As we continue our series on blogging and how it’s changed over the last couple of years, one thing I think has changed is that it’s become much harder to develop a successful blog. There are so many blogs being published, virtually no topic is untouched. There are so many things competing for people’s time and attention, it’s difficult to keep them coming back regularly.
I come across lots of failing blogs and I see a lot of the same problems. If your blog is struggling chances are you’ve got at least one or more of the following issues. If you’re considering starting a blog or continuing a blog, be aware and avoid these pitfalls.
1) Self-centeredness. A lot of failing blogs are written by people who have chosen to blog about whatever is on their mind. Some try to spiritualize this by saying they blog about “whatever God puts on my heart that day.” That’s fine… if you don’t care if anyone reads your blog. If you do want to help, influence, encourage or share expertise with people, you need to make your blog about your audience. What are they interested in? What will help them?
2) Lack of focus. Almost all successful blogs are focused on one specific topic, they engaged people who are interested in that topic. When a blogger writes about too broad a topic or things that are off-topic, only a small percentage of readers are interested in each post. Someone who is only interested in 1 of every 3 or 4 articles published isn’t going to read or engage very often.
3) Lack of passion. If you’re not passionate about the topic your blogging about, others will not engage with you. Sometimes bloggers lose their interest in topic of their blog. In those cases it’s time to shut it down. Most often I see a lack of passion on company/org blogs where an employee has been tasked with blogging and their doing it out of obligation rather than passion. If you don’t think you have enough time to read other blogs on the same topic, then you’re probably not passionate about it.
4) Lack of uniqueness. A lot of people start blogs because they see another blog they like and think it would be fun to do something like it. Bad idea. The best reason to start a blog is because you wish there was someone writing about a certain topic in a certain way, but there isn’t, and you want to fill that void. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful starting a new blog on a topic other blogs are already covering, it’s just best to have a unique goal or twist on that topic.
5) Lack of personality. One of the fastest ways to lose readers is to write posts that sound like they came out of a textbook. Let your funny, interesting, quirky self come out in your posts.
6) Lack of consistency. Successful blogs have a rhythm. They publish a consistent number of times each week. They publish at a consistent time of the day. This is tough for a lot of people (including me) because blogging is probably not your #1 priority – usually not even close – and other things tend to push it out of the way. The best way to address this is to get ahead. Set aside time this week to write the posts you’re going to publish next week.
7) Lack of engagement. Successful blogs ask their readers questions. They respond to comments. They respond to people on Facebook and Twitter. Unless you’re Seth Godin, you’re not going to get very far just broadcasting blog posts.
8 ) Fear of losing control. Some bloggers are deathly afraid someone will post something offensive to their blog, so they require all comments be approved by themselves before they’re published to the blog. This can put a major damper on conversation, especially if the blogger hours to approve comments. Other bloggers censor any opinion that doesn’t agree with their own. People will not come back and comment again if this is how they’re treated. Successful blogs allow for a diversity of opinions. They respond and engage with people who have different views rather than shutting them down.
9) Lack of subscribe options. A high priority for every blog is to convert first time readers into regular readers, and that happens best when a reader subscribes to the blog. People have lots of different ways they like to subscribe – Twitter, Facebook, RSS and Email are the top 4. Make sure you provide ways for people to subscribe to your blog in at least these 4 ways.
10) Lack of initiative. Many bloggers expect that if they write blog posts, people will find them, read them, comment, and keep coming back. Having a “if you build it, they will come” mentality does not work. If you want people to visit your blog, you have to take the initiative. Do things like read and comment on other blogs, guest blog on other blogs, ask other bloggers to guest blog on your blog, initiate group blog projects where you and other bloggers all tackle the same book or topic.
If you blog, which of these issues do you struggle with most? Do you have any other suggestions for how to address these issues?
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