Why Blogs Fail …and a simple trick that will make yours succeed

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Andy Crestodina

There’s a simple reason that most bloggers fail. They give up. They start with big plans and high hopes, but they never budget the time to make it sustainable. They’re set up to fail before they begin.

A blog can grow an audience (and a business) without a big outlay of cash.

But it takes time.

How much time? We recently surveyed 1000 bloggers and discovered that the typical blog post takes about 2.5 hours to create. Some bloggers spend 6+ hours per post!

But who’s got that kind of time? Not you.

Just the idea of blogging makes this thought jump to mind, “I’m too busy to blog.” But what you’re really thinking sounds more like this:

I don’t have time to blog …because I’m too busy with email, writing 1000 words a day, and answering questions for my audience.

See the irony? You’re already creating content! If you’re in any kind of sales or service role, you write a lot of emails. You’re writing on important topics. You’re writing in a personal tone. These are the keys to successful blogging.

Your outbox is filled with blog posts

You just need to mine your sent mail folder. You (and other people in your small business) are blogging away on a daily basis. You just don’t think of it as blogging.

Here’s the problem: sales and customer service people don’t have that marketing circuit built into their brains. They don’t realize “wait, I’ve answered that question in four separate emails. Maybe that answer should be content on our website.”

So here are some ways to get those ideas out of the outbox and onto the blog.

  • Blind copy yourself when you answer common questions via email. Put these in a folder so you can find them quickly when you need a post.

  • Train the sales and customer service teams to copy the marketing folks when they answer common questions within email.

  • Set up a monthly meeting with front-line team members to look through sent mail and ask them what questions they’re hearing most often.

Now combine those emails, polish them up, and publish.

Never waste a good conversation by having it in private

It’s a saying among social media marketers. That great conversation you had with a customer or prospect doesn’t benefit anyone but the two of you. Unless you publish it.

The hidden cost of blogging failure

You may never notice it, but the risks of not using this trick are very high. Here’s why.

Your audience wants to find answers before they get in touch. They’re researching a buying decision right now. Studies have shown that 60% of your audiences’ buying decisions are made before they contact a sales rep.

If you haven’t published answers to their top questions, they won’t find them on your site. They’ll look elsewhere. They may find the answer on your competitors’ websites. Not good.

There’s another reason that blogs fail…

The second most common reason for blogging failure is almost as deadly. In this case, the blogger writes and writes, but doesn’t put in the time (or planning) to drive traffic.

Great bloggers create content with promotion in mind.

Every post needs a plan to get traction. This means email marketing, social media, and/or search optimization.

Here are some ways to make sure that anything you write will be read.

  1. Use a template
    Steal our content template and use it to force yourself to consider keywords, social sharing, and email subject lines in every post.

  2. Use topics that promote themselves
    The best topics have promotion tactics built in. Each of these 23 questions will inspire content have an edge when it’s time to promote.

  3. Collaborate with influencers
    Collaborating with other bloggers turns co-creators into promotion partners. Email interviews are a great way to do this.

  4. Guest blogging
    Publishing on other websites is a natural way to make your content visible since the audience of that blog will see it.

  5. Send a Link, not an email
    Next time someone asks, don’t reply with an email. Send them a link. Better yet, add the link to your email signature. Once they’re on your site, they’ll be a click away from all your other great content and calls-to-action. Where there’s traffic, there’s hope!

Nice Blogs Finish Last

Why do blogs fail? For the same reasons anything fails. There’s no strategy that makes them sustainable. Like anything, bloggers need a plan to get the job done long term.

Time is scarce. Resources are limited. So get serious. Commit to content and to marketing. Use your outbox to unleash a stream of content and never create a post without a plan to drive some traffic to it.

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Comments (20)
  • You see many websites with a blogging corner. The posts in it were stopped two years ago. About when the new site was launched. Consistency causes quality to increase and writing style to improve. The local voice starts with a whisper that eventually gets noticed with daily effort. Turn the FAQ in your emails into a bog post that can be linked in other emails to avoid duplication of effort is just smart time management.

