Updated: 13th November 2019
I’ll say it again so we’re clear. Blogs fail. Every. Single. Day.
I’m not going to get on my high-horse about this because there are many reasons why blogs fail. Some fail through mistakes. Others through plain old bad luck.
Even if bloggers do everything right, there’s still a chance that their blogs will fail. Heck… the SideGains blog could fail!
There are no guaranteed ways to make a blog fabulously successful and anyone who says they can guarantee success has probably made a good living selling snake oil.
One thing I know for sure is you can guarantee failure, and understanding the reasons why blogs fail helps us to avoid them… and this makes it less likely that they will fail.
With this in mind, what follows is a brain dump of all the things I can think of that contribute to blog failure. I’m not going to claim it’s definitive, but I hope it’s comprehensive.
This post is not designed to tell you to pull your socks up. I’m the last person to have the right to pontificate… but I know what makes blogs fail because I’ve made (and still make) mistakes that contribute to failure myself. I’ve also had blogs that failed so I speak from experience.
None of us are perfect, that’s what makes us human! However, understanding and awareness of our unhelpful habits (and those of others) can help us to do something to counter them so we’re less likely to fail.
31 Reasons Why Blogs Fail
You’ve Chosen the Wrong Niche
This is probably a subjective thing for me, as the wrong niche could mean any number of things for all of us.
So how can I define what the wrong niche is… in my opinion?
I’d say the following list outlines a few ideas:
- You’ve chosen a niche in which you have no real interest.
- The niche is hyper-competitive (aren’t they all?).
- You need to be a recognized and qualified expert in the niche to practise within it… and you arent!
Now I don’t fully buy the idea that you have to have passion for your niche for your blog to be successful. I think it certainly helps, because you can get very bored blogging about things that don’t interest you.
Boredom can make things seem a bigger chore than they are, and when things become a chore your motivation can slip.
However, being passionate about your niche does not bulletproof you against failure. In the same way, being bored about your niche does not bulletproof you against success!
But money is a motivator right?
I’ve had blogs in the past built around niches that bored me to death. However, some of them were relatively successful in financial terms… and I was passionate about that!
Having said this, I know for a fact that not being excited about my past niches has definitely made it more of a struggle, because of which some of my blogs failed… even profitable ones.
Every niche is competitive these days… but some niches are WAY more competitive than others.
Does this mean you can’t be successful in a competitive niche?
Of course not. But you can be as sure as heck that you’ll be working a lot longer to make a go of it.
The more commitment you have to stump up before seeing results, the more likely it is that you’ll lose motivation and your blog might fail as a result.
If your blog niche requires expertise and / or qualifications that you don’t have, I wouldn’t bet your house you’ll make a success of it if I were you.
I’m not a qualified medical practitioner and so how the heck could I start a blog giving medical advice?
I’d have no recognized expertise and no credibility so my medical blog would face an uphill struggle from day one… it might even land me in court!
You Don’t Believe in What You’re Doing
In a way, this follows on neatly from choosing the wrong niche.
When I talk about belief here, I’m not talking about having self-doubt or trying to “make” yourself hyper-positive. I’m simply talking about believing in what you’re blogging about.
How will anyone believe what they’re reading on your blog, if it’s doesn’t sound convincing because, shucks, the writer doesn’t either?
When you believe in what you’re doing you’re enthusiastic about it and people can feel it in what you write. Consequently, they’ll be much more likely to believe what you say.
It’s belief that gets you blogging in the first place: if you didn’t believe in it you wouldn’t even start it. So perhaps we can say that belief is a reason why blogs fail before they’ve even started.
Belief in what you’re doing, comes from having a sense of purpose (see below).
You’re Not Credible
This too has a relationship with choosing the wrong niche, though it goes further than that.
What makes a blogger credible?
Google has some very clear views on this, which I’ve written about here: High Quality Content Good Enough to E-A-T.
Lexico defines credibility as:
The quality of being convincing or believable.Lexico
But what makes something convincing or believable?
In truth there are many things that contribute:
- Integrity – Honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, objectivity.
- Likeability – Friendliness, empathy, funniness.
- Competence – Expertise, education, track record.
- Wisdom – Intelligence, experience, good intuition.
