How can you endure through the rough times of blogging? When you don’t experience growth, no one comments or shares, and you lose sight of why you started in the first place? Five strategies to help you through the rough spots and come out stronger.
Blogging is Not a Sprint
“I don’t understand,” my friend said with a sigh. “I know I write well, but it seems like no. one. visits. my. blog. Ever.”
I nodded sympathetically. I’d had to endure a time of crickets and fading dreams, too.
“That part that really gets me? I visit other blogs that have dozens of responses, and the blogs are…” she trailed off.
“Not your thing?” I said with a smile.
“I was trying to think of a nice way to say it. That works.”
“Don’t give up,” I urged her. “Just keep writing. You have to endure through the tough times in order to find success.”
She gave me a hopeless look, and I murmured in sympathy. I had no idea what I could say to encourage her.
Years later, after stumbling around for focus and feeling becalmed by the whimsical winds of success, I’ve come to realize something.
I don’t blog to make money. Sure, some people make a living as bloggers—just like some people make a living from selling through multi-level marketing. But fewer and fewer people will click through ads these days (the way they did five years ago), so in order to make money, you have to really hustle. Blog Tyrant shares that only 31% of bloggers make money. and only 2% of all bloggers make $150k a year.
Most bloggers these days make money through affiliate sales—where they get a commission for each person they sell someone else’s product or service to. Although I’ve participated in this a few times, I don’t have a love of sales in me. I don’t like pushing products.
Figure Out Your End Game
Every blogger will need to figure out why they blog. My reason and your reason won’t look the same—but we’ll both endure growth pains, insecurities, and the desire to give up at some point.
What motivates me might not motivate you, because we have different end games in mind and different personalities. I’ll share what I’ve learned, and hope that it encourages you and sparks a desire to endure through the tough times. But I don’t offer a panacea.
Tips to Help You Endure Slow Blog Growth
1. Decide Who You Write For
If you want to write for yourself, go for it! Blogs provide a cool space where someone who needs to hear what you have to say may stumble across your words. You can stop reading now if this describes you. Blog growth and stats and all that stuff shouldn’t matter to you, because you blog for creative expression.
Maybe you find that you started blogging for yourself, but now you wonder if you have a bigger reason. If so, read on.
If you want to provide a service or help someone, go for it! Your why will determine how you look at your blog (as something personal, or a business).
2. Create an Avatar
No, you don’t need artistic skill to do this. But you do need to sit down and think about the kind of person you want to reach with your blog. Write out an avatar statement. “I want to help beginning bloggers who feel discouraged about their blogs learn the skills they need to improve their blog growth.” Now, imagine what that ‘beginning blogger’ looks like? Male? Female? Middle-aged? Young?
When you have a purpose and an avatar in mind, you’ll find it easier to write to your intended audience. You’ll make subtle word choices and illustrations to fit your audience. Writing to an avatar will help you create authentic relationships with real people (otherwise you end up sounding so general your posts feel like an instruction manual for putting together IKEA furniture).
3. Time Yourself
Set a timer each time you sit down to prepare a blog post. How long does it take you to write a short-form post? A long-form post? Do you spend more time writing, or on the back-end stuff like graphics, SEO, and publishing the post?
This information should help you figure out your opportunity cost. In other words, does the reward (satisfaction of posting, responses from readers, etc.) offer enough ‘payment’ for the time you spent writing and preparing the post? Maybe just the joy of creating provides enough payment.
Think about what you can sustain as far as blogging goes. Writing a post a day takes a lot of time and commitment. I only do it during February, as part of the #write28days challenge. Realistically, as a full-time teacher, I can manage 1-3 posts a week. I publish a long-form post on Sundays—a 1000-2000 word post rich in keywords, graphics, and links. This Self-care Sunday post also acts as the landing page for my weekly link-up. I consistently post each week at the same time and on the same general topic, and have for the past six years.
On Tuesdays, I post a Book Talk Tuesday post—a book review of a newly-released book or a book I recently finished reading. I often participate in the Five-Minute Friday Twitter party and link up on Thursday nights, but not always.
For me, at this time in life, I can post this often without hardship. But you’ll need to evaluate how many posts you can realistically publish each week. The experts can’t agree on exactly how many posts a person needs to write per week for blog growth. They all seem to agree that bloggers need to post consistently, though.
You get to decide what consistent looks like for you. Once a week or once a month? Every Tuesday, or every Thursday. Consistency matters more than quantity.
5. Map Out Your Future
In order to post consistently, it helps if you have a road map. I started mapping out my Self-care Sunday content by theme about two years ago. By having a month-to-month plan, I found I could write more quickly and spend less time staring at the screen wondering what to write about.
This year, I even mapped out my route for the entire year in advance. I don’t have to endure writer’s block. If planning for an entire year in advance seems like too much for you, plan out your blog posts for a month.With a plan, you’ll avoid the pop-quiz panic of wanting to post, but having no idea what to write about. #blogger #blogginghacks #writersblock #write28days Click To Tweet
Come up with a workflow that makes sense for you, and think of ways you can batch write or do graphics in bulk for an entire series.
Don’t Let Discouragement Get You Down
Whatever you do, don’t let discouragement get you down. Take time to reflect on your journey thus far so you can celebrate your successes and feel invigorated about the future. Come back tomorrow when I’ll talk about sparrows and you.