It’s inevitable, you know.
One day, you pull up your blog and realize you did everything wrong. You picked the wrong topic. Your design looks amateurish. Your posts sound desperate for attention.
You didn’t do it intentionally, of course. You just didn’t know what you were doing when you started, and the mistakes have kind of piled up.
The question is, what are you going to do about it?
You might be tempted to just start changing things willy-nilly in an effort to cleanse your blog of all of those unsightly mistakes. But don’t. That’s what I used to do too, and I created as many problems as I got rid of. Several times, my “improvements” produced even worse results than I was getting before. I couldn’t believe it.
It took a while, but eventually I learned that just because you’re doing something different doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. If you want to turn your blog around, you can’t just change what you think is wrong. You have to base your improvements on evidence, timeless marketing wisdom, and advice from experts.
Study What’s Working (and What’s Not)
All too often, we decide our approach is wrong because of how it looks. Our blog design looks amateurish. Our domain name looks too long. Our headline looks boring. Because it looks that way, we believe that it must be that way, and therefore, we have to change it.
The truth: no matter how successful you are, something will always look wrong to you. If you allow it to distract you, you can spend your entire life chasing little, nitpicky problems, and you’ll never get to the big, hairy monstrosities that really deserve your attention.
How do you know what those monstrosities are? Easy: you study the data. Before making any changes to your blog, you should study:
- Traffic stats – Which posts have gotten traffic in the past? Why? Which posts have been ignored? Why?
- Comments – Which posts seem to hit a nerve with people and compel them to comment?
- Links – Who is linking to you, and what are they saying about you?
- Bookmarks – Which of your posts have been the most successful on social bookmarking sites like Digg and Del.icio.us? Why?
Study it long enough, and you’ll probably begin to see patterns of what works and what doesn’t. If you’re like me, you’ll also be surprised by how much time you’re wasting on stuff that doesn’t work and how precious little time you’re spending on stuff that does.
Easy fix though, right? Start doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t work. It’ll turn your blog around faster than anything else.
Base Your Changes on Timeless Marketing Wisdom
Of course, you can’t learn everything you need to know from looking at the data. It’s merely the low hanging fruit. At some point, you’ll want to find out what has worked for others and then try a similar approach for yourself.
Reading Copyblogger is a good start, but you should also look outside the blogging community. Some of the most useful insights you’ll discover will come from books and articles that have absolutely nothing to do with blogging.
If you’re new to blogging, the best place to start is copywriting. It’s not because copywriters are marketing geniuses (although some of them are), but because copywriting is so similar to blogging. The chief objective of both is to get attention and build a relationship. The difference is that copywriters have been doing it for almost a century longer, and they have a lot more data to work from.
Do yourself a favor and learn from them.
Stop Trying to Figure It out on Your Own
It took me almost 2 years to figure blogging out. I tried and failed, tried again and failed again, and then pulled off a rather mediocre success with my third attempt. It wasn’t until I started my third blog, On Moneymaking, that I succeeded, drawing over 1,000 subscribers in less than 60 days and getting a nomination for the Best Business/Money blog in the world.
What was the difference, the third time around?
I stopped trying to figure it out on my own. Before I started On Moneymaking, I paid Chris Garrett to mentor me for a month. He looked at my past blogs, pointed out some of my mistakes, and helped me refine my ideas for a new one. It totally changed the way I thought about blogging. Without Chris’s help, I’m not sure I’d be the Associate Editor of Copyblogger right now, or blogging at all for that matter.
The truth is that sometimes we don’t see what we’re doing wrong, and we need someone else to point it out to us. It’s usually embarrassingly obvious when we see it, but we never would have noticed, if not for an expert offering us another perspective.
Of course, not everyone can afford to hire a mentor for a month. So what should you do then?
Well, I hope I don’t regret this, but let me throw out an idea.
Get on the Phone with Me for 30 Minutes for FREE
You know that whole idea of giving back? Well, I figure I haven’t done enough of that lately. So, I came up with this idea:
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do somewhere around 20-30 telephone consultations. I’ll get on the phone with you for 30 minutes, and you can tell me what’s troubling you about blogging. I’ll then give you advice specific to your exact situation.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m going to do it absolutely for free?
No sales pages. No opt-ins. No questionnaires.
All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post, telling me your biggest frustration right now. I’ll contact you by email, take a brief look at your blog, and then we’ll schedule a time to chat.
Good then. Together, we’ll have your blog un-screwed up in no time. So start writing that comment!