I want. I want. I want. I hear this every day from other bloggers, especially new ones.
Guess what. Blogging isn’t about want. I know you want more traffic, more readers, more money, more attention, more links, and more wants.
Blogging isn’t about your wants. Blogging is about the gives.
Here’s how it works.
I give good content worthy of links, and others link back. I give links to information and resources, encouraging readers to leave my blog and go elsewhere, and they come back for more if the giving was good.
I give links. I give content. I give readers an opportunity to air their opinion and advice on what I give. I give other bloggers content worth linking to and referencing. I also give other bloggers challenges to improve their blog and blog content.
I may want, but without the giving, I won’t get.
Neither will you.
Today, four people emailed me saying basically the following:
I’ve done everything you’ve said to do for my blog. I’ve read your entire blog and your book. I’m now getting lots of traffic but I want to capitalize on that traffic.
I emailed every one who commented, thanking them for commenting. I’ve commented on every blog that linked to my posts. I’ve submitted my site to every search engine and directory I can find. I’ve got a sitemaps Plugin running. I make lots of pings, automatic and manual, going out after every time I’ve published a new post. I’ve emailed many bloggers in my niche telling them what I’m doing and asking them to link to me, I’ll link to them and put them in my blogroll. I’ve also told them I’ve added them to my feed reader so I can keep up with what they are writing, and possibly reference it on my blog.
What more do I have to do to take advantage of this new traffic and increase it?
My recommendation? Take a vacation.
Sheesh. Even I don’t work so hard for my blogs.
I believe that if your focus is all on the want, and not on the give, you are grasping too hard, strangling the life out of your blogging experience.
In the process, you are losing focus, sending all your energy outward and scattered.
Here is my advice for turning the wants back into the gives, building traffic naturally and organically, not forcibly.
Like Attracts Like
“I want everyone to visit my blog.”
Wow. That’s a sweeping statement. Personally, I don’t want everyone and anyone visiting my blog. Why should someone interested in pruning roses stop by my site about blogging and WordPress? I’d be pretty frustrated if I were searching for information on pruning roses and ended up on my site, wouldn’t you?
I don’t want people seeking information on remodeling cars, gambling, diets, horse riding, pets, shopping, or any unrelated issue landing on my site and finding I have nothing to offer them – unless they want to learn how to blog or use WordPress to share their expertise on those subjects with others.
I want people like me, who want to learn more about blogging and social interaction on the web. I want people curious about how WordPress works, and eager to learn how to push it to its limits and use it as a method of communication, just like me.
I only want people who I can help to visit my blog. Don’t you?
When you create a blog, you are building a community of like-minded people. You can’t help attract them because they are looking for what you are looking for and offering. You have what they need and they need what you have. You give and they receive, and they give back in return.
If you want me as a reader, give me what I want. It’s that simple.
It’s powerful. It’s magical, and those who narrow their blog focus to their passions, to what fascinates and interests them over the long term, not the short term, find energy and enthusiasm flowing through their fingers onto their blogs. In turn, this giving attracts like-minded folks, and the energy keeps growing and the enthusiasm overflows.
Give Without Expectation of Return
A Zen thought, but one that works. You need to remove the expectations from your giving.
Years ago, I was frustrated with a work situation and ranted to my husband about this and that stupid person. He said wisely, “I’ve learned to never hold expectations over the heads of others. That way they never disappoint. And if they do well, I’m pleasantly surprised.”
I struggled with expectations for a long time and finally found truth in what he said. The less I depended upon my grandiose expectations, the less disappointed and more surprised I became about the process. I do it now because it’s the right thing to do, not because I want it to have certain results. My attitude has changed. Instead of being frustrated all the time, I’m more relaxed and willing to just let events unfold.
Sure, there is the planning, the predictions, and estimates on the return on my investment of time, money, and energy, but I work hard to give up the expectation on what those will be. I can’t change the outcome. I can only work harder to make sure that the return on my investment is worth the energy I put into it. If it isn’t, then I chose wrong and move on and try something else. I don’t let it fester with disappointment.
Gone is the struggle, the grasping, the forcing things to be the way I want them to be. Gone are the intense disappointments and frustrations. I concentrate on writing my blog content, focusing on the issues one by one that my readers want and need. I give it to them. I don’t promote my site. I don’t submit, ping, or socialize it. I rely upon the natural workings of WordPress, and my knowledge of how search engines work, and how people search, and let them do their work while I do mine. I respond when the response is needed, and all my energy is focused on the work, not the want nor expectation.
