Figuring out how to grow your blog is one of the biggest questions that plagues both new bloggers and professionals who have been blogging for years. Honestly, blogging can feel like a never ending marathon; always churning out new content day after day. If you approach it like a sprint, pushing yourself to the max right out the gate, you'll most likely burnout before you even get started. So today I'm answering a reader question and sharing my top 3 secrets to growing your blog quickly and sustainably!
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If you're new, I have an “Ask Rachel” section where readers can submit questions! One reader asks about my secret to growing my blog:
“Hey Rachel! I absolutely love your blog. Every post has such valuable content, your brand and design is really gorgeous, and you seem like a genuine person as well! Since I read your post about your 1st blogivesary I've been wondering: What's your secret? Would you mind sharing the one thing that you did that you feel really contributed to your blogs growth? Or can you point me towards any helpful resources you used?”
3 Secrets To Growing Your Blog
Ahhh! First of all, I am so flattered by your kind words! Thank you! I really can't give you a “one secret” response though! Instead, I'm breaking it into 3 secrets to growing your blog (plus a bonus one at the end!!)! In the last 4 years, I've grown my blog to reach millions of people, earning over 6 figures a year since year 2! These are my ultimate secrets that have really set my apart!
Secret #1: Listen To Your Gut.
I really don't use a ton of traditional resources. There's no one post I've found that I was like “THIS! THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN MISSING!!” TBH, most posts/resource guides or webinars I've been in actually hurt my self esteem when it came to blogging. I did a roundup post on some of the digital entrepreneurs I've learned from. However, even consuming too much of their content could get in my head and get me down. I started to listen to my gut and stopped consuming so much of other people's content. I think that's allowed me to maintain a positive mindset.
As a blog and business coach today, I've seen my clients tailspin down rabbit holes countless times. They begin searching for a certain topic and find countless contradictions on the web. If that's happening to you, I would recommend hiring a coach until you can get to a place of listening to your gut. Otherwise, in my experience, you can be swimming in a sea of self doubt without a life preserver.
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Secret #2: Put in the time & refine.
I want to take a beat and give you some background on my career and how I ended up here. While TCM is only a year old, the skills I put into my blog have been refined over many years.
I started blogging technically when I was 14 or 15 years old (over 12 years ago!) it was AWFUL. You can actually still read it here (seriously don't judge, it was 2005 haha). On a professional level it was also helpful since I could see why no one (other then our friends back then) would ever read my blog. It was a great learning experience of what not to do and I tried to carry that insight into my future.
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After abandoning that blog back in 2007 (there are a bunch of private posts people can't see where I kept it up). Per the suggestions of a therapist in 2011 or 12, I launched an anonymous blog about family issues and mental health. I didn't keep up with it for very long because a lot of that writing has gone towards a memoir I've been working on and off since I've been 17.
Basically, that's my long winded way of saying, I've been writing on and off for many many years and have had the ability to look back on those pieces and learn from them.
ACTION TIP: Revisit your older content, see what's changed (how you've grown), as well as what's working and what isn't. Ask yourself, if you read this on someone else's site, would you share it? If the answer is no, why not?
In the present, we are often too connected to what we are writing about to really take a step back and determine, “is this good? would other people be interested in this too?” – which is why I like the trips down memory lane, it almost feels like I am critiquing someone else's work and I can always learn from it.
Blogging aside, I put in a lot of time on the business side of things too…
The next major part of my past that I don't talk about very often, is SISU Programs. In 2014 I started my own business, SISU Programs, SISU (pronounced see-SOO), is a Finnish word that basically means “having guts, determination, and resilience”. I had just left the counseling world where I had been working as a substance abuse and mental health counselor. During my work, I had seen a lot of my clients struggling with #adulting. It wasn't because they were in recovery, it was simply because our twenties can be crazy confusing.
Over 3 months I did a ton of research and wrote a 200+ page curriculum with worksheets and lessons plans for #adulting. The curriculum covered everything from basic financial literacy, healthy eating and grocery shopping effectively on a budget, vocational programs for getting started and advancing in one's career, relationship tips and tools, and so on. Basically the majority of the categories you see on TCM. I worked one on one with 19-30 years olds teaching them these skills. At local businesses, I ran groups/workshops for over a year. Over time, I took on consulting positions for local treatment centers looking to implement similar programs.
Why I think the wide variety of categories work on my blog:
Basically, another really long winded way of telling you guys why I think the wide variety of categories works on TCM. They had been in the works for over a year before launching (even though I had no idea I would be launching a blog). The research was done and I had already received a ton of feedback from millennials by running in person workshops.
All it took was a not so nice exchange with another coach at the time to set the lightbulb off for The Confused Millennial.
The other thing happening simultaneously to the above events, is that my husband had his own startup. Through his business, I grew accustomed to the behind the scenes of building a business. I helped with the branding, web design, UX/UI, marketing plans, networking, etc. Over the years, I've been hired to do people's websites and work as their business coach/consultant. – In other words, I didn't develop these skills overnight. I've put in my fair share of 18 hour days for the last five or six years in some way or another.
There's no easy short cut around it, you just have to put in the time and refine your skills when growing a blog or business.
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Secret #3: What's the Value Add?
