But before investing money and more time, I took your advice, did the sums and a little research and analysis. I figured out that the stuff I could offer and blog about (my great passion) would only ever appeal to a tiny minority. Worse than that, my small (if elite) audience would be spread out over a vast field making marketing an impractical no-go from the start.
Thus, having found and understood the evidence to stop me in my tracks, I can now focus on something which is unlikely to be that successful but which might be. However, it is also bringing me great joy – my fiction writing. Needless to say, I can’t help but include in the fiction, those non-commercial topics I was going to blog about.
So, thank you, Jon, and I look forward to tomorrow’s follow-up.
I love your positive outlook, Zara. So proud of you.
Hooray! I was wondering if we’d get one more Jon Morrow post before 2015 ended. 🙂
Wow. That’s quite a sobering question to ask yourself (depending on the answer): “Is my blog capable of getting traffic?”
Thankfully, I can answer yes and I can pass each of the seven tests. I still have much work to do, of course!
I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us tomorrow, though. Should be good…
Tweeting this out shortly! Hope you, Glen, Marsha, Shane, Heather, and the BBT gang have great Wednesdays, Jon!
Thanks Kevin! Happy holidays to you as well. 🙂
Really excited at the hint that we are getting close to knowing about your new blog! I am sure all your students are as eager as I am.
Is this it?
Not quite yet. We are moving forward on that, though.
Actually… there will be two new blogs in 2016. 🙂
It will be absolutely worth the wait!
You’re doing TWO new blogs in 2016??
(Note to self: Quit your job. You need to free up time in your schedule so you can read more…)
Well, it’s not just me. We have a growing team of extremely talented and ambitious people, so having three blogs isn’t all that crazy.
Awesome. Can’t wait to read all the sure-to-be-great content. 🙂
Again a great post.
Earlier I was working on Tech Blog, I know it is an over crowed niche. And it didn’t work, it was just unsuccessful.
But now, I have started a new personal writing blog: Naman’s Board a month back. And I’m getting engagement on my blog.
Hope to see you there.
Tech is actually a good category, Naman. You might want to reconsider that one. 🙂
Yes sir I know. But as a student I can’t devote my full time to it. And in Tech category I think, one will have to update the blog with cool content very frequently and also promote it to a large extent in social media.
But due to the current scenario of my life, I can’t devote so much time. In he writing niche i.e. on my new blog: Naman’s Board. I have to do it just for a limited extent. All I do for my new blog is getting engaged on other blogs and communities, use Twitter and Facebook for sharing posts and then Pinterest to share the images. I have a huge (5.5K) following on Pinterest (may be not “huge” if considered by you :p), that help me to drive some traffic on my new blog.
I’m really happy to be here.
Thank you for being brave enough to share this. It could prevent a lot of people from spending too much time on something that will not be worth it.
I was in the process of setting up a blog on chronic pain, but now I’m not sure if I should continue. I’m not sure if it passes 3, 5, or 6. Any advice?
You’re right, it doesn’t pass. Back to the drawing board, I’m afraid. 🙁
But watch for my email tomorrow. It will help you figure out your positioning.
you’re definitely right about all 7 points. I come from an academic background. When you say ‘topics’, I am thinking ‘discipline’. Why is this important? Because you could write about something that is less popular but tweak it so it speaks to the popular ‘self-improvement’ niche. My own example is this: I am an anthropologist, but anthropology will never be a popular blogging topic. On the other hand, travel blogging is huge. So I just write about classical anthropological topics for the travel blogging niche. And it’s working out. The trick is to know how to approach a less popular topic from an angle that makes it relevant to the popular niche. Thanks for you post.
Totally true. That’s actually one of the strategies I’ll be teaching over the next week.
Big kudos to you for figuring this out. You get to wear the “I’m a Genius” hat today. 🙂
Oh, thanks, Jon! Do I also get a T-shirt saying this? 🙂 Academic writing can be so disengaging but academic research teaches you a lot about positioning and strategising. It’s really amazing that I get to apply all this in my blogging career.
Andrea – I must say your comment was a total relief for me.
I read this post, and I am sitting here thinking – well, my topic may not meet all of these criteria on the surface, but I have tweaked it to do so. I am also a cultural anthropologist who focuses on sport and culture. I am also working to fill the travel niche. I am fairly new to the game, but it seems to be working. Still working on getting my content up and churning out regularly. After seeing your blog and reading your comment, I am feeling much better about the work that goes into blogging.
Also, love you blog 🙂
All the best,
Andrew – your website is great.
A pleasure to read.
Sorry – Andrea (not Andrew) – my apologies
Oh, thank you so much! It’s so nice to get recognition from Jon’s followers 🙂
Also, seing your website is about my (well, our) hometown is such an amazing surprise! Love the coffee post 😉
Vesna, thanks for stopping by my website and the for thumbs up. Great to meet someone with the same background here 🙂
Another intriguing post Jon. I will be going thru each of these one by one of course. You hear a lot about creating an original blog with a unique perspective. Maybe thats a load of crap. Maybe differentiating ourselves is not an effective strategy. Much to think about.
Thanks for sharing your valuable insight!
Originality is overrated, in my opinion, but it’s not completely without merit. For instance…
There are a gazillion crime shows where police or FBI or whoever chase a new bad guy every episode, but the do it in different ways. CSI uses science, Castle uses a writer’s imagination, The Mentalist used mind tricks, and so on. Each show is in the same genre, but they all have a “unique perspective.”
Hope that helps. 🙂
I am a fairly new travel blogger and very, very discouraged by lack of traffic. It seems I pass the 7 tests, but maybe I’m too impatient. It seems there are a lot of travel blogs to compete with. I am signed up for your e-mails so will read all you have to say. We started a Disney blog last Jan. but then a general travel blog in late June. Still not much growth. I guess the motto is plug on and keep learning. Thanks for your article!
Disney is a viable topic for a travel blog, I think. So is going more general. In your case, you probably need to look at your traffic strategies.
I wonder, though, what’s defined as “successful”. Since we’re talking about traffic, I’m presuming unique/page views? Due to my niche, I strike out hardcore on points #5 and #6 (I don’t even bother with social anymore), but, I still have some pretty dang good traffic. No where near BBT, however, I’ll never reach those levels because I’m reaalllly niched down.
Yeah, success is a difficult thing to pin down, because it depends a lot on both your genre and goals. For instance, you could make a full-time living blogging about marketing with 10K uniques per month, but it would probably take at least 100K uniques per month in the self-improvement space.
Interesting. Is that because the blogging/marketing genre is easier in terms of converting traffic into leads than the self-improvement niche?
In general, businesspeople are willing to spend more money, because they can expect a return on investment. If you teach them a new marketing tactic, they might earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from it. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to spend $2000 or even $25,000 on training.
In self-improvement space, there’s really not a return on investment, so prices are MUCH lower for the same quality of training. On the other hand, there are a gazillion people interested in self-improvement, so you can sell a lot more.
Neither market is really superior. Just different economics.
Ahhhhh that makes complete sense. Thanks for enlightening me, Jon!
