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Understanding the Blog Lifecycle To Prevent Common Downfalls

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of May 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In this post Jeff from BuzzMyBlog.com examines the life cycle of a blog and gives some tips on how to buck the trend and keep your blog growing over the long haul.

The average blog does not stick around for a long time. Sure, a couple big name blogs continue to reach new heights year after year. Out of the 175,000 new blogs created each day, however, very few will make it past three months. In order to figure out why the blog mortality rate is so high, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the life cycle of a typical blog. Perhaps by studying common blog activities that occur over time, we can get a better idea of why blogs fail and what can be done to keep them alive and growing.

Blog Traffic Over Time

The graph below represents the amount of traffic a typical blog receives over time. The yellow numbers on the graph represent “hypothetical posts” with certain activities that a typical blogger will engage in along the way. These activities are important in determining whether a blog will fail or flourish. Each one is discussed below.

Traffic V Time

The lifecycle of a blog

1Hello World, Welcome To My Blog

Without a doubt, this is the very first post every single newbie blogger makes. Basically they are announcing to the world that they do, in fact, have a blog. It doesn’t take very long before the blogger grows concerned and wonders why no one has visited it, not realizing that there is practically no reason on earth why anyone actually would.

2EntreCard Is The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Not long after their first creative masterpiece kicks off their journey into the blogosphere, the typical blogger actually begins to learn a few things. They start reading other blogs in their niche and realize just how crowded their niche really is. They post a few articles that contain the exact same thing that every blog before them also wrote about after two weeks. Usually it has something to do with how great EntreCard traffic is. It usually includes a screenshot of their first spike in traffic. The blogger is ecstatic because people are actually visiting his or her blog. Whether people are actually reading it is another question.

3Top 10 Ways to Skin a Cat

At this point, the blogger is really picking up a few tricks of the trade. Perhaps they have discovered Digg or StumbleUpon and begin their quest for the illustrious viral post. They realize that top ten lists are often popular with social media sites and are good for a quick whirlwind of traffic. A few of them might even get lucky here and experience their first server crash because their $3.99 hosting plan can’t handle a few hundred visitors from Digg.

4Win a Free Xbox 360

Jackpot. After a month or two of blogging, the not-so-newbie blogger has discovered the holy grail of attracting visitors – bribe them with the promise of gold and riches. They hold an exciting contest on their blog asking visitors to comment, subscribe to their feed, link to their site, and sell their soul for a chance to win one of $263.00 in prizes. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it actually works. Traffic is at an all time high, the blogger is pumped, they are ready to take down the A-Listers.

5Why I Hate EntreCard

At this point, reality starts to sink in. The blogger has used up all the tricks in the book and is no longer attracting a record number of visitors. Traffic starts to decrease as the blogger realizes that he or she actually needs to publish something of substance. Perhaps in their moment of clarity they see the light and realize that social media traffic isn’t always that valuable. In fact a third of their traffic might have been nothing more than “drive-by clickers” trying to rack up credits for the latest and greatest social media racket. To prove to the world that they have seen the light, they vow to focus on quality content and avoid time consuming gimmicks. Traffic decreases further.

6Britney Spears Is My Baby Mama

The blogger is now desperate. Unable to think of anything inspiring to write about, they resort to off-topic drivel that has nothing to do with their blog. Their blog is on its last legs and gasping for air as the author starts to become frustrated and loses interest. Blog posts become less frequent and traffic continues its downward spiral. The blog is at a critical point – will it fight to see another day or will it continue its slow death and become another statistic. Its three months are up.

How To Keep Your Blog Growing

At point 6 and beyond, it is up to the blogger as to whether their blog will live or die. They can give up and move onto the next thing that catches their attention (Guitar Hero?). Or they can decide to stick with it and fight through the difficult times. Those that choose the latter option will find that with some patience, determination, and yes unfortunately…some hard work, their fledgling blog can develop into a solid online presence that that people enjoy reading day after day. With time and patience comes practice. Eventually writing becomes easier and topics are not as difficult to uncover. The blog finds its voice and writing can become passionate again.

It is not easy to maintain a successful blog. For those who are willing to put in the hard work and dedication, the following tips might help them prevent the downward death spiral.

