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What to Do When You’ve Said Everything there is to Say

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Do you ever feel that you’ve written about everything that needs to be said on the topic of your blog?

If you do – you’re not alone.

Many bloggers hit a dry patch 6 to 12 months into their blog when they feel they’ve already covered almost every aspect of their niche and that they’re content is getting ‘thin’.

Unfortunately a large number of bloggers hitting this dry patch give up on their blog when they feel they’ve ‘covered everything’ and as a result could be missing out on the benefits of their previous months or years of hard work.

My theory is that most bloggers see their archives as a list of items on a ‘to do list’ that they’ve ticked off. Once they’ve ticked them off they’re over and done with – never to be returned to.

I think this is flawed thinking

Rather than thinking this way I see a blog’s archives as a treasure trove of ideas for future posts

Bouncing off previous posts that I’ve written is one of the techniques that I regularly use on my blogs to build momentum and go deeper into the topic that my blogs cover.

The problem with seeing your archives as a list of static topics that you’ve ticked off is twofold:

1. You can always go deeper on a topic – Take ProBlogging for instance – while there are constantly new developments happening in the niche (to provide me with ‘newsy’ content, I’m also always learning how to be a ProBlogger better myself. As a result my strategy for ProBlogging is different today from what it was a year or two ago. For this reason some of what you’ll find in my archives is somewhat dated. It does reflect what I previously thought about the topic but there is plenty of room to legitimately address the topics there again as I’ve grown (as has the niche itself).

2. Never assume current readers have read everything you’ve written – Blogs have a natural turnover of readers over time. No matter how good you are as a blogger people will naturally come and go from your regular reader list. While it’s sad to lose a reader (there are many reason they might leave – often outside of your control) this turnover can actually bring life to your blog as new readers find you and bring new perspectives, questions and energy. Keep in mind though that most of your new readers will not have read your early posts. Some might have crawled through your archives but most will not and will often appreciate you addressing an older topic.

As a result of these two factors you should see your archives of old posts not only as a collection of your previous thoughts but as a springboard for new ones.

I regularly scan through old posts for ideas for future ones. I particularly look for posts that I either disagree with (due to a change of perspective) or posts that I think I could go deeper with. Sometimes I link back to my old posts to show the progression of thinking but on many occasions I simply write them as standalone new content.

I often talk about how blogging is conversational in the way it lends itself to interactions between blogger and readers (as well as between bloggers).

Talk to Yourself

In a sense, when you treat your archives as a living part of your blog that can be revisited over time you actually take the conversation into a new realm, talking to yourself.

While ‘talking to yourself’ might sound a little strange (my mum always said it was the first sign of madness) I think it actually is one of the first signs of a maturing blogger who is taking their blog to a new level by refining their thoughts on a topic. It’s through this refining process that real wisdom and expertise surfaces.

Without revisiting your previous thoughts or ideas you run the risk of becoming stagnant and limit your own growth in your chosen field.

Action Plan

Take a surf back through your archives today to see what might inspire your next post.

  • What do you see there that is out of date?
  • What old posts do you disagree with?
  • Where could you go deeper?
  • What older posts might your newer readers have never seen?
About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Indeed. I’ve got 900 some posts here, and in the last couple of months I’ve had occasion to refer back to posts 2 and 3! (Post 1 being Hello World.) Sometimes I even surprise myself with what’s in my archives.

  2. Never assume current readers have read everything you’ve written

    This is most certainly something that I have to keep reminding myself. An example of something similar exists in that I started blogging around the time when many “standards development” bloggers started, and many of that group seemed to have done the rounds and started talking about other things and then eventually just stopped talking (posting). Time to rethink a few things, I think. Thanks Darren!

  3. Ohad says:

    Just a few quick comments.
    Whenever I get stuck for content to my blog, I do 2 things:
    1. Spend some time reading other blogs and sites. That does not mean copying content but rather getting new ideas and angles on which a post can be based.
    2. Expand a commnet. I use CoComment to track my comments over other blogs. I frequently check my comments and responses to them and sometimes follow up on my comments (if rellevant to my blog) and referring to the origin site.

  4. Luckily my Office Humor Blog’s main feature is funny work related news, and as such, new news is always happening. I think this is a key thing to think about when starting a blog. Big blogs like those big tech blogs can always count on new technology news to report on, so their content will never dry up.

    However, I can see with sites, such as problogger, that it’d be harder to keep posting new things if most of the content isn’t from news (though somehow Darren pulls it off).

    My blog always has a joke of the day feature, which I can see that drying up someday, though there are so many free work jokes out there it’d be hard to reach the end of it all.

    For new blogs I may start up, it’s definitely something I think about, constant sources of content are crucial.

  5. Leon says:

    Good info. Doesn’t really apply to me though, because my blog is about just about anything that pops into my head, so I can never run out of content!

  6. Adam says:

    I consider my archives in two ways .. a) my library, and b) my deposits into my bank of blog monetization.

    It’s a different mindset …. if you consider your blog as a conversation, or as a research vehicle, then the possibilities are endless.