This is interesting and probably true for huge blogs, but I just want a little blog that supports my business. I suppose I’m not considered a ‘blogger’ in that case.
It depends what you mean by “support.”
If you want lots of free traffic in the hopes of converting that traffic into leads for your business, then all of the rules here apply. On the other hand, maybe all you want to do is stay in touch with existing customers. In that case, none of these rules apply.
I have two blogs at the moment. They are both in the parenting niche, which seems so saturated. One is specifically related to my family and the other is a blog geared toward moms in general. I think they pass the seven tests but I’m eagerly awaiting your next email.
Parenting is one of the best niches for blogging.
Don’t let the competition worry you. With blogging, there’s no such thing as oversaturation. I’ll explain why later.
Laaawwddd Jon, you read my mind so well, I’m certain your a damn prophet!
I’ve been racking my brain trying to get more traffic to my hair removal blog (don’t judge me!). I’ve done well over the years getting to the 50,000 visitors that currently visit my blog (however, trying to reduce my bounce rate is impossible!)
Well, duh, I said to myself lately. There’s only so much discussion about bikini waxes and chin plucking one can do over the years. My subscribers lists is only a few hundred and its been steady for several months now. It got mentioned in some large venues like New York Mag and Yahoo Style, though.
But even still, there’s not much else I can discuss about my hair-shaving exploits. But the more money I make freelance writing, the more I’m compelled to write about it…so a new blog about my online business and marketing (as your majesty mentioned) may be in order…
This sooooo timely and painfully true. Thanks Jon!
Hair removal is one of those topics you could definitely build a business around, but blogging isn’t the right way to do it. Not enough people with a permanent interest.
Thank you for creating a test that helps struggling bloggers understand why their blogs are generating only one or two comments and no shares.
Just two weeks ago I concluded that I would not write a blog for our upcoming site revision. My husband and I are creating online courses for people who want to create simple consumer products. After extensive research, we realized that our target audience is more interested in visual than written material. Only one blog remains standing in the land of invention, and it does not have anything close to the engagement necessary to create a buzz.
Instead we are going to create short video posts that give our information in small bursts rather than long scrolls. It is doable for us and will serve our audience better. The needs of our students must come first!
Even if I’m not blogging, your courses on writing are invaluable to me. I use them when writing e-books, marketing materials and developing website content. I’ll use your recent post on headlines to help me create video titles.
I will be sharing this with my friends via email and can’t wait to discuss it with them.
Nothing you share goes to waste! I am a Jon Morrow conservationist!
A “Jon Morrow conversationalist” eh? I like it. 🙂
Did you notice that I followed your recommendations for how to effectively reply to a blog post? Your epic post continues to stay with me.
Hi Mary Lou,
Awesome! I’m glad my “Ultimate Guide to Writing Comments…” post here on BBT is still remembered several months later. And I’m very glad it’s helped you. 🙂
Things well on your end?
Thanks Mary Lou. 🙂
You are most welcome, Jon! I appreciate your response to my comment.
I also learnt about commenting after reading your post. Thanks a lot.?
Actually you improved on my term of “conservationist” by changing it to “conversationalist!” I would like to refer to myself as both! Thanks for the comment.
It’s great seeing your smiling face! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Actually you improved on my term of “conservationist” by changing it to “conversationalist!” I would like to refer to myself as both! Thanks for the comment.
It’s great seeing your smiling face! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
P.S. I inadvertently hit the incorrect “Reply” button to your comment, so this also went to Jon. Guess I need to work on my navigation skills!
Hi Mary Lou,
Great to see your smiling face, too! Haha… Sorry for the typo. I really thought you’d typed “conversationalist!” 🙂
How are you doing, Mary Lou? Well I hope!
Hi Jon, A bit of a controversial blog post! In my opinion, if the niche has buyers it can be exploited successfully. But a bit of creative thinking is required. I’m sure the market for pregnancy advice is enormous. If you can attract people looking for pregnancy advice, you can sell to them. ‘Retirement’ might not be a profitable niche, but retirement financial planning and travel in retirement are just two of many retirement niches that could do well. As long as its a ‘buying niche’ there is money to be made blogging about it. Don’t you think that one of the main reasons your blogs have done so well is that you are a very accomplished writer and an expert in your field? Looking forward to tomorrow!
Hi Ray, there’s an important distinction here. I’m not talking about profitability whatsoever. It’s possible for a site to be hugely profitable but fail all of the tests listed here.
I’m just saying, if you fail these tests, blogging is not the best way to get traffic. There are other superior methods.
Hi, Jon. Does where your blog is hosted have anything to do with its success? My website is on Weebly and my blog is there, too. There is not a way to subscribe to my blog so I am wondering how others would follow it. Your thought are appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Karen, Hopefully Jon will answer, but I would advise that its best if you get your own hosting and host your own blog. The cost is minimal – $3 or $4 a month. You have lots more options with a self hosted blog. You also own your own site rather than Weebly. Regards, Ray
Thank you–but I do not know how to host my own blog. Hopefully Google will fill me in!
We recommend hosting your own blog on SiteGround. Here’s our affiliate link:
Thank you. Does SiteGround draw more traffic? And how?
Your host doesn’t really affect your traffic very much.
I am an author of fiction books and started a blog to promote and build my reading audience. The thing I have struggled with is figuring a regular posting schedule and content in between my book releases.
I have dabbled with book reviews, sharing my WIP, poetry, my ramblings, marketing, and all things writerly, but my audience is very small and very silent. Is this an area that is worth pursuing? I feel like I am spending more time on my blog that could be used to work on my next WIP. That is not good if it isn’t building a ravenous reading group!
In your case, a blog is a good way to stay in touch with existing readers, but it’s not a great way to attract new readers. So, if new readers is your goal, you should spend less time blogging.
What about a fiction author who is blogging about strategies for self publishing, working with cover designers/editors, marketing your book, writing for your target market, etc. would blogging be worth doing? I think that passes all your tests except maybe not #1, not sure.
I read somewhere that another reason why you convert readers to subscribers is that your blog content is too general. The topic advised to find your niche and stick to it. It made an example of lifestyle blogs, saying that it’s too general for people to follow (i.e. some of the lifestyle bloggers write about everything and anything).
I am a lifestyle blogger and hate confining myself to just one point of interest, but do you think this is something I should consider?
That’s a great question. I’ll be covering it in some of the upcoming material. 🙂
First, I’m a fan. Second, help me understand something.
You said in an above comment, “If popularity isn’t your goal, none of this applies.”
If a person’s goal is to monetize their blog, it doesn’t necessarily have to be “popular” and pass your 7 point test?
Take for instance, Pat Flynn’s security guard website, securityguardtraininghq.com. Now this site certainly would not pass your test. Yet, the October AdSense revenue was over $1400.
Thanks for your thoughts Jon!
Great question, Dylan. In my opinion, the strategy Pat uses on his niche sites really shouldn’t be called blogging. It’s a completely different methodology dependent on search engine traffic, not having an audience that loves and trusts you.
Can it be successful?
Yes. No question.
But it’s not blogging. Not to me, anyway.