  • Thanks Andy!

    I think you’re correct on the reason why blogs fail – giving up too quickly is the number and most common reason. I recently launched a writer’s website at RasheedWrites.com and as of the time of setting it up I knew nothing about WordPress and website building and this almost frustrated me to want to give up, but I never did. Eventually, I got it and today the website (which is my first ever) is up and running. It wouldn’t have succeeded if not for strong determination and perseverance.
    I must confess I just learned again from your blog post.
    Please, keep it up!

  • Incredibly good post, Andy. Informative, relevant and actionable.

  • Couldn’t agree more Andy! I have to say that not giving up works for every business. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sue! I’m sure you have some delicious emails, waiting to be reborn as foodie blog posts, sitting in your outbox…

  • Good advice! I was one of those bloggers who gave up. But I’m back at it again and will keep your advice posed near my computer.

    • Good for you, Cora. Onward!

  • Andy,

    Excellent post. Blogs do die, and it’s often unnecessary. One problem is small businesses are often trapped in short term mode, and blogs are a long term play. You need to build an audience and forge relationships with them. That doesn’t happen overnight, and for many small business owners seeing a return in 3, 6, or 12 months doesn’t pass their “immediacy test”.

    Thanks for the tis. The one on using emails as content is great. We repurpose content all the time. Why not add emails to that list?


  • Excellent tips and advice, Andy.

  • Andy–It’s the dirty little secret of blogging. Most blogs die because the bloggers stop blogging. Period. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

    • Yes, it’s the same reason so many things fail, from fitness to foreign language! For 10 years, I’ve had a framed Calvin Coolidge quote on the table behind me…

      Press On
      Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

  • How do I love Andy? Let me count the ways.

    Was just sent an email with this question… Barry, what’s the reason most content marketing programs fail? You saved me from having to write the answer.

    Are the best bloggers mind readers? Nope. It would appear the best bloggers know what questions plague their audience.

    • Yup! As you can imagine, this post showed up in my sent mail folder many times. Sounds like it was about to pop up in yours.

      I can only imagine all the great stuff in your outbox, Barry. It would be worth it to hire a hacker to break into your email, and haul off all that content gold…

  • Simple yet brilliant

  • Hey Andy,

    That is so good I’ve got to share it with my customers and subscribers.

    To slightly paraphrase, I absolutely love this:
    “I’m too busy with email, writing 1000 words a day, and answering questions for my audience. And in a personal tone! These are the keys to successful blogging.”

    That is such a brilliant insight (and shortcut). This is why you’re my go-to guy for content marketing!

    Thank you again.

    • Yes, most people don’t have time to write because they’re too busy writing. It’s the most common reason to not blog…

      I’ve heard this excuse SO MANY times. But from now on, I’m going to respond with a link, not a full-text email. I’m taking my own advice this time. Glad you liked this one, Adam. 🙂

  • So I spent an hour scanning forums this morning and found a couple of juicy subject areas then about 30 seconds scanning my outbox and without looking too hard found about ten possibles. That’s what I call a ‘return’. Brilliant. Thanks Andy!

    • It’s all right there in front of you, Tony. Half written and ready to be polished / published.

      I answer a lot of questions via email and if I don’t turn them into posts specific to topics, I may someday just copy + paste them all into a “101 Questions and Answers” post. If I leave in the tone of the emails, it might be an entertaining read…

  • Another short, sweet and to the point post Andy. The key take away for me in this piece was “Great bloggers create content with promotion in mind” although how you go about promoting your content matters a lot. That’s why I try to emulate and use Mike Allton’s model. Now if I could only compose my prose like you two do I’d be set.

    • Then I’m glad I included that second point, Neil! A lot of people have trouble finding time to commit to content, so the Outbox Trick can be very helpful, but it a tree falls in the woods… Content promotion is critical.

      I’m not familiar with Mike Allton, but I’m going to look him up now…

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