One Key to Blogging Success That Gets Little Respect

Everyone knows that compelling content – storytelling with a point of view – brings readers to a blog.

Everyone knows that applying search engine optimization (SEO) expands readership for a blog.

But no one talks about patience.

I suppose patience isn’t very glamorous.

Our society gravitates toward instant gratification and speed. Usain Bolt has become a global brand, but do you know who won the marathon at the London Olympics?

My personal experience in building a blog demonstrates the power of patience.

I started blogging in November 2008. As you can see in the graphic below, it was a tough slog in the early going:

storytelling blog audience overview in Google Analytics

For more than a year, my readership consisted of my mom, friends and a few lost stragglers. It was a humbling experience.

Thinking about the Albert Einstein line, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result, I decided to try some new things at the start of 2010, not the least being to post on a more consistent basis.

The first real breakthrough came in early September 2010 when a friend and colleague, Steve Farnsworth, a.k.a. @Steveology, asked me to participate in an experiment. Steve, Todd Defren and Paul Roberts and I wrote on four different communication topics over a four-week span. Thanks to these colleagues pointing their readers in my direction, I saw a significant jump in traffic that didn’t disappear after the 4/4/4/ series ended.

Since that time, it’s been a slow, albeit satisfying grind to build the traffic to what I consider to be meaningful (not that my mom isn’t meaningful).

I thought the No. 1 factor behind the growth was the return visitors.

Not true.

Check out a breakdown of traffic sources in 2010 compared to 2012 (through Oct. 31)

storytelling blog traffic sources in Google Analytics

Traffic from organic search has almost doubled in less than two years.

That’s what I mean by patience.

It takes patience to stockpile enough content to bring more relevant readers to your blog.

Nieman Lab discussed the challenge for media properties with readers increasingly arriving through their side doors, not the home page. They’re often searching on a timely news topic. As media properties strive to appease the search engine gods, a certain commoditization of news has occurred.

Bloggers don’t have to go down this route.

The beauty of effective blogging is that much of your content over time will relate to an evergreen topic with relevance to your target audience, which results in people finding your posts months or even years later.

Thanks to search, the viewed pages on my blog in 2012 through October have roughly doubled the total number of page views in 2010.

It just took a little patience.

By the way, the winner of marathon at the London Olympics was Stephen Kiprotich.

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5 comments

5 Comments so far

  1. [...] Include the executive team – it helps to have an internal champion in the boardroom, especially to manage expectations and encourage patience. [...]

  2. Lucille Ossai January 15th, 2013 1:25 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I completely agree with you!

    I started blogging in March 2012 and I’m trying to stay true to my vision of keeping posts related to business communications and workplace dynamics, serious themes and a niche section, which not many may initially read. This is because my articles tend to be longer than average posts and not focussed on entertainment.

    Still I have persevered and I get viewers from virtually around the globe! I wish people would take time out to post comments though.

    Nice post and keep it up! You really get us bloggers :)

  3. hoffman January 15th, 2013 1:48 pm

    I’m glad you found us and took the time to comment.

    When you really think about it, it’s pretty amazing and I’m sure satisfying to readers from all over the world.

    I’ve noticed that some bloggers cultivate a community that’s very active on every post.

    I don’t have that gift (or personality).

    Still, I think moving readers to any type of interaction (Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, posted comment, LinkedIn, etc.) is a better indicator of engagement than just posted comments.

    Good luck in 2013!

  4. Sudakshina Bhattacharjee May 2nd, 2013 4:04 am

    Hello Lou,

    Indeed, corporate blogging is a unique and I daresay intriguing sort of communication medium that balances levels of formality and informality together.
    I’ve written about company blogging in a new book on business communications, called Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating across Borders (Kogan Page, 2012)
    I would be delighted if you could review it!

  5. hoffman May 2nd, 2013 7:40 am

    Sudakshina,

    Appreciate you taking the time to add your perspective.

    I originally thought this forum would include one book review every quarter starting to Guber’s “Tell To Win” which I wrote on 2/12/11. Unfortunately, that was the last book review I wrote; hence, the stack of books on my night stand.

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