Over on the ProBlogger Facebook page Alix Spurlock asked:
How do I get inspired to write when I have < 5 readers? It seem kind of futile.
Image by -nathan
This is one of the hardest parts of starting a new blog for many bloggers. After putting the effort into choosing the right blogging platform, thinking about a topic to write about, choosing a theme/design and putting effort into your first posts – you look at your stats and you find that hardly anyone is reading.
The Night I Almost Gave Up Blogging
I remember the feeling clearly from my first few blogs.
I remember sitting at my computer one night starting at my first photography blog (no longer active) with my finger hovering over my mouse as I decided whether or not to kill the blog completely because despite putting hours into it every week it was getting no comments, few visitors and only making a couple of dollars a week.
I shudder to think what would have happened if I had in fact killed that blog – because it went on to become the blog that earned me a full time living and led to me starting ProBlogger and my 2nd and more successful photography site.
How to Keep Inspired as a Blogger
I’m not going to make this post a ‘how to find readers for your blog’ post as I’ve talked about that numerous times before (I’ll link to some of those at the end of this post). Instead I’d like to talk about ‘inspiration’ a little because it’s actually something that I think is applicable to more than just bloggers with not many readers – bloggers with blogs of all sizes struggle to stay inspired.
- Write for You – one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned as a blogger is that I need to blog about things that interest and inspire me. I’ve started more blogs than I can remember and many of them were started more out of dreams of large readership and profit than any genuine interest that I had in them. Those blogs are all dead now and the only that remain (and the only that were profitable) were blogs that I started because I wanted to explore the topic and read them. ProBlogger is perhaps the best example of this – it was the blog I wanted to read that nobody else was writing. I was writing as much for me as anyone else so even when nobody else was reading it at least I was learning something.
- Celebrate the Small Victories – often as bloggers we get distracted by the stories of big bloggers having big victories. Massive product launches, millions of readers, loads of comments, mentions in mainstream media, recognition and awards…. While it’s great that bigger blogs are achieving such big things sometimes as a smaller blogger your own experience can seem so small by comparison. The big wins of other bloggers can be quite inspiring, but so should your own smaller victories. In fact the small victories that you have can be harnessed to help you create momentum to grow your blog. Read more about this at Success in Blogging is Made of Little Victories.
- Get Excited, about Something Else – what gets you excited and inspired outside of blogging? As I look at my own levels of inspiration for blogging I’ve noticed that it is often when I’m feeling inspired about some other aspect of life that my energy for blogging can also increase. For me this often comes out of reading a book on some unrelated topic, or watching a movie or documentary, or having a great conversation, or doing something with my family that energises me. We all get excited by different things but get yourself in a positive frame of mind in some other area of your life and it might just impact other areas where you’re feeling a little low – like in your blogging.
- Take a Break – I asked my followers on Twitter what inspires them in their blogging and the most common response that came back was ‘take a break’. I’ve found this to be true too. it may have something to do with my last point about doing something else that excites you but I find that even a short break in the middle of the day can help me to come back to the task of blogging refreshed. I also find on a bigger picture level that taking regular longer breaks (weekends off and longer vacations) can also help (although sometimes it does take me a few days to get back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks off).
- Involve others – I’ve written numerous times about approaching blogging in tandem with others whether it be through finding a blogging buddy or starting some kind of blogging alliance. There’s something very powerful and motivational about having someone to bounce ideas off, to be accountable to and to collaborate with.
- Start a content project – I find that I’m often the most inspired when I’m starting something new. The problem with this is that the temptation is often to start a new blog which doesn’t really help take your existing one further. Instead of starting a new blog I recommend starting some kind of new internal content project ON your blog. This might be anything from a series of posts, a competition or perhaps writing a report or eBook for your readers. The good thing about doing this is that you’re not only doing something new that might energize you – you’re also doing something that potentially could bring in new readers to your blog and that will be of benefit to those you already have.
