Many bloggers have lived through this scenario: they start off their blog with a flurry of posts, with a lot of enthusiasm.
But once that enthusiasm dies down, posting slows to a trickle, with every real post matched by a promise, “Sorry I haven’t been posting regularly — I’ll be posting more from now on.”
So the question every new blogger must ask himself is: how do you keep the fire burning? How do you ensure that your initial blogging enthusiasm lasts beyond the first few weeks?
It’s not easy, and it should be recognized that blogging isn’t for everybody. You have to love to write, to share with others, to interact with those who love what you write and those who hate it. If that’s not you, you might give it a shot, but you might not last long.
However, if you’re destined to be a long-term blogger, with a sustainable posting schedule (and finding that perfect schedule is a matter of experimentation), there are some things you can do to improve your chances of keeping the posts coming for years to come.
- Blog about what you love.
If you are passionate about a topic, you’ll want to keep writing about it for a long time. If it’s just a fad, something you like for the moment but might not like in a few months, you probably won’t last long. If you write about everything, the world in general, that’s not focused on anything you really care about — it’s just life in general. No one can love life in general enough to keep that going. Pick something you really love, and stick with that.
- Make it something you live through.
It’s not enough that you’ve read a book or two, or read a couple of websites about your blog topic. You have to live the topic on a daily basis. A personal finance blogger, for example, deals with personal finance issues in his own life every day. A programmer can write about that if it’s something he does on a daily basis. Someone who has never gone to space probably shouldn’t write about what it’s like to be an astronaut.
- Make it a habit.
If you can blog regularly for at least a month, without a break, you can make it an ingrained habit. And then you’ve boosted your chances of keeping it going, because if you don’t post, you’ll feel incomplete. The key is to keep it regular for at least a month.
- Start small.
Don’t shoot for the moon when you first start. Make your posting schedule something you can definitely accomplish. If you think you can post 3 times a day, every day of the week, and you prove it by doing it the first few days, you might be in for a surprise when things come up in your life and you don’t have time to post 3 times a day. It’s better to keep your schedule to once a day (at most), at least in the beginning. If after a month it turns out that your schedule is too easy, you can increase it from there, but don’t start out with a flurry and then die out.
- Keep it easy.
Even after you start with an easy schedule, you want to keep it as easy as possible to post. That means that you need to keep your method of posting very simple, without a lot of formatting or other time-consuming things. The key is to think about how long it takes you to post, and how many steps it takes. If your posting method seems cumbersome, look for ways to simplify. Really all you need is a title and some text, so anything you’re doing beyond that should not be excessive. If it’s too hard, you might not keep it up for long.
- Set a time.
If you want to make posting a habit, it’s best to stick with a regular time, and make it an unbreakable appointment. If you only post “when you find the time”, there will be days when you don’t find the time. And then things will fall apart.
- Keep an ideas list.
Keep a running list of post ideas, and add to it every time you read a post on another blog that inspires an idea, or you get an idea while in the shower or in your car. If you always have a list of ideas, you won’t be wracking your brain each day.
- Don’t fiddle too much.
One mistake that a lot of bloggers make is spending a lot of time fiddling with their blog, checking stats throughout the day, working on blog maintenance and administration. Sure, you need to do these things, but if you do them excessively, you’ll be spending your blogging energy on things that don’t matter as much as good content. Save your energy for the important things: your posts.
- Get inspired.
Read other great blogs daily. You don’t need to read 50 blogs — just 5-10 great ones will do. They’ll inspire you to keep writing.
- Develop relationships.
If and when people start posting comments on your blog, respond to them with encouragement, thank them for commenting, get involved in a dialog. Responding via email as well is also a nice personal touch. Keep those relationships going, as they will keep your fire for blogging going.
- Feed on encouragement.
If you get nice emails or comments or links from other bloggers, use that as fuel. If you get criticism, use it to spur you to do better (instead of allowing it to discourage you).
- Help others.
If you write things on your blog that help others to do things you know how to do, or solve problems you’ve encountered, they will thank you. And if you help people, it will be rewarding. That will keep you going for a long time.