Conventional wisdom states that A blog Is built through work and slowly building up readers, conventional wisdom may be wrong.
Actually that is not entirely true. Conventional wisdom is correct that it takes daily work to create a great blog. It is correct that it takes time to build a decent readership. But what you don’t hear often, is that once you have established your readership base, you can break out, and your visitors can increase dramatically practically overnight.
Looking up the Alexa stats on each of them, and panning back in time to where they got started gives a great demonstration of where they broke out.
Alexa Rankings for Problogger
Problogger started out strong, and within the first 6 month had an Alexa traffic reach of .02. (For comparison Savvy Affiliate has a current reach, May 2007, of .002 ) However for the next 6 months, the end of 2005 through the beginning of 2006, Problogger’s traffic reach went stagnant. Then he had his breakout. Overnight his daily reach more than doubled, took a bit of a dip, and then surged ahead. We can see this pattern repeat time and again with the other bloggers
Alexa Ranks for John Chow
John’s surge in traffic may be the most dramatic of any I examined. He was hovering around .005, not too different than your average PR 4 blog, and his traffic shot up overnight. I’m told that this was due through judicious use of an AdWords campaign on sites such as Problogger, but am saving investigating causes of breakouts for my next article.
Looking at ShoeMoney, you can see a more gradual surge, but still a clear breakout pattern
Shoe spent 6 months hovering at a daily reach of .01, and then in the span of the next 6 months increased his traffic by a factor of 10. Although that has dropped off slightly, Shoemoney is still a strong force in the blogging community.
Finally Steve Pavlina has a blog which might be the most profitable of any yet listed (He reports 40K/month earnings). Did he get there through a steady increase in readership? Nope, once again he plateaued and managed to break out in a surge
Although the exact reasons behind each surge will be examined later, there are several conclusions one can draw from looking at these charts
1) The right content / marketing can drive a surge of visitors - Clearly all of these bloggers benefited from either viral content of some kind, or smart, aggressive marketing. I personally read each blog and know that they are all well written, spawn lots of content, and have interesting/unique personalities. However without the idea / marketing that they did to generate their surge of visitors they may not be considered “A List” bloggers today. (Although I would argue if they had missed one opportunity, they would create another for themselves)
2) Sites need a base traffic level before they can surge - In each of these cases, all four sites had moderately strong traffic ( ~.01 Daily Reach) before they surged. They each seemed to reach their initial traffic levels through sustained growth. The fact that they had a base traffic enabled their surge. The moderate daily reach would be essential to get traffic due to viral blog links. If their initial traffic was too low, no matter how exciting a blog post they wrote, not enough bloggers would see it to drive a surge. The bottom line, if your site is still very low on the traffic scale ( < 200 uniques per day ) you should focus on growing your site through common SEO and content generation techniques, rather than trying to break out.
3) A surge needs to be sustained - In each case, after the initial spike in traffic, there a downswing in visitors. However the reason that you know each blogger know, the reason that they are “A List” bloggers, is that they were able to sustain their visitors and keep them coming back. It would do a site no good to have only 1 good article. Readers would come, perhaps even subscribe, but would stop coming back when no more gold was forthcoming. After you get a surge in visitors is the most important time to write quality content! If you ever see a spike in readership, that is when you need to put out your best work. Spend extra time writing more articles and making each interesting. Take time away from your SEO tasks and your site design to sustain your visitors. Once you have gotten each hooked on the site you can go back to a more normal routine. Until then, you must treat each as valuable and work hard to retain them.
Any thoughts on how you might attempt to kick your blog out of a rut? Would a viral article or an intelligent, aggressive marketing campaign work better?