What to Do When Your Blog Growth Plateaus

From Jeff: This is a guest post by my friend Adam McLane. Adam writes daily on issues of faith, church leadership, and youth ministry at adammclane.com. When he’s not building websites for Youth Specialties, he is helping bloggers and brands take their next step at McLane Creative.

With every flash of the cursor your patience wears thin. You sit down to write a post but nothing comes out. Before you begin writing you first chase a series of negative thoughts which have overtaken your mind.

A quick glance at the clock and you mutter under your breath as you take the first sip of your second cup of coffee,“Why do I do this? Am I just wasting my time? Is anyone even reading this? Is what I’m saying making a difference to anyone?”

Blog Growth Plateau
Photo credit: Michael Wifall (Creative Commons)

The cursor continues to flash at you like a red light on a rural intersection.

You need to begin. But the words just won’t flow.

This is a tense moment of self-reflection for a blogger. I know it well. It is not the periodic writer’s block that comes with regularly exercising your creative voice.

It’s deeper than that. It’s a deep dissatisfaction and realization that your content is better than the response it is getting.

Many bloggers mislabel this as burnout. In fact it is merely a plateau. If you fight through it and make some changes, your blog can suddenly hop up to the next step and gain a new, deeper measure of respect from your audience. Give into it? And you’re just another one of the millions of blogs which litter the internet.

Just as a mountain climber would evaluate what equipment it will take to summit to the next step, a blogger must also utilize these times on the plateau to retool.

A plateau isn’t time to quit. Nor is it a time for self-pity. Instead, a plateau is a resting spot to re-evaluate your strategy to summit the next step in your blogging career.

When You’re on a Blog Plateau…

Here are five actions to take when you hit that point of stagnancy:

1. Keep moving forward

Emotionally, it stinks to see numbers flatten and dip or engagement with your posts drop. But you just have to keep writing.

Even if you have to lie to yourself and say that you only blog for yourself, do that.

2. Be playful

The joy of WordPress is that there are bajillions of plugins, themes, and settings to chose from. Several times I’ve nearly had T-shirts printed just so I could learn how build a store for my blog.

3. Spend some money

Nothing will spark your interest in your blog quite like spending some money on a new theme or upgrade your hosting.

This is the same reason I like to walk around REI and debate buying a kayak before deciding on a water bottle instead.

4. Read a book

Are you patronizing me, McLane? No! It works.

Every time I’m experiencing a plateau in my writing I find that reading a book which has nothing to do with what I write about helps.

Something about 200 pages of a Dostoevsky novel convinces me that my writing career is worth continuing.

5. Do something different

Sometimes a blog plateau is a wake up call that you’ve become boring or predictable. Recognize that doing the same thing won’t magically produce different results.

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A lot of you have asked me about switching to WordPress self-hosted and getting a custom-designed blog, so here’s your chance.

Adam just launched a service that migrates your current blog to a self-hosted WordPress install and customizes any template to make it your own. Find out more at his website by clicking here.

You may also enjoy this book: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (affiliate link)