How My Blog Bloomed Boldly in Just 4 Months and Yours Can Too

Want to learn how to be a blogger? Here's how I went from being a computer illiterate to a blogging success in just a few months.

Editor's Note: This post originally ran as a case study for the A List Blogging Bootcamps.

Your blog can and will grow.

But just like a garden or a relationship, you have to tend to it constantly to make it take seed and bloom. Are you willing to do that? If so, read on.

Four months ago, I didn't know beans about blogging income. Now I have over 2000 subscribers. It didn't just happen. I had to be bold.

I'm a personal and career coach, and I wanted to promote my business. A friend suggested I create a blog with Blogger and use it as my website. It was easy to set up, even for me. So I started writing articles about personal development and coaching. My best friends and family obligingly subscribed.  Maybe three other people subscribed too.

In spite of my small audience, I loved writing posts, finding photos and all of the creative aspects of blogging. I was serving and coaching in a way I'd not intended. I loved it and felt my entire psyche shifting toward wanting to do this more.

One happy day I found Leo Babauta's blog, Zen Habits where I found info on the A-List Blogging Bootcamp. I put my name on the wait list and emailed the administrator (Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen and Write to Done)  saying how much I wanted to participate, but that I was a blogging nincompoop. Mary e-mailed back the kindest of notes saying I was exactly the type of person they wanted for the Bootcamp (not the nicompoop part).

~LESSON #1: Reach out and make yourself known right up front. Be the nice, but noticeable student who makes sure the teacher knows her or him. Hanging back never gets you anywhere.

I took the Bootcamp in February 2010 and soaked up every bit of information, feedback and advice. I followed Leo's and Mary's instructions to a T about setting up the blog, choosing the domain name, creating a brand, choosing photos, and of course writing great content. They know what they are doing. Without them, I simply wouldn't have succeeded in creating a strong blog.

~LESSON # 2: Enroll in the The Blogger Club and Bootcamp and trust the experts. Leo and Mary have integrity, plain and simple. They shoot straight about what works and what doesn't. They give you more than you expect. They want their bloggers to succeed because it reflects well on them. Their personal philosophy guides their business decisions. I trust that.

As I went through the Bootcamp and later enrolled in the A-List Blogger Club, I often felt completely overwhelmed. There was so much information, and it was such a huge learning curve for me. Once my blog was up and running, I often e-mailed Mary asking her where I should put my focus. She always directed me back to building my readership through great content and creating my brand.

~LESSON #3: The number one most important thing you can do as a blogger is create useful, interesting posts that serve your reader. I'll repeat that — serve your reader. It's all about them. What can you give them today that they can use? Establish your credibility as a useful resource and an interesting writer. That happens through practice and research of other great blogs and writers.

As I was writing tons, I was also reaching out. It was easy to spot people in the Bootcamp and the Blogger Club who were knowledgeable and serious. I glommed on to them like white on rice. I connected with Mary and offered to help her for free. I made contacts with other big bloggers, just to say hello and compliment their blogs or posts. As I've gotten older, I'm not afraid to contact anyone. We all put our pants on one leg at a time, right?

~LESSON #4: Make connections that serve you while you are serving them. Reach out to big bloggers. Offer to give something without expecting anything in return. People remember and appreciate that. Send a personal email or even an old dinosaur like a hand-written note. This has to be genuine though. Don't get weird on them. As a result of my efforts, Mary offered me several fabulous opportunities, including serving as editor-in-chief for The Daily Brainstorm, a blogazine that brings together the best posts from the best bloggers around, including Leo, Mary, Darren Rowse of Problogger, Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project and more than 100 more.

The next thing I tackled was writing guest posts. Mary offered me guest posts very early. I focused on my successful posts with her  in my pitch letters to other bloggers and followed Mary's tutorial about pitching a guest post. Then I researched the blogs (all much bigger than mine) that I wanted to pitch. I spent one morning sending out a bunch of pitches, and sent them a really strong post in a timely manner.

~LESSON # 5: Don't be afraid to pitch for guest posts, but do your research first.  Know the blog's  content, style, number of words, color scheme, type of photos, size of photos, and any guest post guidelines they have. Make it easy for the blogger to accept your post and pop it into their blog. Write your very best for them, and follow through in a timely way.

To help build my subscriber base, I wrote a short e-book called How to Live A Meaningful Life. I promoted that on my sidebar, after my posts, in e-mails, social media, and in guest posts. In order to get the e-book, people must subscribe to my blog. Lots of people want something for free that is useful and well-written. They will subscribe to get it.

~LESSON #6: As you are building your blog, start working on a free product to offer on your blog. It can be an e-book or course or anything useful. Make it good enough that subscribers feel they are getting valuable stuff for free. Work on this a little bit every day so that in a few months, you'll have something to offer in guest posts. Have it professionally designed so that it looks really great.

Once I had a few strong guest posts under my belt, I went for the big guns. I wanted to pitch Leo at Zen Habits. I must add a disclaimer here. I had help with this one. Mary mentored me through the pitch and the post. Having a mentor is a great part of learning and growing as a blogger. Everyone should find a mentor. I would have pitched Leo anyway, but the odds of success were greater with Mary's input and advice.

~LESSON # 7: Think big. Most big bloggers were once small bloggers. You have nothing to lose by pitching them. When you have been successful with other guest posts, go for the superstars. If you can find a mentor who has done it before, you will save yourself a lot of time and increase your odds of success. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

In four months my blog went from O subscribers to over 2000. I didn't expect success so quickly, and some of it was luck. But mostly, it was patience and daily effort. Blogging is like any start-up business. You invest time now for future rewards.

