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Knowing When To Stick and When To Fold

So you put your all into creating what you think ought to be a kick-arse-killer blog but find to your dismay that the traffic just isn’t coming. Do you stick or do you fold?

Since I read about OddJack closing I have had a nagging thought in my head. Maybe I am too much of a geek-tv nut but it just reminds me of all my much-loved telly shows that have been cut off too soon. Look at Family Guy, they axed the show then had to do an embarrassing U-turn when they discovered it was selling like hot cakes on DVD … no audience huh?

I’m thinking perhaps they haven’t tried hard enough to keep this blog alive. Maybe because Nick Denton feels the worlds eyes on him, waiting for him to stumble.

Blogging is such a new medium, we are all working this thing out as we go along, I am thinking axing the blog was premature. They will have their reasons of course. None of us know exactly how long to give a blog before you close it because every blog and every audience is different.

Before you kill your blog, I think there are signs of life to look for. It ain’t over till the fat lady belts out “I will survive” karaoke-style.

Blog suicide

What could be killing your blog?

  • Writing – if the writing is just bad then no-one will continue reading. Do you post real content or just link like mad? Do you go days without posting?
  • Usability – if your blog is hard on the visitor who will bother?
  • Advertising – annoying popups, flashing ads, long downloads or sweet sweet content with a sprinkling of inoffensive adverts?
  • Targeting – misread your audience and at best you will get “meh”, at worst you will drive people away. Constant irrelevance or cat-posts could kill any goodwill you get from killer articles

There are probably more but these are the ones that make me unsubscribe most often.

Signs of blog health

Just like in TV world it might not be the quality of the writing or lack of audience that has gone wrong. Presumably before you launched your blog you were sure of both your writing ability and the audience interest. Let’s see if your blog still has a pulse.

  • Bottom Line – maybe this was the nail in OddJacks coffin. If the blog isn’t making money then perhaps it was costing money. This is the risk blog networks take, it is a (pardon) gamble to pay a wage before you know the revenue is there. You are probably not in that situation, many bloggers begin blogging as a sideline so it is not necessary to make money right away. In fact most blogs don’t. (Read performancing regularly and you will, heh). Does the blog make any money at all? Enough to cover costs? Enough to show potential? Have you exhausted all potential tactics and business models?
  • Conversion Rate – if your traffic is low but you still manage to make money off the visitors you do get then it could be all is well. Fix it don’t kill it. If the reverse is true then work out what is wrong, is it usability, ad placement, bad ads, mis-targeted ..
  • Comments – if you get comments then you know you have an interested audience, if you don’t then either you are not attracting enough visitors, writing the wrong stuff or not doing a good enough job of engaging your audience.
  • Links – if you are attracting links then someone thinks you are doing enough of a job that you are worth pointing out. What got you the most link-love? Do more of that!
  • Subscriptions – subscribers are the life blood of a blog. If you have subs but no traffic it might be worth switching off full feeds and use snippets instead? If you haven’t got enough subscribers maybe you are not making it easy enough for your visitors to sub?
  • Unique Visitors – advertisers want to know your “monthly uniques”, low figure = bad, high figure = good. Easy enough. If you have the conversion rate and some income consider advertising. Once you reach tipping point momentum should carry you and you can stop advertising if you want.
  • Repeat-Visitors – this is a big test for if you are doing a good job, do people come back? We can see on performancing there are people visiting every day, some more than once during a day. Is your blog a revolving door?

Each of these metrics might be low right now but if they are on the rise, even just a little increment, then your blog is generally healthy and just needs a few tweaks.

Summary

Don’t quit too soon, you might be just round the corner from a breakthrough. Every blog has a tipping point, that one post or event that takes it to the next level. Read, digest and act on the advice here first.

What do you guys think? Should they have given the gambling blog another chance? Do you feel your blog is on its last legs? Let us know ..

Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

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