Houston, We Have a Problem

Mission Control

You’ve launched your blog using the step-by-step plan laid out a few posts ago. Now you’re in orbit, circling the blogosphere, when suddenly, something goes wrong. Maybe you’re stuck. Maybe you’re scared. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the whole process. Relax. Even Apollo 13′ s technical malfunction turned out okay in the end and was dubbed Nasa’s “successful failure.” Let’s go over some things that can cause blog failure, and trust me, these issues are much easier to repair than a ruptured oxygen tank.

Reasons Blogs Fail (and how to avoid them):

Laziness

You’re probably not lazy. However, if you are, there’s not much I can do to help you there, so blogging probably isn’t for you. Have a nice life.

Wrong Motivation

Whew! You’re still reading, which means you’re not lazy. Blogging success takes time, effort, and patience. Keep your list of reasons for blogging in a prominent place on your desk, and when you get that arrrggghhh feeling, stop and read them. If you still have that anxious feeling in your gut, maybe you didn’t identify the real reason behind your decision to blog. Re-read “Ready, Aim, Blog.” Find a quiet place and try to get a perspective on your deepest reason behind blogging.

For instance, I have many friends who are novelists for the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) market. Most of them blog. Let’s say one of them, we’ll call her Suzie, is a new blogger. She decides her blog’s purpose is to increase awareness about her books with the hopes of selling them. There’s nothing wrong with that. Novels take an extreme amount of work and dedication to complete, so it’s perfectly fine to blog in hopes of reaching readers (i.e. making sales). After a short time, Suzie’s blog takes the back burner in her life. She has a preschooler, a demanding day job, PTA meetings, deadlines for her next book, and the list of life stuff goes on. Soon, she stops blogging altogether and wishes she’d never started. She’s embarrassed to pass out her business cards because she hasn’t updated her site in months.

Maybe Suzie stopped digging for her purpose before she hit pay dirt. Why do people write novels? They love stories — whether it be history, fantasy, romance — novelists are storytellers. Okay. That might not be enough to motivate Suzie to put in the extra hours each week it’ll take to maintain a successful blog. Why did she choose to write Christian novels. Maybe she was inspired by a novel she read. Or maybe, just maybe, she’s using her talent for ministry — to reach out to someone who has struggled with a life issue or even to reach a lost soul with the Gospel. Even if you aren’t a religious person, you can see my point. If Suzie realizes her true motivation behind the blog is to promote not only her words, but His word, then she’ll likely make her blog a priority.

But, you say, my blog is about golf. What’s noble about that? I believe you can find a deep purpose in just about anything. Golf tournaments are one of the most profitable fund-raising events charitable organizations can hold. Write about golf, yes, but help local groups by promoting their golf-related events on your site. When your blog begins to make money (we’ll be getting into money-making very soon for those who are interested in that topic — very soon!), perhaps you can even contribute a portion of your blog’s profits to your favorite charity.

I’ve found that for most bloggers, their commitment level is only as deep or shallow as their purpose. Find a deep one!

Faking It

This is almost worse than laziness, but yes, some bloggers are phonies. Seriously — there are people out there who populate their posts with RSS feeds from other bloggers and never touch their keyboards. If you’re doing that now and reading this blog with hopes of learning how to become a real blogger, okay. Everyone deserves a second chance. But if you’re here trying to learn a new scam — scram!

Wrong Market

So maybe you’re not cheating, but you’ve done some market research and discovered an obscure niche for collectors of blimp paraphernalia. You picked your topic because almost no one is writing web content on this subject (RED FLAG alert!), so you’re sure your blog will likely rank well and quickly. Hint: If the closest you’ve ever been to a blimp was watching it hover over the field during a televised football game, you may be in the wrong market. Picking a market you know almost nothing about will soon become burdensome due to the vast amount of research required to keep more informed than your audience. Choose a broad topic you’re familiar with, and then do some market research to select a target audience.

Lack of Focus

I’ll admit to falling victim to this category, and the abandoned carcasses of many a blog are scattered across the web’s wasteland to prove it. (Yes, I plan to take them down, but many are still online.) I have a number of interests — photography, travel, personal development, humor writing, hobby farming, even politics — and I’ve started at least a dozen blogs on assorted topics. The good thing about this is that I’ve learned enough in the process to feel capable enough to teach others about blogging well. If you’re struggling with lack of focus — go back to the point on purpose. Which of your interests has the deepest well of purpose? There ya go!

Information Overload

We’re constantly inundated with information. I mean, we’re living in the information age, right? It has come to the too-much-of-a-good-thing point, though, and now many people have stopped gathering information. Trends are showing that we’re moving past the information age into the “recommendation age.” People are tired of gathering, sorting through, and processing information, and more and more they’re looking to others whom they trust to do the research for them. To put it simply, we’re transitioning into a “Just the Facts, Ma’am” society.

This is important to bloggers. If you allow yourself to become caught up in the info overload trap, your blog will suffer. But if you pick your topic, do your homework, and position yourself as an expert in it, you’ll become the go-to-guy (or gal) for your target audience. And that, my friends, will lead to dominance in your niche.

If you have any blog-failure (not to be confused with Fail Blog) stories you wish to share, please use the comments section. If you’re still struggling, maybe we can help. If you’ve overcome an issue that could have led to the death of your blog, please tell us how you turned it into a “successful failure.”

Happy blogging!

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