Blogs are incredibly common. Every modern business operating on the web has a website (or should have one). Half your friends have a blog. Even you may already have a blog — or you might have several.
Blogs are popular in part because of how easy they are to start – but mostly because people realize how much potential they have. With a solidly popular blog, you could funnel millions of people to your main website, or collect a ton of recurring advertising revenue and retire early, or just spread the word about an important political cause you support.
To be sure, blogs are ridiculously powerful marketing and communication tools, and it’s entirely possible to start a blog that can reach millions of people. But the reality is, most blogs never get to this point. In fact, most blogs never even attract 100 visitors – let alone millions.
So why is it that most blogs fail? And what can you do to prevent this fate for yourself?
The Conditions That Make Blogs Likely to Fail
First, let’s address some background conditions that make it more likely for blogs to fail.
- Competition. There are hundreds of millions of active blogs out there – and untold billions of individual posts. So no matter how obscure or specific your topic is, chances are, there are already dozens of blogs covering that topic. So if you want to make an impact, you need to do something different or something better – and with so many people to contend with, this becomes increasingly difficult.
- History. Similarly, most of the blogs you’re contending with already have an established audience – and a long history. If a blog on a given topic already has hundreds of posts and thousands of loyal regular readers, how can you possibly enter the market? This makes it hard to dethrone existing players, incentivizing people to start a new niche of their own.
- Defining success. What is “success” for your blog, anyway? Is it making a certain amount of money with affiliate marketing? Is it getting to a certain amount of traffic? If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it’s difficult to make a blog that works.
- Popularity thresholds. Millions of blogs never get seen by anybody. If they never get a chance to be discovered, it doesn’t matter how good the content within is – nobody’s going to read it. By contrast, sometimes blogs continue growing in popularity simply because they’re already so popular; word of mouth allows them to be practically self-sustaining. Reaching these popularity thresholds can be difficult, especially if you’re just starting out with no established audience.
Why Most Blogs Fail
Now let’s take a closer look at the factors responsible for most blogs failing – and the steps you can take to avoid them befalling your blog:
- Lack of goals. Some blogs fail simply because they don’t know what “success” even looks like. The bloggers that started them did so on a whim, with no clear idea of what they were striving to do. If you want to be successful, you need to treat your blog like a business; you need to have specific goals and targets in mind, and you need to chart a course that allows you to achieve those milestones. Otherwise, you won’t have clear direction and your blog will almost certainly disappear.
- Lack of focus. What’s the focus of your blog? In other words, what ground are you trying to cover and what do you want to be an expert in? Some bloggers fail simply because they don’t have a clear idea of what they’re trying to establish. They blog about “general purpose” topics for a general audience. But it’s typically better to focus on something highly specific – a focused niche that distinguishes your blog from others and makes you highly relevant for a specific target audience.
- Unoriginal ideas. There’s no shortage of blogs out there, so the chances are that someone else has already thought of it if you have an idea. However, if you want to stand out from the crowd and have a chance of building an audience of your own, you’ll need some way to make your ideas more original. Fortunately, there are many ways to strive for more originality; you can think up a new topic, come at an existing topic from a new angle or with a new argument, or adopt a completely new type of tone. You could even dabble in new mediums or present your content in a dynamic new way.
- Poor research. Unless your blog is meant purely for entertainment value, it’s important to do your research and be diligent when writing your piece. If you make a statement that turns out to be untrue, or if you use obsolete statistics, or if you outright lie to your audience, it will reflect poorly on you. Most blog readers want to follow sources they feel are reliable; if it doesn’t seem like you’re doing your due diligence before writing a piece, your readers will leave in droves. Make sure to cite your work and include multiple sources in your research.
- Poor writing. Writing quality is somewhat subjective, but there’s no denying it plays a major role in determining your blog’s ultimate fate. If your work is poorly organized, if your statements are incoherent, or if your sentences are too long, too short, or clunky, people aren’t going to want to read it. So you need to write as eloquently and concisely as possible, while optimizing your work for readability; that’s a tall order, but it will come more naturally to you as you gain more experience.
- Irregular updates. There’s no formal rule that says you have to update your blog every day, or even every week, but if you want to stand a better chance of taking off and achieving your goals, it’s important to update regularly. Keeping your blog updated at regular time intervals allows people to follow your work and set expectations. They can subscribe to updates, check out your new work when it’s posted, and stay more involved with the community. If you go too long without any updates, they may abandon you entirely – no matter how long they followed you before your hiatus.
- No outlets for early discovery. Let’s say you have an awesome blog – something people want and need, and something that’s not covered elsewhere. You should have an easy path to rising popularity. But what if nobody knows it exists? That’s why it’s important to establish early outlets for discovery, such as building links yourself, syndicating your work on social media, and distributing your work to other people. These early-stage promotional strategies are critical for getting your first few thousand readers – and for kick-starting the rest of your marketing and advertising strategy.
- Repetitiousness. While it’s important to keep a consistent brand voice and, in some ways, a consistent outlook, overly repetitious posts can get boring. People crave novelty and exciting surprises with their content, so it’s important to change things up from time to time. Consider using different mediums, tackling new subjects, or experimenting with entirely new approaches on occasion.
- Lack of growth. If you want to keep your blog growing and sustain its popularity, you need to find some way to grow and change – and that means looking at the data. You’ll need to study metrics like how many new readers you’ve gotten, how long those readers stay on page when reading your material, how many readers convert, and how traffic patterns have changed as you’ve rolled out new content. By studying these changes, you’ll be able to make intelligent predictions about how they might change in response to new variables – and make better changes to your blog over time.
What About Your Blog?
Most blogs indeed fail, but that’s not a death sentence for your latest blog. In fact, if you learn the critical lessons from the failures of other blogs, it could put you at an even higher likelihood of succeeding.
Take your blog seriously if you want it to support your traffic generation strategy — and avoid the pitfalls that have crushed so many of your peers.
Image Credit: anthony shkraba; pexels; thank you!