There Are Different Steps For Growing Blogs

blog If you are not focused on the iPhone hype, you probably noticed that some good content was written this week. Louis Gray posted about how he thinks The Importance of Blog Linking Seems to be Declining. There was some good discussion in the blog comments as well, so I highly recommend that you read some of it. Shortly after that, our wonderful host, Corvida, had an insightful post on the pros and cons of being Dugg as well as being Shared. Again, a very good conversation in the blog comments that are well worth reading.


Blog Linking From The “Bigger Boys”

I am here to say that Louis and Corvida are missing the point (sorry). There are not a lot of bloggers with more than 1000 subscribers. I would assume that most blogs stay under 100 subscribers for their lifetime. The rules for getting from 0 to 500 is much different. Louis starts with an interesting observation, where he neglects to realize that our perceptions change as time goes on.   

At one time, I thought being linked to by the most prominent bloggers could have a significant impact on my traffic. And for a short time, it did. But now, I’ve seen traffic from other blogs to be driving an ever-declining percentage of visits to my site, swamped by social media tools, aggregation sites, and of course, Google search.

network The “at one time” part really refers to a time when he did not have that many subscribers, like most of us. If I had 25 subscribers and I got a link from him or even Robert Scoble, that would be huge for my tiny blog. In the beginning, the only way to get traffic is to have links from bigger blogs. A small blog will not get any search engine traffic, mainly because there are not enough links to build any authority. Now that Louis has about 2300 subscribers, he will not get much traffic from a blog link. For Louis to get much traffic, the link needs to come from someone with an order of magnitude more subscribers, most likely a minimum of 20000-30000 subscribers. Even then, he would just get a nice bump in traffic. In order for Louis to see significant traffic from a referral source, he needs to feel the Digg effect.


The Publicity of Google Reader Vs. The Digg Effect

On the other hand Corvida recently passed the 1000 subscriber mark. She was wondering whether people find it better to be Shared or Dugg:   

Lately I’ve been noticing that I pay more attention to how many times my articles are shared on RSSmeme and Readburner rather than how many times they’ve been voted for on Digg. I think I can safely say that it’s much easier to get your article shared rather than dugg, though I’m not sure why since it’s the same action with a different name.  

google_reader_logo This is a better question for a smaller blogger looking to grow. Google Reader Shares are fairly easy to get because people are sharing information with their friends. For a small blog, a share is great publicity because it can show up on sites like FriendFeed and Twitter where many more people can see it. This is a very organic way to grow traffic. You get the “home grown” following who will be much more passionate supporters of the blog.

This also allows the blogger to slowly handle the changing audience, which can be a shock. The changing tone of your readers can be a tough thing to handle if you grow to quickly. Getting Dugg is the “holy grail” of small blogs. It gives instant traffic and credibility to a blog that is looking to grow. A small blog can get 2000 pageviews per month and be happy. On a slow day, Digg can send a front page story 20000 page views in a few hours.

diggIf your blog post does not get near the front page (and most likely it will not for a while), you really do not get much traffic from Digg. This makes Digg a not so good target for a small blog. As a blogger, you will not really find your groove for several months. Getting Dugg early will cause a lot of traffic that is not happy to see you, because Digg users see “new” blogs every day churning out garbage for articles. I am not saying Diggers are miserable people, but they are leery of a new blogs appearing on the front page. Now, I know I have said that getting Dugg is “not a good target”, but participating in social media sites is another good way to start growing the blog. If Digg feels intimidating, try the friendlier confines of Mixx and StumbleUpon. If your blog is highly technical or political, Reddit may be a better option to start with.


idea The idea I am trying to get across is that each step in the blogging journey requires different ideas to help the blog grow. Louis Gray may not care about links anymore, but as a small blog you need to worry only about links. Without links, nobody can find you. Then, when people do find you, be careful what you wish for.


This was a guest post by the fabulous YackTrack creator Rob Diana of You can find more of Rob’s great work on Regular Geek, which includes great insight on Social Media, Semantic Web, web apps, and a ton more. Be sure to subscribe to Regular Geek too.

Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on

35 thoughts on “There Are Different Steps For Growing Blogs”

  1. Yeha very Useful information , this is both good reading for, have quite a few good key points, and I learn some new stuff from it too, thanks for sharing your information.

  2. I must agree with that. It's not easy having thousands of subscribers.

  3. Yes, the viral script from Mike Filsaime was a disaster. My friends hosting provider shut down his website and he had to installed a dedicated server after that.

  4. I'll be eagerly testing the tips to see the results on my subscription statistics.

  5. It has been more difficult to get on the front page of Digg, especially with the fact that Digg is now focusing more on bigger news on authority sites. Twitter is a better choice for creating awareness and quality traffic.

  6. I think constantly adding content in the blog is still the fastest way of growing blogs. Tries some viral refer a friend scripts and it had proven to be a disaster with Hosting Providers preventing the use of these scripts.

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  9. Yeah, real-time and embedded systems are very niche topics. I can not comment on the best places to go because I do not know much about them. If anything I would have recommended Reddit as well.

    I probably should have been more specific about finding the right social site for your topic. There are a ton of niche networks and social sites popping up.

  10. I see your point, but even in a niche you need some linking. If this was an SEO article (which it was not meant to be), then there is a ton of information that would be missed, good titles, good description, keywords, etc.

  11. Wow, I lost web connectivity early yesterday, and look at what i missed. Thanks to everyone for the praise. Keep up the conversation.

  12. Well, that's what happens when you say something controversial :) The key thing to remember is that everything is relative. As you say, as you get bigger, links mean less, but sites like Digg, FriendFeed, etc get more important. At least you started a good conversation.

  13. Digg, StumbleUpon, Google Reader shared items, Friendfeed, and so forth are all valid techniques to find readers. The most important aspect to finding one's audience is getting exposure at sites which people with those interests already frequent. I know thats obvious but its a mistake I've frequently made, not aiming at the right target.

    I blog about programming topics, particularly low-level problems in embedded systems. Essentially all of my current subscribers found the blog via two articles which spent most of a day on the front page of reddit's programming section.

    More recently I discovered FriendFeed and have been posting and commenting there, because its fun. I'll go out on a limb and say not many people on FriendFeed are interested in postings about MIPS assembly or Linux filesystems, based on my blog statistics showing exactly 2 referrals from

    FriendFeed is certainly fun, but until it has a considerably larger community with a larger diversity of interests it will not be a way to promote blogs on most niche topics. You have to find the sites where people with those interests already congregate, which in my case is,, etc.

  14. “A small blog will not get any search engine traffic, mainly because there are not enough links to build any authority”

    Authority isn't the only way to get search engine traffic. I'm a niche blogger and happened to title my (non-delicious link) posts in a manner that is search friendly e.g. google for “terry-riley sun rings”.

  15. the best example i can think of right now that is a definitive booster is Leo Laporte. any small blogger that gets linked by him boosts from 1000 to 3000 subscribers overnight in one go as well a huge spike of traffic that can o course kill your blog. the thing is for the linked blog to be able to retain the new subscribers.

  16. Thanks Corvida. That has been one of my internal conversations. I like the blogging as a means of communicating. I am trending more towards the organic approach as I am new to this field. Links are always appreaciated. :) Right now, I am deciding whether lifestream or specific interest is what drives me to post. It surely has not helped to be sans pc for 3 weeks. The RW job took precedence over the rebuild but that is all up an running. Now comes the fun part. Translating my notes into blog posts.

  17. A lot of people took what I said about links a little differently than I had intended, which only proves I didn't write it very well. What I was trying to get across was:

    1) Blog links, over time, are delivering a lower % of total traffic
    2) The same blogs, year over year, are delivering less traffic
    3) Aggregation tools, like Digg, FriendFeed, Techmeme, etc. are getting more important

    It is linking that enables the Web, period. It's linking that enables Google search to work, for Technorati to work, etc. It's not about whether I got jaded when my subscriber count went up, but instead, about watching the trends and making comments on what I'm seeing.

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