In the last few weeks I’ve had the privilege to meet a lot of bloggers at various on and offline events.
These have been great experiences that have really opened my eyes to what others are doing on their blogs, and with their audiences. It’s been a great time for learning.But one thing I know I can suffer from, and I suspect all of us fall prey to at some point, is complacency. How often do we see a tweeted link and tell ourselves “Yep, I know what that’ll be about”? Or read a post title and mentally let part of ourselves drift off into a daydream? Or see a product and think, “That won’t help me!”?
Whilst it’s true that not everything that’s available online will help us, these kinds of mental blocks can really prevent us from learning new things. In fact, the things don’t have to be that new—they just have to be different from what we’re accustomed to.
For example, YouTube. Hands up if you use it! If you don’t, you’re probably one of thousands of bloggers who tells themselves that video isn’t for them. They’re too shy; they don’t look good on camera; it’s too much hassle; their audience won’t use it.
Well, that’s all fine, as far as it goes. But thoughts like this often do more to hinder, rather than help, a blog. The reasons I just mentioned are common reasons bloggers give for not trying new things, yet none of them has anything to do with what’s good for a blog, or a blog’s users.
YouTube is one example, but there are all kinds of ways in which we limit ourselves and our blogs. Perhaps you hate list posts, so you never write them. Perhaps you don’t accept guest posts, thinking you’ll lose your readers’ attention. Perhaps you’re scared to monetize your blog, because you think you’ll put people off.
My message today is: give it a try.
You don’t have to go the whole hog, and overcommit yourself to something you might want to change or remove later. But blogging is about experimentation, stepping out of your comfort zone, and giving it a go.
It takes energy to do this. And determination. But I’ve found it’s the only way to see what works to grow your blog, and expand your audience. It also takes some humility—the power to admit that you don’t know what will or won’t work every time, and a willingness to try things out before you make a judgement. We might not like to think so, but it’s true that we bloggers don’t always know best!
It’s too easy to sit back and say, “That’s not for me (or my blog).” This week, I’m inviting you to pick one thing you’ve never done on your blog before, and give it a try.
Pick one new thing each week
This isn’t my idea. I once had a friend who decided she was going to do something she’d never done before every week for a year. It could be to try a new food, visit a new place, embark on a new experience—anything was fine, as long as it was new.
I think this could be a valuable approach for bloggers who want to improve, expand, and grow. Pick a new thing every week, and give it a go. Obviously, you’ll want to choose something that suits your blog, niche, and audience. But within that realm, I usually find a lot of scope to try new things.
To get your started, here are a few ideas:
- try a new writing style or technique
- try following all the advice in a single post right through to the end
- try getting in touch with a peer in your niche who you’ve never met before
- try tweaking some aspect of your blog design or layout, and tracking the results
- try a new approach to finding readers—something you’ve always dismissed in the past
- try a new type of promotion to reach more readers.
These are just a few ideas. We’ll be covering most of them in the coming week here on ProBlogger, so if you need inspiration or direction, you’ve got it!
Hopefully, that list piqued your interest. You can probably think of plenty of other things you’ve never tried on your blog, but would like to. Grab a pen (or open a new document) and make a list of those things. They—or a step toward each of them—could also become part of your New Things list.
What I’ve suggested here does take work. But the alternative is to keep doing what you’re doing, day in, day out. Where’s the passion in that? To grow, and help our blogs reach their full potential, we all need need to break through a few barriers, open ourselves up to new ideas, and put in some hard yards.
But of course, on the plus side, experimentation is fun. Trying new ideas, and having at least some of them succeed in some way—however small—is a huge buzz. Most of the stories we publish here on ProBlogger aren’t about bloggers who know what they’re doing all the time. These posts are the result of experimentation—in fact, many of them are experiments themselves.
What are you experimenting with? We’d love to hear about your plans to try new things in the comments below.