Does Your Blog Make This Devastating Mistake? - Make a Living Writing

Does Your Blog Make This Devastating Mistake?

Carol Tice | 95 Comments

Does your blog make this devastating mistake? Makealivingwriting.comIt happens to me time and again. Since winning Top 10 Blogs for Writers, writers email me and ask — “Would you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m doing wrong? Why can’t I get any comments? Why doesn’t anyone subscribe?”

There could be a lot of reasons for these problems, but let’s focus on one of the biggest reasons today.

It’s something that’s incredibly common, and fairly easy to change. But if you’re making this mistake, you can keep on blogging until the messiah comes, but you’re probably not going to attract an audience. It’s sort of a fatal error for blogs.

I originally planned to write a long post building the tension up until I finally revealed the nature of this devastating mistake. Fortunately, I can cut right to the chase, because my friend Derek Halpern from Social Triggers and DIYThemes recently made a short video that explains Why Most Bloggers Fail. (Really, watch it — it’s only 20 seconds long. So we can wait while you do that.)

That’s right. Most blogs are all about me, me, me. And that’s boring.

They’re not about what readers need to know.

It’s really that simple. If you think of your blog as a place to brag, pontificate, rant, vent, muse, or otherwise go on about every tiny detail of your life, your day, your greatness…it should be no surprise that few people will take an interest.

Of course, if something that happened in your day might help enlighten a reader on how to do something, you can use it as a springboard for that. I do that all the time, as with this post that talked about what I learned about business from playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Nobody wants you to write a sterile blog devoid of personal experience — but that experience needs to be in service of the important goal of any blogger who wants their blog to help them earn:

To help readers.

Blogs that exist to help readers solve their problems become popular.

How do you know what readers are interested in learning from you? One great way to do that is simple: Just ask.

Speaking of which…

I’m planning a couple of Webinars on blogging success, so I’d like to ask you some questions today as I start developing the content for those presentations. I want to be sure these events tell my blog readers exactly what they need to know to improve their blogs!

As usual, there’s something in it for you, because I love to give away free stuff!

So tell us:

1) Your blog URL

2) How long you’ve been blogging

3) Your goal for the blog.

Then answer this: What is the biggest problem you’re having on your blog? What aspect of blogging would you like to learn more about?

95 comments on “Does Your Blog Make This Devastating Mistake?

  1. Larue on

    It’s really a nice and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  2. hypnodude on

    Hi Carol, I don’t know if this is still an open question or if you have received enough answers anyway this is my little contribution.

    My blog is at http://www.ipnostudio.com and I’ve been blogging for three years now, not only there but also writing articles on publishing websites like HubPages and such.

    My goal is to help people around the world to live a better life especially using self hypnosis and other personal development techniques and also to try to keep things as simple as possible. The world of self improvement is so full of scammers who just want people’s money making things as complicated as possible that I can’t stand it and so I try to make readers think in a different way and understand that most of the times things are simpler than they seem or than others want us to think. Oh, and I try to write evergreen content only, that’s why I don’t publish too many posts.

    The biggest problem? Always the same: traffic and money earned. Even if I must admit that traffic has increased pretty well in the last times. But earnings do not follow the same trend. 🙂

    Have a great day!

  3. Josh Sarz on

    Hey there, I’ve been blogging for about 3 months on http://sagoyism.com. I talk about Finding ways to enjoy life through simplifying things and removing clutter from our lives. My main goal, is to actually spread the idea of living a simple, happy life and ways to remove problems that give us all the drama and stress. This is all coming from a guy trying to recover from drama and stress, as well as eliminating some bad habits of mine like drinking and smoking.

    It’s kinda like zenhabits but not as minimalistic and vegan as Leo Babauta. 🙂

  4. Johnna Fafinski on

    Excellent site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get comments from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Appreciate it!

  5. Kerrie McLoughlin on

    Hmmm, I will have to think on this one. My Get Published blog offers lots of writers guidelines, updates and advice, but there is maybe too much about me. My The Kerrie Show is obviously about my life, but if I funnied it up a bit, that would be something people want … everyone likes to read about family foibles, not perfection! Great advice. I’ll be mulling this over ….

  6. Canadian Doomer on

    Well, I know your contest is long over, but I’m going to respond anyway. 🙂

    I’m Canadian Doomer and I run the self-named blog, Canadian Doomer. http://doomerincanada.blogspot.com For that reason, most of my readers call me C.D. or just Doomer, and my husband gets called Mr D. The lack of a name or photo doesn’t do any damage among my main readership – most of them practice “Opsec” or “Operations Security” and wouldn’t expect me to put personal identifiers online. (They

    I first posted on the blog on December 12, 2010, so I’ve been posting daily for 5 1/2 months. My feed currently has 86 subscribers and my Alexa rank is 519K. I’m assuming that’s pretty good for a blog hosted on a free site, although I’d love to increase it.

    My blog is about helping people prepare for a post-oil, resource-scarce world. I stress frugality and self-sufficiency (or rather community self-sufficiency), all in the context of living in a Canadian city in a small apartment. My purpose for starting the blog was because all the “survivalist” sites assumed that no one could prep for disasters or be self-sufficient unless they lived in the middle of no where, owned an arsenal of weapons and hunted wild boars for dinner.

    The blog is also an avenue to highlight my writing skills without being a “writer’s site”, but I have no idea how to channel that into paid writing or editing jobs.

    I actually get quite a lot of comments and I have them threaded so we get some good conversations going. My readership is currently small but loyal – if I miss a day, I’ll get one to four emails asking me if everything’s okay. 🙂

    My biggest question at the moment is – what next?

    Oh, but I also want to know how to put a nice row of sharing buttons like you have! I’ve been trying and trying and it always looks awful.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Doomer — the social buttons are just a coding thing. First download some free icons, then code them to your destinations in social media. I just use a text widget and code them in. I gather others have fancier shortcuts they use, but since I’m technically challenged I tend to do things the basic way.