  • Focus on quality content. Stop wasting all your time discovering the latest and greatest Web 2.0 app. All the time you spend messing around on the web you could be using to focus on your blog. I don’t care what anyone else says. Ultimately, the very best thing you can do for your blog is to focus on writing something people will enjoy reading and want to return for more of.
  • Schedule Routine Posts. After time it does become difficult to think of new post ideas. Setting a schedule of post topics is a great way to make it easier on you. For example, every Monday my blog publishes its Weekly Buzz blog review. Wednesdays I try to publish serious articles about improving your blog. Then on Fridays I like be a little more interactive and post something to involve my readers, like a poll, an interview, or something that sparks a discussion. Knowing what theme you should write about that day helps narrow down the options and keeps you focused.
  • Write A Blog Series. This technique is very helpful and is used often here at ProBlogger. Write about something that cannot be covered in a single post. This gives you a chance to get your readers hooked and anxious to come back for more. It gives you, the author, the chance to prepare posts for the next five or six days. A perfect example is Darren’s recent series on increasing your AdSense earnings.
  • Run a Worthwhile Contest. Contrary to what I said earlier, contests actually can be a good way to build and maintain your blog’s momentum. If you run a contest though just make sure it is done for a good reason. Don’t just ask your readers to write about you or subscribe to your feed. What is in it for them? Ask them to take a survey or to participate in an experiment, or something else that you can then write about after the fact. Your readers will appreciate that they actually get something out of the contest even if they don’t win.

In the end, it really is up the owner whether the blog will survive beyond the typical three month lifespan. I hope this article was helpful in pointing out where many blogs tend to fail and what can be done to prevent that from happening.

Happy Blogging!

This post is a guest post from Jeff at BuzzMyBlog.com, a blog about bloggers helping bloggers to become more successful. It is the home of the Weekly Buzz offering free blog reviews and weekly prizes. Sign up for the RSS feed to stay up to date on the latest buzz.

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.
Comments
  1. Great post Jeff. Just shows you have to hang in there to see some sort of result.

    Oh and I’m still at #2. Long live EntreCard! (not…)

  2. Clement says: 05/19/2008 at 12:19 am

    Excellent post – I know why my first blog failed dramatically.

  3. Jeff, that was a truly excellent read. It was refreshing to hear somebody tell it how it is, rather than telling the masses exactly what they (we) want to hear.

    I’ve already used this quote in a comment today, but it rings very true here so I’ll paste it again. The greatest words that ever came out of Muhammad Ali’s mouth…

    “What counts in the ring is what you can do after you’re exhausted. The same is true of life.”

    The same is true of life, and the same is true of blogging. What counts is what you do when you reach point #6. Do you fall down and curl up in a ball, or do you push and rekindle the spirit for blogging?

    Thanks for the excellent post, Jeff.

  4. This is an amazing post. I’ve experienced many of the things that this article has emphasized and I’m fighting to get through it. I think I’ve done a pretty good job… got over my head at first, but now I’m working on getting back to doing things the right way, with quality content.

  5. It is indeed an excellent post. Nice work, Jeff.

  6. Great post! Thank you.

    Whether people are actually reading it is another question.

    Good question, and it’s why I pay more attention to the time readers spend on my site and the number of page views than just the total number of hits.

  7. Great post! The line which really jumped out at me was:

    “Ultimately, the very best thing you can do for your blog is to focus on writing something people will enjoy reading and want to return for more of. ”

    This is what I’ve been striving to do for The Office Diet right from the beginning. Although it’s been slow progress, I’m gradually getting more subscribers, readers, links and so on. I’ll have been going for five months come the end of May, so I think I’m past that critical 3 month point and it now seems easier to carry on than to give up…

    I completely agree with you about scheduling posts and using series, too; both have worked very well for me. Haven’t tried a contest yet, but I’m tempted to do one now!

    Ali

  8. On behalf of the many thousands of us out here who are struggling to produce superficial and useless blogs, I would like to register profound my profound outrage at the opinions expressed above. When are self-deluded and clueless individuals such as myself going to start earning some respect on the blogosphere, for crying out loud?

    Okay. Just kidding. My blog is seven weeks old and counting.

  9. Hilarious and right to the point. Just when you think meta meta meta blogging is cooked, a new flambe comes out of the kitchen. A remarkable post!

    That chart is a very useful intuition pump and I’m glad you offered those four specific suggestions.

