Something happened behind the scenes of this very blog. Even though I was reasonably happy with the content, the results made me a little sad, scared and embarrassed. People assume that a blog like mine just grows and grows. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t. It hadn’t in a little while. What it had done was flat-lined. My interest was waning, and I just didn’t feel that excited about blogging. I thought to myself I think my blog is dying.
What do you do when you look at your blog, and you think, uh oh, I think this is the end? The life support machine might need to be turned off. End of days and all that. What happens to a blogger when they no longer blog? All good questions, all questions I asked myself in the process of taking this blog from a decline in subscribers, daily readers and comments to the best it has even been.
In just over a month.
The first thing I acknowledged was that everything I knew about my blog was gone. Dead and buried. I was clearly losing interest if the content level was dropping and people were leaving in droves. So it was time to acknowledge that I had failed. Your aim was world domination, and you failed. Your aim was to be at the top of the world, and you failed. And would you look at that, you survived.
I had to say goodbye to all the things that I was doing out of obligation for my blog and the people who invested their money into advertising with me. I stopped promoting a lot of things and pared back my commitments in those areas. I reinforced my personal rule of being super picky and said no to everything that didn’t make me want to do a happy dance. Which was a lot of no.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame monetisation for killing my blog. I did that. I was trying to follow a formula for success in a world that changes day after day and week after week. I was following a formula even I wasn’t inspired by anymore. It was boring and a bit of a chore to blog. I felt like it took all my energy just to make it happen. So that became my new rule, if I felt like something was sucking the life out of me; I didn’t do it.
A lot of people talk the talk on that one, including me, but it was harder to do than anything. The tricky part of these things is that sometimes you don’t know that something is bleeding you dry until you know it. Seek advice from friends and family. The conversations will give you an insight into what you really feel. Excited and enlivened by the prospect, it’s for you. Not? Then maybe you should pass.
So after I saw all that, after I’d acknowledged that I’d failed and that I wasn’t inspired by my blog anymore what did I do to resuscitate it?
First stop was an overhaul. I cleaned house, so to speak. I took my frustrations out on the billions of categories on this blog now languishing in the corner. I removed them, restructured them and felt more focused because of it. I tidied my sidebar and unsubscribed from more than one affiliate program. I made it easy to find me, find the content people were looking for in that I knew I wanted to keep writing about.
Then I gave the branding a little facelift, and I was ready.
That very night, at well after 2am, I started reading posts about blogging. I logged into my Bloglovin account for the first time in goodness knows how long and started to read. I bought eBooks and flicked through online magazines in the search of something that would peak my interest. I stopped writing for the sake of it, blogging because I thought I should. I don’t know when that started, but it had.
One day, I just felt like writing, so I did. I wrote about whatever it was that I felt like writing about. But when I did so I framed my thoughts, in a way, that appealed to readers on a personal level. How to do this, why I did that, things I learnt.
Not just a complaint about being made feel badly about my body, but a guide to loving your body now to share all I had learnt. I answered specific questions and took a genuine interest in the people who were connecting with me.
In the end what happened was that I stopped talking, dictating, and I started listening. Listening to myself, to you all and to what was happening around me. And then I wrote. I would sit awake at night and jot down notes for posts. I would clickety-clack the keyboard furiously as the ideas and thoughts tumbled out of my mind with the ferocity of a crashing wave. I was inspired by what was around me.
Inspired not to be more interesting or to draw people into this blog but because being inspired is what life is all about. And sharing your life is what a blog like mine is all about. Sharing your successes and failures, helping others to walk the path they are walking with your support. Posts became not just about having something there to fill the space but about delivering something of value, sharing something of myself or recording a moment too great to not have recorded somewhere.
And finally I asked for feedback and I got it. The biggest step after that was that I took it. Everything was open to feedback and criticism. From the newsletter to the Facebook page and my Instagram account. All things were considered and I questioned everything I thought I knew before. This was so vital to the rebuilding of the blog. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback. Choose five or ten of them. Ask a reader who has been a part of your blog for a while and email them so they feel they can be honest.
You just don’t know what you don’t know until you know it, you know? So ask.
Then it happened. Day after day people started to return to this blog because it felt like home to them again. They shared my posts for the first time in goodness knows how long. They took the time to comment. The community here, they did all that.
When I say they, I mean you wonderful, exciting, too smart for your own good, lot. The ones who read this blog. You brought this blog back from the dead with your willingness to contribute to its community and to me.
I’m excited to see where we go from here and what blogging has in store for me. And for you. For us. So don’t panic if your blog is dying. It might be time. Maybe you’re done. But if in your gut you know you’re a blogger then don’t give up. Just forget everything you know and start again.
I did and I’ve never loved my blog more.
Chief Blogger at Suger Coat It; An Australian lifestyle blog for women who work for themselves. Melissa is a social media consultant & lover of stripes. Most weekends you’ll find her at the beach or home on the veranda kicking back. Around here, they call her Suger. Feel free to do the same.