This is a guest post by Marcus from The Sales Lion. Click here for information on how to guest post for Blogging Bookshelf.

Strong title, huh? Well, to be honest, it was meant to be. In fact, take a second and have hard look around here at Blogging Bookshelf. How many different blogs/authors do you see between all the comments, mentions, shares, etc? No doubt, there is a bunch. Heck, Tristan’s site has practically become a Mecca of writers from around the globe, all enthusiastically engaged in the blogosphere. But sadly, 12 months from now, many of the bloggers shown here will be an afterthought—a simple avatar coming from a once thriving site that now sits dormant, just waiting to dissipate into that cloud we all know as ‘the internet’.

As a professional blogger for two years now, I’ve actively engaged in the blogosphere and watched many writers come and go. In fact, if I had to make an educated guess, I’d venture to say that less than 10% of all blogs live to see their first birthday. Quite sad, isn’t it? So the question is why?

Why do so many ‘inspired’ individuals go through the process of starting a blog, writing content, engaging in ‘the community’—only to fade away? Although there are certainly many reasons as to why this phenomena occurs year in and year out, I’ve come up with my top 10 reasons why your blog WILL die before its first birthday:

1. No Core Motivation

RIP Dead BlogIf I had to ask you right now what the #1 purpose for your blog was, what would you say? (Oh, and you must be very specific with your answer)… I’ve personally asked this question to countless bloggers over these last 2 years and I’m always amazed at how few people truly know the core reason why they are doing this. Some say money, others might say community, others might say SEO—the list of vague answers goes on and on. In all of these cases though, I find that most bloggers have to ‘think’ about why they are doing what they’re doing. Here’s a tip for ya folks:

If you need to think about the core reason why you blog, then you’re already up a creek…..

That’s right; you shouldn’t have to think about it. The answer should be right there, just waiting to be shared with anyone who wants to know.

I’ll use my own example for a second. Why do I blog on The Sales Lion? Because I’m going to write a New York Times bestseller, that’s why. What, you think that’s a silly answer? For many, I’m sure it is. But for me, I came to understand years back that I have an internal desire to reach and teach as many people as possible. I see guys like Seth Godin, Steven Covey and others and I think—“That’s my calling. That’s my mission. That’s where I’m headed.” I also understand that the quickest way for me to get there is through my blogging platform. This is my core motivation, and all of the other benefits/reasons are secondary.

2. Money is your first priority

This goes along with #1 but easily the biggest reason why bloggers burn out quickly is because they’ve read some crazy promise online about how easy internet marketing is and all of the sudden they’ve got dollar signs dancing in their head. Look folks, I’m the first person to say that making money online is a wonderful thing, but if it’s your core motivation, you’re already in trouble. Remember, the only motivation that lasts is the stuff that comes from within (your passions), not the stuff that comes from the outside (all that other stuff).

Tristan’s note: I’ll admit that money is my priority here on Blogging Bookshelf. But I don’t just want money for the sake of having more money so I can buy cool stuff. I want to make money with my blog so that I can financially support a family by doing what I love. That’s the important distinction here. Its not just about what you want out of your blog but WHY you want that.

3. You’re really not that passionate about your niche

Yes, I know, a common theme is developing here. But seriously, how many times have you heard someone talk about how they got burnt out on their ‘niche sites’ because they really weren’t passionate about what they were doing? Personally, I can’t even start to imagine writing about stuff that doesn’t get my juices flowing. It makes no sense and it’s a dead end road.

Blogging is hard work. It often times requires great sacrifice, especially for those of us that have other jobs and responsibilities. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten home late at night and looked at the clock and saw it was past 12am yet, because of passion, was able to muster the energy and enthusiasm I needed to start hitting the letters on my keyboard.

Tristan’s note: Amen. I’ve burned out on literally dozens of blogs over the years because I just wasn’t that passionate about the niche. Can you spend an hour or two a week writing about a topic you’re not in love with? Yeah, probably. But it will take more than that hour or two a week to have a successful blog.

4. You’re expectations are too high

We all want more traffic. We all want quick results. But the reality is that neither typically occurs unless you’re some blogging nut with the initials T.H. ;-) The desire to garner better stats and more traffic is great, but if you go into blogging thinking it’ll happen quickly then you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

In my case, The Sales Lion took about a year to really get going. In fact, it wasn’t until this past January where things exploded. And how did I react during those months of hard work, dedication, and late nights? Simply put, I just kept moving forward. Although there were clearly moments of frustration, I knew results would come, if I only held the course.

