How Long Does It Truly Take For A Business Blog To Grow Big?

by Marcus Sheridan

Over the past year I’ve talked to hundreds of business owners and bloggers about success in this field, and inevitably everyone asks the exact same derivative of this question within the first 10 minutes of conversation:

“OK, assuming we do all of this stuff, how long with it take for our blog to grow, produce results, and make sales?”

Ahhh yes, a dang good question indeed.

Despite what any ‘SEO hack‘ might tell you, the only answer to this question is, “It all depends.”

And possibly more than anything, it depends on a very important indicator that I like to call ‘CSI’, or otherwise stated, an industry’s Content Saturation Index.

To make CSI easy to understand, it works like this—The more content an industry/niche has written about it, the harder it is for a blog to make headway and find success in that field.

And when an industry has very little online content available to the masses, it can often be gobbled up within almost no time at all.

Let me give you an example of both extremes.

River Pools and Spas: Skyrocketing to Success Through Content

In March of 2009, I started blogging for my swimming pool company. At the time, less than 20% of our website traffic was ‘organic’ (free through search). The rest came from PPC (Pay Per Click) and ‘direct’. Within 6 months, and after blogging 2-3 times a week, there was a significant shift in our numbers and the organic traffic started to grow dramatically. It was also during this time we started to experience more leads and sales because of this new found traffic.

Within 18 months, the blog had elevated the website to an elite status in the swimming pool industry. By now, the long-tail keyword campaigns were paying huge dividends. Within hours of writing an article with specific keyword goals, we were showing up on the first page of Google. This success also enabled us to cut all of our old-school advertising and go 100% ‘all-in’ with blogging/content marketing.

But keep in mind, all of this would not have been possible had the CSI of the swimming pool industry not been so low. In other words, because so many ‘pool guys’ had zero interest in producing great content on their websites to teach the masses, it left a field wide open for someone like me to come in and have a complete harvest. (Note** I still had to be strategic and smart in terms of topics, SEO, etc.)

And believe it or not, to this day there are many, many industries (especially blue-collar fields) that greatly lack content on the web, and are just waiting for someone (like YOU) to come along and take the bull by the horns and quickly rise to the top.

The Sales Lion: A Slow Rise to Success

On the reverse side of the coin, let’s take a look at The Sales Lion.

In a field focused on blogging, marketing, and business tips; you can imagine just how much content is currently out there. The amount of folks writing about this stuff is growing by the day, which is one reason why so many bloggers and businesses struggle to stand out in the fields of marketing, self-improvement, sales, etc.

I started The Sales Lion in November of 2009. At the time, I naturally figured I’d just walk right in, just as I’d done in the swimming pool industry, and dominate.

Boy was I wrong.

For the first year, this blog grew very little. In fact, it really wasn’t until I woke up and started working much harder on my networking that things finally picked up around the beginning of 2011. Luckily for me, I wasn’t dependent on The Sales Lion to pay my bills during this time period, otherwise I would have gone broke.

But by midway 2011, two very important things started happening:

1. Companies started contacting me for inbound/content marketing help.

2. Conferences started contacting me to speak at their events.

Finally, after almost 20 months of diligently blogging 2-3 times per week, the Law of Momentum had started to work its magic. The relationships built were paying off. Organic search was actually growing. And a business was starting to form and take shape.

But explaining why things took so much longer to happen for The Sales Lion is again because of the content saturation index being so very, very high in this industry.

And whenever this occurs, solid content is usually not enough to get a blog going. In fact, as I’ve stated on other occasions, beyond networking I’d strongly suggest bloggers embrace these two core skill-sets:

1. Learning how to write articles for SEO, especially when it comes to proper blog titles.

2. Learn to be a blogging rebel in your industry. Talk about stuff no one else is willing to talk about.

No matter what an industry’s CSI is, if these two needs are not met as well, a blog will likely experience little success.

Yes, But How Long Will it Take??

Before I close this little post, I know some of you still are wondering what the average amount of time is needed for a business blog to show an increase in web traffic, leads, and sales. And although there are countless factors that go into this question, I would say the average for most companies, who intelligently blog at least 2-3 times per week, is 6-12 months.

Again, that’s an average, but it seems to be the most common number after tracking the success of my clients and other companies over the past 2 years.

Despite this average though, short term results are absolutely possible as well. For example, you could write a blog post today (your first one even) that ranks well for a particular keyword phrase tomorrow, which then leads to a web visitor that same day, who then fills out a form on your website, who then becomes a customer a few days later.

Not only have I seen this scenario many times with both my companies, but every business I’ve worked with that has truly embraced a culture of consistent content marketing has experienced the same as well.

The Bottom Line

All this being said, really the most important aspect to the question of ‘How long will it take’ comes down to actually getting started and doing something. Unless you start producing content and pushing it out there to the masses, you’ll never know about time, be it short or long term.

But this much is for certain—You need to start. And if you do, and do it well, the rest will fall into place.

Your Turn:

I’ve got one question I’d really love to hear from each of you today: How long has it taken for you to find blogging success in your industry? If you could, name the industry you’re in and the number of months (estimate) it took to see solid, consistent results. (Feel free to include your URL, and if it gets caught in SPAM, I’ll make sure to get it out.)

Also, if you’ve yet to experience the success you’re looking for and you feel there is something wrong, go ahead and write your blog’s URL and tell us why you think you’re falling short. This will also allow those in the community an opportunity to give you thoughts and feedback as well.

Download your FREE copy of my 230 Page Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy eBook now and start reading in 60 seconds!

