5 Stages All Bloggers Go Through To Become Successful

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Becoming a successful blogger in any niche doesn’t happen overnight. From the very first stages of starting your brand new blog, all the way to the point where it’s earning tens of thousands of dollars per month and allowing you to spread your message to millions of people, blogging is a journey.

Way back in 2012 I read a blog post by a now good friend of ours, Nomadic Samuel, and it was all about the different phases of blogging that all bloggers end up passing through on their journey to complete financial freedom and location independence.

When I read that post, Dariece and I were probably at around stage 2. We were making some money from our blog but were still frustrated with how slow it was growing and we couldn’t wait to get to stage 3.

In this post I’m going to take the inspiration I found in Sam’s article, but I’m going to break the stages down a little further. I think that there are actually 5 phases a blogger goes through. These days, there is more opportunity for bloggers than ever, so I had to add an extra stage at the end!

Stage 1: Starting From Scratch

  • Just started blogging
  • 0 users / month
  • $0 / month
  • 5-15 hours / week

As with any new business venture, when you start a blog, you have to start from scratch. Luckily these days there is so much information online that you can easily figure out how to start a new blog and design it within a few hours. But you’ll be working on this blog for years and it’s not going to grow overnight.

When you first start out blogging, you’ll have to Google everything. For every question you answer, 10 more will pop up. This is probably the most frustrating phase in the blogging experience and its the part where most people simply give up.

make money online and have a nice office

There are literally hundreds of blogs starting every second online and I would estimate that 99% of those never turn into anything worth reading. It’s not because the people who started those blogs don’t have a great message. It’s not because they don’t know how to write or because they don’t know how to take photos. It’s simply because they give up in the first stages.

They think “there are too many blogs online, how will I ever stand out?”. Or “why would anyone want to hear what I have to say?”.

These are common doubts and excuses to quit, but they aren’t valid. You can start a blog today that becomes the next big thing and people do want to hear what you have to say. With billions of people reading blogs online, you have a good chance that there are some (a lot) of them that will want to read your posts.

We know the first stage of blogging all too well. I still remember when I pretty much fully gave up on Goats On The Road. We had just moved to China and were teaching English 15 – 20 hours per week. I loved the job and it was giving us a steady paycheck, so I figured I would just be a teacher instead of trying to be a blogger.

Luckily, Dariece never gave up on Goats On The Road.

She kept writing posts and guest posting on other blogs. One day, we saw that 200 people had visited our website and that was enough to get me back on the bandwagon. We both started writing more blog posts and getting featured everywhere we could. We were emailing bloggers every day and asking them if we could contribute to their site and every day our blog grew a little bit more.

But this stage is still painfully slow. Especially if you start a blog and, like us at the time, you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing! The key to starting a successful blog and not giving up is actually having someone there to help you.

Since we figured out how to grow an audience, build a brand and make money from blogging, we started creating video courses to walk people through the steps it takes to build a successful website.

Whether you write about travel, technology, parenting, cooking, fitness or any other niche, our course can help you start a brand new blog, design it, add photos, write great blog posts and even grow an audience and monetize your blog so that it can fully support your travels.

The first stage of blogging is where 99% of people quit, but we’ve helped thousands of people start new blogs and thanks to our video training and our private Facebook group with over 500 members where we interact with and help new bloggers, we’ve seen some amazing successes from our students!

Click Here to start your own blog today (you can blog about anything) and we’ll give you access to our 4-Part WordPress Beginner Blogger Course, our Private Beginner Blogger Facebook group, and we’ll also send you our 200-page Blogging eBook ($120 value) for free.

become successful blogger course

When we first started helping people create blogs, we noticed that so many of them were simply quitting in this first stage.

They felt overwhelmed by all of the information online and couldn’t get the answers they wanted. That’s why we created this course and private Facebook group and we’ve already seen so many bloggers design beautiful blogs, grow their traffic and make good money from their blogs.

Starting from scratch is difficult for sure. Basically, all you’re doing is starting a new blog, trying to design it to a point where you won’t be embarrassed when people find it online, writing new blog posts, adding photos and simply getting used to the WordPress interface.

The first stage of blogging can be frustrating and a bit scary. But if you surround yourself with other people who are in the same position as you and allow a professional (like me) to help guide you through, you can get over this initial hump and find yourself in the more exciting stages of the blogging journey.

