If you’re new to blogging, you might think that it’s a road paved with gold.
However, as we have seen here, there are no certainties when it comes to blogging success, in fact 80% of blog fail within 6 months.
And you might say: why do we need yet another article on why blogs fail?
I hear you. If you search Google for “failed bloggers” or “why bloggers fail”, you already find over 108 million results.
However, did you know that these results are mostly giving the same advice on how to make your blog succeed?
You can see the similarity in the image below. 👇
The two keywords have 80% similarity, in other words 8/10 results are exactly the same.
What does this mean?
Blogging is a changing and complex business, and what works today might not work tomorrow.
In the last 10 years, blogging changed a lot. Images became more important than ever, promotion is key to success and User Experience makes people engaged.
Blogging will continue to change.
Everybody does the same things.
And it’s not just me saying it.
Google “why do bloggers fail” and here is a list of best practices:
- you need a content marketing strategy
- you need to create engaging content
- you should promote yourself
- you should optimise for SEO
However, recent research, written in the book called “Better than best practices”, shows you that the best way to learn something is developing your own judgment. If you keep doing what everyone else is doing, how can you be the best?
Also, FastCompany explains that best practices might be doing more harm than good. And also, they are difficult to spot because they have been existing for a long time.
“Best practices don’t make you the best, they make you the average.”
Most blogs follow “best practices”. Often, these are practices that most websites in their niche have been following for years, leading people to assume that it is simply the best way of writing a blog.
The reasons why “others” have failed and the use of best practices won’t help you much with your own blog. At best, it’ll make you an average blogger.
So how can you best learn from failed bloggers? Using an evidence-based approach.
This is a different learning approach if compared to best practices, as I believe that you can develop your own blogging skills from an evidence-based approach.
Evidence-based is the opposite of best practices. According to Wikipedia, here is the definition:
“Evidence-based education (EBE) is the principle that education practices should be based on the best available scientific evidence, rather than tradition, personal judgement, or other influences.”
That way, you can make sure you don’t fall into the same traps.
Fitness Game - Health and fitness failed blog example
This blog idea was from a blogging team that has now found the magical formula for success.
However, with their first blog “Fitness Game” things were not so rosy.
The reasons for the failure of the blog were many, but the main reason was poor execution.
Consisting of youngish twenty-somethings, the owners of this blog wanted to enjoy every part of the blog writing process but failed to take it seriously enough.
If you didn’t know, you can check out old versions of websites using a website called Wayback Machine. It can be fun to look back and see how far you’ve come.
The content they were creating centered around themselves rather than the audience.
They were more concerned with how people viewed them rather than focusing on helping their readers.
The team also had a brilliant idea when they created two awesome weight loss programs, but they were unable to make a dime because they had no one to sell to.
What should have they done, instead?
The first step of this failed blogger should have been to build an audience. Then you can learn what they’re interested in. You should then move on to creating the product and selling it.
How can you build an audience?
Email marketing and social media posting are the two best ways of generating new email addresses.
If you want to master LinkedIn, for example, I recommend the course of Justin Welsh (no affiliations). Here you can learn how to grow and monetise your LinkedIn account.
And here is the spin: you first grow your LinkedIn audience, then you start a blog.
Let me explain: I am growing my followers on LinkedIn to 10,000 people and I will be sharing my blog posts in front of that many people. Even if 10% (worst case scenario) will click on your post, you get 1,000 new page views.
Then you can re-share the content from a different point of view, and get another 1,000 people, if not more, to your blog post.
Another piece of advice they disregarded was the need for building an email list.
According to MailChimp, email marketing is one of the best ways to turn a prospect into a fan.
An Honest Admission From another Failed Blogger
I came across this post during my research into failed blogs and was touched by this guy’s honesty.
To date, Tirtha Ojha has published 19 blogs, all of which have failed to get readers’ attention or gain search engine ranking.
The most successful blog was #19 but after a few months of success, it turned into yet another failed blog. His advice comes from real experiences and his touching desire to help other potential bloggers avoid the same mistakes.
His tips are as follows:
- Don’t blog just for money, try to make it interesting and fun
- Don’t hesitate when it comes to sharing your blog
- Don’t use pirated themes or templates
- Adsense approval is not the be-all and end-all for making money
What should they have done, instead?
Want to combine thought leadership and SEO? Use content like this. It drives 4,500 visits 👇
Thought leadership and SEO don’t have to be separate. I’ve used the process below on 9 different articles.
