Years ago on Problogger, written by Darren Rowse, on a post called Should I Stop Blogging, he listed 20 questions people should think about if they’re trying to decide whether they should stop blogging or not. I found it intriguing, to the point where I wrote an article, part of which makes up this article, and I responded to 4 of the items on the list with my perspective on them.
A friend & me; what I looked like when
I started blogging here
At that time, I was in my first year of blogging here, and I was posting something almost daily, which I did for 3 years, so I wasn’t close to thinking about stopping blogging. Even now I’m not thinking about stopping my blogging, but I know I’ve cut way back in the frequency and the amount of blogging I do.
As I get closer to my 6th decade on this planet (next year), I wonder how much longer I’m going to try to keep up with 5 blogs. Three of them are lacking to an extent, but on the two I pay the most attention to, I don’t feel like I give everything needed to be successful.
Is it all about success though? Exactly what is success anyway?
In any case, back then I was reluctant to address all 20 items. Now I think I’m ready to tackle it. Some of my responses are going to be longer than the others, since I’m keeping all the previous statements I wrote on those initial 4 points, with some modifications. Some might be one sentence; even a short sentence.
This is about as honest a personal blogging critique as I can make about myself… but I’m only doing it for this blog. The responses would definitely be different for my business blog; not so sure about the other three. His was just a list of 20 things; mine’s going to be much, much longer. Also, the original post was from 2008, when I really had no idea what I was going to do with this blog. Later I figured it out, so I know my overall responses will be much different than they would have been 10 years ago. 🙂
1. What goals do I have for this blog? Are they being met? Am I getting closer to meeting them?
At this point, the goals I have for this blog is to increase traffic and readership. I’m not totally sure what happened, since years ago I was ranked in the top 100,000 websites in the world; now this blog barely exists. I blame a lot of it on Google Panda and its other animal iterations, but there’s little I can do about that.
Are my goals being met? Nope! Am I getting closer to meeting them? Nope! I’m past the point in my life where I can write here almost every day; that train’s left the terminal, and it’s probably not coming back.
2. Am I Interested in the Topic?
Let’s take a look at the main topics on this blog and figure that one:
* blogging – check
* writing – check
* social media – check
I’m interested in every single subject I’ve ever written about on this blog. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be writing about it, since I’m not paying myself for it. I still come up with new ways to address my main topics, and I’m not afraid to deviate into other topics that I feel need to be addressed and I address them from here. On this one I’m solid.
3. Am I getting personal satisfaction from posting?
Most of his commenters on Rowse’s blog liked #3. I think this is key, because if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, and it feels more like work than fun, then either your quality is going to suffer or the frequency of your writing is going to decrease, probably both. I know many people who get into blogging because they believe it’s critical for their business, rather than their yearn for having something to say. No one likes working at a bad job; don’t create one for yourself.
With that said, I do get personal satisfaction from this blog; the most of all my blogs. I’m not really sure why, but it’s the truth. Truth be told, if it weren’t for this blog I’d have left social media and blogging in 2016 after the general election; I was that depressed. This blog offers a little bit of salvation and relaxation; who knew that a blog not about personal revelations could do that for one’s peace of mind?
4. How Many Posts Did I write in the Last Month?
If you’re trying to write one post a week, that’s fine, but if you only had one post in the last month, and you’re dreading having to write another one just to have something down on paper, you’re probably of the mindset that this is something you don’t want to do. The only way to bring people to your blog is to have new content; without it, you won’t build up loyalty.
With that said, I only wrote 3 posts last month instead of the 4 I should have written. Kind of my fault, but I’m blaming that cursed GDPR thing. I’ve learned over all these years that every once in a while you might need to break your normal pattern to either work on something else or do a reevaluation of what it is you’re doing. I don’t beat myself up on that type of thing anymore.