Hey Dylan! I would also add that Pat’s security guard website is just one out of many revenue streams for him… If you want to have ONE blog that earns you “quit your job money”, $1,400 per month isn’t going to cut it.
Thanks for the article. I love reading your writing and, of course, your advice. I agree a good topic is huge. However, wouldn’t you agree that a strong headline and formatting help too?
Definitely, but having the right topic for your blog is a prerequisite.
I’ve been reading your blog since the last few months, and there’s one thing I’d like to say about your words – “they’re unskimmable.” your writing style greatly influences me .
Sometimes your sentences hit me like a tight slam on the face, but surprisingly I don’t feel offended either.
My blog isn’t growing probably, but that isn’t making me quit .
Yet, I believe that the option of improving it is always available. I’ve already spent 1.5 years, so maybe I’ll just get the expected results in the coming century. Cool!
You’re always awesome Jon. Glad to be led by leaders like you, Neil, and Ramsay.
Thanks Vishal. 🙂
I loved this post, I was compelled to read it all the way through, from the headline right up until the end. I’d love to be able to write like that one day.
I have a question – how does this revelation relate to niching? If you were to take a topic that passes all of the 7 tests (say, personal development) would it be advisable to niche it in hopes of faster penetration? (I recognize that it wouldn’t make sense to niche it to be so tiny that it failed the first test).
I recommend staying as broad as you possibly can. Controversial, I know, but I think the data backs it up in the case of blogging.
I agree with Jon because, based on my personal experience, niching down can SEEM to work better in the short term (e.g., it can make it easier to be found in search engines due to lower competition for your search terms), but in the long haul it’s like trying to roll a boulder up a hill. If not enough people are interested over time, you’ll hit a glass ceiling.
I mostly agree with point #6, even though my money-making blogs are in Spanish. When I started out, there weren’t even any other blogs I really wanted to guest post on. Now there are a couple more decent ones, but it’s still very true. Most of the best blogs and the best influencers are in English.
Sí, los hispanohablantes no reciben suficiente amor en el mundo de los blogs. Pobrecitos. 🙂
Why, oh why, couldn’t you have written this post 5 years ago? I am (unfortunately) proof that what you say is true…
My first blog failed Tests 1, 6, and 7. And I ended up quitting that blog.
My second blog failed Tests 2 and 6. And I ended up quitting THAT blog too.
My new blog? It passes all 7 tests. Thank GOD.
Just shared this with my peeps as it is a must-read. Thanks,
Great, useful article. Keep ’em coming!
You got it. Expect more tomorrow. 🙂
Jon, thanks a lot for this post. This was a real eye-opener, but not in a negative sense, I actually believe my blog can pass all these 7 questions successfully (a couple I’m still not 100% sure, but have a positive attitude).
I think an important question, probably one you should add to the list is: Is your topic/niche rich enough to have content created around it on a regular basis?
That’s one I am struggling with these days and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Yes, that’s definitely a concern. Usually, it’s a side effect of choosing a topic that’s too narrow.
Great stuff here! Thanks for being generous with information Jon. I consider you a valuable expert!!
Most welcome, Chester.
My blog, which is nearly two years old, is exclusively about Spiritual matters with nothing to sell or promote, just freely given information from a variety of about 40 authors. A new post is put up every Monday and I get only about 700 hits per week, which I realize is minuscule.
Of course I’d like much more traffic, but really don’t know what to do to generate it. As of now it’s pretty much a “mom and pop” deal, as I don’t have a whole lot of money with which to promote it. However, I think the target audience for it would be rather large, especially as the subject of “spiritual awakening” is a trending topic according to Google analytics. It’s age demographic is wider than the 30-55 group you mention, and the interest seems to be on going since it’s been getting those 700 or so weekly views fairly consistently. Networking? Well, I guess not much.
In short, I need help.
Keep an eye out for the info we are releasing over the next week. 🙂
OK. Will do. Thanks.
Loved this post, Jon! I’m going to go over the 7 Rule test for each of my new blogger clients.
Thanks for the info.
You’re becoming my blogging disciple or something. Spreading the word of Jon far and wide. 😉
Yes, I tell my readers that you are the “Blogging God”.
I read your blog with much interest, and have learned a lot from them. I believe that the information that you continue to give is very valuable.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s blog, because my blog did not pass all of the 7 tests. I blog on healthy retirement, which is a topic that should interest a wide audience.
I am always ready to learn.
It’s a wide topic, but it’s tough because that audience doesn’t really read blogs. You’re subscribed to our email list, right? If so, we will get you on the right track over the next week. 🙂
Great post — I’ve long wondered about this — I write a niche news blog on the Mafia… In reality, the mob is dying, but interest in films like Goodfellas and The Godfather, especially The Sopranos, is vast and continuing to grow. At the same time there’s no popular blog about the mob — it’s a topic a lot of news sites cover when applicable (the recent Vinny Asaro trial (which included charges related to the infamous Lufthansa Heist) but I don’t know…. I have been writing my blog for five years, though it was only in the past two years I really put the effort into it. That said, my traffic has plataued. And I am currently seeking full-time work, if ever I needed a profitable blog it is now. Jon, if you had a minute to look at my blog, I’d bestow endless good blessings on you…. I’d offer to pay you but I am honestly broke right now…..
I actually think this topic could get a lot of traffic. Might be a little hard to monetize, but I don’t think you should give up on it.
Plateaued! Forgive my misspelling….
Good to see your own post exactly after three months; it may have two reasons either you felt it must to share this post to guide your readers on this important topic or you did not have any awesome guest post to publish. I bet reason must be the former one. 🙂
I am on Twitter for the last two years and you followed me back just a few weeks ago that shows it takes two years to get positive response by a great influencer like you. Am I correct.
I have a long bitter experience of trying several niches and finally staying on money blogging and now I can see how huge and powerful potential it has and am quite satisfactorily moving ahead with my blog.
I agree a niche must be lifelong need of people and not the one that people need just for a few months of their life.
Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful post of huge value.
Have a great weekend ahead
This was definitely a post I felt compelled to share with our readers. I actually interrupted our normal posting schedule to do it. 🙂
Super glad you found it valuable!
I am the inevitable opposition. Jon I also respect your opinion, I hired you to help me look into a market once a couple of years ago so that proves I respect your opinion. You advised me against it.
However, the desire to do this has become overwhelming to my syche. Call it pride or optimism, I have decided against your advice. I believe in my market, I believe that with time and a marketing plan that tests, and adjusts over the years I will prove to be right.
I know that there is at least one person in every large town (not just the cities) who would be interested in my products and services to pay me. I know I need volume and access, but if you look at a world wide market, that is one heck of an opportunity.
What I think people who seek out only top niches are looking for is a fast buck.. I dont see how I am wrong.. Jon you know there are many, many more highly successful people outside of the top niches than inside. Also If I may, those who succeed at a large level in the Top niches are the 2%, most WILL never achieve their dreams at the level they imagine them. Let’s be real…
So what is success? To enjoy the ride, take your time, build with decades in mind, and be willing to slowly grow your business. I will hand my business down to my son, and he his. Its that good an opportunity I believe…
It’s the tortoise or the hare, I’m betting on the tortoise,
Hey Paul! I don’t think Jon is saying that the top blogging niches are the only niches that will support a successful business. You are totally right, there are tons of successful people outside of those top niches… but they likely aren’t relying on blogging as their main traffic source.
