Maintaining a successful blog is a lot like driving a steam train. It takes a lot of energy to get it going, but even when you're on the right track, you need to keep adding fuel to the fire or it will eventually grind to a halt.
Failure to follow the principle of publishing good content consistently could send your blog into the great blogging graveyard in the sky. Whilst this blogging train hasn't crashed yet, it's clear that I need to start publishing articles on this blog more frequently. So that is exactly what I am going to do.
I will be putting my fancy blogging hat back on and making a conscious effort to put more time and energy into publishing articles here. Yey!
That's One Small Step for Man…
If you have ever launched a blog, you will appreciate that it can be difficult to maintain a consistent blog publishing schedule when you have other commitments that also require attention. It can quickly feel like you're spinning plates, devoting a little time to one project before rushing back to ensure the other project is still getting attention.
Over the last few years, I have juggled the management of my websites alongside writing for others and creating content for my YouTube channels regularly. When my time was precious, as it frequently is when creating YouTube videos, my other commitments were given a higher priority. In the short term, that was never a major problem. In the long term, it was.
In the last month, I have taken a small hiatus from YouTube to help me catch up. In addition to publishing an article entitled “11 Free WordPress Syntax Highlighter Plugins to Make Your Code Stand Out“, I have been working on four or five other long-form articles. A week or so of my time was also spent tweaking this website design (which I'll speak more about in a future article).
Once I get the momentum of this blog going again, I'll take the time to create more content for YouTube and balance my work more effectively. To do this, I may set aside some days for this blog, some for clients and some for creating videos for YouTube.
Fueling the Blogging Engine
The ball is now rolling. I've made a start on some articles and taken notes for a dozen more. Many of these will be published through the blog, but some will be published outwith the blog as guides and tutorials.
Whether articles as published as blog posts or pages is irrelevant to those that arrive on the content. The primary goal when kickstarting a blog back to life is to publish high-quality content regularly and that's all I'm focused on.
I do, however, also need to take the time to get more eyes on each article.
Getting My Name Out There (Again!)
I've been around long enough that some people in WordPress and website development may still be familiar with my previous websites or from my books about blogging. I also have a small following in the tech world due to my technology YouTube channel.
I'm not saying my past activities in blogging are worthless, but I'd be delusional to think that this blog can coast the next few years based upon what I did in the past. Therefore, I need to start raising my profile, and the profile of this blog, and tackle the problem as if I'm starting from scratch.
There's a number of ways you can help promote a blog.
Social media plays a big part in promoting articles today so I need to make more of an effort to use my social media platforms more effectively. As much as I'd like, Twitter can't just be a place for me to complain about companies who don't answer their emails. I need to get more involved in discussions and build relationships with people in WordPress, website development and technology.
A common blog promotion technique is to send emails out to thousands of blogs and ask the owners to link or share your “Amazing Article“. I acknowledge that this cold-calling technique may be effective for some people, but it's not my style. I don't like people that spam my email inbox, so I'm not going to do that to others. I'd much rather build professional relationships on Twitter and through personal emails and messages.
I'm also keen to write for other blogs again so that I reach new audiences.
I've not been writing regularly for others this year beyond irregular writing gigs for the WordPress websites WinningWP, WPMarmalade and WC Vendors; however, to help promote my efforts here, I'm going to take on more writing gigs over the next few months. This will expose my writing to thousands of new readers.
It is important to note that these writing gigs will be paid. They're not guest posts.
No…I Do Not Write for Others Free of Charge (And Neither Should You!)
When I first contributed a guest post to a website in 2008, the landscape was very different to what it is today. In the 2000s, bloggers submitted high-quality articles to blogs free of charge and in exchange, they were able to reach a whole new audience.
At first, guest posting was an effective way of kickstarting a new blog and attracting new subscribers. Unfortunately, it wasn't long until this promotion technique was abused by blog owners as they realised that they could get content free of charge. For some blogs, such as ProBlogger, guest posts represented the majority of their content at one point (thankfully, this is no longer the case).
I have long been opposed to bloggers writing guest posts free of charge.
- Since blog owners take advantage of guest posters, abusing the free labour that is offered and giving little exposure in return
- Because the prevalence of guest posting cheapened the art of writing.
To this day, many blog owners expect writers to work in exchange for a text link as there are so many companies offering this “Free Content“.
To make matters worse, a few changes in Google's ranking algorithms brought SEO companies and digital agencies into the blogging world, sending guest posting into overdrive. Today, nearly all guest posts are actually sponsored posts, with a ton of crappy unrelated links stuffed into them by the blogger so they get paid by an SEO company or advertiser.
So this idea that websites are getting free content is incorrect. What websites are actually doing is giving free advertising to companies.
It's a shame, but the days of high-quality guest post articles are truly gone. They've been replaced by awful content that was written in minutes, not hours or days. That is why they are no longer accepted on this website.
Starting From Scratch
Before my adventures on YouTube, I was a prolific writer, so I was lucky to have never had to actively seek out writing opportunities. In fact, I regularly turned down writing gigs as I just couldn't fit the additional work into my schedule.
As I published fewer articles, the number of invitations to write for others dwindled as well. So I find myself in a unique position where I have to go out and introduce myself to companies and ask if they're looking for writers. It's a little strange as previously, companies were already familiar with my work when they reached out to me. Whereas now, I now need to explain who I am and what I do.
I know from experience that as I publish more articles on this blog, and on other websites, those writing opportunities will return as website owners will come across articles I have written. For the time being, however, I need to be the one that makes the first contact.
A Different Approach to Contacting Companies
In addition to being terrible written, guest post requests account for most of the spam that fills my email inbox every day. I receive hundreds of guest post requests every month and they are nearly all sent through auto-email software. The emails are impersonal and it takes time every day to send those emails to the spam folder.
This blog receives hundreds of spammy guest post emails every month, so I suspect large companies and high-traffic blogs receive thousands of these junk emails. This perhaps explains why my recent emails to companies have had such a poor response.
I sent out an email to a few companies earlier this week about contributing a few articles to their blog. Despite the fact I was emailing about a paid writing position, three of the companies sent a standard copy-and-paste reply that they are not looking for guest posts at this time.
It's clear that those companies did not actually read my email, but I cannot blame them for misinterpreting my reason for emailing. It was inevitable that this would happen as companies are tackling so many spam emails on a daily basis. What this does highlight, however, is that it's now harder to make that initial contact through email.
Moving forward, I am going to build relationships through social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn instead. This will help reduce the odds of my emails being classified as spam.
I'm excited about getting this blog back on track. The market has changed, but I've been here before and I know what I need to do to increase blog traffic and bring readers back.
Much of this article has been devoted to my plans for raising the profile of myself and this blog, though I need to reiterate that my main focus is creating great content. Quality content remains the most effective way to not only attract readers, but also keep them coming back.
Thanks for reading.