Photo by More Altitude
Sometimes I like to think of blogs like people, because, due to their high social profile, they resemble in so many ways their human authors. Actually blogs are you want them to be, you dictate what gets posted and by doing so your blog takes on the meaning you give it, just like life. It’s just like your eyes are the windows to your soul, so is a blog a mirror to your personality. And just like life a blog will pass through several stages of existence from birth, to its moment of climax, to its inevitable death. During its lifetime, if it’s long enough of course, a blog will fluctuate numerous times on up-down scales and ever so often you’ll find that for a limited time it doesn’t go up, nor does it go down, but just stagnates. This is called a plateau.
Plateaus are pretty easy to recognize, you start off pretty well with a decent month to month growth, from all points of view, be it traffic, subscribers or money earned, but then you suddenly hit a dead lock, when everything comes to a halt. Blogs aren’t the only ones that experience it either, they’re just as well present in any form of activity, from guitar playing, to weight loss to writing to just about anything. What you have to understand about plateaus is that they’re part of the process of growth, it’s more of a psychological factor actually, if you link the opening part of the article with what I’ve said, then you’ll understand. Basically the blog needs to reach a point in which it can at least cope with the current level of exigences, before it can pass on to the next level, otherwise it will stray off in shallow ground. Such is the case with high traffic spikes. So you see plateaus actually are good… sometimes.
The whole theory is pretty bogus, I know, but it’s just a personal opinion, that I’ve found resonates not only in the blogging, but outside it as well. Let’s see however how we can get past these pretty annoying plateaus, that halt our blog’s growth.
Photo by Uros Petrovic
A slow and steady blog growth is better then none at all, right? So the secret to both avoiding and getting past blogging plateaus is to always achieve a exponential growth. Always set a minim growth percentage for each month, and always strive to at least reach it. In example you might have let’s say 5000 unique visitors per month, not a large amount at all, but if you aim for a 20%/mo growth, then next month you’ll have 6000 and the month after that 7200 and so on. Exponential growth can be sweet indeed, the tricky part, however, is to constantly keep up the growth ratio from month to month; this gets increasingly harder as your stats steadily increase, and so will your growth treshold.
The problem with exponential growth is that it only works for a limited time frame, most of the time at the beginning of the blog’s inception. The real problem is that it’s impossible to keep up a minimum growth rate from month to month, because you’ll reach a point when you out-surpass your growth potential. An exponential growth aim is a great way to keep you motivated in the beginning though or just after you get past a plateau, but as mentioned above you can’t keep it up for long. So let’s have a look on a few practical ideas on how to overcome some blogging plateaus.
Why Does My Blog Stagnate?
Photo of Kurt Cobain playing one of my favorite songs “Plateau” live. By nirvanaheart
Well there could be numerous reason for this. One of the most common is, as listed above, is a too rapid growth rate, that didn’t leave room for catching up from behalf of the blog. It bit off more then it can chew and the growth pace become too hard to follow, I’ve seen this all too many times now. And no, don’t get it wrong, there’s nothing bad about growing fast or having inconsistent upward spikes, I mean there’s it can’t possibly do any harm, it’s just that if you don’t play your cards right (i.e. weak server, spammy design etc.) you might miss the opportunity to leverage that audience. An audience that you might not never have the chance to approach.
Also another reason your blog may stay at a halt, may be caused not because it won’t go any further, but because it goes backwards at the same time too. Meaning although you get brand new visitors and subscribers everyday, at the same time you lose your up ’till then faithful followers. It’s just like trying to empty water from a leaky boat; it will keep you alive, but you won’t get anywhere anytime soon.
If you’re blogging in a niche that’s very focused and limited to a smaller audience, although highly unlikely, it’s possible it may have reached its demographic peak, or over-saturated its niche.
You might, for instance, begin to weaken in blogpost quality, a normal thing after a long and constant period of blogging, but unfortunately this is a major turn off for readers, especially the older ones. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose traffic and earnings, you might even boost it a bit, but without doubt your reader interaction will be severely reduced; this can be very easily seen by following the average comment count on your blogposts, if it’s decreased from month to month, then something is wrong.
Maybe you’ve become to pompous with your readers and you don’t connect as much as you used too. You never answer to comments now, you never or rarely actually comment on other blogs, you don’t answer e-mails etc. People never really like being around arrogant individuals, so be sure to pay more attention on the way you write and start interacting more with your readers.
As you can see there are a lot of reasons that make a blog fall pray to plateaus, there are even more that aren’t listed, because it would simply take all night. I laid them down because, firstly, these are among the most common characteristics and secondly because the first step to solving any issue is identifying it. We’ve identified the problem and now it’s time to fix it.
How To Overcome A Blogging Plateau
Photo by Today is a good day
Here’s a few solutions to overcoming damnation stagnation, mostly centered around learning from your mistakes (see above) and other general practical pointers:
- Take it slow. There’s no need to rush things, especially if your blog’s not ready to handle large amounts of traffic. A social media spike or anything related, that implies a considerable boost, is always welcomed, but as long as you don’t overreact with it. This will only make your blog bloom for a month or maybe two, if you’re lucky, and for the rest of the time it will fall into mediocrity. This could have a pretty damaging psychological effect on the bloggers and might demoralize him to the extent of quiting. For my blogs I like to make blog development plans, which I apply in stages. These plans include among others content development, design, SEO optimization and long term traffic building. Whenever I reach a certain treshold in traffic, subscribers or earnings, I can safely pass on to the next level and begin preparations and take action to assure I make it to the next one as well and so on. The main idea here is to always strive for a constant growing and evolution experience.
- Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Be one with the your blog’s visitor for a few moments every once in a while. Access your blog, read it as objectively as possible and make the necessary adjustments when you’ve found issues. So by improving your blog, you’ll be also pleasing your loyal following, thus reducing the amount of readers that leave. I find it better to keep people, then getting new ones.
- Engage with your readers. If your interaction with your readers has clearly been altered negatively, then somewhere along the line you’ve made some terrible mistakes, most probably you’ve ignored them. Don’t be an arse and lift your head up from the sand; always remember that if it weren’t for your readers you wouldn’t have been anywhere. With that in mind, whenever someone e-mails you about something, kindly answer him back, be it a negative or positive response and also try to respond to comments, even with a simple thank you. Don’t just slap up articles every once in a while and hope to be successful.
- Target other related audiences. As I’ve already mentioned above, a reason why your blog may stagnate is because it has reached it’s maximum potential, so what you need to do is start looking for niches similar to that of yours and start sending visitors to your blog. You can easily do this by either commenting on the respective similar, to yours, blogs or, as I prefer and recommend, you could guestblog. Be sure to check out my previous article titled 10 Ways to Attract New Readers to Your Blog, that covers various methods on approaching and converting new readers.
- Return to your roots! If things seem to be heading nowhere, then sometimes it’s best to pluck your whole archive post by post, analyze it and look for signs that may have made people to leave or better yet that made them come back. Look at more time distant posts, did you change your writing style? What about the quality? Ask yourself these questions, and more, and then start making conclusions. Why not start writing as you did 1 year ago and see what happens?
Having your blog stuck from time to time, isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s actually a pretty “healthy” phenomenon during the course of a blog’s social growth. This very blog has been through two plateaus, during which things went completely the same for a few weeks. I soon started analyzing my blog, trying to figure out what can I do to get things on their feet and soon found the solutions. Have you ever experienced a blogging plateau? If yes, for how long and how did you manage to get past it?
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