I have been blogging in some shape or form for the better part of four years. During that time I have read a LOT about what it takes to have a "successful blog" and through experience I have seen what happens to bloggers when "life" gets in the way of their online endeavors.
As a side note, I put successful blog in quotes because everyone's definition of success is different. What an individual's goals are with their blog or business can vary greatly from one person to another. For the purposes of this post we will assume that most bloggers are striving for loyal, engaged followers and that defines success for them.
There are a few main recommendations for creating a blog that encourages repeat visitors, shares and engagement: high quality, useful content, consistency and relevant content to the targeted audience.
Consistency is the thing that usually gets tangled up with life. I have seen plenty of bloggers lose all sense of consistency with their blogs when a big life event happens. I've experienced it personally. When we moved to Ridgecrest and everything about my day to day life changed drastically my blog posting dwindled. When I lost my sweet pup, Chloe girl to a tragic accident, blogging was the last thing on my mind. Life happens.
Depending on your blogging strategy and the purposes behind your blog it may not be a big deal to take some time off from your blog altogether or change your posting schedule if some sort of life event happens that distracts you from your normal schedule.
However, if you are attempting to build an audience, and gain loyal followers, consistency is absolutely key to that objective.
You may not have the luxury to take a lot of time off of your blog without drastic changes occurring with your followers.
Personal example: I used to follow a lifestyle blogger that provided lots of great recipes and decorating tips but her posts became very sporadic after being consistent for a good while. It got to the point where she would randomly post every other week without any sort of obvious posting consistency. It may seem fickle but eventually I just unsubscribed from her posts because I essentially "never knew what I was going to get" and the benefit of having her email in my inbox diminished greatly.
I would say there are very few successful bloggers out there who remain successful randomly talking about themselves and the wide variety of things they find interesting about life. Blog readers are busy, and there is a LOT of competition out there for good quality content that will leave a blog reader with helpful information that they didn't have prior to reading. Blog readers are selfish (as they should be) and providing consistent and quality information is what keeps readers loyal.
Many small businesses trying to utilize their blog as a way to build an audience and gain followers in order to grow their business may be a one or two person show. In the instance that "life" occurs there may not be anyone else to take the reins and keep posts going during distracting times. Here are four strategies that can help small business owners maintain their blogging strategy despite times when priorities lie elsewhere.
Create a strategy
Having a blogging strategy is essential for small business owners to prioritize blogging as a means to growth. You absolutely must identify your target audience. You are not blogging trying to appeal to everyone, you are not blogging only for your family and friends. Identification of your target client goes hand in hand with you are trying to engage in your blog. Identify the purpose behind your blog, what your goals are, how you plan to achieve those goals etc...Having an identified strategy ahead of time can help solidify actions to take in the event that something in your personal life interferes.
Sometimes you are aware of major life events before they happen. A wedding or a move or a new baby are some good examples. Planning ahead is crucial when you have prior knowledge of something occurring in your life that you know will interfere with your blogging schedule.
Personal example: I have known about our move for a few months now and have been planning a strategy for posts during that time. I have prewritten a few series posts and plan to reduce my posting schedule from 4 days per week to two or three during the time when we are driving and living in temporary housing in New Jersey. Also, since it will likely be a little bit before I start taking clients again I need to have lots of ideas to fill the blog since I won't be sharing client sessions for a while. I feel so much more confident going into the next month of crazy knowing that I already have a plan in place and won't have to stress on the fly!
quality over quantity
My friend Lauren just wrote a great post about some surprising statistics she experienced after altering her posting due to some life events that occurred. She had been posting 5 days a week regularly for over a year and was shocked to find out that taking a break for a few days didn't undo all of the hard work she had previously put in. She discovered that once you have built up that audience of loyal followers it is easier to scale back and really focus on quality over quantity. I highly suggest reading her posts to see her conclusions.
give yourself a break
This is one of those things that we either tend to not allow ourselves or we allow it too much. If you have a clear purpose and strategy in mind, its very easy to fall into the trap that you have to do everything perfectly to achieve those goals. Not allowing yourself a break here and there to regroup and recharge can be detrimental to the content and purpose behind your posts. On the flip side, it's often easy to think, "its just a blog, it's not the end of the world if I stop posting for a week or more" and give yourself too much leeway. Swinging too much on the other side of the pendulum can also be detrimental to your end goals. Keep your strategy in mind and stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish and allow yourself to live life in between!
I hope you have found these strategies helpful and that they can come in handy in the event that "life" happens while you are attempting to gain success as a blogger.
I would love to hear from you! What struggles have you seen or experienced when it comes to trying to build a following with your blog?