      I think 5 months in I probably had about 86 subscribers, too.

      In answer to your question, “What’s next?” that depends on your goals for the blog. Sounds like you’d like to get paid writing gigs, in which case, just market your writing and send prospects your blog URL.

      If you want to turn the blog itself into a money-maker, that’s a much longer story, and you’ll need many more than 86 subscribers…if you’re a subscriber to this blog, you’ll be seeing a special offer shortly for a great deal on a bunch of blog success trainings I’ve done recently.

  7. Sam on

    hey
    My blog is http://www.android-pads.com

    I’ve been blogging for ….3 weeks.

    The initial goal for my blog was to get closer to my customers and share some of my experiences
    with them(tech help, troubleshooting) while at the same time sell them products. I read blogs have this effect on people. It’s more inviting.
    So how do I get more subscribers?
    My ultimate goal is like 100k subscribers.
    I’m really still testing this, because I do not know how successful sell through a blog might be.

  8. Kristen on

    I knew the contest was over, but that’s okay – I’ll think on the “sexthehardway” site name as well – I want catchy, but I do want to draw the demographic I’m looking for. 😉 And yes, I’m a facebook fan of your blog.

    • Carol Tice on

      No problem, Kristen!

      Well, I think I’m busy — you have very ambitious plans there with all those blogs. Don’t know about the Sex the Hard Way…I think if you think about that title, you might end up attracting a bunch of people who aren’t the ones you’re intending!

      Anyway…just in case anyone has missed it, the contest is over. But feel free to keep telling us about your blogs, as it gives me more material to look at as I get ready to put on a couple of Webinars about blogging. More news about that tomorrow — that is, if you’re a Facebook fan of this blog, or a subscriber. Secret sale!

  9. Kristen on

    Hi Carol,

    I’ve only recently found your blog and have been voraciously reading it ever since. I have blogged for quite awhile, but only recently decided to put my love of writing and background experience to good use. It’s been a struggle as I was laid off awhile back and have relied on having to write for content mills like Demand Studios to get by. I wand that to end!

    I’ve just recently begun two sites, with three areas each.

    One is http://www.relationshipgeeks.com
    There will be three blogs attached, which a good friend and I are working on setting up now. One is “TalkGeekyToMe”, which focuses on general geekery/technology as related to dating and sex. I have a few posts there that I’ve imported from my previous blog. Second is “SexTheHardWay,” which relates to mental illness and medications, and how they can often inhibit the sex life – so it will contain tips, tricks, and other “non-medical” advice. I’ve worked in the education and mental health fields for years, and I think it’s a good niche. The third “arm” is going to be the “DatingFrogsBlog” which will consist of dating disaster stories combined with comments and advice on how to either avoid or use those dates as learning experiences to find mister or miss right. I’m hoping that each of these blogs will lead to an eBook in each topic.

    I have another site that I’m re-building from scratch as well: http://www.kristopiastudios.com

    This will also have three arms – one for my portrait business, one for other general art, and a third for my writing/editing services. Again, this is in the very beginning stages and I haven’t even loaded it yet.

    Being able to monetize my blogs will be important to me, as well as learning to use social media to bring readers and subscribers to them. Your blog has been so valuable to me already in the motivation to start making money doing what I love and get away from the content mills.

    Thanks
    Kristen

  10. Katie Foster on

    In response to you request . . I have been blogging since September 2010 (although my blog lists earlier posts because I back-tracked on our travel experiences), It started as emails to family and friends to keep them updated on our “Middle East Experience.” At their urging, I developed it into a blog. I am having so much fun with it, in 2011 I am going to focus on it to see if I can develop it into an income stream for me and develop other paid writing assignments.

    Since I love to travel and we have so many unique opportunities here, I think I would like to focus on that area . . . helping people see a region and its people in a very truthful light,

    Now that I have decided to really focus on developing and professionalizing my blog, my biggest problem is the enourmous amount of “help” out there for bloggers and finding the most professional ones from which to learn.

    Aside from the obvious that the name it too long . . .I would appreciate any feedback or suggestion you might have. Thank you.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Katie —

      I’ve been learning in A-List Blogger Club…you can read more about them by hitting that box on the right, or going to my Products I Love page.

      Or if you just want a quick hit of blog-improvement knowledge in a short time, stay tuned later this week for news of a couple of blogging-focused Webinars I’ll be putting on…one is with another Top 10 Blogs for Writers winner, Judy Dunn of Cat’s Eye writer. Going to give out a LOT of information!

  11. Louisa on

    I wrote a reply to this post but now I can’t find it – very strange.

    Anyway, I really loved this article Carol.

    1. everythingisedible.com
    2. 4 years.
    3. to write about the everyday in a way that is thoughtful and encouraging for other mums.

    The biggest problem is that while I think I’ve moved away from telling “my story, the facts” to “our shared storey, a journey” and I’m seeing an improvement in reader numbers I am just a baby at it and my biggest problem is knowing how to write in a way that weaves a story and engages a persons heart and mind, and then of course, translates that engagement into subscriptions and “word of mouth/web” sharing…

    Thanks Carol!

      • Louisa on

        Hi Carol, did you announce the winner yet? I might have missed it. Loving your blog posts this week, really helpful! Are you a member of the A List Bloggers Club? How do you find it?

        • Carol Tice on

          Hi Louisa —

          I LOVE A-List and have learned SO much there, not to mention meeting so many great bloggers. You can read about what I learned by clicking that banner on the right there…or looking on the Products I Love page above…and there’s more at this post.

          Announced winner Monday — Meghan Weimer won the freebie.

          Glad the posts are helping!

  12. Alexis Jenny on

    I think it’s great that you’ve taken such an interactive approach to helping bloggers improve their sites. I am a somewhat new blogger (Admittedly, my blog’s been active since 2009 but I’ve only recently started to make regular posts during the past month.)

