I remember having an audience of zero. I remember having no readers, no traffic, no connections, no experience, no plan, no strategy, and no idea what to do.
Another thing that I remember from my early days of blogging is that I felt like success was far from reach.
I remember reading popular blogs, and I couldn’t even imagine that their results were even something that could be attained. It looked like magic, the way they shared their experiences and inspired people to take action, and in return, they’d receive hundreds of comments.
It was hard to even grasp the fact that these big-shot bloggers were once at zero too. Just like me.
But they were, and I’d like to share with you a few tips that are going to help you if you’re facing that heartbreaking zero in terms of audience.
1. Don’t Chase the Numbers.
The truth is that you’ve got to enjoy the experience of blogging.
Do you like to write? Do you like to share your writing with strangers who live half a world away? Fantastic. Focus on that.
Enjoy the experience of blogging when no one reads your stuff. Write as if you are already an extremely popular blogger.
Enjoy the journey, because if you want, you won’t enjoy the destination.
Writing is cathartic. Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto the page will make you feel good, really good. Focus on doing that, take the joy you feel from doing it, and use it to fuel you until you turn that 0 into a community of engaged readers.
2. Punch the Damn Keys.
You’d think your best work comes when you’re in a great mood, the coffee buzz hits you just right, and the ideas come to you one after another. Wrong. The work you do when you’re not feeling it defines you as a blogger. The words you write when you’d much rather be doing anything else are the foundation that will enable you to build a successful blog.
Have you ever gone to the gym when you didn’t feel like it? At first, you feel like going hime, but ten minutes in the adrenaline starts to kick in. By the end, you feel fantastic. As you walk out of the gym, you realize that you don’t regret it. Not one bit.
As a matter of fact, looking back, there’s never a single workout that you regret.
This can happen with blogging, but only if you show up.
And, yes, I know. Showing up when you don’t feel like it is hard. Especially when no one seems to be giving a damn about it. Writing blog posts nobody will ever read is hard. But showing up is the only way through.
I often feel like this myself. I find myself hesitating. I find myself overcome with negative emotions. It’s no longer dread, but rather this complacency: I can do the work tomorrow.
But I’ve also come to know that if I tell myself that I can get it done tomorrow, I’ve already lost. Tomorrow’s too late for someone who’s serious about blogging.
I’ve written hundreds of blog posts about all the tips and tricks to help you succeed as a blogger, but not one of them will work if you don’t show up.
As a matter of fact, I’d love it if you were to stop reading this blog post right now and start punching those damn keys, because I’d rather you create work than consume it.
You can’t fathom how much better you’ll get if you just keep punching those keys.
This is the real shortcut to becoming a successful blogger: to consistently produce quality content.
There’s nothing else to it.
And in case you don’t feel that’s the case, I have a few questions for you:
- Are you consistent? Do you post at regular intervals? Truly?
- Do you always publish the absolute best content you can create, or do you sometimes share “meh” blog posts as well just because you want to stay consistent?
- How’s your mindset? Do you feel like sharing your writing with the world is a privilege or a chore?
- Are you waiting to have a bigger audience in order to share your best ideas with the world? Or maybe you’re just waiting to sell them to said audience once the time is right. If so, why would anyone want to subscribe to your blog if you’re holding on to your best ideas?
3. The Toughest Battle: From 0 to 100.
The most difficult is to reach those first hundred readers. Or the first hundred comments. Or the first hundred paying customers.
The learning curve to this blogging thing is quite steep. It feels like an uphill battle. And that’s why most bloggers quit within their first few months.
When you feel like giving up, remind yourself of the view from the top. It gets so much easier, and the view is quite breathtaking once you get there.
Most bloggers want others to invest in them, but they never invest in themselves.
You want to make money from your blogging, right? You want people to buy your books, products, or services, don’t you?
How much money do you invest in your blogging?
Do you have your own domain? Do you have an email service provider? Have you taken any online courses? Have you hired a coach? Taken a master class?
Most people talk a good talk. But that’s it. They say they want it, but don’t really want it. They kind of want it; kind of want the perks that come with the struggle, but don’t want the struggle.
Investing in yourself has many benefits. First, when you put your money where your mouth is, you take yourself more seriously. If you invest in an online course, you’re going to read the damn thing until you figure out at least a few ways to stand out as a blogger.
Secondly, if you don’t invest in other people, why expect others to want to invest in you? If you don’t support others in your niche, why should anyone else buy your products and services? If you don’t take any courses or classes, why should anyone want to join yours?
If you don’t spend money on your education or to support other bloggers, you can’t empathize with your audience, because you know nothing other than trying to get free stuff. Then, subconsciously, your own behavior will betray you because you’ll expect others to do the same to you.
The same goes for looking for shortcuts, thinking that others got lucky, or thinking there’s some scheme you’re simply not aware of.
4. Trust the System.
Here’s the thing about blogging— it’s a pure meritocracy.
The thing is, as a beginner, you often see it as unfair.
The system is designed in such a way that the best bloggers get the most attention. They command the respect and trust and admiration of everyone.
But, ask yourself, would you invest your time watching a 2-hour movie made by someone who’s just now learning how to use a video camera? Probably not.
I remember having fifty readers. The thought of having a thousand seemed unrealistic at the time. I have over 180,000 now.
Each time I accomplish something new, I’m reminded of the fact my self-doubt is the one that’s unrealistic, that impossible is oftentimes far more possible than what the critic within tries to tell me.
The truth is that if someone else has done it, you can too. We’re all human. And we all possess skills that we have developed in time. That’s it.
But work long enough at your skills, it will seem like you’re naturally talented to those who are just starting out. It looks like magic, when it’s just hard freaking work.
Nine years into the game, and I look back on things I once thought were impossible but find trivial now: I used to think it impossible to work on more than one blog, I used to think it impossible to blog every single day.
Eight years into the game, I can write 1,000 words in 30 minutes. It used to take me two days when I first started out.
Here’s the thing: most readers don’t want to invest by subscribing to a blog that has no audience. There’s no proof that they are good. And I’m not talking about the quality of your content, but about the social proof that others are enjoying your content.
No one respects you if you’re at the bottom of the food chain. That’s why you need to work twice as hard when you’re just starting out, and you’ve got to trust the system; you will be rewarded after you pay your dues.
5. Fail, Fail, Fail.
The idea is to try. That is all. If you do not try, you fail by default. If you try, there’s a chance you will succeed.
Do not play it safe, do not stick to the same type of posts. Experiment. Have fun. If you stay in the same place, you will soon become irrelevant as everyone else starts surpassing you.
Embrace failure, and realize deeply that it is not enough to invest time and energy into creating new content, but also equally important to want to become better.
6. Patience Is a Virtue.
No matter how good you are, success takes time.
It just does.
Think of the times you became instant best friends with someone. You’re lucky if that happened to you even a couple of times.
But most often, it took you some time to figure out whether you liked someone enough to be their friend, whether they were trustworthy enough, or whether they were authentic enough.
You just need to be patient.
But don’t just wait around for success to come to you. You got after it. With everything you got.
Don’t just walk on your path to success, because you will be run over by all those who are sprinting on their way to the top.
If there’s one thing I’d like you to internalize is this: as a beginner, you must take advantage of the enthusiasm you feel, the energy, all the passion, and work towards building the best possible habits.
Do meaningful work. Punch the damn keys. Be patient. Work towards accomplishing goals that truly inspire you.
It may sound like a bunch of nonsense, but if you don’t take care of your mindset as a beginner, you won’t last long enough to become a master.