5 Essential Qualities of Growing Your Blog Quickly in a Crowded Niche

This is a guest post by Marcus Sheridan, recently named one of the Top 10 Social Media Bloggers of 2012 by Social Media Examiner.

We all want our blogs to grow. I do, you do, we all do. But as many are now finding, it’s getting more and more difficult to experience growth quickly, especially in industries that are more saturated with many great bloggers and tons of excellent content.

Notwithstanding, every year bloggers come from nowhere and explode onto the scene, finding a way to build a large audience quickly and become a leading voice of authority and trust within their field.

So how does it happen? How can a newbie blogger increase their ascension to the top of their chosen industry? This article will demonstrate qualities of successful bloggers and how they have found a way to stand out from their peers in a very short period of time.

1. Be Relentless in Getting Stuff Done

I put this one first because often times when we read about ‘shortcuts to success’, we forget the most important principle of all- hard work. And when I look at bloggers that have shown a propensity to push with an unrelenting enthusiasm to get things done, one name really stands out to me — Danny Iny.

For those of you unfamiliar with Danny, he started his blog Firepole Marketing at the beginning of 2011 and managed to not only build a name for himself, but also produce one of the Year’s best works (IMO) with his excellent book, Engagement From Scratch, a must read for any blogger.

What was so impressive about Danny was the sheer amount of ‘stuff’ he did during the year to get going. Not only did he produce 2-3 great articles each week on his own blog, but he also managed to land more guest posts in one year than anyone I’ve ever seen… by a landslide.

Moreover, Danny also commenced a marketing training program, published his book, and found the time to get married in the process. Seriously, I thought I was pretty motivated until I saw everything Danny was able to accomplish in 2011, but he certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities if we put in the time and truly ‘will’ success into our lives.

2. Think Wayyyyy Outside the [Opt-in] Box

Whenever there is content saturation in an industry, one major key to standing out is the ability to think completely outside the box and offer fresh perspective on principles most folks have never considered. One person that comes to mind immediately when I consider this is Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. Derek was the first person (that I’m aware of) that put an opt-in box on his home page, something that many bloggers big and small have done since learning about this feature. (I added it recently myself and it works extremely well.)

Although Derek doesn’t write a prolific amount of content, the stuff he does write is always extremely thoughtful and often times questions status-quo best practices, a quality that has helped him build an email list of over 10,000 names in less than one year. He also started a podcast on iTunes which debuted at #2 in Business – Social Triggers Insider: Marketing, Psychology, and Business.

3. Know Your Shtick and Go After It Aggressively

I’ve talked about ‘knowing your shtick‘ quite a bit on my blog but the phrase refers to one’s ability to know their core strengths and passions, and then actively pursue this direction without distraction.

A perfect example of this is Amy Porterfield, who, in less than one year, has become known as one of the premier experts on using Facebook for marketing and business.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, Amy has focused her efforts in one area, and boy have the dividends paid off. In fact, Amy recently launched arguably the most thorough online training course for Facebook marketing ever produced—Facebook Influence.

4. Learn to Post Powerful and Effective Blog Titles

I honestly feel one of the biggest problems in the blogosphere, especially for newer bloggers, is that they simply don’t understand how to write blog post titles that arouse reader interest and lead to a high click-through rate.

Although this may sound self-aggrandizing, I’m going to list a few examples from my marketing blog to show you exactly what I’m talking about:

5. Think Like a Teacher

If you’re a great teacher, and you find a way to speak to your audience in a way they can understand, it’s a good chance you’ll find success as a blogger.

A perfect example of this is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. Anyone that has ever read Pat’s blog will always describe it with this word—Helpful. In fact, it’s not just helpful, it’s extremely helpful.

Pat has a magical way of putting himself in the shoes of an inexperienced or beginning blogger, and then showing techniques, practices, etc. in such a way that anyone can understand. If you read Pat’s blog, there is a good chance you’ll leave every post with something new and applicable you can apply to your blog and business—the truest sign of a great teacher.

Your Turn

Although all of these qualities will surely help you to build your blog and brand more quickly in 2012, there are many more worth mentioning, and I’d be curious to know what other qualities you’d add to this list. Also, if you’ve noticed other bloggers demonstrating these qualities, don’t hesitate to mention them as well. As always, your thoughts, comments, and shares are very much appreciated.

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  1. says

    I love these ideas. Thinking like a teacher is a necessary trait for effective audience engagement. Thinking of effective blog titles is hard when you are starting out although it’s the number one factor in attracting that first click. I would add these qualities: Being a quick learner and constant researcher, especially of new and helpful tools in your niche.
    Gazalla Gaya just posted Style Guide – An Essential Strategy for Quicker Content Creation

  2. says

    Great post Marcus.