    I think that once people understand the goal of their blogs, they can develop content suited for their intended audiences… and if they produce content regularly enough, it will greatly improve their traffic. That’s probably the first reason I started blogging: to get an idea of what it will be like to produce content regularly and develop a routine for writing.

    Since then, my goals have expanded to learning from and connecting to others in the writing community. It is sometimes hard to keep up with, however. Blogging is not always at the top of my priority list, and so I sometimes sacrifice it in the name of poor time management. 🙂

  13. Karen on

    I’ve been blogging at http://www.changetheworldwithwords.com/ since April 2010. My goals for the blog are to provide advice and inspiration for new and experienced writers, build a community around my blog and make some money from it. I’m happy with how it’s going given the limited amount of time and promotion I’ve been able to give it so far, but I definitely want to crank things up a notch now.

    My problems are: I see a reasonable amount of traffic but I’d really like to attract more interaction (comments, subscribers, shares and backlinks). I need some community building tips.

    I’d also like a magic formula of what is going to work for me, please 🙂 I try certain things that seem to have little or no effect. Then, for example, a random comment in a forum will bring in a significant (for me) traffic spike and several sign-ups. Icertainly feel like 80% of my traffic is coming from 20% of my online efforts – but it’s hard to predict what will be most effective without trying a bit of everything!

    • Carol Tice on

      Yeah, I heard you there. A lot of it really is trial and error…you have to analyze your data and see what is sending you traffic. At the Webinars, we will lay out a LOT of different strategies for improving your results.

  14. Bob Kuhn on

    I have been blogging since August 2009. It is the result of a promise I made to a friend who first encouraged me to blog, but died too soon to see it really succeed. It is my passion to encourage people who are challenged by Parkinson’s disease, as well as those who otherwise need to see the positive without reading some corny, shallow “life is a dream” drivel. I am feeling “stuck” in terms of ensuring my style does not get stale. I want to learn to think and write outside of the self-prescribed margins of the page, despite the successes of the past 18 months. Growth to me is not just a numbers game, but depth in communicating the wisdom that only adversity can bring to the teachable spirit. Encouraging one reader is better than entertaining many, at least in my economy.

  15. Jim McDannald on

    I started blogging just over a year ago at http://www.trackfocus.com, because my local newspaper fired it’s best running/track and field writer. With him no longer employed, I was afraid the coverage of my favorite sport would continue to suffer. My goal is to partner with this writer and have a blog that creates enough revenue to eventually let him continue to write full-time. The problem has been trying to attract sponsors, advertisers or a business model that will allow us to create enough revenue to continue delivering news from our sport.

  16. Lip on

    1) http://www.selfhelpforhappypeople.com
    2) SHfHP has been online since the start of January 2011. Although I have another blog (The Lazy Pixel) which I started in February 2010.
    3) I have two goals for Self Help for Happy People
    a) To make as many people laugh as possible
    b) To make as many people think as possible
    ShfHP is a satirical look at the world of personal development, along with my generally cynical and sarcastic observations on life.

    What is the biggest problem you’re having on your blog?
    Self doubt.
    I have all the self-doubt of a writer… is my writing good enough? Should that comma go there? Why are semi-colons so pretty and where else can I add one?
    I have all the self-doubt of a comedian… am I funny? Is this cliché? Will anyone understand this joke?
    Perhaps I’m more in need of a therapist than a webinar.

    • Carol Tice on

      LOL…maybe, Lip! But if you took a Webinar that helped you understand dozens of design and content tricks that would make your blog more popular, that might also help build your self-confidence!

  17. Qin Tang on

    Carol,
    I love your blog and receiving/reading your posts.
    I have been blogging for 3 years. My current blog URL is http://onmymind.areavoices.com

    Here are the reasons why I blog:

    ■to share what’s on my mind, what I know and have learned
    ■to express myself
    ■to inform and inspire others
    ■to connect with like-minded people
    ■to hear and be heard
    ■to learn from others
    ■to grow through writing, reflection and learning from others
    ■to journal my day and my life events
    ■to preserve memory for my children
    ■to practice writing
    ■to cultivate creativity

    My biggest problems are lack of focus and learning to improve on the design and technical side. How do I add shareability/sign up/subscribe buttons? Please share some resources where I can learn those skills. Any suggestions and comments are very much appreciated.
    Thanks.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Qin Tang —

      If I can figure out how to add shareability buttons, so can you, because tech stuff really makes me cry!

      I think about anyone can get the AddToAny plugin tool onto the bottom of their posts, which offers you all the sharing choices you could ever want. Or try the Wibiya toolbar I’ve got…you have to admit it’s kind of cool! Tweetmeme if you visit there I think it’s also pretty basic to install it for the big retweet button at the top of posts. Just Google around…knowledge on how to install sharing is pretty easy to find. If you’re really stumped, get a local high school student in digital design to help you — that’s what I did with my writer site at first!

  18. susie on

    Thanks for this post.

    My blog URL is: http://www.newdaynewlesson.com/

    Friday was my one year blogversary.

    I started the blog with the goal of blogging every day about a lesson I learn from life. I wanted to be able to inspire people to see things in their life as a positive not a negative. To help people take control of their lives through their thoughts and actions.

    The past few months I went from part time to full time work and had to make the decision to cut back from more or less 7 days a week to 2-3 times a week. (So I posted 298 times out of 365 this last year.)

    My biggest challenges have to do with the technical side. For instance: I have stat counter not google analytics because I have been to afraid to try to stick in the html myself.

    I would also love to know more about newsletters, mail lists, landing pages, SEO and so many other things that I am sure I would be able to teach myself if I had the time.

    I also would love to have more comments and have more engagement on my site.

    Thanks again.

