As hard as this is to admit, my blog should probably be a fair amount bigger than it is.
Maybe that sounds arrogant, but when you think about the fact that I’ve been working on it for nearly a year and a half, have had some incredible adventures to write about, and have built a substantial network of contacts and friends, those factors combined should equal a few more subscribers than I’m at currently.
However the reason I’m not there is completely my fault and no one else’s.
You look at people like Corbett Barr, who’s recent endeavor Think Traffic has more subscribers in 2 months than I’ve had in 15. It’s only a matter of time before Colin Wright gets a book deal. And don’t even get me started on the true A-listers that are really killing it. Guillebeau, I’m lookin’ at you!
Last week I crossed over 1,000 Feedburner subscribers for the first time. While that’s a huge accomplishment, and one that many blogs will never get to, I couldn’t help but think that I should be farther along. It isn’t that I don’t know how to increase my readership or subscriber base. Rather it’s that I’ve prioritized other activities above it – which I have mixed feelings about.
Today for instance, after working in the morning I spent the afternoon shooting photos in the Columbia River Gorge. It was a beautiful day and I got some good shots, but the fact remains, I have yet to “make it” – far from it actually. So until I do, part of me feels guilty when I take free time to have fun, rather than work on my business ventures and blog building.
Side note: The other part of me doesn’t feel bad at all and loves that fact that I’ve spent so much of the last year actually living life, rather than just writing about it.
After thinking about this, I’ve come up with a list of 10 things that have kept me from taking this blog to the next level and really making my mark on the blog community. For those of you starting out (and even those who’ve been blogging for awhile), focusing on each of these ten things will lead to some incredible blog growth.
So here you go, ten ways to NOT build a blog:
1) Fail to Respond to Comments. This is huge, and for such a simple thing I apparently have a tough time doing it. I’ve brought up my lack of commenting in the past, and each time I try and fix it I do a pretty crappy job. A few months ago I had really high user interaction and was averaging around 30 comments a post. Now it’s about half that. Hmmm, maybe if I’d actually respond you guys wouldn’t have stopped writing!
If you want to keep people coming back and attracting new readers, the easiest way is to make yourself accessible and communicate back when they reach out to you.
2) Don’t pursue guest posts. From the very beginning of my blogging career I’ve had numerous people tell me the biggest way to grow your blog is to pursue guest posts from sites that are bigger than you. Sure enough, BY FAR the two biggest days (weeks) of traffic have been ones where I’ve guest posted at major sites. Sure these posts take a little bit longer to write, but the excitement for getting your name out there more than makes up for the extra time. Why I haven’t been working my ass off to write for every major blog on the internet is beyond me. Do this, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
3) Don’t stick to a strict posting schedule. For awhile I was really good at sticking to the Monday and Thursday arrangement we laid out some months ago. Somewhere along the way I let other stuff get in the way of that. Big, big mistake. Once you miss one posting date, it gets way to easy to miss another, aaaand another. Don’t do it. Create a schedule, stick to it.
4) Talk about launching a product for months – but never actually launch it. How long have I been talking about Overcoming the Fear of Uncertainty? Way too long, that’s how long. It really is coming soon, but if I were smart I would have had this thing 99% done before even mentioning it. Then I’d promote the hell out of it and give you exactly what I said I would, when I said I would. Not so much the case. Well you live and learn, I’ll do better next time – I’ve just gotta finish this one first!
5) Fail to optimize your mailing list. I waited way too long for coughing up the 19 bucks a month for Aweber. I don’t want to admit this, but I’ve sent out three newsletters since starting the list a few months back. Granted, I was pretty proud of the writing, but I should be communicating with those of you that have really shown your support much more often (without being annoying). And this is one that I really am making an effort to do. But seriously people, if you have readers that sign up for your newsletter or mailing list, GIVE THEM SOMETHING GOOD!
If you’re on my list, expect something good soon. I already offered a free ebook, which has since been expanded upon, but I’ll do even better next time around.
6) Twitter suckage (and Facebook too). Don’t even get me started with this one. Everyday I sit and watch people totally kill it on Twitter. Engaging others, tweeting cool stuff, and generally being helpful. I’ve done a really poor job with this, and while I try and be interesting, I don’t engage nearly enough. I should @ reply every single person I follow. Hmmm, that’d be a good project. I’ll keep you posted on that one.
7) Lack of engagement. Between the lack of comments and slow email response, I could be a lot better with one on one engagement with my audience. I’m convinced its ADD that keeps me from doing this, because I honestly want to talk to every single one of you, and yet I can still be slow with responses. If you want to successfully build your blog, respond to every single person who emails you, and do so genuinely and in a timely manner.
8) Don’t Think About Your Audience. A lot of times I tend to just kind of write about whatever I want. Frequently I don’t take the time think about writing content that’s Re-tweetable, viral, and generally just useful. I should talk less about myself and more about what I’ve learned so that you can follow in my footsteps or run as far away from me as possible (depending on what your goals are).
9) Manage Your Time Poorly. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve put hundreds if not thousands of hours into this blog. But each of the points above are examples of things I could (should) have done better over the last year. It isn’t even a matter of putting hours in, much of it comes down to just being effective with the time you spend (ie STOP CHECKING STATS!).
Create a plan for how you are going to spend your time each day, and don’t reward yourself until your goals have been met. (Thanks to Benny Lewis for that one which he reminded me off yesterday)!
And now for one of the best ways I’ve found to create a successful blog, ready for this?
DO SOMETHING COOL.
People love reading about adventures, doing stuff out of the ordinary, and generally people like seeing others do stuff they love. Many of you could care less about my thoughts on blogging or business building, you just follow the blog because I went to Thailand and have been living an adventurous life.
But your version of “cool” doesn’t need to be nearly so dramatic. Anyone could go spend an afternoon in their home town doing something worth reading about, you just have to make a conscious effort to do it. So often we get wrapped up in the day to day of our work life that we forget to do fun stuff.
So thats it, make an effort with your blog this week, and then go do something cool and write about it – I promise you’ll like the results.