12 Lessons Learned from Building a 10,000 Subscriber Blog

Wake Up Cloud reaches 10,000 SubscribersWake Up Cloud just reached 10,000 12,000 subscribers.

It took me three years to reach 10,000 subscribers.

I’ve made mistakes, I’ve had my expectations shattered, and I’ve wanted to throw in the towel.

So today I wanted to share some of the core lessons I’ve learned from getting to 10,000 blog subscribers.

There are things not spoken about in the blogging world, and today I’m going to cover them.

There’s honesty ahead, so proceed at your own risk.

And remember to grab some tea or coffee.

1. Advice

I’m going to start this article off with one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, which is to take advice with a grain of salt. Yes, even my advice.

What works for me may not work for you. You have to listen to your inner GPS and see what feels right for you.

Starting out, I followed courses and coaching advice to the letter, because I didn’t know much. And that was perfect, because when I didn’t know, I followed a proven path.

But as I gained experience, I began experimenting, and I discovered that how I wanted to do things wasn’t what most people were teaching.

I was different. I wanted to build a different kind of business. So there came a point where I started trusting myself more than external sources.

This may not happen right away, but as you keep moving forward, your trust in yourself will grow.

Don’t try to fit yourself into a mold that you know you won’t fit into. Listen to people you trust. Learn from them, but forge your own path. Break rules and blog the way you want to blog.

If a piece of advice holds you back, eliminate it.

2. Time

Building a popular blog takes time.

I love what I do. I’ve loved the years of blogging, even though they haven’t always been smooth sailing.

But I’ve realized that I don’t want things to go smoothly. I don’t want life to be easy. I want challenges, because they help me grow.

Each time I “fail,” I learn something. That in turn means that I can pass it on to you.

So yes, building a popular blog takes time. It often takes longer than you think. If you want to build a blog just because you want the popularity, forget it.

Build a blog and a business because you can’t not do it. Do it because you’re passionate about it, because if you’re not enjoying this present moment, what’s the point?

I enjoy writing this article, and I’m happy right now. I still have an intention to grow my business, but I’m right here, right now, and my cells are smiling.

3. Experimentation

Uncover what works for you, and what doesn’t.

I’ve used guest posting extensively to build my blog, but it doesn’t work in every niche.

What does work are the core principles. For example, guest posting is simply the act of getting in front of the right audience.

You can do that in many different ways.

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of things. Most of them haven’t worked out, or I didn’t like them.

Remember, I spent 2-3 years failing before I built my first successful website. That was all experimentation. What I learned I still use today, so nothing I’ve done “wrong” has been a waste, and it never will be.

In a way, I consider myself lucky, because it only took me a few years to realize that I had to be willing to start before I was ready.

I almost never have perfect clarity on any new project I start. But it doesn’t have to make me confused, because like Eckhart Tolle says in his book, A New Earth, “Confusion is not ‘I don’t know.’ Confusion is ‘I don’t know, but I should know.’

I don’t have to know the future. I just have to take the first step.

So instead of waiting for perfection, start now. Take the first step. Let the puzzle pieces fall into place by themselves.

And if they don’t, who cares? Keep going anyway.

4. Mindset

My mindset is the foundation for my success.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have the determination to keep moving forward no matter what.

My mind frequently throws excuses, fears and worries at me, but I keep going, because that’s where my heart is taking me.

I know that if I stop, I’ll end up regretting it for the rest of my life. And my heart will keep yearning, it will keep wanting to pull me forward, so I might as well go and see what happens.

There are a lot of fears you can give into, and there were many fears I faced in the beginning, such as:

And on and on it went.

Eventually I became so sick of listening to my fears that I just started. And I realized that the fears I thought were real, weren’t, because they only existed in my head.

Even now as I’m writing this post, I’m worried that this post will end up too long, but I’m going to keep writing, because I feel inspired to do so.

I’m not after the people who think this is too long. I’m after you, because you’re still reading. You care about the details, because you truly want to succeed.

You are ready to take the next step, so you want to know everything.

You can wait for your fears to go away, but you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. Forget about 100% clarity and forget about getting things perfect. Just start.

5. False Expectations

When I started my online adventure, I thought I would be making six figures in six months.

Well that didn’t happen.

Throughout the years, I’ve discovered that all of the things I think will happen almost never come to pass.

The reason is because my expectations are based on what I think I know, and I really know nothing. No one does.

The foundation I base my expectations on are thoughts in my head. They are made up. This was especially true when I was starting out. I had no idea of what would happen. I could only dream.

I have no idea where life will take me, so I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. I just do my best in this present moment, and I let life take care of the rest.