Important Note***: Some of you likely remember an article I wrote here on TSL a few weeks back entitled: Why the Inbound Vs. Content Marketing Debate is Stupid…and What Gives Hubspot?? . Well, because of the powerful debate and conversation that occurred in the comments section of this post, Phil Donaldson of Propel Growth was inspired to organize a ‘meeting of the minds’, and discuss this topic of Inbound vs. Content Marketing. Therefore, there is a FREE webinar tomorrow that will discuss this topic and the panel will include Mike Volpe, CMO of Inbound Marketing at Hubspot, Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute, Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions and myself as well. For those of you interested in signing up to listen in to the discussion on this very interesting topic, please just go here. (Again, it’s FREE and no one will try to sell you anything. We’re doing this because it’s a topic that is growing so fast that it needs to be addressed. So please join the conversation.)

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{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Baer January 23, 2012 at

My experience is actually the same. 6-12 months to start getting real momentum. HOWEVER, that requires you to put real effort into off-blog engagement. You have to build your network, participate in communities, guest posting, etc. You can’t just write 3 good blog posts per day and hope that Google works its magic eventually. I find that’s the #1 most overlooked element of blogging success: not spending enough time on other people’s blogs.

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Raul January 23, 2012 at

Whoa, my good friend Jay Baer commenting here :) that’s awesome. I agree with Jay’s point – commenting on other bloggers’ blogs increases readership. My experience, however, is not 12 months but 18-24.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

I wouldn’t disagree with that at all Raul. Certainly, in the tougher industries with a high CSI, 18-24 months is not uncommon.

As for commenting on other blogs, it’s certainly one of many ‘other’ ways to network and build community.

Thanks so much for dropping by Raul, appreciate the support!

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Glad to see we’re on the same page Jay ;-)

Question for you man, if you have a second to answer this: How much time should one spend? (percentage would work here well)

Like you, I’m always struggling to balance things, prioritize them, and utilize each moment wisely….so it’s certainly a subject that interests me.

Thanks bud,

Marcus

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Jay Baer January 24, 2012 at

For the first 12 months, I spent at least one hour per day (often closer to 2) commenting, engaging, etc. I wish I could say I still spent that much time, but I don’t. Probably closer to 30 minutes per day now. Which I guess is still pretty significant in the grand scheme of things.

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Marjorie Clayman January 24, 2012 at

I would just toss something out there for any super new folks to the online space.

When we say that commenting on blogs is important, that’s 100% true. But expectations need to be realistic. You can go and comment on huge blogs every day, but if you are doing that because you want to get on the radar of a big-name person, you are very likely to be disappointed. One of the greatest things to come out of my commenting on blogs is that I started talking to other commenters. In some rare cases (cough, Jay, cough) the blogger I admired also responded, but commenting on a blog to get on a person’s radar is not a best practice in my opinion.

Also, commenting on blogs means more than just saying, “I really dig this post.” You have to be your really real true self when you comment, just as you should be on your own blog. That is how people get to know you (whether they want to or not :) )

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Jay Baer January 24, 2012 at

Good point Margie. Let me make that even more clear. If you are blog commenting to get on the radar of the blog OWNER, you will often be disappointed. If you are blog commenting to get on the radar of the blog COMMUNITY, you will be much happier.

And in all cases, you have to add something meaningful to the conversation.

One more thing, if you’re going to do blog commenting, get in the habit of getting up early to do it. Being comment 2 is a lot more valuable than being comment 42.

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Neicole Crepeau January 24, 2012 at

Agree with that. As a west coaster, I often find myself at a disadvantage. I usually get up and start reading posts, curating, and commenting in between getting my kids off to school. That’s about 7am my time, but most of the posts have already been live for two or three hours by then. So if it’s a popular post, my comments are down at the bottom.

It also makes it harder to respond when I guest blog on east coaster’s blogs.

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Rachel Poling January 28, 2012 at

I’m at the same disadvantage, being a west coaster. I find it hard to do many of the things necessary to the blogging/social media world because I’m both a night person and a west coaster. I’ll stop my pity party now. :-)

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Jack January 25, 2012 at

My experience has been different. The “quality” or “novelty” of my comment has more of an affect upon response than which number it is.

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Martin January 25, 2012 at

Sure Jay, you really need to promote the blog in between all of these.

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Renee | Beauty Fool January 23, 2012 at

Excellent post, Marcus. (As usual!). I really enjoyed reading it. :)

I started a beauty blog back in 2004 and I was one of a handful of them, so my blog grew extremely quickly. Unfortunately I was quite the fickle 17 year old, and one day got annoyed oevr something and closed the whole thing down – biggest mistake! I missed blogging so much and started my new (current) one in 2008, but by then it was kinda too late – there were (and are) millions upon millions of beauty blogs. Though my blog now has overtook my old blog in terms of traffic, opportunities, etc, I’d say it took almost 3 years to reach this level, and took around 2.5 years to “overtake” my old blog – so it really does take time!

Have a great day!
x Renee

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Renee | Beauty Fool January 23, 2012 at

Oops, I meant 2005. I suck at Math :D

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Wow Renee, I bet you really are kicking yourself! But hey, you’re back at it, and that’s awesome…Go girl!!

Marcus

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Katie January 23, 2012 at

I just started at my company in October & they already had a blog going so there was an audience. The woman here before me wrote more technical pieces. A lot of my blogs have definitely generated traffic. It’s exciting when one blog gets a ton of reads too. I didn’t think I’d get so excited, but I do.

I recently (last week) started my own business and am currently creating a blog page… it’s going slow to say the least! lol

I think if you promote your blog through social media outlets, they will eventually gain you traffic and hopefully a lead. I think of blogs more as “reputation builders” and not so much “lead generators”!

Have a great week.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Honestly Katie, I do hope you get to the point where you see your blog as a lead generator. Both of mine garner huge amounts of leads, and without them, my sales numbers for both businesses would be much, much lower.

So keep up the great work and I look forward to hearing from you in a few more months to see how that blog is coming along. ;-)

Marcus

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Adarsh Thampy January 23, 2012 at

Marcus,

You really bring up some important points. The time to emerge as an industry leader (or at least get noticed) is increasing each day as competition is growing exponentially.

