Wednesday, October 15, 2008

14 Ways to Bust Blog Stagnation

A BlogCoach reader writes:

My readership has remained pretty constant since June, I've seen no significant growth when looking at my monthly stats, and have even seen a little bit of a decline in visitors. I was expecting that traffic would pick up in September as everyone returns to back-to-school routines. But that just didn't happen for my blog. Right now I'm thinking that I need to find ways to reach out to new readers. That means doing some new things, but I'm just not sure what to focus on that won't be too time consuming.
Do you ever feel like your blog's growth has stalled? Anybody who's been blogging for a while has been there. You feel like you're not moving forward. Your readership isn't growing at the rate you'd like. It's bumming you out. Here are fourteen ways to shake things up and bring freshness and fun back into your craft:

Get a new perspective:
  • Submit your blog for critique. Whether you have your blog critiqued by BlogCoach readers, a trusted friend, or a complete stranger with good design taste, the experience is bound to shake things up a little bit. Make a few changes to your blog's look and your own outlook improves--kinda like cleaning out your closet.
  • Study blogs you admire. Artists study master paintings to glean techniques and inspiration. You can do the same with "model" blogs whose writing or design you like. Take a look at the posts they put up over a period of time. Study how they attract comments. Notice how they've got their sidebars arranged.
Recommit to your writing
  • Take a break from blogging. That's right. Cold turkey. Just stop for a couple of days and let your energies recharge. Write down ideas for posts on paper (remember that stuff?).
  • Clarify and recommit to your vision. Why do you write what you write? What do you want to be doing with your blog a year from now?
  • Brainstorm 100 new post ideas. Or 20. The point is to make yourself keep coming up with ideas after you've gotten all the easy ones out of your head.
  • Forget you have readers. Stop looking at your stats and just write the best posts you can.
  • Contribute to an online magazine or network. If you've got the time to commit to it, writing for someone else can help you fine tune your prose.
Attract new readers
  • Introduce your blog to new readers with a StumbleUpon ad campaign.
  • Guest posts. Whether you ask for them or write them, guest posts can bring new readers to your blog. Find a blog with with the same or more traffic as yours and see what you can work out.
  • Use Twitter to build relationships with other bloggers. Being on Twitter is like being in a room full of really encouraging friends. (this tip is actually from Twitter!)
  • Spread the word about your blog in the "real world". Send out press releases to local and national newspapers and magazines, tv stations, and radio stations. Do some pro bono public speaking at libraries or churches, hand out bloggy business cards or brochures to strangers at festivals. Put big magnets on your car that advertise your site. Make your blog famous!
  • Join and contribute to a popular forum in your niche. I've gotten a ton of traffic over the years from forums. Just make sure you know what the rules are about mentioning your own site in your posts and signature.
  • Submit your best posts to popular blog carnivals.
  • And finally, be zen. But is it really stagnant or is it just resting before the next expansion? I've been blogging for almost three years, and seen my traffic go through cycles of growth and non-growth. The stagnation may be an illusion. Blog well and the growth will come. Ommmm.

Reading list
31 Days to Building a Better Blog
101 Great Posting Ideas That Will Make Your Blog Sizzle
50 Ways to Take Your Blog to the Next Level
Break Writer's Block in 30 Minutes or Less

photo by Dr.Starbuck via flickr