Commenting on Problogger Does Not Improve Your Blog

Written On Day: 187
Celebrating 6 month old blog

This blog just had its 6 months anniversary. There was no celebration at this house. Nothing to be happy about. After 6 months there are still only a few visitors, there is little revenue and the future looks as blurry as it did the day I started. Actually, it was better when I started – 6 months ago I had more enthusiasm.

I use to search the internet for tips and advice on how to make my blog a success. Every new piece of information was consumed with gusto. At the beginning I thought all I have to do was this and that, and then my blog will be a success. The reasoning was that my blog is not a success because I still have not done this and that, but once I do it then the blog will succeed – my traffic stats will roll like the number of McDonald’s hamburgers sold.

Like most people I got my advice from Problogger. Darren Rowse, the owner of Problogger knows what he is talking about – he is one of the top blogging gurus. His indisputable credential is his very successful blog. Almost everyday he gives out advice on how to improve a blog. And it is good advice, it has to be, he is a success.

Readers of problogger are all looking to improve their blogs. This is evident by the most common type of comments readers leave:

  • Great advice! I will have to implement that on my blog.
  • I have been meaning to do this to my blog. Now I know it needs to be done today!
  • A perfect post. Thanks Darren. I will do this to my blog ASAP.
  • You are a constant source of motivation. My blog has been doing poorly but I can see that with a little work I can make it better.
  • Good point, going to do this now! Thanks Darren.

Can you feel the enthusiasm! The readers are learning from the master. They are doing something wrong on their blog, they learn from Problogger, and then claim they will fix it.

You would expect that with all these people constantly improving their blogs there would be a lot more successful blogs. If everybody is doing what Problogger is suggesting then success should be everywhere. But it is not. Blogs are continuing to fail – just like mine.

After 6 months this blog has made very little progress. It still hovers around 50 visitors a day and daily revenue is still measured in pennies. The only aspect that has increased is the number of hours that I have put into it. But that is just me – how do I know that other blogs are also failing? Specifically, how do I know that Problogger’s readers are failing even though they are aware of and claim to use problogger’s advice on their blogs?

In my previous post I showed how in 3 years 71% of blogs are dead. To recap, this is how the number was derived:

  1. Going back 3 years on problogger’s archived posts, I took the URL’s of the commentors for the month of January 2006.
  2. The retrieved URL’s were run through the website webtraffic24 which estimated the amount of traffic that the URL currently receives.
  3. It turned out that 3 years after making a comment on problogger 71% of blogs still had less then 200 visitors a day. (for details of how the data is gathered please see post: What are the odds that your blog will fail?)

The data clearly showed that Problogger’s commentors are not doing to well after three years.

Does Commenting on Problogger Improve Your Blog

Now I want to use the same approach to determine whether Problogger commentors are really improving their blogs. They state, ‘great! I will take your advice and do that to my blog’. But are they really doing it? Are they improving their blog?

There is a easy way to test whether reading Problogger’s advice improves blogs. Here is the approach:

  1. Gather URLs from current Problogger commentors and find out how many blogs are failing. These are people who just got the advice and still have not had time to implement.
  2. Go back 6 months in Probloggers posts and gather the commentors URLs and find out how many blogs are failing now. These are people who got the advice 6 months ago and have had 6 months to implement the advice.
  3. Go back 1 year in Probloggers posts and gather the commentors URLs and find out how many blogs are failing now. These are people that got the advice 1 year ago – plenty of time to implement and reap the results.

Using this method we should expect to see that the older blogs have a lower failure rate then the newer blogs. For example, a commentor on problogger 1 year ago stating, ‘Awesome post Darren, I will do that to my blog right now.’, should be better off today then a commentor you just a few days ago stated, ‘Great advice, I will do that today’. People who took Probloggers advice a year ago should be reaping the benefits today.

Here are the results:

Visitors who read and commented on Probloggers advice % blogs failing today (less then 200 visitors a day)
 1 month ago  55.00% (536 out of 976 URLs)
 6 months ago  57.00% (502 out of 877 URLs)
 12 months ago  56.00% (485 out of 866 URLs)


No difference. A Problogger commentor who 6 months ago, or 1 year ago, learned some great piece of advice from Problogger has no statistical advantage over someone who became aware of it yesterday and is about to apply it to his/her blog.

