Despite what I thought in the beginning, blogging is pretty hard.
I mean it looks so easy from the outside, doesn’t it. Writing a post, plunking in a photo are two and voilà, instant blogging magic.
Crafting a blog that inspires, teaches or entertains your readers isn’t an inborn talent for most of us. It takes skills, and in some cases skills we don’t have.
It seems because of the low barrier to actually creating a blog, we confuse this with the ability to create a blog that’s engaging and makes a difference.
If you’ve been blogging for longer than a couple weeks, you’ve no doubt met this issue head on. Traffic doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Commenters aren’t lining up to spill their souls and ads quietly wait in the sidebar.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. That quote by Tony Robbins really sums up a lot of struggles in blogging (and life in general for that matter.) When confronted by a blogging struggle instead of reaching outside of what we know to find the answer, we just keep doing what we did last week and the week before thinking that maybe, just maybe, this time it’s going to lead us to a (influence/traffic/income) breakthrough.
Chances are if you’re stuck with your blog, it’s time to approach it with a beginner’s mind and examine what you can do differently to finally achieve the results you’re looking for.
The Beginner’s Mind Approach to Blogging
One of the virtues of successful bloggers we talked about a few weeks ago was curiosity. Focusing on learning more about blogging and how to grow yours is a huge part of that concept.
A lot of us turn to Google when faced with life’s tough questions (and of course, your blog is one of those!) I love Google for how to’s or information that isn’t subjective necessarily, like what time zone the Galapagos Islands are in. When it comes to blogging concepts, strategy and actually creating the blog you were meant to have, your Google search may just lead to a giant internet rabbit hole that offers more questions than answers.
1. Seek out successful bloggers in your niche and use them as your own case study.
Too often as we blinded by envy went landing on a awesome blog that we totally miss the opportunity to learn from someone who is doing their thing better than the rest.
When you happen upon a gem of a blog, grab your pen and pager and start examining.
- How often do they post?
- What post type or structure do they use?
- What about their blog specifically are you drawn to?
- How are they encouraging subscribers?
- What types of content are they writing and why does it appear to be so engaging (look for the biggies: teach, inspire and entertain)
- What problem or need does the blog solve?
- How do they present themselves on the site? Do they have a professional design or photos?
The reason people are successful with their blogs isn’t a cleverly kept secret, it’s actually out there in plain sight but you do have to focus to see it.
2. Find courses, classes or books that go beyond tactics – look for systems and comprehensive resources
When you research blogging resources you see a lot of tactics.
Tactics are stuff like, post to Facebook at 3pm on Saturdays for best engagement or ask questions at the end of blog posts to increase the likelihood of comments. Those tips of the day can be helpful for little tweaks here and there but they are no replacement for a long term vision. A big picture view of your blog, your goals and what you want to achieve are not usually found in single, one off blog posts.
When you find yourself being constantly drawn to the “tactic of the day” and trying new things all the time, it’s an indication that something isn’t working on your blog in a bigger sense.
We often distract ourselves from real game changing work by paying attention to tiny things that don’t make a bit of difference. If you’ve ever spent an afternoon (or two, or three) rearranging your sidebars, but aren’t getting the traffic you want on your blog – then you know this first hand.
Finding a great teacher or coach that you connect with and respect is the key to learning and thriving in blogging when you haven’t quite figured it out yet . There are a lot of blogging resources out there and although I do have a blog school, I encourage you to research all your options and find something and someone who speaks to you and matches your style, and what you need.
3. Testing your choices and making decisions based on results and not the whim of the day
Maybe it’s because I come from a very science and math heavy school background but I really believe in the find art of observation and measurement.
When you feel like your blog is under-performing, what do you usually do?
Do you pop over to social media and tweet or publish an update? Do you try to figure out a way to cram more writing time into your already tight posting schedule? Or do you just throw your hands up feeling like everything’s already been said, so why try?
Most people do sporadic, random things to boost trouble areas on their blog on a fairly constant basis. In fact, for a lot of people the only consistency to their blogs is the consistent randomness attempted at getting it to grow.
By doing different things all the time you remove the ability to see patterns over time and measure any of the choices you make.
If you’ve decided to post at a certain frequency then stick with that commitment for a couple months to see what the results are. If you try for a week or two, you’re not going to have any real information to guide you to the best decision.
Measuring and testing can sound very technical but when you try something new on your blog, simply decide on the single most important metric to help guide you and just measure that. If Google Analytics freaks you out then just make a spreadsheet to track a few numbers. Do whatever suits your style – but just DO something!
Oh, and one last thing about testing and how that can help you make better blogging choices – when you find something that works, keep doing it! It’s amazing how often we find a real winner of an idea but feel like we constantly need to be doing need and better things to grow. If you’re getting great results from a particular activity, keep working it, new is not always better.