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How to Grow Your Blog and Stop Going in Circles

Roundabout Blogging TipsA common frustration from bloggers is they get to a certain level of momentum then stall. It’s like there is a ceiling that they can not break through.

Rather than steaming ahead toward your goal, do you feel like you are going round in circles?

How can we keep driving our growth?

I often see patterns in blog growth. Rather than being a straight line or even an upwards curve most bloggers grow their audience in spurts. It is like a series of small hills, two steps forward, one step back. The same is true for RSS subscriptions and for traffic.

After a while though we get stuck in patterns. We keep going round the roundabout without getting off and going anywhere. It is just easy to keep doing the minimum amount of effort. We go into “maintain” rather than “expansion” mode.

When was the last time you …

Just like a pushing a broken down car, getting started takes more effort than maintaining a speed. If you stop pushing then you have to put in more effort to get going again than if you kept the thing moving.

This very blog has stalled twice, both times because of my own distractions. Once because of a vacation and once because I prioritized a book project over my blogging. Doing “enough” is never enough, you have to put in 100% and always be looking for ways you can improve.

There are two reasons why blogs stop growing

  1. You stop doing what works – Once you work out which tactics work for you don’t stop doing them
  2. You stop experimenting – If all you ever do is what you always did you will always get the same results. Try new things, mix things up, experiment and tweak.

Stalled growth is a sign that sooner or later your blog is going to stagnate. If your blog is still growing then keep up the momentum and take it to even greater heights. Make it good then make it better.

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Comments

  1. I recently experienced a complete stall on my blog but I attributed it to very different reasons – I was not blogging with any passion during that time, I was merely forcing myself to blog and it showed through in the writing. Sure I wasn’t doing any of those things you mention in the post either but I think that if you continually put out good content you should still experience growth because people will Stumble it, link to it, it will rank in the search engines and so on.

  2. I recently experienced a complete stall on my blog but I attributed it to very different reasons – I was not blogging with any passion during that time, I was merely forcing myself to blog and it showed through in the writing. Sure I wasn’t doing any of those things you mention in the post either but I think that if you continually put out good content you should still experience growth because people will Stumble it, link to it, it will rank in the search engines and so on.

  3. These are all great points Chris. I have also found that if you can persuade people to favorite you on Technorati it triggers a chain reaction that will result in increased popularity.

  4. These are all great points Chris. I have also found that if you can persuade people to favorite you on Technorati it triggers a chain reaction that will result in increased popularity.

  5. @Caroline – I agree that readers can tell when your heart is not 100% in it, but I think posting good content is the *minimum* we should be doing. Yes you might see some growth but nothing like when you really set your mind to making your blog the best it can be.

    @Patricia – From what I hear the technorati favorites worked massively for Maki at DoshDosh, I would never have given it a second thought before! Wish I had now πŸ™‚ I don’t think anyone has favorited mine so I couldn’t tell you if it would work for everyone

  6. @Caroline – I agree that readers can tell when your heart is not 100% in it, but I think posting good content is the *minimum* we should be doing. Yes you might see some growth but nothing like when you really set your mind to making your blog the best it can be.

    @Patricia – From what I hear the technorati favorites worked massively for Maki at DoshDosh, I would never have given it a second thought before! Wish I had now πŸ™‚ I don’t think anyone has favorited mine so I couldn’t tell you if it would work for everyone

  7. Just this last two days ago, one post of mine got stumbled upon. Not to the front page or any massive surge in traffic, but at least it brought in a couple of new readers and subscribers.

    Perhaps it’s a cycle of highs and lows. All that matters is how we recover from low points.

  8. Just this last two days ago, one post of mine got stumbled upon. Not to the front page or any massive surge in traffic, but at least it brought in a couple of new readers and subscribers.

    Perhaps it’s a cycle of highs and lows. All that matters is how we recover from low points.

  9. I think, once you get just so many blogs that you start running out of time to comment as much – that’s when my blogs stall. Plus I do tend to comment on the same people’s blogs. One, cause I like them, and two because I know they’ll visit me back. That’s sort of lazy though. My bad. Stalling is frustrating though. I’m going to add some of your points that I’m not already doing to my to-do list (I actually add stuff like commenting to my weekly to-do list so I don’t forget).

    Also, a question, I read your post on bookmarking – which was interesting but del.icio.us seems so old school to me. Is that working out well for you page view wise? Did you do a post on stats related to bookmarking already? If so, could you point that out? Ok, that was 3 questions. Sorry.