I’d say that 6-12 months is a fair time frame for companies to start seeing any benefit for their inbound marketing effort.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Yep, can you imagine what it’s going to be like in 10 years Adarsh??

Gonna be tough my man. ;-)

Thanks for dropping by bud,

Marcus

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Adarsh Thampy January 24, 2012 at

10 years ago blogging didn’t exist (Or existed in it’s initial Stage). So we never know what’s going to be mainstream 10 years from now on. Maybe inbound marketing would be dead by then. Who knows. Let’s wait and find out :)

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Dave Marciniak January 23, 2012 at

Marcus, I couldn’t agree more with the “it depends”. My blog has gone in fits and starts and I finally found my voice last year, which made blogging way more enjoyable. I’m definitely one of those who’s NOT there yet, but I have a plan. Part of that was working with a designer because my conversions are pretty lousy – 20 searches for what I do, where I do it, getting people to my site and no calls? Pitiful.

When it does work, though, it’s awesome. I have a sales call tomorrow with a woman who had a bad experience last year, still needs to move her project forward, and said “I don’t know about this, or that, but… you seem like you know.”

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Good stuff Dave, and great to see you bud, long time!!

The good thing about you though man is that you’re actually paying attention to conversion rates, and you’re working to do something about it.

Can’t beat that bud. Keep up the great work!

marcus

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John | Married (with Debt) January 23, 2012 at

Marcus – thanks for making your site a place where people can help each other out.

My site is http://MarriedWithDebt.com

Like you, I’ve just started networking and have made more progress in the last 3 weeks than the prior 3 months. I think it is still too early to expect success (I need about 3-6 more months before I can start to get a feel).

The biggest fear is that you spend 6-9-12 months doing something, and if it doesn’t work, you have to start over.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

I can understand your fears John. Really, I get it bud. Let me ask you a question though if you don’t mind sharing:

What’s the #1 goal of your site? (specifically)

Marcus

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John | Married (with Debt) January 24, 2012 at

Don’t mind at all. The ultimate goal is to be able to leverage it into a location-independent source of income. Whether this site is that generator, or just a stepping stone to another project, it is still too early to tell.

I would rather do it through a helping model like The Sales Lion, because it seems preferable to building niche sites for weird supplements and creams.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Well it sounds like you’re on your way John. I think if you continue to push ideas and thought on your site, things are going to end up well brother. :)

Marcus

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Chris Ryan January 23, 2012 at

I am in the party rental business just over a year now. When we launched our site we put up two articles about Super Bowl Parties. But after that we didn’t blog until about a little over a month ago and then again last week. Just in the last month we have seen a decent amount of new traffic to our site and a jump in the search engine rankings. We didn’t realize how important it was to keep adding new content to our blog. Thanks for all the great info!

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

New content is a big, big deal Chris. It needs to be a habit my man…a culture if you will.

If it is, Google will reward you. ;)

Marcus

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Nick Kringas January 23, 2012 at

Thanks for this post.

I always like to focus on finding a specific niche to market to and write to as opposed getting lost in the shuffle but never thought about the reason this works so well until now.

You csi theory simpifies this perfectly.
Thanks again

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Hey Nick! So glad it helped :)

And I hope you continue to find great success online!

Best,

Marcus

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Bryce Christiansen January 23, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I loved this article and think it was brilliant of you to share your personal experience and insight on just how long it takes.

I also like how you brought up the niches and how some are easier to become successful at quicker than others.

Great post.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Appreciate that Bryce, and hope you’re doing well man!

Best,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley January 23, 2012 at

Marcus,

Seriously sometimes I think you’re reading my mind bro.

I just posted about my own frustrations about building organic traffic momentum today (see post below if interested).

I’m a competitive guy and not seeing my numbers shoot up right away is hard for me to deal with but patience and consistency are the keys to success in the Blogging game no matter what industry you’re in.

Great info dude.

Thanks,

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

You and I are incredibly similar Ryan. We like to be the best. We want to see improvement every day. Yep, I totally get ya bro. ;-)

Keep holding the course my man,

Marcus

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Michael Schechter January 23, 2012 at

Hey bud, as you saw from my post today, the difference consistency can make is staggering and as you said, getting your momentum going is key.

What I’d be curious about your opinion on is not only the saturation of a particular key word, but the considered nature of the purchase. Pools are obviously a heavily considered purchase, where as our products are far more impulse oriented.

When it comes to marketing, we research; when it comes to serious expenditures like a pool we research. When it comes to lower cost, lower thought items, there is a certain level of research, but it’s not to the same scale.

It’s not a lack of traffic on the keywords, more a question the habits of the customer. We’ve found that our existing customers enjoy the updates, that it’s certainly driving better SEO, but that it isn’t really driving conversions in the same way as some other tactics. Obviously, this could be a byproduct of our tactics (and to be honest, I’m talking more about when we were regularly blogging, we’ve grown infrequent), but even when we were “doing it right” the value didn’t seem to be there in comparison to other tactics and over time we began to question if it wasn’t the impulse nature of the purchase.

I guess what I’m asking at the end of the day is where do you think the level of consideration plays into the potential success of a blog?

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

I’m not so sure if ‘level of consideration’ is consistent across industries Michael. For example, in the pool industry you have people that take 2 weeks to make the purchase and then there are others that take 2 years. I’m sure it’s the same in the jewelry industry.

Fact is, some people are amazingly (or terribly) thorough with their research, and others buy on a whim.

In the case of your company, I’d honestly have to take a look at the way you blogged before, the analytics, etc. But just because the blog might not serve the majority of your clients, doesn’t mean there aren’t a good amount of folks out there in NYC this very moment searching for jewelry related phrases on the internet.

And those are the peeps we need to get in the funnel.

