Four Little-Known Factors that Could Destroy Your Blog’s Chances of Success

Are you frustrated because your blog has plateaued?

Maybe you took part in a class or joined Triberr, saw a jump in stats, but now things have leveled out again, and you can’t figure out why you’re not growing the audience that other bloggers seem to be. Or maybe you know your content is well-written, but you’re not getting the attention that less well-written blogs are.

You might be making one of these major, but easily fixable, mistakes.

(1) Your Blog Posts Aren’t Focused on a Single Topic

You can talk about a wide variety of things on your blog, but when you write a post, it needs to be laser focused on one topic. Even if you do a list post like my What Groundhog Day Can Teach Us About Contentment (or like this post for that matter), you still have a single topic. Contentment lessons from a particular movie. Things that might be hurting your blog.

If you throw multiple unrelated topics, or loosely related topics into one blog post, not only will your reader feel overwhelmed but they’ll feel confused about what you’re trying to say. Your post won’t stick with them as well as it would if you focused, and if it doesn’t stick with them, they won’t be as likely to share it and talk about it.

Multiple topics also don’t give you the room to properly expand any of them. Your readers will go away feeling like you made them a promise and didn’t fulfill it.

(2) Your Titles Stink

I hate to be so blunt, but it’s the truth. Have you wondered why your carefully crafted blog posts aren’t getting many click throughs from Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites? The problem might be your title.

With 500,000 new blog posts published per day on sites alone, we can’t afford to use vague or boring titles if we want our blog to stand out in tweets or in someone’s Google reader. Worse, if you’ve written a bad blog title, any shares you get from Triberr or from the social media buttons at the bottom of your post will be wasted. Both tools use the title you’ve given to your post unless those sharing it know to fix it. Most don’t or won’t take the time.

What counts as a boring or vague blog title (and tweet)? Here are a few I pulled from my Google reader, email inbox, and Twitter stream.

New blog post!

Raise your hand if you can identify with this post

A short list and 10 great links

This may be a random thought

ROW 80 Update

(There were others, but I tried to pick ones that couldn’t be easily identified so that I didn’t hurt anyone.)

(3) You’re Focusing Your Social Media Time on the Wrong Sites

We can’t be on every social media site without burning out or becoming an automated spam bot. We need to carefully choose the two or three sites that work best for us. But how are you making your decision about where to focus?

If you’re only looking at hits, you’re doing it wrong.

In March, StumbleUpon ranked fifth on the list of top referring sites for my blog. My first thought was “I should learn how to use StumbleUpon. If I’m getting this many hits without being actively involved, imagine what would happen if I started focusing on it.”

But hits don’t mean everything.

When I looked at my site analytics, I found that people coming from StumbleUpon stayed less than 45 seconds (not long enough to carefully read my post, read any of the comments, share, look at other pages, or comment themselves). In other words, they weren’t engaging. They weren’t the kind of traffic I’m looking for. If I focused my attention there, I’d be wasting my time.

For those of you who are investing time into Pinterest, are the people engaging or are they empty hits? People who don’t engage also don’t share and don’t return.

(4) You Aren’t Focused on Others

This goes beyond just making relationships with other bloggers through talking to them on social media, sharing their content, and commenting on their blogs (all of which are important).

What’s the take-away value of every post you write for the person reading it? If you hadn’t written it, would you care enough to read it?

For example, if you build a deck over the weekend, don’t just tell people you built a deck and share pictures of the progress. Unless they’re your family or best friends, they won’t care (sometimes even those people won’t really care and will only read the post to be nice). However, if you use your story about building your deck to give your readers the five biggest mistakes to avoid when building their own deck, you’ve made it both personal and valuable.

The take-away doesn’t always need to be practical in a physical sense. Sometimes it can be emotional, psychological, or spiritual. Sometimes it can be entertainment. The point is, the post is focused on them, not on you.

What’s your biggest blogging struggle? Which of the above points (if any) would you like me to turn into a full blog post?

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Point of View in Fiction is now available. (You also might want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.) All are available in both print and ebook.

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