I’m guessing if you’ve put time and possibly money into starting a blog, you’re not planning on ditching it after a few months, right?
Except, for a lot of bloggers, this is exactly what happens. They get SO excited to start blogging and they write furiously for weeks and they have SO many ideas and SO many plans, but after a while that newness and excitement dies down. And then they skip a post and ignore social media for a few days, and then days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and they realize they’ve stopped blogging altogether.
What most bloggers don’t realize is that blogging is a practice. It’s something you include in your daily or weekly plan. It’s something you need to work at in order to make it grow. And while building a blog that lasts for years sounds amazing, it’s not always easy to accomplish.
So today I want to talk about a few things you can put in place and habits to cultivate to help you stick to blogging week after week, month after month, and yes, year after year.
Set your expectations
The number one thing that stops people from blogging for years is expecting success to either come quickly or come in one big blast of traffic or followers. For 99.9 percent of bloggers this is not going to happen.
Some of us are heading up the blogging hill in a turbo-charged Ferrari (I know nothing about cars, but that sounds like it would go fast, right?) and some of us are riding up that hill on a tricycle, but nobody is skipping steps by riding a turbo-charged Pogo stick because that is not a thing.
(High fiving myself for that weird metaphor right now.)
And I know it can be difficult to stick with it when you don’t see results or feedback from every single post – those comments and shares absolutely make it easier to stay motivated to blog – but your audience WILL grow little by little as you hone your design and writing skills and learn how blogging fits into your life.
Find your bigger purpose
When I started blogging for my business, I was writing a lot of tech tutorials. I wanted to help bloggers without a design background learn to update their blogs. Then I expanded that idea into helping them figure out what to write about and how to promote their content. And now I’ve stepped back a little more and am focusing on helping my students and readers dare to share what they love online.
As I’ve gotten to know my readers I’ve found that a lot of them (maybe you too) struggle with perfection procrastination, meaning they nitpick their niche or content or design and put off going live for weeks and weeks (sometimes forever) in an effort to get everything just right before they really get started. My job is to provide the tools to make blogging easier and a motivational kick in the butt to get people to go live and adjust as they grow.
Over the past 5 years my bigger purpose has become more about building confidence than about the technical details. While I do still help with tech issues all the time, that wasn’t building a big enough fire in me to keep me motivated to blog. But helping someone get past that initial scary launch moment and move into becoming confident in what they share (because some of my students share some damn powerful stuff!) can get me moving on even my most unmotivated days.
Schedule time off
Blogging and staying active on social media requires a massive amount of creativity. And for most people our creativity reservoir isn’t bottomless. Blocking a week or two off in your calendar when you will be unplugging from blogging, email, and social media can help to refill your tank, leaving you just as motivated and creative as you were at the start.
I try to create screen-free time during each day in the form of walking the dog, reading a book (though sometimes I am reading on my iPad), meeting up with a friend for lunch or a hike, and meditation (I’m a big fan of HeadSpace). Sometimes I get to do all of these and some days only the dog needing to go out pulls me away from work.
This year I’m also scheduling in a 2-week sabbatical where I’ll stay away from my blog and business completely. One of the reasons I’m recommending taking time off is that I have been bad about doing this myself (I’ve only taken a few weekends away sans work) and I am absolutely feeling the effects.
Your blog or business will not totally collapse if you do this. Schedule content to post in advance. Create an auto-responder. Hire a virtual assistant if you need someone to handle customer service while you’re gone.
Refine your process
This is one of the big things we cover in Dare to Grow to help keep students blogging consistently. It’s important to check in every 3-6 months and consider what tasks add to your bottom line and what just adds more work? What things make you feel excited and motivated and what do you wish someone else could take over or you could stop doing altogether?
If you’re putting daily or weekly time into a task (like going live on Twitter, tracking analytics in a certain way, creating graphics from scratch) that isn’t giving you enough of a bang for your buck, then it would be wise to adjust that process or skip that task altogether.
“I’ve always done it this way” is never a good reason to continue anything. Even if you’ve been YouTubing every week for 10 years – if it’s not making you feel good and it’s not bringing in money, subscribers, customers, etc., then you CAN switch to another tactic.
Build your team
Blogging is SO MUCH easier and less stressful when you have people you can check in with. I check in with my people to get through indecision, to expand on a flicker of an idea, to get support when I’m struggling or have screwed up. Your team can be a group of people you’ve met who are working on similar blogs/businesses/goals, it can be an online community you’ve joined, it can be a mentor or coach, it can be someone you’ve hired, or it can be your partner or friend who is a great listener.
Blogging can be a very solitary business/hobby and this can lead to digging deeper and deeper into your own bubble, and that is NOT a good place to be when things go wrong or you can’t figure out what to do. If you don’t feel like you have someone you can talk to or bounce ideas off of, then I encourage you to add that to the top of your blogging to-do list for next month.
There are communities for all types of niches, but you can always join my beginner blogging community here >>> (it’s FREE!)
Pay attention and be flexible
Lastly, if you stick with it for long enough, your blog will evolve. Whether it’s a shift in what you want to write about personally, how you want to brand your blog, or who is showing up to read your content – things will change. Being open to evolving is one of the most important parts of sticking with it long-term. If you’re too ridged in the types of content you post, who you’re writing for, or what you’re helping them accomplish, you may find yourself feeling burned out or forced to create content you’re not that into and that can lead to your motivation and creativity dulling over time.
Check in every six months to a year and ask yourself if the things your audience wants/needs from you match the content you’re producing. Ask yourself if you feel excited about what you’re writing about or if certain types of content light you up more than others. Check your analytics to find out which posts keep readers coming in, clicking, sharing, and moving through your site.
Last year I put out a survey and realized that a huge part of my audience didn’t have a blog at all and so I made a point to create more content, a free course and community to help them get started. That course now has over 3,600 students and a rocking Facebook group. If I had stuck so closely to the content I was creating, I could have missed out on connecting with all those people.
Unless you’re moving from writing about growing orchids to racing monster trucks, then making a shift doesn’t need to be a huge deal. Just ease in the direction that’s calling to you. You’re audience will get so much more out of your posts if you are excited about what you’re putting into them than if you continue to write about certain things because that’s what you’ve always written.