5 Tips for Overcoming Blogging Plateaus

Anyone who has maintained a blog for even a few months or more knows that there are frustrating times in the life of a blogger where growth seems to come to a complete standstill. The nature of blogging involves adding new content to the site and continually picking up new readers through that content. However, there are times when common measurements like visitors, pageviews, subscribers, and even income are extremely difficult to improve upon.

These blogging plateaus typically lead to frustration. In this post we’ll look at some things that you can do when you’re on one of those plateaus to help make that push and get things moving forward again.

1. Focus on Actions Instead of Results

A lot of bloggers incorporate goals into their daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routines. Goals can be highly effective because most bloggers are working on their own, and there’s no boss or anyone else to keep them motivated. In this type of situation, goals can help by encouraging the blogger despite that lack of accountability to others.

Typical goals for a blogger might include:

  • Draw X,000 visitors in a month
  • Attract X,000 search engine visitors in a month
  • Make $X,000 in a month

While these goals can serve as motivation they don’t show you what you need to do in order to achieve them. If you’ve hit a plateau one of the best things you can do is forget about statistics and results and focus instead on actions. Actions will be more relevant to you in this situation because if you set up good action goals they can show you exactly what you need to do in order to get better results, removing the mystery of where to focus your efforts.

For example, here is a set of action goals that you could use:

  • Create a list of 100 possible post topics, and then chose the top 10 ideas.
  • Write and publish 2 news posts each week.
  • Write guest posts for 2 different blogs in the niche.
  • Introduce yourself to 10 other bloggers in the niche.
  • Submit 1 post per week to 5 different social media sites.

While it may be things like number of visitors and number of subscribers that you are having trouble improving, by focusing on these specific actions you’re likely to improve your blog, which will result in better numbers that help to get you off of that plateau.

2. Maintain Consistent Effort

The typical reaction of a blogger when hitting a plateau is discouragement and a loss of interest, and the effort winds up decreasing, which of course leads to poor results. However, if you are able to maintain a consistent effort and just keep pushing forward, you are likely to break out of that plateau before too long. Plateaus happen, as do peaks and valleys, and every long-term blogger will have to deal with them at some point. Try not to let slow or stalled growth to take away your focus and effort. If you set strong action goals and you maintain a consistent effort, things will improve.

3. Spend Extra Time Brainstorming Post Ideas

The best way to break out of a plateau is to publish a post that resonates with your readers, and winds up being shared through blog links and social media. These posts often wind up attracting more search engine traffic in the long-term because of the links, and the viral nature also leads to more subscribers and followers. Unfortunately, creating a great post is easier said than done.

From my experience, one of the best ways to maximize the impact of your posts is to spend time brainstorming post ideas. This is helpful for coming up with creative ideas and allows you to do something unique with your blog, which is when you really have a chance to break out of that slump.

If post topic brainstorming is not a normal part of your process, be sure to make time for it when you’ve hit a plateau. At this time you may want to take a detailed look at your blog’s statistics and determine what types or posts tend to work best, and which ones have the least impact. Obviously, this can be useful knowledge for deciding on post topics to pursue now.

There are any number of different ways that you can go about brainstorming, but essentially you just want to come up with a big list of post ideas. They don’t all have to be good ideas that would turn into successful posts, just write things down that are challenges faced by your readers, strengths you have that you could share with others, trends in the industry or niche, predictions, controversial topics, etc. Don’t judge your ideas immediately, just write them down and try to keep building on them. Eventually you’ll have a sizeable list and you can then read back through the ideas and see which ones you think might have the most potential.

4. Look for Opportunities Away from Your Blog

While it may seem like working on other things wouldn’t help your blog to grow in the short-term, that actually might not be the case. For example, you could contact the editor of a popular blog in your industry to see if they accept guest post submissions. If they do, you could possibly get a post with your author bio published on a major blog that shares your target audience. The link from this guest post can lead to click-through traffic, name recognition, and eventually improved search engine rankings.

Other opportunities, especially in the design industry, could include creating a resource to be distributed for free at another blog. Many designers create resources like icons, vectors, and brushes and then allow other bloggers to give them away for free in exchange for a mention and a link. Depending on the blog(s) that release your resources, it could provide a spark that gets your own blog moving in the right direction.

Still there are plenty more opportunities. You could participate in an interview to be published at another blog, collaborate with another blogger on some type of group project, be more active on Twitter and Facebook, and the list could go on. While these things will not directly impact the results of your own blog, they are all capable of sending traffic and increasing exposure in ways that you couldn’t do simply by focusing on your blog.

One caveat, this shouldn’t come at the expense of working on your own blog, but rather in addition to working on your own blog.