5. Do I have time to keep the blog running?
Easily. Writing on this blog turns out to be the most fun I have online, and that’s saying something. I can write freely and offer my opinion without worrying about what anyone else has to say about it. My business blog is sometimes a different animal. I do have to worry a little bit, but it doesn’t stop me from saying what I have to say.
Because I only concentrate on two blogs, it’s easy to keep up with them, though I write for a couple other groups that I don’t own. Time constraints are different because Mom lives with me and I’m the main caregiver, but it’s not like I sit in a room with her 24/7. I could handle 100 legitimate comments easily enough… I just have to get there again. 🙂
6. Is anyone reading my blog?
That’s an interesting question. According to Google Analytics, there are some people reading my blog. The numbers have decreased since 2011; part of it is Panda, but part of it is me. I need to step up my commenting game again. Back in the day, I commented on at least 5 blogs a day.
These days I’m hard pressed to comment on 5 a week. The main difference is that most of the bloggers I was connected with back then have stopped writing, which means they’ve stopped visiting. I still read a lot of blogs, but most blogs are serving up guest posters, and unless I know the person I almost never read any of those articles, let alone comment on them unless I didn’t know they were guest posts, which can happen if I’m seeing the articles on Flipboard.
Lately, some of the blogs I visited more regularly have decided to stop accepting comments. They have their reasons for doing it, and that’s great for them. For me, it means I stop reading those blogs because I like the option of commenting, and if my opinion means nothing then why bother? It puts those folks in great company though, since Seth Godin doesn’t accept comments & I won’t read his blog either.
7. Have I given it enough time?
Ten years… yeah…
8. Do I still see myself writing on this blog in 18 months time?
9. Is the niche growing or dying?
It’s holding steady. Regardless of all the articles saying that blogging is dying, the pace of new blogs keeps growing, even as it seems more existing blogs are dying. There’s always going to be people who want to learn about the topics I mentioned above; I think I’m set there.
10. Is the blog earning anything?
How dare you ask me that question! Well… no… but it used to. It’s probably the one thing that every once in a while makes me think I’m a failure. How am I almost at 1,800 blog posts and not making any money?
Luckily, that in and of itself doesn’t come close to my using it to make a decision on giving up blogging. I’ve made money with this blog; at one point over $600 a month some years ago. Not a livable income, but not a bad supplement. Maybe I can get there again, but until I do I still have a lot to say.
11. Is the blog growing my profile and perceived expertise?
That’s an interesting question. I know it was at some point in the past; I’m not sure it is anymore.
The interesting thing is that, over the course of all my blogging and writing, I’ve found that I have definitely grown my personal profile. Expertise; that’s another matter entirely. I feel that I’ve shown expertise, but a local buddy of mine wrote something that said “If people don’t know who you are, you’re not really an expert.” That’s all I’ve got for now.
12. Are there any other benefits from this blog?
I’m not sure how to answer this one. I guess I could say that the benefit of having this blog is that I still get to market products I’ve created and, if I put more time into it, I can set up product pages, try to market them and potentially make some money. I could also accept advertising and set up some affiliate products here and there. Are those benefits? Maybe… maybe not…
13. Is the blog giving energy to or taking energy away from me?
Hmmm… If it’s a great effort to continue blogging, your energy levels have to diminish whenever you start thinking it’s time to write something. There are a few times when I’m not feeling it as I start writing for one reason or another, but usually before I start writing, I’m fully engaged because I’ve just thought of something I’d really like to address. I almost always feel a major sense of accomplishment once I’ve hit “publish”, and that gives me a nice boost. My mind says “Mitchell, you’ve done it again”; I can live with that! 😀
14. Is the Blog’s traffic and income growing or shrinking?
Since I’ve already covered income, let’s talk traffic,
Doing a year to year comparison based on Analytics, pageviews have dropped around 9%; that’s depressing. Sessions have dropped 15.6%, but since I don’t know what sessions are, I’m not worried about it.
