Nearly all bloggers have heard the “most blogs fail in three months” statistic. It’s a boogeyman of a fact if there ever was one.
It prevents some from even getting started. It wrings the joy out of writing in a few weeks. And it lets some bloggers walk away with a shrug, assuming they are in good company as they let their blog go dark.
You don’t have to fail.
You can make significant changes to your blog.
You can see success whether starting out new or retooling your blog. Follow these tips on achieving your blog writing goals this year.
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Why Your Blog Will Succeed (But Some Don't)
The high failure rate of blogs is truly depressing. It's no wonder that bloggers start the year with big hopes and plans, attempting to offset the inevitable.
But, like resolutions or any decision to make a change in life, failure is the dominant feature when considering how many are making the attempt.
New Year's resolutions fail because:
- People make ridiculous, unrealistic goals.
- People don't mentally prepare themselves to meet the goals and fend off doubt in the meantime.
- People use guilt, fear, or "bootstrap" resolve to meet goals.
- People neglect to find supportive people to surround themselves with.
So, why are blogs so short-lived?
In a survey we conducted, we discovered that 33% of bloggers spend two hours on a post. Another 25% spend 3 hours on a post.
That is a significant time commitment for something, particularly if you're just getting started and aren't seeing the return on that time investment that more established bloggers experience.
You have to keep writing without any promise of return and do this for a while.
A few weeks or months in is when most bloggers give up. The lack of return in the face of the amount of work it takes to blog makes shutting down the blog easy.
In short: Blogs are hard work. Be ready for that, and you'll succeed.
How To Commit To Your Blog
The same techniques that you might use to keep your New Year's resolutions can help your blog, too. As with those resolutions, it's simply a matter of committing to something—in this case, your blog—and approaching these changes with an attitude for success.
Your blog doesn't have to fail, but it will if you don't follow this list.
1. Don't Over-Commit When You Start
Let's say you aren't much of a runner. If you've never run before, making a resolution to run 10 miles a day starting tomorrow is setting yourself up for failure.
When you over-commit at the start, it's easy to hurt yourself and too hard to keep with it. The same can be said for starting a blog.
Consistency matters more than frequency, so start small with your blog.
- Aim for one post a week, and make it a good post.
- Discover your method for creating a blog post and make it a habit.
- Get started on your own, and worry about adding members and assembling your blogging team later.
Make small goals that you can achieve at the beginning. You need some success under your belt to get the courage and inspiration to up your goals, so succeeding at a few small goals will give you just the right amount of confidence to go forward. Crush your blog writing goals.
2. Start Small Toward A Big Goal, And Have Fewer Goals
A better method than starting off with running 10 miles a day?
Make that 10 miles a day the big goal, and start by running a mile a day. Then increase it, bit by bit. And have fewer goals to start with.
A Stanford University study found that the willpower you have at your disposal is limited. You can only achieve so much before it dwindles and you begin backsliding.
So, if you create many blog writing goals to accomplish at the same time, you'll burn through the willpower.
Perhaps you'd ultimately like blogging every day, having a highly active presence on social media, and that you want to create an e-book each week. Three goals sounds easy! But they aren't really just three goals.
These are three huge goals made up of many smaller benchmark goals, and you certainly can't do all of that at once. Choose one big goal, and work toward it. Then move on to the next one.
Start small. Have just a few goals. Achieve them. Set some more goals. Follow that pattern.
3. Be Specific About Your Blog Writing Goals
In the American Journal for Health Promotion, researchers found "the more specific you make your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it."
Instead of saying you will "blog more", your goal should be "blog twice a week". Instead of saying you will "use social media better", your goal should be "three Twitter posts a day".
You need something specific as your goal so that you know exactly what it takes to get there.
Vague blog writing goals allow for confusion and leave wiggle room, which allow you to wiggle right out and give up.
4. Put Something That Matters On The Line
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers discovered that people who were trying to lose weight were more successful if they put money on the line.
If those folks failed to lose weight, they would forfeit the money they set aside prior to beginning their diet. The participants that had money riding on their weight loss actually exceeded the goal, so powerful a motivator was the fear of losing their own money.
What if you and your blogging team were to use this idea, and set up a "bank" of things that mattered. Perhaps you have the best location in the office. Put that on the line. If you don't meet your blog writing goals, you forfeit the space.
