Brian Armstrong

What I Wish I'd Known When I Started This Blog

The other day when I posted about breaking the 2,000 subscriber mark, Breaking Free reader Caleb, of, asked a very good question that I thought deserved some more attention:


You say it took you about a year before your blog picked up momentum.

If you were to start a new blog all over again now, from scratch, but knowing what you now know, how long do you think it would take to reach the same number of subscribers/revenue? (No cheating by using your old blog to direct traffic to your new blog.)

I am curious about how much of it is “skill and knowledge” vs. how much is “17-month gestation”.

Here is my response:

Hi Caleb,

That’s a good question. I think it could go a bit faster the 2nd time around. Here are the three things I wish I had known before I got started - most of them dealing with choosing the right blog topic:

  1. Pick a topic that has mass appeal - great way to do this is to browse magazines in Barnes & Noble. If there is a magazine dedicated to it, it probably has enough people interested to make a good blog topic. Spend some time in Barnes & Noble’s magazine rack if you are trying to brainstorm ideas.

  2. Pick something that you’re passionate about so that it will be easy to continue writing. It should be a topic you’d write about whether anyone was reading it or not (like a journal) because it will feel like this for at least the first 6 months.

  3. Pick something that you have the potential to be the best in the world at someday. The #1 blog in a particular niche doesn’t receive 3 times more traffic than the #3 blog. It’s probably more like 100 times the traffic for being #1. Even if you aren’t an expert now, that’s ok. Writing about your journey to learn a topic is great. But you should at least have the potential to be the best some day. If someone else already has a blog out there on a topic that you like, that’s ok. Your niche can be local, or be a different take on the same subject within reason, as long as you have the potential to become the best.

One final bonus tip on how to grow a blog faster: Be opinionated. Take a stance in your posts and say what everyone else was thinking but didn’t have the balls to say. I think I was too afraid of offending anyone when I first started so I took the middle road and played it safe in my posts. This is a good way to have a boring blog that is not worth reading. When you’re opinionated you will piss off some people but you will also win loyal followers. This is far better than being boring which will get you no readers. Plus some of the people you piss off will still continue reading your material anyway.

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. People admire true honesty and authenticity because it’s rare on the internet.