By: Marilyn L. Davis
Sustainability Takes Focus and Commitment
“The main thing, Ruby said, was not to get ahead of yourself. Go at a rhythm that could be sustained on and on. Do just as much as you could do and still be able to get up and do again tomorrow. No more, and no less.”―
Many aspects go into creating, developing, and boosting your blog’s reach and presence. While we typically think of sustainability as an environmental issue, we need to expand our perception of sustainability for our blogs. We need to remember that our physical and mental resources are limited, and time constraints are imposed by other obligations that may prevent us from sustaining an excellent blog.
Think about a three-legged stool. If one of the legs is off-balance, the stool fails to function correctly; it’s wobbly. If one of the legs is missing, it won’t even stand up – total failure.
With the availability of web servers, almost anyone can get a blog up, but is it a wobbly stool and not functioning correctly? Here are some of the issues that make your site unbalanced, wobbly, and unstable.
You Haven’t Defined Your “Why”
Why you want to have a blog is crucial to your success. After all, if you aren’t invested in it, how much time, energy, and effort would you expect to put into it? Do you know why your blog exists? If so, does your content support that reason?
Take the time to define your why and check out the competition for blogs on your subject. For instance, Scoot Biddulph and I wanted a literary site for novice and seasoned writers to share their writing experiences, poetry, and problem-solving tips. Our why? Because collaboration meant that we would be offering new tones and voices, well-researched essays from established writers, and we would attract writers worldwide with our social media connections.
Because most literary sites weren’t collaborative sites, we knew that we would fulfill our why by offering a welcoming experience, not being afraid of taking a chance on the aspiring writer, and giving them exposure through their bios.
Does Your Why Include More than You?
We also weren’t afraid of publishing new writers. We were willing to take the time to find the bones and make necessary edits if the topic was of interest. Why?
Because we knew that too few editors on most literary sites took the time to look beyond the poor syntax, misspelled words, or typos and viewed the work from a broader perspective. We also appreciated that English was a second language for some of our contributors, and we could understand the intent and change a word for a better post. Was this a gamble?
Yes, because it meant that we spent a lot of time editing, revising, and sending submissions back with Track Changes and hoping the writer could improve on their original submission.
You Haven’t Defined Your Readers
Besides your why, the reader’s needs must be factored for your blog to be sustainable. If you don’t know if readers are either interested or seeking answers about your topic, there are only a few reasons for readers to visit your new site. Sure, your family and friends will visit and maybe even comment, but that’s because most of them are gracious, don’t want to hurt your feelings, or they want an invite to the holiday gathering.
Some topics are saturated, and unless you come up with unique, timely, and engaging content for the topics, issues, or subjects, it’s not likely that you’ll see much traffic to your new blog. Part of this is we’ve all gotten into the habit of Googling for information and then clicking on the first offering.
When you define your readers, you can research where to find them. Readers at Facebook differ from LinkedIn’s readers, who aren’t the same as a Twitter reader, who’s not like an Instagram reader. Sound confusing? It needn’t be. There is a wealth of information about the reader’s habits – just Google it.
Regardless of the social media site, our readers are there. Social media account for 30% of the overall visits to Web sites, which is higher than visits due to organic search results from search engines.
You Set Unrealistic Writing Goals
“Rather than flog yourself over a slip, embrace it as simply an integral part of the process of change. Punish yourself and you’ve just made a second mistake – because holding yourself to an unrealistic standard… is a pattern that can lead to defeatism. A shame spiral that can take you out of the game altogether. And the game is all about long-term sustainability over short-term temporary gains.”―
I remember Scott and I talking about our goals for how many posts to have each week before getting our first monthly contributors. We wanted a minimum of four posts, and while our commitment and intent were heart-felt, unfortunately, we could not produce them. He was in school, editing the newspaper and editing a book of poetry. I worked full time and had started my addiction and recovery blog, From Addict 2 Advocate. We both had other obligations that prevented us from writing four good posts per week, and we weren’t going to post what we both felt wasn’t our best efforts. Because of those other obligations, we couldn’t sustain our goals.
Then we got our first monthly contributors. We have certainly benefitted from our monthly contributors’ contributions to having quality posts regularly. So what can you do if you don’t have monthly contributors?
Solicit guest writers in your field. Create a call to action that offers guest writers something for their efforts. Besides publishing the writer, we allow our guest writers space in their bio to feature other writings, their blogs, and books. I know from email conversations that they appreciate this additional exposure and that many blogs don’t promote their guest writers in these ways.
You Can’t Sustain Your Writing Schedule
Waiting for the perfect time to write, the motivation to create, or the muse to wake up and inspire you? That’s a lot of waiting and not much doing.
If you want a successful blog, you will have to prioritize your writing. What does a typical week look like for you? Create a writing calendar that includes:
- Family obligations
- Social responsibilities like PTA or coaching Little League
- Standing doctor’s or other appointments
- Straightening and cleaning the house
- Grocery shopping
- Meal prep and cooking
- Other chores
- Other obligations
You may not realize how much time you need to allocate to things other than writing without an overview of your responsibilities. Making schedules that organize your tasks around your writing can help.
When I worked full-time, I got up two hours before I needed to and threw the laundry in the washer while the coffee was making; wrote one hour, then transferred the laundry to the dryer. Wrote for thirty more minutes, then folded the laundry, put it away, and got ready for work, and made it to work on time. When I returned from work, my writing was waiting for an edit or revision, but I had words done each day.
Know When You’re Most Effective as a Writer
I’m an early morning writer. Some are the late-night variety. Whichever suits you is how you establish a writing routine, and without that routine, you’re not going to have a sustainable blog.
The key to consistent writing is to schedule it, not try to fit it in or hope for random blocks of time. If you have some time, jot a few things down and feel productive, but to sustain your blog, you’ve got to make a commitment to write when you’re most effective.
Define Your Content Strategy
Brand consultant Katrina Kirsch states, “Sixty-five percent of the most successful North American bloggers have a well-documented content marketing strategy. Among the least successful bloggers, only 14% write down a strategy, and 39% admit they don’t have any strategy.” To position yourself, you need to be in the sixty-five percent.
What is a blog content strategy? Create a roadmap of what you want to accomplish after determining your why and who you’re writing for on your blog that includes:
- How saturated is the market for your topic?
- What is the mission of your blog?
- How can you measure your success?
- Can you generate consistent content?
- Do you know how to fine-tune your content if you fall short of your goals?
- Do you use keywords to help Google rank your blog?
- Are you familiar with where to find original images to enhance the content?
Answering these questions will help you determine your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. Build on your strengths, improve on your weaknesses, and find ways to overcome the limitations to make your blog sustainable.
Knowing What to Do and Not Do Keeps Your Blog Sustainable
Taking care of your physical and mental health needs, your other obligations, and making realistic goals for your blog will help you make it sustainable. Blogging is a long-haul experience. Don’t expect overnight success – well, maybe some have, but for most of us, it’s been honoring our commitment to keep improving that’s kept us viable.
Are you doing all you can to sustain your blog? Let me know in the comments how you’ve made your blog sustainable. Thanks.
Bio: Marilyn L. Davis
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.
For editing services and memoir coaching, contact her at email@example.com.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
Do You Need an Additional Platform for your Writing?
Two Drops of Ink accepts poetry, prose, and problem-solving posts for writers and bloggers. In addition to publishing your guest post, you’ll get more backlinks in your bio for other writings, your blog, and books.