Thanks bro,

Marcus

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Michael Schechter January 24, 2012 at

You’re probably right, but I would say that price plays a major role in the consideration process. Our jewelry back in the 80′s was often tens of thousands of dollars whereas our average price point today is $50-$200. There are certainly customers who consider that expense very seriously, but we find a significant amount is impulse purchase.

As for the blog, the NYC store vs our national presence has always been a very real challenge for us. In hind sight the store probably should have had its own blog (or at least a more developed part of the site) entirely. That said, we’ve been able to mitigate things with our email marketing which drives a tremendous amount of action for us.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Dude, you clearly should have two blogs on your site. One for the store, one for the national….That way, the store focuses on local SEO as well.

But just my opinion big dog ;-)

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Jacob January 23, 2012 at

Marcus,

Great article today man! The idea of having a Content Saturation Index is a great idea. I’m definetly going to try and measure that when I am trying to look at doing content in different industries. (Right now I’m all about Blue Collar Blogging)

Thinking about it in that way will really help me to drill down some kind of time frame to see if the ROI is coming in.

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Carol Lynn Rivera January 23, 2012 at

Two observations:

1. SEO is critical, and part of SEO is not only the keywords you use but how compelling you can make your titles and descriptions so people will click through from search results. Especially in a saturated market, it’s so important to be noticed. Coming up with good titles and descriptions is a copywriting exercise in itself.

2. While “have good content” is not debatable, I think it’s equally important to have a unique voice. You can get a lot of mileage out of “old” topics if you have a compelling way of writing about them. Again, in a saturated market, where you may be writing about the same topic as a lot of other people, the way you write about it, more than what you’re writing, can have a huge impact.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Completely with your thoughts here Carol. I’m a big fan of rockin content combined with solid SEO. I think too many bloggers are all one way or the other, and that simply never makes sense to me. But need to be paid attention to and learned.

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

Marcus

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Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog January 23, 2012 at

Timely post Marcus – I actually blogged today about what I think is the money-making myth of blogging. Even in the case of your pool business Marcus, it was the POOL BUSINESS that was making money, not the blog. Blogs don’t make money (or rarely make enough money to sustain you). Blogs support other business models that make money.

The splitting of those hairs notwithstanding, I’m hopeful that your projections about traffic hold true. I’m almost 5 months in, and while I’m happy with my progress, it’s nowhere near where I want to be down the road.

But I’ll keep plugging away :-).

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

5 months in, ehhh Ruth? Well good for you lady. You’ve already lasted longer than 90% of what blogs typically see, and that’ saying something.

Continued success. :)

Marcus

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Ameena Falchetto January 23, 2012 at

Interesting – guess it all depends on how you define success.

My blog is new, but some may say it’s successful because it makes money – for me I have a way to go, my goal is greater and it’s not defined by traffic, subscriber numbers, or any number for that matter really (except the one on my bank statement) but that still is not how I define success.

A blog, whether you are here to provide a delight or provide value is just a business tool. It is NOT the business and the differentiation should be made.

Food for thought! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

It’s always comes down to our individual definition of success Ameena. For some, that may be a comment. For others, it might mean making 150k a year. All relative, no doubt.

And there is no question a blog is a tool…in fact, it’s a marketing tool. It gets people in the top of the funnel, and helps them move down. That’s what it does. For me, the business is coaching and speaking. For River Pools, it’s the installation of a pool. But without question, one is necessary to bring the other to its fullest reality.

Thanks so much for dropping by,

Marcus

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Ameena Falchetto January 24, 2012 at

Definitely more than just a marketing tool Marcus, what about people who do ecommerce from their blog – it’s a sales platform. That’s the beauty of blogs and the internet – they can be whatever we want them to be … making them a success in whatever way you choose to define it is the challenge.

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Michael Murray January 23, 2012 at

Marcus,

Thanks for another great post! I just started blogging for my “blue collar” painting company and have been wondering what a realistic expectation of results should be. While I wish I could have instant results it’s comforting to have a realistic goal in mind. I agree with some of the other comments that it’s important to have a unique voice and generate good content. I’m struggling to find my voice but am encouraged to know that the ‘Just Do It’ mantra applies and you have to start somewhere.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

Michael, great to see you man. I’m excited for you and your blog. Few are doing it in your industry, so if you push hard, it’s going to happen.

So well done on being the 1% in your industry and I look forward to hearing your successes,

Marcus

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Cheryl Pickett January 23, 2012 at

I will add to the voices that have said we truly truly appreciate your honesty. There are few in the blogging/online marketing arena who would say what you’ve just put out there. It takes time, effort-period. You can have a break out post now and then, but even when that happens, you still do some or all of the things that got you there in the first place. Maybe your focus will shift a bit, but you won’t sit back and hope things will now run on auto pilot. Just doesn’t work that way in any business I’m aware of.

There’s no secret formula or system or ebook or course that will change that. There are skills you need to learn to do or to do better, so all of the above help with that, but they’re not magic wands or fairy dust that replace putting in the work. Never have been, never will be.

As always, thanks for the inspiration!

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

That’s incredibly kind of you Cheryl. Frankly, I don’t think there is enough transparency out there, especially when it comes to traffic. And if someone sees that it hasn’t always been a walk in the park for me and gets some type of inspiration out of that, then mission accomplished. :-)

As always, thanks so much for your support Cheryl!

Marcus

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Matthew Stock January 23, 2012 at

Timely article Marcus. Interesting to hear from both rookies and veterans how long it takes to gain traction. Although I’m a newbie with blogging, I have a fair amount of experience in marketing. One thing I found is offline marketing usually drive online. So I would suggest to anyone looking to accelerate the process to reference your blog in all your other existing marketing materials (business cards, sales literature, truck signage, invoices, etc). And if you are still doing some outbound advertising (TV, Radio, etc.), mention it there too. It really helped our website take-off, and I’m looking forward to blogging getting us to even higher level. I’d appreciate if the blogging veterans out there can suggest a good forum / community to participate in. We are basement waterproofing specialists in the Chicago area.

