Your 10 Point Checklist to Help You Grow Your Blog

Grow your blog

For many bloggers, there are a variety of blogging goals – growing your blog, monetizing your blog, attracting more readers and more.

While the intent of setting goals is always a good one, often it can be easier said than done. Things get in the way, like life, work and more, and even the most intent blogger can soon let their goal slide.

Yet it doesn’t need to be this way. Just like any commitment, it just takes willpower and stamina. The good news for bloggers is that stamina can be replaced by a blog schedule or maintenance calendar.

With that in mind, here are 10 steps you can take to help you grow your blog .

1. Evaluate Your Blog

Every blogger has goals when they first start out. These vary depending on the blogger. It can be traffic and readers/subscribers; making money; raising awareness of your expertise; or many other reasons.

So check how you’re doing on your goals, and make a list of what you haven’t (yet) achieved.

2. Prioritize Your List

Once you have a list drawn up, start to prioritize from top to bottom in order of the things you want to achieve first.

If there are some that you feel have equal priority, think which one you could leave for another day versus one that’s really bothering you with its absence. Make that one your very top priority, or Want.

3. Build a Reverse Schedule

Now that you have your most important Want as a priority, you need to build a schedule that defines how you’re going to meet this goal. The easiest way to do this is to make it a reverse schedule.

This involves starting as if you’ve succeeded, and then work your way backwards from there to see what pain points you might meet along the way.

These could include vacations, work schedules, family events, etc – anything that takes time away from your blogging and therefore your goal. Then, adjust your goal’s finish date accordingly and make it more realistic based on the pain points.

By making something realistic, you’ll have a far better chance of achieving it.

4.  Gather the Tools

Now that you know what goal you’re going to work on first, and the time it’s going to take you, you’ll have a better idea of the tools you need to make it happen. So, for example, if it’s monetizing your blog, you may want to look at affiliate products.

If it’s gaining readers, consider an email list tool. If it’s a redesign of your blog, start looking at themes and frameworks to help you in this.

My preferred choice is the Genesis framework (affiliate link) purely because they make it easy to get going, and provide a rock-solid basis to start your blogging journey. Tools maketh the artist; choose yours wisely.

5. Set Your Success Metrics

Now that you have your Wants and Goals in mind, and the tools needed to get there, you need to set some success metrics. The reason for this is simple – if you’re not measuring your progress, you don’t know how successful you’re being. This will stop you from making necessary adjustments.

So, if your goal is to monetize, aim for X amount by month 1, then month 2, then month 3, and so on. Same for readers, subscribers, email list members, percentage of visitors from search results and more.

Keep monthly comparisons as these will help you plan an Exit Strategy.

6. Plan an Exit Strategy for Your Blogging Goals

In business, there’s an option called an Exit Strategy. This can be knowing when it’s time to sell a business, or leave a failing one. But you can also use this for your blog.

If your goals aren’t being met, sit down and ask yourself why.

  • Is your subscription box not prominent enough?
  • Have you picked the wrong affiliates?
  • Are you passionate about your topic?

Knowing where you’re failing – and why – will help you either switch paths on the fly, or cull altogether and start afresh.

7. Leave Your Blog Alone

While this might sound crazy – after all, how can you grow your blog if you leave it alone? – it’s not. When I say “Leave your blog”, I mean spend around 70-80% away from it. You should only be there when writing content and replying to comments.

The rest of the time? Promote, promote, promote.

Share on social networks; take part in #BlogChat; comment on other blogs; join communities like BlogEngage and ComLuv; and present at local and national blogging events.

Simply put, the more you get out and about and get to know other people, the more you’ll find those people come to your blog and begin to share it.

8. Have a Locked Down Hard Stop

The biggest mistake many bloggers make when trying to achieve their goals is letting them drag on for too long when they’re not working. Don’t make this mistake too.

When you have the date you want to achieve something by – the realistic one we spoke about earlier – stick to it. If it doesn’t work, it probably wasn’t meant to be, so try something new.

There’s nothing wrong with failing – failure is just another path to success. Remember this, and you’ll understand what it means to be successful.

