Every day thousands of blogs get started and carve out a little space for themselves in the internet. After six months, ninety five percent of these blogs will be collecting proverbial dust.
I’ve seen blogs get a huge spike in traffic because of a popular post that resonates with people, only to see it fizzle out in the weeks after that post.
In the years we’ve run Zerothreetwo, we’ve seen blogs come and go. In many cases, we legitimately enjoyed the content being put out. Then eventually seemingly suddenly, they disappear.
Allow us to point out the pitfalls most bloggers make so you can continue doing this in the years to come.
Here are the most common mistakes when starting a blog:
Giving up when the dip hits
The Dip, as described in Seth Godin’s book, is the point in time when things become hard, when everything seems like it is going nowhere. This is when nothing new or good seems to be happening. The signs could be as simple as your traffic plateauing, your blog topics drying up, or even your motivation waning. This is the time to dig deep and push through.
The trick to overcoming the dip is to make blogging a practice and not blogging only when you feel like it.
Blogging when you feel like it
Most blogs get started with ambitious goals like posting every day. Then quickly they find out that posting every day is hard. So it gets relegated to three times a week. Then something comes up, something like life. Then it becomes once a week. Eventually the last post was three months ago and there’s no point anymore.
That’s how most blogs die.
The dirty little secret to successful blogs is consistency. They find ways to continue with their editorial schedule and get better along the way.
Committing to a doable schedule is key here. Look at your resources and the time you are willing to spend on the blog. Are you a one person operation? Most likely once a week will be best for you. Do you have committed writers? Maybe you can release more content. Be honest with yourself and commit.
Running out of topics
Consistency isn’t a problem? Great! But you are worried you’ll run out of topics to write about?
Don’t give me that. If you think you’ll run out of topics, you just haven’t thought hard enough about your content. There are blogs out there about the most seemingly mundane things. They still find ways to keep it updated.
The world is a big place with many interesting things. Here’s the best funniest weirdest video about something pretty boring… ducks.
This video alone is worth ten posts. Seriously, ducks are super weird.
When Zerothreetwo started, we opened up an excel file and wrote random ideas for topics. After we reached fifty topics, we stopped. Then we went down that list and started blogging about them.
Here’s another simple way to come up with blog post ideas:
(1) Choose a niche
(2) Ask as many questions as you can about that niche
(3) Answer those questions in a blog post
Doing nothing after hitting publish
For every hour spent on a blog post, spend two hours promoting it.
Spend time looking for the audience that wants what you are providing. Who wants the content that you are putting out? What is that person like? Where do they hang out? Are they male? Or female? Create a profile of your audience.
Find ways to get in front of them; reach out, grow an email newsletter, be social, guest post. Don’t be shy. If you are producing content of worth, people will want to hear from you. What’s the worst that can happen?
Getting it perfect
But my stuff isn’t good enough yet? I’ll start reaching out to people when I become really really good at what I do.
Don’t fall for the perfection trap.
If you wait till everything is perfect, then you’ll never release anything to the world. Everyone had to work at their craft to get better. Contrary to popular belief, most successful creators learned their craft in front of an audience. It’s just that the audience wasn’t that big yet. They allowed themselves to get better in front of people then as they got better, their audience grew.
Even the Beatles played years in crappy German bars before showing up in America and taking the world by storm. They weren’t practicing inside their garage. They played night after night, honing their skills in front of a crowd.
This ties back to being consistent with your content. A schedule will force you to always have something new and you will get better in the process.
“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” – Lemony Snicket
I’ll concede that not every blog needs to make money. If you genuinely love blogging, then go for it. There are things worth doing for the love of it and blogging is one of them.
But it’s much easier to do something you love when it pays for the food on your plate.
Now everyone has humble beginnings. You may not make enough to quit your day job, but instead of wasting time on YouTube when you get home, use the time to come up with content, strategies, or products.
“Leisure is what you give up to have the audacity to build your life that you want.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Being a robot
Back in the early 2000’s, there were all sorts of blogs cranking out content. People were writing 500 word pieces on just about anything. They chose a keyword, used it once per one hundred words, and prayed to the Google gods. The pieces tended to have no soul and read like bad versions of the dictionary.
Starting a blog is about showing a piece of you to the world. The easiest way to be authentic is to be you. No one else is like you. In the internet, be who you are in real life. Not a robot.
Work on the fly
Post is due on Monday. Write post on Sunday evening till the wee hours of the morning. This may work for some, but you’ll get burnt out soon.
For Zerothreetwo, we generally have a loose plan for the whole month. The topics are more or less determined a few weeks before. We input them in our editorial calendar. It shows all the posts that have been released and are planned to be released. Of course, we leave room for timely pieces that need to be published as soon as they are written. But for the most part, everything is planned out.
This allows us to breathe easy knowing that we’ve got topics and posts queued up.
Getting left behind
Continue learning and be open to change. You don’t want to be left behind. If new different ways work in your niche then don’t be afraid to change.
When Zerothreetwo first started, we were very clear with our style and tone. Most of our posts were about other people and places in Cebu. Then we realized that readers had other interests outside of Cebu. They were talking about movies, politics, international music, etc. We didn’t want to be left out of that conversation.
Another rule when we started was we didn’t want the posts to be about us. Then we realized that readers wanted to know more about who we were. Another major change was opening up ourselves more to readers. Many of the pieces are little windows into who we are as people.
Be open to change.
Most people don’t care about you. Unless you look like a perfectly proportioned human being with Barbie like features, no one will care what you had for breakfast or what clothes you are wearing. When people first read a blog, they come with a purpose. They are asking the question, “What’s in it for me?”
The easiest way to give people what they want is to be helpful. Answer as many questions as possible in your niche.
The more you help, the more people will want to read what you have to say. Don’t be self-indulgent.
Write with a purpose.
The title comes last
I’ve succumbed to this mistake many times. Usually when we write blog posts, we come up with the content first then the title last.
Whenever possible, think of the title first.
The title is the most important part of a blog post. If your title can’t get readers to click the link, then the rest of your blog post will never get read.
Write a compelling title that will make you want to click.
That’s the end of the Zerothreetwo Blogging Guide. We hope this little series was helpful to you. To end, I want to leave you with a thought.
Here’s a look back at the previous chapters of the Zerothreetwo Blogging Guide:
(1) Starting a Blog
(3) How to Blog
(5) Making Money
We live in a time when you can start a media company from your bedroom. Think about that for a second. Twenty years ago, there were a handful of TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines. You could probably list them all down in a piece of paper. Back in the 90’s, reaching an audience was a pipedream. Now you can write a 500 word blog post with a reasonable chance of reaching a thousand people.
We hope Zerothreetwo has inspired you in some way to share a little bit of yourself to the world.
Now do us a favor. Start a blog and let us know about it.