  19. acleansurface on

    http://acleansurface.com
    I have been blogging for about a year.
    Goal: I have multiple goals. I want to help and inspire people (with regard to simplicity, organization, decluttering, and having a positive happy life), I want to promote my small local business of the same name, and I want to enjoy it. I might also like to be a paid writer, as long as I can choose what I write about.
    I do enjoy blogging because I love writing, and I do seem to be helping and inspiring some people. I have subscribers and I do get comments and support.
    As far as how it helps my business or how I can develop a career as a writer… I am not sure!
    I did get a suggestion from the editor of a website to submit some work, but they require a length about 3-4 times as many words as I normally write, so it feels unnatural when I force myself into that length.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Rayme —

      Welcome to the world of professional writing! People pay you to deliver what THEY need, not what you feel like doing. Only you can decide if you’re up for that. To me, that’s why it’s paid and not free, because I’m not free to write whatever I want at whatever length I want…I need to write in service of this client’s needs. I’ve learned to thrive on the creative-writing challenge of making it what someone else needs.

      Taking a quick look at your site I see a few obvious things. The first is your About page is very sketchy and doesn’t have a photo of you, or even a business logo. It refers you somewhere else to learn about the business. Since this is where you’re promoting the business, why not just tell us all about it right here?

      You wouldn’t believe how important your About page is in people deciding to comment, subscribe or buy your services. My Google Analytics tells me about 10% of all my visitors read it! Spend some time making it really interesting. Take a look at what I’ve done on mine — I rewrote it recently after learning more about the importance of About in an A-List Blogger training.

      The other is you’ve got a copyright notice on the bottom of your pages that’s almost bigger than the rest of your text! I’d take that off. Your creation of it implies copyright…and who do you think is going to steal it, anyway? You’ll notice this site isn’t slathered with copyright notices…they’re really not needed as the blog date establishes your date of ownership. So I think it’d be friendlier without it on.

      I actually do get my blog posts ripped off on a regular basis…in some cases if it’s a tiny site I might just ignore it. If not, I send a polite letter asking them to take it off, and they usually will. It’s just not that big of a problem…a bigger problem is seeming litigious and like you really don’t want to share your material.

  20. Diane Rose on

    Talk about timing! I read your post after spending most of yesterday thinking about what to do with my blog. In fact, I actually posted yesterday an entry addressing the focus of my blog.

    URL: http://dkrcommunications.com/
    Time: About 7 months
    Goal: Illustrate to potential and current clients my knowledge, expertise and understanding of business communications.

    Blog challenge:
    I outlined it in my most recent post: “Whenever I think I have a good blog idea and do a quick Google search to see what’s already out there in Internet-land, I usually discover scads of folks already have addressed the subject. I don’t want to plagiarize. I don’t want to be a “me too” writer. I don’t want to contribute to the glut of words already taking up digital space just for the sake of writing. So I do nothing. I file my thoughts in the “blog idea” folder and turn back to reading what others have written.”

    As someone who makes a living from writing, I hate to admit that I’m floundering when it comes to finding something original to write. When it comes to client projects, though, I never lack for words or strategies.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, Carol.

    • Carol Tice on

      Fascinating…well here’s something I can share: When I have an idea for a blog post, I Google…nothing. I have no idea how many other people have said something about my topic!

      I just know that I have something I want to say about it that’ll be unique, because only I’m me. Then I write it.

      Give it a try! No matter how many other articles there are around about it, only one will be yours. At some point, you have to stop worrying about what other people are doing, and write what you are passionate about.

  21. Ryan Alex on

    I have

    1) Your blog URL: http://www.ryanwalex.com
    2) How long you’ve been blogging: I have been blogging for almost two years, but only seriously for the last 3 months.
    3) Your goal for the blog: Exposure and networking

    What is the biggest problem you’re having on your blog? Getting traffic, subscriptions, and comments

  22. Brown Eyed Mystic on

    Hi Carol,

    I really liked this post. Short and sweet.

    I think one of the common problems people face is when to shift the focus from themselves to their audience. It can be done while bragging, ranting, complaining too. But, it needs tactics. People should never feel they are being neglected–so yes, there must be something about them in it.

    One blog I normally read does this very well. The blogger will write something about her day, what happened in her life during a particular phase in time, issues with her kids, family, finances etc and then slowly and smoothly relate it all to Writing. Since her audience is a bunch of writers, well, it works superbly. I love her for it! 😉

    Coming to my blog:
    The URL is http://www.browneyedmystic.wordpress.com
    I’ve been blogging since April 2010
    My goal is to one word long: ENGAGE.

    I want to engage people in my place, in what I’ve got to say, in a subtle manner which doesn’t appear too in-your-face, you know?

    The problem: Not many actually; I’ve been blessed. But I do find it tough to keep a blogging schedule. I cannot blog, say, on Wednesdays and Sundays. I fear it too much scheduling will kill my creativity. Also, I am working full-time as a freelancer, so at times I don’t get time to post for a week to ten days.

    Thank you for the warm offer, Carol.

    -BrownEyed

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi there Brown-Eyed —

      You might see my post on how I write a lot of blog posts fast for tips on how to keep your level up.

      But also — are you posting 7 days a week or something? I know few blogs that really need to do that to be successful. Some do well with even once a week. Right now I’m at 4x a week…and I may go back down to 3, we’ll see.

      We all have to strike that delicate balance between being personal in a self-involved way, and being personal in a way that’s enlightening and helpful to readers.

      • Brown Eyed Mystic on

        Thanks Carol; I will refer the link right away.

        No, I am not posting seven days a week. I would love to but it’s simply not my cuppa! 😉

        I meant to say at times I skip a whole week of posting because of work.

        -BrownEyed

        • Carol Tice on

          For me the key is planning ahead with my WordPress editorial calendar plug-in, writing in batches, and trying to make it consistent. Try to write a few posts ahead and schedule them up so you are consistent. I think sporadic posting makes people wander off or unsubscribe.