    I was really impressed with what Danny Iny was doing. Another person that comes to my mind is Bamidele Onibalusi from YoungPrePro. He’s a rock-star content creator.

    In my opinion, it really pays off to network with influencers. For people like me who live far away from where most seminars or expos are held, the best way to get in touch with the A listers is via commenting or guest posting.

    If I were to focus on one thing, and only one, I’d focus on building relationships in my niche.
    Adarsh Thampy just posted SEOmoz Pro Review: Is SEOmoz Tools Worth Paying For?

    • says

      Adarsh, you’ve always got intelligent things to add to the conversation my man, as was the case here.

      Yes, networking makes a big difference. Commenting and sharing can start that relationship and then turn it into something long lasting.

      Oh, and Onibalusi is another excellent example of someone really pushing it towards success.

      Great stuff Adarsh, thank you!


      • says

        You are too kind with words Marcus :)

        While people say that it’s very difficult to build a strong blog as competition is on the rise, I don’t really agree to that.

        Take a look at the opportunities you have today to spread your content. True that earning links is not very easy, but it’s easier to spread your content today. Had it not been for Twitter, I wouldn’t have networked with some of the most amazing people in mu niche. (Back in 2006 it was much more difficult to do this).

        And for my 30 day old blog, Twitter is only of the top referrers.

        Thanks for the share Marcus.
        Adarsh Thampy just posted Hubspot Review: Should You Buy This Inbound Marketing Tool?

  3. says

    Hello Marcus,

    Bang on! :)

    Given the ever growing number of blogs and overlapping niches, it definitely is tough to make your way through the crowd and at least have a name for yourself. I started off with a personal blog and now when I am working on something serious and more niche oriented; I understand the pressure of starting from scratch. Though it is tough; one pattern that I see is most effective is when you have to offer something new or at least with a newer twist. Most of the blogs I land on, has the same old thing to offer and I feel I have read enough and can’t take anymore and then the close button isn’t really far! :)

    Also, I loved the point of doing things relentlessly. I did get across to Stuart Mill’s blog the same way! He was just everywhere and his guest posts were just awesome that it was always wonderful getting back to his blog and seeing what the “fuss” is all about! 😉

    Thanks for the post Marcus! Roar on! :)
    Hajra just posted Will they call you over for a bloggers party?

  4. says

    Hi Marcus,

    This is an excellent guide for growing a blog. These five tips can really help both new bloggers and seasoned alike. I really like how you gave examples of other bloggers who are living examples of excellence. I’ve recently found Danny Iny and he’s not only an excellent example that I am learning from but he is very personable and helpful as well!

    Thanks for this post! I’m going to bookmark it!
    Stacy just posted The Attraction Marketing De-Wimping Challenge

  5. says

    I like the guest posting one. I’ve heard it said a few times that you should post your best articles on other peoples blogs as a way of raising your profile. I can’t say I’m an exemplar but I now write regularly for half a dozen decent sized blogs and it’s done wonders for my own blog traffic. Getting out and meeting people in your niche is very under-rated. Having powerful friends can really put a rocket up your blogs traffic.
    Adi Gaskell just posted Can cloud computing transform your business?

    • says

      Good points Adi. Guest posting opens up a lot of doors, especially if it’s on a platform that gets a lot of viewers.

      For example, I posted recently on Social Media Examiner and it, in one day, lead to about 110 new subscribers to my blog.

      Considering it took me about 5-6 months of blogging to get that many subscribers at the beginning, that’s a heck of a return. :)

      Thanks again Adi!


  6. says

    Hi said it on FB, but I want to say it here too :-) Marcus! First off, I am honored to be mentioned in ANYTHING you write, so thank you! And what a great post – It touches on everything I try to stay focused on, plus you know I am HUGE fan of Derek Halpern and Social Triggers (my opt-in box is a huge success thanks to him). And I especially like #5 – I am a new fan of Pat Flynn and his content, so I was excited to see him on your list! Thanks again for a great post, Marcus!

      • says

        Hey Marcus, thanks so much for the mentioning me here and I appreciate your kind words specifically about my teaching style. I really work hard to kill the “curse of knowledge” (as Dan and Chip Heath would say) when I’m sharing information. Thanks again for your presentation video that you shared on G+ yesterday too, that was fantastic (although it did make me want a burger, which isn’t good!).

        To Amy, thank you again for your support. I know we’ve just only recent crossed paths but I hope we can connect more in the future from this point forward. If we’re ever at a conference or something together I will go out of my way to meet you.

        All the best to everyone here!
        Pat just posted My Monthly Report – January 2012

        • says

          More than welcome brother. You know, it’s funny you mention the curse of knowledge. I’m written about that phrase many times and I think it alone holds blogs back more than any other obstacle.

          You’re doing amazing things Pat, love watching you from my end man.


