The main topic of this blog is data-driven personal development. Therefore it must probably be evident that I’m obsessed with metrics that matter and measuring things in order to manage them better, in professional and personal life. My blog is no exception in this, especially now that I went full-time blogging.
I learned very early on in the startup world that if you treat your business as a hobby, it pays as a hobby. So if you’re going to treat your blog as a hobby, it’s going to pay like a hobby. If you want to make money out of blogging, you have to treat it like a business. In the same second as your blogging becomes a business, you have to know your metrics; and you have to know them really well.
If you’re going to treat your blog as a hobby, it’s going to pay like a hobby.
Why are metrics that important? Even though it may sound crazy, writing is quite a small part of blogging. Quality content is important. Very important. But you have to take care of many technical things like page speed, security, site uptime, user experience, attractive graphics and, most importantly, the distribution and monetization of your content.
Distribution and monetization are by far the greatest challenges in the picture. Most metrics that matter are therefore directed to measuring distribution and monetization. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good the content you’re creating is if nobody is reading it.
It’s kind of a big paradox. Distribution and monetization are the biggest challenges, although there are many different channels for content distribution you can engage – from organic to paid ones (search engines, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Merkant, you name it). Next to that, new and new channels are becoming available all the time.
But here is the catch. It’s easy to post things on social networks. Understanding what happens afterwards and what works and what doesn’t in your chosen niche is the hardest part. You have to understand markets (your niche) extremely well to write content that people are going to really consume and share. And you must have the necessary market insights to create products that people are going to buy. The only way to achieve that is with testing, metrics that matter and validated learning.
In this blog post series, you will learn:
- Why metrics really matter
- The difference between vanity and actionable metrics
- Which metrics you should measure as a blogger (complete overview)
- How you should measure your metrics
- Which actions you should take based on metrics and insights
Because there is a lot to cover, this blog post is divided into several parts. You can download all parts together in an eBook that is available to you to download for free. You can also download a completely free Excel template for regularly paying attention to your blogging metrics.
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- Part 1: Metrics that matter for bloggers – understanding the basics
- Part 2: How to make money blogging and financial metrics
- Part 3: Website analytics for bloggers
- Part 4: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) metrics for bloggers
- Part 5: Email marketing metrics for bloggers
- Part 6: Social media metrics for bloggers
- Part 7: Validated learning and dashboards for bloggers
Download the files below, including the completely free eBook with all the seven chapters and (2) a free Excel template for your monthly blogging metrics report and analysis. Plus, (3) a list of potential ways to make money blogging and (4) a list of 170+ affiliate programs and ad networks for bloggers.
List of files available for download:
The theory behind and understanding the basics of metrics that matter for bloggers
There is one simple reason why metrics matter. Metrics should tell you where to focus your attention and efforts, and which actions to take first. Metrics must help you prioritize. But the only way to focus your efforts is knowing what works and what doesn’t. And metrics that matter tell you a story about that.
You should get inspiration for what to try as a blogger based on your instincts. Machines validate whether something really works or not. Data is proof if you were right or not.
Let’s start with a few basics. From the lean startup and lean analytics theory, we know two different types of metrics: vanity metrics and actionable metrics.
Vanity metrics are all the different metrics that look good on paper and give you a nice feeling about yourself and your work, but aren’t action-oriented. They can also be easily manipulated and don’t necessarily correlate with metrics that matter. Vanity metrics make you feel good, but they don’t show real progress.
Here are two examples of vanity metrics that may give you a feeling of being on the right track, but can also be completely misleading:
- You buy 500 new likes for your Facebook page on Fiverr. It looks great to have 500 new likes, but how does it help if most of them are fake accounts or not interested in what you’re doing?
- You manage to get your blog post on one of the popular sub-Reddits, not connected to your niche. You get thousands of visitors, but none of them subscribe to your mailing or buy your products or even click on ads. It’s called junk traffic. They come, and they leave forever.
If a metric only strokes your ego, it won’t help you a lot. So you have to focus your efforts on actionable metrics. Like the name suggests, actionable metrics are the ones that lead you to take action. Actionable metrics not only lead you to what you should do next, but also measure success at the core of your blogging business (and track your individual customers at some point). They directly relate to revenue.
