In this post Chris Garrett gives advice on what to do when your blog plateaus.
As you have no doubt read on Problogger before, the goal for most bloggers is exponential growth. Not all blogs reach this point though. For many of us it is quite difficult enough to find steady growth. What if that growth slows to a halt? What can we do then?
First let us deal with the most common cause of a growth halt. It might surprise you, and you might well think of other likely causes, but in the majority of cases of my coaching clients a plateau is caused by one thing.
The Curse of Churn
I actually witness a disturbing amount of churn in my own blog. While I have no access to Darren’s stats, I imagine he does too. Churn is a part of any blog, in fact many businesses online and off.
Churn is where you have people both leaving and joining. It can be thought of as a leaky bucket, while you are pouring water in there is a loss through the holes in the bottom. If your rate adding new subscribers matches the rate you lose them then you see zero growth. If you add more or less than your rate of loss then you will see either positive or negative growth.
So your very first job is to look for reasons why readers might be defecting. Darren did a great list of why bloggers lose subscribers before so no need for me to rehash that advice here.
For my own blog I know many of the people who join then leave are freebie hunters just looking to download my free “Killer Flagship Content” ebook or do not have time to read every day. I know because when people unsubscribe from the feedburner email I get a notification and ask. If you use feedburner for email subscriptions try the same thing, it can be very enlightening!
Other Causes of Slowing Growth
What other reasons could there be for your growth slowing?
- Saturation – You have reached as many people in your niche as you ever will. I doubt this is the case but breaking into new markets is worthwhile anyway if you can reach a related audience. Guest post and get links off top blogs in topics that match audiences you wish to speak to and see your subscriber count start growing again.
- Blurred Vision – Could it be you have lost your way? Check your analytics and comments to see if your blog is turning off readers. If Darren blogged about his obsession with aquatic mammal collecting I am guessing many of us wouldn’t hang around his RSS much longer. Look for patterns in your unsubscribes related to your posting. It could be what you attracted people for is no longer a theme in your blog, or on the other hand you might find a topic that you partially covered before gives you a jump in subscribers. Re-focus on your readers needs and you should start attracting readers again.
- Lack of Engagement - A healthy subscriber count can mask a rotten blog. As well as seeing a nice feedburner number you also need to keep aware of what your readers are telling you both implicitly and explicitly. If your subscribes are not going down but you don’t quite get as many comments as you once did, or when you post a new article now you get fewer page views as before, then look to see if you have lost your audiences interest. Engagement should be growing not retreating. Audiences do change, but there should be a hard core loyal base that sticks with you. Ask for feedback. What could you change, do better, add or take away? Better to ask now while you still have readers!
- Looking Inward - I have said it many times and I will keep saying it, commenting is good for bloggers! We see a lot of bloggers who get to a certain level then stop reaching out. They stop reading other blogs, no longer comment, and the outbound links dry up. The problem is by retreating back to the cosy folds of your own blog you drop off the blogosphere radar. When you get busy of course it is much harder to do these things but we must all keep it up especially when we are doing well. I will promise to link out more if you also promise, deal?
Rather than seeing a slowing of growth as a disaster, rather see it as an opportunity to clean house and prepare for another phase of success. The solutions are simple in many cases. If you listen to your audience in most cases they will tell you what needs to be done.