What motivates would-be bloggers to actually start blogging? Do you really need a formal reason? It certainly can help.
I stumbled across an article recently that talked about problems people who start blogging encounter. The article pointed to a second one. The New York Times published that second article back in 2009. Its point was to suggest that 95% of blogs fail.
One might easily argue this stands as proof that the odds are stacked against you if you’re contemplating starting a blog. The paper published the article 11 years ago. Thanks to social media and our ever-shortening attention spans, you can safely assume it’s even a bit tougher today than it was in 2009.
I noticed a quote from a woman who started blogging and then eventually drifted away from it. I checked out the blog in question, Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom. It appears the most recent post went up in 2010.
It may be safe to say she decided to give up blogging. (She may be blogging elsewhere on a different site by now; I just don’t know.)
But in the Times article, the writer, in citing that blog’s case, made an interesting comment:
Like Mrs. Nichols, many people start blogs with lofty aspirations to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world.
I imagine many people who start their blogging journey have leaving their day job in the back of their mind. Some others might want to use the blog as a vehicle to get published in the traditional way.
Maybe I was different.
I didn’t even set out to “share my genius” with the world. I didn’t then nor do I now consider myself a genius.
My decision to start blogging came in the end of 2003. I published an experimental page in November of that year. Then I planned to write a post, then, perhaps, replace it a few weeks later with something else.
I know that’s not how blogs are supposed to work. But it seemed to be a good idea at the time.
Once I began to get the notion together on the screen, I decided on a place to launch the blog you are now reading. I found America Online and its former “AOL Journals” platform. (Don’t waste your time looking for it. The platform died in the mid 2000s.)
I did attempt to write a novel years ago. I never thought for a moment that this blog would somehow help me get published. While I talked about publishing to some degree back then, I just didn’t see one helping the other.
Should I take some of the posts I’ve written here over the years and publish an “eBook” of the “best” posts? Some do that. Some, I hear, can be quite successful.
I can never escape the obvious question: If you can read the posts for free here, why pay for an eBook?
Did I want to build an audience? Well, I suppose everyone wants to build some sort of audience. The more the better, right?
But I never thought I’d see a half-million readers a month. (I never thought I’d see that many in a year, nor have I.)
This blog officially began in February 2004.
If you do the math, you’ll see that I’ll celebrate anniversary #17 next year. I enjoy blogging, though there are times when it feels like a struggle.
It’s not that I feel I’ve said all there is to say in 16 years. Not by a long shot.
Yet there are times when I struggle to find something to write about on a given day. (That’s why I started the “Rainy Day” blog post trick.)
The goal I selected wasn’t all that lofty. I wanted a creative outlet. That’s all.
The fact that I have, after all this time, a handful of folks who’ve read this blog year after year means a lot. And the fact that I have new folks year after year is something that continually amazes me.
Lofty goals or not, being “successful” at blogging means having a plan and having goals. But not everyone has the same goals.
You have to decide how you define a blogging success. Not everyone has the same definition for that, either.
My best advice is to always write for your audience. Don’t be one of those who claims you only write for yourself and don’t care if anyone reads. If that were true, you’d write in a Word document and never publish it online.
You do care if someone reads. That’s why you publish online.
And since you do care, you should act like it. If you produce content you enjoy but that you feel your audience will enjoy, that will keep you going for a long time. When you make it only about you, that becomes a problem.
Blogging evolved into a much more solo endeavor. It always was to a degree. But in the old days, bloggers at least received feedback from readers.
That feedback now mostly happens elsewhere, on Facebook or Twitter, for example.
So you may feel like you’re “all alone” on your blog. But if you have enough of a passion for the craft itself, you keep pushing.
Be that 5%.