Blogging provides anyone with the opportunity to publish content and the potential to make money. Because of this, there are hundreds or thousands of new blogs launched every day. Unfortunately, there are some significant challenges that most new bloggers face, and in many cases the challenges are significant enough to lead the blogger to give up.
In this post we’ll look at five problems that many bloggers face, especially in the early days of their blog, and we’ll also look at some ways that these problems can be overcome.
1. No Comments from Visitors/Readers
It can be very frustrating to dedicate time creating a blog post, only to sit and wait for comments that never come. The interactive aspect of blogging is what draws many people to get started with their own blog, but in reality many new blogs have trouble attracting comments. If you find that your blog posts don’t usually get the attention or feedback that you had hoped for, you’re not alone.
Here are a few tips to get the comments flowing.
Leave Comments on Other Blogs
When I started blogging one of the most effective ways of building an audience and attracting comments was to leave comments on other blogs. I focused on other small blogs rather than industry leaders, because those bloggers were more likely to notice and appreciate the comment, and sure enough, many of them came to my blog and returned the favor.
The key is to leave intelligent comments that add something to the post or the discussion, as opposed to leaving a generic comment like “Great post!” Set aside some time every day to leave comments, and make an effort to comment at the same blogs several times so that the bloggers start to recognize you. Once you get a few comments and an active discussion going on your posts, you’ll find that even more people will jump in and leave comments of their own.
Respond to the Comments that You Get
You can show the commenters that you appreciate their comments by responding, and you can also take a moment to visit their blog and leave a comment. Many commenters will enter a URL of their blog when posting their comment, and they’ll appreciate seeing that you have taken the time to visit their site and leave a comment. This helps to build the community of a new blog, and once the community has been developed other things get much easier.
In your post content, especially at the end of posts, ask questions to your readers. Make it clear that you are seeking their feedback, and even ask for their opinion. One of the best ways to increase the number of comments that you get is to simply encourage it in this way.
Write Thought-Provoking Posts or Cover Controversial Topics
Certain types of blog posts tend to attract more comments than others. Anything that makes readers think and encourages them to form and share an opinion will be more likely to receive comments. I’m not a big fan of writing controversial posts intentionally just to get attention, but many bloggers have used this approach to increase their exposure and it can lead to a lot of comments. However, your post and opinion doesn’t have to be controversial, if you cover controversial topics in any way it tends to increase the feedback that you’ll get.
2. Not Enough Traffic
Possibly the most frustrating challenge for many bloggers is trying to attract more visitors. In fact, most bloggers don’t give very much thought to how they will attract visitors until after the blog has been launched and they find that not many people are visiting. Regardless of how much traffic you have, you’ll always want more. But for new blogs this can be a discouraging problem to face, and it’s one that leads many bloggers to give up and stop blogging.
This is a topic that is far too involved to cover in depth in this blog post, but here are a few proven methods for getting visitors and bringing life to a struggling blog.
Re-Evaluate Your Posts
Take a step back and look at the types of posts that you are publishing to make sure that you’re providing original content that is worthy of attention. What other types of posts could you try? How could you differentiate yourself from other blogs in the industry/niche? Are your posts working together to develop the style that you are hoping to achieve? Are certain types of posts having more success than others?
Evaluating your own blog posts isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary in order to have the best blog that you are capable of. If you can use your own insight to improve the quality of your posts or to find other posts styles or topics that will appeal to your target audience, you will be in a much better position to attract and retain readers.
Write Guest Posts for Other Blogs
Probably my favorite method of promoting a new blog is to write posts that are published on other blogs. There are tons of blogs out there that are looking for quality content, so getting your articles published isn’t that difficult, but it does take some time. The benefits of writing for other blogs include getting links to your blog (in the author bio), increased name recognition in your industry, a chance to improve your skills (writing for other blogs and larger audiences will force you to be at your best), and you’ll get a great opportunity to network with other blog owners and editors. For these reasons I think it is easily worth the time.
The traffic that you will get from guest blogging is unlikely to reach huge numbers from any one blog post, but if you are consistently posting on other blogs throughout your industry it will add up over time. And the links are also great for SEO purposes, which can help to send search engine visitors in the future. The networking aspect is also a tremendous opportunity, as getting to know influential bloggers in your industry can lead to all kinds of opportunities in the future.
My recommendation is to set a goal of writing one guest post per week, and of course you can stop at any point when your feel that you have achieved your goals of increasing exposure to your audience. Take a look at other blogs in your industry and see which ones are publishing posts from several different authors, as they will be great candidates for guest posts. I’d also recommend starting with smaller blogs to get a little bit more comfortable, as writing for a major publication with a huge audience can be pretty intimidating.