    It would be kind of cool if we had a website that showed that chart in realtime for the entire blogosphere. What would that look like? Any takers?

  10. Nice one Jeff! I enjoyed reading that. It’s all very true as well. Luckily I’ve made it out of the 3 month crisis point. :) My blog now seems ti be growing slowly but surely.

  11. Very much valid to say starting the blog could be a child play and keeping it alive and successful is a task which need patience and sincerity.

    Good post.

  12. Thanks for this post!

  13. This was quite amusing, I say this only because that is exactly how it happens to unsuccessful blogs. I love the headlines and the way Jeff writes, I’ll be checking out his site soon! Great post, you sure know how to pick em Darren!

  14. Good one! I agree that I have to sack EntreCard right away. The visitors from them are mostly ‘click gatherers’ – total pointless.

    I haven’t tried to run a contest before – so my question would be, when is the right time to run your first contest?

    Thanks for the great post!

  15. That is so so true! What really caught my attention is wehne you said ” Stop wasting all your time discovering the latest and greatest Web 2.0 app.” It’s funny, because that’s exactly what I have been doing. I have found myself recently been spending more time side tracking and looking for web tip and tricks instead of actually focusing on my blog. Thanks for your insight! To all your success!

  16. ha — love the life cycle. funny because it’s so true.

  17. Great post. I’ve always found the balance between providing generally good information and trying to attract big traffic interesting. It’s hard to get discovered without it, but when you only focus on the linkbait stuff, you can drive away regular readers who may enjoy that somewhat, but want something of more substance.

  18. I don’t know, I don’t necessarily agree with this cycle as presented here. There are other ways to promote blogs that continue to attract new visitors that you did not mention here.

  19. Darren…..As the time goes by ( and it moves really fast) a blogger has to cope up with the daily work grind as well, and the passion for the blog fades.

    You are indeed a Pro Blogger as you have described the cycle quite aptly….The kind of depth your thinking has is wonderful. I have spent over a year reading your blog, and you never cease to amaze me.

    You must have heard this several times before, but you are the example to follow if any blogger wants to succeed.

    Thanks for being an inspiration!!

  20. Also I noticed that the post is written by Jeff from BuzzMyBlog. My Apologies, I thought Darren wrote this.

    Great work Jeff! And Thanks Darren for letting him share this wonderful post with us, on your blog!

  21. To be mistaken for Darren’s writing truly is a great honor. Thank you for the kind words Vikram, and thank you everyone else for the great comments.

  22. Absolutely excellent post Darren and has most blogs down to a tee.

    Thanks Darren
    Carl

  23. It’s all just another face of the short-term superficial vs. long-term deep mindsets. Our culture is so hooked on looking for quick fixes, yet they rarely work in the long run. Unfortunately, they work just often enough and get publicized so widely when they do that tons of people then get stuck aiming at the rare lottery-type fantasy. I’d like to believe that even in these times, slow, steady and passionate wins the day more often. It’s a crucial issue for bloggers and for the whole society.

  24. Doh, I think my original comment got eaten by Akismet, lol… that’ll teach me for putting a link in there.

    Anyway, as I tried to say before, the only bit I could add is that maybe the curve between points 1 and 2 should be a lot flatter, but otherwise I thought it was great and loved the article (like the look of Jeff’s blog too, reading it now).

    I’ve also commented on it in more detail on my blog. Cheers.

  25. this article hit right on the nail when it comes to the pediatric life of a blog. I was reading it and laughing at the same time because it sound like a diary of myself that I had written long when I started blogging. my blog is almost 1 year old and still going, even though I have had ups and downs on the way.

    I liked this article very much. now I’m subscribed to your blog Jeff. keep on rocking guitar hero. you too Darren thanks for letting these kind of people share their knowledge and make your blog a blessing for us.. you know I love you, baldie.

  26. #6 is commonly called “jumping the shark” and is part of the lifecycle of all kinds of media.

  27. Great Post Jeff! When you hinted to me about a guest post I had no clue it would be on such a big blog. I’ve started reading your blog about a month before I started my own and I must say reading your articles have helped out a TON!

    I can’t help but notice that I’ve stepped in a few of the pitfalls mentioned. A time or two I thought you were writing about me. LOL! Seriously though running a blog is a balancing act, and it’s no easy task to walk the line. Blogs like yours and Darren’s are a great resource for finding your way down the straight and narrow. Thanks.

