Cue ‘Taps’ and bow your heads for a moment of silence because it’s official: 95% of blogs are abandoned within the first 100 days. It’s a sad statistic, I know. All those aspirations, dreams, and ideas when starting a blog left to wither and fade into obscurity. And for good reason…building a successful blog can be difficult and time-consuming and rarely does it give instant rewards. But enough eulogizing; this is good news for you!
Do you know the feeling that you’re competing with a million other voices in an crowded room? Or were you bewildered by the intimidating statistic that there are 76.5 million blogs on WordPress? Well, the good news is that you’re not shouting in unison with nearly as many bloggers as you thought you were! And while ninety-five percent may lack the perseverance to go the long-haul, you my friend, are going to make it. You’re going to be a member of the five percent. How do I know? Because you’re here, reading about why most blogs die. You’ll be aware of the warning signs…and you’ll know what to do when your check engine light comes on. Now, let’s look at the common causes of death for the average blog:
You Picked the Wrong Blog Topic
Your topic may be too broad, too narrow, or wrong altogether. If you’re posting about Game of Thrones, what you ate last night, and a new moisturizer you love, your topic is probably too broad and your blog will feel scattered and unorganized. If your blog focuses on the best food for your dog, your topic may be too narrow. While this might make a good post, or even a series, you’ll probably run out of article ideas quickly. Finally, the most common mistake is to pursue a topic that is popular or trending or has money-making potential, but isn’t something you’re passionate about. So, whether you’re starting a mommy blog, lifestyle blog, food blog, travel blog, business blog, tech blog, or any other kind of blog, make sure you actually care about and know about the topic.
Define your subject and brainstorm possible posts. If you run out of ideas in three minutes, you’re either too narrow or on the wrong track. If your subject is broad, like fashion, can you narrow it by style (boho, coastal, elegant, etc.)? Here’s a massive list of blog ideas to keep you inspired.
Sort your posts into categories. Is there a common theme? What seem like random posts may be the foundation for a lifestyle blog. What theme or subject do these posts support?
Be honest with yourself. Are you passionate about your topic? Is it something you’ve always had an interest in? Or is your motivation to become popular and make money? There’s nothing wrong with wanting these things but if you chose your topic solely by these standards, it might be time to dig deep and find something that lights your fire!
Your Blog Has No Purpose
What is it you want your blog to accomplish? If you can’t answer this, you’ve got some work to do. This statement should begin, “My blog will help readers… [fill in the blank]”. Successful blogs give something of value to their readers. This could be useful information, motivation and support, or it could fill an emotional need. You may even want to bring attention to a cause or injustice. The most common themes in writing are how to save time and money, how to make money, and how to feel loved. While your blog itself may not hinge on one of these themes, they can help you write reader-focused posts.
Identify something of value you have to share. Are you an amazing baker? Do you know crocheting tricks that make the hobby easier? Are you the most creative mommy on the block? Find the intersection where your passion, value, and reader interest meet and you’ll be unstoppable.
Write a mission statement for your blog. Explore what you want your blog to do. Ask yourself how you are going to help people. Define your goals for your blog, then write them down. You may even choose to publish your mission statement or manifesto on your blog.
You Aren’t Making Money
If your reason for blogging is to make money, you’re better off getting a second job instead. At least then you’re (practically) guaranteed to be paid for your time…and this ties into choosing the wrong blog topic. Too many bloggers pick their niche not out of passion, but because of the earning potential. Then they throw AdSense on their site and plan to earn a hefty, residual income. Nope. Instead they wind up blogging for about a hundred days on a topic they don’t care about and get frustrated when they bring in only a few bucks to show for it, and it’s rarely enough to cover the cost of hosting. It’s a sure-fire way to join the ninety-five percent.
Choose a blog topic that lights a fire in you. Don’t be a fair-weather blogger and choose your niche because it seems profitable or trendy. You’ll wind up miserable and all the hours you spend building your blog will feel like torture.
Find ways to monetize a topic you love. This could include selling e-books, courses, coaching, printables, products, or scheduling paid speaking gigs.
You’re Tired of Talking to Yourself
Having little to no traffic is uber-discouraging. It feels like no one cares about your writing and that can let the wind out of your sails in no time. I’m sure a hefty percentage of the ‘ninety-five’ found themselves in this exact situation. The truth is, you should be spending just as much time (if not more) marketing your blog and its contents as you do writing blog posts. Tired of hearing crickets? Or have your only comments been from your Mother?