- Emotional Intelligence – Humility, modesty, relatable.
If your blog’s not credible, what you say won’t be either.
You’re Not Commmitted
This is a biggie and probably one of the biggest reasons why blogs fail.
Blogging is like dieting or getting fit. Adhering to a diet plan or exercise regime requires you to buy in 100% to achieve results.
Along the way there are dozens of things that can knock your motivation and your confidence, and if you’re not committed it could spell the end of what your trying to achieve.
You have to be committed to blogging in all senses to stand a chance of success.
For example, a commitment to writing blog posts even if not many people are reading them right now.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit tired today so you’ll leave it until tomorrow? Why not give yourself a day off? You’ve earned it, right?
You have to commit to a schedule… have some flexibility by all means, but you have to make a commitment and try your utmost to stick to it.
Your Expectations Are Too High
The snake oil salespeople have much to do with this. Those slippery types that have told you you just need their secret to guarantee you’ll have a successful blog in no time with little effort.
Those same people sell a dream that sounds oh so easy… and we’re all in the market to buy it!
The reality is that blogging is not easy… it’s actually the polar opposite of easy.
Sadly, buying the dream is the only thing about blogging that is easy. You simply cannot expect that your going to make a million bucks next month just because you started a blog last month!
If you want to make any kind of financial gain through blogging, don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.
Over inflated expectations are the reason why many thousands of blogs fail… people simply get disappointed because their expectations, fuelled by other people wanting to sell them something, are not realized
Don’t buy the dream. Remain in the real world, understand what it really takes to grow your blog and set your expectations accordingly and appropriately.
The truth is you can make your blog a success, in whatever way you determine that to be. Just don’t set yourself up for disappointment by having an unrealistic view of what it takes to run a blog in the first place.
You Don’t Have Purpose
Purpose is shaped by things you believe in and value.
It is the motivation that drives you towards a future you desire and helps you get the most from all the activities you undertake and all your achievements… no matter how big or small they are.
Having purpose isn’t just useful for these positive reasons though, because it’s a massive help when things don’t go the way you want or when something goes downright wrong.
As a blogger there are often problems to overcome:
- You’re not getting enough visitors.
- You don’t have enough time.
- Your blog stops making money.
- You become unwell.
- Your blog pages drop in search results.
You get the picture?
Having a clear purpose helps you to get a better appreciation of problems so that you can move past them.
Without purpose it’s very easy to give up… and giving up is a massive reason that many blogs fail.
Purpose help you to:
- Prioritize what’s important.
- Drive on and keep going when times are tough.
- Become resilient.
- Make plans, which leads me rather neatly to the following…
You Don’t Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Ok so it’s a cliche… but there’s often truth in cliches.
If you’re blogging and don’t have a plan, you don’t have a schedule to work towards.
Of course, a casual, spontaneous approach to running your blog is fine if you want it to just potter along. However, if you want your blog to go places, you need to be disciplined about it… and without some form of planning, it’s more likely that your blog will fail.
One way to apply such discipline is to work towards a plan… or even better, plans!
You might need a whole bunch of them for how and when to work on:
- Social Media.
- Link building.
- Blog Commenting.
- Blog maintenance.
- Anything else!
The point is that planning gives you something to focus upon each and every day. Without plans you can just float around without any real focus.
A daily planner is a perhaps the most basic tool to help you understand in advance what you intend to work upon and how much time to spend on each task.
You don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a peanut, so don’t go out and spend hundreds of dollars on the latest project management software. Set up a “to do” list and a daily planner, even if you use a paper-based system.
Do you know what you’re working on tomororrow or the day after? Do you have a daily plan set up in advance?
If you don’t have something like this in place, set one up now and you’ll start understanding what each day looks like… in advance!
You Don’t Have Targets
This subject has been examined, interrogated, sentenced, hung, drawn and quartered by many people way smarter than me!
That said, here are the primary benefits of setting targets:
- Clearly Defined Targets are Motivating
If you have a clearly defined target you have something to aim for. This creates a tangible desired result that helps to focus you on what’s required to achieve it.
- Targets Give You Focus
When you have a target you focus your attention on reaching it. Your targets are something concrete your plans lead you towards. This makes them important milestones in your journey.
