June 6th, 2007 - by Golgotha

The odds of opening a successful restaurant are not good. In fact, 1 out of 5 restaurants fail within the first 6 months of operation and 9 out of 10 are gone after 2 years.

Since there’s no Chapter 11 for blogs to file – we really can’t measure the success rate of a blog. What we can do is look at some common reasons why your blog might be struggling.

1. Hopelessly Devoted To You

It doesn’t really matter the event: golfing, dancing, chess or blogging. If you want to find success you have to be devoted. Tiger Woods has said that he often hits a thousand balls at the driving range a day. Folks, that’s devotion!

There’s no doubt about it, lack of dedication is the number one reason for struggling blogs. How many hours do you devote to your blog a day?

2. Going Solo

Did we learn nothing from Roger Waters or David Lee Roth?! Sometimes going solo is not a wise choice.

If your blog is of the more personal nature where you show off family pictures and give your opinions of movies then it makes sense that you would go it alone. However, if you are taking on a more commercial subject you may be kidding yourself trying to do an adequate job alone.

You may need to put your pride in check and get some help. This blog was created to provide webmasters with information on all aspects of the web including: design, development and promotion. That’s a huge task! The best move I made was bringing in others that specialized in areas where I was weak.

According to Technorati, there are over 175,000 new blogs every day. It’s a saturated field and it’s only getting worse. It’s my opinion that the blogs of the future are going to be run by teams, not individuals.

Yes, I am aware there are some highly successful blogs out there run by individuals, but people like Guy Kawaski, John Battelle, Darren Rowse and Brian Clark are rare; these guys are pioneers. It’s not that it can’t be done, but the odds of long-term success are lower.

Also, remember what we talked about with devotion? Having a team can help you pick up the slack. Together we stand — divided we fall.

3. You Gotta Serve Someone

Who knew that when Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve someone” he would be giving such great blogging advice? Who is your blog serving? Really, if you struggle to answer the question then I’m betting your blog also struggles.

If you can fill a niche or solve a problem, people will beat a path to your door and hold it open for others!

4. It’s Not About the Money

Whenever they say, “It’s not about the money” – it’s about the money!

Far too often people start blogs simply for the monetary gain. When it comes to blogging, I don’t think money is a good motivator. I think that if you lack passion for what you’re talking about your viewers will notice. Intrinsic motivation is always stronger than extrinsic motivation.

Don’t get me wrong – making money from your blog is not a bad thing, but if that is your sole motivation I don’t see your blog standing the test of time.

I would also caution you on using Adsense on your blog. I agree with Rand Fishkin when he says:

“I hate AdSense on blogs. Usually, I ignore it, but I also cast a sharp eye towards the quality of the posts and professionalism of the content when I see AdSense. That’s not to say that contextual advertising can’t work well in some blogs, but it needs to be well integrated into the design and layout to help defer criticism. Don’t get me wrong – it’s unfair to judge a blog by its cover (or, in this case, its ads), but spend a lot of time surfing blogs and you’ll have the same impression – low quality blogs run AdSense and many high quality ones don’t. I always recommend that whether personal or professional, you wait until your blog has achieved a level of success before you start advertising. Ads, whether they’re sponsorships, banners, contextual or other, tend to have a direct, negative impact on the number of readers who subscribe, add to favorites and link – you definitely don’t want that limitation while you’re still trying to get established.” [1]

5. The Bandwagon Is Not a Good Ride

You might be tempted to post that big industry news story on your blog because it fits in so well with your blog’s subject, but I would caution you on that. Unless you can add something to the story I’m not so sure I would post it. Nobody wants a dozen stories about Apple’s iPhone or whatever the hot news is in their RSS reader — especially ones that say the same thing as the first entry they already read. This can get people to unsubscribe to your feed — not good.

It’s been said before and it will be said again — there is no substitute for well written original content. To quote Seth Godin, “Cover bands don’t change the world…”

6. Give The People What They Want

The beauty of the internet is the ability to track everything in real time. Using tools (often free) like Google Analytics you can see things like: how many visitors your site received, which pages of your site are the most popular and the average time spent at your site. You can also see things like what your viewers searched for within the search engines; how many pages on average your viewers read on your site; how much time they actually invested in your site, and whether or not they are a new visitor or a loyal reader. Simply put, you can know your visitors — what they like most — and give it to them. Any other medium: TV, radio or newspapers would kill for that type of information available to them via a handful of mouse clicks. Make sure you are using it!

I think the article How to Promote Your Blog may also be worth reading on this issue.

7. Prune Your Website

When you prune plants you cut back parts of the plant to better shape it and improve fruiting. Your website should see a considerable amount of pruning too. One of the more powerful features of a website is the ability to rapidly change something that isn’t working. As we already talked about in point six, we have the ability to track everything and know if something is not making conversions.

You wouldn’t or at least shouldn’t leave dead parts of a plant still attached, they should be cut back to allow the parts that are still alive to thrive. The same is true for your website; either fix or remove what isn’t working so that the parts that are can thrive.