          If you can only post for sure twice a month, then do that. The most important thing in a blog’s early days is building up a stable of great content, so that when people discover it they can browse around and find a lot of great stuff. And if you’re using the blog as an audition piece to get paid gigs, the frequency isn’t important — just the quality and that you have at least a dozen or so posts up.

  23. JoAnne Schlicker on

    No one reads my blogs even though I try to be interesting. I wrote blogs about animal abuse, cryptids, sudden death, and others. Never get comments and do not think anyone ever reads them. Went and souped up my spot, making it look much better, post everywhere-no takers. Do not know what to do next.

    • Carol Tice on

      I took a 30-second look at your blog, JoAnne, and I see some obvious issues.

      No one reads blogs that are white letters on a black background. It’s just too harsh on the eyes. Your blog looks very dark and gloomy due to your choice of this scheme.

      I see no shareability buttons for retweeting, etc, nor any way to sign up or subscribe to the blog.

      That’s the design side. On the content side…your blog is about a long list of different things. I’ve never seen that work well. Blogs that stick to a niche are far better able to attract an audience. Blogs where you muse on the many different interests you have tend to be highly personal and are maybe read by your friends, but they have a lot of trouble gaining a broad audience.

      See the link I put in above to the Blog Herald post on how to get comments…it’s really my bible for that. I just did what they said, and look at my comments now!

  24. Linda on

    Hi Carol,
    I started a blog last fall after taking a couple of writing classes online with Writer’s Digest University. While doing the assignments, I discovered embezzlers are fascinating to me. Being an accountant, and more upright (or is that uptight?) than most people I’ve worked with, stealing is incomprehensible to my way of thinking. Looking into it a little further, I find that there are multiple news stories every day about someone caught embezzling. I thought I needed to share that information and give my opinion on how the thief was able to get away with it until caught.

    My plan is to build up the articles on the site, then go with aweber or another service like that to capture email addresses while giving them free checklists. I then hope to use those contacts to sell accounting manuals for businesses with very small administrative offices (1, 2, 3 people) to help reduce the opportunity for embezzlement.

    My goal for the blog is to make a living by selling these manuals, customized when I can, and use it as a reference for querying magazines for articles about preventing fraud. I don’t think a membership site would be of any use for this type of blog, but once I get an email list, I think a newsletter would be easy enough to do. That would also remind people that “it can happen to you” if you don’t have the proper controls in place.

    Thanks for all the good advice you give! It’s been very helpful to me.

    Linda Bliley
    http://smallbusinessbandits.com
    Don’t rely on trust to protect your hard earned money!

    • Linda on

      My biggest question is “Am I on the right track?” I think I am, from what I read in your answers to other posts. A shot of confidence is really what I need. Right now I have no traffic at all, so I have no sense if this is something useful or not.
      Thanks!

  25. Meghan Weimer on

    Hi, Carol.

    I’m blogging at http://meghanweimer/com/voice-over-blog and promoting posts through social media. As a new blogger (launched in late December), I’m happy with my click-through rate, but I’m finding it difficult to engage readers and convert them to subscribers. Even asking my pals to comment on posts is like pulling teeth. That said, nobody has any problem commenting via Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to figure out how to make the blog the forum rather than the social media outlets serving that purpose.

    Thanks for always producing such fantastic content!

    Cheers,
    meghan

  26. Becky on

    I almost forgot to mention another problem I am having with the blog. I would like to start a newsletter for it, but I am not sure what type of content I should be providing in a newsletter, how often it should go out and how to get people to sign up.

  27. Becky on

    This is a very interesting post. I started blogging with my fitness and health blog about two years ago, and I have recently been featured in some newspapers. I started posting about being featured, and my husband warned me not to let my blog become JUST a place to boast about these things but to continue writing posts that would be helpful to my readers. I hope I have done so.

    My blog url: http://www.skinnydreaming.com
    I have been blogging for nearly 3 years now.
    My goal for this blog is two-fold: I want it to be a place where people can come to find quality advice, inspiration and help in their weight loss and healthy living goals. I also would like to earn some sort of income from it.

    There are several things that are troubling me at the moment. I have had companies ask to advertise on my blog, but I don’t even know what to charge or what the going rates are. While my blog has helped me break more into my writing career (I nwo write health articles for a magazine which came about from the CEO reading my blog), I do not know where to go now or how to get it working for me even more. I know I should be guest-posting more on other blogs, but how do I get started doing that?

    I have MANY blogs that encompass all of my varied interests and link to my on-line stores. I am finding it difficult to keep them all going, but I am reluctant to give any of them up. Because of this, some of the blogs are far more advanced and developed than others.

    • Carol Tice on

      Well, I can’t help you on ad rates — I don’t accept any ads. For more on my ad strategy, see the Products I Love tab above. Bet that’s a strategy that would work well for your niche.

      I outline how I used my blog to get paying gigs on the post How I Make $5,000 a Month as a Paid Blogger…hopefully some tips in there for you. You’ve got the basics right already, as you make your own blog strong enough to get you hired, clearly. Now just keep leveraging that.

      As far as guest posting, tweet your content around and see who notices it…make friends who’ll either ask you to guest, or you can ask them. Some big sites such as Problogger have guidelines and you can just pitch them.

  28. Cara Stein on

    Thanks for a good reminder. It’s easy to get caught up in what interests us and forget we’re supposed to be writing for our readers!

    My blog URL: http://17000-days.com

    How long I’ve been blogging: About 5 months on this blog, plus about a year and a half on a previous blog about yarn

    My goal: To help people build lives they love. The idea of 17,000 Days is that life is finite. If you know how many days you have left, and see that number go down each day, it serves as a reminder to make the most of each one. That means eliminating the meaningless stuff and finding ways to really enjoy your time. I think a lot of people think we have to live boring, stress-filled lives, but we have the power to shape our lives into what we want them to be.

    My biggest blogging problem: attracting more readers. My traffic flow hasn’t grown in the past two months, and the new people I get don’t seem to be subscribing.