Targets move you in the direction you want to go and help focus your actions to help you get there.
- Hitting Targets Drive You Onwards
When you achieve a target you feel a warm glow! As you hit other targets this feeling compounds. This makes you feel positive.
You’ve heard the proverb, a rolling stone gathers no moss? It means when you’re on a roll you don’t get held back so easily: you’re in the zone!
Targets can help you to achieve your ultimate goal… and kill blog failure in the process.
You Don’t Take Action
You might have a planning system in place, and you might have some clearly defined targets, but if you don’t take action your blog will fail.
It’s an obvious one really and speaks for itself.
Sometimes you can get over excited about planning (if that’s possible!) but the reason you’re making plans is to achieve an end goal. The fact is that hitting targets requires you to do something.
Many of us get locked in a paralysis of some type or another, especially if there’s hard work to be done beyond it.
Anxiety, self-doubt, over-analysis, over-planning… if left unchecked, each of these can prevent you from taking action.
Action is what helps us hit targets and realize our plans. Inaction prevents anything happening at all.
Sometimes we can overthink things or get stuck waiting for the right moment… whatever that is.
Taking action, even if it’s perhaps not the right one, is still doing something… and doing something is more beneficial than doing nothing.
If you’re stuck and not taking action, even if you have plans and targets, try to imagine the positive outcomes of the actions you’re not taking.
Where will the action take you in your plan? How will it make a difference to you?
For those who have not yet started blogging, don’t overthink it or think how nice it would be if blah, blah, blah!
If you have started a blog, it will only ever grow the way you want it to by taking action.
You’re Not Working on the Right Things in the Right Way
So you might have a plan with targets and be taking action. But what if you’re taking action on the right things but in the wrong way?
What do I mean by this?
If you obsess about or over-analyze details you can become fixated and spend too much time on one activity believing it’s more important than it is.
An example of this is the look and feel of your blog. Of course it’s an important thing, but is it so important that all other activities stop until you’ve got the perfect looking blog?
In my view… absolutely not.
There are certain activities that have to be finished completely before you move on to the next.
But in the example of look and feel, the way your blog looks today will be completely different to how it looks in a year’s time. You’ll tweak some things and completely modify others as time passes.
It’s important not to lose focus because you’re seeking perfection, especially if it’s going to prevent you taking action on the dozens of other important things that make blogs fail if they don’t get done too.
You’re Too Negative
This too dovetails into some of the other reasons why blogs fail… believe me, this is one I know about.
I’m generally a fairly negative person. I’m hyper-critical of myself, suffer from anxiety and self-doubt and I often take a pessimistic view of things.
However, I also like to think I’m humble, compassionate and sensitive to others. These are good things that make me appreciate I’m not all bad!
Now the pessimist in me definitely holds me back. It may also permeate my blog posts, though I fight hard against it.
Of course nobody can make themselves positive any more than a fish can teach itself to ride a bicycle.
The truth is that even positive people have failed blogs! Success is not a given… but then again neither is failure.
Don’t let negativity stop you from even getting started. I covered this earlier… but if your negativity prevents you from starting a blog, your blog has failed before it’s even begun.
You Don’t Have a Growth Mindset
Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, has spent most of her academic life developing the theory of fixed and growth mindsets.
Her theory describes the beliefs we all have about learning and intelligence.
Find out more: What Does Growth Mindset Mean for Bloggers?
I know that I have a tendency to a fixed mindset and I have to work hard not to take things personally… including failure.
I am aware of this, and awareness means I can do something about it. It’s tough, but I always try to remind myself that failure and constructive criticism don’t mean I’m inherently bad at something and that I can’t improve
I also understand that in order to achieve anything you have to risk failing. It’s difficult, but it is possible to migrate towards a growth mindset from a fixed one.
People with a fixed mindset can have a tendency to try to do it all by themselves. They might have an approach of, “I’m smart so I’ll figure it all out myself”.
Of course experiential learning is useful and effective, but I know for certain that asking others for help or learning from them is super important. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure in your own abilities.
Seek out other people who have gone before you and who have achieved what you aspire to. You can learn a lot from them.
Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset?
You Don’t Know About SEO
If you have a blog, have you put any SEO into practice? Do you know what SEO even is?