  7. Don M says:

    I think when you feel you have found everything YOU THINK there is to say, you have a unique opportunity. That situation forces you to go deeper. For instance, there are likely chances you would have never written this post if you hadn’t come across that situation yourself. I think it forces you to begin asking more real questions.

    Maybe early on you write article about the questions you THINK everyone is asking. But as you exhaust those options, you start asking the real questions YOU have been asking.

    Of course, I guess it is also likely this could work in reverse for some bloggers.

    See … I don’t know what I’m talking about. :-)

    -dm

  8. james says:

    I recently began running a “classic post” section on the front page of my site (it appears just below the top two posts). It displays excerpts from five randomly selected old posts.

    The idea is that many of my site’s readers haven’t explored the archives and haven’t been reading non-stop since day one — there are literally hundreds of topics hidden within the site, and only about 5% of people visit the archives.

    The result so far is promising – a slight but noticable bump in the number of pages visited, along with more frequent comments on six month old posts.

  9. Thilak says:

    Thanks Darren, Really a nice post.

    Keep up the great job

  10. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    I have done that myself, but sometimes I run into posts that are months old that are still getting hits from SE’s.

    I’m not sure how to handle that. I know I can update a topic, but if the original is still getting hits?

    Joe

  11. TankWash says:

    use that dry period as a spring board that takes you to a new level–it’s your cue!

  12. I have been blogging for 18 months and haven’t yet hit a serious bout of bloggers block. I sometimes feel tired and don’t want to think. I think diving back into your archives is an excellent idea and one I haven’t really had to do yet.

    I talk to myself sometimes. Well… I guess it is more of reading outloud. It is when you talk to yourself and you start answering your own questions is when I really need to pull the plug on the thing and just walk away for at least a couple hours.
    Steve

  13. katiebird says:

    My blog is an online discussion group about food and eating and other health issues. And every morning I start the day with something inspiring (I hope)

    I try to balance addressing people who are just at the beginning of taking care of their health with addressing people who’ve been slogging away and are starting to be tired of it. It’s an interesting challenge first thing in the morning. And I know I do better some days than others.

    I was interested to learn that one day when I posted something I wasn’t happy about and asked if I should delete it or replace it, the overwhelming response was that it was the most inspiring thing I’d written for a while. So now I just try to be myself and write what seems important that day.

    Now that I’m using performancing’s statistics, I can see what articles are being read. When I see clusters of topics (being read) for several days in a row, I figure it’s time to look at that topic again.

  14. Or you could do a 24 hour blogging marathon.

    lol

  15. Wow, this post is so timely; I decided *yesterday* that I was going to start reintroducing old posts for exactly the reasons you cited! The thing is, since I have a year’s worth of stuff on similar topics, I’m grouping the links of them in one post, weaving the thread of how the different posts fit together.

    Another thing: (important) In order to improve my SEO, I’m naming these grouped topic posts using the most likely search phrases. I had unknowingly done one post like this on May 4th and my traffic increased 10% (overnight) and it’s continuing to increase steadily (now a 20% increase as of two weeks ago). I did another post like this this morning on the topic of how to sell to clothing stores and grouped all of the pertinant posts over the past year into it. I’m unofficially calling it my “newbie refresher” series.

    Thanks for the validation. I was feeling a little guilty over my “laziness”.

  16. K says:

    Lucky for me, there’s new marketing news every second.
    I think everyone needs a bit of a holiday from blogging from time to time.
    I preload when I’m in a groove and then ride that preload when I’m in a rut.

  17. jhay says:

    wow! another great post, I am in the ‘dry season’ so to speak, I haven’t posted a new entry in the last 4 days, *sighs* Oh well, I’m just going to follow your tip and dig around my archives.

  18. jack says:

    Bloggers should never feel that they are short of ideas. Once they have started with it the ideas keep pouring out.
    Ya agreed that one can scan old posts and get whole lot of ideas for future.
    Always keep digging on……..

  19. Thanks for the post, It’s true, sometime you write something, and the day after you have a new opinion of the subject.

    I was thinkinmeg of editing the post, as it happened to me last week, but I’ll post my new opinion on the subject instead.

  20. Razib Ahmed says:

    Fortunately, I write about Asian Business and I analyse the latest developments and that is why I think that I will not have this problem. On the other hand, those who think that they have written everyting they know about the topic of their blog- my advice is that try to relate other topics related to this matter and then write about it. For example, suppose your blog is about the famous poet John Keats and you have written everything you know. Then write about the Greek themes the poet he used in his poetry and thus it will kepe you going for another one year.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren Rowse made a nice post about running out of material on your blog. It’s not hard to imagine how this can happen, especially in a narrow niche. But as Darren points out, the argument is not as easy as you’d expect. I guess one of the main things I notice about blogging is that the material is completely time-sensitive. It’s a lot more accurate to look at a blog as a magazine, then it is to think of a static website in the same way. People don’t expect all content websites to update often, but they do expect blogs to. [...]