- Begin a learning project – something that I used to do when I got either bored, unmotivated or uninspired with my blogging was to commit myself to learning something new about blogging. This might include doing some free research on the web a topic like SEO, blog design etc or it could even be investing a little money into some kind of teaching resource. This is actually one of the reasons I started 31 Days to Build a Better blog – as a tool for bloggers to invest a full month in learning about small things that they could do on their blog to bring it life. While the lessons were designed to help people the main purpose of it was to see what would happen when people committed to improving their blog in some small way every day for a month. Much of the feedback I’ve had from people who completed it was that they saw it as a way to kick start their blog and get it back on track after periods of feeling uninspired and unmotivated.
Those are 7 ways that I’ve managed to keep myself inspired and motivated to keep blogging for 8 years – but I’d be keen to hear your suggestions also. You might also like to check out the suggestions of some of my followers on Twitter in this collection of their responses to my question on the topic.
Tips on Getting Traffic
As promised above – here are some links to some posts I’ve written on growing your traffic (which will hopefully also help you to be a little more inspired – there’s nothing like new readers to keep you moving forward with your blog)!
This is a great post. Thanks. It’s so hard to keep going sometimes when it feels like you’re going hard, but nobody believes in you, you don’t believe in yourself, and it feels like the long hours are just washing away your patience and draining your bank account (because you’re not making your money back).
Great, Motivational Tips Darren.
I really like the picture that you included in this post.
It shows how many people actually quit. It is a shame. This is just like when a person starts going to the gym at the start of Jan, and then quit after 3 weeks.
Why does this happen? Why do we not complete what we start? Why do we follow and select the easy way? Why is it easier to leave what we start and not see it through completion?
Hey, Darren, I’ve kind of reached that point where I’ve got some other things going on in my life and I’m not sure if I should keep blogging or not. At the moment, I’m taking a little break. But, my break has lengthened to a couple of weeks. I guess we all have to find that ultimate reason to continue. I think I’ll try suggestion #6 and start a new content project. Thanks for the advice and continued success.
Sorry, that was: and then quits after 3 weeks.*
I wish I had this couple months back. I maintain to stay steady all on faith that it was going to work out. This list you put together will give a lot of individuals motivation to continue with the dream they started and not seeing a whole lot of activity.
Completely agree with what you have said Darren, as long as one is writing something because they truly wanted to write about it, they can withstand disappointment better than had they only been writing for profit.
Not to mention, if you are writing about things you really care about, you will actually end up with content that would genuinely be respected and liked by your peers.
I like your point 1 the best and perhaps that is why what I wrote about it got partially erased as I was making some adjustments further down the comment. It is great
to know that one doesn’t have to be an expert on the subject already when he or she starts to blog about it and that one can blog while learning.
Point 2 is very important because comparison with the giants of the blogging world can be deadly as is almost any comparison of ones abilities with others when we are starting out. A small victory to me is receiving a comment from a happy reader.
Points 3 & 4: This is something that I feel needs to be emphasized. Even when we have other things that are exciting to us there is an ever present danger that we get so absorbed in the blogging game that we’ll forget about doing other things.
Thus in my case I sometimes neglect things that really energize me like playing the guitar, going for a walk or playing tennis. I find that taking time away from the computer pays several times over when I get back to it.
Point 5: I am working on this one. I do interact with other bloggers but do not have a real blogging buddy or alliance.
Point 6: Starting a content project sounds very good to me but that is something that I’ll have to give more thought to.
What to write about etc.
Point 7: Learning project to me is always in the process but to begin a new one is something that I’ll keep in mind for the future.
Thanks for this post and the inspiration.
#7 – Learning project – is probably the #1 thing that has kept me blogging through those times when it seemed as if things were going nowhere. There’s something inspiring and motivating about learning new things. I found myself getting excited to try out the things that I learned. That’s because no matter how much you think you know – there is always more to learn.
Reading is a wonderful way to stay inspired. I especially find value in reading things outside my usual area of interest. I’m always browsing different sections of the library/bookstore to see what’s out there that I’m not familiar with (yet!). It gets fresh blood into the brain.
“The Night I Almost Gave Up Blogging”
Can you just imagine Darren the path you may have taken if you did follow this path?
Probably working a 9 – 5 job that you might like a bit, but most likely in the back of your head you would of been wishing for a life you live now.