I’ve seen many good blogs apparently heading for failure because they have not put into practice any of the basic principles of Search Engine Optimization.
Back in the day, one or two blogs I had that probably had some legs were not helped by the fact that I knew nothing about SEO. Before you ask… they failed!
There is an abundance of information online about SEO… in fact probably an over-abundance!
SEO can get be technical and complicated… but don’t let that put you off. Even a basic understanding of SEO will be a game changer and help you to avoid blog failure.
You Don’t Have Your Own Domain
It’s not a definite reason why blogs fail, but using a domain that you own on a paid hosting solution gives you a much better leg up than free blogs.
I’ve blogged on the subject of free blogs previously so I don’t want to go overboard on the reasons you should have your own domain on a paid host in as much detail here.
Building your blog using a domain you own on a paid host has multiple benefits:
- Your domain will be more memorable for people who want to come back.
- You have more control over how your blog looks and what appears on it.
- Free blogs tend to serve adverts you don’t control.
- Search engines look more favorably on domains that are not part of a free blogging solution.
- Your blog will appear more professional and you’ll find it easier to build your brand as a result.
If you’re dipping your toes in the water, I understand why you might want a free blog. But… it will make your growth much more difficult in the long term.
Do your blogging a favor, save yourself from potential blog failure and buy your own domain.
Your Blog is Not User Friendly
Ever been to a blog that’s difficult to use? Or perhaps it’s done something you didn’t expect? Or maybe it didn’t do something that you did expect?Perhaps your blog does not work nicely on a mobile device?
Blogs that are slow to load, confusing to use or broken in some way will encourage visitors to click the back button and bomb out of your blog.
Dr. Jakob Neilsen, a pioneer of web usability studies identified 3 principal time limits to keep in mind when optimizing website performance. These limits equate to how long visitor attention is focused.
- 0.1 seconds – the approximate time that visitors expect to feel the website is responding
- 1.0 seconds – the limit for the user’s flow of thought to remain uninterrupted.
- 10 seconds – the approximate limit for holding a visitor’s attention.
Research from Google tells us that 53% of mobile data users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
If people leave your blog in under 30 seconds, Google actually counts this against you, and assume the search that brought them to your blog did not meet visitor expectation.
It doesn’t matter how exceptional your blog is, if it doesn’t give users the experience they want and expect. There are plenty of other blogs on the web that will.
Make sure you pay attention to how your blog functions.
- Does it contain broken links?
- Is it loading quickly? Page load speed is important for a number of reasons.
- Does it work on mobile devices?
- Are you spamming people with ads?
- Do you have high-quality content?
If you answer no to these questions, you might be setting yourself up for blog failure in the long run.
You’re Not Creating Engaging Content
You might have heard the expression content is king. That’s sort of true… but it’s not specific enough.
It’s a short, memorable and punchy mantra but it’s way too much of a blanket statement.
The truth is not all content is worthy of a crown. Slight, unimaginative or badly written content is certainly not king.
We should refine this statement to give it more meaning. Here’s my suggestion:
If your content is badly researched, uninformed and poorly written it will not engage visitors.
Why is this important?
It’s important because if your content is truly memorable or valuable to someone who reads it they will want to come back to read more.
Highly engaged visitors will want a deeper relationship with you. They’ll want to share your content, comment on your posts and tell their friends about you.
Content that does not engage plays a significant role in why some blogs fail.
There are millions of blogs for every single niche you can think of. If your content is not engaging and doesn’t make an impact on your visitors, there are gazillions of other blogs that do… and they are just a few clicks away.
So how do you make your blog content engaging? What does it even mean?
What makes content engaging?
The idea of engaging content is pretty nebulous but in order for content to make an impact it should:
- Be relevant to the visitor.
- Provide a perspective your visitor hasn’t encountered before.
- Use provable facts.
- Tell it’s story well.
- Have an attractive format.
- Be well written.
- Come from a personal place with a voice that’s clearly and uniquely yours.
- Include links to other useful and related resources.
- Have clear purpose (and achieve it successfully), whether it’s entertaining, informing, persuading, instructing, explaining, advising, describing or analyzing.
