Do you ever find it hard not to obsess about your blog?
You check your stats…
Looking to see if you’ve gotten any comments…
You check your email list to see if anyone has subscribed…
You look at how many social media shares your last post got…
Only to see that nothing has changed since the last time you checked (5 minutes ago)…
…or the last 10 times you checked (within the last hour).
We all like to laugh and joke about it, but deep down inside it’s hard not to get discouraged.
Especially if you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into your blog, day after day, only to see that your numbers have barely moved.
It makes you question yourself, doesn’t it?
Wondering what you should be doing differently…..
Maybe even wondering what you’re doing wrong…
You know you shouldn’t compare yourself to others…but what the heck?
You’ve been following all the current blogging advice: post OFTEN, promote your content like crazy, go all in on social media, network with other bloggers…etc. etc.
You’re doing what the influencers do.
You’re doing what the popular bloggers do.
And it feels like you’ve been doing it forever!
Nothing seems to be working!
You just can’t figure out why your blog is struggling.
What’s up with that?
Why Your Blog Is Struggling
I’ve already talked about four of the big myths and truths of building a successful blog in my post Why Bloggers Fail. If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to check it out.
That post talked about what I call the “big picture view.”
In this post, I want to dive deeper into Myth #1: Starting a blog is fast and easy, and talk about how that very myth is likely at the heart of why you are struggling with your blog.
There are a lot of reasons why bloggers struggle with their blogs. But they usually tie back to one thing. And that one thing is that somewhere along the line, they missed a key step.
Do you remember this visual map of the path to a profitable blog?
Where you see the label “start a blog” is where most bloggers actually start. I’ll bet you anything that it’s where you started too.
Most bloggers start with an idea and then jump right to building their blog.
They completely skip over all the key steps that need to come BEFORE the actual blog-building phase.
I call these steps key steps because they are essential if you want to make money blogging. I’m not just talking latte money here, but real money.
Let me illustrate with a story.
We were in the middle of renovating our basement. My sister and her two boys had moved in with us, a year before, and we were starting to find it getting a little cramped.
Having four boys under the age of 12 sharing a room (her two and our youngest two) was NOT conducive to a smooth bedtime routine (major understatement).
To be blunt, every night for the entire year since they had moved in, had been chaos.
With 11 people in the house, we didn’t have a lot of options.
As I was no longer actively running my art and paper crafting business and blog – I decided to convert my studio space and office into rooms for my sister and her two boys.
There was one problem.
I had been noticing an odd smell in the office – the room that was to become my eldest nephew’s room.
To me, it smelled like gas.
I knew that there was a natural gas line running through the ceiling of that room and I was concerned that it was leaking. So I called in a gas specialist to check it out.
The problem was that he didn’t find a leak in the pipe that ran through that particular room. Which meant that the leak (if there was one) could be anywhere. The only way to find out was to run air throughout the ENTIRE natural gas line.
I want you to think of blogging success as that natural gas line.
Now a natural gas line isn’t just one continuous piece of pipe. It’s made up of sections. These sections are held together by special fittings.
These fittings are CRITICAL.
If they are not properly installed, they’ll leak. Which as you know, can lead to a real disaster.
So coming back to our visual map.
All the elements or steps that you see in the visual map above represent the “fittings” that hold the various pieces of your blogging success strategy together.
If your blog is struggling, it’s because one of those “fittings” is “leaking”.
In order to find out WHY your blog is struggling, you first have to figure out WHERE your blog is “leaking”.
What I have found in my work coaching and mentoring bloggers is that their blog is typically “leaking” in more than one place.
In other words, they missed one or more of the key steps – or elements of the key steps – and now their blog is paying for it.
So how do you figure out where the problem is?
In order to help you, I’ve put together a list of a common mistake in each of the key steps, that can lead to “leaks” in your blog.
Where Your Blog May Be Struggling
As you read through this list of mistakes, think about whether or not it applies to your situation.
If not, that’s probably not where your “leak” is.
If the mistake does apply to you, then you need to go back and “fix” that “leak”.