  28. Thanks for a really great post – really helped me see that I need to be patient with my blog and keep focused on quality content. I especially liked the idea of a posting schedule.

  29. Does anyone have any experience with Blogrush or any comments – good, bad, indifferent?

  30. couldn’t agree more. Entrecard is still on here though!

  31. The most important statements for me in your article, jeff, are the ones about writing on a certain schedule and publishing a series. And the fact that blogging is hard work. I am still thinking about what publishing a series means referring to a photoblog – I’ve got some ideas…

  32. Great post! My blog is about two months old now, and I know that it’s difficult finding, or reaching the readers that are interested in my topic. I’m quite sure though that what I write is helpful to other people. It’s just all about finding ways to reach those people now and get them interested. I hope I will succeed and not give up!

  33. Thanks for the insightful post. I used to be a ‘regular’ blogger around an year back.. but suddenly everything stopped.

    On hind-sight i would say, one of the most critical reason for a blog to die-out is that there are no new posts… and that happens because the blogger doesn’t know what to write about. He is in search of something new to write about, and never finds one. Actually that;s the case with me.

    I hope your post will inspire me to rejuvenate me and start active blogging again.
    Thanks for inspiring me.
    ~Alok

  34. Scarily accurate, Jeff! I am, thankfully, passed point 6 now and have an established readership, but I have certainly had my moments of wondering where on earth I was going with it all, and I can recognize myself in much of the lifecycle.
    Oh and I couldn’t agree more with you on your points for continued growth. I’m running a series at the moment which will culminate in a kind of experiment, and even on day 1 it is already proving popular. I think the trick is to maintain your own enthusiasm for your blog. Enthusiasm is infectious, I find, and will inevitably draw readers to your blog.
    Great post!

  35. What an awesome post Jeff,

    My first blog definitely suffered from a similar fate in it’s first incarnation.

    Like you say though, just keep digging away and it comes.

    It would be cool if you came back and did another post like this here.

  36. I am just about at the 3 month mark but have resisted letting the secret out about Britney Spears being my baby’s mama.

    Nothing worthwhile is easy.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  37. Great post. I think the problem with other bloggers who joined social sites like Digg and EC is they spend too much time away from their blogs and when they return, they are already tired to make a quality post.

    Anyway, here’s my recent post about running, sponsoring and joining blog contests and how it can help to increase readership.

    Thanks.

    http://tinyurl.com/5o6yy3

  38. Does this mean I cant get a free XBOX 360 here? ;)
    Good stuff… thanks!

  39. Wow, great post, thank you. Most people don’t want to go through the DIP that Seth Godin wrote in his book The Dip.

    By the way, my guess would be that about 90% quit within first 90 days. Do you have any statistics on that?

  40. I’m so happy to have found your site. I’m new to blogging and yes it is a struggle. I think I’ll eventually find my voice.
    Thanks so much for all the tips!

    Peace,
    Susan

  41. As a complete newbiew, with a week old blog, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, Some great advice and insight, well done on a great post.

  42. Thanks again everyone for your wonderful comments. I am very glad you enjoyed the post.

  43. Great absolutely the best post i`ve read in a couple of months

  44. Jeff,
    Coming from a ‘green behind the ears’ blogger. This information is much apprieciated.

  45. Good thoughts thought I might not agree with them entirely. But then I have never bothered about anything else except content. I used Digg, but even gave that up. Rely only on search engines for traffic and on others to share my blog and the posts on it. Still some good thoughts in here.

  46. Thank you for this great post!

    I’m still in stage #2 of the life cycle of blogging and was surprised to read that I am actually doing what was mentioned..Thanks for the head start and for the tips.

    This post slap me hard to focus more in writing post than wasting time to search on how to get more traffic.

  47. It’s relatively quick to use up the first 6 tricks.

    Sustaining traffic after trick #6 is indeed hardwork.

  48. I hear some great advice and insight, … it coulbe my bookmaks ..well done on a great post.

  49. Very good post. My blog is about eight months old now, so I guess I have survived. Now I get most of my traffic from search engines rather than Entrecard or social media sites. Its a much more reliable and steady form of traffic.

    NathanKP – Inkweaver Review

  50. Thanks for the information. This is a reality check for bloggers out there.