4 min read
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.