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Sailing vs Rowing (or how to get your Blog going when it loses Momentum)

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of September 2006 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

‘When the Wind Stops Blowing, Start Rowing’ – Darby Checkett, “Leverage

Have you ever felt like the wind in your blogging ‘sails’ disappeared? Perhaps it’s time to start ‘rowing’.

Wind in Your Blogging Sails

SailingOver my three years of blogging there have been many times where it felt like the wind was blowing and my blogs were moving forward at fast speed – almost without me doing anything to make it happen at all.

Perhaps you know the feeling?

You get in the groove with your writing, ideas just come, the writing of them is easy, readers respond, people link up, viral like traffic comes…. you feel on top of the world and blogging is a real joy.

Most bloggers have felt the wind blow at one time or another to some level. I still remember the first time it happened to me just a few weeks into my first blog when another blogger noticed me for the first time and sent me readers. For the first time people who were not family members or close friends were reading what I had to say. In the scheme of things it was just a handful of readers – but I didn’t care, my blog had caught a gust of wind and it felt good.

It’s a feeling that has happened numerous times over the years. Sometimes in relatively small ways and other times where it got so windy that it felt like it was blowing a gale!

When The Wind Stops

Still-WatersHowever for every moment where the wind has blown on my blogs there have been 10 where there was barely a breeze and they felt almost dead in the water.

I’m sure most bloggers know this feeling also….

You can’t come up with anything to write about, bloggers block settles in, your readership seems to disappear over night, the search engines stop indexing you, something breaks on your blog and you wonder what you’re doing it all for.

I remember many times like this. One of the worst of them was the day my blogs fell out of the search engines just in time for the Christmas rush (something I’d been working towards for months). Traffic dropped significantly, comments dried up, earnings almost disappeared and I found myself with a massive dose of bloggers block.

Start Rowing

RowingSailing with wind in your sails is a wonderful feeling. The efforts you do put in seem to be amplified as you’re propelled along by an external force that you have little control over. However it’s something that shouldn’t ever be taken for granted as in every blogger’s life there will come a time where the only way to move forward is to pick up some oars and start rowing.

Rowing a boat takes hard work and for the uninitiated (like me) it takes a lot of energy. Sometimes when you’re rowng it feels like you’re not getting anywhere.

‘Rowing’ a blog is similarly hard work. It’s no wonder that I see many bloggers giving up on their blogs when the going gets tough and when they realize there is no wind in their sails. It’s something I understand and have felt, having given up on numerous occasions – however sometimes rowing would have been a better option.

For example in the time I described above when I found my blogs dead in the water after problems with how they were being indexed in Search Engines I spent a few days moping around feeling sorry for myself and getting down. I considered throwing it all in for a day or two but then realized that it was time to get back to work.

I’d been taking the wind of SE traffic for granted for too long and made a decision to work my butt off to add different sources of traffic. I began to row…

For me ‘rowing’ meant numerous things including:

  • building relationships with others in my niche – I began to talk more to them and do projects with them which in turn brought traffic
  • writing content that was more useful – I renewed the efforts that I put into writing content that was more helpful to readers
  • increasing my posting frequency – I realised that my posting frequency had dropped and that I needed to get my posting rate up a little
  • SEO – I didn’t give up on search engine traffic and decided in this time to do a little research into how SE’s ranked sites and made a few tweaks
  • diversification – I started a number of new blogs on different domains and on different topics at this time and decided never to rely upon one income source again
  • developing reader loyalty – I started a number of programs to build reader loyalty into my blogs including competitions and newsletters

Some of the above worked well, other parts didn’t – however over the coming weeks and months I began to move my blogs out of the windless patch of the blogosphere that I had found myself in. I did it through sheer hard work and in time began to feel things pick up again.

‘Rowing’ in a blogging sense will no doubt mean different things to different people. What I did in getting my blogging going again won’t work for everyone (each blog is different and in the last couple of years the blogosphere has changed a lot and become a different place) but the principle of hard work in building a blog up doesn’t change.

If the Wind has Gone out of Your Blogging Sails maybe it’s time to pick up the oars and get back to some of the basics of blogging in an attempt to get the momentum back again.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. Nice metaphor, Darren. We’re just putting up a sailing blog so we’ll be bearing it in mind :-)

  2. That was an awesome post Darren, and I love those pictures – where do you get them from? I noticed in your other posts that your pictures tied in perfectly with what you were saying. Is it just Google Images?

  3. Nice post Darren. Adnan…the photos are from flickr.com…click on any of them to see.

  4. This Blog is still maintaining a very good information with very interesting articles for the majority of visitors dedicated for this kind of knowledge, so it’s a pleasure often visit it, so I hope and wish that you’ll keep this Blog at this high level of quality. As I am an author of another knowledged financial Blog ( not only ) I like to share this kind of congratulations with my creative colleagues, because I know the work that costs to keep this information blogs always updated and with high quality to provide the best to the visitor, so many thanks Problogger.


  5. Lindalee says: 09/01/2006 at 4:58 am

    That was interesting. Thank you.

    Love your site. I am just starting a blog, and always learn something when I visit here.

  6. Yes, indeed. I’ve found it critical to make the most of that time when the wind *is* in the sails – especially when the new wind means a spike in traffic. :)

  7. Great post Darren – one of my faves in the last few weeks. For SEO, I just found out about HitTail (hittail.com). It analyzes the keywords users use to find you, then offers ways to incorporate those keywords so that you can own that part of the ‘long tail’. It’s been only a few days, so I have yet to see results. Hopefully they are good – it’s a tool with great potential. :)

  8. The obssessive “external” focus on site traffice and stats can easily demoralize you when your blog is not going anywhere. I understand that you need traffice to make money but there also needs to be a balance with the “passion” factor.

    Consider the following:

    “Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.” – Cyril Connolly

    “The Audience Of One is the single most important principle behind creating a blog – or anything – that is fresh, interesting, and compelling.”

    So when your blog is not going anywhere, just write as if you are writing for yourself and sing as if no one is listening.

    I think the blogs that will survive and have longevity are those that have a passion beyond just making money.

  9. Very nicely said GBT :)

  10. Excellent post here. I’m kind of going through a downturn with a couple of my blogs now, so reading your words has been very helpful. I definitely think I need to get back to the basics. Thanks for the timely reminder!

  11. […] I just read an interesting post by Darren Rowse. It’s about pushing forward when the world pushes you back. It’s about going against luck or whatever you call it with sheer determination. It’s also about not sitting back when the wind is in your sails. Excellent post, using the analogy of sailing when the wind stops blowing. Read the full post here. […]

  12. My blogs get their best speed when I create series’ posts, as you’ve described how to do in the past.

    For example, next week my series is all about marketing ideas based on photographs captured in New York City. With a series, readers are more apt to stay tuned and return long after the series is done.

    I think that many bloggers, like anyone else, want instant gratification. We’re prone to quit the moment it seems no one’s listening. Your suggestions should be used as part of a long-term plan. That’s the only way to get and keep momentum.

  13. Great suggestions and timely for me as well. I’m starting a new blog on my own domain finally and with all the work of setting it up (as well as working full time, family, etc), I haven’t had as much time to spend on content, networking, and the rest.

  14. […] I came across a timely reminder on problogger.net regarding how to deal with the times when blogging slows down. Lately, I’ve been caught up in getting this new site up and running and making decisions about layout, etc, and I haven’t been able to post as much as I would have liked. There’s also a lot of uncertainty about changing domain names and everything else. […]

  15. […] Sailing vs Rowing (or how to get your Blog going when it loses Momentum) […]

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