Last month we took a look at aspects to keep in mind when you’re starting a blog or podcast. Today, we’re going to examine how you should be gauging your blog’s growth. Although all blogs differ and growth varies based on your fan-base or subject matter, according to Edie Melson of The Write Conversation, there are some consistent stages that every blog will experience and some consistent strategies for cultivating a successful blog. Being aware of these stages can help you understand why, for instance, your numbers have plateaued. Or why you’ve seen a drop in subscribers. Or any number of occurrences that might otherwise discourage or confuse you. But whether you’re already in the blogging game, or haven’t even started yet, this piece will have great information for you. Stage 1: Slow Growth When you start a blog, the main audience is usually people who know the blogger personally. That’s great, because you’ll be relying on these people to spread your posts further and further outside of your immediate social circle. Eventually, you’ll attract readers you don’t know who are specifically interested in your subject. “…your first six months to a year will see little forward momentum. You’ll gain new followers, and lose some of the original ones…But this is a critical time because you’re cementing the core of your audience. I think of this as gathering the snow and solidifying it into a snowball.” —Edie Melson This is the point when some authors may feel discouraged about their numbers. But give your blog at least a year to 18 months before making drastic changes to format or content. Stage 2: Steady Growth Stage two will last anywhere from six to nine months, and in this time you’ll probably see small, yet steady, increases in your followers. Melson recommends seeking out guest-posters at this point to help your blog gain exposure. “Find people you respect and invite them to write a post or ask permission to repost one of their old posts. This stage is like beginning to roll your snowball through the snow, gathering a more solid ball that will hold together when you roll it down the hill.” —Edie Melson Be sure to stay very consistent in your posting schedule at this time. Continue pushing your posts on social media. Stay active in the blogosphere by engaging with commenters and commenting on other blogs in your subject-area. Stage 3: Self-Sustaining This is the point when you realize that people share your posts because they find them valuable on their own. It’s no longer a matter of friends and acquaintances supporting you. Now total strangers engage with your content! “…you’ll find yourself asked to guest post on other blogs, and you’ll be asked permission to repost your older blog posts. I think of this stage as when you push your snowball off the top of the hill and it begins to gain momentum on it’s own.” —Edie Melson This is no time to get complacent, though. Continue being consistent, sharing on social media, and interacting with your fans. If you need a vacation from blogging for a bit, line up enough guest posts to fill in the gap. Remember, anyone can start a blog, but it takes a dedicated individual to build a blog that lasts. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate growth—focus on writing the best content you can, promoting that content, and listening to your fan-base and the number will follow organically. Now get out there and blog! We hope you’ve learned some useful tips for gauging your blog’s growth! For the full text of Edie Melson’s original article, follow this link to The Write Conversation.