The more I trust and follow my heart, the better things seem to go. “Negative things” still happen, but they don’t have the same power over me, because I take things one moment at a time.

You never know where life will lead you, so be open, and above all, enjoy the ride. There’s nothing to figure out, and there’s nowhere you need to be, except right here, right now.

You will still have doubts, but doing your best is what matters.

6. Quality Matters

Just getting thousands of random people on an email list is not enough. Those people have to be interested in what you have to say. They have to take be willing to take action.

And again, this doesn’t happen overnight. I’m slowly attracting a core group of people that want to hear from me.

It takes time to find and attract your right people.

So, how do you make sure you get high-quality people to join your list? You can’t really.

But you can increase your chances by offering a relevant sign-up bonus. That thing people get when they join your list.

In the beginning, my focus was on getting as many people to join my list as possible, which I now see was wrong, but at least I was moving forward.

Now my focus is on getting the right people to join my email list. I still can’t stop anyone from joining, so I do my best and let life take care of the rest.

7. Value Matters

In order to build a successful blog, you have to bring some kind of value into people’s lives.

It could be entertainment, inspiration, or just pure education.

You have to help in some way. You may not believe you know enough to help anyone, but if you can help someone with something, you know enough to start.

You will never know everything, so don’t even try.

This held me back for a long time. I thought I wasn’t as good as other entrepreneurs and bloggers, so I didn’t start.

But once I started, I discovered that some people wanted to hear my view on things. They wanted to listen to me. And the same is true for you. Just because you feel you don’t know enough does not mean it’s true. It’s just a thought in your head.

You have to start, and now is the best time. Start, do your best, and see what happens.

If you fail, you’ll learn from it.

8. Evolution

When I started Wake Up Cloud, I had a very broad focus.

This blog was all about personal development tips for conscious people. But as I kept writing and getting feedback, my focus began to change.

When I shared that I was making a living online, people wanted to know more, and I felt compelled to share, so I did.

As the years passed, this blog eventually evolved into what you see now. And it will keep evolving, because that’s what happens.

So don’t try to figure things out before you start, because you can’t. You will start with one idea, but you may end up somewhere completely different.

That’s why I keep stressing the importance of starting. Nothing happens until you start. If you try to analyze and plan everything to perfection, you’ll stay stuck.

You may have all sorts of reasons for not starting, but those are part of staying stuck. You can take action, and you can start.

So start.

That’s what I did, and here I am.

Hi.

9. Small Things

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You may believe you need a fancy design, but you don’t.

You may think that you need to structure your blog posts in a certain way, but you don’t. It helps, but if it keeps you from taking action, then you can learn it later.

All of these things are less important when you’re starting. The important part is getting started. You can tweak everything later.

You see, there’s a gap between being a producer and being a consumer.

When I consume something, when I’m reading a blog, I don’t really care if they have a fancy design. I just want to read. I want the blog to not stop me from reading.

But when I’m starting a blog, or creating something, I’m in perfectionist mode. I nit-pick everything and I want everything to be perfect.

And in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

There are blogs that look like crap that are popular.

There are blogs that look amazing that have 10 subscribers.

All of this thinking that you have to have a fantastic website is just a way to avoid doing work that matters.

10. Focus

If you want to build a popular blog, you need to get people to subscribe.

If you want to build a thriving lifestyle business, you need to make enough money to keep you afloat.

When I became serious about building a lifestyle business, I started focusing on key metrics. I didn’t really care about social media followers or comments.

I cared about if my blog was growing and if my income was where I wanted it to be.

I see so many people lacking focus. And it often comes from fear. If you spend your days on social media, you can always say you tried.

But you didn’t, not really.

If you’re just getting started. There are two metrics you need to pay attention to, and they are:

1. Your email list
2. Your income

You can forget everything else.

Yes, there are other important things, but they aren’t that important. Not right now.

The more you can eliminate things and focus, the better you’ll do.

Start with one thing, do it well, and then expand.

11. Forget Home Runs

Forget about breakthroughs.

Forget about a guest post on a big blog solving everything. It won’t catapult you into stardom. It may give you an influx of subscribers, but after that, it’s back to working hard and focusing on what matters.

Forget about writing a post that goes viral.

Yes, do your best, but don’t be too hard on yourself if big things don’t happen right away.

For a few years, I compared myself to other more “successful” bloggers, and I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the same results.

The reason was because I wasn’t them.

I’ve come to accept this. Now I do what I feel compelled to do.

Sometimes my posts go viral, but more often than not, they don’t.