Remember, the mistakes I have outlined below represent “leaks” in each of the key steps in the blogging success path.
It’s important to understand that each step in the blogging success path builds on the one that came BEFORE. And each step is foundational to the success of the step that comes AFTER.
What that means is that you have to take the time to “inspect” each and every step in the process to make sure there’s no “leak”.
And of course, the best place to start is at the beginning.
So here are the common “mistakes” that bloggers make as they relate to the key steps, starting at the beginning of the path.
Mistake #1: You went into blogging with no real expectations.
Success starts with intention.
What were your intentions when you started your blog?
Did you decide right from the get-go that you want to make money with your blog?
Or did you start a blog 100% for fun? As in you really couldn’t care less about EVER making money? Or as in you really don’t mind pouring hours and hours of your time into your blog without getting anything tangible out of it?
Or…did you perhaps hope that maybe, somehow, sometime in the future you MIGHT be able to figure out a way to make “some” money?
Most of the struggling bloggers that I know and have worked with, tend to fall into the camp of what I call the “hopefuls.”
If that is you, then with all love and respect I want to share a saying that I have heard my husband use countless times with his team.
Hope is not a strategy.
Do you know why that is?
Because those who are hopeful usually adopt the attitude of “we’ll see what happens” or “come what may.”
In other words, they let themselves get pulled along by the tide, rather than charting their course.
If you want to build a successful blog then you have to begin by planning for it.
Mistake #2. You did not choose a profitable topic.
The hard truth is that not all topics are profitable. That includes popular topics.
In the blogging world, your topic is part of what’s called, your niche. Your niche is made up of your actual topic + your audience.
When it comes to choosing a niche, a lot of bloggers mistake popularity with profitability.
Just because there are a lot of people that are blogging about a particular topic does not mean that it’s a good topic.
And just because a lot of people are showing interest in a particular topic does not mean that it’s a good topic.
So how do you figure out if your topic is profitable?
The first thing you need to do is check to see that there is PROOF that your niche has an audience of interested buyers.
Mistake #3: You are blogging only about what YOU are interested in.
It’s time for some tough love here.
And it’s something you’ll hear me say over and over again.
If you want your blog to succeed it can’t be ALL about you.
Do you know how many blogs and websites there are on the internet?
Almost 2 billion.
There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of blog in your NICHE alone.
What that means is that you have a LOT of competition.
What you share – your story – is going head to head with everyone else’s story.
Do you know what kind of stories get the most attention?
Readers are most interested in the stories that help them create better stories for THEMSELVES.
What do I mean by that?
Look at this blog. This blog is about helping YOU change lives and make money blogging about something that you love.
If all I ever talked about was ME – my journey and my successes – and I rarely or NEVER showed you how to apply my stories and experiences to create blogging success for yourself – how interested would you be?
Probably not very.
The most successful blogs are those which combine the blogger’s interests with their audience’s interests.
Mistake #4: Your message does not resonate with your audience.
It’s not enough to choose a profitable topic for your blog.
And it’s not enough to know what your audience wants.
You also have to be able to talk to your audience in a way that RESONATES with them.
When your audience reads the content that you put up on your blog, they need to feel like you are talking to them.
More than that, they have to feel that you understand them, and you can help them.
Now chances are, the whole reason you started your blog is that you wanted to help people in some way.
People can’t read your heart or your mind.
You HAVE to be able to clearly convey to your audience the message that you:
- know who they are
- understand what they are struggling with and how it is affecting them
- have a solution
- can explain how your solution will help them
If your audience doesn’t get all of that from your messaging, they won’t stick around.
Mistake #5: Your content is way too random.
I touched on this in my last post on Why Bloggers Fail in Blogging Myth #2: You Have To Create A Lot Of Content.
If your readers have to really DIG to find what they are looking for on your blog…
If your readers aren’t getting enough help with the issues they are struggling with (ie. you don’t have enough content in that area to help them)…
Then they’ll leave.
In today’s instant gratification society people don’t want to expend more energy and effort than they have to.