Read More Posts:

Stage 2 – Writing Content

  • Just started blogging
  • 10+ users / month
  • $0 / month
  • 10-20 hours / week

Now that you’ve started your blog, designed it and you have a grasp on how WordPress works, it’s time to start creating content. This is mostly going to be blog posts, but also maybe some videos and social sharing.

At this point, you’ll still be Googling some things and (if you’ve taken our Beginner Blogger Course) asking for help in the Facebook support group, but you’ll be getting better at solving problems on the blog and figuring out how to do what you want to do with the site.

seo tips blogging from hammock

At this point, you may not have even narrowed down your niche yet. Perhaps you’re a travel blog, but that’s not focused enough. It’s best to think of how you can niche it down further.

Instead of just a travel blog, your blog should be a budget travel blog or – even better – a budget travel blog for retired couples. You get the point. As you write content, you’ll start to figure out what your blog will be about and what makes your site unique.

During stage 2 you’ll be spending most of your time writing blog posts. These posts will likely be 2,000 – 3,000 words with 5 – 6 photos and each one should take you a couple of days to complete.

At times, bloggers run into writer burnout during this phase, but it’s something that can be counteracted quite easily. When you can’t think of anything to write, consider going more into depth on a subtopic of one of the posts you already wrote.

For example, if you wrote a post called “The Best Video Cameras” and in it you list 10 cameras, then you can write separate posts for each of those cameras. Not only will this help your writer’s block, but it’s great for your readers and for SEO (more on SEO later in this post).

By now, you’re probably still not making any money from your blog. You’ve likely entered into stage 2 after about a month of blogging and you’ll start to realize that there’s some work involved in creating a successful blog.

I’m not saying you have to work 12 hours per day on your site. In fact, Dariece and I have never worked more than 20 hours per week and these days we’re only working around 10 – 15 hours per week on the blog, but you’ll need to put in the time and be consistent.

How Blogs Make Money Main Header Image

If you can spend 10 – 15 hours per week at this stage simply sitting at your computer and writing blog posts, then you’re doing very well. Your goal here is to create A LOT of great blog posts. If you’re able to publish 2 – 3 long and useful posts per week, then you’re going to be able to monetize a lot sooner. But even if you only have time to write one post a week, that’s fine. The key is consistency.

Some bloggers get stuck on phase 2 because they’re just not consistent enough. One week they publish 2 blog posts, and then nothing goes live on their site for 3 – 4 weeks after that. This is terrible for SEO and even worse, you’ll lose your readers because they expect a certain amount of new content every week.

Once you get into a groove, writing great blog posts on a regular basis, you’ll sail through stage 2 and into stage 3.

Stage 3 – Marketing Your Blog

  • 1+ month of blogging
  • 3,000+ users / month
  • $0 / month
  • 10 -20 hours / week

Now you’re starting to get into the fun stuff. You’ve written 20+ great posts on your site and you’re starting to see some traffic coming in. Maybe 100 – 200 people are reading your blog every day and it’s giving you the motivation you need to keep writing.

You’ll start getting a few comments on your blog from people thanking you for helping them. This is one of the best parts of the blogging lifestyle! Slowly you’ll be getting better at figuring out what your readers want and what people are searching in Google.

Now it’s time to go all out on your marketing efforts.

In Nomadic Samuel’s post, he mentioned that this part of blogging is “building the snowball” and I couldn’t agree with that analogy more.

When you’re in stage 2 and working hard writing blog posts, that’s like collecting the snow. But as you get into stage 3 and you start marketing your site, you’ll be building a snowball which eventually you’ll be able to toss down a hill and watch it grow until (in Stage 5) you have a full-blown avalanche.

At this stage, you need to focus on social media for sure, but if you want to grow your business from a small blog for friends and family to a massive resource that can make you tens of thousands of dollars per month, then you need to start thinking about SEO.

how to become a travel blogger

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically, it’s the act of writing blog posts and building a blog that Google will love.

The best way to get traffic to a blog is to have your blog show up in Google Search results. On average, 95% of all web traffic passes through Google, so if you want people to read your posts, then you need to write posts that Google and your readers will love.

Luckily this stage isn’t too difficult.

