Upon reading a recent Search Engine Land post regarding blogs and why so many fail, I felt it was time to take a quick stock of how the blog – and by extension, its audio-form cousin, the podcast – landscapes have changed, and what factors impact their success.
Part of the reason blogs and podcasts (which is now a market that’s just as saturated) fail is because the creation of the content is only part of the work. It’s the same as any business – you have to use your network, call in favors, and post ads (in this case, links) in order to actively promote it. I have asked friends for retweets, and have had friends ask their friends for retweets. I don’t do it for every post of course; but if you have something exciting that you believe in, then self-promote. No one else will do it for you. And don’t just use Twitter and Facebook – reach out to fan sites, other blogs, message boards and directories. This isn’t to say you should spam your link, but there’s nothing wrong with a friendly, “I thought you might be interested in this” email or post. Over time, people will become fans and revisit.
Relying on search to drive blog (or podcast) popularity is antiquated. Don’t misunderstand – writing SEO friendly titles, URLs, and using the right keywords help, especially for long-tail visits. But you need to be pretty active to make one of these things a success – as detailed above – unless you happen to be one of the few entrants in a space, and then people may find you. There’s a surprisingly small number of, for example, New York Rangers-themed podcasts. My guess is that I could start one tomorrow and build up a sizable audience after a few months. But that’s not all.
Scheduling is extremely important in a blog or podcast’s identity. If you start out as a blog with daily updates, and then fall off that schedule, whatever readers you have will most likely abandon your site for something else. Maintaining a constant presence is of utmost importance if that’s the identity you want your blog to have. If you write weekly, high-impact insights, that’s fine. But pick a schedule and stick with it. The same goes for podcasts – as soon as you miss a show, you’re giving your audience a reason to find a more reliable program. This may seem like simple, obvious advice, but failing to adhere to an established schedule is one of the biggest reasons why blogs fail or never achieve their potential.
It really always comes down to content. If you put in the work and come up with content that no one else has, people will visit even if you have to bring the link to them. And there’s nothing wrong with that, really. If I started a Rangers podcast, I could sit in my living room and record me and some friends talking about the last game. That might get me a following. But what about if I reached out to the Rangers and got Derek Stepan as a guest? Or tried to get a press badge for not just games, but other NHL events? Or went to an away game and interviewed fans of the opposing team? It would make for content no other podcast has. The same is true for blogs.
You have to assume that someone is writing a blog similar to yours, and he or she is just as good a writer. If that’s the case, you need a differentiating factor – something you do on your blog that they don’t. Maybe it’s interviews, maybe it’s something else. Think of something you look forward to most in a magazine, and try and make that happen on your own blog.
Ultimately, you’ll get out what you put in. And that goes for quality content, and then getting out there and pushing it.