How Long Does It Take to Grow a Successful Blog?

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I recently received an email from a reader who asked “how long does it take to grow a successful blog?”

There are far more experienced bloggers with larger audiences who could answer this question better than me, but I do have a couple thoughts to share on this topic.

First off, it depends on how we define a “successful blog.” Do we measure it by page views, subscribers, comments, Google rank, blog income, or by some other metric?

Depending on how you define “successful”, it can be tricky to answer this question. The best I can offer is a behind-the-scenes look at some of my own stats to shed some light on my blogging journey so far.

Page Views

I started this blog in August of 2016, but I didn’t start publishing articles on a regular basis until November of 2016. Here is a recap of my page views during the 17 months I have spent blogging since then:

First five months (Nov. 2016 – Mar. 2017) – 63,000 page views

Second six months (Apr. 2017 – Sept. 2017) – 136,000 page views

Last six months (Oct. 2017 – Mar. 2018) – 237,000 page views

So, if you define “successful” as 10,000 page views per month, I reached that point in under six months. If you define it as 20,000 page views per month, that took about a year. Or if you define it as 40,000 per month, that took about a year and a half. 

If you define “success” as more than 40,000 views per month, I couldn’t tell you how long that takes because I haven’t reached that point yet.

Income 

Some people might define a “successful blog” as one that earns income. I personally monetize this blog through a combination of ads and affiliate links. Here’s a peek at my total blog earnings over the same time frames:

First five months (Nov. 2016 – Mar. 2017) – $0

Second six months (Apr. 2017 – Sept. 2017) – $1,323

Last six months (Oct. 2017 – Mar. 2018) – $2,279

This means it took over one year of blogging consistently to earn more than a couple hundred bucks per month.

Why You Should (and shouldn’t) Start a Blog

When someone asks me if they should start a blog, I almost always say yes. But not for the reasons you might think.

You probably shouldn’t start a blog with the expectation that you can build a large following or earn a sustainable income in less than one year. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible – I have seen a few bloggers do it – but it’s rare. 

Instead, you should start a blog for these reasons:

1. Use the blog to increase your knowledge in a topic.

The best way to develop mastery in a topic is to teach it to someone. You might think you know a lot about a field – personal finance, sports, mental health – but you’ll really increase and deepen your knowledge of that field by writing about it. Writing forces you to organize and explain your thoughts in a clear manner. It also forces you to do research to fill in any knowledge gaps you may have.

2. Use the blog as leverage.

Earning money directly from your blog is hard work. This is why, for many bloggers, the real monetary value comes from using their blog as a “proof of work” they can leverage to gain freelance writing and speaking gigs on their topic.

When reaching out for freelance gigs, it helps to point to your own blog to show off your writing skills and prove that you’re a thought leader in your field.

3. Develop relationships with like-minded people.

Arguably the biggest perk of starting a blog is being able to meet like-minded people. I have met so many great writers of other personal finance sites and built relationships with people purely over the internet through blogging.

While being a personal finance nerd might be weird and unusual in the real world, there is a whole community of like-minded people who geek out about money to chat with online. Starting a blog gave me a platform I could use to join this community.

4. Pick up a plethora of unexpected skills.

Lastly, starting a blog will force you to learn unexpected skills. SEO. Writing. Editing. HTML. Web hosting. Marketing. Maintaining Email Lists. 

I have personally improved my Excel and JavaScript skills as well, since those are the tools I use to build most of my visualizations.

Blogging is Truly a Marathon

There is one last point I want to drive home: blogging is a marathon. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You’re almost guaranteed to be a nobody during your entire first year of blogging, with few page views and little income. This is why most blogs die out before they turn one year old. 

This is also why it’s important to manage your expectations when you first start blogging. Don’t expect overnight success. The most well-known blogs have been around for years. I can almost guarantee that any popular blog you enjoy reading has been around for much longer than you think.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite blogs I read on a regular basis. I searched the archives of each of these sites and located the first blog post written. I was shocked at how long some of these sites have been around.

A Few of My Favorite Blogs
Blog Date Created Blog Age
Crossing Wall Street 2005  14 years old
Austin Kleon 2005 14 years old
Get Rich Slowly 2006 13 years old
FlowingData 2007 12 years old
Ryan Holiday 2007 12 years old
Zen Habits 2007 12 years old
Budgets are Sexy 2008 11 years old
Financial Samurai 2009 10 years old
Farnam Street 2009 10 years old
Raptitude 2009 10 years old
Retire by 40 2010 9 years old
The Minimalists 2010 9 years old
JL Collins 2011 8 years old
Cait Flanders 2011 8 years old
Semi-Rad 2011 8 years old
Mad Fientist 2012 7 years old

The youngest site on this list is a whopping seven years old.

This puts things in perspective. Making a name for yourself in the blogging world takes years or decades, not weeks or months. 

Conclusion

So, how long does it take to grow a successful blog?

If you define “success” as page views or blog income, the answer is: probably longer than you think. 

If you define “success” as building relationships, improving writing skills, and creating a platform to use as leverage for freelance gigs, the answer is: probably not as long as you think. 

I think everyone should start a blog. Personally I have found it to be both more difficult and more rewarding than I expected.

If you’re interested in starting your own blog, check out the steps I took myself to create mine.


My favorite free financial tool I use is Personal Capital. I use it to track my net worth, manage my spending, and keep an eye on my monthly cash flow. It only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes tracking your finances simple and easy. I recommend trying it out.

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7 Replies to “How Long Does It Take to Grow a Successful Blog?”

  1. I think #s 3 and 4 are definitely the best parts of blogging, at least for me. If you’re trying to blog as a business, that’s one thing. In that case it’s probably worth trying to maximize page views and revenue as quickly as possible. Otherwise, though, I think it’s useful to define “success” with more internal metrics: am I enjoying this, am I growing as a writer and as a person, am I making connections with other people, etc. Ultimately it comes down to defining why you’re interested in blogging and then measuring your success against that, but I think internal metrics are often a lot more useful because they’e the ones you have the most control over.

  2. I’m trying to consistently cross over to 40k pageviews a month but I’m thinking summer is going to smack me down to 30k pageviews….which is fine….*hides tears*

    Blogging is hard because it’s tied to the ego and I must say…some bloggers like me, we just compare too much. The marathon doesn’t end so comparisons = means nothing. All you can do is learn something. Which brings back your conclusion, blogging is amazing because you build these crazy awesome skills!!

  3. Those are some great page view numbers. Especially so quickly! Who knows what success really is. Does it make you happy? That’s where I’m at.

  4. I agree that if you define success as page views and monetization, you likely won’t have a good experience with blogging (it’s an uphill battle), but all the other rewards you noted are far more than I ever expected to get and despite not having the page views or monetization you’ve achieved, I still consider myself a successful blogger because I’ve been successfully at bettering myself. That run on sentence is probably why I don’t have the page views you have. 🙂

  5. Nice four.

    Seems like you have had great success. I analyze my page views more than I should for sure.

    I agree about learning a tonne about what you are blogging about and the community being solid.

    I cant believe how much the community as a whole helps ya and improves you.

    That is the biggest reason why I recommend people starting their own website.

    Cheers!

  6. I’m just getting into some of the material on your blog and I want to explore the visualization stuff. I love data visualization and obsess over making clean charts.
    I also like your writing style – clean and uncluttered!
    I’m shy of 10k monthly views. Which is fine. It’s a marathon and not a sprint!
    Keep up the good work!

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