Hello Mary, I’m not sure you’re accurate. His post states that “There never will be, any popular blogs about retirement, weddings, or becoming a better real estate agent”
There are MANY successful blogs on almost every conceivable topic, however I think we should define ‘popular’ first. Does that mean 100,000 daily unique visitors? Or does that mean a blog that generates $20,000 a month? Because if it’s the latter, I again would say that there are an infinite amount of successful/popular blogs online outside of the Top niches.
I know a lady who has training programs for librarians… She has a HIGHLY sccuessful/popluar business. I know another who works with volunteer football coaches and he also does super well.
p.s. by the way my business is not in marketing or business advise, I am starting a niche tech magazine.
My takeaway is Jon’s talking about traffic, not profitability, when he’s talking about popularity.
So could you create a profitable real estate blog? Absolutely. Could you create a popular one that brings in truckloads of unique visitors day after day? That’s where it would be tough.
Hi Paul, I think we can all agree that profitability matters the most in terms of “success”. However, for a blog to be highly profitable, there needs to be the potential for a lot of traffic so that it can gain traction.
I have a blog for ballet teachers who use a specific Russian teaching method. VERY tiny niche. It grossed 35K in the first year, using strictly organic search engine traffic. Not bad, but not highly profitable. And we hit a brick wall in terms of growth, so I’ve given up trying to squeeze more out of that niche.
It’s just SO MUCH EASIER to build a successful (profitable) blog when it appeals to a large audience. Think about a sales funnel… You can get more customers coming out the bottom of the funnel when you put more prospects into the top.
Does that mean you can’t have a profitable online training program for librarians or football coaches? No. But I’d be surprised if their primary source of leads was from having a popular blog.
Just my thoughts. Would love to hear Jon’s take on this.
Yes, I think Jon is talking blogging from a pure blog perspective.
But blogging, done directly for even boring old style main street businesses, can work very well. Sure the blog in itself isn’t going to become a popular blog or one with high engagement. But what it can do is provide additional validation for prospective customers.
In these instances, the blog becomes just one part of an overall marketing strategy. It’s not an end in itself, but merely a means to an end.
Too many bloggers are so insular that they miss the big picture.
Hey Kim! I completely agree with you. The only caveat I would add is that these “business bloggers” would do well to spend more time guest posting for popular blogs versus writing for their own blog. Yes, having a few valuable posts on their own blog for the purpose of providing validation for those prospects who may be on the fence is great, but if they are looking for more visibility, they should be doing guest posting.
Kim, Kevin, and Mary have it right.
You can absolutely be profitable while violating all of these rules. You can also have a site that gets a lot of traffic while violating all of these rules.
But you won’t be using your blog as the primary traffic generator.
If I were entering the retirement space, for example, I would use Facebook advertising to drive traffic into a funnel where I would immediately sell products. I would still publish content, but the purpose of that content would be to deepen the relationship with customers and prospects, not attract anyone knew.
The result: lots of traffic and money without having a popular blog.
Love this advice. Okay, Jon– I’m a DIY (do-it-yourself) blogger and there is DEFINITELY a niche for us! Lots of popular bloggers making 6 figures. But I’m feeling an itch to expand a little. I’m also a mom of 3 boys (all 7–check!), with a husband who is an amazing vegetarian “chef” in our kitchen (all 7 again–check!). Do you think it’s a good idea to become more of a lifestyle blog, mixing in the DIY, home improvement, parenting, with some vegetarian recipes, so that my potential reader base is larger instead of not so craft/home improvement focused? My gut is telling me, “YES!! Expand!!” Thoughts?
I would go for it! Just my 2 cents. 🙂
Thanks, Mary!! 🙂
I agree as well, Serena. This is exactly what I have planned for my blog– expand.
Another YES from me! I’d read it. I do DIY, I’m a vegetarian, and I have a son. Tick, Tick, and Tick! Lifestyle away, lady.
Woo hoo! Sounds like this would be the right decision. Especially after Jon mentions market size! 🙂 Thanks, ladies!
Yes, you should probably expand, but you need to carefully pin down who your audience is. Are you talking to parents, for instance? If so, parents of teenagers, infants, toddlers?
Your choice of audience should guide your choice of topics. You should write about everything the majority is interested in, which may sometimes mean excluding some of your personal passions.
Personal passions–BIG point right there. As a blog, usually a very personal one, it just becomes an online journal, and whatever comes on our mind, we talk about it, even if it’s not a topic for interest for our target audience. Makes sense to be selective. As Michael Gerber from the E-Myth says: “Go big and specific.” Thanks, Jon!
Brilliant Delivery to save souls!
Another epic post that must be bookmarked. Already shared.
It’s a secret code delivered on time for me to quickly make some alterations. I’ve already chosen topics for my two blogs so all I need is mitigation. If that’s right.
Can alteration be made to pass these 7 points tests?
I’m a driller with World Vision International thinking of setting up a drilling blog. I tried with BlogSpot and wants to go self-hosted WordPress platform to make it professional.
From what you mentioned about diamond drill bits topic being a bizzaire one, I think I need to rethink.
Thanks for being there for us beginners.
Yeah… I don’t think drilling would work, I’m afraid. That one fails several of the tests. 🙁
Awesome tips, Your Royal Awesomeness. I bow to your insight and erudition. 🙂
But seriously, this is a great post, Jon, and it has changed the way I think about blogging, especially for my clients. I can see, now, that even though I might recommend a blog to them, it might grow very little or not at all. Which means I have to work on their (and my own) expectations from blogging.
I’m glad I decided to sign up for mailing list. I need all the informations that I can get!
I started my blog as a way of coping my mental disorders. The medication helps but under lying issue is still there.
I started to write and words just natural flowed out. My first post I wrote with my heart and tears kept flowing.
I enjoy writing and hope to reach out to people like myself to give them hope and address the issues and tell them they are not alone!
Thanks for very informative informations!!!! You rock!!!
Sounds to me like you’re a natural writer. Keep writing, Miae. 🙂
Such great information here; it sounds SO OBVIOUS when you put it like you do! Thank you for always providing such excellent advice.
Most welcome, Lisa.
Man, I just love your posts! I can’t wait to read the next installment. I’m almost finished with your blogging course, and it is stellar. I have learned so much about blogging that I wish I knew before. I spent years writing for a site that had a limited audience and it was no fun.
Oh well, you’ve got me on the right track now. I’ll just chalk it all up to experience.
Once again, thanks so much for this post, I really appreciate it.
Most welcome, Mark.
Great stuff, Jon.
This is why chasing your “passion” is such a myth. In my opinion, some passion is absolutely necessary (otherwise your blog will bore you to tears). But people also have to find something profitable and viable at the same time.
That’s where many fail, in finding that perfect balance.
Thanks for posting yet another fantastic, mind blowing post, Jon.
Take care, my virtual friend.
