Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

A guest post by Kiesha Easley of WeBlogBetter.

I was sitting by the river on such a beautiful day – so sunny, it looked like someone had sprinkled glitter on the water’s surface.

A perfect breeze carried the sounds of jazz and the buzz of a pontoon boat as it floated by. I wanted to trade in my limited access to the shore and join the boat party.

A blog is a lot like a boat. It enables you to reach places you couldn’t otherwise. It is a connector. It’s a VIP pass to the hidden parts of the globe – uninhabited islands and cool caverns. A boat allows you to do the impossible – try stepping into a pool of water and see how well you stay afloat.

My blog gives me that kind of access. It allows me to reach the unreachable without ever leaving my home. It gives me direct access to people I wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise.

But, just like a boat, it can sink rather quickly without the proper care.

I’ve seen blogs come, skyrocket rapidly and then disappear even faster. In the year in a half that I’ve been blogging I’ve been hit by bushels of tumble weeds as popular blogs turn into ghost towns over night.

I’ve had my share of times when I question why I bother at all. Times when I’ve run aground and got stuck in the muck of too many bloggers blogging about blogging in the blogosphere.

Those are the times when I have to pull out my little row of creativity and unique personality to help me dislodge myself from the crowd.

Okay, I’ll admit, that might be stretching it, but to keep your blogging boat afloat, sometimes you’ve got to stretch things – stretch your imagination; stretch your brain; and anything else that can get you beyond the limits of the shore.

To keep your blog afloat, you’ve got to do what you do best.
For me, that’s writing in creative and fresh ways. I might not be able to come up with some new and unheard of way to drive massive traffic, but I can create a fun reading experience that inspires others to think in new ways.

Throw unnecessary weight overboard.
If you’ve been blogging about a little bit of everything, stop and start focusing one area. If you’ve been writing blog posts that are long enough to be an ebook, think about ways to break it up into more manageable parts.

Don’t be afraid to get more than your feet wet.
Sometimes you have to get out of the shallows and move into deeper territory. If you haven’t already, try guest posting. There are more benefits than link building – you can build some of the best relationships with some of the best bloggers, simply by guest posting.

So what will you do to keep your blog boat afloat? Where will your blog take you?

Bio: Kiesha is the author of A Step by Step Guide to a Better Blog and blogs at WeBlogBetter. She’s a technical writer, writing instructor, and blog consultant. Connect with her on Twitter and subscribe to her newsletter.

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69 Responses to Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  1. Harriet September 9, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    I think this is where I’ve gone wrong in the past, I’ve started numerous blogs and I’ve always given up on them because there will always come a point when I won’t have time to write and then I’ll get further and further behind. Thanks for the tips though, I’ll bookmark them and come back to them if I ever start a blog again :)
    Harriet recently posted..Used TAG Heuer Aquaracer

  2. Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Hi Harriet. It sounds like if you do start another blog that taking things slow and easy will be a good idea. That way, you can’t ever really get ‘behind’ because there aren’t any expectations. Hope you have a great day!

  3. Katie September 9, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    There’s a peaceful feeling about your post. The imagery of floating is lovely and makes me feel good about my direction — heading towards my dreams, keeping it light and being fearless. I like this very much. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Kiesha.
    Katie recently posted..Goodbye Swiss Cheese- Hello Swiss Chard

  4. T. September 9, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head. The key to keeping your blog momentum going both for your readers AND for yourself is to shake things up occasionally. If you, as the writer are becomeing bored with your stuff, then how do you expect a reader to feel. Blogging, for me, is about self-expression and connecting with great people and great writers.

    I have four pieces of advice:

    1. add new features, be creative, be crazy, if they work – yay..if not, so what – do something else.

    2. Write about what you love and what you HATE.

    3. Always connect with your readers via comments, twitter, Facebook etc. – this is not so much to help build readership loyalty (although it does), but more than that, it feels good, it keeps you engaged and motivated, and gives you a sense of not being alone in the wilderness of the blogosphere.

    4. Read other blogs…they are your lifeline.
    T. recently posted..My Best Writing Advice – Just Shut Up

  5. A. Tatum September 9, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    I can say that when I first started out I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go, but I love gadgets and anything technology so soon I realized that was the ticket for me. I also found myself being called by friends and neighbors to help them with issues. Now it’s just a matter of managing my time. I’m in the military and have a family so I don’t always get the amount of time I would like to spend on my blog but I’m working on it.

    • Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter September 9, 2010 at 9:18 am #

      Hi A,
      Don’t worry, spending time with family is most important anyway. I try to stay as organized as I can and keep a To-Do List, but I rarely stick to it entirely. But it still helps.
      Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter recently posted..My blogging dreams- Does this mean I need blogging rehab

    • Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 9:28 am #

      Hi A. I’m glad you’ve found a good fit for a topic. You’ll figure out the time management issues as you go along–it’s a continual balancing act but having a rich, full life generally makes for richer, fuller posts.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  6. Farnoosh September 9, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Lovely writing voice, sweet analogies, beautiful and captivating, Kiesha….Although I do prefer to think of my blog as a yacht…is that ok? It’s probably the only yacht I’ll ever have and to that point, the maintenance is as high as it is for yours truly – one high-maintenance world of care and attention but oh so worth the effort. I am right there with you in seeing the fantastic potential of a blog reaching the ends of the world on our behalf….Thank you for a wonderful write-up!
    Farnoosh recently posted..A New Mindset on Passions and Professions

    • Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter September 9, 2010 at 9:29 am #

      Hi Farnoosh,
      There’s nothing wrong with having a yacht. Besides you never know… you’re virtual yacht might actually make it possible to have a real one…one day!
      Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter recently posted..My blogging dreams- Does this mean I need blogging rehab

    • Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 9:55 am #

      Your blog is most definitely a yacht, Farnoosh! I’m glad you let the rest of us come on board.

  7. rob white September 9, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Hi Keisha,
    What I find great about blogging is that there really are no rules. We have a tendency to impose arbitrary rules on ourselves and before we know it we are stuck. Our most tormenting days are when we insist there are no alternatives to our rules… if we listen to our inner voice and express ourselves authentically, who can say what shore our boat will land.

    • Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter September 9, 2010 at 9:48 am #

      Hi Rob,
      I’ll admit it: I’m a rule-breaker. I wouldn’t be able to continue to blog if I had to follow them. I’ve always been this way, my best friend once told me that I’m rebel for no reason… :)
      Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter recently posted..My blogging dreams- Does this mean I need blogging rehab

    • Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 9:57 am #

      Oh man, I know all about those self-imposed rules, Rob. I catch myself falling into that trap a lot, but wiggling out again usually gives me something good to write about :)

  8. Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks to Keisha and Rob for the heads up that the comment system is acting funky. There’s a lag time before they show up, so if you leave a comment and it doesn’t show right away–no worries–it should appear soon. So far no one has ended up in the spam bin today, but I’ll pluck you out if you end up there :)

  9. Wayne Farley September 9, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    I love the parallels that you have drawn. Each of us have to figure out where our strength lie and develop that. There are many kinds of boats, all serving different purposes, so bloggers are served well in a niche where they are competent, rather that just trying to follow the crowd. Many bloggers just repackage posts from other blogs until the run out of fuel, and you never hear from then again…I guess they just sink to the bottom of the sea.
    Wayne Farley recently posted..13 Characteristics of an Air Traffic Controller

    • Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

      I don’t think we have to worry about your boat sinking, Wayne. You’re turbo-charged :)

    • Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter September 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

      Hi Wayne,
      Sinking to the bottom of the sea is an awfully scary thought – that’s what keeps me constantly working – rowing towards my goal.
      Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter recently posted..How to Heal Blog-Related Relationship Rifts

  10. Angela Artemis September 9, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Kiesha, I really enjoyed this post! I never thought of my blog “as a boat that allowed me to reach placed I otherwise wouldn’t.” I love that idea!

    I love the voyages I’ve been on and look forward to many more long trips!
    Angela Artemis recently posted..Who Creates Your Economy

  11. Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe September 9, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Very good points, Keisha.

    The one that hit home for me is to narrow your focus.

    It might sound like a fun idea to blog about this and that; however, not so much fun for your audience.

    Let’s face it, we read blogs to find usable information. If I find a blogger that is all over the place, I find it hard to rely on whether their next post will teach me anything about anything or not.

    Predictability of a niche or blog topic is huge, in my opinion.

    I think both Jean and Keisha are doing just that on their respective blogs: providing info that is usable and within a framework of a specific niche.