Perhaps one of the simplest things to do to increase engagement is right in front of your nose… asking for it.
Do you ask your visitors to comment, sign-up, share, send you an email, download something or read something else on your blog?
I’m not going to claim it’s easy to produce engaging content, but it’s something you can learn… do you remember the growth mindset concept?
If you can produce truly engaging content it will be less likely that your blog fails.
You’re Not Responding
I won’t say this is the biggest single reason why blogs fail… but it’s important nonetheless.
You might have engaging content licked. Your blog posts might truly sing and move people in a way they’ve never been moved before!
They could be engaged enough to take the time to make comments on your posts, share them in social media or drop you an email telling you how great you are.
If you don’t take the time to respond to these heartfelt interactions, you lose an opportunity to form a deeper connection with your readers.
I read a lot of posts and if I like what I’ve read and feel I can add value to it, I’ll drop a comment. I’m not expecting a response from the writer, but if I do I’m often flattered and that makes me feel good about myself.
Sometimes if I feel a blog post is exceptional I share it on social media. If I get a thanks from the writer in the social platform in which I’ve shared it, again I get a nice warm fuzzy feeling.
The same goes for emails. It’s great when you receive a considered reply from someone. It makes you feel valued.
As I say, in itself not responding to people probably won’t mean your blog fails… but it won’t help you and it can certainly contribute to failure.
Aside from anything, if you don’t respond to people it’s a huge missed opportunity to build stronger relationships with them… and that can certainly help reduce the likelihood that your blog fails.
You’re Pushing too Hard for Sales
I can’t stand pushy salespeople. In fact, the one thing guaranteed to make me not buy is the foot in the door approach.
I don’t like hard-selling hawkers knocking on my door or calling me on my mobile (this is a particularly annoying problem for me right now).
The same is true for blogs. If there’s one thing that turns me off when visiting a blog, it’s being hit by adverts and upsells on every page, from every angle and on every page refresh.
I can’t stand it. It’s not subtle, breaks my flow and makes drop out of a blog faster than a goose at a foie gras party.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that I don’t want bloggers to make money from me. However, I don’t want to be treated as a browsing dollar.
Most of the blogs I regularly read do not hit me in this way. They are subtle and move me gently to their sales funnels. I’m okay with that because I don’t expect something of high-value for nothing.
However, blogs fail for me if they don’t respect the fact that I don’t like a foot in my door.
If you’re hitting people with too many ads or pushing them too aggressively into your sales funnel, you’re setting your blog up to fail.
You’re Not Consistent
There’s no doubt in my mind about this. Lack of consistency, in all of its forms, is a standalone reason why blogs fail.
First of all there’s consistency of voice. Do your blog posts all feel like they’ve been written by different people? Is there a common voice that connects them?
If your voice isn’t consistent it’s difficult for people to engage with you. How do they know who you are? How can they trust you if they don’t hear YOU all the time?
Some of the problems of establishing a consistent voice can come from not having a clear purpose, at a post and an overall blog level.
Remember your purpose every time you create a new post!
Perhaps the biggest blog fail in terms of consistency though relates to how often and how regularly you take action.
If you don’t publish posts, actively promote yourself in social media, involve yourself in online discussion, build links and develop relationships in a regular and consistent way why would your blog not fail?
Consistent effort in working to your plans, targets and all of your associated blogging activities is key to blog success. You cannot build a following without consistently providing reasons for people to follow you, be it on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
I’ll refer you back to one of the other reasons why blogs fail: planning. You have to have realistic plans populated with achievable targets that you consistently meet.
Plans are your metronome, helping you to keep a rhythm. A consistent rhythm of posting and promoting is what will keep you in the game.
Conversely… well, I don’t need to tell you what the likely outcome will be.
You’re Just Like Everyone Else
Let’s start this with some fun…
It’s funny but it illustrates this particular reason why some blogs fail… you’re just like everyone else.
Ironically, the only person that stands out from the crowd in this clip is the one who claims he’s not different from anyone else!
There are thousands of blogs that apply a cookie cutter approach to producing content. I’ll bet you can search for any topic and find dozens of blog posts that say the precisely the same thing in exactly the same way.
Partly that’s okay.
