When to Pull the Plug on Your Blog

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“Dead Man Walking!”

I guess things are not going as planned. Your blog is limping along with low traffic, low excitement, low support from your readers.

You suspect that it’s time to take a hiatus or close down your blog for good. But is it the right time?

Is your blog really too crippled to turn around?

Diagnosing Your Sick Blog

There are two types of bloggers: Builders and Diarists.

The first type, Builders, see their blog as part of a larger business strategy. Builders need traffic, and they have a plan for turning readers into profit. Their business plan includes selling advertising and products. They need to be careful about how they spend their time, and they have little sentimental value for failing projects.

If you are a Builder, then your emergency-room evaluation of your blog is simple:

1. Do you have a compelling story to tell?

Blogs are built on great stories.

If your story is boring and forgettable, then it will be difficult to create momentum for your blog. Your low traffic is a sign that you are failing to capture the imagination of your readers. If you or your organization can’t transform your narrative into a juicy experience that grabs your readers by the heart, hand, and mind, then correct the problem or pull the plug.

2. Do you have the resources to regularly publish relevant content?

Content attracts traffic – period.

Sporadic publishing will cripple your blog. Uninspired content will kill it. Blog owners need to have a process for stoking their creative juices and the discipline to publish their best posts frequently. Understand that you are in the content marketing business and therefore need a deep well of blog ideas. You need an eyes-wide-open perspective that is constantly looking for publishing opportunities.

Warning! If you are creating posts on an ad-hoc basis, then you are just doggy paddling in quicksand. Create a carefully thought-out editorial calendar before it’s too late.

3. Are you a promotional fanatic?

Stop being so darn modest.

You are in show business, and you need to be promoting your blog every chance you get. Strategic but shameless promotion is the secret behind crushing it online. Simply publishing and putting out 2 or 3 weak tweets won’t move the needle. Squeamish promotion shows up in low traffic and anemic retweets.

What If You Aren’t Blogging for Money?

On the opposite-end of the spectrum from Builders are the Diarists.

Diarists blog from the gut. The profit motive and the precision of business metrics can’t guide your decision here. In this case, you need to ask yourself two key questions.

1. Are you “on mission?”

Diarists blog for bigger reasons than just making money or offering great products. They want to share a special story, event, or journey that has profoundly impacted their life. As a Diarist, you draw your energy from your mission. If your mission changes, then your blog will need to evolve to match your new direction.

2. Has your passion cooled?

Since you aren’t motivated by profit, you have to draw on your passion to sustain your blog. Your passion is the fuel that powers your blog and keeps you on mission. If you’ve lost the fire in your belly, then it may be time to put your blog on hiatus or move on.

It’s a Tough Call

As a blogger, I can’t bear the thought of shutting down a blog for any reason. However, sometimes it’s the best thing you can do to harness your energy and direct it in a better direction. Thankfully, 9 times out of 10, a blog’s problem can be tracked to blogger burnout rather than a more crippling problem. Take a moment to check to see if you can revive your passion before pulling the plug.

Tell me something…are you thinking about pulling the plug on your blog? If so, why?

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

5 thoughts on “When to Pull the Plug on Your Blog

  1. Biddy Bytes

    Stanford…I’m suffering “Don’t know if I’m in hopeless miasma…(could be one of the problems–using arcane language).” On my blogsite at http://www.biddybytes.com, I steadily chipped away at Alexa rank til I got down to 274,000 last December, and now I’ve gone back up (and we know “down” is better) to 380,000 and I don’t know why but it’s been going steadily upward. You see, I’m 65, love the writing part, but I’m dead-ended with the techno parts…You younger people all use a vernacular you understand where I am clueless. And to simply say: “Then, learn it,” isn’t an easy option, for to learn it, one must internalize the terminology, over time, and I’m confounded by the choices (sort of like deer in the headlights). So, my question: “Are there any real-live tutors who hire out at practical hourly rate, someone who can look at my site and help diagnose it (without my investing an arm and a leg, for I’m retired and not making money from my blog because I don’t advertise on it.)

    I simply want to offer my experiences on multiple issues, while providing humor at same time. Could you please shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] because I’m not sure if I’ll ever find you again? Where can someone get real live help that won’t suck them into SEO camp at huge cost?

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  3. Evelyn Cucchiara

    Hmmm, love your posts and this one was right on the money. I’m currently writing two blogs, one on organizing and one on happiness, and sometimes I feel like one would be enough. I’m going to try your ideas and see what happens.

    Thanks for talking like a real person to all the other real people out here! We’re listening!

  4. Graham Lutz

    I think passion comes and goes – those who are successful can’t depend only on that “fire” to keep going. sometimes the fire won’t be there, but you’ve got to write anyway.

    My biggest problem is that I am interested in so many things. I would love to have blogs/websites/businesses built around neuroscience, parenting, study tips, celiac disease, fitness and weight loss, dogs, kids, politics, and just about everything else.

  5. Laura Click

    Great post, Stanford. Ironically, I had a similar post in mind myself after doing research for a client and found so many abandoned blogs out there. It’s mind boggling how many I found that had been collecting dust for one, two and even three years.

    I think you’re right – burnout is a big part of the the problem. People and businesses have good intentions, but they often have trouble figuring out how to sustain the schedule. They bite off more than they can chew.

    I think this all comes back to planning and understanding why you are blogging in the first place. I think those that have fizzled out likely didn’t take the time to do that.

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