On a second note…….
When I first began blogging I never wrote for the write reason, in fact I just use to check my earnings all the time and never took time to appreciate it.
I now enjoy it so much more because of the fact I write for myself. I think it as well shows as you become more passionate for it as well.
These are great tips and it’s another timely post. How many blogs out there have fewer than 5K readers – probably a lot! I think it’s important for people not to get caught up on mass numbers, especially in the beginning.
Getting excited about something else is the thing that keeps me going.
This is something we all struggle with no matter what our level of blogging may be. We might get through the first lonely weeks of blogging but then want to quit when a launch flops or subscribers won’t budge above a certain point. It helps to hear that successful bloggers have had those same feelings.
In the comment section of one of my posts I said that Breaks + Balance + Baby Steps = Success. At the time, I was just being sort of goofy, but after reading your article, it doesn’t seem so goofy after all.
Much of staying inspired when blogging comes down to doing it because you feel that what you’re writing about is NOT being written about by anyone else. That’s why I started blogging and when blogging gets tough and inspiration seems to be running low, I just remind myself why I started blogging and that usually helps to get me going again.
There’s no getting around the truth that blogging is a daily grind. Yes, it’s tons of fun that can be very rewarding. But you don’t get any of the rewards if you don’t put the work or effort in. Blogging requires tons of dedication and you can’t do it alone. I always tell those who are thinking about starting a blog that you need a community to help you when you start and to keep you going.
Thanks for sharing Darren!
They say it’s important to make your job or business your hobby because you will probably still doing it although business is in low conditions.
The point is that you will still take those small jobs or orders sometimes do them unpaid or paid very small because you just naturally like to do it. Same comes with blogging.
Nice article Darren
I took a 3 month hiatus from blogging. I really needed a break. I did not intend for it to be so long but I did do better in school that semester. Ironically, taking a English course brought back my enthusiasm to blog again.
I wish my friend had seen this post before he stopped writing his blog.
How I personally stay inspired when things get tough, which admittedly doesn’t really happen anymore, but when it did…
I’d remind myself of my goal. I had a goal of reaching a certain email subscriber count, and because I focused heavily on providing value and building a positive relationship with my list, I knew that I’d be set as long as I simply built my list up to a certain point.
Whenever I felt discouraged along the way, I reminded myself of what I needed to do, and what it would be like when I got there. I reminded myself of the positive things and stayed optimistic… I blocked out any pessimism because I knew it wouldn’t do me any good.
Thanks for the engaging post, Darren :)
when things are going well for you and you’re feeling motivated and posting a lot,, draft a few extra posts that are not time sensitive but don’t post them. then when you’re not feeling like blogging, take a few days off, post your reserve posts and do something to get inspired.
Yeah, I went through a tough period earlier this year but just took a few weeks off and I’m now back on track.
Great post Darren, very inspiring, im more determined than ever to make sure my new blog works out this time around – i think 2 years of going nowhere on my first was just a trial run
The most interesting thing that you mention in this group on how to inspire is writing for ourself. Writing for one self and not for any one else is really great in a way. As at least you know you are writing good because it is great in a way that you re read the topic what you write .
Start in that way and then see how many readers follow slowly and slowly.
these are amazing tips, easy to apply and most of all honest, as I believe because you admit that you faced periods of “writer’s bock” and lack of success. And I embrace the idea of writing what intrigues me, we can’t please everybody. So writing authentically about subjects I have interest in might be a good way of writing attractive and valuable content. Thanks for sharing your tips.
A lot of helpful advice there Darren!
Inspiration makes everything flow so nicely.
Celebrating small victories makes a lot of sense to me. It’s about taking one step at the time and not trying to jump across the Atlantic…
When I get bored with writing content, I gladly spend a day reorganizing categories etc.
Sometimes you just need a break.
Thanks for this post Darren, it has made me take a long hard look at my blogging efforts and really I’ve been unmotivated mainly because other things get in the way, my focus is split between many other online projects that really I must try and focus on one thing at a time.
