The Secret to a Successful Blog? Failure and Determination!

If you’re new to blogging then you’re probably a bit overwhelmed but very excited at the same time. Well, do yourself a favor and accept now that you’re going to have failings throughout the blogging process. You will have an amazing idea, try it, and nobody cares for it. This will happen a lot. However, it’s a component of a successful blog – really.

The thing is to accept that, know that, and to learn from it.

Failing is Normal

I started my first blog as a means of selling my commission painting services for miniatures. The blog let me promote myself and showcase my work. I quickly turned the blog into a blog about Warhammer 40K, a tabletop wargame I got into playing, and I stopped offering commission painting.

For years and years I wrote content at a breakneck pace for my blog. I was averaging over 20 articles a month; it was insane. However, that’s all I did – I wrote and kind of did so mindlessly. I created various article series that I thought were clever. I’d figured the readers would love them, and that those series would be my claim to fame. I was wrong. Nobody cared.

Desperate to get more traffic and more readers, I started running polls on my blog. I wasn’t into covering breaking news, but a close 2nd was running polls on the breaking news. It was simple, it was easy, and it would get the same traffic as those searching for the news itself. I was wrong again.

During most of this, I was also taking on a lot of new authors. I thought if I could just push articles out at a fast enough pace that the readers would come. This wasn’t entirely wrong, but it also didn’t have the amazing impact I thought it would. My traffic moved in a positive direction, but it was barely noticeable.

Depressed

I could go on and on about all the things I tried and failed with, and suffice to say the list isn’t small. I was getting depressed trying to make a blog succeed when everything I did was wrong.

Learning From the Mistakes

Years into it and I couldn’t understand why nobody was coming to my little blog. I had lots of great content, so I thought, but nobody was reading it.

It really wasn’t until year five or so that I really began pushing myself. I spent more time writing the articles, thinking them through, instead of just typing something up and hitting publish immediately. Basically, quality over quantity.

Let me tell you, learning that lesson was probably the single biggest thing I’ve learned. It was also the hardest. You don’t have to write 5-7 articles a week to get traffic. That’s one way, but so is just sitting down and writing a well-thought out piece. I far more enjoy writing quality material than trying to keep up with some imaginary number of articles I felt I had to publish each week. I was hindering myself.

Realization

Along with that lesson was realizing that there didn’t have to be a routine schedule to my articles either. When I started blogging, there were a lot of sites I frequented that had routines. Every Thursday was this article, every Monday was that article, etc. I thought it was the recipe for success as those blogs had a ton of traffic.

Simple Things Make a Difference

Once I began writing longer content, more thought out content, my posting frequency declined, and I also gave up on trying to have articles out on certain days. Instead, I wrote when I felt inspired, when I had something to write about, not based on some perceived schedule, and it worked.

My traffic didn’t decline because I didn’t publish a particular weekly article, or I didn’t post on a certain day.

The articles were also longer as a result of this process, and that’s when I noticed Google started liking the blog a lot more. The 300 word articles were useless to search engines, but those articles that were 1,300+ words were doing great. As a result, my traffic began climbing at a steady pace.

Keep’em Coming Back

Another thing I did was to engage my readers more. I’ve always blogged because I enjoy interacting with the readers. So, I started writing open-ended articles, asking the readers questions, and soliciting responses. It worked!

Within months of doing this, coupled with longer articles, my comments had more than doubled what they were previously. My traffic was increasing!

Success!

Like the mistakes, I could prattle on here about all the things I learned. My point isn’t to show you all my successes, but to say that in every mistake there is something to be learned.

If you’re like me, and you fail far more than succeed, then it doesn’t seem that way but it is. I let my failures go on for years though before I started figuring things out. I let my failures overtake me. Don’t do what I did and let failure overshadow the potential for success.

Keep at It!

It’s so easy to give up. I had begun that blog I’m discussing in 2009, and the amount of times I considered shutting it down are endless. Had I shut it down though, I wouldn’t have seen the success. I wouldn’t have learned how to become a better blogger, how to create more engaging content, and how to get people to actually come and read my articles. I would have walked away from that blog with no more knowledge than I had in starting it.

Focus on You

It’s so easy to get caught up in the success of others around you. I watched countless people start new blogs on the same subject as me. They were seeing amazing results with traffic and readers in a year or less; meanwhile I struggled to get a fraction of their traffic on a blog 5+ years old.

I would read articles, and watch videos by amazing internet marketers. Their sites were pulling in millions of views a month and they made it look easy. Why wasn’t it easy?

Yet, every blog, every writer, needs to go down their own path and find their own success. For some that road is short and easy to travel. To them I nod approvingly, wishing them nothing but success. For most of us though, that road is damn long, it’s winding, and it’s seemingly never-ending. However, with enough effort and perseverance you can come out of it successfully.

It Takes Time – Sometimes A LOT

Getting traffic and readers to a blog is a slow burn. You aren’t going to put up a new blog and have 500 people daily reading your articles in the first month. Hell, you probably won’t have that in the first six months to a year either.

Stats

That image shows the slow build that’s common to every website. Note the dot midway through the years. That was a significant jump in traffic, and that’s where I realized a lot of what I said above.

Now, had I given up any time prior to that then I wouldn’t have seen the blog grow into what it is now, and what it will become. That chart is over the course of 8 years, and that dot is after 5 years. As I said, I let my failings drag me down and I should have learned far sooner than that.

Also, note the constant fluctuation in those stats. I’ve seen a lot of stat charts by people saying how you can be a success in 5 easy steps, and those charts are just perfectly climbing up, up, up! Their stats have no dips in it at all. It’s amazing! It’s also crap.

I would show this by year and it would look that way, a nice slow and steady climb. It looks pretty (by year), it shows constant progress, but the reality is that most of us are viewing this by month, hell, by day even. That above chart is by month and that’s reality – the constant state of flux.

Eventually though, as shown, traffic picks up. Search engines find your site, your articles get linked to by a few different sites, and people discover you. Your stats go from a flatline to a curve that just goes up and up. You have to stick around long enough to see it though.

Conclusion

Blogging isn’t easy and there are no overnight successes. Behind every successful blog is years and years of hard work. You can get there as well if you’re willing to put in the effort, wade through the hardships, and come out the other side.

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Author: Thor

I started blogging in 2009 for my gaming blog Creative Twilight. I've been blogging ever since.

I later created Command Center, a tool for 40K. I've also set up, maintain, and run my wife's site ecoLifestyle for her business.

I'm also a PHP programmer for a local web hosting company where I develop WordPress plugins.

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