10-point checklist to grow your blog

Blogging entails more than just writing a post and hitting ‘publish.’ Setting objectives and a time frame for achieving them is just the beginning.

For many bloggers, there are multiple goals—monetizing your blog, attracting more readers, and more.

Though the intent of setting goals is always a good one, it’s often easier said than done. Things like life and work get in the way, and even the best-intentioned bloggers can let their goals slide.

It doesn’t need to be this way. As with any commitment, it takes will power and stamina. The good news is that stamina can be replaced by a blog schedule or maintenance calendar.

With that in mind, here are 10 steps to grow your blog.

1. Evaluate your blog. Every blogger has goals when they 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, prioritize.

If there are some that you feel have equal priority, think which one you could leave for another day versus one whose absence really bothers you. Make that your highest priority, or Want.

3. Build a reverse schedule. Now that you have identified your most important Want, build a schedule that defines how you’ll attain it. The most effective is a reverse schedule.

This involves starting as if you’ve succeeded, and then work your way backward from there to see what pain points exist along the way. These could include vacations, work schedules, family events, etc.—anything that takes time away from your blogging and, therefore, your goal.

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’ll 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.

My preferred choice is the Genesis framework, because it provides a rock-solid basis to start your blogging journey. Tools make 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 success metrics. The reason is simple: If you’re not measuring your progress, you won’t know how successful you are. This will hinder your making necessary adjustments.

If your goal is to monetize, aim for X amount by month No. 1, then month No. 2, then month No. 3, and so on. Same for readers, subscribers, email list members, percentage of visitors from search results, and more.

Keep monthly comparisons to help you plan an Exit Strategy.

6. Plan an Exit Strategy for your blogging goals. In business, an Exit Strategy can entail knowing when to sell a business or leave a failing one. You can also use one for your blog.

If your goals aren’t being met, ask yourself why not. For example:

  • 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 bail out altogether and start afresh.

7. Leave your blog alone. Though this might sound crazy—after all, how can you grow your blog if you leave it alone? It’s not crazy. When I say “Leave your blog alone,” I mean spend 70 to 80 percent of your time 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 such as BlogEngage and ComLuv, and present at local and national blogging events.

Simply put, the more you get out and get to know people, the more you’ll find those people come to your blog and 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 when they’re not working. Don’t make that mistake.

When you have the date by which you want to achieve something—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. Reevaluate and redefine. Depending on how you prioritized your goals, you should have a good idea of how many are realistic throughout the time scale you set out to measure your success. Don’t take on too much: Grow your blog in one area and solidify that success, then move onto the next area.

After 12 months, look back at what worked and 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. OK, hands up, this is kind of a cheeky one. 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 have overcome them.

Danny Brown is vice president of product intelligence at Jugnoo. He blogs at DannyBrown.me, where a version of this article originally ran.

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