  29. Carol Tice on

    Looking at many of the blogs above, I think it’d be helpful for everybody commenting here to review a couple of past posts. First up, look through my comments on the free blog-review day I did a while back.

    Then also Why Writing Killer Headlines Will Change Your Life. I think scanning through I don’t see headlines that are helping you get readers, on the vast majority of these blogs.

    It’ll also save me quite a lot of time going through and individually telling everyone to add photos, make it easy to subscribe, write stronger headlines and other basics.

  30. Celia on

    Hi Carol,

    First off, I find your email updates to be the most useful & engaging for writers of any I subscribe to — so thank you!

    My blog’s a little different because it’s focused on pictures, not writing. I have a collection of curvy women art up at http://shapelywomen.blogspot.com. I’ve posted occasionally for three years, and daily since November. But I have few subscribers, no response to contests or promos, and haven’t yet found an engaging blogging voice to go with the pictures.

    I’m really passionate about this blog because I find it affirming to both men and women of how diverse a woman’s good looks can be. So there’s a clear emotional value, and I haven’t found any other collection with my breadth and depth of (non-porn) curvy women art.

    But my biggest problem is that I’m struggling to engage people. I have 200 twitter followers & engage in the growing plus-size community online. When people hear of it, they send their appreciation, but aren’t hooked into following it regularly. I’d love to market ebooks, wallpaper, a book spinoff, something of tangible value, and maybe to get modern artists submitting their pictures, but I’m still looking for a blogging voice that is compelling.

    So how can a blog cultivate regular readers? What makes an active community? How can pictures be transformed into headlines and content that people care about? And how do you become a respected voice in a given market segment?

    That was more than one question, but maybe they will be of use to you, Carol, to address in the future. Thanks again for your voice into our inboxes — I really appreciate it!

    Celia

  31. Sharon Murphy on

    Wow, does this article strike a chord. I have been having an identity crisis with my blog for a while. Mostly I strive to entertain since I consider myself a creative writer but I do need to take the above advice and give a little back instead of playing the ME game. Back to the drawing board I go with some insight on future posts..thanks for the piece!

  32. PatriciaW on

    After nearly five years, I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of things to say. I blog about books, which is fine because I enjoy reading and writing. I also blog about my writing journey, originally intended to capture my path to novel publication. I feel that I’ve grown as a writer so that I no longer have a great “a-ha” moment that makes me eagerly want to blog about it. I’m also not where I thought I would be five years later, so I guess there’s a bit of reticence to be completely honest about that, although I have in the past.

    As I move into freelancing, knowing that most of my blog readers are readers and/or novel writers, I’m wondering whether they’ll care about my freelancing forays, which are still part of my writing journey, just with a different focus.

  33. Jeri on

    This post was a wake up call for me. I have been blogging for less than a year. Just after I started the blog, my gradmother died unexpectedly. Six week later, my grandfather fell on his way to the kitchen and was dead before he hit the floor. My blog became an outlet for my enormous grief, which was certainly not my plan. Though I had several days with 3,000-5,000 visitors that first month, now I seem to be spinning my wheels.
    My URL: http://mothering4.com
    Purpose: Connection. Being a stay-at-home-mom is incredibly isolating. “It takes a villiage to raise a child”, and I was hoping to find one.

  34. Justin P Lambert on

    Carol,

    Thanks very much for the post and the offer to assist. I know I need it.

    My blog is at http://justinplambert.net.

    I’ve been blogging for seven months now.

    My main goal for my blog is twofold: I would like it serve as one source of portfolio samples to show prospective writing clients what I can do and hopefully nudge them in the direction of hiring me if I fit their bill. Second, I’d like to help both prospective clients and fellow writers to become more comfortable with working with/being a generalist as opposed to being a niche-specialist. (Which is why my topics are fairly broad, although they all come under the umbrella of communication to a greater or lesser degree.)

    My main issues at this point is that I simply don’t have the reader engagement and subscriber numbers I was hoping for. I THOUGHT I was writing for my reader, but perhaps I’m not. I’m really interested in your take on it if you have a moment.

    btw, you did a quick blog review on my blog a couple months ago and I tried to implement some of your suggestions, so I hope it’s improved.

    Thanks,
    Justin

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Justin —

      I think of you as a pretty happening blogger – aren’t you guest-posting around?

      When I look at your site, I think there’s dissonance between what you say it’s about in the description above, and what your headline and tagline say. I think that’s causing problems for you.

      I think your blog is about writing about wealth management, when I read your hed and tagline. Sounds like you’re a wealth coach or something. But reading on, we discover you’re a copywriter.

      It’s certainly not the design and layout, which are pretty awesome! Nice visuals and clean design.

      Your subscribe bar seems really complicated. I’d get a simple graphic going there as you see above. Too many choices and thoughts and writing there. If you don’t have a free product, I’d make just a big fat “Get free updates from this blog on email” type thing and a big subscribe button, the end. Maybe a link to “more about why subscribe” right below it.

      I’d also say that if you want to use this blog to get gigs, you need to get rid of the grammar errors. “Are you a uber-generalist?” and “gimme the awesome” for instance. I have a feeling you’re trying to be cute with it, but I think it’s not working.

      I’m not sure why you’d want to make a position statement to encourage people to be a generalist. I’ve never met a generalist who earns as well as specialists do. And why does it matter whether your writer – readers are specialists or generalists? I think a focus on how to write well, or how to get clients, with broader appeal would help.

      But the root of it is up in that hed and deck is my diagnosis.

      You have a lot of interesting products up there — you should promote them! Do a free Webinar or teleclass or something and give a few out and talk about the subject matter. Might be a good monetizing strategy.

  35. Michelle Tibodeau Sillman on

    Carol–
    I started the blog, Market NewB, at newbocitymarket.wordpress.com two weeks ago.