This is a marathon, not a sprint, which is why it’s important that you follow your passion and do something you enjoy.

12. Make Friends

I’m an introvert, so I’ve never been big on networking.

For a long time, I even avoided trying to make connections at all, which was a mistake. But I eventually learned my lesson.

Today I approach networking differently. I simply connect with people that resonate with me.

I connect with people that I would want to be friends with in real life, because if I’m not having fun, then I’m not doing it.

I’m not going to connect with someone just to have access to their audience, because it’s not worth it. I want to enjoy myself right here, right now, and I want to follow my passion.

As long as I’m doing that, life will sort itself out.

I may not have access to someone’s audience, but if my work needs to reach more people, it will.

There’s no need to force progress, because it’ll only make you miserable, frustrated and exhausted.

Extra Lesson: Have Fun

I’ve learned that what matters is enjoying what I do.

Don’t start a blog if it’s a means to an end. Now, obviously it will always be a means to an end, but what I mean is that if you don’t enjoy blogging, then don’t do it.

If you feel compelled to share what you have inside, and if you feel the urge to start a blog, then start a blog.

You alone know where you need to go next. We all have an internal GPS ready to help us. All we have to do is listen.

It guides you through excitement.

I started blogging because it seemed like fun. I had no reason for why I should blog. I just wanted to try it.

You don’t need reasons to do anything. You just have to follow your heart, and that’s what I’ve been doing all these years.

Each year I follow my deep inner calling, my life gets better, but it’s funny, because I don’t really need my life to get better, because I already love what I’m doing.

I love writing these words. And I love helping you.

That’s the power of following your passion, and building a lifestyle business.

Summary

The takeaway is that you have to be willing to start. You won’t know what will happen until you take action.

Follow your excitement, be open to life, and prepare to have your expectations shattered.

Building a 10,000 subscriber blog was never a primary goal. I’ve just focused on putting out great content and helping people.

This is what I feel inspired to do, and it seems that when you follow your inspiration, the universe conspires to help you.

So start, because there’s no better time than now.

And if you need help, you may want to check out my book, Write Blog Posts Readers Love. You can grab it on Amazon.

Get the FREE Ebook and Discover:

  • How to turn your passion into a lifestyle business
  • The two ways to find your profitable passion
  • The biggest mistake you can make (and how to avoid it)
  • And so much more!

Comments

  1. Hi Henri, you talk a lot of sense and that is why you are becoming the success that you are. As you say above, it’s Mindset that is most important. The advice you are giving here and in many other posts you have written is helping readers develop the correct mindset. Good work my friend and hopefully one day we can work together. Thanks, Stu :)

    • Absolutely, Stu.

      The mindset is the fuel in your engine. When you let go of everything holding you back, that’s when you realize that there’s no need to try to get things perfect.

      There’s no need to try and control everything, because you can only do what you can do. And you only have to take one step at a time, then tweak things from there.

  2. Man building a lifestyle business is all about passion and having fun.

    If I wasn’t passionate about the subject of fitness, there’s no way in hell I’d continue working on my website. It’s really tough, especially when you don’t have any tangible results yet ($$$).

    Without passion, this stuff is torture :)

  3. What a great post Henri!

    I feel like many of the things you wrote about are starting to click for me. But I think the most important reminder you gave was that, you have to do things your own way and to have fun while you’re at it.

    ps. I didn’t mind the long format at all. I thought it as great :)

    • Thanks Juha!

      Yes sir. Learn from someone who is where you want to be, but also know that in the end, you only have to implement what resonates with you.

      The ideas I share are only springboards. I want them to inspire you to come up with your own processes.

  4. Hi Henri,

    This is the first comment on your blog and do you know the reason? You are talking to a fellow introvert. Anytime someone admits to being one, I can’t resist chiming in. So here I am. :)
    Also, I loved your post and I agree 100%. I have been blogging (professionally) just over a year and all of your points deeply resonate with me. I also believe that one should listen to everyone but do whatever works for them. I am a strong supporter of exprimenting and growing alongside your blog. You are also spot on with finding a strong focus with your blog and building a high quality email list. I am getting there.
    I think there is a connection between guest posting and introversion. I know so many introvert bloggers who spend hours spending quality content for others to develop meaningful relationships, instead of engaging in social chiat chat. I so get you.
    Thanks for the awesome post.
    Cheers.

    • Well hi there, Marya. Glad to have you share your thoughts here.

      You’re spot on. I don’t see introversion as a problem, it’s just that I enjoy doing things in a different way. In the end, there really are no obstacles stopping anyone.

      We can always take action.

