Every day thousands of blogs shrivel up and die in the vast, parched expanse that is the blogosphere. I know the corpses of many of my own blogs litter the field. Sometimes I sit and watch the death happen with a grim determination, and other times I keep my head down and keep pressing onward.
Either way, it’s usually not too much fun to think about all that time spent blogging and not having much to show for it after the blog is dead. But there’s a secret to keep your blog living – a fountain of youth for your blog, if you will – that will help ensure it stays happy and healthy for a long time to come.
The secret to dramatically increasing the odds of your blog surviving (making it to its first birthday, for example) is…
You might be thinking, “Pffff. Tristan, that’s lame! Give us a real blogging tip!” But seriously, all success or failure I’ve had in my blogging really comes down to this one principle.
Before I go into detail about what exactly I’m talking about here with regards to blogging, let me dive into a parable about another one of my passions: climbing.
Why Timing Is So Important: A Parable
I’m a very avid rock climber. I’ve been climbing for about 15 years now, and have been seriously into it (climbing multiple times a week) since about 2004. On top of that, I’ve been into ice climbing and mountaineering since 2002. I’ve done more than a thousand rock climbs (maybe two thousand? I don’t even know), including a couple hundred first ascents (climbs that no one has ever done before). Despite all of this, I’ve never gotten seriously hurt or been involved in an accident.
In other words, I know what it takes to come back safe and alive every day. In other, OTHER words, I know how to survive.
Timing is an extremely important component of this whole don’t-die-when-you’re-in-the-mountains thing. If you go mountaineering just after a winter storm, you could get buried in an avalanche. If you go ice climbing too late in the season when the temperature is getting higher, you could get crushed by collapsing ice. If you rock climb on sandstone (like I did over the weekend; that’s what the pic is from) after a storm, you could break off friable holds (causing you to fall) or your gear could rip out. You need to know when to climb and when to stay inside.
Timing and Blogging: My Personal Story
Just like with climbing, in blogging you need to know when to spring into action and when to sit back and bide your time.
There are a number of different ways timing plays a huge role in your blogging (and I’ll go through them in a series of future posts), but here I’m going to talk about timing and starting new blogs.
I’ve been blogging since 2003, and for the past few years I’ve wanted to start a blog about blogging. In fact, when my school semester ended at the end of 2009 for the Christmas holiday, I decided that it was a perfect time for me to start the blog. I had a lot of free time and I was super excited about it. I came up with a name for the blog, bought the domain, installed WordPress, got the blog looking the way I wanted it, got my RSS feed and email newsletter all set up, and wrote a few awesome posts.
But the blog never got beyond that point. I never publicized the blog and I never told anyone about it. I never got any comments, and nothing else ever happened. I aborted the mission before I’d even left the launch pad.
What happened? I realized that it just wasn’t a good time for me to start the blog. I was still in school and knew what I had to do in order to grow it at the pace I wanted. I also knew that I simple wouldn’t have that much time throughout the semester to work on it. If I started the blog then, I knew I’d eventually drop it.
Fast forward a year later to October 2010. I was about to graduate from school (I had actually already finished the required classes but hadn’t officially graduated yet). I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life except that I wanted to have a location independent business.
And then it hit me. “Hey! You’re not doing anything right now except being a climbing bum! Now is the PERFECT time to start that blog about blogging!”
And guess what? It was!
It took me a couple more weeks to come up with exactly how I wanted to approach the topic of blogging, to decide on a name, and to get everything set up. But then Blogging Bookshelf was born, I started blogging, and haven’t looked back since. It’s been absolutely fantastic, and I couldn’t have chosen a better time to start this blog.
Starting a Blog, Timing, and YOU
SO. Back to the title of this blog post: How to dramatically increase your blog’s chance of survival. To dramatically increase your blog’s chances of survival, you need to blog when you’re ready. First I’m going to talk about starting a new blog, and in the next section I’ll talk about to do if you’ve already got a blog.
I’m guessing that most of you reading this have about a thousand ideas for a bunch of different blogs. I’m no different. If you’ve been following the blog for very long, you know that I really want to start another blog where I pretty much just write about everything else that I want to write about: foreign language study, lifestyle design, lifelong learning, personal development, etc. But starting that blog is about the dumbest thing in world that I could do right now. I have my hands full with this blog and with product creation, not to mention everything else I’ve got going on. If I were to start that blog now, not only would Blogging Bookshelf likely suffer, but that new blog would probably die sooner rather than later, too.
How can you know if you’re ready to start a new blog? Well, it’s obviously different for every person, but here are some general guidelines and things to ask yourself:
- Do you already have a blog that is taking up time, or will this be your first?
- If you start a new blog, will the time you spend on it be taken away from your current blog(s), or will it be in addition to that time?
- How much free time to do you currently have?
- What will happen if you devote less time to your existing blog(s)?
- What are your blogging goals and corresponding time frames?
Timing and Your Existing Blog(s)
If you’ve already got a blog but have realized that now isn’t the best time for you, just stop blogging and come back to the blog later! This is exactly what I did with my rock climbing blog. I blogged there daily for the better part of a year before quitting it for 4 and a half months, only to start it back up again recently. Almost all of my subscribers stayed subscribed. No big deal!
I suppose someone might wonder, “But wouldn’t it be better to keep blogging but maybe at a reduced rate?” Well yes. If you can pull it off and still be happy with the results, yes. But keep in mind that writing blog posts is only a small part of the equation, and that blog promotion and product creation and everything else needs to be done. I’d say if you can’t do all of it, don’t do any if it. If you don’t have time to promote your blog, why bother writing post after post after post? You won’t reach your blogging goals (assuming that your goals are to get traffic and stuff like that), and you’re wasting your time and your readers’ time.
A Word of Caution
Now, having said all of that, let me warn you by saying that waiting for the right time to start a blog does NOT give you permission to put off starting a blog because you’re lazy or scared! Procrastination is a horrible aborter of many, many blogs before they’re even born. Don’t fall into that trap. But every blogger is different, and you’ve got to make that call for yourself and try to figure out the real reasons you’re not blogging.
And finally, if you want to start a blog and your future doesn’t look like it’ll be any better or easier to start a blog in, you’ve got a few options
- Just start the blog anyway and see what happens
- Don’t start the blog… and see what happens (see if you still want to start it in a month or three)
- Stop watching TV, or give up something else that you enjoy, and spend that time on your blog
- Wake up earlier or go to bed sooner
- Quit one blog and start the other
Again, this all really depends on you. There is no one-size-fits all advice to be had here.
Remember that when climbing in the mountains, you need to wait for that right time or else you’ll die. You really need to do the exact same thing with your blog… or else it’s toast and you’ll just be wasting your time working for .001 cents an hour (the AdSense earnings you’d earn from your blog before you quit).
- Did you start your blog(s) at a good time or a bad time, and why do you say that?
- How have you decided when to start a new blog?
- How many blogs have you started? (And how many do you currently have?)
- How many ideas for new blogs do you have? None? A few? Bazillions?