9. Re-Evaluate and Redefine

Depending on how you prioritized your goals, you should have a good idea of how many are realistic throughout the timescale you set out to measure your success. Don’t take on too much – remember, grow your blog in one area and solidify that success, then move onto the next area.

At the end of 12 months, look back at what worked, what didn’t, and then start the process again. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint – true success comes from longevity, not a fast burn.

10. Read For Bloggers By Bloggers

Okay, hands up, this is kind of a cheeky one. Kind of. Yes, I’m biased, but I really feel we have a great collection of some of the best tips around when it comes to growing your blog, and both our core authors and contributors offer something different in how they present their tips.

We know the pain points you’re experiencing, because we’ve been through them and overcome them.

Yet we’re still learning too – and that shared experience will help you grow your blog the way you want it to. So keep on dropping by and subscribe to get the latest posts – you know it makes sense. ;-)

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  1. says

    Getting out and about the blogosphere is one of the smartest things I did. That is how you meet other bloggers and get a chance to build relationships with them. 

  2. says

    Blogger by Bloggers is one of the best resources on the web for aspiring and/or professional bloggers.The team of contributors do some excellent work there Danny. And it’s free!  Most blogging courses being peddled out there on the web can’t touch this resource.Cheers mate!

    • says

      Mark_Harai Cheers, mate, really appreciate that. While we’re about to introduce our first premium product soon, it’s complementary to the topics we cover and for beginner bloggers. Being a free resource will always be our core tenet. :)

  3. says

    I don’t why I stopped by For Blogger by Bloggers just recently… I mean you guys are plain awesome there… But yes, the other nine made so much sense too! :)

  4. rdopping says

    Solid list sir. One question (really for anyone). You suggest, promote, promote, promote……isn’t that a crappy thing to be pumping your blog all over the place? What are some acceptable ways to promote without seeming like a used car salesman? 

    • says

      rdopping Hi mate,Some of the ways you could do this include:Comment on a blog that complements a post you wrote, agreeing with the post and advising you wrote something similar (if it’s okay to share the link). Let the blogger promote for you, if they’re happy to let a link be shared.Chats like #blogchat are perfect for sharing posts – but again, ask permission first and say you have a post someone might find interesting, and if they ask for a link, share it.Be seen in comments. Make intelligent suggestions, counter arguments, etc, and suggest your blog looks at why a point of view is “wrong”. Spark the interest by creating the interest.Hope these help, mate!

        • says

          rdopping I have been getting good results with non spammy promotion. I mainly post in LinkedIn groups because I write for  B2B audience.There is no reason your blog post about content gating in a B2B context won’t get read in a B2B marketing group if your headline and blurb is good enough and you are providing thoughtful content.Blog comments are also a good idea to promote a post. I saw this post about YouTube for B2B, jumped in with a comment and mentioned that I had written a post a few days back about how YouTube’s own manual can help content creators get more views. That blog was a great traffic source.And third, as Danny mentioned, Twitter chats are great. The other day we were doing this chat about ebooks and the topic of gating ebooks came out. I again referenced a few stats and conclusions from the post and got asked by multiple people to post the link.

  5. says

    Now a days blogging is very important earning source for blogger. So it
    is badly need to popular of your blog. So this informative and
    directories blog is so helpful for all blogger. Thanks for this.

  6. says

    I was reading that in 10 years nearly 90% of all Americans will have to supplement day jobs with entrepreneurial efforts or a 2nd job just to be able to make ends meet.  It is important to start building that alternate skill set / spirit now and a blog is a great way to not only see if you like the medium but learn many new products (wordpress, SEO, Marketing…etc) and broaden your horizon and skill sets.As far as site success, content, content, content and SEO optimize it well.  Take the time to research keywords to target no matter the niche and write truly original content that demands attention and opinions, not just reprint/rehash the same crap.  It is hard in the technology field being small because I don’t get exclusives or anything, so I often have to leverage personality, opinions and editorial posts to shine through where tech specs are tech specs and bland as paper on any site you read them on.

    • says

      Hmm, some issues with the Livefyre 3 comment system:#1, @replies only let me pull people in who are in this conversation, I can’t @livefyre or @jennalanger for example and even see them show up anymore.#2, I put a space between paragraphs and they were smushed together which looks worse.

