It’s been estimated that 80% of blogs fail. I got that wonky statistic from a website that helps people earn money from their blogs. I think they’re saying that 80% of professional bloggers are disappointed with their blogging income.
But many of us don’t even try to earn money by blogging. We’re more interested in sharing ideas. For us, failure is feeling like we’re not being heard. If no one is visiting or following our blogs, we wonder if we should even bother continuing. If you google what percentage of blogs are abandoned, the number is more like 95%.
So, how can we remain among the 5-20% of blogs that succeed? It’s about commitment and quality. How do we get there?
Choose a focus. Why are you blogging? Is blogging how you keep family and friends up to date on what’s happening in your world? Is your blog your forum for sharing your thoughts and opinions about deep topics? Do you have something to sell? Or do you have expertise in a certain field that you’re willing to share? My own reason for blogging is to build a fan base. I have several books in the works, and it would be nice if there were already people out there who like my writing by the time my books hit the bookstores.
If you want to write about a particular topic, make sure it’s something you foresee keeping your own interest for an extended period. I know I love the arts and the creative process, so that’s my focus. That’s not to say that everything I post has an arts tie-in, but most of my posts do.
Also, once you choose a focus, that doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot to a new one. But help your readers adjust during the transition. When they started following you, they did so with the expectation that your posts would center around a certain theme. Assure them it will still be worth their while to continue to visit you.
Come up with a posting schedule that you can maintain. You don’t have to post every day. I do, because I like to. And I’ve planned it so that most days my posts are quick and easy to come up with. Two days a week I post articles that take several (or many) hours to prepare. But I no longer have a fulltime job outside the home. You might not have the flexibility I do.
In my opinion, once a week is the minimum you should post. Less than that, and it won’t become routine for your followers to visit. You want your readers to look forward to next post, and know when to expect it.
That said, life happens. You may occasionally miss a day or more. If you can, write a short message to your readers. A post entitled “Taking a Break” and saying, “Can’t blog right now. Come back in a week or two. I’ll explain then,” will at least alert your readers that you haven’t forgotten them.
Do your best work. Think about what a reader might enjoy—step-by-step directions for a craft project, a review of the movie you saw last night, a different insight on an issue than what is currently being offered on talk shows—and strive to provide it in an interesting, informative, helpful, amusing, or imaginative way.
If you do your first drafts in Word, take advantage of the spelling and grammar check. Literate people cringe at mistake-ridden posts. They might even neglect sharing your post on their social media if there are too many mistakes.
And before you let your post go live, reread it again in preview format on your site. You may catch some errors that you missed earlier.
Engage with your followers. If someone comments on your post, reply to the comment. Some of my favorite bloggers do this: Gwen Lanning of Deep in the Heart of Textiles and Little Wild Streak; and Donna Kramer of My OBT are both wonderful at acknowledging responses. So is Cee Neuner of Cee’s Photo Challenges. If you enter one of her challenges, she will make every effort to visit your blog and comment on your post. All of these bloggers have thousands of followers, undoubtedly because they show their readers that they care.
I’m not so good about replying. I often can’t think of anything to say in response. Did you know I’m an introvert? I’d much rather write a blog post than call a friend. Yet, when someone comments, I can’t find words.
But I will go take a peek at your blog. I’ve discovered lots of good blogs that way, and if I like your blog, I might feature a post of yours in my Friday Creative Juice feature, or post a link to social media, or mention you in an article like this. WordPress requires that you have a Gravatar to leave a comment on a WordPress blog like mine. I can click on your Gravatar and find a link to your blog. (If your blog isn’t linked to your Gravatar, you should fix that.)
Try not to rant. Unless the focus of your blog is politics or hot button topics, avoid those subjects, please. One of my favorite bloggers (I won’t tell you who) is on the opposite end of the spectrum from me politically. She’s been lied to, and unfortunately, she believes and defends the lies and the liar. She recently made a comment on her blog that I just couldn’t let slide, and I gave the most innocuous reply I could think of, and she blasted me. I unfollowed her for two months. I like her blog too much to stay away forever, though, and I’m back reading it. But I scroll past the political stuff and just read the artistic content I like. Pretty much, if you can’t say something nice about somebody, maybe do what mama said and say nothing at all. Your readers will thank you for it (unless they follow you for that kind of controversy).
In conclusion, if you’re already doing these five things (identifying your focus, posting with consistency, providing quality content, engaging with your readers, and cultivating a positive tone), you’re already a successful blogger in my book. Keep up the good work!
Now it’s your turn. If you consider yourself a successful blogger, to what do you attribute that success? Or are there any other suggestions you can give that will give a blogger an advantage toward success? How do you gauge the success of a blog? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.