Tristan’s note: It’s taken me almost 8 years of blogging to figure out how to have a successful blog. It definitely does NOT happen overnight. If you control your expectations, you won’t become discouraged and quit because you’re not seeing the results you want. Remember, most blogs don’t make it to their first birthday.

5. You’re too focused on traffic

Again, very similar to #4 but if you’re looking at your site’s stats more than twice a day, I submit you’re going overboard. I’ve heard of people checking their traffic stats every 10 minutes throughout a day. Are you kidding me? The problem with such a behavior is that the more you focus on ‘stats’, the less focus and energy you have for ‘creation’. And, as any successful blogger will tell you, your ability to think of and create new content on a consistent basis is an absolute key to success.

6. Your networking stinks

I’ve talked about this quite a bit lately simply because one of the biggest reasons why my blog didn’t take off for months was due to a serious lack of networking. At first, all I did was produce content, and the results showed—low traffic and few subscribers. It was rather depressing at times. But over the last few months I’ve completely changed my approach. I’m constantly looking for ways to mention other bloggers, promote their stuff, and add value to their community. And the results? I’ve now built incredible relationships with some amazing people and my traffic has increased by about 500%.

7. You’re not a ‘relaxed’ writer

What is a relaxed writer? It’s someone that knows who he or she is and simply allows their thoughts to flow onto the screen. A relaxed writer doesn’t analyze each and every word of his blog. Nor does he suffer from self-doubt and critical analysis. And he certainly doesn’t care if others think he is right or wrong.

I’ve had bloggers tell me before that an 800 word post took them 3 hours to write. What?? Are you serious? Look, I’m all for producing good, clean content, but paralysis by analysis is a very bad thing. My advice is simple: Stop thinking so hard and just type, the rest will just fall into place.

Tristan’s note: I’ve written about this before here: Are You a Perfectionist Blogger?

8. Your niche is too dang narrow

Just because you love a subject doesn’t mean you’ll be able to write about it, week in and week out, for years to come. For example, when I started The Sales Lion, I thought its focus would be on retail sales. Well, that lasted about 3 weeks until I quickly realized my focus was way too narrow, and I had a wealth of business and life experience that needed to come out. Today, the blog is all about sales, marketing, technology, small business, life, etc. And because it’s such a broad (yet still focused) niche, I have an almost unlimited supply of new ideas coming at me daily for fresh content.

Tristan’s note: I went through pretty much the same thing with Blogging Bookshelf. For about 2 weeks it was a book review blog. Then I realized it was too limiting and opened it up to blogging in general. And that’s when the passion for what I was doing really came out. It was also, not coincidentally, when other people started to notice my blog.

9. You’re lazy

I had to include this one. If you’re not self-motivated, blogging ain’t for you. I know such a statement may sound judgmental, but that’s because it is. Lazy people make for terrible bloggers.

10. You have no plan

To finish off our little list, I simply want to state that every blogger must have a plan. For example, Seth Godin writes every day. His posts go live every morning at 6:25am. He writes short articles, in a frank manner, and he makes a challenge to his readers in every article. This is Seth’s style and it works for him. He knows who he is and he’s dang good at being Seth Godin.

Every person’s style should be their own. But regardless of individuality, you should know what yours is. How often will you post? What days? What’s the most ideal post-length for you? How much time will you spend networking? If you can come up with and stick to a plan that answers these and other similar questions, you’ll be way ahead of the game and your blog will benefit greatly.

So there you have it folks. I know it was a little long, but I feel this subject is of such importance that I had to address it accordingly. But enough of my thoughts, I want to hear yours!

  • What is YOUR core motivation?
  • What are some other reasons that bloggers fail?
  • Why have YOUR blogs failed in the past?
  • What changes can you make now to ensure your blog makes it to its next birthday?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the above 10 points?

Remember, it’s all about community and lively conversation, so don’t hesitate to speak your mind below. :-)

Liked this post? Then head on over to Marcus Sheridan’s site and subscribe to The Sales Lion, where he’s been known to write some pretty rocking posts on blogging, sales, marketing, and how to be freaking awesome :-)