The One Big Reason Some Blogs Succeed, While Others Crash and Burn

The One Big Reason Some Blogs Succeed, While Others Crash and Burn

This article is excerpted from Chuck’s book, .

Most writers’ blogs forever linger in obscurity. These sites never receive a number of page views that would be considered noteworthy (1,000 a day, for instance) or help them sell thousands of books over time.

If you’re just blogging for fun and don’t care about how many hits you get, that’s one thing. But if you’re using a blog as a means to build your writing network and platform, you’re probably curious about what you can do to attract a bigger readership — and I can tell you how to do just that.

So what separates the small percentage of larger, successful blogs from the rest of the herd? This is a question I’ve studied for many years, both while building my own , as well as when I’ve reviewed other writers’ sites.

The answer is surprisingly simple: the one core element that virtually every successful blog provides. (Note that this key trait is not just relative to blogs; popular social media accounts provide this one thing, too.)

What trait sets successful blogs apart from the rest?

Stop for a moment and identify the first websites you visit upon waking in the morning. I’m willing to bet “My email account” and “Facebook” are the top overall responses.

But why do you visit these websites day in and day out? Why do you spend so much time on them? The answer is so obvious that you might have never put your finger on it. These sites provide immense value to you.

Email allows you to connect with anyone around the world instantaneously and for free. Stop for a moment and remember how mind-blowing that is. Facebook lets you share news, articles and images with all your friends and relatives around the world — again, for free. You’ve likely been using these sites for so long that you’ve forgotten just how amazing they are — and how tremendous the value is for either.

And it’s this element — value — that separates the few big sites from the many others.

Remember that at any given time, dozens (if not hundreds) of things and to-do’s and websites are competing for our attention. That means your blog must provide a darn good incentive to read it. This could mean pulling together hard-to-gather information, or making readers laugh, or informing us, or sharing advice that makes our lives better or easier. Any of these elements translates to value in a blog.

Quick note from Chuck: I am now taking on clients as a . If your query or synopsis or manuscript needs a look from a professional, please consider my . Thanks!

Am I providing value?

Let’s say I spend a Saturday with my daughter at a local Cincinnati park. I take great pictures of her on a beautiful sunny day as she swings and slides. Then I think this would make for a great blog column, and post the best pictures online with some silly jokes and comments about how cute she is. Now here comes the money question:

Do you really give a damn?

Do you really care about what I did last Saturday?

In all likelihood, no, you don’t give a damn. You don’t care enough to pull your attention away from countless other (much better) things and glance at my new post. And that is perfectly understandable — because the column provided no true worth for you. In fact, the value was for me; I had a great opportunity to document a fun day with my girl.

People have a hard time wrapping their head around the very simple fact that much of the blog content they create isn’t really helpful for others, but rather for themselves in some way or another.

How to create value

If I truly want to vie for others’ attention, I need to turn the spotlight off myself. The best way to do that is to create something that is of importance not to me, but to people I’ve never met. Note that once I decide to do this, my task immediately becomes more complicated (but that’s a good sign I’m on the right track).

So while you wouldn’t read that picture-filled post I just created, would you read a different post I wrote called “5 Great Family-Friendly Parks in Cincinnati You Probably Didn’t Know Existed”? I’m guessing you would, because this post has instant and undeniable worth for you. It will make your life easier and better.

A simple litmus test you can do when considering if a post has enough value to draw people in is to ask this question: Was the post easy to compose or not easy to compose? [bctt tweet=”The more value something provides, typically the more difficult it is to create.”]

And that’s why most blogs linger in obscurity: because writers don’t spend the amount of time necessary to compose worthwhile content that will demand attention.

Think about it. How long would it take me to create that original blog post with pictures of my daughter? Probably 20 minutes. But how much time would it take me to compose the second post? A lot longer.