You’re already writing long, informative posts, now you just need to crack the code of SEO. We have studied SEO for years and in 2018 we were able to triple our traffic using simple but effective SEO strategies. Google is basically made up of a bunch of robots, so once you know the formula, you can simply write better posts that Google bots will love and see your traffic grow.

I’m not going to get too much into SEO in this post because it’s more about the stages of blogging, but if you’re interested in learning about in great detail, we have a free 1-hour video SEO training session where I walk you through the basics of exploding your traffic in Google.

Free SEO Training Testimonial

When you’re in the stage of marketing your blog, you’re still going to have to consistently write blog posts, but now you’re going to follow the steps of writing SEO posts. This means that each post will take a little bit more time because you’ll need to add keywords, add your keywords into the coding of the post and also format the post so that Google can easily read it.

But that’s only one small part of SEO. Now that you’re taking your blog to the next level, it’s time to get your name out there. So many bloggers get stuck at this stage because they’re scared to reach out to bloggers and big media to ask for features. But that’s what marketing your blog is all about.

When Dariece and I were in stage 3 with Goats On The Road, we literally spent half of our time writing for our own blog, and half writing for other (bigger) blogs to get our name out there.

You can utilize our secret strategy that I call the Guest Post Bomb, as well as commenting on other blogs, contributing to forums, building backlinks and interlinking blog posts on your own site. This part of the blogging journey is exciting because the better you get at SEO and the more you market the blog, the faster you’ll see your traffic grow on the site.

It’s great writing blog posts to help people, and to share your story and message, but if nobody ever sees them… what’s the point?

To have a blog that can earn money and help people, you need to have a blog that has a lot of traffic. SEO and content marketing can do that and it can actually be a lot of fun. Getting this step right is crucial in passing on to stage 4… everyone’s favourite phase of blogging.

Read More Posts:

Stage 4 – Monetizing Your Blog

  • 6+ months of blogging
  • 20,000+ users / month
  • $500+ / month
  • 15-20 hours / week

I know what you’re thinking, wow we’ve already gone through 3 stages and only now are we starting to monetize our blog and earn money? Yes. Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s going to take a while to build your blog to a point where it can start making an income. But some of our blogging students have managed to monetize their blogs and start earning money after just a few months.

Don’t worry. If you’re writing about something you’re passionate about, then it won’t feel like “work”. It’ll just feel like you’re building something for yourself, which is an amazing feeling.

Making that first paycheck (or receiving that PayPal deposit!) from your blog is the best feeling in the world. You’ve written all of these posts and suddenly businesses are paying you, you’re making money from advertising, companies are sending you products to review and tourism boards, hotels and airlines are flying you around the world to share your experiences with your audience.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re still in stage 4 and this is where you’re just starting to monetize your blog. At this point, you’ve already built the snowball and pushed it down the hill. As it gains momentum, it grows and now that you’ve monetized your site, the income you can earn from it will start growing… slowly at first, then more rapidly.

Some ways that you’ll likely be monetizing your site include:

On-Page Advertising
Direct Advertising
Product Sales
Affiliate Marketing
Press Trips
Keynote Speaking
Selling Memberships

The first way that you’ll likely monetize your blog is through direct advertising. A company will contact you, send you a product and ask you to review it or talk about it on your blog. These types of partnerships will pay around $200 USD when you’re first starting out, all the way to $3,000 USD when you have a more developed brand.

Next, once you reach 25,000 sessions per month on your blog (possible to do within 6 months to 1 year), you’ll be able to turn on advertising on your site through Mediavine. Basically, all you have to do to turn on ads is sign-up for Mediavine, show them that you have the minimum traffic requirement and within a few hours, you can flick a switch and have ads automatically displayed on your website.

best jobs for digital nomads

If you’re reading this post without an Adblocker (thank-you) you’ll likely see a couple of ads on the page. We have most ads turned off on this site because it’s not our main income source, but still, because we have a lot of traffic, these ads currently pay us between $4,000 – $5,000 per month.

When you’re first starting out and you turn on ads for the first time with 25,000 sessions per month, you can expect around $400 – $750 / month from your ads. That’s a pretty good income!

If bloggers make it to this stage, they very rarely quit. Some of them hit a plateau and feel discouraged, but that’s likely because they’re not utilizing proper SEO. With SEO, the snowball will continue to grow and gain momentum over time. So if you’re doing everything right and you made it to this point, you’re probably going to be a blogger for life. Congratulations!

