I think I'll just go somewhere and put myself out of my misery. . . having similar thoughts? Maybe I can help.
I've been working at this blogging thing for more than a year and I haven't really made any money and I don't get many visitors and I am a miserable failure. My blog is a failure and I think I'll just go somewhere and put myself out of my misery. . . Have you ever read a blog post like that? I have, and I've seen very similar ones all over (not quite as bad) from people that were certainly discouraged by their lack of blogging success. That one was about one of the most extreme posts I've read, and that person has pretty much just given up. Have you ever been at the end of your rope with your blog? You're not getting any comments, you don't get many visits, you're not making any money, you don't know what to post about, you're not meeting your goals - maybe you don't even have any goals yet! You are thinking about the success you once dreamed of as a blogger and you're now thinking of yourself as a failure.
That post I read resonated with me because I've been at crossroads like this before myself. Time and time again I was ready to quite because I didn't think I was getting anywhere. In the back of my head I always remembered something Shoemoney wrote on his blog. It was about people having the perception that he was some kind of “overnight sensation" raking in tens of thousands on his site with ringtones. He pointed out that the first two years he tried to make money online me made nothing. Not a single penny. He even got fired from his day job for working on his ringtone site at work (that wasn't making any money yet).
Success is never overnight. Success is a learning process, and with blogging it's “learn as you go". I think of Stevie Ray Vaughan who rose to fame in 1981 with his first album and hit single “Pride and Joy". His success seemed overnight. Most had no idea he was born in 1954 and had been playing since the age of twelve. From 1970-1980 he played, and played, and played, and played on stage some more perfecting his craft. It's not to say that he didn't have true natural talent. But his incessant passion for music and refusal to give up on his dreams and goals drove him to never give up and press on. The fact that he did nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe his craft for more than a decade while practically living as a vagrant made him into the talent that he was.
I'm not saying you need to blog for 10 years without making money or being successful in any way, but you need to be realistic about what it is that you expect. I put this blog online in June 2007. I am thankful for the growth I've had so far in the last 10 months and look forward to the next year. I by no means think that I'm a huge blogger (yet). I do think I'm in a position to tell you about what I've experienced so far, and maybe it will help you.
What to Expect Your First Month of Blogging
If you're brand new to this “blogging" think the first month is where you will have your first challenging time. I think it's honestly where most people quit. They quit because they don't have a plan for blog success. The first challenge you actually have is setting your blog up the first time, getting a theme you like, and learning your way around your blog. The next issue you have is posting content, and create quality consistent content that people will read. My answer to “what to expect" your first month blogging is “a lot of work"! Whatever you get, you get, but dont expect much of anything your first month of blogging in terms of visits or money. Think of it as the first month on the job or first term at school. You're still trying to get acclimated to how things work.
Here's a (very) short list of things to think about the first month:
- Does your blog have a (topic) theme?
- Did you ask a few friend or fellow bloggers to test it and give you feedback?
- Is your blog sluggish, or do the pages load fast?
- Did you post a least 2-3 times per week each and every week?
- Do you have a contact page and about page?
- Are you tracking stats somehow, like Google analytics?
- When you type your domain name in Google - do you get results yet?
What to Expect Your First 90 Days of Blogging
After your first 3 months of blogging you should feel like you have a bit of a routine. You should be regularly posting, and even have a few ideas for posts stacked up. If you don't (like I didn't) you need to get more organized. Keep a pen and paper handy and write down all of your ideas as you get them for later use. Also read lots and lots and lots of other blogs - and you will get all sorts of ideas to write about. Make sure spending quality time blogging and not wasting time. Now that you have some content (after the first month), get your blog registered with google, Yahoo!, and MSN. Also learn to track your search engine rankings to figure out where (and if) people are finding your site in search engines. Signup for some of the social blogging networks and reach out to other bloggers. Check out myBlogLog, BlogCatalog, Bumpzee, entreCard, or one of the many other ones out there. You can do this by messaging people, commenting on their blogs, offering to guest post, or advertising on blogs. The more you interact with other bloggers the more exposure you will get.
Explore new wordpress plugins (if you use Wordpress), or figure out ways to creatively expand your site and make it more useful for your visitors with plugins and modules. Regularly vivew your blog stats and learn which google analytics are most important. You should be learning How to do Basic Keyword Research, and How to Build Links. If you're using Wordpress Learn How to Manage Wordpress More Effectively, if you're using another blogging platform - learn more about it, how to hack it, and customize it more to your liking. Also begin to learn How to Monetize Your Blog if you haven't already. Learning how to convert your traffic into a monthly income is possibly one of the most important things you can do - and may (in the future) be the only thing that keeps you from quitting. Nobody wants to blog for free forever.
At the 90 day mark you can expect to have some kind of regular traffic, whether it's 15 visits a day or 100. You should be on a regular posting schedule and have posting ideas backed up. You should know the ins and outs of your blogging software and be comfortable making some custmizations. You should have some type of monetization, and be constantly learning how to promote your site in as many ways as possible. You may or may not be getting regular comments on your posts at this point, and your traffic may not be that great. You might not even have a google pagerank yet or good search engine results, but you are in “build mode" at this point. You should be both reading and writing a lot. Think of this phase as your “blog internship".
The 6 Month Blogging Milestone
This should just about be the turning point for your blog. If you've been posting 2-3 times per week (at least) you should now have more than 50 posts. For me, it just seems like that's the point where things start to get a bit easier. It's like being on the job a year or two or getting halfway through high school or college. You know what to expect, you know what's going on - you seem to have a pretty good handle on things. If you did everything I said to do for the previous two milestones than you should have 50 articles with a few “pillar" articles being the attraction and the rest contributing a little bit each day. Hopefully you've got 50-100 comments on your posts at least, and 100-300 visitor's per day. You're somewhere “in the mix" out in the blogging community and you have some followers in your own blog community, and other bloggers may know you as part of theirs. You should be used to posting and writing, so it's time to do a few additional things to give you an extra push.
Check Your Sitemap against your SERP's to ensure indexing in the search engines is going well. You should have enough posts now to think about going back and making previous posts more profitable. Now that you have lots of posts stacked up, think about organizing your site using pages. Monetize your Search Results with products or Create your own theme. You could even add content by creating an entire affiliate store from a data feed. Now that you have enough articles you can seriously consider submitting your best content by learning how to do article directory promotion.
Create Your Own Blogging Milestones
If you haven't already realized it, everything you do as a blogger is just a building block. Like a lawyer building a reputation, a pastor building a congregation, a mechanic building a customer base, or a doctor building a base of patients - YOU as a blogger are creating your own milestones. You should be making goals and plans to reach them. Analyze where you are now and where you want to be. What will it take to get there? Make a short, medium, and long term goal. If you have 100 visitors per day now what would it take to get 200? If you make nothing on your blog now, what would it take to make enough to pay for your hosting bill? How many posts and comments do you want by the end of the year? Goals that you achieve will be your own milestones. Do what I did awhile back and analyze what are the habits of successful bloggers.
Your blog is not a failure. It's 5,000 mistakes from success. . .
John Pratt writes free guides and blog help at JTPratt's Blogging Mistakes . Additional help and resources for this article can be found at My Blog is a Failure . John also reviews gadgets at Used Cell Phone Bargains .