“Your blog will only ever be as good as it’s weakest component.”
Warning: Tangent Ahead
Imagine you’ve been given a task of hauling water from one place to another (over a long distance) – but that all you’ve been given to do the job is a rusty old bucket which has multiple holes in it. There are holes both low and high on the bucket which make transporting water a real challenge.
You’re given materials to patch some but not all of the holes in the bucket. Which one’s would you fix?
There are a number of ways of approaching this problem – you could attempt to patch the biggest holes first, you could patch those which are most prominent on the bucket etc…
But perhaps the smartest thing to do would be to make the priority of your repair work those holes which are lowest on the bucket.
The reasoning for this approach is that over time your bucket will only be able to hold as much water as the lowest hole on the bucket. Common sense really and a principle I want to suggest bloggers think about on their blogs.
Your blog will only ever be as good as its weakest component allows it to be.
I’ve been thinking about how to say this all week after what must have been around 50 conversations with new bloggers via email, IM and in person. In conversation after conversation it seems that many of the bloggers I’ve talked to seem to be quite obsessive about one element of their ProBlogging efforts. Whether it be Adsense, finding readers, Search Engine Optimization – in most of these conversations the bloggers have seen all of the answers to their blog’s success as laying in the one area.
What I’ve found myself suggesting this week to many of these bloggers is that to concentrate on one area of your blogging is ok for a short period of time – but for your blog to grow to its fullest potential you need to be willing to work at it on a variety of fronts. If you don’t it’s like patching holes high on the sides of a bucket and ignoring others lower down.
One of the common holes that I’ve noticed recently on new blogs is a severe lack of content.
I spoke to one blogger this week on around 20 occasions – each time they asked questions about design and ad placement issues. They spent hours and hours chopping and changing things on their blog but in that week wrote no new content on a blog that only has a handful of pages. At the end of the week they asked me why they didn’t seem to have any readers and why the ones who had stopped by didn’t come back? The fact that the page’s content hadn’t changed all week didn’t cross their mind.
Another problem on some blogs is to focus upon content TOO heavily at the detriment of other factors.
I had contact with another budding entrepreneurial blogger this week who writes brilliant content for his blog (and has done so for months) but who has virtually no readers because he has never worked on blog promotion, SEO or networking with other bloggers. As a result in the months that he’d been blogging he’d not had more than 10 visitors to his blog per day. He’d never left a comment on another blog, he’d never even submitted his blog to a search engine or to his knowledge been linked to by anyone else (and subsequently he’s still not been indexed by any search engine). Writing content is a great start – but if its all you do it won’t take your blog to its fullest potential.
I could go on with example after example of bloggers who either ignore or become obsessed with different factors of their blogs. I’m getting to the stage with some where I’m going to start saying that if they don’t work on the areas that I suggest that I’ll stop helping them because while their intention is to improve their blogging – some are getting to a stage where they are just wasting their own time (and mine) with their efforts.
So what should a blogger work on?
This is a difficult question to answer with a sweeping statement because each blog is different and needs different levels of attention put to different areas of it depending upon many factors. Having said that – there are a number of areas that I’d suggest bloggers consider devoting serious time to.
• Writing Content - without content your blog is nothing.
• Sourcing Content - this will depend upon the type and style of blog you’re running – but if your blog is not solely about original content (for example here at ProBlogger I mix original content and link/quote posts to other blogs) you need to work on developing good sources of content via RSS, other sites, alert lists etc.
• Design – while not essential to be successful I believe that thinking about how your blog is designed and laid out can improve it on many levels.
• Income streams – not all bloggers are into making money from blogs but I’m assuming most readers of a blog on the topic are. This doesn’t just happen – put time aside to learn about different income streams, ad positioning, affiliate programs etc
• Networking – I’m a massive believer in NOT blogging in a vacuum. Build relationships with other bloggers and site owners – work on common projects, share ideas, learn from one another.
• Promotion and PR - You don’t have to hire a PR company or have a complicated publicity plan – but ask yourself how potential readers will find your blog and work on some ways to get your name out there.
• SEO – Most web users start with search engines when looking for information online – if you’re not working on being on the end of their searches you could be ignoring potential readers.
• Trend Watching – I recommend that bloggers keep an eye on the big picture as well as their blogging niche. Is your niche growing or shrinking? What opportunities might exist to expand your blog or even start another one? Are their areas within your niche that can be developed?
• Tracking Performance – I devote time each day to analyzing the performance of my blogs on many fronts including traffic levels, earnings, mentions on other blogs, search engine rankings etc. Keeping an eye on these internal trends help to determine future strategy.
I’m sure there are other aspects of blogging that we could (and should) add to this list. I’m really interested to know what you think? What do you spend most time doing on your blogs? Where are the holes in your blog? What factors would you add to or subtract to this list?