      • says

        Dragon Blogger Hmm, sorry about that, mate – I haven’t seen the issues you mention, although with it being a beta version of Livefyre, it could be experiencing some kinks? Will ping support.

        • says

          Danny Brown I already opened a ticket on getsatisfaction with them.  Testing some other formatting, so dont freak out.Seems like the only issues are with bringing people in via @ for meI can do all the other formatting, but I can’t call people in from Livefyre, Facebook or Twitter unless they are part of this conversation thread.  Maybe a moderator could and it is a limitation of being a commenter on another moderated thread?  I remember though I used to be able to contact @JMattHicks I think from Livefyre and it would show his Livefyre link on your site.

        • says

          Okay, confirmed you get a malformed content error when trying to post comment if you try to use 1 bullet and 1 number list in the same comment, not sure why anybody would but I test everything, it’s in my nature.

        • says

          Dragon Blogger Hmm, that’s a good question – perhaps the beta only allows Moderators to ping globally? Good question to have answered. One of the things I miss (and I really hope it’s a glitch) is the jumping to the specific comment from an email link. Currently it just brings you to the post itself, so you have to scroll to the comment.

        • says

          Danny Brown Hmm, another thing is that in Livefyre Comments 3 when you view html source of a page the comments no longer show in HTML source code, not sure if it is the way your blog is or the new commenting version.  This would be bad as comments existing in html source is what provides SEO benefit to articles, since when searching on Google it is good for it to be able to scan those keywords from comments as well as article.

      • says

        Dragon Blogger I got the same issues with my comment. Wanted to reference Gini Dietrich by adding a @ but could not do that. Danny Brown was however able to bring in @jenna langer (who I can’t, so I am assuming she’s not in this thread). So mods can pick up people from social networks, but Joe and Jane Commenter can’t.

    • says

      Dragon Blogger Great advice on the SEO front, mate. Given more than half the traffic here comes from organic search, I’d be crazy not to acknowledge that and lay all my eggs in the social traffic basket (and vice versa, if that was the case).I’m a big fan of the “you can never know too much” mindset, and getting your hands dirty in a few different areas keeps you up-to-speed and ahead of many of your competitors.Thanks, mate!

  7. says

    Thanks for the info. It is in reality a nice and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  8. says

    So one of my goals – or rather, the primary goal – is to raise awareness of myself as a voice in the community. I have no clue how to measure this though! Klout? 😛 (that’s me sticking my tongue out) Love to hear your thoughts on this!

    • says

      C_Pappas Don’t mean to interject but saw your comment while I was leaving mine above. I think one way to determine how influential you and your voice are within the community, besides a Klout score, is by seeing the type of impact your blog posts are making on the community itself. How many comments are your receiving and how many times are people willing to reshare your content? If your community begins to see you in a more “influential” role, then they will be more inclined to comment and share your work. Comments and shares also mean that your blog posts are hitting the right spots with your community and you are headed in the right direction! Hope my interjection helps a little :) 

  9. says

    I love #7 — so counterintuitive, but so very true. I think a lot of people assume that spending several hours tweaking their blog’s layout and design will have a positive impact on readership, but in reality, it’s self-promotion away from their blog that will ultimately have the greatest benefit for the blog! 

    • says

      annedreshfield Hey there Anne,Great to see you over here, miss, cheers! Agree – we often get sucked into the mindset that our blogs are the be all and end all of our blogging world, but there’s so much more to see and relate to (and people to connect with) once we step outside. :)

  10. says

    I think my biggest issue has been that I have no set in stone any real strategy that I want to use for my blog. I have no real writing strategy or promotion strategy and am rather just more going with the flow of things. I definitely think it’s time for me to sit down and nail down my goals and how I plan to achieve them.

    • says

      anandp29 I think we all do that, mate, especially at the start. But, yes, once you lock down your real goal(s) and how you’re going to get there, it makes the world of difference.

  11. says

    Danny Brown “There’s nothing wrong with failing – failure is just another path to success”This is excellent and something I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about recently.  I’ve been trying to test more on my website… ABT… Always be Testing.  If you fail and learn while testing… You haven’t really failed.Thanks!!Ryan H.