  10. I think, once you get just so many blogs that you start running out of time to comment as much – that’s when my blogs stall. Plus I do tend to comment on the same people’s blogs. One, cause I like them, and two because I know they’ll visit me back. That’s sort of lazy though. My bad. Stalling is frustrating though. I’m going to add some of your points that I’m not already doing to my to-do list (I actually add stuff like commenting to my weekly to-do list so I don’t forget).

    Also, a question, I read your post on bookmarking – which was interesting but del.icio.us seems so old school to me. Is that working out well for you page view wise? Did you do a post on stats related to bookmarking already? If so, could you point that out? Ok, that was 3 questions. Sorry.

  11. Even though I haven’t posted here for a while I still read your posts everyday. I have struggled for a while wondering just why I was was writing in the first place. I took my blog down, deleted all the content started over in a new direction then went back to what I like. I have discovered you cannot fake it because it shows in how you write.
    I think everthing I’ve done lately is one big experiment….Is this how it goes for everyone?

  12. Even though I haven’t posted here for a while I still read your posts everyday. I have struggled for a while wondering just why I was was writing in the first place. I took my blog down, deleted all the content started over in a new direction then went back to what I like. I have discovered you cannot fake it because it shows in how you write.
    I think everthing I’ve done lately is one big experiment….Is this how it goes for everyone?

  13. That was a really positive read. Thanks for the blog forum link; I’m embarrassed to admit that I never knew such a thing existed.

    And, yes, experimenting is the key; just like life, I guess.

  14. That was a really positive read. Thanks for the blog forum link; I’m embarrassed to admit that I never knew such a thing existed.

    And, yes, experimenting is the key; just like life, I guess.

  15. ps: there’s a typo in the URI for the forum site (glad I’m not the only one).

  16. ps: there’s a typo in the URI for the forum site (glad I’m not the only one).

  17. These are great tips. I already use most of them. I just went over the mark for my blog of reaching 100+ subscribers. I am in the spirituality niche of blogging. My biggest honor so far has been to be included in the Top 10 of Spiritual Bloggers list at spiritualzen.com recently. I am small and determined to grow. I don’t know how Spiritual Zen found out about me and I am thrilled to be included. Working these tips definitely works for me.

  18. These are great tips. I already use most of them. I just went over the mark for my blog of reaching 100+ subscribers. I am in the spirituality niche of blogging. My biggest honor so far has been to be included in the Top 10 of Spiritual Bloggers list at spiritualzen.com recently. I am small and determined to grow. I don’t know how Spiritual Zen found out about me and I am thrilled to be included. Working these tips definitely works for me.

  19. My blog has stalled considerably over the last few months. It’s my fault, I’ve been working on other sites and haven’t had time to blog as much as I would like.

    When I first started my blog though, I picked up momentum pretty quickly though contacting other bloggers, commenting a lot on other blogs, and joined and posted at some blogging forums and my traffic and RSS numbers went up pretty quick but are not at a stand still

  20. My blog has stalled considerably over the last few months. It’s my fault, I’ve been working on other sites and haven’t had time to blog as much as I would like.

    When I first started my blog though, I picked up momentum pretty quickly though contacting other bloggers, commenting a lot on other blogs, and joined and posted at some blogging forums and my traffic and RSS numbers went up pretty quick but are not at a stand still

  21. Being a part-time blogger, like many others out there, I’m still struggling with the best way to utilize the 2-3 hours a day that I can devote to my online business.

    As a result I tend to get scattered and inconsistent. I think I need to evaluate what I can do and accept that and stop putting pressure on myself to “bite off more than I can chew.”

  22. Being a part-time blogger, like many others out there, I’m still struggling with the best way to utilize the 2-3 hours a day that I can devote to my online business.

    As a result I tend to get scattered and inconsistent. I think I need to evaluate what I can do and accept that and stop putting pressure on myself to “bite off more than I can chew.”

  23. I can completely relate to a lot of what you said in your post. It’s very easy to become lazy when you’re blogging, particularly if you’re running multiple blogs.

    I have a poker blog which I haven’t posted to since last November, yet it’s still getting 100-200 visitors a day and still earning me a nice little income. I just need to start posting again and get back into my stride again re posting new articles and getting more traffic.