If you’re just starting out or relatively new to blogging then you’re at an advantage. Because now that you know that how you present your content is an issue – you can go back and easily fix it.
Mistake #6: Your blog isn’t set up to sell.
Most people will tell you that they hate sales.
They hate “selling”.
And they can’t stand the “hard sell.”
That totally describes me.
The beauty of blogging is that when you set up your blog the right way, you don’t HAVE to sell. Your blog sells for you.
Here are some things you need for a “website that sells”.
First of all, you need a home page. These days having a proper “home page” is essential. Your home page is what conveys your message to your visitors clearly and concisely (see mistake #4).
An “about page” is also essential. And no, your about page is not actually about you. It’s about your reader. It’s your story framed as their story (see mistake #3)
Then there’s the journey page. It’s key as it shows your readers how to get from where they are, to where they want to be. Check out my Blogging Success Path as an example.
A contact page is also a must-have. I know it seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many blogs I have visited that have no obvious way to get in touch with the blogger.
Setting up a system for enticing your visitors to sign up for your email list is another essential. And this typically requires that you offer some kind of valuable freebie to entice your readers to sign up. And you have to put it everywhere. Why? Because you never know where a reader will “enter” your blog.
Having a product available for sale is also essential. As soon as possible. I touched on this in my last post in Blogging Myth#4: You Don’t Need To Wait Until You Have A Big Audience To Monetize Your Blog.
Mistake #7: You are monetizing the WRONG way.
Monetization is a BIG topic, so I can’t get into the nitty gritty of it all in this post.
What I can say is that there are better and worse ways to monetize.
Most bloggers monetize first with ads, sponsored posts and low-cost affiliate marketing (like Amazon).
The problem with these methods of monetization is that they require a BIG audience in order to make good money.
To start generating an income in the $1K+ category you need an audience size that’s bigger than about 100,000. And that takes TIME to build.
For some bloggers – those who have less than full-time hours to invest in their blogs – that can take a LOT of time.
Whether you are starting out, or well on your way in your blogging journey – one of the best ways to monetize is by digital products. Things like ebooks or online courses.
Digital products are inexpensive to create. Once you put the time in to create it, you can keep on selling it 24/7. This is what’s often referred to as passive income.
And if you don’t have the time to create your own digital product, you can be an affiliate for other people’s digital products (this is not the same as being a low-cost affiliate).
Mistake #8: You Are Taking On Too Much When It Comes To Your Traffic Strategy.
Traffic is all about getting visitors to your blog.
And there are probably a million different ways that you can get traffic to your blog.
Okay, maybe not a million, but a LOT.
Of which most, are quite effective.
The problem that most bloggers run into is that they spread themselves too thin.
One guru advises Facebook. The next guru focuses on Pinterest. That influencer swears by Instagram. Another influencer says YouTube is key. The pro blogger says you definitely need Twitter…and on and on it goes.
You have no clue which one is best, so you try to do them all.
What ends up happening is that you don’t do any of them well.
Start with one. The one that makes the most sense.
Once you’ve got a good system going you can add on another. Then another.
But only when you can handle it.
How To Fix Your Blogging Struggles
I’d love to tell you that there’s a quick fix to this.
The unfortunate truth is that there isn’t.
As with everything else worthwhile in life, there’s no “magic bullet.”
While there isn’t a quick fix, you CAN fix your blogging struggles.
Grab a notebook and go through the list of mistakes one by one. Starting with #1.
Think about each one and write down whether or not you are making that mistake with your blog.
If yes, write it down.
Go through the entire list.
Start with the first mistake that you made and come up with a plan to fix it. Once it’s fixed, then and only then should you move on to the next.
Now if the idea of a plan scares you because you have no clue how to come up with one. Don’t worry! That’s why I’m here.
In fact, I have created a visual map of the path to a successful blog. You can read about it in my post: The 8 Key Steps to Blogging Success.
As we continue down the path to building a successful blog, I’ll be diving deeper into each step and how to properly implement them into a solid blogging strategy.