  5. Henri:
    I’m launching a new project soon and know that your insights will continue to guide me.
    Thanks.

  6. Great advice, Henri. I much prefer your down-to-earth, relaxed, honest advice over the very structured systems some bloggers advocate. And I appreciate your openness about your own early failures. It can be so overwhelming to try to do it all–to learn the technical stuff & the basics of building an audience. You are right that it is better just to relax & do what feels right for you. I always come away from your posts feeling more relaxed and confident. Lately I’ve been fretting over website design–themes, etc. I’ve got a bunch of other things going on that are demanding my attention, so I’ve decided to give myself permission to take a vacation from the blog for a little while until a window opens up where I can work on it and enjoy it. Thanks!

    • Thanks for sharing, Vivi.

      What I like to emphasize is that things don’t have to be perfect right off the bat.

      For example, in your case, you can start with a design that’s good enough, because it can easily be changed in the future.

      Keep rocking!

  7. Hi Henri,

    This is also my first comment on your blog and am also an Introvert! what a great blog post with so much useful information. your message definitely resonates with me. Keep up the great work, you are truly an inspiration.

  8. Hi Henri,
    Bit of a “me too” comment but just wanted to thank you for the great post. I’m planning on starting my blog very shortly and this is good advice. Particularly the sign up bonus, that made me think and I’ve come up with something that should really qualify the subscriber as a future potential client. Thanks again.
    I am also an introvert. Just means we’re comfortable in our own skin (may not be a saying you are used to?)

  9. Great article Henri. Thanks for reminding me.

  10. Henri,

    I think your focus on “just taking action” makes a lot of sense. I got caught up on that for years: worrying that I didn’t have everything figured out. That cost me years of not working towards the goals I knew I was interested in accomplishment: success in entrepreneurship and building online content.

    I think that’s probably the most important part of your message, and certainly the part that most people seem to miss.

  11. Thank you for your simple and easy to understand information. You are doing great service telling us truths of life.

  12. Hi Henri, I really like your style in presenting things – easy to understand, straightforward and honest – thank you! Really enjoyed this post, I now feel more relaxed about what I’m creating…doing it my way in my own time…instead of feeling like I’m lagging behind everyone else! Thank you for that insight :)

    • That’s what it all comes down to: enjoying the journey.

      Learn from different sources, but only use what resonates with you. When you let things happen in their own time, everything becomes that much more fun.

      Rock on, Paula!

  13. Hi Henri :)
    Belated new year wishes to you and your family. I remember visiting your blog at the end of September 2010 when i was randomly surfing for good posts/articles on Self-Improvement.

    The Blog which lead me to you was an Article inspired by Bruce Lee in DumbLittleman.com. I loved it the first time I read it and I began to know the author i.e. you in detail :)

    To sum up what I have known from all these years. You are an Simple,Honest person who SINCERELY try to create value for others and without doubt you are a DETERMINED SOUL with INFINITE passion on writing articles/blogging/building life style business or whatever you would like to call.

    Henri, I can say with the passage of time you have become more knowledgeable in online blogging and what you believed in the beginning years of your Lifestyle business is NOW showing the results.:D

    I thoroughly read the entire article and for me EVERY SINGLE WORD perfect sense and this article would be “INCOMPLETE ” with even one punctuation or coma missing :P I mean these words naturally flow from your heart so they are “perfect ” or “Right” words in my opinion.:)

    And also because these words are “TRUE” in the sense that they tell about your experience over the past three years…moment by moment and any person who is willing to be an author/blogger/writer (or anything linked to creating value for others through writing ;) )will appreciate your sincere effort :)

    I completely agree with every single point and you have just repeated history Henri ,which many self-believing people have been doing over a long period time.

    1)Be yourself and have faith in your abilities
    2)Never give up until you reach you goal
    3)There is no substitute for hard work
    4)moral & ethical values like creating value for others

    In short you are an Inspirational blogger/writer whether you realize or not :)

    I truly wish your blog grows bigger and bigger helping all those people who resonate with your way of thinking.
    You simply Rock Henri :D

    Yours Sincerely/lovingly/faithfully/a bit Fun-Fully :P
    Teja :D

  14. Josh Bond says:

    Hello Henri,
    What a great website, with information presented clearly and to the point.
    I wish you and your family all the best on your journey through life combining spirituality with material action. It looks great so far.
    Josh

  15. Henri,

    Wow! You are incredible! I absolutely enjoyed reading this, all of it! Thanks for such a real and insightful message. I so needed to connect with this message again.