You can temporarily force things to happen, but it works better in the long term if it happens naturally. Organically. Without the desperate wanting need. If you put all your energy into your content, understanding what you readers want and need, and giving them what they are looking for, the traffic will come. Just focus your energies in the right direction. And have your blog ready, with your blog content filled with indexable search terms, and let it happen.
I’ve found that I write better, produce wiser content, stay focused, and have a much more enjoyable experience with my blog, which answers the question of why I’ve not suffered from blog burnout in 14 years.
The Path to Blogging Success is Paved With Content
I can’t tell you how many times people have told me and written about how the path to blogging success is paved with Google, link juice, link exchanges, blogrolls, and the latest networking social fad.
I’m telling you now, the path to blogging success is paved with good content.
Google does whatever it does through its mythical and magical algorithm without you doing anything other than having a clean-coded blog and writing great content. As we’ve learned over the past year or two, you can play all the games you want, but if you don’t have the content, you lose in the long run.
Searchers searching for your blog can’t find it unless you have the words they are searching for. If you don’t include keywords and search terms in your content, you lose in the search game, no matter how well you play the Google Game otherwise.
This is just common sense. You give the right words and they will find you in their searches. You build it, and they will come, eventually. It takes time. There is a lot of competition out there, but it will happen.
Visitors arriving on your blog want to know what else you have done and go digging. Are you ready for them? They will check out your About page and post categories, even most popular, most recent, and related posts, to find out what you write about and if that writing is worth returning to, personally or via their feeds. Do you have the content to meet that inquiry?
If your blog post gets picked up by a popular blogger or social bookmarking or submission service, is your blog stuffed with more content to keep the influx of traffic reading and digging through your blog? Is it focused and specializing in the information they want and need so they will want to come back and add you to their feed reader?
Those who decide upon returning may want to subscribe, so make it easy for them to come back.
All of this happens with content. Good, well-written, linkable, reference content. Not link games, not site submissions, not blogrolls, not pleas nor begging. Just content.
Stop Spreading Energy Around – Focus
When you spend a lot of time responding to every comment by email, commenting on every blog that writes about you, playing social networking games with Facebook, Digg, and other social services, you are spreading your energy around, not focusing.
Yes, you need to interact with the web. You need to respond to comments on your blog, but not ever comment needs a response, and certainly not an email. You need to thank those who write about your blog, but not all of these need responses, either. When appropriate, it’s wise. When not, why bother?
Social networking is important, but really evaluate what the return on your time investment is for that service. Many are spending so much time twittering, their blogs suffer and they get little in return.
Two years ago, Technorati was the end all and be all of socialization of the web through tags. Digg was the place to get attention last year, with many investing a lot of energy into figuring out how to write a diggable, attention-getting post, and helping to change the way many people wrote on the web. Now, it’s Facebook and Twitter. Next year, it will be something else.
All these things are viable ways of networking and socializing, but you have to choose which method is the one to give your time and energy to, which in turn, will work the best for your blog. Your choices must enhance your blog and its purpose, not steal energy from it.
The sames goes for your blog focus. If it is scattered and you blog about anything and everything, without direction nor cause, then you collect a scattering of readers rather than a concentration of focused readers and traffic. The more diverse your blog content, the more scattered your energies.
With your energy focused elsewhere, your blog suffers. Your blog content suffers. You lose time that might be better spent writing well-researched, considered, and thoughtful content.
Stop scattering your energy across the web. Do what you must to stay social on the web, but put the majority of your time into quality content and you will find your work more enjoyable and more focused.
Think of your blog as a spotlight in the night’s sky as energy that leads to your blog. The wider the beam, the more trouble people have of identifying the source. The more focused and bright the spotlight, the easier it is to trace it to its source.
Why Are You Doing This?
Remember why you are blogging in the first place. Was it to increase your company and professional expertise and reputation? Was it to meet others from around the world? Was it to share your thoughts and ideas with others? Was it to build friendships? Was it to build an online resume? Why are you blogging?
Was your original thought, “What can I get out of this blogging gig?” Or was it “This is a way I can share with others.”
When you get back to the giving of blogging, you gain so much more. When you keep wanting…you often don’t get.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.