Ah Jon, your posts are always a joy to read and this one’s no exception. I’ve been chugging away at growing my blog for awhile now and left my job in August to concentrate fully on it.
You’ve taught me a lot, thank-you. But, I’ve learnt a lot too just from the experience of keeping on growing and that is, before everything else you do to make your blog work, you have to have 2 things in place:
1. A clear focus of what you want to get out of having a blog in the first place – what end result are you after?
2. A clear focus of who you want coming to your blog and how they will get what they’re looking for out their coming there – how will you get them the result they’re after?
Once these are in place, everything else can slot into place. Maybe not all at once and maybe with some growing pains. But it makes all the hard work pay off because it gives you something to root for.
Can’t wait to see what blog you start next. 🙂
Agreed on both points.
I follow a theoretical physics blog…a subject that perhaps only 1% of the population is smart enough to grasp, yet the blog is immensely popular , getting I think a couple thousands visits a day. If you’re smart, hard-working, and have a good strategy, I think almost any niche is possible.
Well, here’s the question…
Is it a small audience that’s intensely engaged? That can create the illusion of a blog being popular.
To me, popularity starts at about 100,000 uniques per month.
That was really inspiring.
And I’m super stocked to hear I have all 7 traits in my blog. I’m still struggling to get lots of traffic but I’m working on it.
Thanks for all your support.
Glad to hear you’re on track, Tammy! 🙂
Jon, thank you for this!
I am currently working on publishing my Young Adult debut novel, and was very disheartened with my blog visits. It is very comforting to know you’re better off investing in more potent resources than to keep hammering on the same nail. As a writer, I had simply assumed a blog is a must for my website, but I never gave much thought to my target audience (teens and twenties) and how unlikely they are to read blogs. If I was a book critic, perhaps it would be different, but I must say I am beyond relieved to wrap the blog up and use the free time I gain on advertising, etc…
Thank you so much again for this post. Also, love your attitude. Though I’m chucking the blog section of my site (or renaming it to ‘semi-cogent rants’ :D) I do not see myself unsubscribing from your blog, simply because I enjoy your words of wisdom.
Kind regards and best of luck with your future endeavors.
Thank you! And yes, sometimes it’s an enormous relief to find out you don’t have to start a blog at all. 🙂
You’ve made really good points.
I can’t wait for tomorrow. This should be good. 😀
His Royal Awesomeness, thank you for the great post. 😛
Most welcome, Julian. 🙂
I signed up for your Guest Blogging course yesterday and I’m loving it.
I actually have a popular blog in the city I live and I realise it’s probably too niche a market to grow to where I’d like it to go. In the background I have another blog on inspiration/self-improvement which is my absolute passion, all my friends tell me to grow this one and I’ve neglected it….until now. This post has really got me thinking! Love your work John and thanks for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us.
Oh, a BBT post on a Wednesday – what happened? Does earth not revolve around sun anymore? 🙂
Jon, what do you think about creative writing as a blogging niche? I mean teaching people how to write novels, short stories, screenplays, etc…
I’m well on my way with my blog, and it should pass all seven tests, but I noticed getting subscribers is harder in my niche than in huge niches like self-development or blogging.
Thanks Jon for always challenging my thinking.
Yet another epiphany! My blog aims to help financial advisers blog ‘the right way’ to attract clients and win business. Given that blogging about financial matters and retirement can be a challenge for financial advisers (given the notoriously boring nature of the topic) I originally wanted to help them overcome that hurdle. But instead, your article has prompted me to focus more on helping them to get to know and understand their prospective & existing clients better so they can connect with them on a deeper level. I think this is a more sustainable angle for my target market.
Thanks again Jon,
Thanks, Jon for continuously coming up with useful material. I am so glad my topic is self-improvement.
I did notice a lack of definition in this article. You did give some numbers to market size, but what about “significant” traffic? How many constitute “significant?”
First you mention that a topic may have millions of people interested but it will fail. Then you say it takes at least 5 million to constitute a viable market. These numbers seem meaningless to me because they do not define success or failure.
Will you be providing some numbers here?
I was getting into a conclusion after coming from the e-mail. Ahhh… now I have to wait for the next one. Is it also a traffic strategy?
I really like your post and I think you’ve given a lot of great information to me because I want to start my own blog soon. The only test I struggle with is the test for size. How do you do this test? Do you use Google Keyword Planner or another tool? When do you know how much potential readers are out there? Are you just looking for people typing in your keyword? Or keyword combined with ‘blog’?
I’m looking forward hearing from you and thank you very much for the great post and your answer to this comment!
Your reasons are valid Jon. Blogging depends a lot on Virality and this article’s headline made it a lot viral I might add 😉
But the thing is, maybe at sometime in the future these fields maybe explored or so or even many more will take root. It all depends on the person’s determination, mindset and consistency. These 3 things will help make a name for himself in any field he goes in. Personally speaking as a Technology Blogger, do you know there are specific websites just for apps? Just for wearables? And god damn they create awesome articles. If I mentioned wearables a few years back, people would have told me it’s going to be a dead field in bloggging but now it’s a booming business.
So basically my honest opinion is it depends more on the person and how he expresses the topic, rather than the topic itself. He must have his own unique approach towards the niche he/she covers.
Great post and great advice – can’t wait for the next instalment
But sad to see that baby boomers don’t read blogs! I am one of them and I read them all the time, but I guess I am not typical for that demographic.
I still think there is a place for blogs for businesses that don’t tick the above boxes, even if it’s for no other reason than to add validation and credibility. A blog is a mighty powerful conversion tool even if it never becomes a popular blog. (My original low traffic/low engagement blog helped me convert many leads into sales simply by sending new email subscribers – garnered from other sources – to my latest blog posts.)
Thanks again Jon
As I write a blog in Japanese I’d love you develop the 4th test ;D
Great, punchy and your first pretty short post here (I think).
Demystifying the topic of traffic generation is definitely an ongoing process. One that runs like solving an unending and annoying algebra.
It’s like we, bloggers, always have to wait for some crippling news, telling us what’s no longer working and what’s new on the scene (that would most likely change again in a matter of weeks).
Do we quit our rear, scared the tides will always inevitably change and would always and definitely be against us? Not yet.
Adapt. Sodding adapt. Changes do come. Freaks freak out, but rear-kickers stay. That’s the simple difference between the lemon-brained blogger and the serious ones.
So here’s another kick in the rear from His Royal Awesomeness, Jon. Most blogs definitely score a high number of failure from these tests. Trust me, I’ll not even count my blog. It’s far out. I hope to shape up or shake out.
And you’re right, choosing the right topic is more than essential to building a popular blog these days. And as the competition continues to thicken, a blogger can only hope this trend doesn’t change again soon.
But really, will it?
Look forward to reading how Jon chooses the right topics for his blogs consistently.
Well, thanks, Jon.
Only 5 years in somebody tells me that I have been working for the bin…
Excellent point about language. Now that I have been researching the German blogoshpere in the course of taking your guestblogging seminar, I find out that it is a tiny, tiny world.
