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Blogging Pitfalls: Why You Can’t Be Just a Blogger

Everyone knows what being a blogger entails but fewer people know what creating a successful blog involves. Far too many bloggers have fallen for the false mantra of “If you write it, they will come” only to watch their traffic, readership and even profits lag behind their efforts.

There is much more to writing a blog than just simply putting out new blog entries. Even ignoring promotion, communication and other activities all bloggers do, there is a simple truth that, for the most part, a great blog can not be simply a great blog.

Nearly all great blogs are something else too and it is important to be thinking about that both as you work to develop the idea for your site and as you grow it. Rather than focusing merely on the daily grind, you need to make sure that your readers have other reasons to both first find your site and keep coming back.

After all, blogs are a dime a dozen on the Web, without something more, your site may not be worthless, but it can sure feel that way.

The Pitfall

Simply put, most bloggers don’t pay much attention to why they read the sites that they do. This, unfortunately, really hinders them when trying to create a blog that others will enjoy and find value in.

As we write our daily and weekly blog posts, it can be easy to assume that blogging is nothing more than the process of creating new posts, editing them and publishing them. Throw in some Twitter work and some email, and many feel that their blog will take care of itself.

While this may be a tempting illusion, mainly because it makes blogging seem to be a lot easier than it is, it simply doesn’t pan out in reality. Instead, it is a sure-fire way to ensure that no one beyond your family and friends reads your site and that your blog languishes in obscurity, just waiting for abandonment.

The Danger

The problem is pretty simple. Most people who read blogs don’t view blog reading as purely a pleasure activity and they don’t actively seek out new blogs to read. Instead, they stumble across interesting blogs while looking for other things on the Web and then, if they are interested and willing to make the commitment, subscribe.

And for a reader, subscribing is a commitment. Many already refer to their RSS reader as their “second inbox” and some have even designed feed readers around avoiding the guilt associated with it.

Having a good blog is not enough to ensure that you get a good reader base and it is important to find ways to reach out to potential readers and to ens are the ones who come by. Otherwise, your blog traffic is not going to grow nor will your subscriber base and that, in turn, it going to make it very difficult to not abandon your blog as motivation to write will be very limited.

In short, if you want to keep your blog growing and keep yourself excited about it, you’ll need to do something to ensure that it is more than a blog, but rather, something that is unique and compelling for your readers.

How to Avoid It

The solution is simple. Try to describe your site as succinctly as possible without using the word “blog”. If you can’t do that easily, it may be time to rethink your strategy. If you remember that the term “blog” represents the format of a site, not necessarily a type of site, it becomes clear what you have to do.

Instead of focusing on being a blog, you have to find a way to use the blog format to make a site that is independently interesting and/or useful. There are many different ways you can do that. Here are just some of the easier ones to impliment:

  1. Be a News Site: Don’t be a blogger, instead, be a journalist or an expert. If you’re niche-oriented, focus on covering the latest and greatest news in your field and providing good commentary. People interested in the topic will subscribe.
  2. Be a Personality: Perhaps you are so interesting that a blog by and about you can work, but it needs to reflect you and be your voice. More importantly, it must be a way for people to interact with you. Those who find you interesting and compelling will subscribe.
  3. Be a Resource: Use your site to teach people things, offering tutorials, techniques and information relevant to a particular topic. If you can make learning something easy, people who are interested in your subject will subscribe.
  4. Be a Voice: A blog for a company or organization can provide a powerful and compelling voice for that group. If people are independently interested in said group, they will subscribe to the blog to get the latest news and information about it.
  5. Be Entertaining: If you have a talent for comedy, music, art or something else that you can express in blog format, using a blog to display that talent can make sense. People who find your work compelling will subscribe, though understand that this is the most dangerous route as often times people who are interested in other forms of art aren’t interested in reading blogs at all.

Remember that none of these are mutually exclusive and the most successful sites are able to combine two or three of these or other elements to reach the highest level of success possible.

But regardless of the path(s) you choose, you have to do one of two things. You can either create a different type of site and put it in a blog format or have something independently interesting and exciting that will make people want to read your blog.

Most readers simply will not add a new blog to their RSS reader without some very compelling reason and it is up to you, the writer, to give them such a reason. Sadly, “It’s my blog” is rarely a good enough excuse.

