One of the biggest reasons blogs intentionally fail is because they can’t push through The Lonely Factor.
What is The Lonely Factor? It’s the digital silence that surrounds most blogs during their first few months. There are no followers, the blogger doesn’t know how to get followers, their posting focus is all over the place and they start to feel like it’s not worth it. Why post and take the time to write good content if no one is reading?
The Lonely Factor is a silent self-esteem killer. There is nothing worse than feeling like all this work is worth nothing to no one.
I know I put in probably 30-60 minutes to write a blog post, more if I have to do a lot of research or pull together a lot of graphics. If I write 5 posts a week that’s at least 2 and a half hours but closer 5 hours for just writing posts. Then I spend at least an hour a week replying to comments and replying to email (longer if I do these things while watching Doctor Who.) Any topic I have to spend time researching (which happens from time to time, I’m not an expert at everything!) that number can easily jump to 15 hours a week.
That’s a lot of time to spend if no one is reading. So how do you keep going and push through The Lonely Factor when it doesn’t seem worth it?
Well, there are 2 answers to this.
1. Maybe blogging isn’t for you. The truth is, it’s not for everyone. I am all about encouraging and supporting anyone who wants to do it, but if you’re honestly not happy, don’t push it. Do something else that will make you happy. Create a kick ass Twitter or Facebook account where you’ll get much quicker gratification with a lot less time spent up front. Or investigate using Tumblr or ditch the more professional blogs for a more community-based, personal blog over at LiveJournal where it is easier to find Like people. And then be ok with this choice. It doesn’t mean you fail at social networking – you can only fail to show up. Social networking is less of an activity as it is the outcome of activity, so the only wrong answer is to do nothing at all. And these days, there’s an option out there for everyone.
2. But if blogging is for you, the best way to push through The Lonely Factor is to have a plan. Accept that for the first few months no one is going to read your blog. And you know what? That’s probably a good thing. You need time to develop your blog voice and find your focus. You need time to figure out what your ultimate goals are and how you can achieve them. You need to get used to blogging consistently on a schedule. Showing up on time and having good content every Tuesday and Thursday, every Mon-Wed-Friday, or all five days of the week is not as easy as it sounds. Use these first few quiet months to develop habits, create schedules, and discover just how you want your blog experience to run. And because you have no readers, you can make as many mistakes as you like and no one will notice. The freedom is actually kind of liberating when you think about it. These days I live in fear of a misspelled word.
3. These first few quiet months are also the ideal time to start making connections with other bloggers and searching out people who will enjoy your blog. You’ll have a lot less time to do this later on when you have readers and you need to up your game on writing good content. Take advantage of the downtime to develop your own web of blogs you like to follow and work on your presence on different forums or websites that work with your focus. By the time people start recognizing your name and checking out your blog, you’ll have had time to shake out most of the beginning mistakes.
4. This is also a good time to do a little design research by making a list of blog designs/layouts/features you absolutely love and figuring out how you can have them too. When people do start showing up they’ll find five star luxury hotel feel with little mints on the pillows as opposed to creepy 1970s horror movie motel accommodations.
At the end of the day, whether you decide to throw in the towel or push through the quiet, remember that you aren’t alone in this adventure. We’ve all had to do our time in the silence.
Even though we often talk about successful blogs having a “professional” feel, that gives the wrong impression of sterility and standardization. People show up for YOU. Your voice, your humor, your sweetness, or your candor – they aren’t coming for the corporation that is you. Having a professional blog simply means having something that is worth reading so that readers, already pressed for time, don’t feel like they are wasting theirs. Part of the reason it takes 6 months or more to gain followers is because readers need to see that you have staying power. That you have enough to say for the long haul and that your message is consistent and interesting and worth showing up for. You need history to prove that.
These long quiet months, The Lonely Factor, are your proving grounds.
Nathan Bransford’s Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow released today! I received mine in the mail yesterday and started reading last night and it is just as awesome as we all hoped it would be. The illustrations inside are AWESOME. So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to your local bookseller, Amazon, or shady book dealer selling out of his coat on a corner and pick up Jacob Wonderbar. Or go to your library and request it PRONTO. And then check out our Forum Launch Party for Jacob Wonderbar over at the forums.
And the super secret project I’m working on that you’ve all helped me with? Not quite done. Will probably post on Monday because I’ve had some late entries and I want to include them all. I promise it will be lovely.