Almost every one of the millions of blogs that are started in 2018 are destined to fail and die a slow, boring death.
This is not meant to be depressing (although it probably is…) because there are some practical solutions that we can apply in order to ensure that our beautiful blogs don’t end up in that sad category.
But before we look at those solutions we need to recognize the main causes of blog failure, and we need to face those problems head on.
Unfortunately, most people don’t even know it’s an issue that is likely to occur and so end up getting a big old surprise down the track.
The biggest danger for new bloggers
A lot of the people who read this particular blog are here because they have fallen in love with the art of blogging and want to make it a big part of their life.
Some of them are doing it because they are looking for a new income stream in some challenging times, others are doing it because they are worried about current issues like climate change and want to contribute to a greater public understanding.
Starting a new blog is an exciting time that is filled with a lot of hope and enthusiasm.
The sad part is that most bloggers will lose that excitement and enthusiasm when they start to realize that results are hard to come by – traffic is low, earnings are hard to achieve, and growth just doesn’t seem to occur.
So what is the biggest danger for new bloggers?
It’s time frames.
But what does that mean and how does it affect our blog’s chances of success over the next year or two? And, more importantly, is there anything we can do about it?
The time frame of a successful blog
When you first start a blog you spend so much time on all the set up.
You’re busy doing things like installing WordPress on your server, building a mailing list and all the email submit forms, setting up social networking accounts, writing blog posts, etc.
And while you’re doing all that you never really take time to think about how long it is going to take to actually see some results because you are so caught up in the excitement of just getting started.
But the honest fact is that a blog is just like any small business and a lot of small businesses don’t break even for at least a year, and sometimes two years.
This can be hard for a blogger to reconcile because blogging really does take up a lot of time, often while you are working another job or raising kids, and it often takes away from the moments you usually use to relax.
Start thinking about your blog as a small business, however, and things start to get a bit brighter. According to the U.S. Small Business Association about half of all new small businesses (PDF) will make it to their fifth year.
While that might not seem like a great statistics at first, when you think about all the people starting businesses it is actually quite hopeful to think that, in five years time, you’ll have a business that is making money.
I actually ran a little Twitter poll to ask people about why they think blog’s fail (you might have to vote in order to see the results):
— Ramsay (@BlogTyrant) December 10, 2017
Although the sample size is really small, I think the fact that a lot of people seem to lose interest is indicative of the fact that they thought it would “happen” a lot quicker than it does.
Perhaps our expectations and time frames for how long it takes to make a blog succeed are a little off?
How do we ensure that our blogs don’t fail in 2018?
I’d like to go in to a little detail now about how we can make sure that our new blogs aren’t one of those that fade away in the next year or so.
If you follow these tips I am quite sure that our blogs will be the kind of blogs that last the distance.
- Make a solid plan with dates
I mention this one quite a lot because it really is something that a lot of bloggers just overlook. Instead of just starting a blog and seeing what works, spend a week planning out the whole process from the end-result to the types of content you’ll produce. That way you have some goals to hit and you know what to work on, and the expectations will be realistic. I think this is one of the major ways that you can avoid burning out due to the beginning phases of your blog being a little slow.
- Find ways to make your blog distinctive
When you look at all the stats about blogs you’ll notice that we are just a needle in a giant, growing haystack. One of the most important things you can do is figure out what your blog can offer the world that is different to the result. If you’re writing about a popular topic, how can you make your blog stand out and be memorable? This is a vital step to ensuring that you don’t get lost in the noise in 2018.
- Focus on getting new visitors
It’s absolutely critical that your blog gets a constant flow of new traffic. And the activities that we need to do in order to get that traffic are a lot more than just writing posts and then sharing them on Twitter or Facebook. If that’s all you’re doing for traffic acquisition then there is a chance you won’t last the year. Make this a big part of your overall daily activities.
Network like your life depends on it
I can honestly say that any success that I have had over the years has purely been due to the kindness of others. Whether it was readers who read my ramblings, or colleagues and mentors who helped me come up with better ideas or shared my stuff with their own readers, it’s all been because of them. Take some time to learn how to network in your niche by linking to big blogs in your best articles, letting them know you’ve done that, and then, eventually, building a genuine relationship that might lead to shares and collaborations.
- Spend some money…please
This point is something that a lot of bloggers have a problem with and it is a real shame. Imagine starting a little cafe or restaurant and not wanting to spend money on stock, rent, insurance, advertising, etc. People would think you’re crazy! But a large portion of bloggers think that spending money on set up and promotion is a waste. It really is a bit backwards. Make sure you’re on a good host with a good theme, and then start experimenting with advertising so as to get your blog out there. You can also think about spending money on education options like courses or membership sites that will help take you to new levels.
- Learn how to research clever campaigns
The last idea that I want to give you is something that is very simple but also incredibly effective and that is learning how to research. People like Glen from Detailed have become very good at looking at other websites to see how they had their success. If you want to keep your blog alive and healthy in 2018 you need to learn how to research what is working for other people in your niche. This allows you to get new ideas and improve on what they are doing so as to help your readers more effectively and build a solid reputation online.
Of course, this list of tips could go on and on forever, but I really feel that if you focus on a strategy that has a timeline for getting new traffic and making money you will avoid the main pitfall that bloggers face when it comes to unrealistic expectations.
What other risks are there for bloggers in 2018?
Of course, there are so many other variables that will affect how many blogs go on to success in the new year.
For example, a lot of people are worried about all the movements that are happening around Net Neutrality and the fact that a few regulatory changes in the USA might mean that millions of websites around the world end up having their business model completely changed. This is something we are definitely trying to keep an eye on.
Then there is the fact that the blog site that you choose as your platform might lose popularity or start to trend downwards when you had expected it to keep rising. Medium, for example, moved to a majority subscription model recently which affected a lot of bloggers. Again, while it does have its own risks and challenges, it really does seem that a domain name and your own host is the best option for the long term because at least it is flexible.
The main thing that I think we should all remember, however, is that we are extremely fortunate to be in this business. We have such low barriers to entry (we don’t need business loans and staff to get started) and we can pretty much build a career from the comfort of our own homes instead of working in factories and fields.
With that in mind I am really pretty hopeful about the state of blogging in 2018 and feel that the current political situation and climate emergency is going to lead to a lot of people jumping online to try and write about the truth, facts, and bring logical debate back to the blogosphere.
Why do you think blogs fail?
Do you think your blog will survive the next year? I’d really love to know your thoughts about why you think the majority of blogs fail and if you think there are any tips they could have applied to survive and make it through to bigger and brighter futures.
Please leave a comment below as it might really help someone out there.
Top image © Daniel Villeneuve