Are blogs dead? Dead as a doornail? Ruined by the all-too-seductive allure of the always available Twitter and Facebook giants casting a dark shadow across the landscape of the internet?
Torn asunder by the evil nastiness of the ever-present racism and misogyny defiling the once furtive lands of Twitter replies? Cowering in fear of the stomping orc boots of an algorithm we’ll never see or understand? Leaving us all to gaze blindly ahead with nary a hope of a hairy-footed Hobbit to throw the One Ring of Facebook into the fiery cauldron of Mount Doom, thus saving us all from a horrid dystopian future where the world is run by the all powerful might of a select few corporations?
Apparently, I want to watch The Lord of the Rings again.
If you were to ask the tech websites, they'd probably agree that blogging is one of those relics of a bygone online age. They see how large the social networking platforms loom over everything. They may say that everyone has a social media account of some kind, so that's clearly all the evidence you'd need to agree that blogs have gone up to the great resting place in the sky.
No, not the cloud. Internet heaven.
But I think all that's a big ol' load of hooey. Straight up hooey, I tells ya!
The thing about blogging is that it's not an ideal way to make gobs of cash in a short amount of time. I don't think it ever has been; running a successful blog has always taken time and hard work. When someone has the potential to make those fabled gobs of money by, for instance, going viral on YouTube, it's easy to see why the hard work involved with blogging wouldn't be appealing.
Who doesn't want to make it big without working hard?
But blogging requires time and dedication. You're most likely not going to see immediate success, so temper those expectations. While we're at it, let's talk about how you can work now to avoid sabotaging your blogging future. I want to help you avoid these common mistakes...
You're not being consistent
One of the easiest ways to stay irrelevant in the blogging world is not writing and publishing blog posts on a regular schedule. That's been true from the very beginning. Search engines want to see that a blog is active and lively. They'll rank websites with regular content higher than those without new things being published on the regular.
So start up a blogging schedule and stick to it.
No, I mean really stick to it.
I don't care if you're blogging every day or once a week or even once a month. You've got to be consistent with it. Your readers will form expectations about your blog and it's important that you don't come up short.
I'm not suggesting that you need to make a novel every time you sit down to write a blog. 10,000 words is hard to read and hard to write. Aim for 1,000 words, at least once a week. If writing is "your thing" (or can become your thing), then 1,000 words shouldn't take up much of your day.
Here's something that's helped me immensely: get a backlog of posts going. Having a consistent safety net will help take the pressure off you. Take a look at the runway I've got going:
You're settling for free options
Medium's a good looking place. I can't deny that. They present content in a very pleasing way. It's also hard to deny the low, low price of free that they offer for everybody.
But here's the thing, you're giving Medium the say in where your content lives and how it's presented. The only control you have is what your words say. Wouldn't you rather have the ability to show your content the way you want it to be seen? I know I do.
Whether it be WordPress or Squarespace or anything else, I believe it's important that your words are shown in exactly the way you mean them to be seen. You should also have the control over where everything lives.
Additionally, it's a whole lot easier and more professional to direct someone to your own personal website than to tell someone to head over to Medium.
Your focus is all over the place
Find your niche. Identify your target market. Stop being so broad.
You've probably heard those words, or some variation of them, at least a hundred times if you're developing a business, online or off. I'm going to say them again:
Your blog needs to be focused.
It shouldn't be so specific that only five people in the entire world would ever find your writing interesting. That's a good way to sink yourself before you even start. However, writing about vegetarian recipes, your latest travel adventures, cute doggos, product reviews, and social media marketing is enough to give your website visitors whiplash.
When you try to create content for everybody, you end up watering down your blog so much that it's not going to appeal to anybody. We want something to latch onto when we go searching for a blog to read. Give the people something to respond to.
If you love traveling, then write about just traveling. Believe me, there's enough to see in the world to give you material for a thousand blog posts. You won't be hurting for things to talk about when you limit the scope of your blog.
In fact, you'll find that your readership will grow and be full of people who are just as passionate about your blog as you are.
You're not devoting time to your email list
Or your Insta feed. Or your Pinterest boards.
Whatever it is that you've chosen to focus on for getting the word out about your blog, you've got to spend a good amount of time on it. I get that it can be difficult. For me, this is one of the most challenging aspects of running my own business. I'm just not a huge fan of social media. The introvert in me recoils away from putting myself out there all the time.
It's hard but it's oh so necessary. We all want to connect with other people, so you need to be sure you're giving your readers an actual person to connect with. They shouldn't be staring into a blank void when they visit your blog. They should immediately be met with a welcoming face who's encouraging them to sign up to an email list so they can read more of your awesome words.
And you should keep connecting with them. Your fans are real people, not just numbers on your subscriber list. They want to know that they're being spoken to at every opportunity. Be personable, share as much of yourself with them as you can stomach, and give them free things.
Yes, free stuff. This is easily the best way to grow your email list and keep your subscribers invested in your blog. We all love free things, so get to giving!
You're not using your unique voice
Nobody is more you than you, so why in the world would you ever try to sound like someone else? No one is more them than them.
There's way too many people out there writing in their own unique voice for you to try and imitate them. Nobody will want to read your posts if you're just imitating someone who's already written the same post, and maybe in a better way.
So it doesn't matter if you're writing about a topic that a million other people are writing about. There are loads of recipe blogs out there...
Does that mean you shouldn't throw your own hat into that ring? Heck no! Go all in if that's what you're passionate about!
Nobody else in the world has your story. They don't have your experience or history. They didn't have that amazing Italian nonna who taught you her secret to the best pasta sauce ever.
Your stories are going to be interesting to people! You may not appeal to everybody, but nobody ever will. That shouldn't be your goal. Your goal should be to tell your readers all about how making pasta from scratch with Nonna Maria when you were twelve lit a cooking fire inside you. And then you deliver that knockout recipe.
Nobody else is going to be able to do that like you can, so tell your own story. Not someone else's.
Starting and running a successful blog is a huge challenge. There are loads of them out there and many more popping up every single day. I don't want that to discourage you if writing a blog is something you feel a strong urge to do.
There's always room for a new perspective. There's always time to read a great post by someone with real love for what they're writing about. There are so many people out there who are hungry for the knowledge you have.
But they'll never be able to read your words if you waste your time with the pitfalls listed in this post. Leap over them and go kick some blogging butt!
Get to blogging, cats.