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Lessons from an abandoned blog

This blog is over five years old now. I was excited about its purpose and had great ambitions about creating quality content, growing an email list and building my personal brand. Having my name as the domain was super cool. The problem was my ambitions didn’t match my output. Over the five years, I made fifteen posts, but the latest one was three years ago. Creating content takes time and energy–which I did not have for this site.

Dead blogs. This is a common sight to see, especially on business websites. A handful of posts–forgotten–from a long time ago. Content Marketing is seen as this cool and effective way to drive new business, yet people misunderstand a few of the core principles of it and then don’t get results, and/or overestimate their ability to create content (quality or capacity). I did both.

The first lesson - you need to promote and distribute your content.

Field of dreams is a lie–if you just build it, they won’t come. In order for ‘them’ to come you require there to be a demand for your content. Additionally, your content needs to be distributed to get in front of people to build your audience. I would write about what I wanted to and then I’d publish it without promoting what I published.

The internet is too noisy now to publish a blog and expect people to find it on their own accord. They simply won’t. Chances are someone has written about something similar and is working harder to get it out there than you–this will look better to Google who will then return their piece of content higher in search than yours. That is if people are looking for content on the topic.

There is a lot more I could do to promote my content. I could look at syndicating it over to platforms like Medium, pitching different blogs and publications to publish my articles, or try to build an email list or just promoting it on my social media.

The second lesson - focus on creating content that people are interested in.

We’ve established people aren’t hanging around waiting for my (i.e. your) content to drop (unless you already have built a raving audience, which most people have not). Additionally, people weren’t hanging around waiting for content on my chosen topics. There was simply no demand.

My satire article about ‘the Cloud’ was entertaining and clever (well, I thought it was), but very few people read it. Alternatively, I’d pick general topics that were already thoroughly covered by well-known industry experts who have much more authority than me. People were not interested in what I had to say on these topics.

Many bloggers only write articles on niche topics without first considering what people are interested in or looking for. They write about what excites them, nobody cares about it, and then they wonder why their Content Marketing isn’t working.

Rather than thinking of what my audience (i.e. friends and colleagues) would want to hear from me or be interested in, I just wrote about what I wanted to, which is a recipe for failure that I’ve seen repeated in many places. After reading many business and not-for-profit blogs over the years, I know I'm not alone in operating this way.

The third lesson - consistency matters

My most obvious shortfall was the sporadic nature of my publishing. Fifteen posts in five years is not exactly frequent or regular–two highly important attributes of success.

Publishing on a consistent frequency is key and the frequency doesn’t need to be every day or even every week, but it does need to be consistent and dependable. You need to be consistent to build an audience and momentum.

Most, if not all of the large channels on YoutTube have a regular publishing frequency that they openly communicate to their viewers (they also communicate when they are on break). The big magazines of the past came out at the same time every week, month or quarter, and Newspapers publish their issues every day. Even Netflix releases its content on a schedule.

In order to breath new life into this blog, I’d need to be really diligent in my content publishing schedule and not overestimate my ability to create content, which leads on well to the next lesson.

The fourth lesson - creating content and distributing it takes time.

When I started this blog I had the goal of publishing every single week, which I stuck to for a few weeks. Then I tried again but this time on a monthly schedule, although that only lasted a few months. I didn’t stop writing because I ran out of ideas, it was because I ran out of time.

Creating good content is time-consuming. It takes time to research, create screenshots, formulate thoughts into an outline, write, review and publish. It takes time to create a publishing schedule and stick to it. Additionally. I’m not the fastest writer so this all takes me extra time...

Effective distribution can be even more time-consuming though. It takes time to work out your audience and what they are interested in. Pitching articles to magazines, or asking to be a guest blogger aren’t quick things to do either. It all takes time–which ended up time I didn’t want to spend.

Sporadic content creation and publication. Limited consistency in theme. I only wrote what I wanted to. No promotion and no distribution. No audience. There you have it. A perfect recipe for a pretty deserted blog–which this is, which I’m ok with.

So, what happens next?

I started this blog as a place I could practice and develop my writing, share what was on my mind, and help myself get better at developing my ideas. I wanted to overcome my fear of putting something out there, and to be honest I still do have many unpublished articles.

The last few years I’ve had a pretty stressful job which was very mentally draining. All my creative energy went into it. I didn’t have the brain space to write. Things have changed now. I might write a bit more, but I’m not trying to be the next Pat Flynn or [insert successful blogger here]. This site is something I do for me–I know that is not best practice, I know it will limit my readership and I’m ok with that.

If you want your blog to be successful, learn from my lessons. Do as I say, not as I do. Promote and distribute your content and write on topics your audience wants to hear about, don’t just write because you want to. Be consistent with it and be prepared for it all to take time.

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