Thanks to your teachings, I have been able to land a guest post on probably the most-read German blog on online business, which yielded a 146 Facebook shares in 24 hours. But there is not much more to get. Some blogs with information for niche products seem to do OK. And, am I really going to guest post on a blog about saunas?
Yes, it is a different culture. People tend to not comment very much; if they like an article, they rather share it.
German covers two and one-third of a country (Switzerland – I think, they have electricity by now). English covers all of the world except France, where they deny the existence of all languages except French.
So I have been wondering whether I should even bother writing in German.
Thanks for confirming a suspicion I have had for a while – that blogs do not work for everything.
I will keep recommending your course.
I heart this article so much. I think my new blog passes the 7 tests, but not exactly sure about #1.
The topic is blogging advice for specifically mom bloggers (their unique challenges with time: balancing the demands of motherhood with building a profitable blog).
The latest stat I found was from a Mashable article from 2014 saying there are 3.9 million mom bloggers in the U.S. I would assume that number had increased since then, and also would think other English speaking countries would add to that # and reach 5 million, but not sure??
Any thoughts on this?
(P.S. This is my first comment here on this blog after finding you a few months ago. Well, unless you count my response to @Greg up there… the nerve! In that case, this is my 2nd comment 😉 . This post really resonated. Thank you!)
That’s a great question, Candis. Would love to hear Jon’s response, but here are my thoughts…
1) 3.9 million in the U.S. is probably close enough to Jon’s 5 mil benchmark, especially since I already know you are doing guest posting, which will help a ton, and you could add in other targeted traffic sources for an extra boost, such as FB ads.
2) Your audience has the potential to be much larger because you could also include moms who don’t currently blog, but who are entrepreneurs and who would like to learn how to blog in order to get more visibility online.
So I wouldn’t worry about your audience being too small. I think you’re on the right track.
Thanks Mary – that’s encouraging 🙂 Good point about #2!
This is my first comment on your blog. Have been following for months though.
My question is: What should a foreigner (a Dane like me) do? My English is not pitch perfect. How should I attract readers from around the world if I decided to blog in English?
There is so much competition because you native speakers just write your mother tongue better than I ever could.
So, what should a foreigner do?
Thank you for everything you share here.
All the best,
The Danish Author.
for me also, English is a second language.
First of all, I practice every day.
Second, als Ruediger Falksohn, a smart German journalist put it: The world language is not English. The world language is BAD English. You do not really need to know the language extremely well. Most Americans do not.
When I get emails from the US, sometimes I feel physical pain. Even the spelling is iffy in many cases.
I have read some very nice travel blogs from non-native writers. The grammar often is a bit off, as is mine, probably.
If the content is great and the right meaning comes across, I would not bother about pitch perfect.
Thank you for your comment, Alexander.
That actually cheered me up!
I don’t have to be perfect because other
people suck at English, too 🙂
If it means anything at all, just reading through both of your comments I couldn’t tell at all that English isn’t your first language! You both sound very natural 🙂
This is pretty disheartening stuff for Christmas!
I totally see where you’re coming from though, it’s always been the same sort of blogs that are insanely popular.
My question is, what’s the next step for those who now realise they can’t get huge success through blogging. What if there is no alternative subject to write about that relates to their business?
Blogs can be successful even if they’re not “insanely popular” as long as they lead to more of the business you like doing. I followed your link to Aptitude.co.uk and the real question is can your blog help grow your client list. If that’s the the work you want to keep doing, I’m betting your blog can help explode your business! Great site by the way!
I clicked through to your website, Louise, and I see that you are in web design, graphic design, digital marketing… that’s TOTALLY a popular topic for a blog!! Think of Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Wall, A List Apart… there are tons of popular blogs in your niche. Use those as inspiration (and guest post for them)!
Great message! In my previous life, I evaluated investment opportunities and new product development for some very big companies, and the first thing my team did was evaluate the market.
Some of the hardest and most emotionally-strained meetings I had were when I had to tell influential company leaders that their idea, the one they had been dreaming about and laboring over for months, likely wouldn’t pay off.
It was never that “some” people wouldn’t buy the product or service, it was always that “not enough” people would buy.
What’s funny (in a frustratingly paradoxical way) is that now I have to have those meetings with myself!
Hi, Jon Morrow. I have a feeling that my blog may be in this category. Its a stock market blog that analyzes stocks based on futuristic trends. Do you feel that this is true?
I help manage a site for a broker, he does very well with his blog….
Not sure if I totally agree with the post itself stating that not all niches or industries will find success with blogging, a blog is just a place from which to create more content which creates more visibility and connection. I mean seriously, even a furniture store could use a blog that is at least in someway updated here and there. I think, personally, that if you are in the business of just making money via the “blog” by itself like an affiliate marketer or niche blog, I get it, but I truly believe that every business needs a blog. I mean seriously, I just set up a blog for a Bigfoot researcher and author, over 200 opt ins in the first 3 weeks….
I think everyone needs a blog, but not every niche blog will work as far as that being the only reason to have the “said” blog being for income alone… And no, longevity should not be a consideration. See, as I get older, I still like certain things, certain hobbies, not much of that has really changed. But, if it does as a few things have, there are new people being born every day, and they will have interests based around whatever, and that includes your blogs subject.
This was a great post though Jon, and it got me thinking…But, like I always say, if you are not blogging, you are missing out on more of everything the internet has to offer with traffic…
Jon, Thankfully I love my audience and look forward to hanging out with them for a long time to come. I’ve learned a lot from you over this past year. There’s always more to learn, but that’s what I love about blogging. Thank you!
Thanks for the post! I just started a parenting blog to inspire and encourage stay-at-home moms who are also trying to work from home. I’ve gone back and forth about whether it should be more narrow, for freelance writer moms like me, or if that is too small of a niche to have any real success. Thoughts?
I remember asking the question if my blog is capable of getting traffic after a bunch of people gave me negative feedback when I told them I’m going to start blogging. Good thing I didn’t listen to them, but I did forget about the question.
Thanks for revealing the 7 tests and yes there are a couple of them that I haven’t passed. But now I have a better idea of what I should focus on . I look forward to next post!
And here I am… planning the launch of my French blog :/
Years ago, I had decent success with an english blog (30-50k monthly visitors after 6 months, while I knew almost nothing about blogging), but I always felt restrained by my underwhelming english skills 🙁
I couldn’t say what I wanted to say without wasting hours looking for words or proper sentences. That was infuriating.
At some point I threw the towel.
But today, I want to start anew. Launching a new blog. Sharing knowledge and emotions. And I can’t do that with an english blog. It needs to be written in French.
So I can only hope you’re somehow wrong with your #4. Or else I’ll be betting all on a losing hand 🙁
I feel the same right now, I have blogged for 7 years, and am until now mostly a French Canadian blogger. I am becoming known but my topics are too differents, as are my readers (alternative lifestyle and parenting). For example, there are posts that are written similarly on different topics, for one no one shares, the others 2k+. I am all mixed up about what to do. I’m rocked, to say the least!
But it’s good that I pinned down with those great tips that I really want a popular blog as a funnel to my books (though one is French).
I guess I’ll keep updating my currents blogs once in a while just to keep the business going, and I’ll launch a new blog that can be popular for once.