5. Increase Your Networking Efforts

One thing that all successful bloggers have in common is that they are surrounded by a strong network. Does the network make the blogger successful or does the successful blogger have an easier time building a strong network? The answer is a combination of both, and if you focus on establishing a strong network of your own you will be one step closer to achieving the success that you want.

A strong network won’t make up for a lack of quality content on your blog, so be sure to continue to focus on content, but also set aside some time for getting to know other bloggers and influential people in your niche. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook make it possible to communicate with influential people, but in order to build a deeper connection you will probably need to move beyond just using social media.

Don’t be afraid to fill out a contact form or email someone that you would like to get to know. Sometimes you may want to simply introduce yourself and what you are working on, and other times you may want to try to find a way to help the other person or have something to offer them in order to catch your attention.

Bloggers who run popular sites typically get flooded with email, so a simple introduction may not always catch their attention, but if you have some way to help them you’ll likely have more success. For this reason I think guest posting is a great way to network with influential people. Most bloggers and editors are always looking for quality content, and if you can help them out by providing a post (or several) that interest their readers they will appreciate you and you’ll have a better opportunity to network with them.

By building up a strong network you will increase your opportunities for getting links, having your content shared through social media, and you’ll also have valuable contacts that you can reach out to when you have questions or need some advice.

What’s Your Experience?

If you have faced blogging plateaus in the past, what did you do to get past them and get back to growth?

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14 Responses

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  • Jenn Staz, October 13, 2011

    This is a really helpful post, and a good reminder tha good content is the most important aspect to any blog. Brainstorming is one of the most helpful things for me to come up with more complicated ideas, or to see what complex ideas can be broken down into several smaller, more focused posts. Generating lots of buzz on sites like StumbleUpon and Klout also can greatly help generate traffic. Also, there may be a Facebook group out there for bloggers in your niche.

  • Bwendo, October 13, 2011

    When I reach a blogging plateau, it is helpful for me to go and look at other bloggers and see how they have managed to keep their content fresh without drifting too far off topic/niche.

    Going for a walk and focusing on other things makes for a fresh approach after a few days.

    Sometimes a few days away from the screen can make all the difference.

  • Chase Sagum, October 14, 2011

    I love #1 on this list. I am totally a victim of this. When I started creating goals around my blog I noticed the quality of my content drop month after month. It wasn’t because I stopped caring what I was publishing… it was simply that my focus was geared towards specific numbers and metrics rather than what you describe as “actions.”

    Because of this #3 and #5 started failing big-time as well and thus a spiral effect began. Thank you very much for this insight. The big thing I’m taking away from this is… to start focusing more on “actions” again!

  • Vandelay Website Design, October 14, 2011

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I’m glad it can help.

    I think most of us fall victim to that at some point. It’s easy to lose site of the action goals, but re-focusing on them can usually help to turn things around.

  • Jay, October 16, 2011

    Thanks for the great post – so many starting blogs seems to have great fresh content for a month or two and then nothing.. It sounds easy but hitting that wall can really cause you to lose interest.

    I think #1 is the best – it’s so easy to focus on results..and then just wait for them to happen.

  • kurukshetran, October 16, 2011

    nice one.thanks for u r help.i am lloking for getting more traffic for my blog….
    Happy blogging…

  • Aaron @ iamcreative.me, October 16, 2011

    Some really great advice.

    I am mainly a casual blogger with a few hundred visitors a day. But I find that creating a folder named simply “blog posts” then make notes, add links and add pics to the folder and filter through once or twice a week to choose my next post that way…

    !… makes me rethink about how I should go about it in the future.

    Food for thought, thanks for sharing.

  • Intravec Designs, October 22, 2011

    Blog sites like this one really help encourage new bloggers as myself find inspiration. The direction that you give are clear and to the point. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge.

  • Swamykant, October 27, 2011

    It is very true that we should focus on results and not on numbers. Nice post.

  • jamila, October 30, 2011

    Thanks, it’s hard to get over a slump, but these are solid, actionable ideas to keep the content flowing and fresh.

  • Kim, October 31, 2011

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Very good point you make about the importance of brainstorming. Most often, that extra time spent brainstorming makes all the difference to creating quality posts.

  • Tyler Herman, November 6, 2011

    I would also recommend doing a content audit of your blog. See what areas you say you write about that you might be neglecting.

    Also, check your old posts that are getting good search results and make sure they have plenty of internal links to your other more neglected content.

    There’s tons more but thats a few off the top of my head.

  • Lee, November 19, 2011

    After about a year I seem to have hit my first plateau. I do agree with the need to maintain the quality of the blog content. I’m sure more visitors will arrive as my archives increase – I seem to be getting more hits directly from search engines already.

  • James, February 10, 2013

    I’ve been the most active (in terms of publishing posts) in the 2 year history of my blog, but these past 5/6 weeks have plateaued in terms of visitors. Definitely need to come up with something that will bring more widespread attention!