There are certain scenarios where there are clear right and wrong answers: you can’t change proven facts, so discussions on certain topics are of course going to be very similar on one blog as they are on another.
So what is it that separates your voice from the voices in the crowd?
Well… excusing the obvious, the thing that makes your blog different is you. No one else on earth has had the exact same life experience as you. Nobody has a the same interpretation of those experiences. We’re all unique… we’re all individuals… we’re all different!
If you can put YOU into your blog posts, it’s something that can make your posts stand out.
Now… I’m not going to claim it’s easy to find your voice. It takes practise and time, and it’ss something even I’m still working on.
A great tip I’ve picked up is to read your blog posts out loud. Do they sound like you? Can you recognize your voice?
Of course, it might be difficult to read every single word in a massive post (like this one). Instead, how about reading out loud the first few paragraphs?
If you can at least start off your blog posts sounding like you, it might pave the way for you to continue in that style.
There are some helpful tips about how to write authentically as you in this post: 7 Tips for an Authentic and Productive Writing Process.
You Don’t Know Who You’re Writing For
Let’s stay with the topic of writing.
Do you know who your target reader is? Have you actually sat down to identify who you want to read your blog or the individual posts within it?
To be fair, it’s only something I’ve done fairly recently.
If you don’t know who you would like to read your blog, how will you write to appeal to everybody?
The answer is you can’t appeal to everybody.
You cannot possibly appeal to everybody so don’t try. Blogs fail every day because bloggers aren’t clear about who there audience is.
But more than just the words in your posts, without an understanding of your ideal audience, how do you promote your content to them?
Social media provides us with a laser-targeted way to identify people who might like to read our content… but only if we know who they are.
If you think about who might be interested in what you’re saying, it will help you to focus your content to appeal to them.
You’re Not Targeted Enough
This is another area that fits neatly with choosing the wrong niche and failing to understand who you’re writing for… but there’s more.
Firstly there’s trying to be all things to all people. Have you heard this quote before?
You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time.John Lydgate
You cannot realistically expect that you’ll be able to write blogs posts that appeal to everyone, and being too broad pits you against sites that will kill you in the search results.
The average blog owner (i.e. someone doing it for themselves) does not have the resources to take on too broad a category. Instead they need to be targeted.
Your niche, and more specifically your post topics, must be targeted towards who you write for. So if you’ve identified your ideal reader, target what you write about to appeal to them.
You can’t please everybody: it’s madness to try and your blog will suffer as a result… unless you intend your blog to fail.
You’re Not Giving People a Reason to Come Back
Looking at things very objectively… would you come back to your blog to read more posts?
What is it that makes people come back for more?
Let’s compare this to the reasons why people return to the same holiday destination year after year.
- First of all they like it.
- They get to know a place and trust it.
- It feels comfortable to to know what they’re going to experience when they get there.
- Over time they get to know a few people and feel connected to a community, even if only in a small way.
- They don’t have the time to visit the whole area in one visit but want to explore more later on.
- It’s easier to go back to the same place they liked rather than looking for something new they might not.
- They get value.
- They feel valued.
Successful blogs are like this. They develop trust and build a communities that people connect with.
People who enjoyed, or who got value from their first visit to a blog are likely are likely to want to come back.
Sometimes people need a reminder to revisit you… are you keeping people informed through a newsletter?
Blogs that fail do not do this.
You’re Not Making it Easy for People to Share Your Content
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are great places for you to broaden your reach and get your name out there.
Do you have social share buttons on your blog?
If not, you need to find some way to implement them.
Assuming you use WordPress for your blog, your theme may already have social sharing functionality… you’ll just need to configure it and switch it on.
If you don’t have social sharing built into your theme, there are dozens of WordPress plugins that will do the heavy lifting for you… here are a few.
You can also build the code to manage social sharing yourself. I’ve written the following article about how to do this for Pinterest: How to Add the Pin It Button to Your Site.
However you do it, don’t make it difficult for people to share your content because this can slide you into blog fail territory!
You’re Not Promoting Your Blog
Making your content easy to share is one way you can start promoting your blog. However, you can go a lot further than this… and in fact you should go WAY further than this.
Many blogs fail not because their content is poor or because they don’t have a unique voice. They fail simply because no-one ever finds them.