I will expand on this point in a future post…

8. Use An Editor

Find yourself an editor – anybody – just get one! An editor is someone who will look over your post before it goes to publication.

A good editor will find and fix punctuation, spelling and grammatical mistakes. They can tell you if something doesn’t make sense, if you need a better transition, if you should restructure a sentence or cut away an entire paragraph that’s deemed unnecessary or if you are being too braggadocious and need to tone it down. Simply put, they can clean up your post and improve upon them greatly.

It doesn’t matter if the editor is your wife or a friend; they can help! Of course you, the author, should be the first editor, but you should not be the only editor. Editing your own work is most difficult. This is because the mind can trick you! When you read over your own work the mind fills in the gaps for you. This is because in your mind you know exactly what it’s supposed to say, regardless of what it really says. So when someone else reads it – anybody else – they don’t have that problem and can see the mistakes.

An editor can mean all the difference in the world…

9. RSS Feeds

I have talked about the significance of RSS feeds on this Blog Critique post and the WordPress – From Install to Pimped Out post before. So let me summarize the key points here.

Thanks to RSS and feed readers it’s become common-place that your blog’s content gets read from a source other than your website. Because of this, you should optimize your feeds. Here are my recommendations:

  • Some people estimate that half their bandwidth goes to RSS feeds. Let FeedBurner take the hit for you by offloading your feeds to FeedBurner. Try the FeedBurner Feed Replacement plugin. This plugin will detect all ways to access your feed and redirect them to FeedBurner so you can track every possible subscriber.
  • Enable FeedBurner’s FeedFlare feature – It’s located under the Optimize tab once logged into FeedBurner. FeedFlare allows you to place a footer at the bottom of each post with such choices as to Digg this post or to add to Technorati or del.icio.us. FeedFlare is certainly worth checking out.
  • In the WordPress Admin Panel, under Options – Reading, make sure the ‘Full text’ radio button for Feed Syndication is ticked.

10. Post Titles = Title Tags

The rookie blogger will often times create snappy post titles that are fun and humorous to humans. But, after the post is off the front-page and well into the archives the best chance it may get of being read is from the search engines.

Because of the significance of title tags on search engines one must be mindful when selecting a title for each post. This is not to say that you should neglect your human viewers in order to please a bot; never do that. A balance must be struck.

The next time you are thinking about titling a post think about the keywords that may be used in the search engines later to find it. Then try to create a title that’s still pleasing and appropriate to humans, but also includes keywords for the search engines.

For further reading on the importance of Title tags read “Title Tags – A Search Engine Optimization Cornerstone.”

If you have a blog that is struggling, try implementing some of the suggestions given and hopefully you’ll start seeing it spring back to life.

[1] 21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic

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43 Responses to “10 Blogging Mistakes / Why Your Blog Struggles”

1 ses5909

Excellent tips Mark. Too often you see people write about what you SHOULD do when blogging, rather than what you SHOULDN’T do.

2 ses5909
3 Gamermk

*Post Titles = Title Tags

While many popular blogging platforms naturally make your heading also your title, this is not necessary and I would recommend completely against it.

Why strike a balance?

Make your headings snappy for humans and make your title tag perfect for search. There is absolutely no reason you cannot have the best of both worlds.

4 Golgotha

I like it Gamermk – nice call

5 DotNetNuke

Excellent article, i moderate my own postings, i double read it before make it public.

6 Friday Quick Links @ chrisg.com

[…] the Search-This team have a great post that all bloggers should read – Why Your Blog Struggles Since there’s no Chapter 11 for blogs to file – we really can’t measure the success rate of a […]

7 Nathania

If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, install the SEO Title Tag plugin – then you can create title tags that are different from your post titles – essentially having your cake and eating it too.

Also, if you want help with your blog by way of guest bloggers – check out Guest-Blogger.com

8 Roger Anderson

Does the use of a guest blogger help a site or dilute the writer’s brand image. If the writer was a unique voice or could have been one, then using an assistant could be like that single 4 star vote. You can never be perfect even if you have a 1000 5 star votes.

Just the same I will look into that.

So, on #2 I see th point IF the blog is a service but not if it is intended to be a single person’s point of view either to back a column, book, or other outlet of expression.

9 Golgotha

@Roger: Guest bloggers can be a welcome addition to a site. We have had some at Search-This and the experience has been great.

I wouldn’t use a guest blogger that I didn’t know or didn’t come highly recommended by someone I trust.

Also, make sure the guest blogger understands that the writing needs to be original work; not just a carbon-copy of a post on their own blog.

It looks like even Copyblogger has moved to a team based blog since writing the article.

10 BrainFuel » Chris’ Weekend Links - June 9th

[…] 10 Blogging Mistakes — Some good tips. […]

11 zoid

My blog is almost new, just blogging like three months in global world. I would like to have guest bloggers, but can’t trust anyone.