I’d have to visit the parks or talk to people who had. I’d need to collect images of the parks, and show you screenshots of where they are via Google Maps. And I’d have to write up the perks and boons of each. My guess is it would take me four to eight hours in total. It’s a lot more work, but the end result is much more worthwhile to readers.

So the next time you go on a vacation to the Maine coast, don’t return and assume strangers will want to hear about how your trip went. Remember what taught us: Incentives make the world go round, so give readers a reason to take notice. If you write about the trip and call it “Our Crazy Vacation on the Coast,” I’m going to ignore it. But if you compose a post called “7 Fun Places to Visit in Portland, Maine,” then you just might catch my attention.

We’d love to hear from you: How do you create true value in your blog posts?

Quick note from Chuck: if you’re looking for a writing conference, perhaps one of these below is in your neck of the woods. I’ll be presenting at the following events in 2019:

  • Feb. 23, 2019: (New Orleans, LA)
  • March 2, 2019: (St. Paul, MN)
  • March 8, 2019: (Birmingham, AL)
  • March 9, 2019: (Atlanta, GA)
  • March 9, 2019: (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • March 29, 2019: (St. Louis, MO)
  • March 30, 2019: (Kansas City, MO)
  • April 13, 2019: (Charlotte, NC)
  • April 27, 2019: (Seattle, WA)
  • May 4, 2019: (near Detroit, MI)
  • May 4, 2019: (Los Angeles, CA)
  • May 11, 2019: (San Diego, CA)
  • May 18, 2019: (Cincinnati, OH)
  • June 8, 2019: (Tampa, FL)

The giveaway for Chuck’s book  is now over. Thanks for all your comments. Congrats to Nikki!

Other TWL Guest Posts by Chuck Sambuchino:

  1. How Successful Authors Use Social Media to Sell More Books

  2. Tips for Pitching a Literary Agent at a Writers’ Conference

  3. When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?
Filed Under: Blogging

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271 comments

  • Great post…I blog about nature, wildcrafting, and designing with materials from the land at naturaldesignsstudio.com. The photography allows the reader to be in the field or studio with me and learn from my experience while gathering his\her own ideas for creativity. I agree, takeaway advice and information is key.

  • C.L. Roman says:

    On target! Thanks for the great advice.

  • Debbie says:

    Thanks for the tips. Makes sense.

  • I think this is an amazing thing to share! I myself am guilty of filling my blog with personal information, I know, but I also try very hard to reach out and give aspiring authors some of the tips and information they need in order to build their writing skills and improve their work.

  • F.J. Thomas says:

    Great advice for bloggers. I hope my blog, Talking In The Barn brings value to readers!

  • Hmm. I needed that reminder=) Thanks for the advice.

  • Thanks for the advice. Great points to consider. I am currently doing a 26-week series on my blog. It is called Writing from A to Z. I take one letter of the alphabet each week and find writing related words starting with that letter, then put them together in a narrative that includes the definitions as well as other information. Not getting a lot of traffic yet, but I am only on the letter H. Hopefully it will build as I go through the alphabet.

  • Tom Austin says:

    I have to admit. I’m not entirely sure if I’m doing what this is suggesting, what it’s warning against, or somewhere in the middle. At any rate, maintaining a decent schedule of updating is also essential. A few months ago, I dropped off the map on my blog, but when I came back, I made sure to explain why and what happened, because mine isn’t just about the topic itself, but my views on it. I try to interact with the reader even before comments are made. I think that, when you make it personal, depending on what you’re writing, it can actually help.

  • So very true. I remember years ago learning WIIFM – I think in the Dale Carnegie Courses – the reader, the listern, anyone in your audience wants to know the WIIIFM – what’s it it for me… hit that and you’ll have their attention.

    • Love that acronym, Mahrie! It’s so true — if you can explain what’s in it for the reader, you’ll be able to convince them to read. Thanks for sharing.

