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.
The lifecycle of a blog
Hello 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.
EntreCard 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.
Top 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.
Win 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.
Why 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.
Britney 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.
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.