Still have some questions to figure outl is rebranding an “old” one a good idea, to keep some of our audience? If an other language can reach 5,000,000 readers, is it still bad for what I want to do?
Thanks for the teachings!
Excellent post Jon.
I think if anything it’s given me more confidence that my -soon-to-be- blog has some potential.
I want to fill the gap between Christianity and traditional masculinity. I want to focus on self improvement for Christian men but with emphasis on all aspects from masculinity, style, Christian theology etc.
Your blog has been a constant reminder that blogging is something I want to (am going to soon) do, and take seriously.
Thanks for everything, especially for being a trustworthy source of information. Have a merry Christmas!!
Getting traffic to a new blog is a big problem, but it doesn’t have to be.
A simple method to get readers is to mention 100-200 people in every post and then let them know about it. Neil Patel grew Kissmetrics to 700k+ visits using this formula.
His Royal Awesomeness, that’s a great post. My name is Mercy, a Kenyan freelance writer, and I love visiting your site because you’ve got quite informative and engaging content.
I particularly like where you’ve specified that bloggers need to love their audience. If I keep commenting on a site’s post, and find out that the author isn’t friendly or responsive, I simply keep off.
If I like the author’s posts, I’ll just read them but won’t comment.
Wonderful article, and you hit every point that I ask myself when I’m considering getting back into blogging regularly.
It always comes down to the same question – WHY DO IT? Is it for money? For love? Why!? And here I always fall down, because I know in my heart of hearts that I don’t love it enough.
Thank you for the tough, but inspiring words.
A wedding blog can’t be popular? You don’t know the wedding industry then! 🙂
I’ve noticed that even within topics on my own blog. I’m an author so most people advise me to blog about writing, but non-writers don’t care, and I want to entertain prospective readers. So I started blogging about things to do with my genre, and my traffic increased. Seems people want lists recommending films to them more than they do blog posts about book characters or research!
You’re saying we should only blog on particular subjects, to please potential readers? Instead of blog about our passion, and post content specific to our experience, that is personalized, not generic. There’s no point in doing it then. Not enough people care about the integrity of their blog anymore, and that’s why millions of blogs about generic topics like celebrities or cooking, keep popping up, and you can tell really quickly that people aren’t writing from a place of passion or even genuine interest, and so who cares if their blog becomes popular, when they haven’t created it around something personal to them? Why settle for being like everyone else who gets attention for sucking-up to the readers, when it’s far better to stick to what you really care about, even if it’s unpopular, or a very specific subject, and if you then become popular, you have stayed true to your purpose for blogging, and you know people are relating to the real person – you – not the generic content on your blog.
Your impassioned reply made me think more about the purpose of blogging.
Are you writing for yourself or for your audience? It seems like a chicken or egg question because you don’t know if you have an audience unless you write your blog, and then if no one follows you, it’s hard to know if it’s because of your writing or because they don’t share your viewpoint.
I think the importance of writing for an audience has come into play with the rise of blogging for business. Audience is very important when going after advertising or consumers, and I think that’s why the generic topics that gain millions of followers have gained prominence.
You sound authentic and deeply engaged in writing with passion, and I hope you continue to do so. If you aren’t relying on audience for your livelihood and your writing is an outlet for you and those who follow you, then your have no pressure to be generic. I think Jon’s comments are directed to people who are writing to create an income, and he is giving them tips for how to succeed in their endeavors.
How would you differentiate your blog from a personal diary or journal? (Besides the fact that it’s posted online vs. being written in a book and kept private.)
Thanks for causing me to think about this.
Thanks for the response Mary, I don’t view my blog as a “dairy” so-to-speak, despite including personal articles about my experiences. Every article is specifically for the purpose of reflecting on something, and exploring the issue, to provide information for myself, as well as others. I don’t publish articles on a day-to-day basis, narrating my life, I carefully analyze my posts before publishing, to clarify the purpose of each one; what it provides me (as my blog is healing tool) and what it provides my readers. I understand entirely the purpose of articles like that above, but what provoked a passionate response from me, is that I think too many people, who happen have a large reader-base, and can speak directly to thousands of people through their articles, are sending the message that we should give up our passion for popularity, and it results in less and less authenticity on these websites. I think what makes someone’s service, or product, or whatever they ARE trying to make money from, appears more attractive BECAUSE they apply their personal style, experience, or passion to their writing, and their sites. I don’t know, maybe I’m in the minority, but I think it’s important to read a blog or website, and feel like you are dealing with a real person, behind the screen, who cares about what they’re writing, and shows integrity in their work.
Will keep coming back and will definitely love to see the followup of this post. And I hope that tomorrow comes soon. Its already 5th december.
I thought I was a member of your newsletter, but when I didn’t receive information about the answer yesterday, I figured I wasn’t. So I just signed up. Anyway I can get the answer the day after? Thanks.
I joined your SBO group earlier this year and then had to move on a few months ago not because your courses were anything less than awesome but because I needed to find someone who was specifically teaching strategies about how authors could build brand awareness online including through blogging.
But I expect to be back one day and I still regularly refer to your coursework from time to time. It’s too bad I can’t afford two courses right now.
Thanks for writing this great and informative blog post; I always enjoy your generosity and reading what you have to share.
Really excited at the hint that we are getting close to knowing about your new blog! I am sure all your students are as eager as I am.
Is this it?
Thanks for the valuable post, Jon. I think every blog is capable of getting traffic but what type of traffic, that is another question.
Does a blog have to be a particular niche or topic to get good traffic?
My blog is kind of a general one. I write about all kinds of things I get interested to thinking many others will be too.
This is a great compilation of of the hard truths that most new bloggers must face. I believe that you have clearly and accurately laid down the foundations of what to expect.
Well done and thanks for sharing this great blog post
Hi Jon and thanks a million for those 7 blog tests.
Wow…as an “ancient marketer” but a relatively new blogger, I think I failed at least 2 of these tests.
But at least I now know what to aim for in order to make a success of my blogging venture.
I always like to be totally open and honest so I must say that maybe I have already put a death-knell on my blog’s potential as I still have not really clarified who my blogging community should be. My niche is internet marketing but within that broad category I have yet to work out just where I should focus my attnetion.
Really appreciated the “shock treatment” you just provuded to me mate.
Best wishes from a remote little Thai village
do short story/ flash fiction blogs work?
Thank you for this post, Jon! I have thought this for quite a while, so I now feel vindicated and even better, I think I no longer have a problem writing what others call a blog. I’m a novelist and I have struggled with writing consistently, at least in part because I think of a blog as a magazine on line – Skin Diver, Field and Stream, etc – covering A topic. That was kind of strange because I never have writers block with my novels and I always have something to say. Thank you, again. Something about your post woke me in the middle of the night with a Eureka! moment.. I am no longer attempting to write a blog. I’m writing a personal journal and as such I can write about anything I want. Most posts will relate to things in the novels but the topics are all over the map. I’ve put up two posts since reading yours and two more are ready to post next week! Since the journal isn’t intended to make money itself, it is no longer a burden but fun. Strange how a name change can bestow such freedom!
