“I have to make this work for my family.”
“Having a blog is fun; I love the benefits and interaction with community.”
“I want to blog from home to be with my kids and make money too!”
“Blogging is a means to an end for my <insert type> of business”
No matter what you reason for blogging, you can’t escape the fact that blogging is a necessity for reaching online audiences. In order for this to happen though you have to understand the top reasons why your blog will fail.
But why do we want to focus on failure?
Oh we aren’t focusing on it. We are highlighting the aspects of potential actions that will cause your blog failure in order to make a plan to avoid failure and grow successfully.
So I’m only saying your blog WILL fail if you ignore these. But if you don’t, you have a strong chance for success!
#1 Lacking legalities of a business.
Owning and running a blog with affiliate links, sponsored posts, and sales of products/services is running a business. Often times this aspect is overlooked leaving many blog owners in tough legal waters with governmental agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (for America).
Selling online is different in all states, but it doesn’t negate the legal requirement of being set up just as though you were a “brick and mortar” business.
Aspects to keep in mind include business formation, sales tax permits, income tax, employer tax, etc.
#2 Running an illegal (or unethical) blog.
Do what? I’m not selling drugs or committing other illegal activity. How can I run an illegal blog?
You can be doing things that are not legit.
These can include:
- failing to disclose affiliate links as required by the Federal Trade Commission
- violating copyright (see: Fair Use of Images)
- infringing on someone’s privacy (See: Why do bloggers need a model release?)
While some of these may not technically be illegal (some are) or unethical (depends on who you ask!), not being mindful of actions that can trigger issues is as detrimental to your blog as not blogging at all.
There is actually a legal anatomy to your blog – you can view it here (graphic).
#3 Not having a strong business plan.
Blogging with no direction or plan and hoping for the best as you incessantly refresh Google Analytics hoping for more visitors will get you no where.
Elements of business planning include:
- Finding your niche
- Vision statement
- Tasks and objectives
- Marketing planning
- Financial goals and predictions
- Planning and troubleshooting
- (if applicable) Transitioning from part-time blogging to full time.
The goal is to get this business plan into writing but keep in mind that it should be a living document that changes as your opportunities and skills change.
Out of this list, this is probably one area that so many overlook because they don’t think they need a business plan OR believe they aren’t really in business – then you wake up one day, and you’re raking in the income (whether cash or notoriety) from your blog. If you can get there without a business plan, GREAT but you’d be even farther and even more successful with this. I encourage you to write at least a couple sentences under each bullet point to get started.
#4 Misunderstanding your audience.
So many business people, not just bloggers, jump into business without truly understanding WHOM their audience is. Knowing specific information can help you to tailor your efforts for a big return on investment of time, money, and energy.
- who they are
- where they go (online and offline shopping)
- their buying habits
- demographics (age, race, professionals, income
- preferences (and more!)
This can be as simple as knowing who your audience is when determining when to publish your blog posts. For example, if your audience member for your <insert type> blog is a stay-at-home mom with school-aged children, you probably don’t want to publish blog posts during the prime school drop-off and pick-ups times in the time zone where the majority of your audience is.
That is a lot of information in one sentence about our audience that tells you prime posting time.
Further, that one sentence can also help you identify monetization efforts through the products and services you’ll offer – as well as a free opt-in offer for blog.
A stay-at-home-mom with school-aged children:
- frequenting a food blog could probably benefit from a free opt-in with a meal plan for the month
- looking to start a business would be interested in a neatly packaged online course and/or e-book that shows them the ropes of starting up and running a business (perhaps even an added bonus of being able to balance family and business – like The Laundry List (aff link).
- seeking to have assistance on losing weight would love to join-in a community of other individuals for support and direction on fitness and health.
Not sure who they are? Well back it up a bit – who do you intend to reach? Who are you wanting to draw? Or on the flip side – are you drawing an audience that you didn’t intend? Survey to find out! You can then decide whether your efforts need to be geared towards who you WANT your audience to be or continue with the efforts that has drawn who your audience ALREADY is.
#5 Inefficient workflows.
Going through the motions inefficiently equates to trying to push a huge boulder with no leverage tools to assist. Your blog will fail to grow, or grow at an extremely slow pace, if you’re spending precious time on inefficient workflows instead of creating content.
You’ve written an awesome blog post you know that your readers are going to eat up. Now it is time to put some icing on the blog-cake with some images. You’ve either taken your own, or you’ve obtained some images (legally by understanding Fair Use Doctrine requirements). Now it is time to get the images into your blog.
Not using auto-responders
Oh auto-responders are sent from heaven. Many newsletter systems today allow you to set it up for scheduled emails as well as having an “auto-response” go to someone who signs up.
For example, your opt-in is that awesome meal-planning schedule we figured up when targeting stay-at-home moms (see #4 on this list!). Instead of having to make your reader wait for a response and take time out of your day, you can quickly have the auto responder send it for you.
Simply taking 10-15 minutes out of your day to do an act is up to 75 minutes, or an hour and fifteen minutes of your week. That is incredible.
And an incredible misuse of your time.
If you’re an experienced blogger this seems like common sense huh? Figure up other things you can automate. Through the use of rules in some automation systems (like MailChimp or Ontraport) you can have specific emails and upsells sent to audience members based on their behavior (clicking in an email).
For example, you send out an email with workflow efficiency tips and list a bunch of tools – if Sally clicks on Tool A and C – you can have the system set up to automatically (whether immediately or down the line) send Sally information specifically regarding the use of these tools.
Creating graphics from scratch
Unless you’re a designer who can whip up your blog graphics and pinnable images from scratch in a manner of minutes, you’re going to be soaking up a lot of time creating an “ok” graphic. I suggest that you find some pre-made infographics or other graphics for easy insertion of your information.
Sites to check out: (not affiliate links!)
These are just a few examples. Take about ten minutes to Google for strategies and/or products that may free up your time for content creation!
Okay so now you know what to avoid.
But there is one major mistake that many of you will do. So here is a bonus on top of the five.
Many will skim, think they have these taken care of and skip into the sunset..until it comes to a screeching halt when they run into issues.
Don’t let this be you.
Take your time to make sure you’re reevaluating all of these on a consistent basis. My recommendation is quarterly AND yearly as you amend your plans and schedule.
If you can spend that much time drafting a blog, there is no reason you can’t spend a fraction of that time ensuring it won’t fail.