Blogging is like any other business or activity, if you stay with it long enough, eventually things will begin to change for you. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve likely already noticed that you don’t run your site the same way now that you did when you began. Likewise, if you just began, you’re probably already thinking of ways that you can improve or expand.
Your blog, nor you as a blogger, stay the same from month to month, year to year. Things change and, for the most part, it’s best to work with the tides rather than fight them. The change is rarely for the worst and, for the most part, it is inevitable.
Here are five areas that, over, the years I’ve been blogging, changed drastically for me. None are bad things. Some of these are signs of growth, some are signs of simply getting older as a blog/blogger. Either way, they are changes most bloggers can expect to face if they stick with it long enough.
When you first start blogging and don’t have a great deal of traffic, comments are rare, wonderful things. A lone comment is a reason to celebrate, jump for joy and you likely reply instantly, thanking the commenter or offering some other response, even if the comment doesn’t really call for it.
However, as you grow a bit older in blog years and comments begin to tick up, most begin to take a more measured approach. Some comments don’t need replies, others, don’t even have a place on your site, even if they aren’t spam per se.
Comments are and will always remain an important part of your site, a critical metric on your post’s success and a crucial part of your site’s community, but comments, over time, become less like emails, taken as direct and personal, and more like forum replies, something meant to exist in the community.
This has significant changes on how most approach their comments and their commenters.
4. Posting Schedule
When you first start blogging, your schedule is likely more erratic. You might not know what days/times you will be posting to your site or what kinds of posts you’ll be doing.
However, as you move on grow and progress, your schedule begins to become more concrete. You develop a schedule that becomes a habit for both you and your readers.
Though life always trumps blogging and the schedule may change, finding this meter and this rhythm is crucial to both keeping your audience happy and to continue writing. It’s too easy to walk away from something that isn’t a habit but once blogging is part of your daily/weekly routine, it’s much easier to stay with as something feels “missing” if you don’t do it.
3. Focus on Traffic
When starting out, most watching their traffic religiously, tracking every visit, every search term and referral link with a great deal of tenacity. But as one’s site grows and a base audience is established, it quickly becomes clear that there are things more important than traffic when measuring a site or a post’s success.
Traffic goes up and traffic goes down, it isn’t always your content that is doing it. My site, for example, is always slower in summer because school is out and plagiarism is of less interest to most. Though almost every blogger keeps an eye on their stats, especially looking for traffic spikes such as Digg effects, it quickly stops becoming an obsession.
In short, there is almost no goal a blog can achieve that can be done via traffic alone. Therefore, it is wise to spend more time on the metrics that actually track results, whatever they may be.
2. The Blog’s Focus
Generally speaking, there are two types of blogs, niche blogs that focus on a specific topic/area, or general interest ones that write about almost everything. That is to say, there are two ways for most blogs to start.
But no matter what type of blog one starts, the focus almost always starts to shift. Niche blogs will tend to either expand or contract their focus, depending on if the initial focus was too broad or narrow, and “anything goes” blogs will trend, naturally, toward the topics that interest the author the most.
Though this process definitely makes a blog different than its original vision, its a critical step for a blog to find its place on the Web. Without this, a blog will often be either too narrow to attract an audience or too similar to others to provide anything unique.
It can be hard to watch your blog change, but it is crucial to let it if you feel it needs to.
1. The “New” Factor
When a blog is young, it isn’t just exciting for the author but also for the people reading it. People like things that are new, they like talking about new discoveries and they enjoy helping linking to never-before-seen quality content.
However, that fades quickly, especially on the Web. Once your blog is “discovered” and has been established, the new factor is gone for everyone. Even if you are publishing new and exciting content daily, your site itself is not new and that causes people not to get as excited as they once did.
The good news though is that your site, if done well, shifts from a novelty to an establishment. What you lose in newness you gain in perceived expertise and experience. People may enjoy what’s new, but they don’t always trust it. Once the novelty passes, you can work on building your reputation and your name.
That, in turn, is the only way to build lasting success on the Web.
When blogging, a lot of things can and do change over time. The one thing that should not change, however, is your love for what you write about.
If you are not interested in writing your blog, it will show up in your writing and your readers will see that. The passion has to be there because, without it, your site is just circling the drain.
Enjoy what you do, be passionate about your topic and do good work. If those things remain the same, your blog can survive just about any changes thrown at it.