How To Get Your Blog Off Life Support
The crash cart I used to revive my blog.
Nothing is more demoralizing than digital crickets. They happen after you put your heart and soul into a blog post, close your eyes and hit “publish.” The brief exhilaration of creation is soon crushed by the vast silence. The utter disinterest. Not even your mom comments on your post!
Welcome to the land of digital crickets. When the Internet and blogging were new, it was easier to grow an audience. There were simply less people blogging back then. But that didn’t last.
I had no idea what I was doing
I came to blogging a few years ago, but without much thought or preparation. I put up a fine art website to share my paintings. The platform service I use (FASO) includes a blog feature, so I started writing about the creative arts.
I had no idea what I was doing. I posted erratically. My subject matter was all over the place. The images I shared were sad little iPhone photos, taken in poor lighting. No wonder people ignored my blog.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure why I started a blog. Mostly, I just liked to write and became seduced with the idea that maybe, others would enjoy it.
A lot of bloggers are just like me. They love to write or have a passion to share. So they dive into Wordpress, Squarespace or wherever, and set up shop. They post some photos, copy what everyone else is doing, start publishing content… and hope.
Unfortunately, hope doesn’t get you very far with blogging.
Tons of competition
If you started a blog with dreams of endless subscribers and living the laptop lifestyle, you probably found out the truth. It’s darn hard to create a popular blog, let alone make a few bucks off of it.
There are millions of blogs out there. Tons of competition. Readers are fickle. They scan content quickly. If the headline doesn’t grab them, they’ll never read your post (no matter how terrific it is).
Of course, for the millions of blogs out there, some are just terrible. Others are mediocre. But a few are stellar. Quality stands out. If you learn how to up your game, you just might be able to inch closer to growing an actual audience.
Is your blog on life support? Are you pouring your heart and soul into it, and nobody cares? If so, then you need a crash cart to revive your blog.
Only, this crash cart doesn’t contain a defibrillator, breathing tubes, catheters and medicines. It contains strategies. And if the strategies worked for my sad, little blog, they might just revive yours, too.
The 5 strategies in your digital crash cart
You can only listen to those digital crickets so long before you go nuts. I don’t know how many ignored blog posts I wrote, but I figured out fairly quickly that something wasn’t working.
Eventually, I did what I should have done before I ever started a blog. Research. I started to read about blogging, and what it takes to be successful. Which leads me to the first strategy in your crash cart:
Smart entrepreneurs don’t just start a business in the blind. They do their homework. They educate themselves about the market they’re interested in.
Smart entrepreneurs ask themselves questions about the business they’re considering. Is it already saturated with competitors? Should they niche down to a smaller market with fewer competitors? What problems are they solving or unique entertainment are they providing?
Intelligent bloggers should do the same thing. If you’re thinking about starting a fitness blog (because they’re popular), do your homework. There are TONS of fitness blogs out there. How will you compete? What do you offer that they don’t?
When my blog was failing, I started to educate myself. I read Michael Hyatt’s book Platform- Get Noticed in a Noisy World. That book opened my eyes. Next, I took a workshop with Jeff Goins in Franklin, Tennessee and signed up for his Tribe Writers course. Jeff taught me tons about my proposed audience, what my focus should be, the business of writing/blogging, and much more.
Books, workshops and online courses can be expensive, but they can save you from making big mistakes. They’re investments that save time and effort. And, they can pay big dividends later on.
Hands down, Tom’s course helped grow my audience on Medium. As a result, I now have over 13K followers and nearly 5,000 subscribers. I became an affiliate for Tom’s course because it really helped me.
There’s plenty of free, on-line information out there about blogging to help educate yourself. Just be careful. Not everyone is scrupulous.
There are plenty of false gurus, promising outlandish results. Do your homework. Look at their audiences, reputations and legitimacy.
You only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention online. That’s why click bait, porn and profanity run riot on the Internet. It grabs attention.
Thankfully, it‘s possible to gather interest without getting in the gutter. The trick is to learn effective, elegant copywriting.