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Marcus Sheridan January 24, 2012 at

That’s a really good point Matt. For example, the only thing I have in the Yellow Pages, other than our number, is our website URL. In fact, I’m always surprised out how few companies really push folks to their website during an advertisement. It’s done some on TV, but very little with other mediums.

Good seeing you man, talk soon…

Marcus

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Josh Sarz January 24, 2012 at

I haven’t experienced massive success yet, Mane man. What I’m really proud of is that I finally decided to branch out and talk to other people (aside from the comments section) and write some guest posts as well.

Personal growth success for me in that aspect, but not in a business way. Maybe I need 20 months like this site, or maybe more. I’d just like to keep on growing every day.

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Shirley Williams January 24, 2012 at

Excellent article Marcus!

At times I think people think that blogging/internet is a silver bullet.

There is this thinking at times : If I “put my name out there”, it will come- totally forgetting the “build” part – let alone the marketing concepts related to a targeted audience and niche market. Hellooo!

It takes good old fashion elbow grease- that part will never change. I would also say quality over quantity too.

As always, I so enjoy your style of straight talk!

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Robert January 24, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

Love the idea of CSI – Content Saturation Index. It’s a great way to measure how ‘quick’ success will be, providing the person is doing everything else required.

I think this is an essential post to read for everyone, particularly those who are starting out. I’ve found that the majority of people only see the glory and don’t understand and/or acknowledge how much work truly goes in. However, in your example, for those of us who have been readers for a while, we better understand the sacrifices that you have had to make to get where you are.

Additionally, it’s so, so hard to earn a ‘wage’ from a blog. I’ve seen many people who go wholehearted into a blog for the first three months then become disillusioned and quit when it’s not making them any money. People have to be realistic and understand that everything takes time and nothing happens overnight.

I’ve only got my personal blog at the moment but am just getting started on a couple of health & fitness blogs for a product I’m releasing soon – think we all know that the CSI rate will be sky-high, but I’m not letting that put me off.

Speak soon bud,
Robert

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Marjorie Clayman January 24, 2012 at

I am hesitant to put any sort of time table on success. I have been blogging for close to two years now and all things being equal, my blog is growing but still pretty darned small. As far as saturation goes, I keep returning to my metaphor of social media lasagna. In the blogosphere, you have the folks that have been blogging since 1902, then the people who started blogging when Twitter took off, and new people are starting to blog every day. The folks who are just starting now have a lot more layers of lasagna to cut through than I did or than you did. People after them will have even that much more.

I think “success” may need to be redefined because there might just not be any more room for the mega-blog sites out there that everyone aspires to.

Now that I’ve depressed people…back to work I go :)

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Steve January 24, 2012 at

Marcus! Another great, great article. I am so grateful to you for all of the gold that you willingly share here.

Today was also an eye opener for me. I only found your blog about 6 weeks ago and though I read every new post that pops into my inbox, I’ve yet to make the time to go back through all of your older posts and see what’s in there.

So, thank you (and curse you) for linking the http://www.thesaleslion.com/how-to-network-online-superstar-grow-big/ article. Thank you because you’ve set for an amazing ‘how-to’ guide there (and being as ignorant and new as I am, I need simple concepts like that). Curse you for pointing out how much knowledge is scattered through your blog. Now I’m going to have to begin setting aside several hours per week to pore over your past entries

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Davina K. Brewer January 24, 2012 at

Define “Big” Marcus. Think that’s a problem, already mentioned by a few others. Big, success, ‘sales’ and all will vary per everyone’s goals and strategies – which many companies get wrong in a ‘rush’ to hit it ‘big.’ This is yet another kick in the pants for me to fix some back end things in my quest to grow, but I must WORD Jay and others on the off-blog netWORKing that is required.

If you’re only writing and sharing your own stuff, if you’re never reading or linking to what OTHERS write, if you never read or comment on others blogs, tweets – then you’re in love with the sound of your own typing (no matter how awesome you think your unique content is). Talking only to yourself isn’t gonna grow a blog – or a business. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Hey Davina, great to see you lady. :)

I think ‘BIG’ is the moment when we finally say, “Wow, we’re really starting to get some traffic and quality leads consistently on our site….YAY!!!”

But again, it’s variable.

Regarding your networking point—I agree and disagree.

I had to network like crazy in the social media industry to experience success.

I didn’t network with a soul in the swimming pool industry and comparatively speaking, I’m wayyy more successful there. Again, it all depends on the niche and the CSI.

Thanks for dropping by!

Marcus

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Andrea January 24, 2012 at

Well Marcus, I’m far away from being a successful blogger, I mean I am for myself at least a little but I couldn’t be considered a top gun compared with those who are at the top of the blogging world. Anyway in one year I went from 200 visits a month to 2.000 plus and it’s still growing. Maybe I won’t arrive at 20.000 for January 2013 but at least 10.000 monthly visitors are surely within my reach. That’s why I say I’m a bit successful. Clearly it has taken one year, a lot of study about keywords, headlines, seo and I’m still learning every day. Plus my field has a lot of competition, not like marketing but Hypnosis and Self Improvement are still a pretty competitive ground.

Applying those rules you described above I’ve been able to create my little space, but nothing would have been enough if, after reading the SalesLion, I didn’t begin to network with great bloggers, learn from them and so on. That has really been the core of everything.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Andrea, may I just say it has been a pleasure for me to watch you try so hard to learn and grow these past couple of months…and actual get results…yeah!

Marcus

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Shannon Steffen | Human SEO January 24, 2012 at

Great post, Marcus!

It all boils down to one statement: “But keep in mind, all of this would not have been possible had the CSI of the swimming pool industry not been so low.”

