All bloggers want to reach out to their targeted audience and experience growth. However, that’s obviously not always the case. Knowing some of the most common pitfalls and how to overcome them can be one of the most important things you do in order to build a blog that is successful long-term. Here is a look at 5 of the most common reasons for slow blog growth, and what you can do to overcome them.
Every month it seems that a few blogs in my feed reader suddenly stop posting or they experience a slow death as posting frequency slows to a crawl. Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to post everyday, and for most bloggers I think posting every day is unrealistic. But what plagues so many bloggers is a complete lack of consistent effort. Blogging can be fun and exciting when traffic is high, links are coming in, and the subscriber count is growing. However, when those things aren’t happening you probably need a strong effort more than at any other time. In order to avoid this pitfall and work towards long-term success, you’ll need to find the balance of consistent effort that keeps things moving without leading to burnout.
In my opinion, inconsistency is one often caused by going through too many highs and lows emotionally as a blogger. Yes, I think we should all enjoy our successes along the way, but I constantly see bloggers become disappointed because their hopes and expectations were unrealistically high.
Overcoming inconsistency is pretty simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Figure out how much time you can realistically dedicate to blogging each week and determine which days are typically the best for you to get this work done. When you have specific times set aside for working on your blog, consistency is much easier and temptations and distractions will be less of a problem. Posting isn’t the only type of work that needs to be done. On days when you’re not posting work on building your network or your knowledge of a particular subject.
With so many blogs already online and thousands being launched every day, there are plenty of places for readers to spend their time. Especially in very competitive niches, boring content is a major cause for slow blogging growth. In order to attract subscribers and loyal readers you’ll need to stand out in one way or another.
The “blogging about blogging” niche and the “make money online” niche are full of so many blogs that it takes a serious effort to stand out from the crowd. Many new bloggers take the approach of following in the footsteps of a successful blogger in their niche. While learning from others is a great idea, trying to duplicate someone else’s success will almost certainly result in boring content. Choose your niche wisely, and if you’re in a saturated industry, find your own unique angle that will keep you from blending in so much with everyone else.
I think one of the biggest shortcomings of most bloggers is not taking enough time for brainstorming and generating creative and unique ways to present content. It seems like many bloggers sit down at the computer when they need a new post and type whatever is on their mind. Creating unique, interesting content is difficult, and brainstorming should be part of the process.
Lack of Exposure
Have you ever come across a small, unheard of blog that you really enjoyed? I’m sure you have at some point. There are some terrific blogs out there that just haven’t gotten the exposure they need to take things to the next level. Your content can be the best, but if no one is seeing it, your blog won’t be growing.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about extending the reach of your blog. That posts cover a few possibilities for gaining some much-needed exposure. Personally, I think guest blogging is one of the best things a blogger can do for exposure. There are plenty of blogs that are willing to accept guest post submissions, and this gives you an excellent opportunity to reach a targeted audience with a link back to your blog. This is the method that I used to grow my blog, and I’m still seeing the benefits in terms of the relationships and connections that I made with other bloggers.
Social media is another excellent source of exposure. Many bloggers seem to always be going after the front page of Digg, but others like StumbleUpon and Delicious can also give you the exposure that you’re looking for. Depending on the industry that you are in, there may be some strong niche social media sites where you can get some highly-targeted traffic. To look for these types of sites, see this categorized list of social media sites.
From my experience in the past year of blogging, networking is critical to long-term blogging success . Anything you can attempt to do with your blog will be easier with a solid network. Networking is of course about mutual benefit, so if you are able to get to know some others that are in a similar position as you, there are unlimited opportunities to help each other. Gaining subscribers, drawing comments, attracting social media votes, building links – it’s all easier with a network.
To start building your network, focus on finding some other bloggers that you can help in some way. Don’t only look to network with A-listers. You’ll find that the most valuable members of your network are in a similar stage in the blogging lifecycle as you. You can start by commenting regularly at their blog or maybe by reaching out to them through a social networking site. On a few occasions I’ve used a contact form on a blog to simply introduce myself. Once you start reaching out to others, some of them will reciprocate and the networking relationship will start to grow.
One of the best things you can do in terms of networking is to be active at a social network or a community site of some kind. Forums have been popular for years, and Twitter is becoming an increasingly popular option when it’s working.
Poor Choice of Niche
I mentioned earlier that your choice of niche is especially important. You’ll hear a lot about niche blogging and finding a topic that isn’t overly saturated. Many bloggers don’t think about this or don’t realize the significance until they have already started their blog and they start wondering why they can’t get noticed.
Personally, I think there are pros and cons of blogging in a crowded niche. Almost all of my experience is in popular and saturated industries like web design, marketing and blogging. While it certainly takes more effort to stand out from the crowd, some of the benefits include higher traffic potential, a bigger target audience, more potential advertisers, and easier link building. I think there are strong reasons to avoid either extreme – an overly crowded niche or an extremely small niche – but I do feel that for someone who has a lot of motivation and some patience, there is tons of potential in most crowded niches.
Have you chosen a niche that simply is too small with not enough potential readers? Have you chosen a highly competitive niche that doesn’t allow you to stand out from the leading blogs? If your choice of niche has already been made and it’s too late to change, consider altering your approach so that you’re not directly competing against the top blogs that will likely out do your efforts. One of the issues we’re going through right now at PureBlogging is reassessing our purpose and finding the right angle. The old approach was too similar to too many other blogs in our niche and we think we’ll be able to grow more effectively by taking a more unique approach to the topics that are covered so frequently.
What’s Your Experience?
From your own blogging experience, as well as what you have observed from other bloggers, what do you see as the major reasons for slow growth?