About a year into my blogging, I hired a guy named Demian Farnworth, a professional copywriter. He taught me all about the power of compelling headlines, strong subheadings and rigorous editing.
I thought I was a decent writer, but Demian shredded my articles. I learned that writing on the Internet is different. People scan. They prefer short paragraphs and white space to rest their eyes.
Demian’s help got me to the next level. My writing started to stand out. I was invited on Jeff Goin’s podcast and Youngman Brown’s Your Creative Push. All because my blog posts were more professional.
If you want to build a blog following, you have to keep showing up. That means you have to be consistent.
Body builders don’t grow muscles willy-nilly. They stick to a schedule. They hit the gym regularly. You need to do the same with your blog.
Readers will abandon you if you don’t post consistent content. I learned this the hard way. Some weeks I’d post two or three articles. Other weeks, nothing. The result? People went elsewhere.
Set up a schedule. Get up early every day or stay up late, but keep writing. Be consistent with your posts, whether it’s daily or weekly.
This should be the most important of all, but sadly, click bait often rules online. That’s why I recommend educating yourself and mastering copywriting. People won’t discover what a brilliant writer you are unless you leverage good headlines and draw them in.
Quality is what will keep readers coming back and, hopefully, share and tell their friends. Good writing is such a pleasure. It’s why I enjoy writers like Jonas Ellison and Demian Farnworth, because their writing is such a pleasure. It’s intelligent, beautifully crafted, and light years ahead of those listicle articles.
The best way to ramp up the quality of your writing is to read your rear end off. Particularly good books, which are edited and generally a much higher quality than blog posts.
The more you read, and read broadly, the more you’ll expand your mind and appreciation for the cadence, styles and voices of different authors. They will teach you plenty, and help you find your voice.
All of the above strategies in your digital crash cart will help revive your blog, but the pièce de résistance is authenticity. Readers can spot a fake a mile away. If you’re copying your favorite writer or blogger, chances are it will show.
Early on, we all emulate the writers and artists we admire. Author Austin Kleon advises us to Steal Like An Artist. What he’s really saying is to embrace influences. Don’t become overwhelmed with the pressure of originallity.
We all have to start somewhere. If we wait until we’ve become fully actualized, authentic, entirely original creators, it might be too late. So definitely don’t wait to start putting your work out there.
However, you need to bend toward authenticity. Seems like every time I tried to emulate someone else, it didn’t get me too far. The more I listened to my heart, and created the kind of work I longed to see, the further along I got.
For example, when I started blogging I began imitating Michael Hyatt. I was doing self-help posts with bullet points. At some point I asked myself, “What the heck am I doing? This doesn’t feel like me.”
So, I began to write these emotional, heartfelt stories with life lessons. Editors at the blog Fine Art Views invited me to write a weekly article for them. The originality and emotions in the stories I wrote were a hit with readers, and the comments poured in (Like this short story, The Prisoner.)
Many of the stories and essays I wrote for Fine Art Views found their way into my first book, An Artful Life- Inspirational Stories and Essays for the Artist in Everyone.
Later on, I began experimenting. I started to illustrate blog posts with my cartoons and artwork. That combination was a hit on Medium, and helped me grow my audience. Because it was authentic.
Strive to be unique, original and authentic with your online work. You don’t want to be like everyone else. Leverage your own, unique style and voice.
There’s a lot of similarity on the Internet. To stand out, you should consider becoming what author Seth Godin calls a “purple cow.”
Figure out how to stand out from everyone else. But don’t just be different for difference sake. You need to be authentic and still provide quality content.
Intensive care discharge
Some blogs never make it out of intensive care. They might be too far gone to save. If that’s the case, it‘s best to call the chaplain, say your goodbyes, and plan a proper burial. Then you can move on to your next blog.
However, many blogs can be revived, if you use the five crash cart strategies outlined above. Educate yourself, learn effective copywriting, get consistent, improve the quality and leverage your authenticity.
Employing these five strategies got my blog out of intensive care, and I’ll bet they can help your blog, too!
Before you go
I’m John P. Weiss. Fine artist and writer. Get on my free email list here for the latest artwork, cartoons and articles. No spam, always free, privacy respected.