Blogging to an invisible audience? How to stay motivated
Do you think about blogging and it makes your stomach hurt? Never know what to say? Feel like when you do actually get around to getting a post up, you put hours and hours into making it great and then get absolutely NO likes, comments, tweets or shares and feel totally deflated?
Does it kind of feel like everyone else has hundreds of thousands of readers and the only person that reads your blog is your mom? (Hi Mom!)
Today's topic is one that is near and dear to my heart. Although I wish I could say that blogging your heart out even though no one seems to be reading is a subject I know nothing about, I actually have quite a bit of experience with it. That's a little tough for me to blatantly admit out loud (or on the keyboard) without my pride getting in the way and making me want to instantly hit "delete" for fear of appearing like a failure. HOWEVER, I still totally believe in the power of blogging to help you connect with clients and grow your business. I've had to train myself to stay motivated to continue putting in the hard work even when it seems like the results take forever to show up!
I've been blogging in one way, shape or form for almost five years now. I've seen periods of growth and periods of decline. I've had posts with thousands of views and posts with big, fat ZERO views.
The biggest takeaway that I've learned throughout my time in the blog-o-sphere is that you really need to have a defined purpose and strategy for your blog or else it will totally get the best of you and frustrate you to no end. Putting time and energy into drafting text, editing and curating images, thinking of stories to tell etc...all to hit "PUBLISH" and then hear the loudest crickets you've heard since that one summer night in 2005 when you accidentally slept with the windows open can be discouraging to no end.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to blogging. Many successful business owners don't even have blogs. Some people one post a month while others blog every day of the week. Some people show images and no text and others do amazing long form content with tons of crazy useful information. Again, there is no right or wrong, it's just a matter of staying consistent and on point with your own strategy and goals. If you blog just because you feel like you should (because everyone else is doing it) you are probably pulling your hair out!
Can I get an AMEN?
When I evaluated why my current blog was unsuccessful and then crafted a blogging strategy, I started to see some actual progress with my blog. Now, by no means am I a "top blogger" or raking in thousands of views a day, but I have seen steady incline these past few months despite a HUGE move across the country which obviously has resulted in me having little to no client images or posts to show.
Despite that growth, I often feel like all of the hard work I put into my blogging is getting me nowhere even though I know that is most likely not true. Staying motivated is key in order to stay consistent with my strategy. I am certain this strategy will help me achieve my goals in the future, but none of it will work if I get frustrated and give up!
So how do I stay motivated? I'm glad you asked!!
These are some ways I stay motivated to blog useful and relevant content to my target audience. Hopefully these ideas will help you keep on keepin' on when it comes to your blog!
CREATE A STRATEGY
If you don't really know why you are blogging, now is the time to find out! Is your purpose only to showcase client images? Do you want to provide useful information for brides or families? Do you want to use your blog to grow your business by connecting with clients or other small business owners? Take the time to sit down for a few hours and brainstorm your longer term strategy for what you want your blog to help you accomplish. In addition, jot down a schedule that you think you can stick to for posting.
STAY TRUE TO YOUR STRATEGY
Even though it can be very tempting to try out new things when you don't get the views or comments you were hoping for, staying true to your strategy is the only way to really create a cohesive and consistent presence online. Blogging is absolutely a momentum building exercise. No one starts a blog and instantly has tons of readers, it takes time and energy. Readers are selfish and with the amount of content that is available only a click away, you have to give readers a reason to come back. They come back because they know what to expect. If you are switching up your strategy all the time, readers will be confused and on to something else.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
If you know you won't be able to post 5 times a week, then don't make that a goal. Just because someone else is able to make that happen doesn't mean it is the only way to do things. If you don't feel comfortable writing lots of copy, don't make it a goal to publish 3000 word posts on a consistent basis. Think about what you want to accomplish and back into your shorter term and longer term goals based on what you can realistically accomplish.
When you do start to gain a readership (and you will, I promise) interact with them. Its called social media for a reason! ;-) Respond to comments and dialogue with your readers. Personally, whenever I receive a response to a blog comment that I made on someone else's blog, it kinda makes my day. Knowing that the writer read my comment and took the time to respond builds trust and makes me feel cared about. Let your readers know you appreciate them!
SHARE NEW AND OLDER CONTENT CONSISTENTLY
This is one of those concepts that I kind of feel embarrassed that I didn't really grasp for a while. My thought process was along the lines of "the newest post was the only one that really mattered" and "old posts are kind of 'dead' if they didn't get any traction when first published."
This could not be farther from the truth! Older content on your blog is just as important (if not more important) than your current or most recent post. One of my favorite things is stumbling across a website that includes a blog with TONS of easy to find and helpful topics on whatever it was that I was searching for.
It's kind of like the Target of blogging...everything you want in one place and you end up leaving with way more than you initially went there to get!
Make it ridiculously easy for readers to access older content on your site. Utilize a sidebar, a summary block at the end of your blog posts and don't forget an awesomely organized blog archive page to make it simple for readers to quickly access any topic of yours that they might be interested in. The more time a reader spends on your page, the more opportunity they have to fall in love with you and book your services or buy whatever you are selling!
CHANGE YOUR THINKING
If you are in a season of blogging without a consistent base of readers I want to challenge you to change your perspective. Whatever your blogging purpose and strategy might be, I want you to think about your blog as a sort of home base or foundation. Even though you may not have consistent readers now, at some point when momentum starts building and readers start flocking to your site, you will have a huge foundation of material already prepared for them to feast on. Tons of amazing posts that you spent time and energy creating will be sitting there just waiting to be read as readers get helplessly sucked into hours of time clicking from post to post and soaking in all of the amazing work you have done.
My house is warm and inviting and a place where happy things occur on a daily basis. It serves as a shelter for my family, we have meals here, we can host people and fellowship, we do life in this place. But this house was built brick by brick and it took time to become the place that it is. When those bricks were being laid, the promise of warm, laughter filled evenings cuddled on the couch were dreams so far in the future that they were hard to see. But those dreams aren't possible without the proper foundation.
So that is the challenge to you, oh faithful blog writer. Keep building that foundation...the beauty of the future is closer than it may seem!