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Blogging has been a critical part of my business and income for the past 5+ years, and over that period of time I've known many other bloggers who have experienced huge success, and even more who have not been able to achieve their blogging dreams.
Whenever I try to analyze what has led to the success or failure of certain blogs or bloggers I come back to the same things over and over again. It's not usually the fact that the blogger has amazing writing ability or an incredible knowledge of the subject that makes a blog successful. And it's not the lack of the same things that leads a blog to fail.
In this article I want to take a look at what I have seen to be some of the most significant, and common reasons, that bloggers fail to reach their dreams and goals. The intent isn't to focus on the negative, but rather to show the pitfalls that trap many bloggers who start out with high hopes. Avoid these pitfalls and you'll be well on your way.
1. Lack of Consistent Effort
The number one factor that separates successful bloggers from unsuccessful bloggers is a consistent effort. Those who put in the time and effort and stick with it will almost always achieve some level of success with their blog. Of course, "success" can mean different things to everyone, but regardless of your definition of success, it will be hard to achieve it as a blogger without putting in a consistent effort.
It takes work to create and maintain a successful blog. You'll need to publish interesting content that readers appreciate on a regular basis. The frequency of posts needed will depend on a lot of different factors, but most blogs need at least one post per week, and the majority of successful blogs publish even much more frequently.
Over the years I've seen a lot of blogs that started off with promise only to see lack of consistent effort slowly (or in some cases not so slowly) lead to the demise of the blog. In order to achieve success with your blog you'll need to be willing to put in the effort even when things seem to be growing slowly and when frustration sets in.
2. Giving Up Too Quickly
You'll need to have patience and be willing to wait for your work to pay off. If you're starting a new blog from scratch it will probably take several months, maybe even longer, before you'll see the financial rewards for your effort. One of the most common reasons that I see for the failure of blogs is a lack of patience.
I've known several bloggers over the years that I thought were doing a great job with their new blogs. They may not have been making a lot of money yet, but they were making progress by getting noticed for their quality content. But unfortunately, many of these bloggers didn't view their progress the same way, and they gave up because they weren't seeing the rewards for their efforts soon enough.
In order to have success you need to have the patience while you are putting in that consistent effort, and trust that your hard work will pay off in the future. The first few months are the most challenging time for a blog because getting off the ground and building an audience is difficult. During this stage you're working on content for your blog, working to promote that content so people actually see it, and you're probably not making very much, if any, money for your efforts. It's easy to get discouraged at this stage, but what many successful bloggers were able to focus on at this point was the growth that is taking place, and the benefits that it brings in the future.
3. Unrealistic Expectations
4. Lack of Focus
I've talked to a number of bloggers over the years who expressed frustrations that their blog wasn't growing despite the fact that they were working hard on it. Many of these blogs shared something in common. As soon as I visited and browsed a few post titles I could tell that there was no focus. The blog might have a personal post about a trip with their kids, then a post about managing a household budget, and then a post about some new TV show.
In order for a blog to appeal to visitors there should be some focus and a consistency in the types of posts that are published. There is nothing wrong with personal blogs, but combining a personal blog with a professional blog is a recipe for losing the interest of readers. That's not to say that you can't ever publish anything that is personal, but visitors of your blog should be able to look at the titles or topics that you are covering and know generally what to expect. If there are several different topics that you want to cover, start a different blog for each. Personal blogs can, of course, cover all different types of topics that you're interested in, but personal blogs rarely make any money and so that is not really the focus of this article.
5. Lack of Promotion Off the Blog
It doesn't matter how great your blog content is if nobody sees it. When you're first starting a new blog you'll need to not only produce content for the blog, but you'll also need to have a strategy for getting visitors to the blog for the first time. Hopefully, if your content catches the attention of visitors they'll subscribe to your RSS feed, sign up for your email list, or follow you via a social media site. All of these things make it very likely that this first-time visitor will turn into a repeat visitor.
In order to get those first-time visitors to a new blog you'll probably have to put in some promotional effort. People need to know about your blog in order to link to it or to share your posts via social media, so you'll need to help people to find your blog for the first time.
Some popular strategies for promoting a new blog include guest posts at other blogs, commenting at other blogs, being active and sharing links at social media sites, and emailing bloggers and website owners to let them know about some great new post that you've published.