There’s a simple question that tells you if your metric is a vanity metric or an actionable metric:
What will you do differently based on the piece of information you call your important metric?
Besides vanity and actionable metrics, there are two more important types of metrics (data): qualitative and quantitative data.
Quantitative data is information that can be measured with numbers. Qualitative data, on the other hand, are insights you get about your target markets and your product. If quantitative data are more exact, qualitative research helps you gain an in-depth understanding of something. As a blogger, you have to focus on both types of data. So we will talk about both kinds of metrics.
Focusing on the metrics that matter as a blogger
A blogger drowning in data is only a little better off than a blogger without any data at all. The easiest thing to do is to install a few analytical tools on your website and start gathering data; and, as you know, you can gather an extraordinary amount of data online. With a few clicks, you can gather an amount of data that is completely overwhelming for any blogger that isn’t a hacker or a mathematician. Especially if you don’t know how to structure and connect all the gathered data.
Therefore, one very important rule exists regarding blogging metrics. Capture everything, but focus on what’s important. You should focus on metrics that:
- Correlate strongly with your blogging goals (revenue, brand building etc.)
- Are connected to the riskiest parts of your blogging business
- Inspire you to experiment with new things more and more
- Completely focus your efforts, but also force you to see the bigger picture
The one metric that matters
In the lean startup and lean analytics community, there is a popular concept of the one metric that matters (OMTM). The one. OMTM should focus all your energy and efforts into a single goal you have for your blog in a certain phase. It changes over time as you pursue different goals.
Your OMTM especially changes as you enter different stages of your blog development and website maturity.
The important thing to understand is that in a specific stage, you always do things that contribute to more stages (for example, if you’re in the empathy stage, you will of course set up social share buttons for virality, even if you’re still looking for the right problem/solution fit), but the purpose of a stage is still to maintain your main focus and measure your real progress.
Here are the five stages of business growth (remember this is just a framework, not a magical solution):
In this stage, you have to find a problem on the market that you can solve by producing content (and infoproducts). You have to know and feel the pain of your targeted readers as well as know how to solve it. The picture is completely different if you have a foodie blog, a humor site or a professional blog.
You’re looking for signs of interest in your readers by experimenting with different topics, style, content length, hypermarks etc. It’s the phase where you decide for your chosen niche, targeted readers (personas) and the general style of your blog and writing.
You gained interest of your targeted readers and now they assume you have something smart to say and are therefore coming back for more content. What matters in this phase is engagement followed by retention.
The main question in this phase is: are people regularly consuming your content and getting enough value from it? You want to build your blog in a way where readers stay with you for as long as possible. Interest definitely declines with time, but there is always something you can do to get their attention back.
In the stickiness phase, it’s also often a good idea to do different things that are completely unscalable and help you understand your readers better. You may want to gather as much quantitate data as possible about your first readers and people who are early fans of your blog. Trust me, you will know who they are, because they will like your every piece of content, write emails to you to congratulate you etc.
You can ask your early fans (so called early evangelists) things like:
- Which of your content they like best and why
- How your content helped them solve their problems
- Whether they have any recommendations for you to improve your writing, and so on.
Your main goal in this phase is to bring huge amounts of traffic to your site with the virality effect. The best way to do that is by using your current reader base.
Readers should be sharing your content and recommending it to friends (by using email, social networks, word of mouth etc.). You focus on experiments and metrics that increase the virality of your blog.
Your main focus in this phase is monetizing your content and building a sustainable business model. Based on your quality content produced, people know that they can trust you.
Therefore your own infoproducts, recommended products (affiliate links) and other ways of monetizing content are also credible and people start buying them. Much like you experimented with your content in the beginning, you now have to experiment with different monetization options.
In this phase, you focus all your efforts on scaling and reaching as many people as possible with all the tactics that work now. Your blog with all the different monetization strategies becomes sustainable and scalable. It exists in a healthy ecosystem of readers and partners with the right products and margins.
OMTM and different stages
As a blogger you will always have time issues. You should know which phase you’re in and select the OMTM for you in that phase. For example, in the empathy phase, the OMTM may be the applause rate, in the stickiness phase the number of your newsletter readers, in the virality phase amplification rates, in the revenue phase conversions and in the scaling phase the reach you have with your blog with keeping minimum conversion rates necessary.