Write guest posts for sites whose readers are a natural fit for your blog topic. Guest posts can be either paid or for exposure, but make sure your article will include your bio and at least one link to send interested readers to your blog. Look for submission guidelines on blogs you admire. If you don’t find any, email the blogger directly with your idea (or two) for a post.
Create and print a ‘post-post’ checklist. This should list all content marketing strategies you complete for every post. Things to include are social media sharing, social bookmarking sites, internal links that are included in the post, and any other marketing opportunities you take regular advantage of.
Optimize for SEO. Take advantage of snippets, keywords, headlines, slugs, tags, and categories. These simple tweaks can help readers find your blog…and become loyal readers.
You Feel Alone
Blogging is, for the most part, an isolated activity and spending hours plucking at a laptop isn’t for everyone. Maybe you’re incredibly extroverted and no matter what, writing for hours will never jive with your personality. Admit it and move on. You sound like the perfect candidate for an image-driven blog. Migrate to a theme that features images or try videos and podcasts, both of which you can enlist the help of your friends to create.
Join some social media blogging groups. Facebook has a ton of these and they range in focus from link-sharing to marketing and promotion to support and technical answers. All provide camaraderie and the chance to connect with other bloggers.
Get a blogging buddy. Ideally this will be someone who has similar blogging experience to yours. Strike up some conversations on social media or in the comment section of a few blogs. When you find someone you ‘click’ with, ask them if they’d be willing to email or direct message. Fellow bloggers understand your plight and need just as much support as you do!
You Got Overwhelmed…With your Blog and Life
I’m a living testament to this one: I recently took a few weeks off from my own blogs because my head was spinning and I couldn’t see the trees for the forest. What worked for me was defining my bare-bones-minimum, which turned out to be posting once a week and writing a weekly newsletter for subscribers. You’re not alone. Monetizing, creating freebies, writing e-books, scheduling social media posts, writing blog posts and marketing them, connecting with readers and other bloggers…it’s a lot. Now throw your life and work-a-day career on top of that. Take a breath if you need to but use that time to explore what led to your burn out or overwhelm…and then make a plan to overcome those obstacles.
Create a back-stock of blog posts. If you post once a week but have four posts in the hopper, you can take a couple weeks off whenever and no one ever has to know.
List your stressors. Overwhelm usually strikes when lots of vague obstacles swirl into one giant funnel cloud. Identifying these sources of stress individually will help you face your fears. They aren’t nearly as intimidating once you list and examine each one separately.
Outsource mind-numbing and time-consuming tasks. This could include using HootSuite to schedule social media posts, accepting guest posts, or hiring a virtual assistant. Decide what you can delegate and what tasks you dread. Outsource the intersection of these two.
Feels like you’re eating ice cream with a butter knife, doesn’t it? You’re ill-equipped and easily frustrated. The good news is that all bloggers were newbies when they first started and bloggers like to share. If it makes you feel better, no one is born with SEO and WordPress instincts. They are learned skills and you’re capable of learning and acquiring new skills.
Take a course. It doesn’t have to be an expensive course, either. Check with your local community college or adult enrichment programs. You could even hire a college design student to tutor you on the cheap.
Play around with WordPress. The dot com version works similarly to the dot org and you won’t need hosting or a domain for access. You won’t be able to install plug-ins, but if you’re brand new to the platform, setting up a blog there for the practice can get you familiar.
Learn as you go. My personal favorite, get started anyway and find answers as you need them! You don’t have to be an expert before you build your first blog, you just need to know where to find help. Google, WordPress forums, social media blogging groups, your local library, blogs about blogging, and the help desk of your hosting provider are all there when you need them.
Now, do you want to know the one no-fail, sure-fire way to keep yourself out of the ninety-five percent? Be persistent. Keep blogging. Apply these fixes if you need to, but keep blogging…and then blog some more. If you’ve abandoned a blog in the past, don’t feel bad or beat yourself up. (I’ve abandoned three!) Choose your new topic with long-term sustainability in mind and just keep blogging. Every day that you show up keeps you in the five percent!
Okay, show of hands: How many of you have abandoned a blog? Was it for one of the reasons listed or something else?
Michigan with her lovable and always astounding minions. You can find more of her writing for writers at PaidWrite.com.
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