What do I mean by successful?
There are several measures of bloggy success. Pretty much there are the two categories that we use to "rank" people in real life.
Rich and Famous
Just like in real life, you can be any combination. Rich or Famous or both or neither. Same is true for blogging.
If you blog for a small, select group of friends and family to keep them abreast of your life, you probably aren't in it for the glory. You are a successful blogger if your mom doesn't call you for new photos of the grand kids and no one reports you missing.
For the rest of us, fame and fortune are the benchmarks. Let's take them one at a time.
So you wanna be Rich?
There are many, many ways to attempt to monetize your blog. Most of results are top-secret. People generally don't disclose how much income they make, and if they do I tend not to believe them. Therefore, I am going to say that there are no real statistics, rankings, or other measures that I am aware of that compare your level with that of other bloggers.
I have not worked hard on this and I am sure there are great lists, links, and so forth on great blogs such as problogger. Or simply do a google search on such terms as "affiliate marketing" or "monetize your blog". There is certainly a wealth of information out there.
That being said, many of these things make me a little nervous. I am sure that there are great networks out there. But the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear words like "free money." I will say the two of the easiest methods for a beginner are Google Adsense and Amazon Associates programs. I have also heard good things about Blogher. Many people swear that selling private ads is where it's at. But a word of caution. Do not monetize too early. With very little traffic comes very little or no money. Which leads us to....
For this there are definitely ways to see how you measure up. You can sign your blog up with Technorati and see how you rank. I also like to check my blog juice, a calculation that takes your Alexa ranking, technorati data, bloglines and performs some hocus pocus and gives you a number between 1-10.0. The higher the number, the more popular and far reaching. You can also use a statistical program such as Statcounter or Google Analytics to see where your visitors are coming from (both literally and figuratively). Many have free minimized versions or trials and they are worth reviewing.
One word of caution, just try not to become obsessed with checking your stats. It can eat up as much time as social media (which is another post altogether). Both things used right are advantageous. Used wrong they become a major time suck and a stomp on your ego. The most useful thing you should be doing with these stats, is to use them to determine how to enhance your site. What are people searching on that brings them to you? Do they stay and look around?
This should help you enhance your content with better keywords, better post titles, better content. Better stuff leads to more readers leads to more money. Rinse and repeat. Anyway, that is the theory.
Tell me how you monitor blog success.