The OMTM should be quantitative and simple (a number); you should be able to track it on regular daily level. It should be actionable and comparable with your past data, meaning that you can track it over time. And you should become obsessed with it. You should also know which metrics are connected to your OMTM and have the biggest influence on it.
Here are additional recommendations for choosing your OMTM from Lean Analytics:
- OMTM answers the most important question you have regarding your blog
- It forces you to draw a line in the sand
- It completely focuses your efforts every day
- It inspires you to innovate and experiment more
Listen to this video if you would like to know more about the lean analytics:
Expanding the number of tracked metrics
Let’s start by repeating the basic rule – capture everything, but focus on the OMTM and a few other key metrics that have the greatest influence on the OMTM. Don’t focus your attention and actions on too many metrics, because you’ll only get confused. And the most important thing to remember is that the metric is only valid if you change your behavior afterwards.
In the beginning, focus yourself on a few key metrics as a blogger. Then add metrics as your website develops and gains maturity together with your competences. But always have the OMTM.
As you and your site grow, you’ll also be regularly expanding the metrics that you follow, analyze and focus on. Alongside different development stages, you should change and expand your metrics based on the following elements:
Building up your conversion funnel
When you post your first blog post, you usually have an almost zero conversion funnel set, besides “subscribe to our newsletter” that doesn’t bring any conversions.
As you build your site with all the goodies and paid products, you also develop your conversion funnel (we will talk about the AARRR conversion funnel soon) and based on that, you can expand the metrics you measure.
Engaging new distribution channels
There are many distribution channels online and mastering them is complicated. Every distribution channel has its own best practices and tricks that relate to volume, price and performance of that channel.
You have to make sure you master channel by channel, otherwise you will get overburdened by everything. It’s much better to master one or two channels really well than to be a complete amateur at ten different channels. By adding new distribution channels, you also add new metrics.
Getting more competent
It’s easy to capture data and it’s easy to focus on vanity metrics. It’s extremely hard to focus on actionable metrics and really understand what’s going on with the traffic on your site.
As your blog develops and as you acquire new knowledge, you become more and more competent and capable of focusing your efforts on the right metrics. Unfortunately, it usually takes months or even years to really see the right kind of progress in your knowledge and your blog. So you have to be patient. But you have to start somewhere. Unfortunately again, those are usually vanity metrics.
You will definitely start with vanity metrics
If you’re a newbie blogger and you aren’t a growth hacker by profession, your start will definitely be vanity metrics, for reasons mentioned earlier – not having your conversion funnel set, not understanding distribution channels, and a lack of knowledge. You also often need vanity metrics to calculate actionable metrics.
And that’s completely okay, if you take a few important things into consideration. I know how good it feels to get new Facebook likes or see a big spike in your traffic, even if it’s junk traffic and there are no conversions.
- Know when you’re dealing with a vanity metric
- Don’t lie to yourself about your real progress based on vanity metrics
- Don’t brag to others about your vanity metrics
- Always have the OMTM that is not a vanity metric, no matter how green you are
- Make sure you slowly focus more and more on actionable metrics based on the maturity of your conversion funnel, distribution channels engaged and competences
If you start more or less completely with vanity metrics like 99 % of bloggers do, make sure you build up your way to more actionable metrics with time.
I started with complete vanity metrics and now I’m slowly building my funnel, actionable metrics, competencies and regularly engage new distribution channels. One by one. Many people ask me why I don’t engage more distribution channels, just to get out there. I want to stay focused and master a distribution channel one by one.
How many times should you check your metrics that matter?
I don’t have the right answer for you. Here is what I do:
- I have a dashboard open and check my main stats daily for any spikes and deviations
- I additionally check my metrics after every campaign and experiment to understand what’s going on and learn as much as possible while everything is still fresh
- I especially take one day per month (1st day of a month) to gather and analyze all the metrics and take a really deep dive into validated learning, analyzing and reflecting. Based on the analysis, I write down what works for me and what doesn’t. So I decide:
- What I will continue doing
- What I will stop doing
- What new experiments I will try
It’s probably one of the best way to do valuable retrospection and decide how to adjust your stratagy and tactics.
