Imagine for a moment you’re John Wayne. You know, a gun-toting, horse-whipping, tobacco-chewing kinda guy. A real cowboy.
Then imagine you have a blog (weird, I know). In this story though, your blog isn’t on the Internet. It has nothing to do with social media. Comments don’t exist. No, for the purposes of this post, your blog is something much simpler:
It’s your horse. And he’s dying.
You don’t want him to die. No cowboy wants that.
Fast or slow, he’s served you as best he could, carrying you around the world. You might’ve wished he’d move faster, and you might’ve hated him for all of the time it took to feed and care for the darn thing, but you still love him.
Not because he’s the best horse in the world, not because he isn’t a pain in the ass, but simply because he’s your horse, and that’s all that matters.
But now he’s suffering. Not loudly, thankfully, but you can tell he’s nearing the end. You keep hoping he’ll recover, but he just keeps getting slower and harder to care for.
You can tell he’s in pain. A part of you wants to just stop and take care of him, but you know you can’t.
You’re the hero of the story, remember? You have to keep moving.
So what do you do?
Simple. You do what cowboys always do for their beloved dying horse:
You shoot him in the head.
Should You Just Shoot Your Blog in the Head?
Cowboy Proverb: You can tell a true cowboy by the type of horse he rides.
Yes, it’s a graphic analogy, but it’s a useful one.
As bloggers, I think we sometimes romanticize what we do. We give our blogs names like our “platform,” “fan base,” or “following.” We talk about blogging as if we are a part of a revolution in the way information spreads. We fall in love with the very idea of calling ourselves a “blogger.”
But it’s a mistake.
Your blog is nothing more than a vehicle for your ideas. It’s a horse or a car or an airplane or a bicycle. Regardless of the metaphor you choose, the purpose of every vehicle is the same: to transport something. In the case of blogs, their purpose is to transport your ideas across the world.
The question is, what happens when that vehicle stops working? When your car quits, you take it to the junk yard. When your horse quits, you shoot it out of mercy. What are you supposed to do when your blog stops spreading your ideas?
Simple. You do what thousands of bloggers do every day:
How to Know When It’s Time to Quit
Cowboy Proverb: There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode, never was a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed.
You have to admit you’ve thought about it.
It’s not that you want to be a quitter. It’s just that, instead of feeling that wondrous sense of possibility when you pull up your blog, all you’re left with is a vague sense of impending doom. You’ve ridden the horse as far as it will go. No sense in kicking the poor thing, right?
At the same time, you worry about quitting too early. What if the post you write tomorrow takes off, and you get thousands of visitors? Everybody who’s successful talks about perseverance. Maybe you just need to stick it out a little longer.
How are you supposed to know when it’s the right time to quit?
Well, I’ll give you a few thoughts. I quit several unsuccessful blogs before finally hitting an idea that worked. Here are some of the telltale signs that you should consider:
1. You Don’t Get Any Comments, Tweets, or Emails from the People That Stop By
Cowboy Proverb: If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
Every blogger (including me) would like to receive more comments, tweets, and emails. It shows that people are engaged with what you’re saying. When you’re a beginning blogger though, you might be tempted to discount the importance of comments because you think you’re not getting enough traffic yet.
Even if you’re only getting 10-20 visitors per day, you should still be getting a comment every now and again. I’ve seen blogs with only 100 subscribers average 5-10 comments on every post. If you’re not getting any communication from your readers at all, then you’ve probably picked a topic that no one cares about but you.
Time to start over.
2. You Can’t Find Any Blogs to Link to You
Cowboy Proverb: If it don’t seem like it’s worth the effort, it probably ain’t.
You’ve heard that getting links from popular blogs is an important traffic strategy. Only, what if there aren’t any popular blogs in your niche? What if you’re the only person writing about your topic, and you can’t find any realistic intersection between your idea and what other popular blogs are writing about?
It’s a bad sign. Blogs are a conversational medium, and a conversation takes more than one person. If you can’t find any other blogs to link to you, then growing your blog is going to be exceptionally difficult. In most cases, it’s just not worth it.
Switch to another topic.
3. You Struggle for Intrinsic Motivation to Write
Cowboy Proverb: The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever meet watches you shave his face every morning.
I’ve never met a successful blogger who didn’t love their topic. Yes, they get burned out once in a while, and yes, they might struggle for new ideas, but they’re still addicted to studying their subject, talking to other leaders, and spreading the most captivating ideas. Even if they had to do it for free, they would continue writing for their blog forever.
Do you have this kind of intrinsic motivation?
I’m not talking about getting a little bummed when you don’t get enough traffic, someone leaves you a nasty comment, or you’re not making enough money. Every beginning blogger goes through that. The sign that you’re blogging about the right topic though is that you continue writing anyway. You’re motivated from within.
If you don’t feel this way about your blog, then you should probably quit now and find another topic. Life is too short to blog about something you don’t enjoy.
What Persistence Really Means
Cowboy Proverb: Real cowboys never run. They simply ride away.
All of us are taught the importance of persistence from an early age. We are led to believe that we should keep going, no matter what, and that anyone that quits is a loser.
So does that mean you’re a loser if you quit your blog?
If you really and truly want to be a successful blogger, then persist in your profession, but don’t waste your talent on a blog that’s going nowhere. Start another one.
I mean, can you imagine John Wayne quitting when his horse died on him? Never!
He’d ride a dozen horses to death and crawl across the desert on his hands and knees, if need be.
So should you.