From my experience, in the first several months of working on a new blog you'll probably need to spend the majority of your time and effort working on things aside from your own blog. You'll need to work on your own blog enough that it will appeal to new visitors, but the majority of work in the early stages is involved with promoting your content, establishing connections with other bloggers, and getting people to notice the blog. As you establish your audience you can adjust how you use your time and spend more of it working on your own blog and less time promoting it.
One of the things I see that often leads to a failed blogging effort is a lack of promotion at other places aside from the blog itself. Some of those blogs that I have watched fail would have likely been successful if they could have only generated a little more exposure so more people would find out about the blog and what it had to offer.
6. Lack of Unique and Original Content
Any good blog needs to have original content that hasn't been published at any other site. Google has made a lot of algorithm changes in the past few years in order to recognize content that has been re-published and to make sure that only the original version of the content is showing up in the search results. So if you want to attract visitors from Google searches (and who doesn't?), you'll need to publish original content.
Simply publishing original content is not enough though. The content will also need to be unique and high quality so that visitors want to come back, other sites want to link to you, and readers want to share your posts via social media. Failing to focus on providing quality content is sure to lead to the downfall of any blog.
7. No Personality
An example of a blogger who does a great job of connecting with his readers is Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. SPI includes an About page where Pat shares his personal story. His photo and a brief welcome message are also located at the top of the sidebar, which helps new visitors to feel a little more connected to Pat.
8. No Monetization Strategy
In order to make money from your blog you'll need to have some sort of plan. Will you focus on attracting as much traffic as possible and monetize the blog by selling ads? Will you use the blog to promote products as an affiliate? Will you create and sell your own products at the blog? Will you publish premium content that readers must pay to access? Will you offer a membership option that provides access to exclusive content or resources?
There are a lot of different options for monetizing a blog, and most successful blogs use more than one method of making money. While I think it is important to allow your blog and your strategy to evolve over time, I do think it is important that you give consideration to your monetization strategy from the start. It's you're planning to sell products it is important to know that readers in your niche or industry are willing to pay for the types of products that you want to sell. If you are planning to promote products as an affiliate it is a good idea to make sure there are some good affiliate programs for relevant products before devoting a lot of time and energy into building your blog's audience. If you're planning to sell ads you'll want to know that there is a large potential audience and companies willing to pay to reach that audience.
9. The Wrong Monetization Strategy
Aside from having no monetization strategy at all, some bloggers run into the problem of having the wrong monetization strategy. Not every approach works for any blog. AdSense, for example, can be a great way for some blogs to make money, but for others it doesn't work very well. With tech-savvy audiences the click through rates tend to be very low on AdSense ads, and in some industries the amount you'll earn per click is very low because advertisers are not willing to bid larger amounts for this traffic.
10. Too Much Reliance on One Source of Traffic
Building a blog that will be successful for the long run involves working to create diversity of traffic sources. Relying too heavily on one source of traffic makes your blog vulnerable. The most common source that bloggers tend to rely on too heavily is Google search traffic. As we've seen in the past few years, there is no guarantee that search traffic from Google will continue. Their constant algorithm changes could drastically reduce the amount of visitors that arrive at your blog from Google searches, or you could be hit with a manual penalty if you've violated their terms.
Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, focus on building diverse traffic sources that will add some stability to your blog. Don't ignore the need for search engine traffic, but supplement it by other efforts. Work to build links that will actually drive traffic to your site (not just acquiring links for SEO purposes). Establish a strong presence at social media sites that are popular with your blog's audience and make it easy for readers to share your posts. Start a newsletter and collect email addresses so you can promote your new posts to your subscribers. Work to become a go-to source in your industry, which will lead to direct traffic.
11. Lost Interest
The last reason that I'll mention, and one that happens for many bloggers, is a loss of interest in the blog or the topic. Let's face it, our interests often change over time and not everything that we start today is something that we'll pursue forever.
I'm sure you've heard or read that when it comes to choosing a topic for your blog you should follow your passion. I don't think this is always necessary, but in order to make it work for the long term you do need to choose a topic that at least interests you enough to maintain your motivation. When you're making money with your blog it's easy to keep working regardless of how you feel about the topic, but before you're making money it's a lot easier to lose interest.
As was mentioned in point #3, having realistic expectations came make a big difference. Many bloggers that lose interest do so because they had unrealistic expectations in the first place, and not being able to reach those expectations quickly leads them to get discouraged and lose interest in pushing forward.
What's Your Experience?
What reasons have you seen that lead blogs to fail? It could be something that you see in other blogs, or maybe something from your own experience.
Photo credit: Sybren Stuvel and Quotes Worth Repeating.
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