I use several tools to track my metrics, but once per month, I copy all the metrics into an Excel file (available for you to download completely for free) and I analyze them extensively. Copying data to Excel forces me to really look at all the important metrics and analyze what’s going on, where I’m progressing and where I’m not. It also makes sure that I don’t leave anything out.
To sum things up, before we go to another chapter, here are the main reasons why your blogging metrics matter. Metrics matter, if you use them in the right way, because they:
- Show you (the often cruel) reality of where you stand with your blog
- Help you avoid the fake feeling of progress
- Help you focus on things that really matter in different stages of development
- Give you an answer about what really works and what doesn’t
- Drive your behavior, decision-making and help you focus your overall efforts
- Help you test your assumptions and bridge the gap between the objective and subjective reality
- Reduce any arguments with other team members based solely on opinions
If a metric doesn’t change your behavior and the actions you take, you aren’t data-driven at all.
Understanding the conversion funnel for bloggers
We’ve looked at the different stages you can be in with your blog (empathy, stickiness, virality, revenue, scale). Depending on the phase, you should choose the right things to focus on and one the metric that matters (OMTM) to you in that stage. You should respect every phase and make sure you successfully complete it before focusing on the next stage. But remember, phases only show where your main focus should be.
Parallel to that, you should always be developing other core metrics around your OMTM and building the conversion funnel as your blog matures. I don’t want you to get confused here.
The moment you start your blog and publish your first few blog posts, put ads and maybe affiliate links on your site, gather email subscriptions and share your content, you have a basic conversion funnel set. As you develop new strategies, apply new distribution channels, build your own products etc., your conversion funnel develops.
If you do what 99 % of new bloggers do, you will start with the basic AARRR conversion funnel that we will analyze extensively in a moment. Phases should only help you decide on which parts of the conversion channel you’re focused the most. Where you’re doing most of your hacks and new tricks to progress faster.
- Stages = Where your main focus should be
- AARRR funnel = Metrics breakdown based on different online purchasing stages
The main purpose of the funnel for bloggers is to track actionable metrics in different purchasing stages. It helps you measure the health of the customer base and consequently optimize your sales funnel. The funnel for bloggers is a five-step conversion funnel. It’s a slightly adjusted funnel based on Dave McClure’s Metrics for pirates, measuring the following:
- A — Acquisition: Acquiring new readers via different marketing and sales channels
- A — Activation: Convincing people to subscribe to one of your distribution channels
- R — Retention: Making sure people are coming back to your blog for more content
- R — Referral: Making sure people are spreading the word about your blog
- R — Revenue: Generating money with your blog (selling infoproducts, advertising etc.)
In each of the five steps, you have to optimize your funnel and overall achieve results that lead to a viable business model. The phase in which you are determines where your main focus should be. A table below shows one of the ways how phases could determine your focus on the acquisition channel.
|Stage||Focus in the funnel||OMTM||Example of action|
|Empathy||Acquisition, Activation||Applause rate||Experimenting with content type, UX, design|
|Stickiness||Acquisition, Retention||Newsletter CTR||Experimenting with banners, channels|
|Virality||Referral||Amplification rate||Building new connections and partnerships|
|Revenue||Revenue||Conversions||Building and testing different products|
|Scale||Acquisition||Reach||Engaging paid channels|
Important fact: As I mentioned, this is just one of the examples. The most important thing is that you understand the framework, and then decide what your strategy will be.
I know many bloggers who focused on revenue from day one and succeeded. And others that took several years before monetizing their blog. If there were a simple formula for how to succeed with blogging, everyone would be a successful blogger.
Now let’s take a closer look at each step of a conversion funnel.
Acquisition and interest level
Acquisition simply means acquiring new users via different marketing channels. To get new users, you have to send your marketing message (content headlines, excerpts etc.) to potential customers by one or several marketing channels. Marketing channels can be either online or offline, but most bloggers use online channels, of course.
Here are examples of popular online distribution channels for bloggers:
- Personal contacts (Email, Facebook friends etc.)
- Search Engine Optimization for organic traffic
- Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat etc.)
- Partnerships (guest blogging etc.)
- Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
- Display advertising and others
Every channel has different performance levels. Logically, when acquiring new users, you look for acquisition channels that have the largest volume, the lowest cost and perform the best. As you will see later, every channel gets quite complicated with metrics. Therefore, an important rule exists: master distribution channels one by one.
