Why I stopped blogging (for a bit) & the most important takeaway from that experience you’ll want to hear about first
What happens if you stop blogging for a little bit?
In the spring of 2018, I found out the hard way.
Because I had to stop blogging temporarily…
And it wasn’t because of the results I was getting or even the level of engagement.
In fact, everything from...
- My conversations with clients
- To my web traffic
Regularly reminded me that my blog posts were a key gateway for peoples’ interests in what I have to offer.
Actually, I had to stop because I was feeling way too much pressure to live up to my high standards.
People had high expectations of the work I was producing.
And I felt the pressure to produce consistently, high-quality work on my blog as well.
This led to every blog post conjuring a voice in my head that said: “what if this isn’t good enough?”
And this didn’t just happen with my blog. Every other piece of the content creation puzzle:
- Social media
- My newsletter
Led to me asking myself the same question.
And that feeling got so overwhelming that I felt like the joy was being sucked out of the blogging process.
When the focus of my blog started to change, I learned a lot about how tempting it can be to stop blogging.
Because, before that, it was something that was as natural as….breathing.
So, I wanted to share what I learned when I decided to stop blogging for a little while….
Because I think there’s a lot you can learn from my experiences as well.
1) Relevance is more important than age…
More specifically, content that takes what you already know about your audience’s needs and interests and addresses it in a direct fashion.
Before I decided to stop blogging for a short period of time, I definitely knew that.
But when I decided to include a “most popular posts” widget on my blog, I realized something that surprised me. My most popular content isn’t actually my most recent content:
Over the long-term, I’ve attracted my target audience to my blog by taking the 80/20 rule seriously. And that’s a huge part of why my blog continues to attract readers…and in some cases, client leads.
So what has that involved? I think Jerry Low summed this up perfectly when he explained exactly how a majority of bloggers, who have benefited from this principle, have built an audience:
Which sources are the top 20% of traffic on your blog? Can you invest more money and effort into satisfying them? Which posts constitute the top 20% of your best performing content? Can you improve on those and get even more from your content?
What you can do to make a blogging break make sense…
Check your blog’s analytics to get a sense of what platforms are getting the most traffic.
Then, use the top three web traffic sources to decide which ones are worth spending time on.
For instance, here’s what I found when I checked the referral dashboard for my consulting site, rosemayrichings.com:
So what does this tell me? I attract the attention of casual website visitors when I promote my website on places like:
- And LinkedIn
This informs my decision to regularly share my content, no matter how long it has been since I wrote something new in the following ways:
- Weekly participation in Facebook groups that discuss the subject matter I typically cover. This involves offering advice, and sharing my work when there’s a promo thread available.
- Investing in CoSchedule, so that I can repetitively share stuff I want social media followers to pay attention to. Their requeue feature allows me to share/ recycle posts for an unlimited amount of time…automatically.
My philosophy about content marketing basically boils down to this:
Real results come from showing up regularly and making choices based on the analytics you have access to.
This allows businesses to build trust by being transparent about what’s going on behind the scenes.
Not to mention… no one is keeping track of how many blog posts or tweets you produced in the past month. All they actually care about is value.
2) All people need is a heads up it’s time for a break.
Especially in the entrepreneur community.
A great example of this is a post written by the blogging veteran behind XO Sarah.
Right around the time when my motivation to just keep blogging for myself started to decrease…
She unknowingly wrote a post that perfectly summed up what I was feeling:
I can’t remember the last time I published a post that didn’t contain a list, or a tutorial, or keywords and clickable titles. I generally send my more personal, letter-style content to my email list and here on the blog, it’s all business, all the time. But I think it’s time for that to change.
But what really blew my mind about that post wasn’t its contents, but other peoples’ responses:
I’ve spent so much time consuming an abundance of content that says:
The secret to success is blogging every week, no matter what’s going on in your life!
But what that’s failing to recognize is the fact that we’re all still human…
And life will sometimes get in the way; that’s okay if you tell people what’s actually going on.
Yet, I totally understand the SEO argument.
Sure, you won’t get a boost in traffic for whatever period of time you decide to stop blogging.
But…the good news is that you can make up for that during your break in other ways.
I know that sounds nuts for someone like me to say publically (people pay me to blog and help them with the strategy aspects of their blogs).
But as someone who is also a one-woman show, and works with a lot of small, independent business owners, I understand just how much work it can be to “do all the things”; especially if you’re not ready to outsource!
Here are few web traffic methods I recommend when you need a break:
- Expert roundups on other peoples’ blogs.
