The How To Be A Crappy Blogger series examines the mistakes and missteps that keep blogs like this from succeeding. Enjoy and learn from a look back at three years of unsuccessful blogging.
Back at the beginning, I let the writing lead the way. I was thrilled to be blogging and that excitement helped the posts come fast and furiously. This went on for just over a month. I didn’t have a posting schedule, but I was having no problem cranking out a few posts a week. Then I hit my first road bump; I can’t quite remember why now, but there is about a month-and-a-half gap. From then on out, I became yet another utterly inconsistent blogger.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. A blog is easy to start and hard to maintain. Much like a New Year’s resolution, everyone is enthusiastic when they decide want to eat better, quit smoking or exercise more. We rush right out, buy some healthy snacks, some nicorette or join a gym. Perhaps we even make it a month. Then we get busy, our resolve wavers and we realize that what seemed exciting at first look is really work.
Struggling isn’t a problem; that’s just the reality of attempting just about anything new. It’s what often happens next that is the problem. Instead of going back to the drawing board and deciding how to move forward, we settle into our infrequency. We crap rationalize with things like, “I’ll only write when I have something really important to say,” or “I’ll get back to blogging once I finish this project for work.” Rather than course correcting, the average blog dies a slow, painful and lingering demise. It’s a death march that not only disappoints your readers, it’s a public commitment that you’ve essentially neglected.
It’s cliche, but how you start things is how you finish them. Go in without a plan and things will not workout. If you expect that writing for your site will always be exciting then you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. You have to start by planning for the worst. You have to assume that the minute you put your site up is the minute you’re going to want to stop blogging. This ensures that you really, really want to do this and that you take the time to come up with a plan of attack.
Decide how often you are going to post and tell someone; hell tell everyone. Ask them to stay on your ass when you fall short. I post on this site five days a week. It was a challenge that I wanted to set for myself and I voiced it publicly to my readers (and asked my wife to ensure that I did). I wanted to see if I could actually get things done. Inconsistency has always been one of my greatest challenges throughout my life and this seemed like a great opportunity to finally do it right. I’ve been managing to make it happen since mid-April of last year, and I can assure you that it has not been without struggle (to be honest, I’m even a little behind the 8-ball with this week’s posts), but I didn’t start seeing growth in both my writing and my readership until I managed to become consistent.
It doesn’t have to be five days a week, but if you’re serious, I think you really have to commit to at least once a week. I’m certain that you will be able to throw plenty of examples of those who prove this theory wrong at me, but chances are, you aren’t them. Make a commitment to yourself and make a commitment to the people who spend their time with you. Determine a frequency that is right for you and then take time to plan out how you can deliver the required amount of writing (this is often where we get ourselves into trouble). If you’ve never done this before, go slow. Even if you’re extremely productive at the beginning, store your writing up. In fact, wait a month before launching your site and just write. Hold things back, because I promise, the day will come when you don’t want to do it. There will come a time when you go to the well and the well is dry. That doesn’t mean that it’s the end of your blog, it doesn’t mean that the passion won’t return, it just means that you’re like the rest of us and you’ll be prepared for that eventuality. There are days where you will fall short, just be ready and even the most inconsistent amongst us (hi!) can hit publish with consistency.
Once I got consistent, people bothered to stick around. If you look at the chart below, it’s hard to argue the value of showing up. Especially when you consider that things only started heading in the right direction when I got my act together back in mid-April of 2011, a time when I had 20 subscribers.