How Long Does It Take to Get Blog Readers?

How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir

The following advice is excerpted from How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir, recently released from Writer’s Digest Books. Aside from describing in detail how to launch and maintain a blog to ultimately land a book deal, Amir’s book offers a range of valuable interviews with successful bloggers who succeeded in doing just that. Here are their insights into how long it took them to get readers, and what seemed to be a turning point in the life of their blog.


Pamela Slim, Cubicle Nation blog

“It took about a year to develop a steady group of readers. It was very slow at first, but I found great joy in writing so I kept producing posts. One big tipping point for me was getting featured on venture capitalist and author Guy Kawasaki’s blog in May 2006. He was extremely influential in my target market. When he featured my post An Open Letter to CEOs Across the Corporate World on his blog, traffic and subscribers exploded. After that exposure, my growth was quicker and supported by influencers like Seth Godin, Kathy Sierra, and Hugh Macleod.”

Reggie Solomon, UrbanGardenCasual.com

“It took me about two years to build an audience. … Engaging social networks definitely helped. I opened groups on Flickr for people to share photos of their urban gardening and tomato adventures and honestly forgot about the group I’d set up. I was utterly surprised in checking my Flickr page a year later to find hundreds of people were submitting photos to my groups regularly. A similar occurrence happened after setting up my Facebook and Twitter pages as well. … We may all wish for a silver bullet to bolster readership, but it’s less a case of scoring a home run and more a case of getting singles on the board.”

Brett McKay, The Art of Manliness

“The site took off fairly quickly after I started it. The very first post I wrote, How to Shave Like Your Grandpa, got picked up on Digg and Reddit, which brought in a ton of traffic. (This was back when getting on the front page of Digg was a huge deal).”

Martha Alderson, The Plot Whisperer

“As soon as other writers started blogging about the help I provided them through my first book, Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple, plot consultations, conferences, workshops, and retreats, my readership began growing. Writer’s blogs and websites bigger than mine, like The Daily Coyote, The Writers Store, and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), started linking to my website and continue to send writers to the Plot Whisperer blog today. Writer’s Digest magazine awarded the Plot Whisperer blog the honor of a spot as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for three years running and directs new visitors to the blog each year.”

Christian Lander, Stuff White People Like

“It took about three weeks to go from 100 hits a day to 30,000 hits a day. From there it blew up to hundreds of thousands of hits. The day it exploded was the day it was featured on Comedy Central’s Insider. Truthfully, the traffic from major media outlets was nice, but sites like StumbleUpon always added more traffic than any traditional media source. So while big media can start the spark, it’s people sharing the posts over social media that causes a blog to really grow.”

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Nina Amir
Nina Amir is the author of The Author Training Manual and How to Blog a Book: How to Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, from Writer’s Digest Books. Amir is a nonfiction editor and consultant, with more than 33 years of experience in the publishing field. She holds a BA in magazine journalism, and has edited or written for more than 45 publications.
Nina Amir

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32 Comments

  1. Matthew,

    Thanks for the comment. Just so you know, it can happen to you. My platform (readership) was not as big as theirs, and I landed a deal with a smaller (Writer’s Digest Books) publisher. They looked at the fact that I had several blogs with consistent readership and my blog (www.howtoblogabook.com) was growing and had #1 Google search engine results page status–among other things. I just ran into two Wiley editors who said they are always looking for bloggers and blogs… Yes, your blog could be next!

    Here’s that link: http://amzn.to/howtoblogabook

    Nina

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  3. Thanks.  This does give me hope.  That said, like Ms. Slim, I’m mostly having fun, although the pressure to create lively content can often challenge me.  Its the fun part and also the community I build with other authors that keeps me interested.

    • Don’t try so hard to be “lively.” Just be authentic. Write about the thing you feel most passionate about and most inspired by. You might feel less pressured. That said, if you are blogging a book, you’ll want to have a content plan and that can impose a different type of pressure. You can, of course, stray from it if necessary or create a blogging plan that allows you to pursue your passions on different days.

      • Thanks Nina.
        This is awesome advice.  You’d think it’d be easy, right?
        I think I’m building the bravery to show my authentic self, which can be a very mixed bag.  I guess that’s not much different than most people though, right?

  4. I like the analogy about hitting singles and not always going for home runs. Sounds  like the MoneyBall of book publishing! That may be the biggest mistake rookie bloggers and authors make. I know it was mine!