You cannot spend all of your time creating content and expect that people will just magically find it.
There are thousands of people making a noise about their blog posts. How will people hear your whisper when your competitors are shouting about their content?
You have to shout about yours too!
Are you shouting?
- Do you consistently post in your social media accounts?
- Are you building relationships with influencers by sharing their pins/posts/tweets? Do you “like” what they say in their social accounts?
- Is guest blogging for other blogs in your plans?
- Do you write on topics that are shareable?
- How about cross promoting? Do you reference other blogs / websites in your posts and then let the owners know about it?
- Are you leaving comments on other blogs that add value to the discussion?
- Have you asked your friends and family to share your blog and / or posts with their followers?
- Do you belong to forums relevant to your niche and actively respond to questions?
- Are you answering questions on sites like Quora?
- Have you optimized your posts for search engines?
There’s a general view in the blogging world that you should spend 80% of your time promoting the content you write… it’s commonly known as the 80 / 20 rule.
While you don’t necessarily need to act on this down to the minute, you have to commit a substantial amount of your time to promoting your blog, especially in the early days.
Blogs fail because people never hear about them… you simply cannot sit on your hands where promotion is concerned unless you want your blog to fail too.
One other thing… are you shouting about your content to your email subscriber list?
Hang on a second… do you even have one?
You’re Not Building an Email List
Working on promotional techniques is not the only way to get visitors to your blog.
You should be strengthening relationships you have with people who already know about you and encourage them to return to see what else you’ve got going on. One of the best ways to do this is by sending a newsletter.
The problem is you’re not building an email list.
When someone subscribes to your newsletter they are telling you that they want to hear from you. People who sign are likely more engaged with you than your average visitor.
Now I’m not claiming that every single person who signs up will be highly engaged, but if all the other pieces in your blog work well, your email list has huge value.
So how do you build an email list? How do you encourage people to sign up?
Firstly you need to have a visible sign up form on your blog… if people can’t see it, they won’t sign up to it.
You can make it visible by ensuring it appears in places where they’ll see it such as:
- High up on all your pages and posts.
- Images that are timed to pop-up or slide-in when someone first lands on your pages.
- Social media posts soliciting sign-ups.
You also need to give people very strong reasons to sign up: you’re asking them for something so what do they get in return?
Explain in clear terms the benefits they’ll get for signing up.
It might be as simple as promising them your latest insights. Perhaps they’ll get something free from you like an ebook or access to an exclusive area of your blog. Or if you’re selling products, perhaps you’ll give them some sort of discount for certain purchases?
However you incentivize people, appreciate that you just being you will not result in a glut of sign-ups.
People need to feel they’ll get some sort of value or benefit from receiving your newsletters.
A word of warning here. It is possible to buy email lists, particularly if you don’t have many subscribers. It can be illegal for you to do so and the subscribers you purchase are not likely going to be engaged anyway… blogs fail for a lot less than this, so don’t do it.
You Neglect Social Media
Do you regularly post to your social media channels? Do you even have social media accounts accounts set up?
You must have a social presence if you want people to take your blog seriously. Social media is so much more than a place to dump links to your latest posts.
Of course you can (and should) promote your blog posts through social channels, but there are other more important reasons why you need a strong social footprint.
- Social media is a way to connect with people who will be interested in what your blog has to say. Most social media channels offer a range of tools you can use to identify such people accurately.
- Social media accounts are a way to build relationships with influencers who might be able to help you promote your blog.
- People look at social media accounts as a kind of trust signal. If you don’t have accounts, or have them but don’t consistently post to them, what does that say about you?
- Search engines too use social signals such as shares, likes and comments to determine the importance of the domains connected to them. These signals feed into ranking considerations in search results.
- Social media does not require a huge financial outlay.
- You can find other people in your niche and learn from them.
Finally, if you gain a large and engaged following, social media will result in traffic to your blog. The biggest reason blogs fail is through a lack visits.
You’re a Taker Not a Giver
Do you think about giving to your visitors? Do you genuinely think about them before you think about what they can give you?
There is a theory in social psychology called the reciprocity principle. It’s based around the idea that people give back for what they receive.