  24. I can completely relate to a lot of what you said in your post. It’s very easy to become lazy when you’re blogging, particularly if you’re running multiple blogs.

    I have a poker blog which I haven’t posted to since last November, yet it’s still getting 100-200 visitors a day and still earning me a nice little income. I just need to start posting again and get back into my stride again re posting new articles and getting more traffic.

  25. Well. Have you been watching me or something? I think you just nailed me down good! lol. I guess I need to be a proactive blogger again!

  26. Well. Have you been watching me or something? I think you just nailed me down good! lol. I guess I need to be a proactive blogger again!

  27. Thanks for this post, Chris, I needed it! I love my blog but I don’t always give it the attention it needs.

    @Mark McCullagh, it’s hard, and IMO you just need to focus on what you can really handle and don’t make yourself bananas with it. If you can actually make use of 2 hours a day, and do that steadily, you’ll see results. The trick is figuring out what to focus on–“scattered and inconsistent” sounds real familiar. πŸ™‚

  28. Thanks for this post, Chris, I needed it! I love my blog but I don’t always give it the attention it needs.

    @Mark McCullagh, it’s hard, and IMO you just need to focus on what you can really handle and don’t make yourself bananas with it. If you can actually make use of 2 hours a day, and do that steadily, you’ll see results. The trick is figuring out what to focus on–“scattered and inconsistent” sounds real familiar. πŸ™‚

  29. I’m glad to see that others struggle like I do, especially:
    @ Mark McCullagh and @ Steve Smith. Not that I enjoy your suffering! But I feel so ignorant at times. I still haven’t even managed to get Adsense to come and bite my site. And I have monkeyed with it for awhile.

  30. I’m glad to see that others struggle like I do, especially:
    @ Mark McCullagh and @ Steve Smith. Not that I enjoy your suffering! But I feel so ignorant at times. I still haven’t even managed to get Adsense to come and bite my site. And I have monkeyed with it for awhile.

  31. Fantastic post Chris. It actually really motivated me to not let distractions get in the way of my blog. I’ll be linking to this post in one of my upcoming blog articles.

    Cheers for the motivation!

  32. Fantastic post Chris. It actually really motivated me to not let distractions get in the way of my blog. I’ll be linking to this post in one of my upcoming blog articles.

    Cheers for the motivation!

  33. Being relatively new to all of this I am trying to “learn from the best” and not fall into a stall. The content on mt Blog is still not as good as I would like, but practice, practice, …..
    I appreciate your advice and will strive to follow it(and be back to read your blog again)

  34. Being relatively new to all of this I am trying to “learn from the best” and not fall into a stall. The content on mt Blog is still not as good as I would like, but practice, practice, …..
    I appreciate your advice and will strive to follow it(and be back to read your blog again)

  35. I had the same feeling the last days. That blogging was repeating itself. I identified to be the RSS Curse. In short, I got too comfortable with my subscriptions and didn’t try to evolve it.

    So I would add one more way to stop going in circles:
    Delete your rss subscriptions and start new ones.
    That helped me a lot

  36. I had the same feeling the last days. That blogging was repeating itself. I identified to be the RSS Curse. In short, I got too comfortable with my subscriptions and didn’t try to evolve it.

    So I would add one more way to stop going in circles:
    Delete your rss subscriptions and start new ones.
    That helped me a lot

  37. Hmm,

    I’m trying to comment on the posts I stumble on the blog, rather than just on SU, so there’s a start. One thing I’ve never really done is “Experimented with a new traffic tactic?” Any ideas on what that would be?

  38. Hmm,

    I’m trying to comment on the posts I stumble on the blog, rather than just on SU, so there’s a start. One thing I’ve never really done is “Experimented with a new traffic tactic?” Any ideas on what that would be?

  39. Hi Chris, thanks for these practical suggestions to get things moving.

    One way of looking at might be to ask yourself – how can I make blogging fun again? What are the elements of blogging that make me feel most… creative, connected, amused, inspired, energised… and then do some of them.

    Might just be enough to give you the kick-start you need πŸ™‚

    Joanna

  40. Hi Chris, thanks for these practical suggestions to get things moving.

    One way of looking at might be to ask yourself – how can I make blogging fun again? What are the elements of blogging that make me feel most… creative, connected, amused, inspired, energised… and then do some of them.