A helpful reminder this post has been for me, so cheers!
its great to see someone writing about something they really have passion on, a great post, I enjoyed the pic! Martin
I’d also like to point out that many of these doubts also come from my spouse–who questions the time and recources I’m putting in and the small return I’ve gotten back while just starting out. Sometimes you just have to continue on because it’s a passion and not worry about the returns.
I like start a new content project.
I hadn’t thought of in those terms but I do like writing a new series of blogs. It is usually on a subject I want to learn or a subject I have been collecting data for.
Writing on something new does keep me interested.
Thanks for sharing once again. In response to your question.
One way I get energized to write more is to go for a long hike on my own. I can only be a few hours out when I am searching for my pen and paper to write down something I have learned that I want to share.
Another way I stay motivated is that I write to leave a bit of a legacy for my children.
You see during my life I have had more than a few knock downs from family illness, self acceptance of damaging ideas and more. By sheer persistance and an overdose of resilience I have learned and grown. I want to make sure my children as well as other people I write for don’t have to endure these challenges.
When I started my blog, I didn’t know I need to attract a lot of attention. For once, I started my blog as my “hobby” and also my distraction from my problems. It helps me release my inner thought and my emotions. Then when I started my business blog, I realized that sharing what you know to other people is what matters. I am not really after how many people will make a comment or not. Or how many people will read, but for me I just write for myself and not for anybody else. Gives you the feeling of contentment and satisfaction.
These are great tips to remember when it gets tough. I gave up blogging in 2006, after blogging for 1.5 years. Now, I’m back into it full speed ahead. Take it from me, don’t give up because it’s much harder to pick it up again. Even if a month or two goes by without a post, get back on the horse before a year goes by. The more time you allow between posts, the harder it is to pick it up the momentum again.
I exercise when I feel a bit uninspired but I need to finish a post and I only have a few minutes to get ready. Sometimes, only 10 to 15 minutes of jogging or any type of light work out gets the blood pumping and wakes up the mind.
One of the best, and easiest ways, to stay inspired is simple – think of the end result.
If you KNOW that it’s possible to achieve something of value to you in the end, no matter how hard the journey is, it is worthy of being achieved. Even more, think of what you’ve put in – what you’d be loosing by quitting. Great post, Darren!
This was a really cool post. I never thought you had a problem with readership or traffic. Personally I fall victim to starting new blog after new blog letting my older blogs die. I finally set my final blog up which is in combination with a static website. I left room on the static site for setting up a directory, forum, or any other project I might want to do. I guess I am lucky because my passion is making money online I have wanted to do it and learn about it for years. I also love SEO and internet marketing so creating a blog about those two subjects combined worked out great. I noticed that the majority of MMO blogs out there usually die, but I think that as long as I don’t lose my passion my blog will keep moving forward. Anyway it is great to hear about your experiences when you first started it gives hope to me and I am sure other beginning bloggers.
Great Post Darren, I can relate to what you have listed in there, especially for the first point to “Write for You”.
I too have had many blogs which were started and stagnated because I started them with dreams of how big they could be.
I now treat my post as future references for me, that I can refer back to every now and again.
Also a noteworthy mention is to have a plan when blogging and what better way than to use the 31 days to build a better blog which you have written. I was doing it for a while and it was exciting as everyday was a different challenge. The only difficulty I had with that was that I don’t normally have 31 straight days to work on the blog. I’m going to do it again but this time spread each day over a week. Slower, but I’ll get there :)
I admit that I feel like quitting. I’m at the dreaded first six months of blogging point where most bloggers seems to quit their blog.
Not about to do that yet because like point no. 6 above, I have a project (related to the blog) going on. I guess you are right, Darren. A project can keep you motivated.
Thanks for the motivation :). This helps me a lot. I currently have 2 blogs of which one is related to cricket. I started it in 2008. I posted regularly in the early stages. But, I’m unable to post regularly in recent times. I thought of quitting it. I am posting only 2-3 posts a month these days. And even after almost 2 years, it is not getting the expected traffic. Any suggestions on this?
Thanks and Regards.
but how to keep the post quality so i don’t have to worry noone read my post?