2 Possible Reasons Why Problogger’s Advice Does Not Improve Your Blog

There are two ways to interpret the data:

  1. Problogger adds no value to bloggers. Implementing advice does not increase your chance of having a successful blog. The advice might of worked for Problogger but it will not make your blog better. You might aswell not read problogger’s advice because it will not help you.
  2. The advice is good and it works but people do not apply Problogger’s advice to their blogs. They state, ‘great post, will do to my blog’, but they don’t. They tell the world that they will follow Problogger’s advice but in the end they just leave their blog as is. Not implemetening the advice leads to failure.

Unfortunately there is no way to tell which of these two is reality. Problogger is a success and Darren knows what he is doing – but maybe his advice applies only to him. Just because it works for him does not mean it will work for you. Bill Gates can tell you everything he did to become a success, but it does not mean that simply doing what he did will lead to success. It might even be that by doing what he is doing lowers your chance of success because everybody is trying to do it.

The more likely situation is number 2. It is so much easier for commentors to write, ‘Will do’, then to actually do it. They say they will, but they don’t. This should not be a surprise to anybody since this is normal human behavior. After leaving a motivational seminar the audience will be chanting and clapping with enthusiasm – ‘yes I can, yes I will, I will do it’. They even continue to chant this in the car during the drive home. But as soon as they arrive home their chant changes to, ‘where is dinner, where are my slippers, where is the remote’.

Misery Loves Company – My 6 month Anniversary Present

6 months ago I also made a comment on Problogger so I am part of the statistics. After 6 months my blog belongs in the failure category. But there is some good news: According to webtraffic24 this blog gets 64 visitors a day (which is pretty close to the actual value). I checked how many people that commented on problogger 6 months ago have less traffic then me. It turns out that 39% of the commentors are currently doing worse them me. I am not at the bottom and there are a lot of failures around me. It is not a great present but I will take it – it is the only good news I got.

  1. July 8th, 2009 at 08:37 | #1

    An interesting, although somewhat depressing post, Roman. I can’t help thinking that you are missing the point. Something Darren, and all the other A list bloggers repeat is that the most important success factor for a blog is content. Commenting on other blogs, using Twitter well or having great SEO will not get you increased traffic unless the content warrants it.

    As you know, I also started my main blog just over six months ago. It is currently getting more than 500 visitors per day. Since I started it I have written 237 posts (almost 40 a month, or more than one per day) and I suspect that’s the reason why it’s succeeding in the time period where so many others have failed.

    It might be worth investigating how many posts each of the sites in your survey have done to check that connection. On the other hand, maybe invest that time in writing more posts on here to start to increase the traffic 🙂

  2. roman
    July 8th, 2009 at 09:06 | #2

    Mike, you are right – I need more posts. We started at the same time and you have 237 posts while I only have 31. Which most likely explains your much better daily traffic stat. You state that you get 500 visitors a day…that is interesting:

    You have 8 times the amount of posts as me (237/31) and you have 8 times that amount of traffic as me (500/60). Maybe those A bloggers (and you) have a point 🙂

    The point of this post was not suppose to be depressing. It is just pointing out that statistically there is no difference between Problogger visitors who read Problogger’s advice yesterday or a year ago.

  3. July 8th, 2009 at 11:07 | #3

    Thanks for coming back to me Roman. The stats comparison is very interesting. I’m going to post about this conversation later today for my readers, so will reference your site.

  4. July 8th, 2009 at 15:03 | #4

    Interesting article that is logical and well thought out. It sort of reminds me of a comment that is attributed to Groucho Marks, “Dissecting humor is like dissecting a frog; it dies in the process.” Having worked in the entertainment business during the period bean counters seized control of what movies were green lighted, I assure you that appealing to the public by logic does not make for a block buster hit.

    What makes for a hit? More often than not it comes down to passion the creators and caretakers have for the project. A producer said it best when I told him that I liked his show that had just premired the night before. He grimmiced at my comment the said, “That’s the problem. People like the show and that means death.” Still green in the business I asked him what was wrong with people ‘liking’ his show. His answered changed my thinking about what is good entertainment, “When people like a show it means death because they don’t feel compelled to watch it. Passion is what hooks them in. Love it or hate it they talk about the show and that’s good.”

  5. July 9th, 2009 at 01:19 | #5

    I think many factors could be at play on this.

    A few thoughts:

    One that you’ve not covered is the nature of my blog and the type of readers it attracts. My blog’s for beginner bloggers primarily so one would expect their blogs to reflect that.