Love it level – applause rate
As a step between acquisition and activation, you can already measure how interesting your readers find the content you publish on your blog. One way to measure it is the applause rate (likes, hearts, stars etc.).
There are also other metrics that show how interesting your content is. For example, how many pages every visitor clicks, how much time they spend on your blog (especially specific blog pages), and so on.
Based on those metrics, you should also see which acquisition channels bring in those readers who are interested in your content the most. It’s about analyzing data of where your target audience actually lives.
The best second step after acquiring a reader would be that s/he buys a product you’re selling and becomes your long-term customer and loyal reader. But that rarely happens. It’s even impossible for it to happen if you don’t have a complete conversion funnel set (in other words, if you don’t have your own products yet to sell). Therefore, the most probable second step that can happen is activation.
The purpose of activation is to establish a more serious relationship with your reader. A reader is so interested in your content that they want to be reminded to read it again and again.
It’s kind of self-evident that if you don’t regularly remind them to come back, they’ll probably forget about your blog forever. Even if they don’t want to. You’re competing with millions of websites after all, and the attention span on the internet is measured in milliseconds.
Activation for bloggers are usually micro-conversions that establish the first more serious relationship between a blogger and a reader:
- Subscribing to your newsletter (the most intimate and valuable way)
- Downloading a digital asset and subscribing to your mailing list
- Subscribing to one of your social media channels
- Bookmarking your page
- Subscribing to RSS
- Sending you an email to stay in touch and send more content
- Creating an account on a forum etc.
Other kinds of engagements
Now you know where your targeted readers live online. They like your content and are establishing a serious relationship with you. In this phase, you’re also looking for other kinds of engagements. An example is how much people are commenting on your blog. You can, for example, measure the conversation rate (commets, replies).
The stickiness of your product is always determined by engagement, followed by retention.
In a flood of billions of blogs and millions of posts every day, the attention of readers is very limited. It’s measured in milliseconds. Readers find a new blog they like and quickly forget about it. That’s why at some point, you must have a retention strategy if you want your blog to be successful.
Retention is nothing but a strategy of getting a user to regularly use a service or a product. In your case reading your blog (or using your infoproducts). Retention can be achieved by sending emails, posting on social media where you have followers, and so on. If you have a good retention strategy, you will always have a loyal base of readers who will come back to your blog.
There’s a whole science behind retention metrics. But the basics are pretty simple. If customer retention concerns the percentage of readers who come back to your blog, the better the percentage, the better your blog sticks with your readers.
Probably the most important thing to understand about retention is that you have to be really aggressive with your retention strategy. Once you have a reader on your site, you have to do everything in your power to obtain their email or get them to subscribe to one of your channels. If you don’t do that, a reader will probably be lost to you forever, because too many blogs are competing for attention.
You usually buy and use things that your friends are also using and recommending. That’s the reason behind why you should have a strategy of letting your readers bring in new readers. For example, Facebook wants you to invite people to their platform, apps want to have access to your phonebook, and so on. Referrals are a very efficient and inexpensive way of virally spreading your content.
The more referrals you get from one of your readers, the more viral your blog content is. The metric that measures referral success is the so-called “viral coefficient”, which shows the number of new readers that each user brings. Speed with which one user invites another is also important, and it’s called the viral cycle time. You may also measure the amplification rate on your social networks in this phase.
As a good blog strategist, you have to make it easy for your readers to spread the word through referral mechanisms. Some of the most popular referral mechanisms are:
- Social Media Sharing
- “Invite a friend” type mechanics
- Partnerships, interviews and guest blogging
- Affiliate partnerships
- Forward emails
Of course you’ll have social media buttons on your blog from the very beginning. But after you pass the empathy and stickiness phases, you may focus your efforts exclusively on virality. You may want to innovate and experiment with hundreds of different things to really increase the virality of the content that readers are already liking.
BTW, applause rate, comment rate and amplification rate are metrics set by Avinash Kaushik. You should definitely follow his blog.
The last step is generating money – revenue. You measure the percentage of your readers who become paying customers and, of course, how much money you make. If you want to be a full-time blogger, you have to make enough money out of blogging to cover all your living costs. There are several ways of doing that, and we will look at them in the next chapter (along with proof that it can be done).
