Blogging Overnight Success Story (or not)

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

As you probably know from this site's description, I've been writing this site since 2010. It's never been a full time job, or even something that made me any money at all until recently, but it has been a great hobby from which I've gotten a ton of pleasure. You either enjoy writing or you don't, and apparently I fall into the camp of people who just can't stop.

I was inspired to write this post after downloading my subscriber data from Feedpress (which is the best RSS service out there and you should totally be using it) and running it through Excel to see how things are going.

This data only goes back to early 2013, but it lets you get a general idea for how things have been going the last few years at BirchTree headquarters. What was an RSS audience of 22 3 years ago has grown almost 20x since then, with 90% of that growth happening in the last 12 months1.

I show you this data not to show off2, but to be an inspiration to aspiring writers out there who have just started and don't feel like they are getting the traction they deserve. There may be some overnight success stories out there for writers who spin up a WordPress server and are raking in many thousands of readers per day, but that's not the reality for 99.9% of people out there. If you enjoy the work, stick with it. Not only is that the best way to become a better writer, it also increases your odds of writing something that touches a nerve and gets noticed.

Back in 2012 I started using a web analytics service called Mint, and Mint has the ability to send you an email notification when you hit a certain milestone. I set it up to notify me when BirchTree got 10 hits in a day. Those were good days, and it was like that for a long time. I was essentially writing for myself back then, but I still did it.

It's been said many times and many ways, but write the stuff that you want to see out there. Don't rehash what everyone else is doing, and find a unique take on the news of the day. Most importantly, write about what you love and write it in your own voice. I spent years trying to ape other peoples' styles, and it wasn't until I started to really do my own thing that the needle started to move. This isn't a magic potion for "making it" as a blogger, but it's the best advice I have to give.

  1. Turns out the Apple Watch was my niche. 
  2. My numbers aren't big enough to brag.