Over the past year, I’ve talked to hundreds of business owners and bloggers about success in this field, and inevitably everyone asks the exact same derivative of this question within the first 10 minutes of conversation:
“OK, assuming we do all of this stuff, how long with it take for our blog to grow, produce results, and make sales?”
Ahhh yes, a dang good question indeed.
Despite what any ‘SEO hack' might tell you, the only answer to this question is, “It all depends.”
And possibly more than anything, it depends on a very important indicator that I like to call ‘CSI’, or otherwise stated, an industry’s Content Saturation Index.
To make CSI easy to understand, it works like this—The more content an industry/niche has written about it, the harder it is for a blog to make headway and find success in that field.
And when an industry has very little online content available to the masses, it can often be gobbled up within almost no time at all.
Let me give you an example of both extremes.
River Pools and Spas: Skyrocketing to Success Through Content
In March of 2009, I started blogging for my swimming pool company. At the time, less than 20% of our website traffic was ‘organic’ (free through search). The rest came from PPC (Pay Per Click) and ‘direct’. Within 6 months, and after blogging 2-3 times a week, there was a significant shift in our numbers and the organic traffic started to grow dramatically. It was also during this time we started to experience more leads and sales because of this new found traffic.
Within 18 months, the blog had elevated the website to an elite status in the swimming pool industry. By now, the long-tail keyword campaigns were paying huge dividends. Within hours of writing an article with specific keyword goals, we were showing up on the first page of Google. This success also enabled us to cut all of our old-school advertising and go 100% ‘all-in’ with blogging/content marketing.
But keep in mind, all of this would not have been possible had the CSI of the swimming pool industry not been so low. In other words, because so many ‘pool guys’ had zero interest in producing great content on their websites to teach the masses, it left a field wide open for someone like me to come in and have a complete harvest. (Note** I still had to be strategic and smart in terms of topics, SEO, etc.)
And believe it or not, to this day there are many, many industries (especially blue-collar fields) that greatly lack content on the web, and are just waiting for someone (like YOU) to come along and take the bull by the horns and quickly rise to the top.
The Sales Lion: A Slow Rise to Success
On the reverse side of the coin, let’s take a look at my former agency, The Sales Lion.
In a field focused on blogging, marketing, and business tips; you can imagine just how much content is currently out there. The shear number of folks writing about this stuff is growing by the day, which is one reason why so many bloggers and businesses struggle to stand out in the fields of marketing, self-improvement, sales, etc.
I started The Sales Lion in November of 2009. At the time, I naturally figured I’d just walk right in, just as I’d done in the swimming pool industry, and dominate.
Boy was I wrong.
For the first year, this blog grew very little. In fact, it really wasn’t until I woke up and started working much harder on my networking that things finally picked up around the beginning of 2011. Luckily for me, I wasn’t dependent on The Sales Lion to pay my bills during this time period, otherwise I would have gone broke.
But by midway 2011, two very important things started happening:
1. Companies started contacting me for inbound/content marketing help.
2. Conferences started contacting me to speak at their events.
Finally, after almost 20 months of diligently blogging 2-3 times per week, the Law of Momentum had started to work its magic. The relationships built were paying off. Organic search was actually growing. And a business was starting to form and take shape.
But explaining why things took so much longer to happen for The Sales Lion is again because of the content saturation index being so very, very high in this industry.
And whenever this occurs, solid content is usually not enough to get a blog going. In fact, as I’ve stated on other occasions, beyond networking I’d strongly suggest bloggers embrace these two core skill-sets:
2. Learn to be a blogging rebel in your industry. Talk about stuff no one else is willing to talk about.
No matter what an industry’s CSI is, if these two needs are not met as well, a blog will likely experience little success.
Yes, But How Long Will it Take??
Before I close this little post, I know some of you still are wondering what the average amount of time is needed for a business blog to show an increase in web traffic, leads, and sales. And although there are countless factors that go into this question, I would say the average for most companies, who intelligently blog at least 2-3 times per week, is 6-12 months.
Again, that’s an average, but it seems to be the most common number after tracking the success of my clients and other companies over the past 2 years.
Despite this average though, short term results are absolutely possible as well. For example, you could write a blog post today (your first one even) that ranks well for a particular keyword phrase tomorrow, which then leads to a web visitor that same day, who then fills out a form on your website, who then becomes a customer a few days later.
Not only have I seen this scenario many times with both my companies, but every business I’ve worked with that has truly embraced a culture of consistent content marketing has experienced the same as well.
The Bottom Line
All this being said, really the most important aspect to the question of ‘How long will it take’ comes down to actually getting started and doing something. Unless you start producing content and pushing it out there to the masses, you’ll never know about time, be it short or long term.
But this much is for certain—You need to start. And if you do, and do it well, the rest will fall into place.
I’ve got one question I’d really love to hear from each of you today: How long has it taken for you to find blogging success in your industry? If you could, name the industry you’re in and the number of months (estimate) it took to see solid, consistent results. (Feel free to include your URL, and if it gets caught in SPAM, I'll make sure to get it out.)
Also, if you’ve yet to experience the success you’re looking for and you feel there is something wrong, go ahead and write your blog’s URL and tell us why you think you’re falling short. This will also allow those in the community an opportunity to give you thoughts and feedback as well.
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About Marcus Sheridan
In late 2009, Sheridan started his sales, Marketing, and personal development blog—The Sales Lion. He has since grown its brand to be synonymous with Inbound and Content Marketing excellence while being featured in multiple industry publications, including the New York Times where he was referred to as a “web Marketing guru.” Today, when Sheridan isn’t giving riveting and passion-filled keynotes around the globe or consulting with businesses and brands, he generally finds himself on an adventure with his wife and 4 children.