Blog Growth Stalling: Some Reasons Why I Nearly Quit Blogging
Some recent numbers from Technorati (condensed by Valleywag) suggest that while the total number of blogs is increasing, more blogs are falling inactive, meaning blog growth has stalled at 15 million.
Even if you doubt these stats’ accuracy, I think any blogger would agree: it’s not exactly a cake walk to blog for the long term. I’ve been at this for under a year, and several times thought about throwing in the towel. While we all have different criteria for success, surely an inactive blog means the writer found something better to do.
I thought I would recount the various reasons why I nearly quitting blogging, so perhaps others can learn from my experiences and rationalizations behind continuing.
I Nearly Quit Blogging Because:
Nobody reads my blog: More often than not, especially when first starting out, I’d write a post that I thought was pretty good, and: thud. No clicks, no visitors, and you can forget about comments, trackbacks or links.
How I Get Beyond It: The long term reward of progress over time outweighs the daily let down. I now receive hits and comments on posts written weeks ago. “Long tail” really adds up to something, and with 700 posts in the past, I get daily traffic doing nothing.
Writing quality content is challenging to do over the long term: Writing once a month is easy. Writing once a week is harder, but not much. Writing every day is challenging. After a post is published, the next day I’m greeted by a blank page. And another. And another. I thought writing fun stuff daily would be loads of fun, but lately I’ve become skeptical. I imagine it’s like working in a chocolate factory. Sounds great before the sight of all those chocolate lumps, day after day, slowly drive you mad due to sheer repetition.
How I Get Beyond It: Write posts in advance – when I went on vacation, I learned about the awesome power of setting Post Timestamp to the future to publish posts days from now. Second, quality over quantity. Lastly, not blogging for a few days doesn’t mean the end of the world – so take a freaking break.
Lots of time is spent not writing: Reading other blogs, commenting, linking, networking, and Twittering are necessary to demonstrating a presence in the blogosphere, keeping abreast of current events, and hopefully inspiring a few folks to check out your blog. It’s all fun, but most certainly, you can’t just blog and stop there. Blogging in a vacuum sucks. And this “extra” necessary work is added time over and above writing cool post, which lead me to question the time commitment.
How I Get Beyond It: Employing tools that make the act of finding fun blogs easier: Google Reader, MyBlogLog, Megite, Techmeme – RSS is indispensable. And lastly, getting to know other bloggers has become a new motivation and interest unto itself.
I get too much spam: I’m currently engaged in a spam comment war – Akismet has blocked 7,000 spams so far. That’s sick. But behind the spam war is the sad truth that they outnumber my legitimate readers and comments by a large number. Is it worth fighting off 7,000 spams in comparison to the 1,000 or so comments I’ve received? I have more dedicated spammers than readers!
How I Get Beyond It: Akismet, Akismet, Akismet!
Too many rude comments: I don’t get as many of these as others, but the quick-to-judge nature of the blogosphere is a real downer. Yeah, maybe my post was crappy, but do people have to be so mean while pointing it out? It’s disheartening to spend time on a post only to receive a comment saying “You suck!” (or worse).
How I Get Beyond It: I feel that even if a comment is negative, it still means someone visited my blog and felt moved to comment. I walk away and upon returning, I’m feeling better and able to respond to the thorny comment in a polite manner.
Hits are easy but consistent traffic is harder: While bloggers may be faulted for their short attention spans, sometimes it seems the audience’s is even shorter. A front page Digg is awesome, but I admit to a sugar-high let down when I realize all those Diggers just checked out one or two articles and left. Upon returning to previous traffic levels, for some odd reason I thought, “Well, what’s the point?”
How I Get Beyond It: Rude Diggers just come with the territory. Ignore their comments and hit-and-run attitude and focus on links and residual traffic you might receive from a Digging. Ultimately, quality readership is more satisfying although the progress is slower.
The money just isn’t there: Cash doesn’t just start showing up without a period of constant work. This may be a disappointment to many money-hungry bloggers. I’ve heard it takes about a year of consistent blogging to make a substantial amount. Some bloggers might take this as a sign that the whole enterprise just isn’t worth the effort.
How I Get Beyond It: I didn’t start this blog as a business and I have a day job, so the pressure is off in this regard. But I’d really suggest any blogger doing it for the money to take the long term view and realize it might take a year before you have enough posts to generate any meaningful income.
The blogosphere is a fish bowl: I’ve put the blinders on, and become obsessed about minutiae until I was blogging about bloggers and the way they blog. Then one day I stared at the hot Google Reader stories and thought: Whaaaaaa! What am I doing? Responding to a trivial response to something that will be forgotten tomorrow? I might as well be a hamster in a spinning wheel.
How I Get Beyond It: Step away from the computer for a time. Far away. Hopefully somewhere with no Internet access.
So here’s a short list of motivational takeaways from the above situations:
- Think long term rather than short term.
- Be prepared for the long haul.
- Don’t expect instant success.
- Don’t quit your day job on day one.
- Expect to work hard on quality content and quality networking.
- Blogging in a vacuum sucks.
Anyhow, I hope this analysis proves helpful for dealing with occasional urges to quit blogging.
How about any of you bloggers out there? Did you ever think about calling it quits with the blog? What made you decide to forge ahead? Or did you quit and now you just read blogs? Share some tips!