    Ana hoffman
    Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe recently posted..How To Use Google To Help You Convince Your List To Buy From You

    • Jean Sarauer September 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

      Hi Ana. I found your comment in the spam bin tonight :( That doggone Akismet does go overboard, and not just when there’s a blog post about boats either! In any event, thank you for your lovely comment!

  12. Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe September 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    I can’t believe I misspelled Kiesha’s name – so sorry!

  13. Keith Davis September 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Hi Kiesha
    Congratulations on your guest post and thanks for the tips.
    I do concentrate on a specific area on my own blog but your encouragement to get out and try a few guest posts may make me do just that.
    Keith Davis recently posted..Two way traffic

    • Jean Sarauer September 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

      You would make an awesome guest poster, Keith. With your writing ability and your natural ability to connect with others you’d have tons of guest posting success!

      • Keith Davis September 9, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

        Jean
        After Arvind’s outrageous success as a guest poster… most of us have been scared off.
        207 comments and still counting!
        Keith Davis recently posted..Two way traffic

    • Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter September 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

      Hi Keith,
      Glad to hear you’re inspired! Let me know how it works out – and consider yourself invited to my blog anytime! :)
      Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter recently posted..How to Heal Blog-Related Relationship Rifts

  14. Jered September 9, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Hey Kiesha,

    Great tips. Reading your post I had Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” song stuck in my head!

    “Sailing
    Takes me away
    To where I’ve always heard it could be
    Just a dream and the wind to carry me
    And soon I will be free…”

    Any tips on what to do when you get sea sick? lol
    Jered recently posted..The Leadership of Reverend Terry Jones

  15. Jimmy September 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    You are doing a great job. Your boat will keep floating because you are very interesting to read. You seem to lift my day when nothing else can. You make me think and you make me laugh. You really have the gift of blog.

  16. Aileen September 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    “to keep your blogging boat afloat, sometimes you’ve got to stretch things – stretch your imagination; stretch your brain; and anything else that can get you beyond the limits of the shore.”
    Wonderful words of inspiration Kiesha!
    Aileen recently posted..9-11 How I Relived the Tragedy and Discovered Humanity

  17. Sandra Lee September 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Kiesha,

    A very charming analogy! I always hear about all these blogs that have gone bust, but I’ve never witnessed one myself. Guess I will just have to believe.

    I like your suggestions to write in a creative and fresh way. I’m also guilty of writing posts long enough to be an e-book! You’ve given me some things to think about. Thanks so much.
    Sandra Lee recently posted..Buddhist teacher warns of impending environmental catastrophe

  18. Jake LaCaze September 10, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    So, so, SO true! I need to keep my blog afloat.
    Jake LaCaze recently posted..Beware The Company You Keep

  19. Tess Bold Life September 10, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Kiesha,
    This post is fresh, fun and relaxing…a great way to feel before writing my next blog post!
    Tess Bold Life recently posted..Naked in Eden with Robin Easton

  20. Ryan Biddulph September 10, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Kiesha,

    You really are everywhere 😉

    Sound advice here. Play to your talents and like-minded people will find your blog. This has been my experience.

    When I tried to be like other bloggers my readership dropped. When I wrote about things which I have a passion for it picked up. Such is the benefit of answering God’s calling.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..How to Slap Your Next Blog Post Out of the Park

    • Jean Sarauer September 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

      Hi Ryan. I found your comment in the spam bin along with Ana’s from up above. Sorry about that!

      I’m glad you’re walking your own path – there’s only one you and that’s who you were put here to be!

  21. {Grow With} Stacy September 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Great points, thank you for sharing!

    I especially like your second point! I have just started thinking about the idea of having a series of posts. I think it’s a great way to keep your readers involved and active!
    {Grow With} Stacy recently posted..A Fun Way to Avoid Proctrastination

  22. Allan Douglas September 11, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    What am I doing? I’m looking at your tip on lightening the load. I have interest in a wide variety of topics and I tended to blog a little about this and a little about that. And this seems to appeal to a few people who also have ecclectic interests. But, finding something to focus on and developing a niche interest is a topic I’ve seen pop up SO many times lately. Unfortunately, the niche that I’m *really* good at (building custom furniture) develops a fair following of readers, but these readers are not ad clickers nor will they pay to subscribe. So, to monetise my blog I need to choose another of my interests and try to become expert enough about that to develop a following. One topic I will not be trying is blogging about blogging or MMO, these topics are SO bloated already. But they do seem to be the ones that develop large followings as people try to climb onboard the gravy train.
    Allan Douglas recently posted..Barn Raising

