Are you struggling to find an audience for your blog? Do you see a flat line on the chart that’s supposed to indicate your growth? It may sound mean-spirited, but chances are your blog sucks–or the blog in question is missing the boat on some very important issues. Or both.
A lot of bloggers see successful, long-lived sites breaking the following rules and assume they can get away with it too; the key in studying any successful blog is to be mindful of the things that caused the success. Those factors somehow outweigh the broken rules. Can your relatively unknown, traffic-hungry blog afford to break those same rules without sacrificing readers? Here are five reasons why YOUR BLOG SUCKS:
5. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. Even personal blogs have a point, regardless of how ever-changing it may be. Let’s take a look at the successful Livejournal blog by author Poppy Z. Brite as an example. PZB doesn’t have a book project currently underway and she rarely does signings, talks or tours these days (a bummer on all counts). Yet her blog is continually engaging and interesting to read. She sometimes rambles, gets on the occasional soapbox and posts images of her cats. Sounds like 99% of the personal blogs out there, doesn’t it? Yet PZB always has SOMETHING TO SAY. There is A POINT. Even when just to say, “This is pointless”.
It is painfully obvious to most people when a blog goes up simply to entice people to click affiliate links or to sell a product. Blogs are meant to DISCUSS THINGS. Selling should be considered a pleasant side effect of the success of your blog.
4. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER. Personal bloggers can skip this one, I’m talking directly to writing bloggers and other freelance career-oriented bloggers. Here is a little secret. EVERY new writer will try to dispense writing advice through a blog. If you don’t have the benefit of some experience, your new blog will fold once you run to the end of your tether and can’t dispense any GOOD ADVICE. A better approach would be to write your blog from the perspective of “Here are the mistakes I’ve made recently so you can avoid them.” Give the benefit of your experience, but don’t try to set yourself up as an authority until you have some to dispense. Write from your own perspective, whether that’s a struggling newcomer deep in the trenches, a frustrated mid-career writer trying to break into the next level, or the experienced old hack (me) throwing out screeds based on daily misadventures in the writing game.
3. YOU DON’T SHARE. I’ve seen five sites this week already that don’t have any outbound links in their blogroll. There are two types of newcomer blogs in this category; one that hasn’t been around long enough to find sites and add them, and blogs that deliberately don’t list other sites because they view them as “the competition”. SHAME ON YOU. You only hurt yourself when you don’t link to other sites in your field, whether that’s freelance writing, coding, widget-making or zombie disposal. The way this game is played is that you develop connections with other bloggers, share links and resources and SPREAD THE WEALTH. Sites that try to stay isolated from their peers ultimately get stale, irrelevant and boring.
2. TOO MUCH TOO SOON. Don’t try and add fifty new features at once. Take your blog, find one thing that works and perfect it. Do you really need to do podcasting, blogging, article writing and how-to advice? Over time, yes. In your earliest stages, find your voice, sharpen your skills at doing ONE THING RIGHT and make it PERFECT. Then move on to a new challenge. Do everything at once, and you will fail at all of them.
1. DUPLICATING CONTENT FOUND ELSEWHERE. I don’t mean stealing articles. I mean trying to reproduce a service. Why should Freelance-Zone.com attempt to build a huge writer forum section when AbsoluteWrite.com already has one that kicks ass? Don’t even TRY. Instead, find something no other blog is doing–or something no blog is doing well–and make THAT your blog’s strong point. Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but it won’t do jack to get your blog the traffic you want it to have.