This is actually a post topic I've been mulling over for a while now. You get to a point with this type of business where you have multiple segments of readers, and even if they don't care about blogging per se – most people are at least interested in how you do whatever it is that a pro blogger does.
Some people come here for the student loan/money information, others just come here for some *hopefully* thoughtful reading in the morning, and then there are people that want to start online businesses and see how it's done.
I've been blogging for a little over two years now, and it's been full of ups and downs from the beginning. It's not like there are a bunch of professional bloggers walking around, so largely I've had to figure this bizarre business out on my own!
Read also: How I'm Growing My Blog This Year
Kinda just like anything else, you can only Google so much stuff before you just have to try things and see what works and what doesn't. Along the way, you start to understand how everything happens in the bigger picture.
Here's what the life cycle of a blog looks like:
1. Something sparks your interest
For me, it was paying off my student loans and seeing how few people could even believe that I did it. It was such a big deal for me personally, but to the people around me I think it just made me come across as some nerdy fool (that also just got “lucky”…or something like that).
The other major driving factor that caused me to start thinking about blogging in the first place was that I saw all these high school kids at my teaching job that were about to take on student loans.
It was pretty scary, and I wanted to do something about it, even if it was small.
Read also: The Reason I Quit My Job to Blog
2. Start writing
I've seen different strategies from people who have started blogs, but ultimately you just sit down and start writing about whatever you are passionate about. The first post I ever wrote was on a word document that I eventually transferred over to Medium.com, and then later this site.
Other people find blog starter guides like mine or take blogging courses and start up their site that way.
3. Spam your Facebook friends
You're super excited about your new site, so you start sharing your message with all of your Facebook friends!
This is where you learn a lot about social media in general, but especially about the vast majority of people you know.
At first – they'll love your blog. That's what happened for me. I shared some of my articles and got tons of “Wow Bobby this is so great!”, “I love your message“, etc.
Then after a few weeks…they tune out and you become an annoying spam artist to them haha.
If you have your Google analytics set up, you'll see some spikes in traffic from Facebook for a little bit, but then it starts to go away after a week or two once people's social media attention span turns off.
4. Move on to trying to grow your social media reach
Once the hype from your personal Facebook audience dies down, you have to start spreading your message elsewhere.
So, you start getting active on various platforms and ultimately find the ones you like the most. You share your articles constantly, interact with whoever will respond to your stuff, and just grind.
You'll see some good traction during this time, but it takes a while and your traffic never seems to grow fast enough.
5. You hit “the wall”
Just FYI – this is where most people stop blogging.
After creating content for a few months, it's easy to get stuck and stop writing. Most people have a normal job on top of what they are trying to do with their site, and they get frustrated putting all this time into something that isn't really making them any money.
I actually think that this can be a really good thing, because I've seen people that want to be full-time bloggers try it out and then quit, refocus, and make positive changes to the career path they were already on before they started dreaming about being a full-time blogger.
Trying something and failing/stopping can be a refreshing experience sometimes. It's like hitting the “reset” button.
There are three main types of bloggers (that I've seen so far):
- People who have a message they passionately want to share
- People who hate their job and feel like blogging full-time may be a better way to live
- People who just want something fun to do and want to be part of a community
All three are totally valid, but I do think that 1 and 3 have slightly better chances for success. Not basing that on any numbers – just a gut feeling.
6. You catch a break
This looks different for every blogger. Maybe a post goes viral, or you get featured on a big website (which is what happened for me when my wife and I were featured on CNBC last year).
If you're smart, you can take the momentum that comes from those events and use it to turn your blog into a real business.
Ultimately in blogging, traffic = income.
How much you have doesn't necessarily directly correlate to how much money you make. Some bloggers have 500,000 views/month and make $1,000,000+ per year from their site.
Some have 1,000,000 views/month and make $100,000.
It just depends on what your goals are, what kind of lifestyle you want to have, and how much work you put into various areas like advertising or creating products.
The main message in this step is that you have to keep going until you either catch a break OR slowly grow your audience over the course of several years. Blogging is NOT a “get rich quick” business model.
Like I mentioned before, most people stop at part 5 of the blogging life cycle and never reach this part.
Read also: M$M is on Business Insider!
7. Sustained growth
Once you have a large enough base audience, it becomes a lot easier to grow your following.
At this point you're probably a few years into the game. That means you know more about techniques and strategies that you'll need to grow the site, and your strategy becomes much more clear.
This is where you can really start to focus on building a community of people, which is when things really get fun.
Step 7 is probably where I am right now. I make a living doing this, I'm finding more ways to make money and diversify my income, etc. I definitely don't have everything figured out, but there is a clear plan moving forward AND a real M$M community has started to form.
Facebook is my jam right now, and I love talking to all the readers there. It's really not that huge of an audience in the grande scheme, but the engagement is very good for the size because I take the time…you know…to actually talk to people. 🙂
(A lot of bloggers don't do that because it honestly takes a ton of time to respond to your readers).
8. Branch out or sell the site
Eventually it seems that sites like this get to a crossroad, and different bloggers do different things when they get there.
You can either start doing speaking gigs and writing books while still maintaining your blog, or sell it and move on to the next cool thing. Here's a great example from my friend J Money who was recently faced with this situation (and a million dollar offer for his blog)!
OR, you can keep maintaining the site as is and grow it as much as possible.
All of the above options depend solely on the owner of the blog, which is what makes this such a cool career. There is a lot of flexibility in where you can take your business, and they are all pretty sweet options…IF you can get to that point.
Again – most people stop blogging before they actually “make it”. If you can put out content consistently that brings value to people (which is the hardest part), you at least have a puncher's chance.
Ultimately, the market will decide if you're talented enough to do it full-time.
If you're STILL interested in starting a site after reading all of this, take a look at my free blog creation guide. You'll learn everything you need to set your blog up today, and you'll also get my special pricing for M$M readers AND a free domain name.
If you just want to dip your toes in the water, you can always take my free (yes, actually free) 8 day blogging course here.