What To Do When You Can’t Blog

Ever since I put out my hat as a professional blogger last summer, I’ve been more fatigued on a regular basis than with any other career. Problogging is hard work. This no doubt also comes from poor eating and sleeping habits while I surf the net researching for future  posts. Well things came to a head when, just over a week ago, I got hit hard with flu. I was so sick that I slept from the Sunday night that I got sick to Tuesday morning. All my plans for writing blog entries and boosting my traffic were delayed more than a week. But what I found was that my break from blogging didn’t affect my traffic all that much, or so my forecasting charts seem to prove.

Now how is this possible? While my traffic is still steadily climbing, it’s low enough that any sharp spikes will be noticeable and significant. But it appears that I’ve reached a high enough level of regular daily traffic that my collection of articles can sustain itself. In fact, while my traffic during last week didn’t set any new records, it stayed close to my current watermark. What’s more, my 7-day rolling total ad clicks did fairly well, almost hitting previous highs. This was also reflected in my 7-day rolling total revenue.

Because I am an informational blogger for the most part, much of my traffic is search engine-based. I don’t yet have a lot of regular readers, mainly because I don’t spend enough time daily on a single blog to cultivate regulars. Eventually, I’ll need to do something about this, because repeat visitors are a primary source of high daily traffic, and thus advertising income. The key will be to focus on a small handful of blogs, then write for them daily/ regularly, instead of spreading my efforts all over the place and only posting new content weekly on any given blog.

But in the interim, I’ve managed to build up traffic with a small collection of several hundred informational posts covering several topics.  It’s hard work, but it can be done. Had I stuck with a single topic, I’d probably not have achieved current traffic levels – some of my topics are obscure. I’ve managed to stay diversified, however.

It means a lot more work and a lot of research to write clearly about several topics instead of just one. This diversification is probably a longer-term way to becoming a successful blogger. But traffic growth is organic and thus likely more stable. Income growth is slow but steady. This just means that you can take some time off without seriously affecting your current levels of traffic or income.

I’m interested in knowing what contingency plans other bloggers have in place. Do you still blog daily? Or have you realized that blogging, like any career, requires you to take some time for yourself? Maybe you’re a machine, and you can blog daily without fail. What do you plan to do when you get sick? Do you see blogging as only a short-term venture, something you’ll stop doing after a few years? Or do you think of it as a long-term career?

If you’re wondering whether blogging is worth the effort, I might be able to help. I can’t always tell you if your topic is lucrative. However, as I’ll discuss in a later post here soon, you can use a few simple mathematical formulas and some graphs to forecast your blog traffic and income, both short-term and long-term. Once you see the forecasts, it’s easier to tell yourself that you’re achieving some successes, however small.

13 thoughts on “What To Do When You Can’t Blog

  1. Markus, excellent analysis. It’s having the proper infrastructure that’ll insure interesting new blogging models.

  2. Back to the question of team building and blog consolidation …

    Raij you are absolutely right with saying that someone has to start it. One good starting point is to choose a blog platform which is capable of handling multi-site and multi-author requests. Both is good for the main content and for ad revenue (i.e. offering sub-domains to paying advertisers).

    When I started my newest project, a German local newspaper site, I was and I am aware that I can’t create all the content by myself. But what I can do is I can make my site author friendly and aimed at parallel cooperation. Two days ago I had a talk with a guy who started a local monthly paper magazine and he will be (I hope) the first big contributor on my Internet site. Another guy/group wants to build a public and open W-LAN network in my area. They might also get their own section on my website if they want.

    The point is that I started with creating a ‘SERP number one’ site for my niche and now the traffic comes in and people are interested in cooperation. As I have chosen a nice CMS/Blog system which allows very easy sectioning (Textpattern) it is very easy for me now to hand out sections to people who are willing to contribute. Most important is that it is up to them how often they publish – no pressure on content creation. Instead they ‘own’ their own section. And if the section articles are well written the whole section might mix up beautifully with the frontpage (or I just link to single articles).

    The blog tribe starts with input, viral marketing does the rest. And it is not money that you need to start a professional blog it is the time to get that blog baby to a pretty grown up state. And then you start to harvest for revenue. If I have revenue then I will start thinking about how to share it 🙂

    BTW, my local newspaper project starts on the Internet but one of my plans is to do a kind of classical monthly/weekly print version i.e. for hotels as a customer service and ad platform for local businesses.

  3. BlackVV, that’s a good question. I’m going to have a post on forecasting your traffic. I’m hoping to show bloggers a simple way to track your traffic and revenue patterns. I’ll hypothesize a bit in that (near) future post.

  4. This is good, but at what level of traffic can you do this? I mean I’m building my site up at the mo, but I can’t see there ever being a time when I can just leave it – though I’m doing so now and again and I can see the traffic go up and down with that!

