After months or even years of thinking about it, you finally decided to start your own blog. You sat down at your desk, maybe planned for a few hours, gathered your thoughts, and punched the damn keys.
Feeling a bit nervous, a bit excited (you weren’t sure what you were feeling) you eagerly waited for stuff to happen. After all, it’s all about writing and clicking on that blueish little Publish button, is it not?
Well… the feedback you receive is the kind that makes 95% of bloggers quit. Soul-crushing silence. That’s enough to break even the toughest warriors.
What happened? Where did you go wrong? Where are all the readers?
Mistakes. That’s what happened. I know, because I’ve been there. I made my fair share of mistakes. Some of them I even fixed. Now I am working on making new ones.
But let’s just focus on the ones that can, should, and must be fixed.
In this day and age, anyone can start a blog. But without readers, it’s not a blog.
I know, I know. Some of you are itching to hit that comment box with something like, “I write for myself, I do not care if I get readers or not.”
If you were only writing for yourself you’d be doing it in a journal. You write in a public blog, on the Internet, because you want to be read. Admit it. It’s going to work out so much better for you in the long run.
You might even consider this as the first mistake: not admitting that you want readers.
Yes, getting readers is complicated. And yes, it’s hard. And yes, most of you will get frustrated and quit. Some of you will persevere, while others will want to figure out what’s wrong and how they can improve.
1. You’re all me, me, me
Talking about what happened to you. What you did yesterday. Or the day before that. Telling cute stories as if this were some sort of high school reunion.
You could do that. It doesn’t mean anyone will read it though.
Even though people do love stories, even though the human element is what connects almost anything to everything else, it’s not that simple.
It’s difficult to pull it off.
Because we vastly overestimate how interested people are when it comes to our lives. Hint: they’re not. In the real world, or in this virtual world, most mimic interest out of politeness.
Yes, you have a story. I get it. But we all do.
But think of it this way: if husbands rarely listen to their wives complaining about a crap day at work (I’m so going to get in trouble for this) then what makes you think some strangers living thousands of miles away would?
Storytelling is one of the most fascinating things you can do. It connects people on such a level that they almost become one. They mirror each other, even their hearts begin to sync. But it’s one hell of a skill, and it takes years and years to master.
How can you get away with it?
What we love more than anything are stories that teach us something. Not only that, but we love the underdog winning. That’s the only story worth mentioning.
How did you overcome the most difficult moments in your life? What did you learn from them? How did those experiences shape you?
A rags to riches story is interesting because most people can identify with the rag, and can dream about the riches. The rich part is what makes it so interesting, in fact. It’s the fact that it makes people think that they, too, can do it.
But telling people what you had for lunch yesterday or that you hurt your toe by stepping on some legos…
2. You obsess about everything (but the content)
You focus your time and energy on SEO. Keywords, backlinks, and all that jazz. You buy all sorts of tools, read all the resources you can find…
I believe SEO to be mostly a waste of time. Google’s ranking algorithms are not difficult to predict, but impossible. And they change. And any so-called SEO expert if he were being honest would tell you the same thing.
Next, you obsess about the way your blog looks. The design of your blog is important enough for you to spend money on a custom theme. You take the utmost care of what goes where. You just want it to look stunning, make people fall in love.
Does it matter?
Not at all. Most of the time, as long as they can somehow find their way around you blog, your readers don’t give a damn about your custom designed theme.
3. You do not network
Building connections with fellow human beings is essential to the success of your blog. It’s probably the second most important thing you can do, behind providing great content.
What I mean by this?
Reply to comments. That’s a great way to start. Focus on creating true connections with those who read your blog. Find other bloggers. Read their stuff. Comment on their stuff. Ask them if they’d like to be interviewed by you, if they’d like you to guest blog for them…
It’s not magic, and it takes a lot of time and patience, but it does help your blog. A lot.
4. You are hoping to “go viral”
This is a big misconception, one I have been guilty of in the past. Even though you are not seeing any results, then you must persevere and keep going and one day it will happen that this one post you wrote will go viral and turn you into an Internet sensation.
