Odds are if you are reading this site you own a blog. Odds are even better that your blog doesn’t get as much traffic as you want. Odds are even betterer(?) that if you could make a living from your blog you would do it. Guess what? It isn’t going to happen. You don’t deserve the traffic or the money. You don’t deserve the fame and recognition that can come with a big blog. Do yourself a favor and stop pretending.
If you are still around after reading that and thinking to yourself that I need to go to hell because you definitely deserve those things, then maybe you can explain to me why you do. Do you understand how much work it takes to make a site big? I don’t think you do because if you did you probably wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this entry. You would be off working on your site and wondering where you are going to take your next cruise.
Fact of the matter is the odds are stacked against you. Your site will more than likely fail because you just don’t have what it takes. Now before I continue let me state that most blogs should be used for nothing more than a creative outlet for people. A personal playground for the writer to enjoy. If you want your site to be more than that though you have to make the break in your mind between playground and workplace.
I love the sites that I write for and yet they bring me fame, money and women. Okay, not women or money or fame, but they bring me other stuff and I have fun with them. Eventually, you will reach a happy place where playground and workplace meet, but more than likely it will be more workplace than playground. Now let’s see what it really takes to make a successful blog.
Stock and Flow
Yesterday I came across an article that talked about the economic theory of stock and flow. It was an interesting read because the theory directly applies to bloggers. Taken from the site, the basic definition of stock and flow is as follows.
Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.
Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.
To put it simply, be consistent with your writing and when you do write make it good enough to last. For some sites they take this to mean write a list post every single day and that is some great flow. However, what is really the stock in list posts that offer very little substance? They are a great source of traffic and I use them from time to time, but are they passed around week, months and years after they have been written?
On Drawar, the most popular entry is a glorified list post, but that is because of the initial buzz that it received. After a couple of days the new links and tweets stopped coming in. However, I still get tweets and links from articles I wrote weeks ago because people are still discovering them and finding them valuable. They have good stock behind them and the traffic to them will only continue to grow over time.
Don’t ignore the power of a list post though. It can help bring awareness to your site, but it doesn’t guarantee success. It doesn’t guarantee that the same people that found you through that list post will return. The argument can be made that sites that produce a large number of lists posts are also the ones that are the most popular, but can you imagine what would happen if they took a week or month off? How many people will still visit their site when they already know what the lists contain? How many people will go back looking to refresh themselves on content that offers them no knowledge?
In running Splashpress, I encourage the writers in the network to write a list post if they feel they have the goods to back it up. If it helps them keep the flow of the content to the site going then make it happen. However, don’t ruin the stock by making it all about list posts.
Stock and Flow people, Stock and Flow.
A Tree Falls…
Most blogs suffer from the conundrum that the tree faces when it falls in the forest. If nobody is around, the question doesn’t become if it makes a sound or not, the real question is what does it matter if nobody is around to hear it? Great entries don’t find an audience themselves, you have to go out and be annoying. Some people are really good at this to the point that it makes me cringe. They promote their content so heavily that I wonder how people don’t get annoyed by it, but it works for them. I market my stuff to a lesser extent and probably would be better off by doing more of it.
For Drawar, the extent of my marketing is publishing the latest article on Twitter and DM’ing a couple of people from time to time depending on the content. Granted, I had the advantage of people knowing who I was before the site even launched, but if you aren’t at least doing what I am doing then how can you expect your site to grow? Don’t hesitate to shoot an email to the big dogs in your niche explaining why they should read your stuff. You have to sell the content though. I can’t tell you how many times I get an email from someone asking me to look at something they wrote and the extent of the email is “can you check this out?” No, I won’t check it out because I don’t know what it is or why I should be checking it out.
There are plenty of resources around the web offering suggestions on how to market your site. I’m sure you’ve come across at least three list posts this week trying to help you out. Google for them and if nothing shows up I will come back and write another article about marketing your site. Who am I kidding? I will probably write one anyway. Stock and Flow.
There are plenty of other things to worry about if you are looking to make your blog a success, but if you can’t get past Stock and Flow or the Forest Tree then you aren’t going to make it anywhere. You decide if you can pull it off and if you can, come back and let me know how it turned out. Chances are though you won’t make it past writing your first entry.