You write a set of blog posts, send them out into the world, and you immediately get traffic, all of that traffic buys through your affiliate links, and then enthusiastically leave blog comments on how amazing you are and ask thoughtful questions.
This is the story many bloggers have in their heads. Oh sure, they’ll tell you laughingly of course, that’s unrealistic! but in the secret places that they don’t talk about, they know that’s what they want. But what happens when you pour your soul into a blog and nothing happens?
The Dark Side of Blogging: Failed Blogs
Failed blogs are everywhere. Based on all my conversations I’ve ever had with bloggers, I estimate that for every successful blogger our there, there are an average of 3-5 blogs out there, there are 10-15 blogs lying dormant and forgotten, the symbol of a work at home mom’s hopes and dreams of providing for her family, the reminder for that young writer that their dreams aren’t a reality, and they should go “get a real job,” as their non-entrepreneurially minded family reminds them regularly.
When you’ve poured your heart and soul into a blog and you’re getting no results, it can be easier emotionally to “break up” with your blog and start fresh, which is why so many blogs get abandoned. A failed blog can feel like dating that one guy who likes you a lot, but the attraction is much stronger on your side than it is on his. You turn into that desperate clingy girl who always checks her phone all the time, never putting in on silent just in case you get a text or phone call that doesn’t come as often as you like.
As crazy as that sounds, that actually sums up most unsuccessful bloggers I know. Late at night, they can be seen pouring over their analytics for the 3 visitors they had to their blog, obsessing over every scrap of information their analytics tell them about their visitor, hoping something unlocks the secret to the “Profitable blog in 20 minutes” method that seems to work for other people.
Step one: Realistic expectations for new bloggers
Firstly, the “profitable blog in 20 minutes” thing is crap. I wrote a whole blog post about that the other day. Bloggers who tell you that are just trying to sell you something or give you half-ass advice to sounds like an expert. It’s irritating to those of us who know better, and who actually want to help people. Those people are usually also the ones who recommend Bluehost to unsuspecting bloggers, but let’s not ever go there right now. Just know that’s just because you put in some effort (or maybe a lot of effort!) into your blog and you didn’t get immediate results, that’s okay!
Here in the real world, it can take a few weeks to months of strategic work to really get a blog off the ground. This blog sat for 4 months with 5 blog posts before I started to see real traction. Part of the reason it took so long was I was busy doing Pinterest affiliate marketing as my full-time business, and OYB was a side gig I did in my “spare time.” I wanted OYB to be a blog where I could help people without an agenda, give them the best resources I could make, and not be another “side hustle” blogger selling snake oil to my readers who trusted me.
Step two: Have a system, stick to the system
One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers make (including myself) is not having a system to stick to for their blog. When I started blogging, I had a list of things I could do for each blog post, which was so long and huge it wasn’t achievable. When I began looking at this blog as a serious venture, I created my list of a few, manageable things to do for each blog post as it was written and after I published it.
I have a really basic, but super effective system for my blog posts. I don’t do 700 things when I write a new blog post. Here’s how my process looks, from a birds-eye view.
1. Write a blog post that creates value to readers, both new and established. I want every blog reader who comes here to feel like they got my best content, not some “Hey, here’s a tiny bit of information – NOW BUY MY STUFF” gross blog posts. Those are (in my opinion) hugely disrespectful to readers, not to mention just flat out annoying, am I right?
2. Give them a reason to stick around and a way to do it. Like, for instance, if I invited you to join my Facebook group for discussions with like-minded entrepreneurs – see what I did there? 😉 This also applies to email newsletter sign-ups.)
3. Share your blog post, in a non-salesy, effective way. I love blogging! I love writing and sharing my life with people (even if it’s through the lens of business) and I really love the opportunity to serve people and help make their lives better. I am very sensitive to sales techniques, and so I always try to err on the side of “provide massive value, and the sales will come if they’re going to” strategy. I like using Tailwind Tribes to promote my blog posts. I know in a Tribe, there are other entrepreneurs looking to market their stuff as well, so in a Tribe you get to join up and share what you love, and have people share your content if they love it too. I actually made a Tribe for entrepreneurs, where we can all join, if you’re interested you can join here.
4. Create 2-5 Pinnable images for each blog post.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pinterest is the main source of traffic for almost every blogger I know. It’s basically free advertising and traffic for your blog, and it’s pretty amazing. So yes, creating Pinnable images is basically a must for bloggers.
Step Three: Give the system time to work, but set a deadline
There are two common mistakes that bloggers make which sabotage their blogging efforts big time! The first is that they find a strategy, they implement it for a really short time, then quit when they don’t see instant results. That sucks for them, because they usually just need to stick with something long enough to see results in order to actually…get some results. Imagine that, right?
Think of blog strategy as exercise. If you were 100 pounds overweight, would you do an exercise once and expect to lose 15 pounds overnight? Or would you eat healthy for one day and expect to magically drop a pants size? Of course not. That’s crazy. So, don’t do that with your blog.
The second sabotage bloggers engage in is they stick with a small set of things foreeeeever, even if it isn’t getting results. Going back to the diet analogy, if you’re 100 pounds overweight and you have a diet and exercise routine you follow religiously, never cheating even a little, and you do it for 6 months. If you were that consistent and saw no results, would you keep on? I seriously hope not… yet I see this happen all the time with bloggers! Literally, all the freaking time!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people say things like, “I’ve been doing this for years and I’m not earning any money, but I’ll get it!” or, even worse, they’ll laughingly tell me, “I’ve had 4 other blogs before, but this one is going to be the one!” It kills me. Part of the reason it kills me is I see my former self in them – both in the blogger who refuses to see what they’re doing isn’t working, and in the blogger who doesn’t have the discipline to stick to it long enough to make it work.
How long should you stick to a given strategy before trying something new?
It can be hard to know when to keep going on a strategy, but I have a simple guide that I use. I give any new strategy 90 days to give me results. If I have seen literally no results, I’ll probably change tactics entirely. If I have seen some results, but not the kind of numbers I want to see, I’ll tweak it and give it another 30-60 days to continue to test it before I decide whether I need to try something else, or keep the strategy.
Ultimately, being a successful blogger is about providing amazing value to people, so they keep coming back for more. From there, everything else is just figuring out technical details. I hope you enjoyed this post, and would really love to hear your comments – whether it’s a question, a thought or critique, or anything in between. I respond to each and every comment (unless you’re a troll, then you’ll get deleted!) because I really care about your thoughts and feedback.