If you want your blog to bloom and your subscribers to grow, remember these tips:

  • Join the A-List Blogging Bootcamp and Blogger Club.
  • Be an active learner and do what the teacher says.
  • Reach out to others, connect, communicate and serve.
  • Write great posts, write great posts, write great posts.
  • Give something valuable to your readers all the time.
  • Think big. Now think bigger. Don't be afraid.
  • Have patience. Your work will pay off.

If you are interested in having me review your blog, please contact me at mybloomlife at

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 13 comments
Karen Ashley

Hi Barrie
I’m inspired every time I read one of your blogs.
Your writing is clean and crisp, encouraging and inclusive. Every one of your posts spurs me to take action which I’m thinking is a sure sign of your skill as a personal coach.
Thank you.

    Barrie Davenport

    Wow Karen — You have made my day! Thank you so much. The best part for me is knowing that I have spurred someone on to make their life better. Thank you for letting me know that I help you.


Great points, and several of these I have also done with much success.

I really believe, for me – that it has been about serving (and connecting) with my readers. In that, I’ve developed relationships that are meaningful and sincere. It’s like having a buddy system around the world!! And that’s pretty awesome!!

Awesome work on creating this space, and growing it to where you are at today! Your material really is excellent, and, as a reader – I very much feel this is a place of value…
.-= Lance´s last blog ..The Moment =-.

    Barrie Davenport

    Hi Lance,
    That connection makes it all worthwhile. That’s the purpose of this for me. Thank you so much for your kind comments.


I’ve been wondering how you did it. Thank you for sharing your story. Ever since you wrote that great post, “write to serve” for “write to done,” I’ve been following your writing from afar. Your writing sticks out to me, as I think I learn a little something about you through your writing.

I, too, was going to join the AList bloggers bootcamp when I was in my research phase. I opted out this time around, as I wanted to focus on my writing. I hired a writing coach and it has been so helpful! Two weeks ago I started turning my practice newsletter into a blog. I have a lot to learn but my confidence is growing.

One last thing – I think you have a great site and a memorable brand – “live bold and bloom” – love it! Here’s to many more blooms 😉
.-= Marci´s last blog ..5 Ways to Prepare for Sleep =-.

    Barrie Davenport

    Hi Marci,
    I think a writing coach is a great way to go! I’m sure you have accomplished a ton — congratulations. I look forward to watching your blog bloom. I would still love to see you in the A List Blogger’s Club. It is a great resource with a bunch of supportive people who can help you grow your blog.


    Thank you Barrie. I will keep it in mind. I got overwhelmed with all the info and have been trying to simplify & make realistic decisions about my workload. I’ve learned the hard lesson to focus on one thing at a time. Even though I’d like to bloom everything at once, it’s just not possible – at least not for me 🙂

    Is your offer to review blogs still open? If so, email me some info…

    One last thing: is there a way to get notified of comments on your blog?
    .-= Marci´s last blog ..Overcoming Walls that Build Between Married Couples =-.


Ahhh, so much to learn from you. Barrie. Thank you for your continued support. I can’t wait to implement many of your great ideas. I’m not on your heels — or so I hope!
.-= Katie´s last blog ..A Simple Guide to Wearing Many Hats =-.

Andrea DeBell - britetalk

Hi Barrie! Thanks for the great tips. I’m a new blogger and I’m still at the overwhelmed stage. I became a member of the A-List Blogger Club this week and I just attended Leo’s last class but there seems to be so much information … which is good and also daunting.

I particularly love your idea of approaching people and getting a mentor. A mentor is definitely the next thing on my list of a thousand items. Thanks for the advice. Truly inspiring, needed, and timely. Loving blessings!
.-= Andrea DeBell – britetalk´s last blog ..The Best Relationship Tip Ever =-.


Hi Barrie! I read your case study as part of the A-List Blogging club and here I am reading it again only to be inspired and encouraged. I think, one of the main reasons your blog reall took off is because you write from the heart and with a lot of soul. Content can be great but if it lacks personality and warmth, it fails to touch a chord.
Congrats on making your blog bloom and sharing your wisdom with all of us.
.-= Prerna´s last blog ..A Free eBook for New and Aspiring Online Writers! =-.

marlon @ productivity bits

This is an awesome case study. I’ve been reading great feedback for the A-List Blogger Club. I should try it once I am ready to commit.
.-= marlon @ productivity bits´s last blog ..How To Avoid The Hassles Of Delegating Your Tasks =-.

Andrew Walton

Hi Barrie, I just joined the A-List Blogger Club, and I’m glad I found your blog because I’ve been totally overwhelmed with all of the information there. It’s great to hear that you had so much success, and what you’ve done to get there.

I’ve been frustrated because I’ve already been blogging for a while but I didn’t take enough time to consider the theme of my blog, and I’m not totally sure how to correct things. That being said, knowing that Mary is actually a reachable resource, as well as everything else on A-List is a huge relief.

I really like your blog design. Did you hire someone?

    Barrie Davenport

    Hi Andrew,
    I know what you mean about all of the information. It can be overwhelming. If you would like me to review your blog, I’d be happy to do so. I can do it on the Forum or you can email me at [email protected]. Yes, I did hire a designer to help me with the design. Thank you so much for your kind comments.


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