  5. Raj, that’s exactly the predicament I’m in: grand ideas and no capital!

    The project I’m planning to launch started out as an idea for a web application in the field of travel. I’ve identified a massive opportunity but do not have the skills nor technical expertise to pull it off on my own.

    So, instead I’m launching the ‘brand’ as a blog first because I can do that for minimal cost. Build the audience first, then the application later. By doing it this way I am not constrained and can adapt, be fluid. There’s actually more than 1 opportunity with my idea so this my way of shooting the arrow first and then drawing the target around it.

  6. Markus, you should sketch out your idea, maybe post it here as idea/forum thread and ask for input. My feeling is that there will be some interesting blogging consolidations in the next couple of years. But it takes someone with the right personality to pull it off. When I was publishing my monthly print mag, I managed 110 contributors at the peak. While there were a few across the world, most were within an hour’s drive of where I lived. But I don’t know if I could manage the same sort of thing on the Internet.

    Part of it has to do with the fact that the cost of starting a blog is so small. Who really wants to blog for me (or anyone other than themselves?) The cost of starting a proper network and having operating capital is a different story. It’s hard to convince myself that I should bother trying to convince other bloggers that, because of my experience as a print publisher, I’m the guy to start an online magazine that uses blogging and vlogging and podcasting as components. I have a domain registered that matches my old print mag’s name, but I don’t want to start yet another blog where I’m only posting a couple of times a week.

    But that said, I think that some ingenius person will come up with the right vehicle, and have all the necessary factors to pull it off, and still have an indie feel to it all. I doubt it’ll be me. I’ve got grand ideas and no capital

    Anyone out there want to comment? Do you think bloggers will consolidate? How, under what operating model? What about issues of sharing affiliate revenue? Will it be role-based, like a magazine?

  7. Hi Raij, glad to see you back!

    My experience is that a blog driven by SE traffic can exist pretty nice by itself for a while. If you have tag driven traffic from Technorati or del.icio.us then it is more important to publish ‘in time’. The same with ‘repeating visitors’, but as human beings they will understand if you are sick or away for vacation.

    Regarding the ‘time off’ aspect I am pretty sure that building a team is the most important point. I wrote the article “Tribal trends in professional Blogging” about that.

    I’d like to see more consolidation in professional blogging … pull together blogs and their content and share the money 🙂

  8. Artem: That’s a great idea. I am in fact parterning up with some bloggers. But my flu affected their plans, too. I was supposed to write a WordPress plugin, and now that’s delayed. And all the great posts I had in my head leaked out into the universe somewhere

    Shotoshi: What a great contingency plan. It’s the way a magazine would be run, with stories set aside in the “kitty”. Good luck to you, and belated congratulations.

  9. Raj, glad to hear you’re back at your desk and as someone who has been self-employed since 1994 I can sympathise.

    Contingency planning is vital. I notice that Darren over at Problogger has gone on holiday for 2 weeks but each day there has been a case study. He put the call out before his vacation and he chose 14 case studies to publish whilst on vacation! He also has some guest writers to fill the gaps.

    The blog I’m working on is not time sensitive as such, more of an ‘experience’ blog in similar vein as a product blog, but my contingency planning has been built in from the start by my current circumstances. Let me explain…

    I’ve set myself a target of 500 articles by June 12th. I have 100 or so now with about 50 in draft. I have researched a list of 300 items which I will catalogue from now until June 12th.

    Why June 12th? Because that’s when my wife returns to work full time after the birth of our son in October. That is also when I will officially launch the blog and then push-button publish the drafts at a rate of 2 per day. That will give me time to research and catalogue more items to be published in the future, or alongside the backlog that will be drip fed.

    I’m trying to leverage the time I have right now, whilst both of us are looking after the baby, in anticipation of a time not too far away when I’ll be looking after him on my own during the day.

  10. Sorry for you, Raj.

    I guess this kind of scenario is one of the reasons why Performancing guys decided to do the business in the team.
    Raj, did you consider an opportunity of hiring (sharing revenues/shares/ads) another blogger? Maybe at first not as a full writer, but as a backup solution? There is a number of freelance communities on the web, at least in some of them there are writers, who could back you up in case of emergency.

  11. heh heh. Next time, I’ll have an intravenous feed installed, and maybe get one of those heads up displays that functions based on how many times I blink my controlling eye.

  12. C’mon, you can’t let sickness stop you blogging.
    Just set up your pc next to your bed and get 4 times as much work done. That’s what i do anyway.
    Sickness is just a good excuse to get a day off work to do some actual blogging

  13. Glad to hear that you’re back on your feet…or should I say back in the blogging chair?

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