Yellow Shack
Creative Commons License photo credit: sylvanv

So you’ve got a blog. You’ve read a few of Darren’s posts and now you are inspired to make a living from it. Well there are a few things you need to know first. A couple of harsh realities that, if you learn them soon, might just save your skin. In this post I am going to show you 6 real reasons your blog won’t last the year. Read carefully.

My 100 failed blogs

At the moment I probably have around 100 websites and blogs that sit there and do nothing except cost me fees and take up server space. They are the sites that I have failed at, forgotten about or just plain lost interest in. These blogs are an amazing lesson for me, however, as they give me valuable practice ground. They give me a place to try out new strategies and methods. And for every failure there seems to be a success that evolves from it. This post is all about passing the lessons from those failures on to you.

6 real reasons your blog won’t last the year

Not all of these will apply to you if you are doing something right. But if you read through this list and find that some of them fit your MO then I hope you will try to fix them as soon as you can. If you don’t I am quite certain your blog will not last very long.

1. You don’t have a goal
The most important thing that any blog needs is a goal. If you don’t have a set goal that you have planned and established then you will have no direction. Your goal is like your destination on a car trip; without one you have a nice drive but you don’t get anywhere. You might end up somewhere nice, or you might end up in Arizona. Some goals that you might have are:

  • to build a following in order to launch a product
  • to personalize your company’s website
  • to make money through advertising and affiliates
  • to help a cause by making money and donating or developing awareness
  • etc

Your goal is extremely important because it sets the tone for the rest of your activities. You need to make certain that your goal is fixed, planned and clear. Without one I think you will run into big troubles when success doesn’t come as fast as you’d like.

2. Your voice is uninspiring, boring or confusing
Who are you? Why are you blogging? What can I learn from your blog? What problems are you going to help me solve? These are all questions that come back to your voice – the way you speak on your blog. You need to go back and read your previous blog posts and take a look at what you sound like to the rest of the world. Do you have something to offer? That is the main question that you need to find out. If you don’t have anything to offer the world then no one is going to read your posts. No one is going to subscribe and visitors that arrive by Google are going to leave pretty quickly.

Your blog’s voice needs to be personal and it needs to be helpful. It should inspire people to become better at whatever it is your talking about. It should make people ask questions. And, most importantly, it should bring out the best in them. When I read Glen’s blog Viper Chill I feel inspired to work harder even though I am making money from similar things to him. Why? Because his voice is so clear and succinct. It is easy to read and it makes me want to do better. That is what your voice needs to do. If its not then you won’t last.

3. You have no clear call to action
Your call to action is the thing that encourages people to do something on your blog. For example, if your goal is to get as many subscribers as possible you want to have a very well structured part of your site that encourages people to sign up using a clear phrase, a nice graphic and a good position on your site. Let’s take a look at some call to actions that might be important for you.

  • Subscribers
    As already mentioned, if your goal is to get subscribers you need to constantly remind them to sign up. You need a place on your site devoted to this very aim. It should be at the top of the page and it should be near the first part of your content. Use words like “free” and “today” in order to create a sense of urgency and trust.
  • A product/ebook sale
    If you are selling some sort of product or ebook on your site you need to devote a little more room and text to the matter. Why? Because people need to know the benefits of your product before forking over hard earned Paypal dollars. Notice I say benefits, not features. People aren’t interested in the features of your product, they want to know how those features benefit them. Make sure your call to action is based around the benefits of your product. For example, if you were selling a dog barking ebook you might say “finally get some sleep with my 100% proven anti-barking method“.

You need to put some good time into your call to action and make sure it does the right thing. Test and track your results and don’t get flustered if you can’t work it out right away.

4. You rely on Google for traffic
This might come to a shock for a lot of people. Normally you would think that getting a lot of Google traffic is a good thing. Well, it is. But what is not good is when you get banned or penalized by Google and then your income steam is totally dead. Let me give you an example.

in the windy days...
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kent Ng.

In 2006 I had a fitness blog that was getting around 2000 unique visitors a day from Google. Not massive but it was paying my rent. I wrote quality articles, took my own instructional photos and never ever in any way did anything that Google might consider black hat. One day I woke up and traffic was about 10 visitors. The next day was the same. I did some research and found out that I had been totally de indexed from Google’s results. I was gone. And after having several articles ranking at the top for some massive keywords I was really upset.

A few months later the rankings came back. I have no idea why they did it but I suspect that a competitor had reported me even though I had done nothing wrong. Google put me in the “temporary ban” basket just to be sure. Never base your blogs traffic around Google. If they ban you tomorrow you should be able to carry on with traffic from social media, links from other sites, guest posts, Youtube links, etc. Google should be seen as a bonus.

5. You don’t research articles ahead of time
If you are serious about your blog you need to spend a good amount of time researching your articles ahead of schedule. And depending on your professionalism and competitiveness you can take it more or less seriously. Here are some thoughts about that.

  • Not very serious
    If you aren’t very serious about it but still want to do it well you need to brain storm ideas for posts all the time. Read magazines in your niche, read other blogs and study their popular posts areas, listen to the things your readers are asking you in comments, etc. Constantly have a list of blog titles on the go.
  • Middling seriousness
    If you are starting to get more serious about this you need to start looking at what your competition is doing and do it better. Find what articles or topics are working for them and see if you can do it better. Look at what keywords they are targeting and try to tap in to that or look at an alternative solution. Develop your titles based on what is interesting to your readers but also interesting to search engines.
  • Very serious
    Someone who is very serious will use Market Samurai or some other keyword research tool to brainstorm ideas about their upcoming posts based on traffic, competition and potential for monetization. For example, you might write a series of posts around writing an amazing eBook and then optimize those pages to sell an eBook software to the targeted traffic.

A good blogger will devote a lot of time to researching articles ahead of time. Some of them just turn out well on pure luck but a lot of them are after a goal or are trying to address something that is missing on their blog. This is a very wise thing to do if you want to make sure you have plenty of content and you want that content to stay relevant.

6. You make no attempt to make contacts
Remember your father always saying that its not what you know, its who you know. Well he was right. And the same goes for blogging. It doesn’t matter how good you are at blogging unless you make contacts in the industry and start to leverage those guys. Here are some situations where your blogging contacts can really influence your career.

  • A boring old guest post
    I’m trying to get a guest post on Problogger right now and its not working. I have talked to Darren a bunch of times on email and Twitter, I used to blog for his network (b5) years ago under a different blog and I have done guest posts on his photography site. But getting a guest post on Problogger from a brand new site is hard. I imagine that people who had tried to make better friends with their contacts over the years would have their post up and running by now. A mistake on my part.
  • Product launch buzz
    Guys like Shoemoney and John Chow always team up on a product launch. They send out emails to their lists, Tweets on their Twitter account and do all sorts of other cross promotions. These relationships work extremely well for them and make a lot of money. But they didn’t just decide to do it one day, they have been chatting for years. Developing friendships with people in your industry can really help you if you ever want to create some buzz around a new product.

I really recommend that you make relationships in a truthful and respectful way. I would love to be closer to Darren because he is an inspiration to me and I think I could learn a lot. Sure, he might be able to help my blog grow but that is secondary. Make sure you aren’t just using these guys but providing them something in return.

Conclusion

Blogging is a game that is constantly changing but, to be honest, pretty easy if you know what you are doing. Make sure you avoid these mistakes on your blog and you will find that successes come more and more often. If you choose to ignore them, however, I guarantee you will find that it gets harder and harder to grow, expand and keep people interested.

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