    I find that my blog reader has a life cycle – they usually are new bloggers who read on a daily basis for 3-6 months and who then drop off either because they stop blogging/give up or because they progress beyond the basics and begin to stand more on their own two feet.

    I find that bloggers who succeed tend to transition into more of a ‘lurking’ mode – they follow on RSS and only drop by the actual blog less regularly, comment less and use ProBlogger more like a reference tool when they need it than reading every single post.

    I’m not claiming that 100% of my readers progress to this – I know a lot do give up, a lot do procrastinate and not put into action what I advise and that perhaps some of what I write isn’t applicable to every blogger – however I suspect that just looking at comments isn’t going to give you a really accurate reflection on whether my blog helps people. In fact my stats show me that less than a quarter of a percent of my readers leave comments – perhaps those that do represent a certain type of blogger?

    Not really sure – all I can say is that in my experience most bloggers give up too early, get distracted or become obsessed with one part of their blog rather than working holistically on a blog like I advise. For some this means that they rarely actually write posts, for others it means that they focus more upon SEO or monetization, or design than some of the other important areas.

  6. July 9th, 2009 at 02:41 | #6

    Maybe another way of looking at this situation, is that blogging is an art, not a science.
    Perhaps it is not possible to simply “take an idea and implement it”.
    Perhaps you are supposed to take an idea, and think it through and decide how it can apply to your blog, if at all, and how you should implement your interpretation of the idea.

  7. July 12th, 2009 at 03:11 | #7

    We’re not referring to referring to financial reports. What we write about in blogs should be important to us. If it is important to us, then it is likely to be important to others–not everyone.

    We’ve all been to movies that sounded like a good idea, but when the lights come up we ponder what went wrong. Was it the acting? Directing? Writing? The truth is that everyone on the show wanted to make a good movie, but so often the money people test the thing to death to the point that the released film falls within a safety zone of reaching the broadest audience.

    What these bean-counters miss is that 100% of those low to medium budget breakout films succeed because it worked as a collaborative effort. From the first to last frame their passion projects on the screen. The passion resonates with the audience.

    Blogs are like that. Done by the numbers will eventually even the creator of the blog; much less the reader(s). If you are not passionate about what your writing about, then you better be writing about a topic that churns out new information on a regular basis.

  8. July 13th, 2009 at 21:58 | #8

    Great work dude. I appreciate the trouble you’ve gone to. I agree the path looks bleak. I want to start a blog.The pros say “write about what you love”. Problem is a million other sites are using those keywords and that puts you at the bottom of the pile. Most of us don’t have the contacts to ever expand to more than a couple of hundred hits. I don’t care about getting rich (OK, I do care) but it would be nice to break even for your time and expenses. Without getting search engine ranking, I don’t see how that’s possible.

    But you hang in there. I’ll keep watching and spread the word.

  9. July 14th, 2009 at 02:26 | #9

    Hi Roman,

    I stopped commenting on Problogger almost completely. The main reason people go and comment on there is the hope that other people will notice the comment and click through to visit their site.

    However, when you have so many people vying for attention in the same place, it becomes diluted, and a waste of time. Plus, I would rather spend my time connecting with other bloggers and having REAL conversations in the comment section instead of stupid crap like

    “Excellent Article, I think I will try this. Come check out what I wrote this week”.

    This annoys me, and by avoiding the sites that tend to have an abundance of these types of comments, I get more enjoyment out of my blogging time, and I feel that I’m not wasting my time.

    I will, however, comment on a problogger post if I genuinely feel the need to thank them for the advice, or to offer additional information.

  10. I care a lot
    October 29th, 2010 at 16:27 | #10

    There is another point to consider here. Not all comments are posted.
    It is in the best interest of Problogger to display only comments that are positive, uplifting, Go-get-em attitude, to get people excited and motivated, to keep coming back to the blog for more.
    If negative comments were allowed, like “i tried what you said and it doesnt work” or similar, then it’s not good for the post or the blog brand. That’s the wonderful thing about blogging, You can shape the attitude by the comments you allow to be shown.
    have a nice day.

  11. November 25th, 2010 at 17:10 | #11

    Commenting on Problogger might not improve your blog’s performance, but guest blogging do. At least you now have me reading your blog 🙂

    Webtraffic24 is not the best tool to estimate site traffic. It underestimated my blog’s traffic by around 5 fold.

  1. July 8th, 2009 at 16:39 | #1
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