They demonstrate expertise and they attract a lot of organic traffic. Here’s how just one of those articles performs:
- It’s generated 6,000 organic visits in 2020
- It ranks for more than 130 keywords
- It’s earned backlinks from Forbes, Moz, CoSchedule and HubSpot.
- It outranks websites like Forbes, guestpost.com and GetResponse
What type of content is it?
And here’s the spin: you interview SEO experts in your niche.
Let me explain:
I’m targeting “guest posting ROI”. (900 searches per month). People are always looking for better ways to write guest posts and make them more effective. But, if you search Google for that keyword, a lot of websites use the SAME examples.
That’s not for me. I want my content to be unique.
I use real data from real people that send their responses to me.
I scrolled through 100s of contacts on my LinkedIn from dozens of brands – from CrazyEgg, SEMRush, Moz, HubSpot – you name it. I prepared some questions and sent them to these contacts.
In the end, I had a list of 30+ SEO experts with lots of fresh data.
I started putting the data together and categorizing it:
- Which reason you have for guest posting?
- Did you reach your results?
- If not, why?
- What can you teach to others starting out?
The content and my point of view is 100% unique.
And the data are 100% unique. That’s why it performs so well.
Waterproof Digital Camera: From $250/month to failure
This blog started in 2011 but a couple of years later it closed down. Founded in Slovenia, this blog was earning $250/month in the early days.
However, the founder longed for faster results and was impatient. He made the mistake of using Black Hat SEO strategies. This course of action ended up in the failure of the business.
Essentially, the blog was a review site looking at different waterproof cameras.
Disappointed with the speed at which standard SEO marketing techniques were working, the founder turned to BuildMyRank. Not long after signing up, Google discovered the black hat SEO tactics being used by this company, and all sites working with BuildMyRank lost their rankings.
Overnight, all the work put in previously by the business founder was lost. He continued working and trying to fix things for a few more weeks but eventually abandoned the project.
What should they have done, instead?
Because they used black hat SEO techniques, my advice is simply don’t use them and be patient.
They were doing everything correctly SEO-wise until they decided to pivot to black hat. They were building good amount of traffic, they did their keywords research and managed to grow the blog, until they changed strategy.
Another failed blog: People against goodness and normalcy
This is an example of a failed blog because it contains content that people won’t read.
Anyone visiting the site quickly clicked away because it contains just random stuff.
Visitors want to gain something from every blog that they visit and they didn’t get it from this particular blog post that can’t be found online anymore.
Another example of a blog that people won’t want to visit is blogitude.com. The creator of the blog is just rambling away about what they think without having any kind of intelligent argument.
The creator of the blog is just rambling away about what they think without having any kind of intelligent argument.
Becca has written a tongue-in-cheek post on Medium about the reasons for her lack of success as a blogger. She admits that she loves blogging, but her blog is just not popular.
If you like the idea of becoming an unpopular blogger, here are some things you need to consider:
- Write dull blog content
- Write about topics you know nothing about
- Don’t stress about a writing schedule, be as inconsistent as possible
- Compare yourself and your writing with other more popular bloggers
- Focus on the pursuit of perfection
- Forget about promoting your blog
- Ignore your readers and never respond to comments
- Forget about adding external links
- Never research how you can become a better blogger.
The Blogging Manifesto
This blog was started in 2015 and closed the following year. It was a blog meant to help readers with their blogging problems. One of the problems with this blog was a lack of passion for the subject and a lack of focus.
Alongside the blog, the founder also wrote an eBook that was promoted via the blog and through various social media channels.
Steady progress in the traffic department was the initial result but a lack of sales meant the founder lost his passion.
Other reasons for the failure of the blog included:
- The blog was started mainly to make money rather than wanting to provide a helpful service that solved a pressing problem
- Rather than focusing on giving, the founder was obsessed with getting
- There was no sound posting schedule
Ryan Biddulph has since gone on to create a successful blogging business, Blogging From Paradise, and learned from his previous mistakes.
Breakthroughs in blogging happen not when you follow conventions but when you break them.
Looking to other, successful blogs for inspiration or unsuccessful blogs for reasons why they failed is an instinct everyone has.
You should strip away assumptions when learning from failed bloggers and break problems down to their essence. Then you can start blogging for the first time, and do it right.
It’s more time consuming than copying your competitors and following best practices, but it’s the difference between blogging success and failure.