What’s more interesting to me is that traffic for American visitors has grown 5% and from India by 8%; that’s kind of weird. As a matter of fact, for all but one country listed, China, my traffic has grown for all the countries. Google isn’t telling me something; I have no idea where my traffic’s dropping… just that it is. But I’m reaching the audience I’m mainly shooting for; hard to be mad at that.
15. Are readers engaging with the content?
That’s another interesting question; I’m going to have to say “yes” to it. Out of my last 50 articles, more than half of them have gotten double digit comments. I’m not going to say that all of them are “great” comments, but they’re acceptable comments; I’m a tough grader when it comes to comments.
16. If readers are commenting, what are they saying?
I’m not sure how to respond to this one. The fact that they’re saying anything that gets me to allow to stay is enough for me.
17. What are other bloggers writing about my blog?
Another intriguing question. Like anyone else who’s been writing a while, I have my hard core fans, just like I’m a hard core fan of certain blogs. Those folk mention me; I appreciate it more than they could imagine. It’s diminished a lot over the years, but I embrace my “used ta was-it” persona in style. It’s better than being totally ignored. 🙂
18. Do I have anything original and useful to say on my topic?
This question is a good one. It’s more subjective, because it’s not as much about whether I have enough content but rather if I have enough content, AND am willing to use my personality to help get my points across.
If I wanted to, I could post all sorts of nonsense about nothing, or copy what others have written without comment and forethought, and become that kind of source for information. I could accept all guest posts and take the credit for being a great blogger without writing a thing. How entertaining and engaging is that? If someone is writing on the failed merger between Microsoft and Yahoo, for instance (this was a long time ago), it’s not anything new because a lot of people wrote about it at the time.
I like to think that if my perspective and passion on a topic, as well as how I communicate it, offers readers something they can’t get from reading about the topic from other sources. This goes back to step one of my blog writing series years ago, where I said people should think about what they want to write on their blogs, but not set too fine a line on what it is they can address, otherwise it stifles the process.
Blogging is all about informing, educating and entertaining, but it should have a bit of personality come through to make it interesting. Just going through the emotions is like a bad marriage; it will fizzle out eventually. Who wants to be that blogger?
19. What else could I do with the time that I spend on this blog
I began this process by saying I was only going to consider this blog for these 20 questions. In that respect, I really don’t know what else I could be doing.
Actually, that’s not accurate; I don’t know what else I’d rather be doing. I easily know what else I could be doing. I could be doing a lot of nothing. I could be writing more books. I could be marketing my business more. I could be doing a heck of a lot of other things. There’s nothing specific; it’s probably not a fair question.
20. What would the impact be of me not blogging? (on readers and me)
This is the question that becomes the most realistic, and the most depressing; at least part of it.
What would the impact be of me not blogging for readers? Nothing; nothing at all. If I stopped blogging after this article, it would be a few months before anyone would notice, and that would only be 3 or 4 people. No one would care; no one would miss me. That’s not me feeling sorry for myself; it’s me being honest with myself.
I’ve done some tests over the years where I’ve stopped posting anything at all anywhere on social media for a week, including this blog and my other blogs. You know what? No one even noticed until I wrote about the experiment. I’m not a big enough player in the game at this juncture. Now, if I ever have that best seller… we’ll talk about better things then.
The impact on myself of not blogging… well… for just this blog… I’m not sure. I enjoy writing about the topics I cover on this blog. I love sharing my opinion on all sorts of things. Truthfully though, if I didn’t write on this blog anymore I’d transfer my time to writing more on my business blog. I love the topics I cover there a lot also, but it’s a tough niche to say I can dominate because in general I’m talking to an audience that needs the advice but doesn’t want to believe they need it. That’s pretty much my career. lol
I’d still be writing though; for me, that’s the most important thing. Writing and sharing… which works best on a blog called I’m Just Sharing!
That’s my take on the 20 questions. Way more reasons to keep blogging than to give it up I’d say. How would you answer the 20 questions? Do you have the nerve to try it? If you do, make sure to share that link with me so I can stop by and see it. Now, get on with your bad selves! 😉