I want to offer article trades (both authors should write an unique content)

12 Golgotha

@zoid: basically trading articles IS guest authoring… You write for them and they write for you and I agree, only do it with someone you trust.

13 Mike Jezek

I think it would reduce the brand image.

[…] 10 Blog Mistakes / Why Your Blog Struggles – Seach-This […]

15 Oliver

Nice work, I might look into getting an editor now!

[…] ; and another one “Who Is Your Blog For?”From the Search-This team he is recommending this post that he says every blogger should […]

17   Links Roundup - July 17th 2007

[…] 10 Blogging Mistakes / Why Your Blog Struggles – Golgotha talks about 10 common blogging mistakes. […]

18 Paul B.

Excellent post. I’ve learned some great tips to take with me from this and will implement them on my blog.

19 Dojo

The only issue with this post would be that “pruning” thing. I still don’t think it would be a good idea, but on the other hand my blog is still small and I need all the content in it. I am sure that after I hit some hundreds of posts I will change attitude. Good information. If more people would take all this into account we’d have more good blogs to read.

20 Golgotha

@Dojo: When I talk about pruning I’m not just talking about removing old blog post, although if something is outdated and the information no longer applies then please do remove it.

When I talk about pruning, I don’t mean to prune away the living, but the dead. You would never want to remove successful pieces of a website, but if you have parts that are not converting and yet taking your time away from other parts then I would remove them and concentrate on the parts that are converting.

21 Patrick Burt

Great post! Shame I’m newer to this site and didn’t get a chance to read this a month ago. 🙁

22 Golgotha

@Patrick: never too late to make things right! Welcome to Search-This.

23 rob

thanks for the insight! I’m new to blogging and was sitting on the fence about some of these issues unitl I read your blog! very inspiring.

24 hulkcame

The first thing that came out of my mind on the first day i sign up for wordpress blog was “I am gonna help all those newbies that have to pay everything they need to know about blog” but overtime, it runs off. Reading your post have made me realized that the journey is all worth it and still far away from being achieved. Thanks for the great inspiration.

25 Kuldeep

It felt strange…in this i was reading quotes against adsense and there it was besides it.

26 Golgotha

@Kuldeep – there’s nothing wrong with making money from your blog. I just don’t feel that money is a good motivator. Also, this is an experiment more than anything else at this point.

[…] the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me 12 Marketing Tips, 11 Page View Techniques, 10 Blogging Mistakes, 9 Tips For Writing, 8 Smart Reminders, 7 WordPress Plugins, 6 Weeks of Blog Plan, 5 Traffic […]

28 Best of Search-This 2007

[…] 10 Blogging Mistakes / Why Your Blog Struggles […]

29 Court

I would add the fact that most people self destruct in the way they write. They let everyone know that they don’t know about their topic and don’t have confidence.

30 cinderella

I think this is very useful! Thank you for the great tips!

31 Boo!

Great post, very handy tips, I did notice the adsence thing myself but cant think of another way, any posts on that would be helpful 😉

32 Web Design Lincolnshire

Focus on what you enjoy and the money will follow later.

Good post

33 Alvin Nyau

It took me half an hour to completely digest this article, but it’s really worth it.

We should not wasting too much time on adsense before having a good traffic.

Great Tips!

34 Sunil

Excellent post Mark i like your idea of partnering other for your venture though not sure about Pruning my blog (m still scratching the surface )

35 Noclegi Ustka

Great post, very handy tips, I did notice the adsence thing myself but cant think of another way, any posts on that would be helpful

36 Yanto

Good article. I think it seems that you are talking about give first and take naturally later. I really agree with the devotion and hardworking. If Edison hadn’t tried 10000 material for making the light bulb, perhaps he wouldn’t be the first in making a successful bulb.

37 Blog Traficking « Student Page

[…] in the second article, the most important thing is to write about something you like in a way that others would like. you have to attract attention and keep it. seth godin 10 blogging mistakes […]

38 Steven

I agree that that blogs of the future are going to be run by teams, not individuals. I think it call web 2.0

39 Kumara

Yes, the team idea is a useful one. There is usually is only one thing a person is good at and can devote his energy to. If one person handles content, then another should work on the web design and another should handle the SEO, promotion and traffic etc.

40 mack

Yes,If you want to have a good rank in google. You must notice many things. Except the orginal content, the description, the keywords and the title is important too.

41 BOCO Creative

I like your phrase “prune your website” – it’s so dead on. Every blogger should occasionally review their categories to make sure there is a good balance of post at each. If your main category has 30 posts but another only 3 then there’s obviously a potential to trim what’s not bringing in results and concentrate on the part that you clearly have something to talk about.

42 Karl

Great post, I tend to review my blog almost every week, the only thing I have to find is a second editor , sometimes it really helps, as I’ve already experienced a second opinion and works.

43 Gavin from Laminas Window Film

So, on #2 I see th point IF the blog is a service but not if it is intended to be a single person’s point of view either to back a column, book, or other outlet of expression.

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