Bottom Line

With so many millions of blogs out there, you have to find a way to make yours stand out. If you’re fine with just your friends and family reading your site, then by all means don’t bother doing anything other than filling out post after post on whatever you feel like.

However, if you want strangers to read your blog and to grow your traffic, you have to go a bit beyond that and offer real, compelling reasons to subscribe. Your blog has to become a sales pitch with a subscription being the desired transaction.

If you can do that, you’ll likely find that your blog grows much more quickly than it would otherwise and you, in turn, will be much more motivated to keep writing. Don’t, and even though you are writing what you supposedly want to, you will likely find it harder and harder to maintain interest and passion as blogging becomes a very thankless chore.

Give your readers a reason to come back and they will thank you, don’t and you will be wondering where things went wrong.

Categories: Blogging: How To
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Comments

  1. Lady Litigator ) says: 8/18/2010

    All valid points and to the list may I add – be realistic. Have something to say and say it well. No one really cares what you had for dinner that night if you can’t write well and creatively.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/20/2010

      Agreed completely. It’s important to know thyself and know thy market…

      Reply

  2. dubcomm ) says: 8/18/2010

    I’ve found ‘blogging’ to be a great way of keeping my own multimedia projects in check… Growing my subscriber base isn’t as important to me, as say, sharing a new audio file via social networks and keeping track of the feedback all across the web. It’s purely selfish, the way I use my personal blog site, but I think that’s why I find it so rewarding.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/20/2010

      That’s an interesting idea I hadn’t considered, using blogging as a means to force yourself to work on other things. I can see how it would work though, kind of a self-check system. Good idea!

      Reply

  3. Maria ) says: 8/18/2010

    I’ve been keeping a personal blog since 2003 and have seen pretty flat (but not declining) readership for the past 3 or more years. I’m certain that the “problem” — if failure to grow readership could be considered a problem — is that my blog covers so many topics that it can’t keep the attention of all readers all the time.

    I’d like to double readership just to increase the potential for feedback via comments, but it isn’t really important to do so. There’s no advertising on my site (at least not right now) so it isn’t as if I need more readers to make more money.

    I blog more as a way to keep a journal of the things that go on in my life — which most agree are interesting on some level — than to “be a blogger.”

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/20/2010

      Like I said, if you’re fine with your traffic levels, then you don’t need to do anything more. However, knowing you, I would argue you are definitely a personality and a very interesting one at that :)

      Still, great thoughts though. Appreciate the input!

      Reply

  4. Hippy Hop says: 8/19/2010

    A lot of people with blogs do not really think of the profit they may gain from it. A lot of people simply want to have one where they can express or post whatever they want to. You can see that many of them do not have ads on their blogs.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/20/2010

      It really isn’t a matter of profit, it’s a matter of finding an audience and reaching out to new people. Even if there is no profit motive, most people don’t want to feel like they are talking to a wall as they could just keep a private diary at that point…

      Reply

  5. Jean Sarauer ) says: 8/19/2010

    Great idea to move beyond the ‘blog’ description and get right to the heart of the matter. In my case, it’s about providing a resource, creating a place that feels like home, and putting myself on the page.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/20/2010

      An excellent example of doing more than one thing to go past being a blog. No reason to limit yourself to just one selling point. I focus personally on being a resource and a news site at the same time.

      Reply

  6. Craig Sowerby ) says: 8/19/2010

    You are so right Johnathon,

    If you want to make a career to blogging or make a presence on the net, you need to think out of the box. Make your blog a gateway or stopping off point to funnel the traffic you bring in.

    You then control that traffic and send it to where you want. Other site’s affiliates or your own. Make sure you give value to your readers. If you find something that is interesting that your readers will like, share it with them.

    Cheers

    Craig

    Reply

  7. Carolee ) says: 8/19/2010

    I found I was “all over the place” with blogging.

    The solution? start MORE blogs :-)

    Seriously, you have made some valid points here.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 8/20/2010

      Lol. As I am fond of saying, brute force is always an option!

      Reply

  8. John Paul Aguiar ) says: 8/21/2010

    Greta post… Blogging is a whole new animal then it was 5 yrs ago.,

    You need to come with more then great writing skills to be a successful blogger.

    Reply