    • Jean Sarauer September 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

      Hi Allan. Finding the right niche is a challenge sometimes. I wish I could come up with some brain sparks as far as ways to monetize that custom furniture idea of yours, as I love when people can follow their passion.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  23. Walter September 11, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    If there’s one thing I have learned about blogging that is knowing my own weakness. Since I started blogging, I have discovered things about myself that I would not have otherwise known. For me, thriving in blogging is a test of one’s character. Many times I want to give in to the idea of defeat, yet I have also learned that perseverance separates the winners from the losers. :-)

    • Jean Sarauer September 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

      Walter, I agree with you so much! Blogging is like a mirror for me. I keep learning things about myself in such surprising way–what I am attracted to, what I fear, where I have or lack confidence, etc. And you’re right that perseverance is a major key to success.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  24. Cole Stan September 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    To be successful in blogging, a blogger must find ways to attract readers and to encourage them in building a discussion. Thinking that exploring things can be dangerous will only hinder you, as a blogger, from creating new plans that can help you and your site to be more successful than ever.
    Cole Stan recently posted..Anniversary Gifts for Men – Rock His World with These Romantic Gifts

    • Jean Sarauer September 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

      I love having a rousing discussion after a post goes live, especially when there are a variety of different opinions expressed. We don’t have to agree on everything and it’s better if we don’t because that opens the door to learning more.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  25. Devesh September 12, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    Really Great Post kiesha And awesome points.

    I really like your last point.
    Guest posting is just much more than getting links.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post. You’re doing awesome work everywhere !

    ~Dev

  26. Peter J September 12, 2010 at 2:49 am #

    Great idea behind throwing of the excess weight and it doesn’t just have to be about the niche your in, you might also decide to reduce the widgets in our sidebar or something?

    • Jean Sarauer September 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

      There are all kinds of things we could throw overboard, aren’t there? Too much clutter or negative or in-the-box type of thinking. We all have something we could pitch over the rails.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  27. Dia September 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Hi Jean and Kiesha,

    I like the points that you shared. Building relationships is crucial and it is always a very nice thing to do. Also coming with new ideas always is helpful for any blog. Thanks for sharing
    Dia recently posted..Characteristics of the successful people

    • Jean Sarauer September 12, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

      Hi Dia. I think relationship building is key. I just wish there was more time to do it! There are SO many good people (like you) that I want to get to know better.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Don’t Let Your Blogging Boat Sink!

  28. Lauren September 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Dear Keisha,

    Excellent post! As a newbie blogger (Feb. 2010) I’ve adjusted over the months. Quitting has never been an option yet I’ve had moments of exhaustion.

    How did I cope? After a few months of 12-15 hour days getting to know about blogging and posting 3 times per week, I went to 1 time per week.

    Summer is my fave time and I took time off to visit family, boogie board, dance, play djembe, be with friends – in other words, I restored balance.

    I think it was “balanced” to spend these long hours initially as I was passionate and it was what was required. I had the energy to give. Yet, it would have been foolish to try to continue that pace.

    I realized that I could slow down a little and take my time. I didn’t need to know “everything” all at once. I could relax and trust that all would evolve just fine – and it has all along.

    Thanks for reminding we bloggers to take care of ourselves! I have a good friend who helps me get back on track and focus when I forget.

    The best has been the wonderful, supportive relationships with other bloggers. What a fantastic world the blogger world is!

    Warm regards,
    Lauren

    • Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter September 14, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

      Hi Lauren,
      I remember spending those 12-15 hour days on the computer in the beginning…whew! I’m so glad it gets better – it’s almost as if the more time you invest in the beginning, the less you have to once things get going good. Now I save those long hours for when I’m ready to push my blog through a growth spurt to get to the next level.
      Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter recently posted..WeBlogBetter’s Birthday Celebration Cash Give-away!!

    • Jean Sarauer September 16, 2010 at 11:40 am #

      Laura, congrats on making it through those first months of blogging. Many bloggers never do, so that’s an accomplishment to be celebrated.

      I applaud you for slowing down to a pace that works for you. Flexibility is a big plus on this path!
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..Four Critical Components to Your Blog’s Success

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