Look, I’m all about perseverance. And even I am guilty of being too perseverant, and forgetting about the other aspect: changing one’s strategy.
It’s mostly about the incremental. You need to grow. Otherwise, it’s all just wishful thinking, and it won’t help you reach the audience you deserve.
5. You are obsessed with stats
It’s not all about stats. Traffic. Numbers. This isn’t Accounting 101.
Stop checking those damn stats every minute of every day. It’s a complete waste of time.
6. You are not consistent
Yes, consistency is key to building a great blog. People need to know what to expect, when to expect it.
No one cares when you write an apology for not posting for six months. As a matter of fact, few will even remember who you are.
7. You already quit in your mind
This one of the most common mistakes. That’s why people tell themselves they’re only blogging as a means to save their souls from damnation. Or that they’re not popular because they’re not lucky. They have such a particular niche that there are only six other people in the world who can understand them. And five of them don’t have Internet access.
Okay, I get it. When you have 200 followers and you get 20 view every time you post something, it’s easy to get discouraged. To lose hope. But writing whatever comes to mind and not giving a damn is not going to help you increase your audience. It’s not.
Granted, popular blogs tend to become popular fast. I grew mine from 0 to 20,000 followers in little over seven months. But… there’s a but, yes… you must not take into consideration your current situation, but rather the possibility for growth.
What I mean by that is that you need to keep your feet on the ground and your eyes on the stars. Work hard on becoming a better blogger, and don’t get sidetracked by the lack of results.
Results always, always follow personal development. Or, in this case, blogging development.
You can always become better.
Thank you for reading today’s pep talk! Now on to the next mistake.
8. You post too often
Guilty as charged. But, I have a pretty good excuse. I have been doing this for so long that people have come to understand this (somehow). What I mean by this is that I have a lot of repeat readers. People who actually read every single post, which makes it okay to post this often.
As a beginner though, it’s not sustainable, and unless you provide great content, absolutely fantastic content, odds are you’re going to piss people off a lot more often than making them appreciate your time and effort.
9. You do not spend enough time writing the best content possible
Your primary focus should be content. The better it is, the faster you’ll grow your blog. It shouldn’t, however, be your only focus.
This is what makes blogging so tricky. Because it’s quite a paradox. Yes, you need to provide value, to over-deliver, to give people what they want. But it’s also important to promote, to network, to learn, to expand…
And you have to make people care. That’s what makes the difference between boring and interesting. It’s not the information, but how it’s presented.
So, ask yourself… do people care about your blog? What have you done to make them care?
So, what should you do?
The answer is kind of simple. You figure out what people want to read. What they’d love to read from YOU. That’s the idea.
I always think of blogging as a man trying to seduce a woman, so to speak. And he’s talking and talking, and bragging, and you know, explaining stuff, and how much he can bench press and how much money he makes, and she’s constantly looking away, looking down, doing all sort of things to keep her distracted.
Why is that? Why do you think something like that happens?
Because he wasn’t paying attention to her. He wasn’t talking about what she wanted to be talking about.
Blogs usually fail not because their content is bad or they didn’t add enough backlinks or because it’s all a scam and it’s all about luck and no one cares or understands what they’re all about.
That guy would be having the time of his life talking about how much he can bench press and how much money he makes if only he talked about it with the right people. The kind of people who care about those sort of things.
Women love to talk about art, romance, social dynamics, they want to hear interesting stories, made to laugh.
Getting sidetracked there a bit.
Anyway. Blogs fail because their authors never stop to think what it is that their readers truly want to read about. Because the truth is that if you write about the stuff that matters to a lot of people, then your blog will grow. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it “wrong” by most experts’ standards.
Listen to your readers. Ask them what is it that they’d like to read more about.
And if you don’t have any readers yet, don’t wait for them to come to you. Go after them. Network. But do it with a bit of grace and diplomacy.
I’d like to know what are some of the mistakes you’ve made and how you fixed them.
Also, I do want to know about some of the issues you’re having, and maybe I can help you fix them.
Lastly, if there’s any topic you’d like me to write about, do share that with me in the comments section below.