- Interviews for blogs, podcasts, Facebook Live, and YouTube. Pitching guidance is available right here.
- Repurposing content, by adapting it for a PDF freebie, video, or podcast episode. This will make it easily shareable, and encourage people to access anything they might have missed/ not read yet.
All of these methods have helped me continue to engage with people in the moment. Even when my most recent post has a date on it that’s not exactly… recent.
If you want to stop blogging for any period of time, squeezing methods like these into your busy schedule will help your audience continue to grow.
3) You need to believe in every piece of content you produce…
Looking back on that phase when I decided to stop blogging for a bit, I know exactly why my motivation evaporated.
I got so pre-occupied with pleasing other people, that my blog started to feel like something I was doing because I “had to”.
Then, because blogging started to feel like a chore, my own, personal voice got left out of the equation.
And it made me feel like a giant imposter. Because I love being transparent and real with people…like a lot.
But…once I put the “me” back into my blogging…
It was like falling in love, and suddenly I didn’t want to stop blogging anymore.
It reminded me of that summer of 2009, life-changing moment when I started to experiment with Blogspot for the very first time (I believe they’re called Blogger now).
Although it’s not the best blogging platform I’ve used, it will always be known as my gateway drug into blogging.
But how do you put your voice back into your blogging?
I think Adii Pienaar put it best when he described the process of making authentic customer connections in the following way:
How do clients know which companies they should do business with and which online companies they should avoid like the plague?
Think of connecting with your customers in the same manner as connecting with an online date — without actually meeting the person, how can you assure them that you’re sincere, legitimate and trustworthy?
But how do you prove that you’re trustworthy? It’s all about finding the perfect balance between being open and vulnerable with people and offering value that suits their lifestyle/ most consistent challenges.
This leads to a relationship between yourself and the target audience forming over the long-term (if you keep taking the same approach).
A great example of this was a podcast I made a guest appearance on recently.
I made a guest appearance on this podcast because I wanted to talk about a really challenging subject, facing rejection and learning from failure as a creative professional. This led to the comments section being flooded with comments like these:
But, I’m not the only one. On her Medium Digest page, my former business coach, Violeta Nedvoka writes about tough topics like mental illness and what to do when you don’t have the energy to keep motivated.
And she gets comments like these regularly:
But if you want results like these…
You need to have a really good understanding of your audience as well.
Advertisers create authentic content when they find the alignment between people’s personal values and the ideals of the company. Finding that value match means going beyond products and services and exploring how brands tangibly improve people’s lives. It means examining a company’s role in society.
That’s exactly why I regularly encourage my clients to publish content that is a combination of the following:
- What they want the reader to do once they read their content.
- Their values, and what is motivating them to start their business in the first place
This is an approach I call “strategic blogging”, which is intended to attract not just any reader, but the right reader.
When I first started blogging my audience’s approval was my top priority…
But this made me overlook that fact that it’s a lot more about staying true to what feels natural to me.
If you’re still not convinced that authenticity will produce results for your brand, here’s a quote from Campaign Monitor that might change your mind:
Subscribers have an enormity of media at their fingertips, which means competition for media companies is fierce. Subscribers only have so much time in their day to read a magazine, watch TV, or listen to a radio station. To standout in a crowded space, media companies have to offer authentic content.
I see evidence of how true this is not only in terms of the people who read the content I produce but also in terms of my clients as well.
Over and over again I’ve asked clients why they chose me…
And I got answers like these:
- “We come from the same place so I feel like you really get what I’m all about.”
- “Your local time zone is much more convenient than most of the writers who applied for the same position.”
- “The fact that you work from the same co-working space makes hiring my first freelancer really comfortable.”
This proved just how much people like to consume content or buy something from people who are familiar to them. Ever since I’ve been a lot more interested in showing readers the “real” me.
And that’s an approach that I 100% recommend for your brand as well.
Next time you feel hesitant to stop blogging for a short period of time ask yourself the following question:
Would you rather release a blog post just to maintain a regular schedule, or would you rather focus on quality, and attract peoples’ attention?
If you really, truly care about building an audience it’s safe to assume that quality is your top priority, rather than meeting a deadline (unless someone is paying you to meet that deadline).
If you’re too burnt out and need to stop blogging for a bit you basically have two options:
- Hire someone like me to blog on your behalf
- Or, tell your audience you’re taking a break for a bit, and go back to blogging as soon as you’re ready
But, above all else, never apologize for feeling like you need to take a break.
So…what I’d really like to know is this: have you ever taken a blogging break? And how did it go? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.
Originally published at www.rosiewritingspace.com on December 31, 2018.