As I explain to my clients – today you may be on the top of the SERP (search engine rankings page) but tomorrow you can have 20 competitors that come out of the wood work. It’s all about the point of entry, competition and content consistency. If any SEO “expert” comes along, trying to guarantee you first ranking on the search engines, run the other way. It is for the very reason stated above that there are no guarantees but rather best practices and long-term “white hat” and “human” approach strategies.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

It’s all about the point of entry, competition and content consistency.

Consider that phrase permanently etched into my vernacular now Shannon….LOVE it :-)

Thanks!

Marcus

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Danny @ Firepole Marketing January 24, 2012 at

I don’t know, Marcus, I think it depends a lot on the industry. I mean, it took us 6-12 months at Firepole Marketing to start getting some traction, but we did a lot more than just blog 2-3 times/week.

I’ll tell you what, though – I think that 6-12 months is right on the money if we’re talking about how long it’ll take for Google to start noticing your work and sending you traffic, but that’s when the clock really starts, because that’s when you start competing against the rest of your industry.

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Harriet January 24, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

Thanks for the info, its really interesting! I’m a music student and have my head in scores all day so its really nice to see new posts from you on stuff I don’t know about!

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Thanks Harriet! :)

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Heather January 24, 2012 at

My husband and I own a boat rental company. When we started, we KNEW we would be able to kick some butt online. Most of our competitors’ websites were put up in 1999 and just sitting there. We started our website (on Wordpress) and really started focusing on SEO. It took us about a year to start ranking #2 on Google, then a couple of months later we took the #1 spot. Then we started focusing on longtail keywords and more than doubled our traffic again. It’s done HUGE things for our business. Our Google analytics look almost identical to the chart you posted (only on a much smaller scale since we only rank for local terms-for now) since we are also a seasonal business.

Last week, I was helping a girlfriend who is opening her own spa and was teaching her some basic tips and tricks (referred her to your blog BTW) about inbound marketing and noticed that, at least locally, the spas here don’t have a very strong online presence either. Good news for her as she’ll be able to rank better, faster!

Thanks for the great post!

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

That is so awesome Heather, go girl!! I just love it when I hear from folks with a location-based business who have been content pioneers in their industry and been rewarded for it. So cool!

Keep up the great work and make sure you come by again soon :-)

Marcus

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Alex R. January 24, 2012 at

I laughed at this quote: “OK, assuming we do all of this stuff, how long with it take for our blog to grow, produce results, and make sales?” Being that I own a digital marketing agency, our new clients ask us this ALL time time! They want to see results and ROIs. I now know what to tell them, thanks to this post…

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Hey Alex! Great to see you…and glad I’m not the only one getting that question. ;-)

So good luck to you with your clients and may your business have an awesome 2012!

Cheers,

Marcus

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Alex Ribble September 26, 2012 at

Wow, JUST saw this reply, thanks again!

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Ryan Thompson January 24, 2012 at

Marcus – I found you a few months ago and have been gobbling up your content. I’ve had my blog http://thedealergeek.com going for just over a year. The start was rough and very frustrating.

At least now I am getting some comments and shares. I’m not overly concerned about revenue right now, it is just nice to recognized as an authority within my industry (Canadian Automotive Digital Marketing).

These comments are better than the blog post!

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

And let me just say Ryan that I’m thrilled you found me…it’s great readers like you that make all this so very worth it.

Also, congrats on building momentum in your industry. You’re a literal pioneer in your field, and if you’re able to stick with it, and produce good stuff, the results in the end will be there bud.

Thanks so much,

Marcus

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Ivin January 25, 2012 at

Some of my blogs have been up for a year or so, great name and brand, but not any sales yet. Others do well in video, others look nice but get no traffic. I’m testing. All I can say in my experience is that you’re point about writing for SEO is worth gold. If I look at all the successes I had before. That is THE key. And local has more power than trying to target worldwide.

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bbrian017 January 25, 2012 at

Hello Marcus. I love this teaching and case study. Just watched your video too – very inspiring. Especially when looking at local marketing. I gravitate to agree that perhaps six months before success may be too son. That’s if you’re a complete noob and don’t have anyone teaching you. What I do have to mention is that becoming part of an online community and forming networks and collaborations online is VERY important – if you want success.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Hey Brian, how are ya? And thanks a bunch for taking a moment to come by my little corner of the net. ;-)

And yes, beyond consistent and quality blogging, networking and community can make a HUGE difference in the overall results.

Keep rockin brother,

Marcus

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Small House Life January 25, 2012 at

I’ve been in the internet business for 4+ years.

For me, the momentum seems to kick in at about the 9 month point and really start rockin’ at one year.

I do put a LOT of heart and soul into my businesses, and have noticed if I get sidetracked, they inevitably start to slow down.

dee

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Hey Dee! 4 years huh? Well that practically makes you a pioneer of this crazy new world we’re all a part of. ;-)

But congrats on your success and thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Sean Russell December 23, 2013 at

Awesome comment Dee,

Reading through these has been fun but being 5 months into the internet biz I am constantly wondering when things are going to really start rolling. Doing great right now but I am ambitious.

I think that 9 month mark will be a great time for me its just reassuring to see someone else who’s been there write it!

Thanks again,

Sean

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Martin January 25, 2012 at

Marcus you are absolutely right with CSI. As much as possible, I will advise those who are starting out on IM to saturated niches. You start from a great position which is not saturated and then work from there. I believe that gives the result. Thank you very much Marcus for the post. As always, it is very informative.

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Appreciate the kind words Martin, thanks a bunch!

Marcus

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Rachel Poling January 28, 2012 at

Hey Martin! I know you! ;)

I don’t have much to add to this conversation other than a resounding Amen!

Great post Marcus! I’m nearing the 4 month mark and I really needed the encouragement to keep going through the rough patches.

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Marcus Sheridan January 30, 2012 at

Well congrats on 4 months Rachel, that’s really something to be proud of, seriously! :)

So keep it up and the growth will happen!