Great tips for staying inspired for blogging,
I would like to add a few more,
In a nutshell stay off the junk and eat more raw foods. I even use a superfood like spirulina and wheat grass for an added boost.
By going to a weekend seminar you get away from the four blogging walls of your home office and meet new people. The speakers at seminars are often inspiring too.
CREATE A DREAM BOARD.
By cutting out pictures from magazines of what you want to achieve, and by sticking them upon a large artist like canvass board, this begin to turn dreams into reality bit by bit.
Thanks Darren for great advice. It’s good to know that pro blogger like you could felt uninspired at times and greater to know I’m not alone.
One effective way for me is to revisit my goal and the list of tasks I’ve accomplished. In the mid of it, I may find something I need to get it done to get my goal closer but was delayed for some reasons. It’s good way to bring me back on track and feel inspired again because I’m another step closer to my goal.
One thing that I found helpful is writing about motivation topics. In one way or another it’s not just for the readers, it also helps ourself to keeps on blogging. Especially when we are in low energy of blogging, starting a motivation post can be really helpful.
Thanks for the tips, being a new blogger and staying inspired can be quite a big challenge, just got my hands on your 31 Days to Build a Better blog book. Will now also try to implement the above points in to my blogging life.
Thanks for this post, I’ll save it for when I have those gloomy moments! My blog is just 2 weeks old and just yesterday over a period of 12 hours my emotions went from feeling down (no page views when I woke up) to feeling joyous (tens of page views and my first guest post accepted with a nice compliment!) I’m not going to give up, it’s important work we’re doing here!
Darren, I really like these helpful and specific suggestions, particularly #3. Getting excited about something else carries over into blogging. And, as you and several commenters say, reading books on various topics is a great way to get excited about something else. I read a lot and have a category (Biblio Philes) on my blog for book reviews.
Your #5 tip about blogging buddies or a supportive community is essential. Nothing motivates better than help and support from others on everything from small technical matters to large issues about the scope of one’s blog. I couldn’t keep going without it.
Funny thing that I received this blog topic today because I was just thinking the same thing! I go to my laptop every night and try and get motivated to write more on this particular blog. I get sidetracked, I get writers block, and then I get frustrated and give up for the night. I found myself today thinking about what motivates me and I did find an answer, so I’ve written a list about all the topics within the topic and hopefully I can get this together rather quickly! Ask and you shall receive! I need to ask for a lot more than that though! Thanks.
Awesome advice Darren! One thing I’ve done recently to stay inspired to blog is to STOP checking my Google Analytics stats altogether.
I realize this might sound counterintuitive, but for me, not checking Analytics for the last two months has been way better for keeping me motivated to write than when I was checking my stats every few days, and seeing either a very tiny uptick in traffic, or none at all! Because that can be discouraging. ; ) It’s like you say, sometimes you just have to write for yourself.
I fully plan to go back to checking my stats on a weekly basis in a very short while, but for now, I want to concentrate on the high-impact activities like creating content for my blog, and writing up the content for an e-course I plan to offer. And then when I do go back to checking my stats, I will keep it all in perspective!
4.Take a Break
This is exactly what I did. I am in the 0-5 readers a day phase of my blog.
After 6 months of Joomla, WordPress, themes, templates ,HTML, CSS, Facebook, Twitter, 3T forum, SEO, etc, etc.-I quit.
For a week anyway-to make my wife a big kitchen table.
As I sawed, planed and sanded life returned and I am ready again.
My direction is more clear to me and ides are popping out all over the place.
Thanks for sharing the near death experience of your first photo blog-It is a comfort.
I would usually pick my favorite points in a list and comment on those, but I like every point you made…well done!!
Love these tips and wish that I had them as a list without having to discover them on my own, the hard way. They have been incredible useful. I have also discovered that it take very little to become re-inspired by the work I have been doing, which creates just enough space between me and the delete button.
I guess the most powerful element in doing things including blogging is the passion. And yes – you had mentioned about it. We write and blog to share our ideas and explore new things on particular niche and honestly passion motivates me to keep blogging and continue to learn more new things on the niche that I write.
Thanks Darren for the inspiring post!
Currently I am celebrating that I got 9 visitors in one day.