Starting out with a new blog can be extremely daunting – even for experienced webmasters. The possibility of all your hard work ending up in the domain name heaven, because you lose interest, or traffic to your site isn’t what you initially predicted can be really offputting.
It’s easy to get stuck in a traffic rut as well, with your site showing no real signs of growth, and you can start asking yourself whether its time to let it go, and expire the domain.
Well before you do so, here’s a few of my own thoughts to help you push through, and grow.
If you are no longer in love with the subject matter, then it might be time to move on to something else. Many new blogs and websites fall by the wayside because they have lost their passion. If you have a keyword domain that limits the direction you take the website, then if you no longer have the drive and commitment to work at it – then let it go.
No point throwing good money after bad. That said, if you’ve been building content for three months or more, then it’s possible that you just have writers block. If you’ve managed to consistently enjoy writing for three months regularly, then you can continue indefinitely.
Back to the drawing board. I’ve blogged before about ways of generating fresh ideas for blog content so you can sit down and evaluate if there is more to talk about within your chosen niche, or whether a particular topic you’ve blogged about before could be expanded upon.
Once you’ve been blogging for a while (and by a while I mean about 6 months+), I’ve found it useful to go back over some of the topics I’ve written before, and try and fill the holes around particular subjects mentioned. I find that sometimes as I’m writing content, the supporting content idea takes over, and I have to come back to the original idea at a later stage.
Every big blog and website out there, has what is known as flagship content. This is the material that you can hang your hat on, and say to others – “yes it took me two weeks to write”. A lot of wins on the web, are not from writing MORE content than someone else, but simply writing more detailed stuff. Meaty articles, that will attract incoming links. Think along the lines of “if I was starting out doing x or y – what would I want to read about?”
If you have 10-15 articles that you are really proud of, then you are off to a good start. Promoting these down your sidebar, or using a plugin such as Popular posts, helps to establish you as an authority, and someone worth listening to. This sort of content can be promoted through various social means and methods, further increasing your exposure and profile.
Go in a new Direction
What has worked for you in the past? What sections of your site are attracting people and encouraging them to stay? You have to figure out the answers to those questions by looking at your website statistics package. Learn from your visitors and push through the dip. This is hard when you’ve just started out, as you’ll have no real traffic to monitor. So perhaps ask a friend for their opinion.
Or perhaps carry out an online survey. As I mentioned earlier something like the popular posts plugin for WordPress should give a you an indicator of visitors taste. Blog categories are a great analytics metric, as they give an overview of a particular subject area that you are blogging about. If the site isn’t a blog is there any way that you can integrate user generated content?
Bring someone else on board
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, you should encourage guest posts from other bloggers, friends and relatives. They may even stumble across a related topic that works really well, and carves out a new niche for you. The majority of bloggers (around 78%) manage their blogs on their own, (according to the state of the blogosphere report 2008 from Technorati). However around 1 in 10 corporate bloggers pay staff to contribute to their blogs, if this is an option for you, do it. You never know what ideas for blog posts they may come up with. It also promotes an ethos of shop floor thinking within your corporation.
When the going gets tough…Well you know the rest. Dig deep, and make a conscious effort to get moving on your particular idea, and don’t hesitate. The harder you work at something, the more likely it is to succeed. Remember you are facing tough competition to get traffic to your site – there’s only like (tens of billions) of other websites out there.
It’s always better to work smarter, than to work harder. Establish yourself or your business in a niche market, and fish where the fish are. The reason larger sites are large, is primarily because they were there first, and got a head start on everyone else. You don’t really want to try and compete for traffic with a site that has ten authors posting two articles a day of stellar content. You can however outmaneuver a larger site in the search engines if you concentrate on a smaller topic area and specialise within that area.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’ve got the next big idea on your hands. Blogging or website creation isn’t new now. You can no-longer afford tothink that if you build it riches will follow. We’ve all done it. Thinking you have the next big win onyour hands and having raised expectations of a site’s potential growth – only sets you up for a fall.
Watching site visitors trickle in slower than you expected can fill you with a dismay. Get real, and set realistic goals for your site to achieve, and build things piece by piece over time.
Be patient and have belief in yourself and your content. Over time surely, (and probably slowly) the traffic will come. Remembering that building an online business is a marathon and not a sprint.