Marcus

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Jon Loomer January 25, 2012 at

Great post, Marcus. I started my blog in September, and while I have had success, my biggest struggle is consistently great traffic. Without an established, loyal audience, I rely heavily on Facebook and search results. So I’ve had several days over 10,000 page views and days as low as… well, pretty close to nothing. I have very little idea what I’m going to get from one day to the next, and I’m sure that will even out the longer I keep at it.

You’re absolutely right about competition, the industry, etc. Like you, I focus on a highly competitive industry (social media, Facebook marketing, digital). I am actually starting a separate project that is very niche within that. Very little competition. We’ll see where it goes!

Thanks for the post!

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

Hey Jon! Great to see you stop by these parts man and for a younger blog, the numbers you’ve mentioned are really impressive. Heck, I was no where close to that after I’d been doing this for 5 months.

I’m curious to see how your new niche will do and what differences it brings to the table, and would love to hear more from you about that as time goes on.

Continued success,

Marcus

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Jon Loomer January 25, 2012 at

Thanks, Marcus! To be honest, I really have no idea what is considered “good” or “impressive” and by what time. Compared to other blogs I’ve done, it’s a significant improvement, but I don’t know how it compares to industry norms. So it’s certainly encouraging to read that you think they’re good numbers!

I’ve been in the industry for a while, but I’m always learning something. And once I took the dive into working for myself, it seems the learning increases at a lightning pace. It’s exciting, and it almost makes me wish I was on my own earlier. Admittedly, I tended to coast with security. You get hungry when you put your own food on the plate!

Thanks again, and I’m glad I stumbled on your blog. Keep in touch.

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Tom Ewer January 25, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

I’m not a business blogger – my site doesn’t offer me an income, directly or indirectly. But I’m just gonna butt in here anyway ;)

My blog has been going since June 2011, so seven months now (wow, was it only seven months ago that I started this journey? Feels like A LOT longer than that). For three months, I didn’t get more than 56 visits in a day (and that was launch day!).

Fast forward to present day, and I have averaged over 100 unique visits per day for the past week. I’ve also had several (modest) traffic spikes, the biggest of which was about 450 in a day.

Although my audience is clearly still very small, I do feel like I am starting to gain some momentum now. I think that there are 3 reasons for that:

1. The Law of Momentum, as you mentioned
2. A more-developed network – I am starting to get “known” in my niche
3. I’m getting better at promoting my blog

You will notice that all three of those things take time. Some people get lucky, but I think you have to learn about blogging before you can become successful. It’s just a process like any other – but it is a long term play, in my opinion.

Cheers,

Tom

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Marcus Sheridan January 25, 2012 at

I think this was a tremendous comment Tom, especially because it was so real. And to tell you the truth, you’re certainly further along than I was when I started the blogging journey in Nov of 2009 here with TSL.

Proper promotion and networking, like you said, just don’t happen over night. They take time. They are learned and developed.

But you’re paying the price, and I truly commend you my friend.

(And yes, blog years feel much more like dog years!!!)

Great seeing you Tom,

Marcus

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Mitch Mitchell January 29, 2012 at

Good stuff Marcus. Actually, I think a factor has to be how long the website has been around as well, because that could give one a boost. For instance, one of my business websites has been around since 2007. It wasn’t ranked all that high, and this August I decided it was time to add a blog to it, since I provide SEO and social media consulting to small businesses. I also decided to have a blog post every 3 days, which was an experiment for me to try as I was speaking at an event in November and wanted kind of a case study to use.

My traffic increased nicely in just 3 months, as well as being found for more search terms in the same period. However, since my website had been around for awhile, and was optimized for its search terms already, I think I had an easier go of it.

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Marcus Sheridan January 30, 2012 at

Good point Mitch. I agree that age of site does come into play here, I’m just not sure how much. But yes, the older the site, the easier it seems to be to get a blog growing much faster.

Great to see you bud and I hope you’re continuing to rock and roll on your end :)

Marcus

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Kara Bedell January 30, 2012 at

Found your site recently and love your insight. In response, putting off blogging for fear of time constraints, etc. seems to have been a big unnecessary problem. However, we did sign on with a industry specific SEO group, who other than web page design, has left me doing the SEO/social media/blogging. Blogging was implemented last. After much waiting, they have started to blog on our site. I posted my first blog, after getting needed login info. I was waiting on them to start, because well, they’re the “PROs” and I wanted a unified voice on all fronts. I notice that the voice and subject of their blog posts are much different from mine. So I have only posted one, which I am sure that you can pick out very easily. I know the one I posted is mediocre, and not written with SEO in mind. ( I use too many keywords, still working on formatting differences…) I would be interested in which voice you deem more appropriate, if any. Thanks for the insights.

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Mark Hundley February 1, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,
Another “Hubspotter” here. The CSI concept is very interesting to me. I’d love to see some more information (maybe another post) on how to analyze that. How do you measure or ascertain the level of CSI?

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Marcus Sheridan February 2, 2012 at

Great suggestion Mark. To tell you the truth, I’m the first person I’ve heard talk much about CSI but I’m going to be doing more and more research as the future unfolds, so stay tuned bud!

Thanks!

Marcus

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Hannah @ HowMuchIsIt February 2, 2012 at

Awesome post. I was doing a little research on this exact topic to see if it matched my notes.

I have been working with local companies as well and tell them the importance of blogging. Not only does it keep your site fresh, it brings people back if you offer good enough advice.

The next thing that I want to touch on is how impatience people are! Man, they throw up a blog post today and they are looking to rank for some killer keyword tomorrow. I don’t know how many times I’ve told my clients that long-tail keywords can be as good (if not better) than your gold terms.

Great post and I just wanted to note that my personal projects have seen a tremendous growth. In fact, I crunched my Jan 2010 to 2011 numbers and I grew by more than 1,000% :)

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Marcus Sheridan February 6, 2012 at

First of all, congrats on your huge personal growth Hannah, that’s really awesome!!

