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How Building a Blog is a Lot Like Running Your First Marathon

Posted on March 19 2014

I got an email from a reader a couple of days ago who is in the process of starting a running blog. He was asking about how to build a blog audience and how to grow traffic (among other things). The email reminded me that I started another site several months ago to answer questions just like this, so I crafted a post in which I described the growth of Runblogger traffic over the past 5 years (hard to believe that I’ve now been at it that long!).

The basic point I was trying to make in that post was that one needs to be both patient and persistent when launching and growing new blog. It takes time and a lot of hard work to build a successful website, and there are a lot of things that need to be done to build an audience.

This morning a friend retweeted the link to the post and made the comment that blogging is lot like running in that sense. Results are not instantaneous, and to get the desired outcome (running a PR, finishing a marathon, having a traffic breakthrough, getting a link from a high-traffic site) you need to put in work over a long period of time. I hadn’t really considered the parallels when writing the initial post, but upon reflection it’s very true. Running and blogging require a similar mindset – persistence, hard work, and a long-term approach pay off for both.

To finish your first marathon, you need to train for months, do varied workouts, hit your long runs, and log lots and lots of miles. Many of these miles will be lonely, where it’s just you and the road below your feet. But you get stronger each week, your endurance improves. You start setting PR’s at shorter races, and they drive you to continue your quest. And one day you cross the finishline after running 26.2 miles, and all that work has paid off. Your life has changed forever.

In a similar manner, starting a new blog with a goal of having it develop an audience requires lots and lots of writing, much of it done in obscurity (at least initially). It might take a year before you see any measurable traffic hitting your site (this was my experience). But with each post you hone your craft, you learn what you’re good at, and you get better at what you do. You also learn tricks that help you to reach your goal – leveraging social media, guest blogging, SEO, working with marketers, etc. And one day you realize that your blog has become something you could never had imagined it would become. For me, my blog became my job.

So if I had one piece of advice for a new running blogger, it would be to approach blogging like you would a marathon. Don’t expect to be able to cross that finishline on day one, it just doesn’t work like that. Work hard, write a lot, and study the craft. Thank your mom/spouse/significant other for being your only visitor those first few months. A long-term approach is required for the vast majority of us. But, if you stick with it, good things can happen. Just like finishing that first marathon, blogging can change your life.

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