I had a conversation yesterday with someone who does a small tech blog (I offered to put a link in this article, but he prefers to remain anonymous). His problem: slow growth. Not "no growth" - people are discovering his blog and apparently at least a few must like it, because both his overall visitors and RSS readers are growing.. but only by a handful per month.
"If this were grass, it'd be a long time before the kids could play on the lawn", he sighed. I know that feeling, but just like grass, sometimes it's mostly brown dirt today and tomorrow there's green fuzz everywhere.. if you've done the right things, raked out the rocks, planted the seed and watered when you were supposed to, all it takes is a little sunshine and your lawn or your blog will grow..
I can attest to that: I've been publishing at this address for over ten years and I've had periods where growth is very slow, and then poof! up it goes in a big jump. And of course the bigger you get, the bigger even "slow growth" is: I think of "slow" now in much different terms than I did ten years ago. What is now just "ordinary" would have been lightning growth back then.
What causes those big jumps? Usually it's that some bigger site in your same niche discovers you and gives you a nice plug. Its readers are people who are interested in what you write about, and some percentage who follow the link like it well enough to keep coming back on their own. That big site is your "sunshine" - it makes the seed grow.
Yes, it is harder now than it was ten years ago. Back then there were far fewer websites on any subject; the sheer volume of competition for web eyeballs today is monstrous. It's obviously much harder for your fledging site to get noticed. However, there is a flip side: there are a lot more eyeballs. When I started publishing, most of America still didn't have email, and if they did, they were likely locked into a proprietary jail like Prodigy or early AOL: the Internet didn't really exist for them. That started changing rapidly in the late 90's and today it's startling to find someone who isn't at least aware of the Internet. You have a much larger potential audience than we early adopters could ever have imagined.
At an earlier post entitled Late to the party, I had talked about this same subject, and also mentioned that your competition often fades as quickly as it starts up - these are "lawns" that got a bit of sunshine, grew quickly, but then nobody took care of them so they died off. In fact, in that very post I mentioned a tech site that had grown from nothing to two million hits per month in just six months.. impressive, but if you look at them now, they are aparently gone: no new posts since October of 2007. That happens to a lot of blogs; people don't get the financial results they expected or run into "writer's block" and they fade away.. the grass dries up, the brown dirt returns..
I can't guarantee that you will succeed if you just keep at it. As I said at Raw volume vs. popularity, some if this is just luck: being at the right place at the right time, having someone very big notice you, hitting Digg or Stumbleupon at the right time.. but as Louis Pasteur said "Chance favors the prepared mind" - if you do give up, you have no chance of success.
I have to go dig out some weeds now.. see you tomorrow.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Anthony Lawrence
If we define Futurism as an exploration beyond accepted limits, then the nature of limiting systems becomes the first object of exploration. (Frank Herbert)