I’ve heard recently from some friends who blog that they are discouraged that they don’t have much engagement with their readers. With no feedback or interaction, they are wondering why they should even bother. This started a conversation that focussed on answering just one simple question: Why do you blog?
I have something I want to say.
If you are blogging because there is something you want to write about, then as long as you are still inspired to say something, keep saying it whether people are listening or not. Keep in mind that when people discover a new blog they make a judgement of its validity/authority. They look at how many posts there are and how long it has been active: the more posts, the more valid it appears to be, the more likely they are to subscribe and return. So those posts you are writing for crickets now may play a very important part when you pick up more readership later. That post that is getting no response right now might be a huge inspiration for someone a year from now.
However, if your blog was meaningful for you before and isn’t so much now, there is no law that says you have to keep it going. Leave it there and post to it when you want to. But if it is no longer fulfilling your purpose, don’t let it be a burden. Unless it has become an embarrassment or other kind of negative for you, resist the temptation to delete it. Just ignore it for now, and later on it will be a nostalgic snapshot for you to see what you cared about way back when.
I want my blog to be a source of income.
If you blog because you want this to be a source of income, then you had better be treating it like a business! You should have a business plan for your blog that sets out its direction, mission, and goals. You should have a marketing plan that sets out how you will promote it. Beyond that there are some specific things to do to monetize your blog, and the specifics of that is a big topic that I won’t get into here (as I don’t pretend to be an expert on this).
But even if you have the monetization pieces in place, you won’t earn much income from your blog unless you have regular readers. If you’re just starting out and don’t have that big readership yet, keep writing good content for now, as a successful blog requires that (for some of the same reasons that I listed above). Then get to work on promoting it and engaging with the readers you have!
Remember that the “when you build it they will come” approach only works with magic baseball fields.
Well, if you have something very new and interesting or something that is tailor-made for a niche audience, then sometimes they will come even with no promotion or effort. For example, my partner created a neural net programming language that is a top Google hit and with a video that has had over 100K hits (when someone else posted it on their channel… here’s the higher-res original) despite not having been promoted at all. Another example is my book about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I did very little work to promote and yet gets regular sales. What these projects have in common is a very niche audience.
Just like breaking into showbiz, only a very small portion of the people who try their hand at blogging for a living actually succeed, but that’s not a reason not to try. As I said above, treat it like a business (with a business plan, etc.) and go into it with your eyes open — then you have a chance to make it work.
Here are a few links to help out:
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