If you have been here before, you may have noticed the little tagline I have under my name at the top of this page. Am I a blogger-hater? What’s the deal?
Hardly. A blogger-hater with a blog is like a government employee hating the government. It doesn’t really make sense (though the latter is more entertaining). I love blogging, and I’m friends with many bloggers that are absolutely crushing it right now. Their blogs get hundreds of thousands of readers every month, and they are making money while helping out a captivated audience. Me? I’ve had trouble generating a consistent following over the years.
I’ve been blogging since 2007, when I first discovered the wonderful world of blogs and their potential. As a guy with a degree in creative writing, I was thrilled to see there was an actual type of job that you could do that harnesses the power of creative writing as a career. But I never really could find my niche.
Niches are the key in blogging – if you want to grab an audience, you need to carve out a place for yourself that a specific group of people will respond to, like nerdy guys who want to get in shape, crazed Disney World fans, or young people who have no idea what to do with money.
But besides picking the wrong niche, or growing into a different niche, or just completely losing interest in the subject matter in a very short period of time, there were other things that bogged me down as I tried to be a “blogger”:
It becomes a numbers game
Every pro blogger out there tells you to not worry about the stats, especially at the beginning. But it’s one of the hardest things to do. You find yourself trying to write stuff that “goes viral”, and it doesn’t work. Stuff doesn’t go viral because you write it to be viral. It catches on because it’s quality content that is sincere, and connected to the reader/viewer in some way, even if it just made them laugh. If you try to manufacture popularity, you will fail.
But when you are starting out as a blogger, you don’t know that. You just keep writing stuff – and suddenly, you stop writing the stuff that you want to write, and you start writing the stuff that you think people will respond to. Plus, I found an additional frustration in watching the numbers…
“WHY AREN’T THEY STAYING/SUBSCRIBING?!?”
I followed the advice: I had a great giveaway item. I had a prominent email signup box. Then I drove traffic to that page with some great guest posts on some high-traffic sites. Those numbers were fun to watch pour in, but few signed up. Only a handful stuck around to see what else I had to say.
Your confidence level gets shot through to the basement. You stop believing in the content you are writing, because you think what you’re saying isn’t worthwhile. Traffic numbers return to normal within days, and you got nothing out of it except for the temporary high. Time to start…
Begging for guest posts
This isn’t a knock on guest posts: they’re an excellent source of traffic, and they allow anybody to get in front of a new audience. It’s cool, and it’s a sweet feeling. But half your time becomes about begging all these high-traffic blogs for guest posts that they’re not interested in running. For every one post you might get posted on someone else’s site, you’ll get 5-10 flat-out rejections, or choruses of “this isn’t good enough”, or they’ll just ignore you altogether. It gets frustrating, and talk about a blow to your confidence.
I’m not funny when I try to be
My very first blog was a topic I was extremely passionate about: the 1990s. And yet, the only way (at that time) I could really blog about the decade was to put together posts on different topics, along with my own commentary. And for a topic like the ’90s, you just have to be funny. Unfortunately, while I consider myself to be pretty witty (and good at rhyming, apparently), if you give me a pen and paper and tell me to write something funny with a gun to my head, I’ll try way too hard and the whole thing will fall flat.
It’s just not fun for me right now
If it’s not fun and/or fulfilling for me, I won’t do it.
The quality of the content suffers
This was the main one for me. Suddenly, I’d find myself writing something because I had to, not because I wanted to or I had something to say. Making that public commitment puts you in the unenviable position of having to create content on a regular basis, and when you don’t have anything notable or worthwhile to say, it becomes a waste. You write banal, boring posts that don’t make any impression on anybody. Plus, you don’t grow as a writer.
I may blog again. In fact, I’m kicking around ideas for converting my TV Without Limits site to a blog if things don’t go according to the current plan, because I love home media centers and their possibilities. But I’m not going to run around trying to be a pro blogger just because I want to make money writing. I can find other ways to do that. Then, I can focus on writing this kind of stuff, which will be much more fulfilling, sincere, and ultimately, of much better quality than some of the garbage I used to put out.
And that’s okay. I’ve made peace with it. Right now, I have other priorities, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to sit down and just write – not worrying about traffic, or WordPress plugins, or newsletter subscribers. Or guest posts. Or advertisements. Or banners. Or sidebars. Or social media traffic. Or comments.
Now, seriously, everybody needs to sign up for my weekly email in the sidebar. Because I’m totally going to rock your inbox.