I’m not a perfect blogger by any means. In fact, I’m writing this because of my experiences quitting blogging through the years. I started my blog about branding and new media in 2005 but have wandered on and off the path, falling off the blogging wagon for months at a time. However, in the past year I’ve discovered my blogging compass and have found my way to a consistent blogging practice. As such, I’m uniquely qualified to help other bloggers who may be lost.
You see, rather than feel bad about my checkered blogging past, I’m comforted. Though Technorati reports 156 million blogs in existence as of February 2011, many quit or stop posting within the first three months. If you’ve read this far you already know why blogging is important — that’s why you started. But how do you keep at it and build up that bank of rich, online content to develop and engage your audience?
Sometimes acknowledging you have a problem is the first step. If you’re having trouble finding your way and staying on the right path, here are the 12 most valuable tips to keep you from quitting your blog.
1. Develop a Consistent Schedule
My college playwriting professor gave me some of the best advise for blogging when he said ‘writers write.’ Bloggers blog. The best way to get good at this is to do it a lot. And the best way to build these habits is to set a consistent schedule and blog on a regular basis.
2. Keep it Manageable; Adjust as Needed
Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, you need to set publishing goals that work for you. If your blog schedule is beating you down, don’t quit. Scale back. Like training for a race it’s better to start running fewer miles and then scaling up. Try posting once every other week and if that works ramp up to a post a week.
3. Use an Editorial Calendar
With a schedule set, organization is key. One of the best blog organizational tools is to set an editorial calendar like a newspaper or magazine would. This also gets you in the mindset of thinking of yourself as a publisher. WordPress even has a handy editorial calendar plugin.
4. Make Capturing Ideas and Drafting Easy
With a schedule to keep, you need to build a system for locking down ideas as they cross your mind. Many bloggers use a simple Moleskine notepad for on-the-go idea capture, while the Evernote app takes this a step further by facilitating easy post drafting that syncs across your desktop and mobile devices.
5. Create Consistent Features
One you get on a content roll, you’ll start to notice that you do certain kinds of posts — book reviews, interviews, rants — kind of well. Or maybe your audience starts responding more to a particular type of post. Use this as an opportunity to make your blogging easier by developing consistent features that you can build templates for and work into your editorial calendar on a regular basis.
6. Utilize Guest Posts or Interviews
No one said you had to do all of this writing! Cultivate a stable of guest posters from your community. Use these substitutes to take little breathers and fire up your creative juices. If you can’t find guest posters or if you discover that your blog doesn’t work with other voices, try sending interview questions to someone of interest to your readers. The result is essentially a guest post in disguise.
7. Short Posts Are OK
Variety is the spice of life. Not every post has to be War and Peace. Get good at little vignettes that you can use as content snacks for your audience.
8. Just Push Publish
Blogging takes a lot of time. But how much of this time is spent on extra polish and fiddling? This can be exhausting and doesn’t always make your final product better as Seth Godin notes in Poke the Box.
9. Have a Blogging Buddy
Find another blogger of similar experience and work to keep each other on the right path. If you can’t find a buddy check out #blogchat on Twitter (Sunday nights at 8 PM Central) and you’ll get a firehouse of blogging best practices and maybe even a buddy or two.
10. Don’t Get Discouraged if No One Comments
Many purists will tell you that if you you don’t have any comments you’re talking to an empty room. While this can indeed be discouraging, I disagree with blog dogma like this. Learn to love the silence as you find your voice. Comments come with consistency and consistency takes time.
11. Blogging Is Like a Marathon
To reap the rewards of blogging, you have to understand that this is a long race. Many bloggers sprint onto the scene and then fizzle out. If you feel a burst of content coming, hold it. Go ahead and write the posts but bank them and plug them into your schedule to help you build your long-term blogging muscles.
12. It Has to Be Fun for You
“If you’re not having fun creating content, you’re doing it wrong,” advise Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman in Content Rules. If you’re in for the long haul you need to enjoy blogging. Both the publishing process and your topic. Choose wisely.
Blogging is a journey. It evolves over time and takes a lot of practice and perseverance to stay on the right path. There are bound to be peaks and valleys and ebbs and flows along your travels. As evidenced, many bloggers never make it out of that first valley. But those who do walk out of the wilderness will find themselves with a consistent blogging practice, armed with a set of useful tools for building and sharing engaging content on a regular basis.
Are you ready to get back on the path to consistent blogging? If you’re already on it, what helpful tips and tricks have kept you from quitting?
NOTE: This post originally ran on the blog 12Most.com.