At this point, it’s important to understand that we have another two sets of metrics. One type of metrics is the financial one and the other is the non-financial one.
When you start blogging, you have to be careful that financial metrics don’t mislead you. You can be making progress, even if you aren’t making money yet. You can be making progress if you’re learning about your market and your readers.
In the empathy phase, you probably won’t be making a lot of money. But you can really learn a lot about your market and your readers, and shape a superior strategy for your blog.
Nevertheless, if you’re a full-time blogger and live out of your savings, you have to know your runway and how much time you have. You have to know when is the last chance for you to achieve the break-even point – that is the time when you have to make enough money to cover your expenses. And you must have a superior strategy of how you’ll do it.
Metrics that matter also depend on the type of your blog
I hope it’s not getting overwhelming, but there is another important aspect that greatly influences which metrics that matter you will be measuring and focusing on. The type of your blog strongly determines your core and actionable metrics. Here are the main different types of blogs with examples of how they influence your attention to metrics that matter.
In the case you have a media blog, you have to give more of your attention to the traffic, churn, page views, ad inventory, ad rates and CTAs or impressions turned into money. You have to adjust the design and UX of your blog to maximize impressions.
Niche blogs are usually very targeted blogs for a specific problem, trying to sell visitors the solution for this problem. The main focus is usually not on the quantity but rather the quality of traffic. The most important metrics are usually conversion-related metrics.
I think an authority blog is somewhere between a niche and a media blog. You want to build your personal brand online, but also make sure you sell products in your chosen niche. Authority blogs are usually blogs of professional bloggers and business owners.
In the case of an eCommerce blog, you have to additionally focus your attention on eCommerce metrics besides conversions, like the number of purchases in a year made by each customer, the average shopping chart size, abandonment percentage etc. Because eCommerce is a whole new world of metrics, we won’t focus on them separately in this blog post series.
The type of your blog usually also determines how fast you can build you conversion funnel. If you’re building an eCommerce or Niche blog, it makes sense to have a product you’re going to sell in mind already and build the blog around your product. In this case, you can apply the phases (empathy, stickiness etc.) specifically to your product. If you’re building a media or authority blog, you have to attract some attention first and, in the second step, build products for your audience.
Play with the frameworks and different types of metrics to find a solution that works best for you. Here is the summary of metrics that matter for bloggers theory:
Metrics that matter for bloggers summary
Now we know all the different types of metrics. For every metric you measure, you have to know why you measure it, what type of metric it is in your case and how it’s going to influence your decision. Again, please remember that this is just a general framework you should adjust to your own goals. Here are all the categories of different types of metrics:
Metrics relevance – your focus should be on actionable metrics and the OMTM
- Vanity metric
- Actionable metric
Different type of data – you should gather both types of data
- Qualitative data
- Quantitative data
Blog development stage – influences your OMTM and your focus on different parts of blogging conversion funnel
Blogging conversion funnel – Framework to help you optimize your funnel as your blog matures
Blog type metrics – Greatly influence the metrics you will generally focus on in the development of your blog
- Media blog
- Niche blog
- Authority blog
- eCommerce blog
- Other type of blog
Financial and non-financial metrics – Before you enter the revenue stage, non-financial metrics can show your real progress and how fast you’re learning about what works and what doesn’t
- Traditional accounting (profit & loss statement, balance sheet)
- Innovation accounting (non-financial metrics)
To conclude this chapter, I want to emphasize another important fact. If you want to be really successful with your blog, you’ll have to innovate a lot. You’ll have to come up with creative ways of making your content better than the competition, creative marketing ways and new ways of using distribution channels.
All the top bloggers were innovative at something or engaged a new channel really early on. It’s hard to innovate once you begin blogging, especially if you aren’t from the industry, but I would still suggest you start early. If you’re a really eager blogger, the best thing is to brainstorm and write down ideas on a daily level. Try to brainstorm at least 20 ideas. Among many bad ones, you’ll definitely find jewels.
The second best thing is to have regular brainstorming sessions at least once a week or once a month. I write down ideas as they come, but after every monthly metrics analysis, I also extensively brainstorm for new ideas. All the new data helps spark creative ideas. Once more, if you want to be successful with your blog, you have to innovate.
Continue to Chapter 2: Financial metrics for bloggers