    Thank you for being you,

    Saba Teklegiorgis

  16. Awesome Henri! Congrats on 10k! Really great advice. Any next big goal/benchmark you’re trying to reach?

  17. Dear Henri,
    very valuable insight, I like the evolution part the most and should remind myself more often on this point, I push too much.
    As I am new to your blog, do you receive regular feedback from your readers / subscribers on how they apply your tips?
    Thanks!
    Jantje

  18. Nice reading your blog. It was long, but you write good. Enjoyed reading it. Will visit again. Thanks. Dita.

  19. Thanks for these awesome tips Henri!

    Point number 9 really applies to me. I’m very much a perfectionist and it’s really hard for me not to constantly nitpick. While you can achieve great results by doing that, it really slows the process down when it comes to content marketing. As Neal Schaffer once said: ‘if content is king, then consistency is queen’.

    Any advice on how to get out of this mindset? (Help me please!)

    Cheers Henri. See you on Twitter!

    • Hey Konrad,

      What helped me was to notice the consumer/producer gap. I realized that people don’t really care all that much.

      As you put out more stuff, you’ll let the perfectionism go more and more. Let it happen in whatever time it happens.

  20. Cool as hell to read this.

    My Thoughts,

    #1- “I really know nothing. No one does” That’s personal Fam. and Humbling.

    Business is HUMBLING. VERY Humbling because we LEARN about ourselves in the process of trying to provide VALUE for people.

    And sometimes PEOPLE can be the most hurtful.

    sometimes PEOPLE can be the most judgemental.

    sometimes PEOPLE can expect the WORLD.

    We’re constantly in a space of LEARNING and GROWING and people expect problems to be fixed instantly.

    I know… I know… that’s my job as an Entrepreneur is to solve problems and provide Value but sometimes PEOPLE are not so forgiving.

    –I’m Going To Stop My Rant On Your Post and Simply Say–

    To build a BLOG you’ve got to be BOLD, COURAGEOUS, AND HUMBLE.

    Thanks Henry

  21. Really inspiring article, Henri. I’m now on my 4th month of blogging and it’s been so rewarding. Not that it’s all rainbows and unicorns, but because I KEPT on going despite it, that it has made me grown to become something I never thought I would be.

    I face a lot of shit from the people who don’t think much of what I do. I worry all the time about my articles being some lame shit. But I carry on anyway. Because I know this matters. This is work I can’t not do.

  22. Great post, Henri. I love your philosophy. I feel exactly the same way about presence, leading with passion, figuring it out as you go, and enjoying it all along the way. Great advice.

  23. It’s no understatement how important getting started is. It was nice to hear that from someone on the other side of the spectrum. I have recently created a blog and have come up with so many different ideas and paths to take all thanks to simply starting.

    If I had never started I would still be debating between wordpress.org and wordpress.com

    Thank you for sharing some insight on your journey of building this blog!

  24. Hey Henri!

    I think it’s been a while since I’ve left a comment here… long-time reader for sure.

    I couldn’t wait to read another post on here so I’m glad you finally posted this, and especially this.

    Personally, I love your writing because it calms me down and makes me see things in a better light that I can sit back and just go for something and feel good about it, regardless of what happens.

    I read other blogs too, but yours has an effect that isn’t easy to find out there, which is why I connect so well with things around here… as do so many other people.

    I’m just working on exactly what you said in this post: Getting the right people to join my email list. If people are a good fit, great. If they’re not, there’s other sites where they will be.

    By the way, congrats on getting 12,000 subscribers.

    I’m on my way.

  25. Hey Henri,

    Another good one!

    Love the ‘Experimentation’ themes. It’s nearly impossible to nail it on the first try so you need to test & refine.

    Get some feedback and then test something new. Failing to learn & iterate is a great way to flat out fail.

    - Steve

  26. Cheers Henri!

    I like the fact that you’re not sugar coating anything here. Most of the images I see of popular bloggers, whether intentional or otherwise, is that their success was EASY (especially when they’re selling something).

    By showing the reality, that it can be difficult, overwhelming, confusing, but you still did it – that I find much more encouraging and inspiring.

    One of my key takeaways was about networking. I’ve felt the need to network with anyone and everyone, which is ridiculous, instead of thinking about it as forming real friendships and focusing on those connections I find meaningful.

    -AJ

  27. Hello Henri,
    this is my first time commenting, I’m an introvert, and I’m new to you and your content. You have absolutely captured my attention. Every single point that you made in this article resonates with how I want to do things in my life. I’ll be continuing to read your content and perhaps you’ll convert me :-) I like your down to earth, upfront, helpful, honest, open vibe.
    Looking forward,
    R

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