  5. Success doesn’t come easy, that is what these experiences tell us. It took me less than 6 months to get steady readers to my blog. However, I realizes building traffic for my website  is going to take oodles of time. 

    •  Lena,

      It didn’t take me that long to get a fairly steady flow of readers to my blog(s) either, but building that up has taken much longer. There does seem to be critical mass type of thing that happens. Now my Unique Readers grow by larger amounts each month.

      I blogged my book in just 5 months; that wasn’t enough to gain a large readership. I believe it takes more posts over a longer time period or a lot of posts over a shorter period. Some say 1,000 posts is the tipping point.

  6. Thanks for sharing the encouraging news; I think it is about consistency, dedication and loving what you do as a writer irrespective of the monetary gains. I just landed a contract for my first work of fiction and I remember being told unless my name is “Clinton” or “Trump,” it is impossible to get a book deal but despite the negativity I pressed on and eventually, I realized my goal.

    •  Congratulations! You are so right. You must be very persistent, dedicated and refuse to fail. Today I was at BEA and had the chance to pitch to the very first publisher — the actual person — to whom I first sent a proposal for my very first book idea. At the time he had told me “he’d been waiting forever” for that particular book, but he turned it down anyway and never told me why. After bringing up the topic two or three times, he told me to send him the original proposal again! At the time I had no platform. No I have one and I have a book published in another category. I kept on going determined to get published no matter what. I’m so excited what you have succeeded. So much of become an author is about attitude.

  7. Very Inspiring.  Having just returned to the blogging world, I have reserved my copy of the book at my local book seller and will be reading through it this weekend!  Now, I just need to find where my platform went…

    •  It’s right where you left of building it…possibly missing a few nails, but you can put them back in. Good luck, and thanks for purchasing my book. Hopefully it will help you strengthen your platform by blogging a book.

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  10. I finally had to tell myself just to relax and have fun. I realized I was putting all this pressure on myself to: write “perfect” novels that sell well and create lasting readerships; have a presence on FB/Twitter/Pinterest/Here-There-Yonder-Beyond; write engaging blog posts and visit other blogs and be witty and glorious and alive! wheeee!; find time to eat and sleep and engage in a five-word conversation with my husband. :-D

    So, when I told myself just to have some fun on SN, it took off a lot of that pressure, and I leave the bulk of my angst to the writing of my novels :-D

    • You know what, that’s actually part of the beauty of blogging a book. If you want, you can simply write your book in cyberspace. Period. If you do it consistently and well, readers will come, the book will get written and you will publicize your work. You can automate your blog so it pings your new posts out to Facebook and Twitter.  That leaves you plenty of time to live your life and know your book is getting written and you are still building platform, or a fan base. 

  11. I am very new to blogging. I have never had a blog. It was only recently that I have become dedicated to really writing. It has been a life-long dream of mine to write a novel, but there was always some excuse..I didn’t have the right tools, time, etc. I took classes in college and was told that I had talent that I needed to develop it. Well, now I have the tools and the time. My problem is, with no credentials, how do I create a blog that would bring readers? What would I blog about?

    •  Rebecca,

      I always suggest that if you are simply going to blog, find a topic about which you feel passionate. You’ll be blogging about it for a long time. The same holds true if you are blogging a book. You’ll be blogging on the topic long after the book is completed. Ask yourself if you have a purpose to fulfill with your life or your writing. Tie your blog into that. If you can combine your passion and your purpose, you’ll feel inspired to write/blog every day.

      Also, everyone knows something about something. What are your hobbies, interests, etc. What do people come to you and ask you for advice about? Cooking? Gardening? Cycling? Keeping a positive attitude? Books? Plus, by blogging on a topic long enough and consistently enough, you will, indeed, become the expert on the topic. And you can approach any topic like a journalist and research it, becoming the expert in the process.

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  13. This is good news. I am a brand new blogger (about local, random buzz around Washington DC) still trying to find a voice, writing style and a sharp concept. Even though my writing is very silly, it is nice to hear that others go through the same “paying your dues” phase. After year or two, I would hope to have an clear concept and an engaged audience. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I love the news…blogging has been a great way to combine these passions.

  14. I love blogs like this. These types of blogs encourage innovation and creativity from everyday writers. I started my first blog a couple weeks ago about science and religion, and although i don’t have many followers yet, I’ve enjoyed writing about stuff that interests me and I hope that interests readers.

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