This guest post is by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.
It was July, 2011. My personal development blog, Deep Existence, was flying high. Every new post I published would get at least 20-30 comments and a good number of social shares. Not world-class blogger numbers, but pretty good for a young blog (five months) and with solid forward momentum.
Later that month, a spider bit me, and a chain of health problems ensued. I also got a full-time job. Between the two distractions, Deep Existence wound up being mostly ignored for the next seven months.
When I was ready to jump back in, I figured I just needed to post consistently again to reignite the community.
Wrong. So wrong.
No matter how fantastic I thought a post was or how many hours I spent researching and crafting it, the response to my blog was tepid at best—not even close to the “good old days.”
Even when I revamped the site to be more attractive (including a pricey new logo), and initiated a consistent one-post-per-week schedule, it didn’t matter. Finally, I understood why.
Quality can’t fend for itself
If anyone tells you that great content attracts readers, they’re fibbing. There is false information out there that says if your content is good enough, people will come.
I will dispel that myth with a simple, hypothetical example. Let’s compare ProBlogger to Papa Joe’s blog.
- ProBlogger: Thousands of people are visiting, sharing articles, and commenting every day.
- Papa Joe’s blog: A few dozen people per day find his articles, and notice that they are not commented on or shared.
Now imagine if exactly the same, high quality article was posted on these two sites. The ProBlogger article would go viral. Papa Joe’s article might be tweeted once (by him).
And what if the next 300 articles were duplicated in the same way on both blogs over the next year? The results would stay mostly the same. Papa Joe would be ignored as ProBlogger soared.
The difference is that ProBlogger is sensitive to quality (a good thing) because this blog has high exposure and a favorable perception. But Papa Joe’s article quality doesn’t matter much. Visitors don’t know who Papa Joe is and he sure doesn’t seem popular, so his content will get an unfair docking. And yet, his articles are amazing. Poor Papa.
The blogging success formula
My blog fell from success to failure, and then I failed to return it to success. Through this process, I discovered the false belief that continues to circle in the blogosphere today: that quality content is good enough.
Even if you have a decent number of readers, it’s not enough.
There’s a reason this article isn’t on my blog. I am Papa Joe right now. The quality of my content has remained high, but people forgot I existed when I took a lengthy leave of absence. This is fascinating, considering that by then I had more subscribers and traffic than ever before.
In hindsight, I noticed something interesting about how my blog became popular the first time. The response to my articles was directly related to my activity outside my blog. And as I gained greater exposure, the perception of Deep Existence changed for the better, and people began to give my content a fair chance (and they liked it).
The perception shift was critical, but it grew rather methodically with my consistent exposure—just like a fire as it’s just getting started. But before too long, the flames were building upon themselves. So even when I stopped seeking exposure, the fire was strong enough to be sustained by quality articles.
But a fire without fuel dies, as did mine.
I stopped writing, and the fire faded lower and lower until Deep Existence was just a firepit of cold ashes. Months later, I began to add firewood—quality content—to the cold ash pit, but there was no flame to consume it. I needed a spark.
So here I am, striking the flint once again. Does anyone have a lighter?
- Use sparks of blog exposure to…
- Ignite the flames of improved perception.
- Build firewood made of quality content to keep your blog on fire!
Has this formula of blogging success matched your experience?
Stephen Guise exists in real life and on twitter. He is now a doubleblogger™ at Deep Existence – Personal Development’s Deep End and Irrational Humor – Moderately Good Website. Stephen speaks in 3rd person fluently.