TJ Kelly

How to Grow a Blog, as Demonstrated by Someone Who’s Done It 1,200,000 Times (it’s not me)

Brian Dean of Backlinko fame recently gave his 7 tips on how to grow a blog.

And he should know. His site is one of the most successful marketing blogs in the world.

  1. Use short intros
  2. Reply to every comment
  3. Focus 100% on QUALITY. Not quantity
  4. Cover trending topics
  5. Publish long-form content (4k+ words)
  6. Make your blog design look great
  7. Promote via email (outreach and newsletters)

I wanted to analyze his methodology and put it into practical terms.

Let’s dive in.


1. Use short intros



Organic Blog Growth: Comments.

2. Reply to every comment

This one is self-explanatory. They all are, really.

But it’s basically a carry-over from social media marketing strategy: attention = engagement = talking to people.

Turn your comments section into a discussion section. That means more views, and more attention-share from your audience.

You can see this in action on my GMail GoDaddy article: 350+ comments, stretching back several years—and they keep coming every week.

The system works.


Organic Blog Growth: Quality.

3. Focus 100% on QUALITY. Not quantity

I’m not gonna toot my own horn here, but yes I am. This is my M.O. (It’s obviously Backlinko’s M.O, too.)

My favorite examples of this method from my own work are here:

In all of these cases, including this very blog, these posts are informative, well-sourced, and thorough — and they took FOREVER to research, write, and publish.

I fall victim to the “I’ll get to it when I can” syndrome that lots of bloggers do. But I also take my time and only publish material that feels complete and comprehensive.

Quality over quantity.


Organic Blog Growth.

4. Cover trending topics

I don’t do as well with this one, but it makes perfect sense. If the world’s attention is fixed on one major topic, we should all dive into that topic in order to remain relevant and timely.

My writing has been on current topics a few times.

In both cases, these topics were ON FIRE in the marketing world for a week or so. I published the topics as quickly as possible (while attempting to maintain quality) in order to strike while the iron is hot.

And, in both cases, I got a reasonable amount of attention and traffic from those posts. Nothing groundbreaking, but I’d call them successes.

But it hasn’t always worked.

These posts were also trending/newsjacking attempts and they went absolutely nowhere.


5. Publish long-form content (4k+ words)

This one is my jam. I am nothing if not long-winded, especially in writing.

I admit I don’t always hit the 4k mark, as prescribed by Brian Dean, but sometimes I sail right past it without looking back.

Here’s what I mean—


Metropolitan Opera House, a concert by pianist Josef Hofmann.

6. Make your blog design look great

I’m not a visual designer. Interaction and some UX design? I can hang. But pixel-perfect aesthetic detail? Not my gig.

should hire professional designers to do their thing on all my properties, but I generally don’t. So I don’t get a passing grade on this aspect.

Do as I say, not as I do :)


7. Promote via email (outreach and newsletters)

Here’s another area where I struggle. Like many, all the blogs I’ve highlighted here come from side hustles. My real job uses email promotion all the time.

We typically send 30-50,000 emails per month. It’s a lot.

Most of it promotes our material, but in a B2B setting, the results (and the rules in general) are different.

So my grades here aren’t great either.


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