This guest post is by Brian Milne, a longtime sports blogger and founder of the BallHyped Sports Blogging Community.
We’ve all been there.
You’ve been blogging for months, even years, and your blog is going nowhere fast. Traffic is stagnant. Your subscriber count has dropped off. AdSense is paying just that: cents per day.
So what’s a blogger to do when they hit “the wall?” The most important thing to remember is that every blogger hits it. The key is to break through that wall or scale over it.
To overcome the wall, you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the question: Have you outgrown your blog, or have you failed to grow with your blog?
Like our blogging platforms (WordPress, for example, has two or three major updates each year), individual bloggers have to evolve as well.
If your blog has plateaued because of a lack of promotion (are you spending as much time marketing your blog as you do writing for it?), content development (have you tried complementing your writing with images, podcasts, video?), SEO improvements (are you using keyword phrases in titles, opening paragraphs, subtitles, captions, and attachment file names?), then it’s on you to grow.
But if your blog has plateaued because your niche is too niche, it’s time your blog’s subject matter evolved.
How niche is too niche?
In today’s saturated blogosphere, all the talk is about niche sites, and niche is a great way to make a quick buck impact: getting your site to rank quickly for super specific keyword phrases, and making a name for yourself in a small industry or at a local level.
But is that micro-level impact your long-term goal for your blog? Or are you looking for something more?
Don’t limit yourself. If your existing blog is going to be a major part of your life, your business, and your brand long term, you need to think long term.
Can you crush through “the wall” with better, or more content? Can you add topics or categories to your blog without it feeling bloated or misplaced?
If so, it’s time to write about something different, which is the easiest way to hurdle the blogging barrier. Write about new topics, with a fresh set of keyword phrases, and it’s only a matter of time before Google starts sending you fresh visitors based on those search terms.
But if, deep down inside, you feel your blog has a shelf life, and you’re unable to expand your content with additional categories under the existing title or URL, it’s time to move on … and redirect/roll up your existing content into a category or tag on a new blog with a broader range of topics. That, in some cases, might be the only way you’ll ever smash through the wall and set yourself up for long-term success.
A smashing success
Suggesting a friend, colleague or family member ditch an existing blog for something bigger isn’t an easy thing to do. And I’d never encourage it unless that blogger knew in their gut they had outgrown it.
I underwent that gut check a few years back when I ditched a somewhat popular regional fishing blog and forum in favor of a statewide fishing site. While that site attracted a much larger audience, and gave me hundreds of new fishing destinations to write about, I quickly realized I was still limiting myself keeping the blog within California’s borders.
But I still had room to grow as a blogger, and instead of rushing out to start a national fishing blog—and redirecting all of my content, again—I focused on developing the content I had. I went from writing a couple posts a week, to writing multiple posts per day. I brought on user-generated content and even created my first ebook.
Next thing I know, I’m signing on with No-Nonsense Fishing Guides to write a second edition of that book for print. That led to another book deal with Wilderness Press, and later, a paid blogging position to cover national and international fly fishing topics for About.com.
I took the same route with my sports blogs, starting off with a Blogger site focused on a small local college, before moving on to create a popular West Coast sports blog, and then the national sports blogging community, BallHyped.com.
So there’s something to be said for building up your expertise on your niche blog, and expanding on those experiences for a larger audience. Just make sure you’re not leaving behind a blog and a niche that has huge growth potential in itself.
Make the move
What’s your gut telling you as you read this?
Is there still room to grow on your current blog? If so, use this opportunity to develop your content and take your blog to the next level.
Or have you outgrown your blog, and feel a need to expand your blogging horizons? If this is the case, you’ve probably been thinking about it for quite some time.
Now the only question that remains is: What are you waiting for? The best thing you can do if you’ve seriously considered expanding your blog is to just do it. Instead of writing another post for a lame duck blog, channel that energy into your new site, because it’s going to take some time to get it set up, alert your existing community, and redirect all of your awesome niche content.
But if you do it the right way, that wall will come crashing down in no time at all.
Have you outgrown a blog? I’d be interested in hearing how you overcame the wall in the comments below.
A former McClatchy senior writer and web editor, Brian Milne has taken his own advice today and is launching the BLOGhyped.com blog promotion network, where bloggers of all genres can share their blogs, get followed links and additional blogging resources. For consultation and content development services, contact Milne via Twitter @BMilneSLO.