    • says

      Ryan Hanley That’s the beauty of blogging, mate – there’s never a bad time to test, and your community will (usually) appreciate the fact you’re doing so to make the end experience better.Cheers!

  12. HomeTreadmill says

    i like point 7. Leave Your Blog Alone! that’s right.. promote is a part of “golden key” for traffic… thanks Danny…

  13. says

    And once again, your post has come at a perfect time! I’m starting to get a little freaked out that somehow you’re seeing what I’m working on and when I’m stuck, you think, hmmm let me write a post about that. We’ve been moving through the strategy process for a new marketing program (and yes, you are on my list to follow up regarding our FB messages!) and this list couldn’t have come at better time. The reverse schedule idea is genius! I just got back from vacation and didn’t factor in how much time I lost. It’s now put me at least 2 weeks behind our planned schedule as I’m spending this week to get caught up on everything I missed last week. LOVE this list and will be passing this along to my team to get us back on track. AND #10 … well you know, I’m a big reader of the bloggers but quite the slacker when it comes to commenting. I’m going to make more of an effort to join in rather then just commenting to myself :)

    • says

      penneyfox Hey there Penney,You know I got HowieSPM to sneak a chip inside you, and then have Mark_Harai track your movements from the wispy confines of Costa Rica, right? ;-)The reverse schedule is something I’ve used every time when either setting up a blog project of my own, or when advising or consulting new bloggers. It’s such a simple solution and yet one that often gets bypassed, and then that leaves them frustrated when things go wrong, the blog suffers and the blogger gives us.And yes, i notice you’re getting a wee bitty more active over there – cheers! :)

      • says

        Danny Brown I KNEW it …. I knew there was something! How you got HowieSPM to slip in that chip is beyond me but now the truth comes out. Whew … and I thought I was just losing my mind :)

  14. says

    I know of the reverse schedule thing when it came to new year
    resolutions but applying this to your blogging goals is brilliant. Why
    didn’t I think of that?Promoting is also something most bloggers
    don’t do. I attended a webinar by Derek Halpern where he suggested an
    80-20 split between promoting and writing.  I followed his advice and
    changed nothing in terms of writing- same length, same style but saw a
    bump of ~500% in social shares and activity. As long as you space
    yourself out and don’t get too spammy, you should do good (my experience
    so far)Building relationships is also crucial. A lot of my
    traffic came because @ginidietrich RT’d a couple of posts and that
    helped my content get exposed to newer audiences.  So if you are
    reading, thanks again, you nutrient soaked towel carrying lady :)BTW What’s your opinion of Triberr, mate?

    • says

      bhas Oh, that Derek Halpern is one smart cookie all right, mate – we’ve had a great back and forth over blog ideas and best practices, good stuff. :)I was in Triberr, but found that people started to ignore the links from Triberr over more organic ones. It’s definitely a useful service, but I just found (for me) what I was doing normally was working. I may revisit sometime as I hear they’ve changed up how it works.

  15. says

    Very timely information – and it really rings true.  So much goes into blogging success that it can be easy to get lost in the technology shuffle.  Thanks!

  16. says

    It is vital to have a plan for a blog that defines where you want it to go and how you intend to get there. It is surprising how many people just jump in with little or no idea of what they want to get back for their efforts. That said, it is just as important that the plan is flexible enough so that you can change tactics as new things and new possibilities present themselves. Having an exit strategy is a great piece of advice that most bloggers won’t have even considered.

  17. Jacki says

    It is really a challenge to grow your blog if you only have no one but yourself in doing all the work. It takes solid discipline and energy to follow a schedule, especially when it comes to promoting your blog online and offline. It is really best for bloggers like me to get a little help, as I need other’s expertise and skills in helping my blog grow more in terms of visits and online following.

  18. Jacki says

    It is really a challenge to grow your blog if you only have no one but yourself in doing all the work. It takes solid discipline and energy to follow a schedule, especially when it comes to promoting your blog online and offline. It is really best for bloggers like me to get a little help, as I need other’s expertise and skills in helping my blog grow more in terms of visits and online following.