No matter the size of our blogs, we all want something more. We want our blogs to constantly grow, both in traffic and in revenue. More traffic means more people are reading our work. More revenue means we can justify spending even more time on the site, helping it grow and reach even more people.
At some point in your journey, you will find that you’re stuck. You’re working harder than ever, but that effort isn’t showing up in the results the way it did before. So what gives? Has your magic run out? No, far from it. In fact, it’s a good thing that you’re stuck.
Every blogger goes through this phase. It is what Seth Godin calls The Dip. We all reach a period where we simply need to put our heads down and do the work. If we do that, we’ll emerge successful on the other end of The Dip. In other words, The Dip weeds out the undedicated and rewards those who know that their time and effort will pay off.
You don’t have to go through The Dip alone, though. Many bloggers have been through it, and will help you along the way. I have been through it with two blogs already, and have entered it with another two. Here’s the advice I’m giving myself to help me power through The Dip again.
1. Narrow your focus
What is your blog about? Don’t answer this right away. Take the time to look over your past posts and really get a feel for how your blog appears to others. That will give you an idea of your blog’s main focus. Chances are, it’s a bit scattered. Bloggers have multiple interests, and we like to write about them all. Unfortunately, that kind of scattered focus does not lend itself to successful blogging.
The most successful blogs have a narrow, defined focus. As the saying goes: two inches wide, two miles deep. Find a single subject about which you not only have extensive knowledge, but also one that inspires you. Blogging is a daily grind, and a little inspiration can go a long way.
By narrowing your focus, you will find it easier to attract people truly interested in your subject matter. Instead of trying to pull in the low-hanging fruit from multiple disciplines, you’re focusing intently on dedicated people in a single niche.
2. Commit to a schedule
People love predictability. Ask them and they might tell you otherwise. They’ll say they like mystery and adventure. Study their behaviors, though, and they’ll act quite to the contrary. We are creatures of habit, no matter what we might tell the outside world. Bloggers need to exploit this aspect of human nature.
One tactic that got one of my blogs through The Dip was a regular schedule. We had three bloggers working on the site, and we produced five substantial posts per day. That kind of schedule required rigorous effort, but it paid off in the end. People understood that they could visit our site first thing in the morning and see something new. Then at 9:30 a.m. they’d see another new post. It was like clockwork.
Chances are a solo blogger won’t put up five posts per day. But even if you’re doing one post per day, doing it on a set schedule is a tactic that will win over readers. They love knowing that when they visit your site they will see new content. Make sure you deliver on those expectations, and the people will continue coming back to you.
3. Balance monetization strategies
How do you make money with your blog? A few years ago there weren’t many options for the average blogger. You slapped some Google AdSense ads on your blog and prayed that you got some high-performing ones. Most of the time you didn’t, though. AdSense can pay the hosting bills and perhaps provide some supplemental income, but for very few bloggers can it really pay the bills?
There are other ad networks, but few perform substantially better than AdSense. Affiliate marketing is another monetization method bloggers can employ. The practice has been around longer than the internet, but the internet gives it a certain fuel. Still, affiliate marketing requires a certain effort — it’s called marketing for a reason — and most bloggers don’t have blogs that are ripe for affiliate sales.
In order to grow revenue, bloggers need to look at all available options. There is a time and place for AdSense and other ad networks. Every blog has at least a few opportunities to make money with affiliate sales — one of my blogs never made money off affiliate marketing until we found a campaign that perfectly aligned with our audience. Bloggers can also consider writing ebooks and creating other informational products, for direct sales.
Whatever the methods, make sure you’re not focusing on just one. A balanced monetization strategy will yield the best results.
4. Pick the right tools
A blogger has a lot of tasks outside blogging to consider. Just above we talked about monetization strategies. Bloggers also have to engage in promotional tactics. Ever try to run a blog that doesn’t feature images? Yes, finding royalty-free images is another tasks bloggers engage in. All of these tasks can be time consuming without the proper tools. Thankfully, there are quite a few tools that can help along the way.
Want to engage in link building efforts to boost your traffic and search engine rankings? That’s fine and good, but if you’re not tracking your efforts you’re wasting your time. Raven Tools link building software can help you not only monitor your link building efforts, but also conduct research for them.
Want to make your content more search engine friendly without sounding like an SEO robot? It’s a delicate balance, and without guidance bloggers risk offending either search engines or people. Tools such as Scribe writing tools can help bloggers find that balance in their writing.
Need images for your blog, but can’t afford the high prices of iStockPhoto? There are alternatives, such as Photospin stock images that can provide you more images than you’ll ever need, for a reasonable price.
Need a way to take payments for your new ebook and learning videos? You’ll need your own storefront, and you’ll need software that allows you to accept credit cards. Merchant services by Intuit can provide those tools, with the backing of a company that has been in online payments for decades.
As you can see, there is always a tool for the task. Choose wisely.
5. Build your contact list
If I could dispense one bit of advice, and only one bit, to any blogger, it is this: do not go it alone. You might feel it a personal challenge, to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and create a successful blog on your own. While you can create a successful single-author blog, you probably won’t get there totally by yourself. You’ll need to enlist help from the outside.
One key to building a successful blog is to stay in contact with other successful bloggers. They can prove an invaluable resource to your growth and prosperity. Of course, you can’t just ask them for help right off the bat. You have to help them first, so that they want to help you. Marketer and author Ryan Holiday has an excellent tutorial on how to email strangers. Read it and digest the message therein. The post is over five years old, but it’s just as true today as it was when he wrote it.
image credit: amazon.com