Great post & well explained. Really I appreciate.Keep on posting.
With this blog posts alone. I now totally understand what you meant. It really hurts to be told by the truth but every blogger must accept the brutal facts. My blog is more inclined to startups and mid-class entrepreneurs, so I have high-hopes that it will get through as the recent trend shows that there will be more and more sprouts of new breed entrepreneurs this 2016. Just like what you said, discovering how much is already available and how you position yourself in the market are 2 essential determinant factors if you should pursue investing time on the blog itlself or not.
Reading this article made me lighten my vision to what prosperous blogging is all about and why you have to take time to gather facts, analyze and take an action upon it. Many, many thanks and surely gonna bookmark this post to keep me reminded.
Looking forward to more great contents you’ll be sharing to us! Sharing this out to my followers now!
This is the first time I read this blog (mainly because I search for ways to attract traffic to my newly-created blog). This particular post of yours actually makes me wonder if my blog could get through and serving its purpose. But anyhow, that 7 tests are really helpful. Thanks!
Gosh this is a valuable article. I’m hungry for part 2, but only just subscribed to your email list today. Any idea on when I can get my eyes on it?
Guess I’ll read prior articles in the mean time, plenty of insights around here!
I am also thinking the same thing that you explained on this article. I wrote blog posts for just getting traffic not for helping or attract people because traffic will make us earn money. Now I understand what I want to do get real and return visitors. Thanks for your precious topic. Thanks again
I am enrolled in your Guest blogging and First 10k Subscribers courses. I am a Vegetarian chef and teacher, and I want to teach the world about Sattvic foods “Sattvic” means blissful, uplifting, and healing in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian Language. I also hate recipes and believe that if people can just learn a few fundamental principals, they can use them to combine grains, proteins vegetables, fats, and spices to create almost anything delicious and nutritious!
I just don’t see where this topic fits into your specifications of creating a blog with a hard to reach measurable goal that will continue reader interest, and I’m just feeling a bit confused in general as to how a food blog can “pass the 7 tests” in terms of what a focus for it would be. In the end, would it be just me posting about what I make? Or teaching these fundamentals? How would they become measurable?
Jon, thanks for discussing this brutal truth about blogging. Choosing a niche is very important building a successful blog. If you want your blog to become successful make sure that there are people who would be interested to read and follow your blog / topic.
Traffic is Soul of every bloggers. Getting traffic these days are not easy thing. You shared your experience that is very helpful for us. Good SEO tricks and better management plan will help to drive traffic.
to get huge traffic is very hard on a website but it is good to have real traffic and Google doing these by filter the content and updating by algorithm. if your blog have good content and easy to understand you will get good traffic and your blog Could be viral on internet.
Thought of quitting early on within 3 months of starting my blog. I literally gave it up….for the next 4 months. However, after a bit of retrospection, I started niching down to couple of topics. And lo…I saw my blog traffic increase. I am happy that I looked back at what I covered and improvised.
Jon, you fill me with positivity and thank you for that. Keep writing such inspiring posts.
Depressed indeed, Jon. But not sure I agree with #3. Yes, people are only pregnant for 9 months and yes people are only planning their wedding for up to 1 year, but aren’t people getting married and pregnant every year, every month, every week, every day at least? The interest will still be there but just for a different audience.
lol, that’s me, struggling really bad for ranking my blog. I think I’ve learnt lesson here. thanks for sharing.
I skipped many steps for my first blog since i donno about them at the beginning and suffered a lot for getting traffic and when some of my friends suggested me many tips and showed my mistakes then i slowly applied every step for my blog and finally few days ago my friend suggested me this post and now iam getting more than 500/day which is enough for me now and i will try to get more and more traffic in future.Thanks for such an awesome post and i hope more post like this will help newbies like me to get traffic for their blogs.
A very honest post. I think it was hard to admit that your techniques don’t work for everyone. The problem isn’t the strategy what you teach, but certain unsuccessful niches. Still, I wonder if for a newbie it’s better to aim to be the best in a niche with a small competition, or to launch in a market where you have to compete with the big sharks. A blog can be successful even without having an extremely large number of readers.
Thank you for sharing with us something that took years of experience to find out.
You are my hero dear Morrow hitting $100000 a month is not easy, that picture truly represents me. Am strangling to get traffic to my site but things are not working, even i became an affiliate with Amazon some months back but i haven’t made any coin with my website and i no longer have a job and i love this industry . but since i have landed on this site am going to read all your content and work on your advise. thank you.
Great tips you got there. Drawing traffic in can be difficult for some people but with the right tools, skills, knowledge and mindset, giving your site that much-needed traffic will be a lot easier.
Just found your site. Great tips. I found this article very insightful. Like many people my New Year’s resolution is to increase my blog posts. Hopefully with help from your articles I can achieve that. In any case, thanks for the info and Happy New Year.
Hey Jon, that #1 point about size resonated with me. In my job as a pharmaceutical marketer, we always determine the market size first to see if it is justifiable to put in the capital and time vs. the returns we’re looking for.
One good example is there are not many players in the antibiotic eye-drops therapeutic category, because of the high cost investment like a clean room and strict GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) required. Definitely these are not frequently prescribed (maybe unless we are all living in polluted Beijing :p), as compared to say, painkillers.
I’d say you nail the first one down aptly. Market size does matters!
Thanks for the given us the seven test that a blog need to past to be successful.
Great advice, as always you get to the point and tell us how it is. That’s one of the reasons I signed up to your serious bloggers members site. I’ve been following your courses and taking your advice. Am in the early stages as yet, but it has given me a real focus. Thanks for the motivation you give us.
First of all you have written a amazing blog title and the post has read worthy content. Bu the one thing that i like the most is the Seven test of bloggers. Size and language has always helped to maintain a blog and will also do in future.
And also thanks for sharing the post.
I recently changed the tone on my blog and bought some Google ads and finally have a tiny amount of subscribers.
I am writing about content marketing but feel that oversaturation for this topic is a real possibility.
I’m still not sure who I’m writing for and that is my biggest problem so far.
Thanks for reading and I really enjoy everything you write.
This is the third time I’ve read this article 🙂
Thank you Jon;
I was always aware that it was your topic that helped determine your popularity. Even though I knew this fact and believed that (based on other blogs in the same area as my own) my blog could be successful, I never had a way to measure it.
While I do not plan to use my blog for life supporting income; your 7 question check list does reassure me that I do have a passion in an area that can procure traffic.
Now to focus on the narrower fields of traffic boosting so I can increase my humble beginnings.
Thank you again;
Must read for someone who want to improve their blog traffic.
I’m so lucky I found that website ! so much informations, very helpful. I have a question on that topic, do you know some websites where you can buy or sell internet traffic (good idea for the next post) ? I know crakrevenue.com but that’s only for the indult industry 🙂
Jon you did a great job by writing this article, let me appreciate you for that., however like the topics you said After Retirement or Wedding, Let me disagree with you, I know ample of blogs in wedding industry which are working fine and they are making money too specially with Amazon Clothing and other affiliate offers.
Thank you for sharing a informative information with us.
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Hi, The post is really awesome. Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article.