    The purpose of the blog is to inform residents in my city (Cedar Rapids, IA) and the surrounding areas of a project that’s in the planning stages, a year-round public market called NewBo City Market. I want to generate interest, excitement, and support for the project, and entice people to get involved. Also, I’m trying to gather an audience of people who care about the things the market will focus on, which is fresh, local foods; healthy living; and local entrepreneurialism.

    Right now, my main concern is developing and reaching my audience (which I’m sure is something everyone is concerned about in the first few weeks/months of blogging). As I develop relevant content, I plan to reach out to prominent people in my city through interviews and guest blogs as a way to drive traffic to the blog. But I’d love additional suggestions on how to raise awareness that Market NewB exists, during these beginning stages of blogging.

    Thanks for any suggestions

  36. Andrew on

    Hi Carol, I’ve been reading your emails for a few weeks now, maybe a month or so?

    Anyway, my blog is at http://www.barstoolbuddy.wordpress.com. Its been online since December 2010 so relatively new. But I dont know whether it is because it is new or maybe I am doing something wrong. I may be guilty of the Me Myself & I thing, but I try and write for my readers and potential clients benefit, using ‘you’ a lot etc..

    I aim to inform, educate and entertain, although unlike the BBC, I don’t charge a licence fee and there are no repeats! Seriously though, that is the aim, in as far as marketing and copywriting is concerned.

    I did change tack about a month back. Originally, after much research, advice and counsel I decided to specialise in Financial copywriting. However, I have now reverted to generalist direct response and mail, basically, I had to widen the net.

    Perhaps I am just trying to run before I can walk. Despite the speed and convenience of Social Media, it is the content and preparation that take the time isn’t it? my posts can take about 2-3 hours, some less so, but I aim for 800-900 words or so.

    Finally, I promote the blog via twitter and email signature at the moment, I have resisted Facebook to be honest.

    Andrew

  37. Amruta on

    Hi Carol,

    Awesome post. This post and the guest post by Larry Brooks are exactly what I needed, to understand where I need improvement with regards to my writing life. For many days I have this feeling that something’s amiss with my blog and writing, and couldn’t figure out what it was. After reading these two posts, I at least know what questions I need to ask myself, but am yet to find the answers.

    My blog URL is: http://writingstylus.wordpress.com/
    I have been blogging for the past 2 years, and started this blog in January 2011.
    My goal for this blog is to educate my community about content writing.
    The question that I am facing right now is: where should I go from here? Should I continue writing about general content writing, or should I develop a niche? And what output am I expecting from my blog? It is not a blog that a person can subscribe to, so I can’t be looking for stats and subscriptions. But if not that, then what? How do I measure my performance? Or should I change the direction of my blog so that it can be something people can subscribe to?

    Looking forward to more interesting posts from you.

    Take care 🙂

    Amruta

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Amruta —

      I guess the question that comes to my mind when you tell me I can’t subscribe to your blog is…why are you doing this blog? What is your purpose?

      Blogs should have a mission…a reason for being.

      Generally, people blog to build a subscriber list they can sell to. Or is it just a demonstration piece so you can use it to get paid blogging gigs? If not, what types of products or services are you hoping to sell to your blog audience?

      Why did you choose this topic for your blog? Are you passionate about writing great online content and teaching others how to do that?

      These are the sort of questions I’d want you to ask to decide where to take the blog.

      I think the art of content writing IS a niche topic…though hopefully you could develop an angle or point of view with your tagline that gives it some uniqueness.

      • Amruta on

        Hi Carol,

        Thank you for the reply. My mission for writing the blog is to educate my community, and since I get my clients from the community, I am ultimately educating my clients. But since I write about types of content, and tips and tricks and stuff, it is not something that my readers would want to read everyday, so they won’t subscribe. But if they need some information about anything related to content writing, my blog is their source for that. That is the main purpose of the blog.

        The question you raised have given me a lot to think about. Thank you for your inputs:)

        Regards,
        Amruta

        • Carol Tice on

          Well, if they won’t subscribe, it’s hard to stay in touch and land those clients.

          Consider making a signup for maybe a weekly newsletter with “tips for small businesses for a great Web site.” You might be surprised how many signups you get.

          You want signups because people don’t buy off one interaction with you. You need to be able to stay in touch to build the relationship.

          Another approach would be to package some of your posts into a free report you could send people who comment or contact you, as a thank-you for being in touch. Or package it into an ebook…think of ways to use your content where you could proactively send it to clients, if you’re not going to promote it on the blog.

  38. Andrew Harkin on

    Hello Carol, Been reading your emails for a few weeks I think maybe a month or so? Anyway,my blog is at http://www.barstoolbuddy.wordpress.com.Its been online since December last year, so brand new, relatively new. Not many subscribers yet,but whether thats because it is new or I’m not doing something right I’m not sure. I may be guilty of the ‘me’ complex, although I do try and write it for my readers and potential clients. So to answer your third question, my objective is to write posts that inform, educate and entertain my readers, and also to showcase my writing talent (or perhaps lack of it:))

    I also decided a month back to change my focus to general copywriting as opposed to Specialist financial. A case of widening the net really, despite all the previous counsel and advice I received and researched about being Specialist.

    Finally, I tend to use Twitter to promote my blog, and email signatures , thats about it. I have also decided against using Facebook for various reasons.

    Maybe I just want to run before I can walk, these things take time after all don’t they? despite the speed and convenience of Social Media, its the content and preparation that takes the time. I spend about two or three hours on some of my posts.Is that too much or not enough?

    Andrew

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Andrew —

      Saw you kept posting — new visitors have to be moderated in the first time. So you’re on now.

      This comment above is guilty of negative self-talk, which my Webinar co-presenter Anne Wayman has taught me we really need to shut down and replace with positive self-talk.

      So cut that out! Look in the mirror right now and say, “Damn I’m good!” Better? OK.