Use Social Media
While traffic coming from most social media sites may not be as high quality as some other types of traffic, it is still a potential source of traffic that works very well for new blogs. If there are niche-specific social media sites that apply to your blog definitely take advantage of them and submit your posts. For those in the design industry, sites like Design Bump, The Web Blend, and Design Float can be excellent sources of targeted visitors. Just as importantly, it’s easier to have success with niche social media sites than it is with major sites like Digg and Reddit, but the numbers of visitors will not be as high. Twitter and Facebook are also excellent sources of exposure and traffic, so if possible have a profile on those sites and be active. (If you’re not sure if any social media sites exist in your niche, check this list of social media sites.)
New bloggers often find that it is difficult to get votes for their content on social media sites, even if the content is of very high quality. Voting social media sites are a lot easier to have success with if you have existing traffic to your blog (and you use buttons/widgets to encourage votes) or if you have an established network of social media users who will vote for your content.
One way that a lot of bloggers get votes for their content is to get in touch with other bloggers in their industry/niche and agree to help each other out with votes, tweets, or likes. This way everyone helps each other to get a little bit more exposure, and with niche social media sites it usually only takes a few votes to get your content to become “popular”.
3. No Clear Purpose
Every blog should have a clear purpose. If you’re maintaining a personal blog your focus is probably just to communicate with friends and family, so you can pretty much post whatever you want. But if you are blogging for business purposes you should have an idea of what you want to get out of blogging. Many people start blogs because other people are doing it and they feel that it is important, but they don’t always know specifically why.
If your blog does not have a clear purpose it will be difficult to retain the interest of your visitors. They may like one post that they stumble across, but the other content may not be of any interest to them, so they’ll stop coming back.
Here are some suggestions for making sure that your blog has a clear purpose.
Think about why you want to blog
Do you want to blog simply to share your thoughts and opinions? Do you want to use the blog to promote your services? Do you want to sell products? Do you want to build your reputation and position yourself as an expert? Do you want to make money from affiliate products or ad clicks?
The path that you take with your blog should be heavily impacted by your purpose. For example, if you are blogging to build your reputation or to promote your services you will want to focus on providing the highest quality of content possible, and the type of information that visitors are not getting anywhere else. If you’re able to accomplish this, people will start to see you as an expert and your services will be in demand even if you are not aggressively promoting them.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish with your blog, look at your blog posts as being stepping stones to get you to that goal. What types of content and what topics will help you to get to where you want to be?
Another important aspect that can have a big impact on helping you to reach your goals is your blog theme design. If your goal is to promote affiliate products or to get ad clicks, you’ll probably want to use a simple theme that allows visitors to notice the ads. If you want to use the blog to sell products, of course you will want to promote those products in locations on the theme that will get attention from your visitors. If you want to position yourself as an expert in the field you will want to use a professional-looking theme, and you may want to give away something like an ebook that will help you to further position yourself. Many bloggers with this approach will promote a free ebook at the top of the sidebar or in a popup window.
4. Very Few Repeat Visitors
While getting traffic is certainly a concern for many bloggers, repeat traffic really is what is most important to a blog’s long-term success. In order for a blog to achieve and maintain a high level of success, it must be able to build a community. The community of users are people who come to the blog on a consistent basis, hopefully they leave comments at least occasionally, and they’re also more like to share a link or vote for the content on social media sites.
If your blog is struggling to keep visitors coming back for more, here are a few suggestions.
Encourage Subscriptions by Email and RSS
One of the best ways to get readers to come back is if they subscribe by RSS or email. Subscribers will see your content any time something new is posted, so it’s very likely that they will see something they like in their RSS reader or email inbox and return to your site. You can encourage subscriptions by placing links, icons, buttons, or sign up forms in prominent locations on your blog where they will be easily noticed. Also, you may want to consider mentioning the various subscription options in a blog post. Some bloggers also give away something for free in order to encourage subscriptions, ebooks are popular for this purpose.
Consider Starting an Email Newsletter
Another way to stay in front of your audience is to use an email newsletter to communicate with them. The newsletter can be a summary of things that you post on your blog, other short articles or tips, or really anything that will be of interest to your audience. The methods for promoting an email newsletter are basically the same as the methods mentioned previously for encouraging subscriptions.
Have a Customized Blog Theme
Part of attracting repeat visitors is branding your blog and making sure that it sticks out in their mind. In the future when they are looking for information on a topic relevant to your blog hopefully you will come to mind. Branding yourself and standing out from other blogs in your niche is easier when you have a custom designed theme that is unique to you. Not all bloggers can afford a custom design when getting started, so another option is to make customizations to an existing theme to give it a more personal feel. You could have the header customized, add a photo of yourself somewhere, change the color scheme, add a background image, or any number of things.
