Why Do So Many Blogs Disappear? 5 Tips For Avoiding the Same Fate
Have you ever come across an awesome blog post, excitedly decided to follow the site on social media… and then watched as no new content was ever posted again? Sadly, this type of thing happens to me all of the time as there are several blogs I’ve added to my RSS feed list this year that have remained dormant for months. Of course, this phenomenon isn’t unique to the personal finance space either as I’ve seen plenty of Disney fan sites come and go during my time in that community as well.
So why does this happen? More importantly, how can you help ensure that your blog doesn’t follow this same path? Let’s take a look at a few ways you can keep your blog kickin’.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Alive and Growing
Define your blog’s brand and objectives up front
I believe that one of the top reasons many blogs flame out so quickly is that they don’t have a clear vision or plan when they start. Whether they leave the theme of the blog vague or try too hard to do what their peers/idols are doing, it may not be immediately apparent to readers what a new blog is, which in turn makes it difficult to stand out. Moreover, if the blog’s author doesn’t quite know what their site is, it can actually make it more difficult to come up with content ideas (more on that later).
Admittedly, choosing a niche and angle for your blog can be challenging. After all, you may wish to try to incorporate all of your different passions into a single site or appeal to as large a group as possible by covering anything and everything. While there have certainly been blogs that have found success with these models, more often than not you’ll want to find a happy medium.
One often cited way to help you figure out our blog’s objectives is to visualize your ideal reader and determine how your site will serve them. In some cases, this may be as simple as figuring out what type of blog you feel is missing in the world and filling that gap. Other times you may find yourself entering a more crowded field but putting your own spin on things. Either is fine as long as you have a plan of action and vision for what you want your blog to become.
Learn how to generate new article ideas
While determining what type of content your blog is going to publish is a great start, the hard part is actually coming up with individual article ideas. Quite honestly, from my perspective, this may very well be the challenge that dooms so many young blogs. All too often I’ll find blogs post a killer intro entry, a couple of interesting follow-ups, and then proceed to go MIA. It could be that they started the blog on a whim based on something that interested them one week but not the next or perhaps they’ve encountered the dreaded “writer’s block.”
Now, I’ll be the first one to admit how difficult coming up with article ideas can be sometimes. However, I have learned a few tricks to help make the process a bit easier. For one, I’m a big fan of utilizing different categories on your site. Harkening back to my first section, these categories can be directly inspired by what your site’s stated objectives are. The benefit for me is that I’ll rotate through my different blog categories, making it easier for me to focus on what type of post idea I should be looking for. Of course, you don’t need to be too strict about making sure you cover each of these in order, but that is always an option.
Another one of my favorite tips is to look to your own day to day life for inspiration. Obviously not everything that happens in your life will be applicable to an article but you may be surprised how much of it is. Personally, I keep an e-mail draft detailing different stories or experiences that I think might lead to a good post in the near future or somewhere down the line. As an added bonus, sharing these stories and inspirations can help add some personality to your posts and help your blog to stand out.
Lastly, despite what you may think, you don’t need to be an expert on a topic to write about it. This isn’t to say you should fake your credentials or act like some sort of authority, but there are plenty of ways to admit your shortcomings and still be helpful. Take this post, for example — I’m certainly no blogging guru, but I can certainly share what’s worked for me. Ultimately, as long as you’re honest with your audience, I say feel free to write about whatever you want.
Be consistent and hold yourself accountable
Going hand in hand with the pitfalls of content creation is what experts have called “laziness.” I’m mostly kidding, of course, but lack of consistency can easily doom a blog. This is not only because your audience can easily grow tired of looking for new content and coming up empty, but also because, at a certain point, you may just decide to hang up your hat because you’re already so far behind. That’s why it’s important to hold yourself accountable and force yourself to be consistent.
One of the ways I’ve helped instill at least some consistency into my posting is via my “Quick Tips” section. If you’re not familiar, this is where I keep shorter, more varied articles that can range from news to small epiphanies I have in a given week. No matter what, these Quick Tips get published every Friday. That way, even if I don’t have a longer post to share one week, I’m at least letting my readers know I’m still there, while also keeping my creative juices (if you will) flowing.
As for accountability, your readers can sometimes be the best motivators for getting you back to your keyboard. On the other hand, those just starting out may not have found their audience just yet and won’t have the luxury of popular demand. That’s why you’ll also want to recruit a friend or family member to help light the fire under you from time to time. This could be as simple as having them ask “how’s your site doing?” on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Better yet, if you have someone else in your life who’s also a blogger, you can serve as accountability partners for each other.
The bottom line is that consistency is key. If you really want to grow your blog, don’t let yourself slip into the trap of laziness or “I’ll do it later.” Write when you find inspiration and, if all else fails, get someone who will make you find inspiration when you need to. 😉
Look for different ways to monetize
It’s no secret that money can be a great motivator. That’s probably why most of the courses you find about starting a blog focus on the monetary opportunities that come with running a popular site. On the other hand, you may reach a point where you want to begin monetizing your blog for one simple reason: to stop from losing money.
That’s right, while there are some free options for starting a blog such as posting on Medium, Tumblr, or some other subdomain, having a “professional site” will require you to pay for a domain name, hosting, and more. What’s more, while you may receive an introductory offer for these services, there are some bloggers who exit stage left as soon as that renewal notice with jacked up rates hits their inbox. To help prevent this, it’s never too early to start thinking about monetization.
Over the past few months, I’ve been doing what I call my Personal Finance Blog Income Report Roundup. In each installment, I compile figures from the income reports various bloggers release and look for different trends or lessons to be learned from them. One of the largest takeaways I’ve received so far is that there are plenty of different ways to earn money from your blog — from affiliate marketing to sponsored posts to display ads and beyond. What’s also great is that, if any one of those options don’t appeal to you, you can always look toward another. For example, while I don’t mind a couple of ads on a website, I hate when I can’t even navigate a page without being smacked in the face with auto-play video and pop-ups that block the actual content. Thus, I’ve been happy to keep my display ads to a minimum and focus more on recommending apps and tools I honestly use and endorse (called “affiliate marketing”). Another big trend these days is using your blog content as a kind of a “free trial” that will lead readers to purchase your online course. All of these and more are options that are available to you, whether you want to make extra income or just attempt to break even with your blog.
Don’t expect overnight success
Before you take what we discussed in that last section and start spending all of your dollars in your head, it’s important to note that the odds of your blog being an overnight success are slim. Heck, after 20 months of running this site and several months of compiling those Income Report Roundups, my site revenue still isn’t even large enough to display on my chart! However, you shouldn’t let this discourage you and stop you from blogging.
If you’re only looking to start a blog to make money, you’re probably going to hit some challenges. On the other hand, if you take a real interest in what you’re writing about and honestly want to help your readers, your odds of success are much higher (citation needed, but just take my word for it). Additionally, while it can be frustrating to look at the success of others and compare that to your own site, don’t discount the amount of time and effort others put into getting where they are now. Instead, learn from their example as you journey down your own path.
There are a number of reasons why a great number of blogs disappear. From ill-planning and lack of consistency to the realization of the costs and hard work that come with running a site, thankfully there are ways you can help avoid some of these popular traps. Ultimately, it all comes down to striking a balance — a balance between making money and producing strong content, a balance between setting goals and not being discouraged when you fall short, and a balance between taking blogging seriously and still having fun. Good luck!