And I love what you’re trying to teach your clients. Sounds like you’re really good at what you do! :)

Thanks,

Marcus

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Anthony@Japanese SEO February 6, 2012 at

Like you pointed, being active outside your blog and networking is just as important as actually producing good contents. I don’t think you can really give a time frame for blog success though. It depends a lot on your niche and how good you are at networking.

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Andreas Pazer February 7, 2012 at

Network marketers often answer that question in a roundabout way, simply because there is not a clear answer. And it really is not limited to network marketing. All businesses have the same variable time to success. So how do we arrive at an answer? We use anecdotal examples – real experiences of real people who have come before. In some businesses, you can make money in the first days or weeks. In others it will take weeks or even months to show a profit.

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Dan Lew February 9, 2012 at

For me, it took me more than two years for my blog to become successful. I’ve worked so hard in a lot of pain, which I do everything to turn my blog into a more profitable business. Finally, it really pays off and I made good money with my blog every month and other products that I’ve created too.

Dan Lew

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Jack Spade December 23, 2013 at

Good to hear Dan,

That’s why its so important to never give up even if your still hustling after a year or 2.

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Jens P. Berget February 24, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I have been thinking about this very question for a few weeks now. I have my first client, and I’m going to help them start a blog. They’re very concerned about how much time they are going to be using on content marketing, we haven’t started discussing this yet, because I’m writing their strategy first.

But, what I have been thinking is if they should start out being trying to create high quality content once a week, and then we can see if they can do 2 or 3 times a week? I don’t know the CSI in the industry yet (it’s a bike race, so a lot will be about training, health, bikes etc..). What I’m telling them is that we have to look at this as a long term project and that it’s a process and not just a short campaign. It seems that I’m getting through to them :)

Awesome post and perfect timing :)

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Alec May 2, 2012 at

I just wanted to thank you for sharing such a valuable post. I have 3 blogs up and running (started in Nov 2011) and feel reassured that as long as I focus on a niche, build & nurture a list, that I have as much chance of success as anyone else.

Thank you for instilling confidence to a budding Internet entrepreneur.

Alex

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

A pleasure Alex, and I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts.

Much success to you and your blogs!

Marcus

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David B August 16, 2012 at

Thanks for the insight. I started my own blog last week after weeks of research into how best to get it up and running.

I’ve got my own host, have implemented SEO as best as I know how at the moment and I’m writing unique content for my field. It’s kind of pathetic when you sign into Google Analytics and say “ooh! 6 people today!”. I know it’s a long ahead but it’s sometimes hard to keep that in mind.

I just have to keep plugging away at creating great content that is unique, and network network network.

Thanks for the article!

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Marcus Sheridan August 16, 2012 at

David, glad the article helped bud and it sounds like you’re on the right track.

So good luck and keep it up!

Marcus

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Yevgeniy September 24, 2012 at

Do you know where I can get a list (or if it’s available) of CSIs for different niches? I assume if I have a blog on weight loss it will take me an eternity to get it popular?

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PJ Wisniewski December 11, 2012 at

Hello all!

I am so happy I found this website. It has only been A MONTH and was already getting restless, until I came across this article. As Mr. David B. says, I just have to keep sharing great content and stay consistent! AND, keep networking (something I’ve been neglecting too much ;( – can’t be shy anymore)!

I wish you all great success!

Regards,

PJ

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Marcus Sheridan December 13, 2012 at

PJ, thrilled this article helped and just hang in there!!

Marcus

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Amy Hagerup January 8, 2013 at

This is very helpful to me as I have been frustrated that I am getting lots more traffic to my blog but next to nil conversions. (I am getting opt-ins.) I definitely need to do more commenting and guest blogging. That is most likely my missing piece. Check out my blog here if you want to and leave any helpful hints from your expertise: http://amyhagerup.com. Thanks.

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Tammie April 12, 2013 at

I can’t always say it’s good to comment on other bloggers but I can say it’s good to put your url on social media (facebook, twitter, google +, pinterest) as well as search engines. My blog is just now doing very well but I started when the economy had fallen and that was a tough time because no one was buying. I spent a lot of time on my blog always changing something or deleting or can’t make up my mind what to sale so I believe that has a lot to do with the timing. Also, what are people reading or buying will have a lot to do with what you are blogging about. I can say since the economy is showing improvement this will be a good time to blog for any newbies who are getting started.

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charles Leahy April 22, 2013 at

Been blogging now for 10 months and still not really that happy with results, have written 320 articles, created (According to Google) 26,000 backlinks and receiving 150 hits per day! It is a blog for xpats living in Dubai & Cape Town!

Any suggestions? Thanks! Good article.

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Paul Chaney July 5, 2013 at

I started blogging about using blogs as a marketing tool back in 2004. I followed the same pattern as you prescribe, except that, at that time, I was probably blogging 3-5 times per week and sometimes more often than that. Just starting out as a soloentrepreneur who positioned himself in the market as a business blog consultant, I had few clients. Few client meant I had plenty of time to blog!

My wake-up call came one day in 2005 when a major newspaper called me to ask my opinion on a matter related to business blogging. At first, I thought they had reach the wrong person. When I asked the reporter why she contacted me, she said, “I’ve been reading your blog and it sounds like you know what you’re talking about.”

I can honestly say blogging changed my business and my life. It led to four books being published by major publishers, the opportunity to travel the world and, best of all, building relationships with some of the brightest people in the online marketing industry.

After eight years, the challenge I now face is getting back to blogging for myself. Most of my time is spent writing for others (who pay me) and, as a result, very little effort is put in writing on my own site. Thankfully, your posts have reenergized me and given me the impetus to get my voice back into the conversation.

As Yogi Beera famously said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” I’d like to think my best blogging days are not behind me. Thanks for the inspiration to keep on keeping on.

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Marcus Sheridan July 8, 2013 at

Love it Paul, absolutely love it!

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