If forced to give a one sentence answer to what my “secret” is though, it's exactly what you said in your question: valuable content.
My clients get this drilled into them. They also probably get super frustrated with me sometimes because you can always dig deeper on this. With blogging, it can be easy to want to share about your latest trip or purchase, but ask yourself, what's the value add? How am I adding value on this topic to readers lives with this?
TCM was the logical next step to bring the SISU curriculum to life. I knew confused millennials were out there that needed it (because I had just spent a year working with them in person), and so I decided to make every post as relatable, valuable, and as actionable possible.
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If you're a blogger, what do you think contributes to your blogs success?
Let me know in the comments!
If you're a reader, but not a blogger, what keeps you coming back?
Originally published 03/29/2017; updated 04/13/2020
148 thoughts on “3 Secrets To Growing Your Blog”
I always ask myself “why” with blog posts! It seems to help.
Alix | http://www.apintsizedlifeblog.com
That’s the way to do it!
Such important tips!! Adding value and making sure that there’s something worth your readers’ time is so important!
Glad you liked them!
Great tips! Thank you for sharing! It is so true that you need to revisit your content as you grow. I looked at some content before when I just started out blogging and really had to change it up.
I definitely notice that personal posts don’t do as well as “valuable” posts do. Love your tips!
I think a lot of it has to do with titles on personal posts too unfortunately. I think a lot of people do “my wedding” instead of 10 tips to planning a wedding (in which you can tie your personal story into it). because i really think personal posts are valuable – I look at the categories personal and educational/informative posts – both are valuable in different ways
LiveJournal was where it was atttt back in the day!
Yep, I remember the days of terrible blogging, thinking I was just the coolest. (Yikes.) But it was good practice, if nothing else! These are great tips, and the tip about valuable posts is especially true.
haha thought I was so cool! haha #SMH
I think being authentic is important as a blogger and I strive for that. If my story makes one person feel less alone than I’ve accomplished something to be proud of. That being said, those “life” posts don’t do nearly as well as my posts that are “valuable.” I try for a mix of both.
Just got chills! “…one person feel less alone…” so much yes! – I think it’s important to have real life posts mixed in to informational posts – but I look at both types as “valuable” because connection is valuable, it’s just a different type.
Love these tips! Thanks for sharing, Rach!
I love these tips. I think it’s so important to focus on adding valuable content. Social media let’s us forget how precious valuable content is, and in a blog, so vital! I’ll definitely be saving this advice!
Couldn’t agree more! I think a lot of bloggers today are relying on pretty photos (because of social) rather than valuable content!
These are some really good tips. I think for me and my blog, I’m always genuine and try to make it sound like I’m talking to you as a friend versus just a reader, if that makes sense
That’s an awesome point! I love that “coffee talk” type of vibe some blogs have! where you legit feel like you’re on the phone with a friend!
It was SO interesting reading your story!! I left a similar career path and took from it my intense interest in analyzing and learning about people and their experiences – it’s a tremendous asset to have as a blogger. I also loved reading about the way that you believed in the decisions you were making with your site and just stayed steady on that course – I can relate to that so much. Once you learn the basic principles for success (and keep up on them as they evolve), what matters is what makes you unique–not just how you measure up to other bloggers’ barometers of success. Last – I totally had a million crappy blogs when I was in middle and high school, too! Absolutely terrible!
Exactly! I think success looks different for everybody based on future goals that are unique to each of us!
Great tips, Rachel! I had a livejournal and Xanga back in the day and it’s so interesting to look back on.
HAHA I love it! I totally forgot about Xanga!
Thanks so much for answering my question!! And in so much detail.
It’s really nice learning the story of how TCM came along. I’m so glad you shared your old blog 🙂 it’s so nice to be able to look back at your old writing, isn’t it?
Of course! haha that’s why I didn’t want to respond in an IG message haha! Hope it was helpful! And some of the comments have some additional good points too!
Love these tips! Couldn’t agree more about the valuable content. I’ve been blogging on and off for 5 years and I’m just now getting back into it from an off period. I’ve finally begun narrowing my niche and what I want my message to be. I don’t want to post just to post…the content we put out there should definitely be of some worth.
Couldn’t agree more! You never know where someone is going to come into your site and what will be their first impression of you! it’s so important to keep all things worthwhile, even if it isnt there cup of tea they can appreciate that!
I have definitely found that success in blogging comes from a genuine place. When you are 100% yourself and focusing on building relationships with people rather than trying to get something from them…you do so much better!
I agree with you so much on revisiting old posts and seeing what works and what doesn’t work! This has helped me understand why a post was so successful and what I can do to improve other posts!
Agreed! That just reminded me actually to check my analytics for my least popular posts!
Completely agree with posting valuable content. I like reading informative posts like this one.
You are so right, I need to listen to my gut. Why did I start this blog in the first place…was it for me or for others and who am I targeting – people just like myself. I have to stop looking at other people’s blog with envy wondering what the heck I am doing wrong. 🙂
Exactly!! Glad it was helpful!!
These are all great tips, Rachel! I like how you said to look back on your old posts and see how you grow because so much changes even over a year! Great post!
-Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com
Thank you Anna!
I always enjoy hearing the stories behind what inspires bloggers with their bloggers- and yours doesn’t disappoint! Keep on shining girl!
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