Confession time: I really like to bake. There’s something magical about putting together a bunch of boring ingredients that don’t taste so good on their own, adding heat, and being rewarded with a delicious slice of sugary, buttery heaven. The problem with baking is that one small mistake can ruin the entire thing. I recall accidentally using chive cream cheese in a pastry recipe once as a child, rather than stirring in the regular non-oniony stuff. It could not be saved.
The good news is that blogs are not baked goods. If you suddenly realize that your creation is heading in the wrong direction, you have more options than simply holding your nose and swallowing. Here are three:
Form a Plan (a New One…)
If your blog is struggling, chances are you either never had a plan in place or you had one that we can safely say isn’t working. You can’t climb Mt. Everest on a whim—or bake a cake with a recipe—and building a successful blog can easily be a lot like Everest. Let me put it this way: greater men and women than you have tried and failed. That doesn’t mean you can’t get to the top, it just means you have to be smarter about your approach and more tenacious than 99 percent of your competition.
- Reevaluate your blogging home. Check out a blogging sites comparison chart and make sure you’re on the site with the best features, assets, and support for your specific needs.
- Take a moment to map out what you want your blog to be, and then see if all your content really fits. If your blog is spastic and it appears like you can’t figure out what you want to be, how are other people supposed to get attached?
- Set some goals. Where do you want to be a week from now, a month from now, a year from now? Those goals are your mile markers, there to keep you on track and to give you something to shoot for.
Get the Word Out
If you blog and the world doesn’t know about it, did it really happen? Sure, but now it’s called a diary. Blogging depends on outside readership, and that audience can only form when people outside your office/bedroom/nearby coffee shop know that the blog exists.
- Add share buttons to your blog posts
- Put together a comprehensive social media plan
- Join online groups relevant to your blog and participate in the conversation
- Give something of value (a “take home” item like a free ebook is always a great incentive) to encourage traffic
- Make sure all your paid ads have CTAs and do A/B testing to see which ones work the best
Above All, Aim for Quality
“Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” In two short sentences, Hype Machine founder Anthony Volodkin summed up the most important aspect of blogging perfectly. Rarely is there a groundbreaking, well-written, reader-oriented masterpiece of a blog out there that’s gathering dust for no reason. If you just can’t seem to get traffic no matter how many tweets or Facebook posts you’re putting out there, then maybe the problem is the content itself. Are you writing blogs that have real value? Is the subject matter interesting to other people? Are your pieces well-written? Is there visual interest? Be honest with yourself—your success may depend on it.
In your quest to turn around your blog, you can certainly learn a lot from other bloggers (this survey of top bloggers is a good starting point), but at some point all the learning in the world won’t fix what you can’t see is wrong. A healthy dose of self-criticism is the best way to breathe life back into your blog – and you won’t even have to stomach some ill-baked pastries in the process.