    Might just be enough to give you the kick-start you need πŸ™‚

    Joanna

  41. @jhay – The fact you got some stumbles is a good sign. If you make more stumble friends, next time that happens you can let people know and they can help it gain more traction πŸ™‚ This is a completely good and honest thing to do as it has already been shown to be stumble-worthy so you are not spamming πŸ™‚

    @Jennifer – My post got delicious popular which means you get some nice direct traffic. The main benefit from delicious though is when people trawl it looking for places to link to. If you really drill down your stats you see people follow delicious links to find you but not in Digg sorts of numbers. I see it as being an additional route into peoples awareness. Of course the sort of post that gets on delicious will also be stumbled, linked and shared πŸ™‚

    @Steve – Life is one big experiment. The only people who know all the answers are not with us in the physical realm πŸ™‚ Seeing blogging as an experiment is a healthy way to look at it I think.

    @johno – Oops, nice catch!

    @Patricia – Well done on getting some recognition from your peers,
    shows you are doing great work πŸ™‚

    @Deron – The good news is once you have had momentum you know what to do πŸ™‚

    @Mark – Yes there is that, perhaps one approach is to put more effort into fewer posts rather than trying to hold on to an unrealistic posting schedule? Or find friends to team up with?

    @James – If you are getting income then just think what you could do if you really tried? πŸ™‚

    @Ann – Proactive is a great word for it πŸ™‚

    @Sonia – I think most of us are there at some point πŸ™‚

    @Ellen – One of the shames I see is people assuming everyone else has it all sorted. It’s nice on my forum when people see that everyone else is making it up as they go and just sharing what works for them πŸ™‚

    @Tom – I’m glad you liked it, thanks for the link πŸ™‚

    @troy – That’s all we can do really. I have been blogging for over ten years, more depending on your definition, and I still read blogs to learn more πŸ™‚

    @robojiannis – Good tip, sometimes we need a fresh start to really put things together

    @Troy – carnivals, memes, new social sites, competitions, widgets, freebies, video, audio, email newsletters, advertising, forums and networking, directories, classifieds … doesn’t have to be new, just new to you πŸ™‚

    @Joanna – Excellent advice, sometimes it is just about getting your mojo back and turning it back into fun rather than work is a great way to do it πŸ™‚

  42. @jhay – The fact you got some stumbles is a good sign. If you make more stumble friends, next time that happens you can let people know and they can help it gain more traction πŸ™‚ This is a completely good and honest thing to do as it has already been shown to be stumble-worthy so you are not spamming πŸ™‚

    @Jennifer – My post got delicious popular which means you get some nice direct traffic. The main benefit from delicious though is when people trawl it looking for places to link to. If you really drill down your stats you see people follow delicious links to find you but not in Digg sorts of numbers. I see it as being an additional route into peoples awareness. Of course the sort of post that gets on delicious will also be stumbled, linked and shared πŸ™‚

    @Steve – Life is one big experiment. The only people who know all the answers are not with us in the physical realm πŸ™‚ Seeing blogging as an experiment is a healthy way to look at it I think.

    @johno – Oops, nice catch!

    @Patricia – Well done on getting some recognition from your peers,
    shows you are doing great work πŸ™‚

    @Deron – The good news is once you have had momentum you know what to do πŸ™‚

    @Mark – Yes there is that, perhaps one approach is to put more effort into fewer posts rather than trying to hold on to an unrealistic posting schedule? Or find friends to team up with?

    @James – If you are getting income then just think what you could do if you really tried? πŸ™‚

    @Ann – Proactive is a great word for it πŸ™‚

    @Sonia – I think most of us are there at some point πŸ™‚

    @Ellen – One of the shames I see is people assuming everyone else has it all sorted. It’s nice on my forum when people see that everyone else is making it up as they go and just sharing what works for them πŸ™‚

    @Tom – I’m glad you liked it, thanks for the link πŸ™‚

    @troy – That’s all we can do really. I have been blogging for over ten years, more depending on your definition, and I still read blogs to learn more πŸ™‚

    @robojiannis – Good tip, sometimes we need a fresh start to really put things together

    @Troy – carnivals, memes, new social sites, competitions, widgets, freebies, video, audio, email newsletters, advertising, forums and networking, directories, classifieds … doesn’t have to be new, just new to you πŸ™‚

    @Joanna – Excellent advice, sometimes it is just about getting your mojo back and turning it back into fun rather than work is a great way to do it πŸ™‚