At this point, the sky is the limit.

There are bloggers who we know that are earning over $2 million / year. Monetizing a blog is one of the best feelings in the world. When done right, you can earn money in your sleep. There’s no better feeling than waking up in the morning, checking your emails and seeing that you made $1,000 while you were asleep. Or you come home from a sundowner at the local beach bar and see you made some money while you were enjoying the sunset with a cocktail in hand. This is the life… and it’s only just begun.

Read More Posts:

Stage 5 – Living The Dream

  • 5+ years of blogging
  • 300,000+ users / month
  • $30,000+ / month
  • 10-15 hours / week

The avalanche is now roaring down the slopes, picking up speed, size, and momentum as it goes. This is the absolute best stage of blogging. By now, you’ve likely hired dozens of people to help maintain the site and it pretty much runs itself.

You’ll still have to manage all of the employees, make sure the content going up is to the standards of your site and talk with the brands, tourism boards and companies that are constantly emailing you.

At this point, everything is running smoothly. Hundreds of thousands of people are reading your blog posts every month, you’re able to help and inspire more people than you ever thought possible and you’re earning more money than you ever dreamed of.

Now you can let the pedal off the gas a little bit and enjoy what you’ve built. You’ll have more time to spend travelling, with loved ones or doing the things you enjoy most. Thinking back from this point, you’ll be able to look in awe at what you’ve achieved.

working with a tourism board as a blogger

You’ll be getting emails from different tourism boards, companies, hotels and airlines asking you if they can fly you around the world or ask you to use their products and now, at this point, they’ll pay you very well to do so.

You have the great feeling of employing other people, helping them to become location independent. You’ll get emails from readers all of the time thanking you for your great content and for helping them achieve their goals or answer their questions. You’ll also get some hate mail, mean Tweets and harsh comments, but you can shrug them off and move on.

This is the stage in blogging that all new bloggers aspire to, but very few ever actually reach this point. That’s usually because at some point along the way they either found a different avenue to go down, or they simply gave up when times got tough.

You need to know that every hurdle, every speed bump and every struggle along the way is 100% worth it to get to this point. Blogging for a living and making money while working from your laptop is the ultimate dream job. It gives you the freedom to work from your pyjamas, to work from anywhere in the world and to choose your own hours.

I remember when I was working in Canada and I would have to work 12 hours per day, 6 days per week. I would be stuck in traffic for an hour each way and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. My weekends were spent recovering from a difficult work week and Dariece and I barely had any vacation time to travel.

Day Trip Galapagos Islands

Today, we work 15 hours per week max and make far more than we ever could have in Canada. It’s because we were willing to take a risk. We quit our jobs and went at this blogging career with everything we had. We didn’t give up and we stuck with it, even when it wasn’t making money for the first year. All of that is now in our rearview mirror and I’m so happy that Dariece stuck with it when I was ready to give up.

Had she not stayed on the blog, continuing to gather snow so that we could build this small business into something bigger, we never would’ve seen this avalanche. We never would have been able to continue travelling and we wouldn’t be able to help inspire others to travel and work abroad.

This is the best job in the world and if you can stick with it and take the right steps, you can get through all of these phases within a few years. Blogging completely changed our lives and I’m grateful for every phase we went through along the way. We learned and grew together, not just as bloggers, but as people.

The life of an entrepreneur is the only life for me and I thank this blog and those who read it for helping me realize that.

Do you want to start a blog? Click Here to start a new blog today and our free course will show you how to grow it to the point where it can earn you a full-time income. If you already have a blog, check out our Free SEO Training Session

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Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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7 thoughts on “5 Stages All Bloggers Go Through To Become Successful”

  1. Inspiring and insightful post! Refreshing to read a realistic perspective, explicitly going against the idea that blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme. And I couldn’t agree more: consistency and content are vital. The rest will follow.

  2. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring and motivating post! This is exactly the kind of post I will be bookmarking to keep me on track through all my stages of blogging.

  3. Hey Guys!
    Ever since hearing your interview on ZeroToTravel however long ago, I have been a huge fan of the page! I know this post isn’t the newest, but rounding up on a full year of owning my own blog now, I couldn’t count how many times I have visited this post to remind myself that blogs require hard work and dedication, things don’t just happen overnight.
    Thanks for the humbling motivation, and for all the content you guys create!


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