      In taking a quick look at your blog it seems to have focus problems. Starting with your headline — sounds like it’s for drinking buddies, not copywriting prospects! Then your tagline is kind of jargony — prospect solutions. I hate that word solutions…really overused in business. You could give us something crackling instead, I’m sure.

      So you want copywriting prospects to read your blog? I wonder because the posts are about reading Marianne Williamson’s book, about Egypt…about various topics. If you want the blog to focus on how copywriting can help businesses…you’d have to make all your blog posts about that topic.

      But let me suggest something else. Maybe you could identify a personal passion you’d like to blog about. I know — you want to get copywriting clients! But you can get them with your passion blog.

      Example: This blog is about the business of writing. But it has gotten me many paid blogging gigs writing about other topics. Why? Because when you stick to a niche and write sharp posts, that shows businesses you could do that for them, too. And that’s what they want to know.

      As far as how long you take to write posts…that’s really an individual thing. I’ve been writing professionally for a very long time, so I probably spit it out faster than a brand-new writer. Also depends on the kind of posts you want to write. I know pro bloggers who spend 10 hours writing a post…and link it to a course they’re offering, and sell $30,000 worth of that course in a week.

      While most of us are still working on that kind of conversion level…I’ll share my rule of blog post writing:

      I write every post as if it was a $1 a word article for a 1 million-subscriber magazine market. That’s my goal. Doing that seems to have led to a lot of lucrative work. I think there’s a tendency to give the free blog short shrift, but that’s a mistake. Make it your best work, and things will happen.

      • Brown Eyed Mystic on

        Being positive is like a kick in the gut of fear. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it and I feel there are two doors to choose before taking any action (as opposed to “reaction”)–the door of fear and the door of love. Before one starts to love themselves, there is no way they can begin to love others. Also, the door of fear is the total opposite.

        This applies in every area of life, not only writing. It’s worked out brilliantly for me, so I think Carol is very correct–look in the mirror and. . . gloat! Why not, hey? 🙂

        -BrownEyed

  39. Judy Clauss on

    Greetings, Carol.

    1) Your blog URL: http://www.twr.org/judyblog
    2) How long you’ve been blogging: Since Nov 2008
    3) Your goal for the blog: To engage and inspire the reader by describing what excitng events are happening in and through the ministry of TWR (Trans World Radio) and its people. It’s news/updates with a personal touch.
    Then answer this: What is the biggest problem you’re having on your blog? Readers are sharing posts, but I receive few comments. This past year the subscriber list has stayed around 100. I’d like to see it grow. I post three times a week: M, W, F

    I have purposed to minimize “me” as the blog subject, yet some have asked that I add more of “me” into the posts. Can you be out of balance in the opposite direction?

    • Carol Tice on

      Well, certainly we want “you” in the post — in the form of your personality and point of view…but in service of helping readers. That’s the balance to strike.

      • Judy Clauss on

        Carol,

        In contrast to most of the bloggers you’ve addressed, my goal is not to sell a product or service, but to be a “personal connection” between our supporters and the ministry for which I work. The goal, nevertheless, is to encourage them to become more involved in those projects in which they’re interested.

        Would it help to “spice” up my writing style with creative headlines or presentation style changes (shorter paragraphs, etc.)? In addition, adding more personal insight?

        Thanks for your input.

  40. Barbara McNichol on

    My blog is nonfictionbookeditor.com

    It is intended to appeal to authors of nonfiction books who can benefit from learning more about writing and grammar. It also touches on book marketing and PR. I invite posts from others whose information fits my intent. Unfortunately, I receive few comments but I do notice increased activity on my blog when my monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen goes out, so people do visit.

    How can I elicit more comments and more subscribers?

    Thanks for your wisdom, Carol.
    Barbara

    • Carol Tice on

      HI Barbara —

      I think those two questions are the most popular ones I get! And we will definitely be talking a LOT about how to solve them at the Webinar coming up.

      Quite a while back, I found this great article on Blog Herald about the types of posts that get more comments. Happy to share it here. I pretty much used it as my guide, and quickly started seeing a LOT more engagement from my audience.

      • Becky on

        Thanks for this link! That’s a question I didn’t ask in my comment, but it’s also a question I have. I seem to have a lot of visitors to my log but very few commenters(unless it’s a give-away post).

    • S.L. Stephenson, DVM on

      How can I find out if my writings are going to sell? I’m working on my autobiography which is a story of my life, my accomplishments and my failures. I entitled it after my daughter’s comments to a farmer, “My daddy NEVER gets a live one!!” I am a veterinarian and delivered numerous live animals as I performed C-sections, pulled out the live critters or watched as the mother simply pushed the newborn out. She was only 3 when she said this after watching me perform necropsies (autopsies) of new borns.

      • Carol Tice on

        Try building a blog and start posting some excerpts from your planned book. See if you can attract interest and build an audience. You could also try submitting a chapter as an article — maybe to a veterinary publication? — and see if you get a bite.

        Best of luck with it!

  41. Laurie Boris on

    Hi, Carol,

    I’ve been blogging at various URLs, but currently at http://laurieboris.com. My goals for this blog are to help beginning fiction writers, comment on the uses and abuses of the English language, and entertain and engage readers who will (I hope) buy my novels. It was all me, me, me when I started, and while I occasionally slip back into that, I’m moving away into more reader-centric content.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Laurie —

      So what is your biggest obstacle or issue with your blog? What topic do you feel like you’d most like to learn about that might improve your blog?

  42. Danielle McGaw on

    Great post as always Carol. I think that this is critical and this is exactly why it took me so long to see results in blogging. I forgot that I wasn’t blogging for me – I was blogging for others. Or I should have been! This past year has seen a lot of changes in my blogging efforts and I hope it is starting to show!

    My blog url: http://daniellemcgaw.com [Helping Freelance Writers Find Their Way in a Social Media World]
    Been blogging for: 7 years? Only two with any real intent though
    Goal for the blog: To help freelance writers focus their social media efforts so they can get real results

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