A watched blog never boils

I was reading a great blog post yesterday about rejection by Exmoor Jane, and it got me to thinking. Exmoor Jane covered rejection in relationships and as a writer of books and articles, and whilst it was all good stuff, I think there’s one area she didn’t cover.

Rejection as a blogger.

Which is just another kind of rejection for professional writers, right? Well, actually I don’t think it is. You see I too, like Exmoor Jane, write for a living and as she said, rejection slips and rejection emails are very much par for the course. I used to laugh and tell my clients ‘if you donna like this word I find you another word!’ Being knocked back is very much part of moving forward as a writer because rejection eliminates ideas and allows you to get on with ideas that stick.

I find it’s not the same when you’re a blogger, and I’ve been wondering ‘why’. Why do I (and other bloggers I’m guessing) take rejection so hard? Why do I crumple and die when I lovingly craft a blog post, click the publish button and send out the word of its publication by Twitter and Facebook, and receive no retweets? Or worse, only three stalwarts comment (thank you loyal readers, you know who you are!). When that happens I agonise over what I did wrong.

Was it too much ‘pimping out’ of the blog post? Did people get sick of hearing about it? I click through to Statcounter and Clicky to get my stats on an almost hourly basis. Nup, still not boiling. Only TWO people on the website! Quelle horreur.

After a while of this not-boiling and blatant lack-of-interest, I start to look inwards. Or rather I start to pull myself inside out.

‘I’m crap’

‘I can’t write.’

‘No one reads my blog anymore’


And yet, this is the only time I do this. When I don’t do it with my professional writing, I think that represents the difference in approach. You see, this is my blog. It’s not my innermost feelings – I have a diary for that – but it is still personal. It’s a space I use to write in a way I hope will resonate with other people. When that resonation doesn’t happen, I feel discouraged. More often than not, I not only stop watching the pot for any sign of boiling, I even shut the gas off.

Silly eh.

I have been thinking a great deal about this for some time and have come to the conclusion that blogs start to fail when…

1) Their readership moves on. You know all those ‘mummy blogs’ out there? What happens when the kids grow up and don’t say cute things anymore? What happens when they can no longer bond over breastfeeding? In general the readership moves on. The only way for a blog to survive is to grow with its readers.

2) A blog becomes erratic. In my case this means I get busy with real life stuff and stop posting as much. People read blogs as a matter of habit and if they go to their reader and your latest blog post isn’t all fresh and shiny in their inbox they grow out of the habit of reading your blog.

3) Or a blog becomes boring. If you say the same thing day after day chances are people will move along. Or if your blog becomes too visually mundane and boring they can tire of it. How often should you refresh your blog tone and look? I think once every six months (at least) if not once every couple of months (smaller changes). If you change your look and feel more often your brand message gets very confused and readers get confused.

4) You’ve become a stranger. Funny thing about blogging, it truly is a community and if you stop checking in on other people’s blogs and commenting on their tweets chances are they’ll forget about you too. The online blog writing of blogging is only 40% of the experience in my humble opinion. The greater 60% time should be spent on linking in with other blogger communities.

5) You don’t engage with your readers. Am I the only one who has gone back to a blog post I commented on to see whether the writer has replied to my comment? I’m sure I’m not. People like to feel heard and if you’re not replying to your comments then you’re missing a huge part of essential interaction with your readers.

And as for feeling rejected as a blogger… there’s only one piece of advice I can give. And I give it to myself as much as I remind you of it…

Knocked down?

Get back up again. Sing it with me…

So loyal readers (all three of you!) what do you think the major reasons behind a failing blog are? Be kind, please and don’t name blog names just give general examples so we can all learn from them and all get back up together!


'A watched blog never boils' has 16 comments

  1. October 4, 2011 @ 12:51 pm Jane Alexander

    Hey, huge thanks for the mention and I’m so glad my post brought about THIS post!  You know, I never thought about blogging because, for me, blogging is not about audience really… I write such disparate things that my *audience* waxes and wanes like the moon…
    I do think that stats are the kiss of death to blogging mental health.  I get a kick out of the mobile geography lesson that the stats offer but other than that….
    My own take on blogging is that, unless you’re trying to do it for a living (in which case you have to look at your demographic and tailor your posts to that) you shouldn’t give a flying feck about the number of comments or the RTs or whatever…just write for YOU… if other people like what you write, or get something out of it, then that is the cherry on the cake. 🙂 xxxxx


    • October 4, 2011 @ 1:19 pm Anonymous

      Absolutely agree that stats are the bane of bloggers’ mental health. I agree but disagree with the idea of writing for you. Yes it is important that you write for you and that you are authentic, but I also personally need to know that people are reading and responding to what I’m writing. Maybe it’s my ego? I guess I feel all my Christmases have come at once when people say ‘thank you for your blog post because it helped me do xyz’ as someone did recently about the proposed visa changes for non-EU expats in the UK. I think looking out for new readers is really important, and another one I’ve just thought of is: grow with your blog. I love reading all about people’s life journey as much as anything else, I find it remarkably reassuring that other people are just as bonkers as I am.