Publish Posts on a Regular Schedule
If you tend to publish posts on a consistent schedule (for example every Monday and Thursday) you’ll find that visitors and readers start to expect to see something new from you, and they are more likely to come back to your site to see what has just been published. If you publish posts whenever you happen to have content ready, visitors will have no idea when something new is likely to appear. Publishing frequently (usually at least once per week) will help with building a stronger community around your site, and this will lead to more repeat visitors.
Be Consistent with Promotion
In addition to posting on a regular schedule, it can also help to consistently promote your posts in the same places. If you consistently submit your posts to the same social media sites, other users of those sites will get used to seeing your content there, and they’ll be more likely to view your blog as a leading source of content in the industry. Rather than submitting each post to somewhere different, try to build some connections with other users of the sites where you are promoting your content on a regular basis.
Encourage Facebook and Twitter Interaction
While social news sites like Digg used to be the most sought after source of traffic for bloggers, Facebook and Twitter are a lot more productive for most bloggers right now. If you can build a decent profile at either site you can help to keep visitors coming back to your blog as you share links to your posts at those sites. If you have a profile at these sites make sure that you are linking to it from your blog so it is easy for your visitors to find you there, and if you don’t already have profiles at Facebook and Twitter now is a great time to start.
Provide the Best Content Possible
The most effective way to keep your visitors coming back is simply to publish great content. If your content really connects with visitors, they’ll want to come back in the future. All of the marketing and promotional efforts you can possibly do will not make up for poor content, and even with below average promotion great content can succeed over a period of time.
5. Low Income/Revenue
If you’re not blogging for personal reasons you most likely want to make money from your blog either directly or indirectly. Although the potential to make money blogging is rather high, in reality only a small percentage of bloggers ever achieve their income goals.
If your blog is not producing the amount of revenue that you would like, here are a few tips.
Don’t Expect to Make Money Right Away
Building a profitable blog takes time. It’s extremely rare that a new blog will produce any significant income in the first few months, or even the first year in many cases. Many bloggers expect to see results very quickly, and they get discouraged even though they are making great progress simply because income is low. If you have realistic expectations and you’re willing to put in some work up front and have patience, making money with a blog is very realistic.
Have a Plan
How do you want to make money with your blog? There are a lot of different possibilities, and we touched on several of them earlier when we talked about having a purpose for your blog. Some common ways to make money with your blog include: ad sales, AdSense, affiliate products, memberships, premium content, product sales, and promoting services. It’s natural for your plans to change a little bit over a period of time, or to add new monetization methods as your blog grows, but it is good to have a general idea of how you would like to monetize the blog.
For example, if you plan to sell premium content to monetize your blog you will need to prove that your content is worth paying for, so you’ll need to produce high-quality content for free first. Or if you want to monetize the blog through AdSense and affiliate programs you will probably want to do keyword research before launching the blog to make sure that there are enough people searching for a particular phase and that the payout will be significant enough to justify your time.
Don’t Rely Only on One Source of Income
For the best income potential and security you should attempt to generate revenue from a few different sources. This is especially true as your blog grows and more income opportunities arise, and it’s also more applicable if you intend for blogging to become your primary source of income.
Focus on Building a Following and a Reputation
Making money with a blog is much easier when you have an established audience and when you have earned the trust of your readers, especially if you are attempting to sell a product or if you are promoting affiliate products. Your recommendations will carry a lot more weight if your readers feel that they can trust you. If you’re able to build a large and loyal following, income opportunities will follow.
Never attempt to make a quick buck from your blog if it might cost you the trust of your readers. If you’re able to wait to monetize your blog and you can focus on just building your following for now, you will probably be better off in the long run.
Identify Problems that Your Readers Face, and Solve Them
The most effective products and services that are promoted through blogs are those that solve problems for readers. Whether it’s information that they are struggling to find, an app that helps to simplify their life, and consulting that helps them to overcome their own challenges, solving problems is a great way to ensure your own success.
This applies to creating your own products and services as well as to finding the right affiliate products to promote. Take some time to think about your audience and the challenges or problems they face. How can you help them? Are there existing products that you could promote as an affiliate?
Focus on Building Search Traffic and Repeat Visitors
Search engine visitors and repeat visitors will generally be worth more to your blog than other sources of traffic, like social media. That’s not to say that those other sources of traffic don’t have a place, but the goal should be to ultimately build a steady flow of traffic from searches and from repeat visitors. Once you have established this type of traffic you will have to work a lot less at promoting your blog, and you can focus more on things like producing content and monetizing the blog.
What are the Most Significant Blogging Challenges that You Have Faced?
If you’re a blogger we would love to hear what challenges have presented the biggest obstacles for you and how you have worked to overcome them.