  7. says

    they simply don’t understand how to write blog post titles that arouse reader interest and lead to a high click-through rate.

    We disagree on the value of headlines. They continue to be overrated and I think that the click-through rate is misleading because what you really want to know/see is the post click conversion rate.

    True power/influence in social media is measured by whether people respond to your call to action.

    It is not a matter of getting people to “visit your blog” but of convincing them that there is value in being there. Part of the reason that most blogs fail in 90 days or less is because the bloggers aren’t prepared for the long haul. They think that just getting people to show up at their blogs is enough and it is not.

    When I ask people why they are blogging and what their plan is relatively few can answer the question. Ask them how they are going to monetize their blog and relatively few can provide real answers.

    Ask them for examples of successful bloggers who have created a significant revenue stream and they can name a small handful of people we “think” are doing it.

    I think it is important for people to remember that they need to sustain their effort and that success isn’t going to come overnight. I know that I sound grumpy and bitter but I also know that within six months quite a few of the faces we see today will be gone.
    Jack just posted The Best Way To Blog Is…Your Way

    • says

      Jack, I completely agree with what you’re saying about plans, goals, longevity, etc. COMPLETELY.

      But the idea that blog post titles don’t make a huge difference is false. For example, if someone has a ‘list’ for their newsletter, the subject line for that newsletter is HUGE in terms of open rates.

      If someone is looking at their RSS feeder and choosing how they’ll spend their next five minutes, and they have to choose between 20 different blog titles, the one that is the most catchy will make ALL the difference at first.

      In the 3 years I’ve been writing, I’ve gotten at least 100 comments of folks saying to the effect: “Marcus, dude, I couldn’t resist reading this after I saw the title.”

      Now granted, titles only get them in the top of the funnel,and it’s the rest of the content that pushes them down (leading to shares, likes, blah, blah, blah).

      But to say that titles are not important is quite false in my opinion Jack.

      Thanks for keeping it real though man, even if we don’t always agree. I respect and appreciate that about you.


      • says


        I appreciate you because we can disagree and that is important. Here is the deal, it doesn’t matter how many people you convince to visit your store. What matters is whether they buy anything.

        That is why the post click conversion rate is so very important. It is easy to come up with headlines that make people want to click on the link. It is much harder to get them to do anything once they get in.

        In a semi-related topic I’d argue that it is much easier to sell tangible items than intangibles. You don’t have to spend as much time talking about the value of a swimming pool as you do for an intangible product.

        Don’t misunderstand, I am not dissing your swimming pool business but I am saying that it is a different product than quite a few bloggers are selling.

        Review the comments from your posts from the last year and see how many of those people are still around. They are dying. Their blogs are being abandoned and their jumping ship because you can’t become an overnight success.

        If you are blogging to make money you have limited time. Comments aren’t currency. Doesn’t matter if you get 5 or 1000, unless they buy whatever it is you are selling.

        I understand that you said in the 3 years you have been writing you have gotten hundreds of comments that said they came because of title. I’ll be obnoxious and say that I can quadruple that.

        In the 8 years I have been blogging I have gotten a boatload of comments that say the same thing. But what we really care about is what they do once they get there.

        Unless I am mistaken we are talking about whether they are buying what we’re selling. So the bottom line is that we need to focus on what happens when they show up at the blog. The greatest headline won’t make them buy.
        Jack just posted Why Your Post Sucks and Everyone Hates Your Blog

  8. says

    I appreciate your emphasis on teaching! Our blog is just started in early December and we were blessed to get some incredible guest bloggers out of the gate who have contributed some resources for our new readers, and their readers.

    I think one other item to consider for your list is engagement. How engaging is it and how open is the blog to accepting comments, ideas, opposing views, etc. I believe engagement is a key to success that keeps them coming back for more.

    • says

      Very good points Don. The fact that you have an emphasis on ‘teaching’ is a primary goal is going to only lead to better and better gains going forward with your new blog. Very excited for you there!

      And yes, engagement is a big, big deal. And it certainly keeps your most loyal fans coming back and spreading the word even further.

      Thanks for the comment Don!


  9. says

    Great article! Definitely gives “newbie bloggers” something to aim for. I’m glad you sited Danny Iny right off the bat. If people take just one thing away from this post it’s that working hard (like Danny) does pay off, but you have to be willing to dedicate some serious time to your blogging efforts.
    Christelle Hobby just posted Sweet New Offers for Valentine’s Day

  10. says

    As I’ve been ramping up lots of work on my fitness Blog, the timing of your post couldn’t have been better. I feel your point number 1 is the father of all the rest, because without impregnable drive, your Blog will go nowhere, or will take a long time to take off. I’m happy to say that I scored a PR 3 on my Blog just 8 months after I launched it.

    Thanks man. You gave me just that much more motivation to continue what I’ve been doing!

