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?