The simplest demonstration of this takes place between friends in a bar. When someone buys us a drink, most of us feel obliged to return the favor.
Now… this example doesn’t necessarily outline the theory in the best way, because it’s likely that you’d like another drink anyway if you’re enjoying a good time with friends.
So here’s another example.
Someone you vaguely know invites you to a family wedding. An important event like this is difficult to turn down even if you have a valid reason.
What happens when you have a wedding planned and come to the time to invite people. Do you include the person who invited you to theirs?
Many people would feel obliged to invite them. If you don’t, you’ll likely feel awkward about not doing so, even if prior to attending their wedding they wouldn’t have made it onto your invitee shortlist.
People tend to feel a sense of obligation towards those who give to them.
This is the basic idea behind the reciprocity principle.
Let’s hammer this home… this post by Seth Godin, one of the world’s foremost business bloggers, explains more about giving: The Hidden Power of a Gift.
Ask yourself, what can I give to my visitors before I ask anything of them?
Of course excellent, useful and actionable content is a must. But what else can you give?
You can give templates, images, tools, links… whatever. Be creative and use your imagination!
I couldn’t give you a precise number, but I’ll bet many blogs fail because they don’t give… so pay it forward!
You’re Not Measuring How Your Site Performs
Do you understand how people engage with your blog? Have you put systems in place that tell you how people find your blog and and what they do when they get there?
If you don’t you’re flying blind.
There are a bunch of free tools that you can use today to help you analyze how your blog performs. These can inform your decisions about what direction to take to prevent your blog failing.
The tools I’d recommend right off the bat are:
- Google Analytics.
- Google Search Console (find out How to create Google Search Console Accounts).
- Bing Webmaster.
- Google PageSpeed Insights (find out Why Page Load Speed is so Important.
These four FREE tools will show you an insane amount of information about your blog and your visitors such as:
- How quickly your blog loads.
- The keywords people use in search to find your blog.
- How much time people spend on your blog.
- Your most important pages.
- Bounce rates.
- Conversions rates (if appropriate).
- Coding problems.
- SEO problems.
…and a bunch of other vital data, without which blogs fail. In fact they’re so important that each one warrants it’s own detailed explanation.
If you don’t have analysis tools in place…
You Don’t Know What Works and What Doesn’t
An important aspect of refining your blogging activity is understanding what works and what doesn’t.
Without analytics tools you cannot know what people like about your blog so you can do more of it.
Equally importantly, you’re also unable to carry out tests to get feedback that tells you if one type of post, image, video or whatever performs better than another.
A key technique in the fight against blog failure is the ability to compare the results of one test set against another. Without tools to carry out such comparison, you’re left with at best rudimentary signals, such as the number of shares or comments left on your posts.
Implementing testing, comparing different approaches and analyzing the results can help you to determine the direction in which your efforts should go and how you can make your blog more effective.
Don’t shoot in the dark! Enable analytics tools, start testing different approaches to what you do on your blog and clearly understand what works and what doesn’t.
You’re Doing Something Naughty
I’ve saved this one until last. When I say naughty, I’m talking about breaching search engine guidelines.
Search engines have very clear rules about manipulating results and delivering poor user experience.
If you’re serious about your blog one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to breach these guidelines.
Some people knowingly break the rules in order to manipulate your blog’s position in the search results. This is called black hat SEO and the techniques it employs are what we would think of as spammy.
You can also break the rules in order to dupe your visitors. This is what we might think of as spam sites, which use redirection, pop-unders, cloaking and a glut of other unsavoury techniques to trick visitors into going somewhere or doing something they didn’t intend.
Black hat SEO is something that will catch up with you and land you with an SEO penalty. These penalties are severe: if you use black hat techniques and get caught, your blog can be de-indexed.
Most blogs fail if they are de-indexed because organic traffic dries up if they do not appear in search results.
No traffic = no blog!
Since this is such a mammoth post I won’t provide a summary here about why blogs fail.
The only thing I will say as a parting shot, is what I said to begin this post.
If you understand how and why blogs fail you can work with this knowledge to ensure yours doesn’t.
Phew… that’s it for now!
Thanks for sticking with me.
Have you had blogs that failed? Why not make the world a better place and share your experiences / reasons why it happened in the comments section below?
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