  2. October 4, 2011 @ 12:56 pm Steve

    I agree with your synposis though I’m not sure the look of a blog makes any difference – I haven’t changed mine, not ever. I think accessibility can be an issue though. Blog readerships have to be both maintained (by constant badinage – both ways) and refreshed… because a lot of readers (who are of course also blog writers) fall by the wayside after a year or two. Maintaining a presence is hard work and it’s a long haul. Many bail out when they run out of insipration of enthusiasm… and then they bail out completely and stop reading. Always be on the look out for new readers! I also limit the number of blogs I follow – this sounds paradoxical but it works. People like a personal approach and responses. If you try and follow too many blogs you just cann’t keep up with them all… and then you get off-hand or too off the cuff. It puts people off. Keep it real!


    • October 4, 2011 @ 1:24 pm Anonymous

      thanks so much for commenting Steve, your blog is one of the ones I most admire. It frequently surprises, it has great reader interaction and has been going since Adam was a boy. Also, it’s brilliant. Great suggestions – I particularly like the advice – limit the number of blogs you follow. That’s such good advice, it seems almost counterintuitive though. When you say accessibility becomes a problem, what do you mean? That it’s hard to follow the blog because readers get jammed with unread posts or that readers haven’t seen you around and therefore stop reading? And man can’t you tell when someone is just commenting for the sake of being ‘seen’ in a comment feed?! I think the whole giving is receiving applies in this situation.


      • October 4, 2011 @ 8:20 pm Steve

        In terms of accessability I literally mean something as simple as the blog lay-out. Flashing lights and bells can be counterproductive. People need to read with ease and leave a comment with ease.


        • October 4, 2011 @ 10:34 pm vix

          Oh I see what you mean now. There’s no doubt that some blog designs don’t allow for any white space, or visual pause.


  3. October 4, 2011 @ 1:39 pm Trish @ Mum's Gone to

    I do think it’s a lot to do with interaction. There are some bloggers such as Steve at Bloggertropolis (I know you said no names!) who always reply to a comment. Steve’s replies are usually very witty too but what’s more important is that he is a great commenter on my blog – so I instinctively pop over to his in return (mind you, he writes brilliantly so that helps).
    I know I wrote a couple of comments on your superb Tenerife posts and popped back a few times to see if you’d replied. When I realised you hadn’t it wasn’t a big disappointment but I felt a chance for a connection had slipped by. It doesn’t stop me reading your blog, or any others, if there is no engagement but it makes me just a little less inclined to comment…apart from now, of course :-).


    • October 4, 2011 @ 1:50 pm Anonymous

      Great point Trish, thanks for commenting. Yes you’re absolutely right I did drop the ball on the Tenerife posts and some of the recent ones. As I said I know from experience these are some of the things that make me less inclined to engage, so it’s reassuring to have you confirm my suspicions! (I’m off to hunt down your comments so that I can pay you the courtesy of replying! xx) In fact one of your comments is still in my head now, I appreciated it so much, I can’t believe I didn’t reply and thank you for it! My only excuse is probably that I spent lots of time on the Tenerife posts and was disappointed they weren’t well received over all, but that was no excuse for me to bump the heartfelt comments they did receive!! Arrrgh! I am sorry. You’re right too about Steve’s reply comments being witty and from the heart which always makes me even more keen to see his reply. So maybe there’s onus on the blog writer to make sure the replies are decent ones too, and not just the ‘thanks for your comment’ type ones. And dialogue is good, comments don’t always have to agree with the blog post.


  4. October 4, 2011 @ 2:01 pm Trish @ Mum's Gone to

    Phew, I’m so glad you took my comment in the spirit it was intended. I agonised as to whether it sounded childish to point something out like this, but then…you did ask! It’s a funny old game, this blogging lark xx


    • October 4, 2011 @ 2:05 pm Anonymous

      Of course! You’re absolutely right. To be honest I didn’t realise I hadn’t replied and I’m just working my way back through my old blog posts to make sure I have replied to every one and to see what happened to the reply I thought I’d made..lol.. this blogging business is a funny old one, I absolutely agree. And yes, I did ask. 🙂


  5. October 4, 2011 @ 2:40 pm Anonymous

    I think for me your No. 2 has it covered.  Not only have I become incredibly lapse with my own blog, I have all but stopped reading other people’s.  Not because I don’t like them, quite the opposite, but life has just got in the way.  Since I’ve started working from home & become pregnant my time is now at a premium and mostly when I do have some spare time I’m absolutely knackered.

    I’m confident that I’ll get back on the blogging horse(s) and start writing and reading frequently again, probably about 4am in the morning….


    • October 4, 2011 @ 2:58 pm Anonymous

      I know how that feels! You must be close to Dday now, and when it comes no doubt there’ll be lots of time to blog when bubs sleeps beatifically in her crib. LOL!


  6. October 10, 2011 @ 12:34 am Nickie

    Interesting post.  I still wonder who reads my blog because the page views don’t translate into comments but I’m a massive believer in interaction both on my blog and with social media – it all links in for me.  In fact, I’m always looking for new ways to engage.


  7. October 10, 2011 @ 7:40 am Anonymous

    I have a theory Nickie that there’s about 10 views to every comment. What sort of ratio do you think you see on your blog?


    • October 10, 2011 @ 8:38 am Nickie

      It’s a lot lower than that when you compare pageviews to comments but I blog quite regularly and on a variety of topics.  I do see my content shared or on stumbleupon/digg/linkedin quite a lot so that could be seen as “commenting” in a way.


      • October 10, 2011 @ 9:09 am Anonymous

        And often people are too busy to comment and just ‘like’ it or share it on Facebook or Twitter instead.


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