Nine months ago I took the risk of switching a [moderately] successful blog from Blogger to WordPress. I knew I would lose traffic and the Google ranking my old blog had gained, but thought the advantages of WordPress were worth is. As it turned out the first month on this new platform had more traffic then ever, and the second month topped even that.
However, for the last few months there has been a steady decree in my traffic – by maybe 50% at this point. Under other circumstances I would have found that quite discouraging, but actually it was expected and came about mostly as a result of some intentional decisions I’ve made about how I blog.
So, here is How to Kill a Blog in 6 Easy Steps.
- Don’t Use Reader-Friendly Titles Like “6 Easy Steps to…” – I know, catchy titles drive traffic, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to use titles like that, at least on my personal blog. If I feel like naming a post “The Creed and/as The Pledge of Allegiance” I’m just going to go for it.
- Post Less – One of the driving factors behind the growth I experienced was posting consistently, every day but Sunday for almost two years. Now I usually post three days a week (two if there is a holiday). I may go back to more frequent posting at some point, but I needed a rest from the demand that was placing on my time, and decided the loss of traffic was worth it.
- Decline to Comment on the Latest Blogosphere Controversy, or to Have an Opinion on the Latest Issue Du Jour – Admittedly, this also drove a fair amount of traffic my way over the years *cough, Love Wins, cough* but I’ve become quite intentional about not doing this unless I find I’m personally invested in the issue. There are a few bloggers who do that well, but many who don’t, and I simply don’t need to add to the chaos of self-referential blogging tribalism, perpetuate the infighting, or act like I’m an expert on something just because a controversial book came out or some mega-church pastor was a jerk again on Twitter.
- Talk Politics, but Don’t Side With (or Against) a Traditional Political Party – This one I’ve not done much of, but recently I have started to add political discussion to the blog. The problem is it has been framed as a conversation about the Church vs. Empire and Nationalism, and so partisan Left vs. Right debate – which is always great for traffic and terrible for my faith in humanity – has little room to begin. *[on a similar note, talk about God’s saving work in the world without discussing Calvinism vs. Arminianism]
- Comment Less on Other Blogs – This one I feel a little bad about. There are so many brilliant blogs out there and I only keep track of a handful (at least for my own personal reading). Blogging is a community activity, or at least it can be, and when you don’t invest time in the community that tends to bode poorly for your chances of reciprocity in the form of comments, traffic, and links.
- Don’t Treat your Blog as a “Platform” to Promote your “Brand” – This is the big one. I followed the advice of the blogging experts and did a lot of work promoting my blog through Facebook, Twitter, and guest-posting. And you know what? It worked. It worked very well in fact. But I really dislike self-promotion, and I felt like I was losing something important and indefinable in the process. So I stopped, and I’m glad I did.
And there you have it – defy the “best practices” advice of the blogging experts and you too can cut back on your traffic in 6 Easy Steps!