There are over 1 billion websites on the web today. Each day, about 4.3 million blog posts are published; that’s 51 every second.
With so much new content regularly appearing on the Internet, it is difficult for bloggers to establish and maintain a sizeable audience.
In fact, the average website fails within the first 100 days… but why? What causes most people to never really get off the blogging runway?
Why blogs fail
Everyone knows: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There are plenty of ways to make your blog writing great. But no matter how good your writing is and how creative your imagination is, starting a blog without a detailed plan of how to make it successful will be a fruitless endeavor.
New bloggers usually start out with a plethora of ideas and a bundle of energy, but these won’t make a successful blog on their own. The excitement and the inspiration present at the beginning of a project always run low as that project goes on.
The key is to look at the mistakes failed bloggers make. Where do they go wrong, and how can you avoid the same pitfalls?
Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes and how you can keep from making them.
1. Failing to organize your ideas
You may have a ton of ideas when you first start your blog, but keeping that pipeline open and flowing will become more difficult as time goes on. All writers know that writer’s block is inevitable. So how can you prevent writer’s block from sabotaging your blog?
The answer is to keep a stockpile of ideas. Just like we keep reservoirs of water to sustain us during a draught, bloggers should keep reservoirs of ideas to sustain their blogs on days when inspiration runs dry.
The easiest way to organize your ideas is to create a Google spreadsheet. Every time you think of a new idea for a blog post, write it down. You can share your idea spreadsheet with your team members and ask them to contribute ideas as well. The spreadsheet allows team members to feed off each other’s ideas, and ensures different writers do not repeat topics.
Because inspiration can strike at any moment, you can also use voice memos or notes on your phone to record ideas when you’re not near your computer. You can transfer those notes to your spreadsheet later.
2. Not using an editorial calendar
An editorial calendar is necessary to maintain a consistent blogging schedule. It’s impossible to develop and maintain an audience if you are not producing content on a regular basis.
Ideally, you should use an editorial calendar to plan out your content as far in advance as possible. An editorial schedule that extends a few weeks or even a few months into the future will establish a smooth workflow and take the stress out of blogging. There will be plenty of time to research, write, and edit articles without feeling rushed or anxious about making deadlines.
I personally use CoSchedule to plan and manage content across all my blogs. In particular, CoSchedule allowed me and my team to quadruple the amount of content we put out each month on one of our biggest blogs, CutCableToday.com.
CoSchedule allows you to plan your content in advance and to assign various blogging tasks to your team. My editors use the “tasks” function in CoSchedule to send article assignments to writers, each of whom have their own CoSchedule accounts. CoSchedule can also be used to organize ideas that you have not yet put on the calendar.
CoSchedule can also be linked to your WordPress account and your social media accounts. This allows you to publish your articles and schedule your social media posts all in the same browser window.
Once you select your editorial calendar platform, it’s time to start building it out. For tips on this, I reached out to Nathan Ellering, Content Marketing Lead of CoSchedule.
“What gets planned gets done. Habits are very important to publishing consistently,” Ellering said. “And if you don’t have consistent publishing habits today, then you can think of this as changing an existing habit… inconsistency or lack of publishing altogether.”
Ellering went on to explain five things you need to successfully keep up with your editorial calendar.
- Cue: Something that helps you remember to create content to help you meet your goals to publish
- Routine: When you experience that cue, you kick off your process necessary to publish
- Reward: You need to feel good about what you’re doing – a sense of gratification or accomplishment or even something tangible, when you stick to your editorial calendar
- Craving: You have to crave the reward over and over again
- Belief: This is where habit change comes into play. You have to believe that following your editorial calendar will work. Believe in your system, and you will succeed
3. Assuming people will find your content
When it comes to blogging, many people think, “If you build it, they will come.” But that mentality is a recipe for failure.
With so much content on the internet, people probably won’t know your blog exists unless you use outreach strategies to put it right in front of their faces.
Social media for promotion
As you probably already know, social media is one outreach strategy. You should be using social media organization tools, such as Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule all your posts in advance.
CoSchedule is a good social media management tool, because it allows you to transition seamlessly from publishing an article to writing your social media posts.
Social media, however, is only one type of outreach. Bloggers also need to do good old fashioned outreach: Contact leaders in the industry you blog about and journalists who cover the same topics as you.
If you can convince other people in your area of expertise to read and share your content with their followers, you will start to pick up some of their traffic.
A good tool for organizing your outreach efforts is Ninja Outreach. According to Co-Founder Dave Schneider, Ninja Outreach covers everything you need, “from identifying prospects to add to your outreach list, to actually sending the email and following up.”
Using Ninja Outreach reduces the likelihood that you will accidentally reach out to someone twice, or neglect to reach out to someone who could be an important contact.
Schneider also offers the following tips for an effective outreach strategy: First, “make sure you have a blacklist of people you don’t want to reach out to (competitors, large sites, people you’ve reached out to recently).” Second, “add some personalization to the template such as referencing something specific about one of their posts, using their name, etc.”
Finally, when reaching out to a potential contact, emphasize the value your content has for them and their audience. Don’t focus on yourself.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Organized!
As you can see, running a successful blog requires careful attention to detail. Don’t try to cram all those details into your brain – you’ll quickly lose track, and your blog will go down the tube.
A few organizational tools can be the difference between a blog that fails after 100 days and a blog that stands the test of time.
So get ready, get set, and get organized!
Guest Author: Eric Brantner is a serial blogger with several high-traffic, successful blogs in a variety of niches. You can find him at Scribblrs.com, SleepZoo.com, and on many other websites. You can also follow him on Twitter @Eric_Scribblrs.