Recently, a blogger emailed me, saying the following:
My blog won't grow. I've followed all the rules and done all the right things. And still, it won't grow. I've tried everything. I feel stuck. What should I do?
I can empathize. I was in the same situation six months ago.
Sometimes, the answer isn't to try harder. Sometimes, there's nothing left to tweak. And you're left with only one, unfortunate option:
Nine times out of ten, I would recommend that perseverance is the best strategy for blogging.
But every once in awhile, you need to work smarter, not harder. That's what I did. And it made all the difference.
How did I build a successful blog? I quit. I stopped doing one thing so that I could do another.
Surprisingly, it only took six months for this blog to quadruple the traffic it took five years to build on a previous one. And I owe it all to quitting.
If you want to know more about how I did that, read this guest post I wrote for Problogger.
But I don't want to talk about that here. I want to talk about quitting.
When, if ever, is it okay to throw in the towel?
Here are some scenarios:
- You've lost your passion for your subject.
- People aren't inspired by what you're writing.
- Writing is a chore, and once you've done it, you still don't feel any sense of relief.
- No matter how hard you try, you just can't grow. (Assuming, of course, that you're blogging every day, active in social media, and have some semblance of focus in your writing.)
- Your blog design is just bad and there's no way to salvage it.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement to more than one of the above scenarios, that may be a good indicator that it's time.
Time to start over. Time to quit.
Not for the sake of quitting, of course. But for the sake of beginning something new.
“New” is attractive
Remember that there is tremendous risk and hardship involved in doing something new.
But there is also natural momentum.
It's easy to get people on-board with a new idea. New ideas are exciting. Even if they're slightly-rehashed versions of old ones, you will find that an audience rallies around “new.”
We're drawn to novelty; it's attractive.
But you gotta do the work
Make no mistake. This will take a great deal of work.
The surge of adrenaline you feel on launch week of your new blog will not carry you through the months (maybe years) of hardship it will take to get back to where you left off with your old blog.
It will be hard. You will need to hustle.
But once you do that — provided that it's time to quit — you have a road map to follow here.
That said, there are times when it's not time to quit.
When should you stick with your blog?
Here are some scenarios:
- You're burned-out. You need to recover your vision. Remember why you started.
- It's only writer's block. It will pass.
- You're just all-around tired. It has nothing to do with the blog. You just need a vacation.
- You're experiencing The Dip, not the cul-de-sac. It's time to persevere, not quit. (Read this book by Seth Godin for more on this.)
- You're bored.
- You're being criticized, and it's discouraging you to the point that you think you need to quit. If you have critics, this is good — you not only have people reading you, but you have content worthy of being criticized. Congratulations are in order.
- People are genuinely moved by what you write, and they tell you so. It may not be as grandiose as you'd like, but you're changing lives. You should be very cautious of abandoning such a tribe, however small it may be.
Have you ever quit something? Was it the right or wrong choice? How did you know? Share your story in the comments. (Don't forget to get this book — it's the best book I've ever read on quitting and persevering.)
*Photo credit: Mike Broatch (Creative Commons)
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