    Kodjo just posted Super Bowl Sunday Game Plan – How to Avoid Overeating

    • says

      We all need help to our problems Ricardus. And those folks that give solutions to those problems carry the day in any field– hence the great teaching. I look at folks like Pat Flynn and Amy Porterfield and am blown away with their keen speaking ability.

      Thanks so much for dropping in Ricardus, appreciate the support!


  11. says

    I wouldnt agree with being relentless. Remember ‘slow and steady wins the race’!!

    I think persistence is the key here, Work regularly and try to create a place for your self by creating and posting content that is really unique. You can use Social Media effectively to create an awareness. Just keep on going and you will be there right at the top in that crowded niche, though it may take a little while before you reach there!
    John Armstrong just posted DIY Conservatory prices what to avoid

  12. says

    Nice article there are lot of things to do in blog commenting but these tips can also prove powerful like we can see much number of visitors on our blog post after use these tips.

    I impressed with these two points in your blog post :

    1. Learn to Post Powerful and Effective Blog Titles
    2. Think like a teacher
    India carnival just posted Goa Carnival 2012

  13. says

    Marcus, this post has really been helpful not just for the new bloggers, but for us who’ve been blogging for quite sometime now. And I totally agree about “willing” success into our lives.. there aren’t any shortcuts to success–you have to work your way, and there are no excuses. What really got me was the “knowing your shtick” part.. where it’s really better to be the best of one area in your life than just being mediocre on everything..
    Felicia Gopaul just posted 003 CFR – Searching for and Finding Scholarships

  14. says

    Hey Marcus, thanks for sharing an awesome post. Since starting to blog more seriously lately, the tips for creating greater titles should increase my open rates. If you don’t have an intriguing title no one is going to read your content right?

    I am an avid reader the blogs you have mentioned, and also recently took a look at Danny’s course which I have found some great value from.

    Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend Marcus.
    Daniel Sumner just posted Building Your Subscribers List with an Opt-in Part 4

  15. says

    First off Marcus, way to go on making the Social Media Examiner list. That’s nothing short of awesome. You have offered a great list as well. Blogging in a way that is creative, informative and entertaining is a good way to differentiate yourself in a crowded niche. Headlines are the key, whether is in print, an email subject line, tweet or blog title. Your generosity in this post is evident and will no doubt come back to you in reciprocal mentions. Curation is good if you can put your own value-added spin to package in a way that is progressive and engaging. Thanks for sharing.
    Rick Noel just posted How Big is the Mobile Marketing Opportunity?

  16. says

    I think in a competitive Niche, you have to hit social media hard to grow quickly. Otherwise, you need to have a ton of patience to build a lot of backlinks and bring up your search engine rankings. Backlinking and SEO are great fo sustained and organic growth through a search engine, but I think in a competitive niche, it will still take time. The reality is you can’t build something lasting without putting in the time.
    Richard just posted Learn to Trade Forex with The Best

    • says

      I don’t think a book means much at all these days Ari, eBook or print. What impressed me about what Danny did was the fact that he was able to draw on the knowledge of so many people, some of which are some very well known names, and get them to contribute to his book. Furthermore, when he launched it, boy did he carry out a plan that was impressive. Everything he did was rather outside the box thinking in my opinion.

  17. says

    The fastest way to get loads of visitors and become popular with blog is to get it featured on TechCrunch, Engaget and some other major blogs but of course it’s close to impossible or at least very difficult :)
    I like the idea about thinking outside the box. This terms gets very outdated and everyone uses it but only few really thinks and does things outside the box.

    Thanks Marcus for ideas!
    Mike just posted Vocabulary Level E Answers

  18. says

    What a fascinating post Marcus. I love it.

    Most of the points you mentioned do apply to me and my own personal experience with my first ever blog in a very crowded niche (make money online).

    I started with no experience, but I was (and still am) truly relentless when it comes to promotion, link building and generally getting things done.

    And even though I started as a total newbies, this “getting things done” attitude helped me climb the ranking under a year and now the blog ranks for most of the related keywords.

    I think, if you truly do work and dedicate yourself to your blog, you can succeed much faster than you can think.
    satrap just posted 101 Small Business Ideas

  19. says

    When you mentioned being relentless, do you feel that this is something that most beginning bloggers fail to do? I know that in the internet marketing world, many believe that they can generate significant traffic by trying to automatize everything. I know from my experience, it takes a ton of energy and effort to reach the “critical mass” where a blog is somewhat self sustaining. What are your thoughts?
    Matt just posted Italy – Why Visit this Top European Destination?

  20. says

    Great points!

    I want to add that you also need to be an expert in your field. I think there are lots of people out there who just want to make a quick buck online and never take the time to become an expert in any niche…Their stuff never takes off because they can’t produce good quality material and they don’t attract any fans.

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