This seems to be a harsh motivator, but some personalities respond quite well to the idea of losing something that has meaning. Find out what motivates you.
5. Bundle Your Challenges Together
Consider the habits you are trying to overcome—and those you're trying to establish. These are the two battles that are consuming your energy.
What if you were to bundle them together so they played off of each other?
In a New York Times article about keeping resolutions, the authors suggested an interesting scenario. Let's say you were trying to stop reading trashy novels so much, and you also wanted to work out and exercise more. You could bundle these two goals by allowing yourself to read those novels only while working out.
For your blog, make a list of what comes easy to you, and what doesn't.
- What habits are you trying to break?
- What habits are you trying to form?
- Could you bundle them?
Let's say you love diving into your feed reader and reading blog posts to get ideas and also love getting involved in the conversations on those posts. Conversely, you hate writing your own posts. You could bundle these by setting up a system where you cannot visit your feeds until you've completed the draft of a post.
Again, it's a harsh motivator, but if you're really struggling to find a way to meet blog writing goals, you need to find out what motivates you. This technique might (and it might not) motivate you.
6. Surround Yourself With People On The Same Path
Find others who have a similar goal, or are at least of the same mindset aiming toward improvement.
Having the wrong people around you will only make you fail, or add to the burden that you are trying to overcome. A study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology discovered that the wrong crowd can increase your stress and other negative health factors.
If your goal is to increase traffic and see various kinds of measurable successes on your blog, you shouldn't surround yourself with bloggers who are after more ephemeral or abstract blog writing goals. You cannot really support each other with anything other than an attaboy since any serious advice you might suggest would not align with either party's goals.
Additionally, people who are not on the same path sometimes, even unconsciously, attempt to get you to change course.
"Oh, traffic doesn't matter. It's more important to have people that are reading instead of lots of hits."
That's a fine statement if your goal is to write posts that people finish reading, but it isn't very encouraging if you have a goal that involves a specific number of hits per day.
7. Keep Writing As You Build Momentum
Just as over—committing to blog writing goals that are too big sets you up for failure, so will an eye for expectations that are too large.
You will likely not have thousands of readers the first week. You have to write and build up a platform, a reputation, and a following. In other words, you have to keep writing even if it feels like no one is reading.
Anyone who has ever set up an exercise goal can appreciate how difficult it is to start and to keep going. It takes awhile to get from there to that magical time when exercise starts becoming fun, and when you finally start seeing results.
Most of us are motivated by results, and when it takes a while to see those results, we get discouraged. I call that time. It can be so easy to quit when you aren't seeing results. And that, unfortunately, is where most new blogs find themselves lodged and are never able to reappear on the other side.
Build your own momentum. Find encouragement and reward in the measurable thing that is apparent right now, before those measurable results are seen.
For example, your dream goal might be 1,000 hits per day. Set up a companion goal that is measurable now, such as posting twice a week. While you may not see those 1000 hits a day immediately, you will be able to measure your success on how often you post. The latter is completely in your control and helps you build your own momentum that propels you forward and ultimately helps you reach that dream goal that is not in your control.
Dream goals and companion goals work best if they are related. Posting consistently and frequently is connected to increased traffic. They make a good pair.
8. Planning, Planning, And Then More Planning.
We love planning here at CoSchedule. We're all about planning and appreciating the structure it provides.
Planning better can be a goal in and of itself (and makes a great companion goal, like we just described above), and it is also a technique that can create a foundation for success for other goals.
Keep Being SMART About Your Goals
SMART goals are what we're talking about here. That's an acronym that quickly describes what we've talked about in this post.
Make sure your blog writing goals are SMART goals:
- Specific: Your goal can answer who, what, where, why, when, and how?
- Measurable: Your goal can answer "how much". Your goal must be quantifiable. You must know when it will be completed based on a specific measurement.
- Achievable: Your goal must be realistic for you and what you currently have at your disposable.
- Relevant: Your goal must make sense for you, your blog, your business, and your time.
- Time-bound: Your goal should have a time frame. This helps with motivation and knowing when things are complete.
January is the time of year when the pressure to change for the better is almost overwhelming. Whether you make the changes in January or July is irrelevant. The success you see on your blog (and in other resolutions) rest on how well you create the goals it takes to get you there.