      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

  • Madeline says:

    Thanks for the insight! It’s very helpful for an aspiring author like myself who’s trying to build her platform 🙂

  • Brigette says:

    This post is so helpful. It’s easy to get caught up in things that make us (meaning me, me, me) happy. It’s fun to share things that make “me” happy, but looking at a blog post from the perspective of ‘how will this help others’ really makes you think about topics and content in a value-added way.

    I’m excited to give your suggestions a try.

  • Lana Hood says:

    I recently dipped my toe into the world of blogging and this is the conclusion that I have also reached after reading other’s blogs for inspiration and insight into this world. It is my goal to now publish only blog entries that are of value to my reader. Thanks for reinforcing this important point.

  • Rosie Bird says:

    This was a good reminder. Lately I’ve tended to post email questions sent to me and answered in email. Except for adding photos important to my website, all that’s required is copying and pasting.

    The posts that are viewed most heavily on my site are those that are completely informational and not about my personal circumstances or that of my readers.

    Thanks, Gail Lewis (i.e., Rosie Bird).

  • S. Rae says:

    This served as such a wonderful reminder for me. Thankfully, after reading this and going to check back on my multiple platforms (blog, Twitter, etc.), I haven’t been much a culprit of hum-drum “status updates.”

    I will definitely be considering this as I continue to write, though. Original, stimulating content is what keeps me coming HERE, so why shouldn’t that same rule apply to my own blog?

    Thanks!

  • Shanon Lee says:

    I agree with this article. I have gotten to the point where I realize I would rather blog less and write posts that create value, than publish drivel more frequently. I have to take just as much care when writing for my website as I do when I write articles for my clients.

    Great post!

  • Melissa says:

    I had a blog. Truth is, I hated it. I decided that if I hated reading what I wrote, people who didn’t know me would hate it tenfold. Now, it’s just a placeholder until I decide how best to proceed with a blog. Some online posters argue that you’ve got to have a blog to be taken seriously as a writer. I don’t think that’s true. However, I do think it will be hard to be taken seriously if I have a really lame blog. So, until I figure out a way to make it work for me and my readers, I’ll keep the “nothing here” headline and try to keep it under the radar. 🙂

  • This is really an awesome post with some great epitomes.

  • This was an interesting and helpful read. I like that humor was included in value. I realized I follow many blogs and vlogs simply because the authors make me laugh along with providing useful information. Well done!

  • Alie says:

    I agree that a blog needs to offer more than a family photo. I feel like everyone is a photographer and blogger and it becomes too much to sort through.

    I think Twitter, Facebook, Instagram give me what I want to know. I rarely click a link to read more unless it is offering more information that I need.

    People are all about quick to the point information.

    Thank you for sharing and the book giveaway.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for this advice.

    I have to remind myself all the time to not write about stuff that no one cares about but me.

  • As an editor, blogging and creating a writer’s platform is a relevant topic for authors seeking self-publication and for those going the traditional route. Building a bigger readership is important. I look forward to reading your book and using it as a reference.

  • Mariah says:

    Frankly, I’ve always been wary of creating a blog, although I do really want to make one. Creating a platform seems to grow more and more daunting the more I read about it. Thankfully, this advice has slightly allayed my fears, and it doesn’t appear to be the typical advice that suggests compromising quality of content is a good thing.

    Thank you! Perhaps I’m one step closer to starting that blog!

  • Information like this belongs in a text book; it is an ah-ha moment. I enjoyed some of the comments on this article as well. (sorry! I only read a few). It not only gives an answer but it is thought provoking. I could post answers but right now, being new to this industry, I’m full of questions. So I blog in hopes that my thoughts and concerns might help another some day.
    Alexia

  • Julie says:

    I write about chronic pain and health. I’ve found that in those topics it’s important to establish a balance between sharing myself and just talking about illness in a general way. My readers need to know that I’m in this with them, but at the same time my posts can’t be all about me.

  • Melanie says:

    As a beginner…this is awesome!
    Thanks!

    …and by the looks at the comments, it was great value too 😉

    Reality Writer for His Glory!

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