These five blogging problems can destroy your blog, learn how to prevent them or how to prepare
Blogging is hard work. You have to juggle a million different tasks from writing to graphic design, outreach and accounting.
Unless you’ve got the money to buy an established blog, you’re going to be running your blog for a while before it starts producing any real income.
But after all the blogging problems and challenges, it eventually pays off. You start building a base of regular readers and Google finally starts showing you a little love in search rankings.
It took a year to break the $1,000 a month mark on my blogs but less than three years in and I’m averaging just over $6,000 in monthly blogging income.
You’ve finally reached the point where you feel like your blog is a success…and then the unthinkable happens.
You’re hit with one of the five blogging nightmares everyone dreads.
I’m not talking about the constant blogging problems like how to increase traffic or make more money. I’m talking about that moment you go to check your blog traffic and scream, “Oh Shit!”
These blogging nightmares can destroy your confidence and cause you to fall into a depression that will end your blog.
Talk with some of the old-timer bloggers and you’ll realize it’s something we all must deal with eventually. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare for these blogging problems and some steps you can take to avoid them altogether.
Every Blogger’s Nightmare: The Broken Blog
The story is more terrifying than any episode of The Twilight Zone. You turn on your computer to check your blog…and you sit staring at a page that sends chills down your spine.
Unless you’ve spent the time to learn some basic tech troubleshooting for your blog, this screen can be one of the worst nightmares you’ll ever face. You might have no idea what happened to your blog or how to even begin fixing it.
You may not even know it for a while. Unless you check in on your blog regularly, it could be days before you realize…there is no blog.
There are three common causes to the broken site:
- An updated plugin caused something to break
- Your host’s server is down
- You’ve been hacked!
Every blog should have a backup plugin, a program that saves a copy of your website regularly and stores it on Google Drive or in some other storage. UpdraftPlus is a free plugin that can backup to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google and other storage spaces.
Having a backup of your site will save your blog someday. You or a developer might be working on the site or something happens that completely breaks the blog.
You should also register your blog on UptimeRobot, a free monitoring service that will send you an email if your blog goes down.
Avoiding nasty plugin updates can usually be controlled by waiting a couple of days when an update gets released. Let another blogger discover that the update doesn’t work well and save yourself the headache. Get active in a blogger group on Facebook so you can watch for posts warning others of a bad plugin update.
Server outages happen often at some of the cheap webhosting companies that try to pack as many sites as possible onto their hardware. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks each month to get better service at a premium hosting provider.
A security plugin like Wordfence Security or iThemes Security is a must to protect your blog but nothing is going to guarantee against a hack attack. Change your password regularly and delete old users that no longer need access.
If you aren’t a techie then you need to know one. You might not need to have someone on retainer but have a list of at least two or three people that offer tech services to bloggers. Start with a few recommendations from your blogging community and narrow it down to a few that can take care of your blog at a moment’s notice.
You Lose Your Passion for Blogging
While a broken blog will destroy your website immediately, losing interest in your blog can mean a slow death.
You’re going to be writing on your blog a lot so it better come from a topic in which you have a real passion. If you don’t enjoy talking about your blog’s topic then it’s no better than a traditional 9-to-5 job and you probably don’t need the frustration of being self-employed.
Even the strongest passion can start to fade after years of blogging. When that happens…your blog is in big trouble.
There will be days when you just feel burnt out on your blog. You’ll struggle to think of things to write and even the content you manage to produce won’t be very good.
One way to avoid losing passion for your blog is to expand the niche and topic on which you write. I see a lot of one-dimensional blogs that cover one narrow subject…and that’s it.
Covering one topic works well for SEO because Google sees you as a subject matter expert but it can be a drag talking about the same thing all the time. I caught myself drifting into different topics on my personal finance blog, PeerFinance101, in 2016 so I split it into three blogs. That allowed me to talk about everything that interested me (investing, personal finance and making money) but I was able to keep each blog focused on a narrow topic.
Keeping your passion and keeping your blog growing.
Joining a blogger community is critical to your success and I recommend all bloggers go to at least one conference a year, preferably a conference centered on bloggers around your niche. Joining a blogger community not only helps keep you motivated during all those days sitting alone at your computer but the other bloggers will be a huge resource for tips and outreach.
Finally, nothing motivates like success.
“Gee, I’ll just be more successful. Ok.” I know, it doesn’t sound like much of a solution but there are ways to jumpstart your blog’s success. I know a lot of bloggers that got burnt out because they weren’t making the kind of money they expected. The solution then is to put all your time in to creating a few more products. Put a book or video course together, anything you can create in a couple of months and start making more money.
Check out these four steps to self-publishing that makes writing a book easy.
Google Slaps Your Blog with a Search Penalty
Search traffic is hugely important for any website, accounting for upwards of 80% for some blogs.
The problem is, you’re up to Google’s mercy for all that traffic. Google can change its mind on search rankings whenever it pleases…and does so often.
Quickly decreasing search traffic to your blog is usually from one of two events, Google changes the way its ranking algorithm works or one of its techies slaps your site with a manual penalty.
There are quite a few reasons your blog might suffer after an algorithm change or through a penalty.
- Forms and pop-ups block a large portion of your site whenever someone clicks through
- Your blog doesn’t work well on mobile
- You heavily use sponsored and affiliate links without tagging them as nofollow
- You post links back to your blog on many low-quality sites
The best way to avoid this blogging problem is to understand Google’s intent when it ranks a page. It wants to show the best quality answer to someone’s question (search). Showing only quality answers (websites) when someone searches will mean continued use of the search engine which translates into billions of advertising dollars for the company.
Naturally, Google is going to fight anyone that attempts to interfere with their ranking. This includes sites that don’t offer a good user experience, through poor site design or spammy posts, or sites that try to build off-site links to increase their ranking.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do off-page SEO. If you aren’t link-building for your blog, you aren’t going to outrank sites that have been around for years and have already built up their domain authority through links.
But you must do the RIGHT kind of SEO and link-building. You have to do manual link-building that targets quality sites to get natural links through guest posting, outreach and broken link-building.
Real search engine optimization is time-consuming and hard work. You won’t find it from most cheap SEO services you find on Fiverr and freelancing sites. These freelancers are just going to spam your blog’s URL out to low-quality sites and forums and you are going to get hit by a Google penalty.
I put my entire SEO process into Google SEO for Bloggers, a step-by-step guide to getting Google love the right way.
- Learn how to find the keywords that will not only bring you search traffic but will bring readers ready to buy
- Learn how to tell Google exactly which search terms you want to rank for and how to build it naturally into your writing
- Learn the SEO techniques that have helped me rank for more than 1,700 keywords on the first page of Google
Check out what one reader had to say about Google SEO for Bloggers:
Joseph Hogue, huge thank you for your SEO book! It helped teach me the foundational techniques that led to my blog being discovered for my analysis and quotes and published in more than 13 newspapers including USA Today, Stars and Stripes, and Military.com. Saw my web traffic soar as a result and raise my profile considerably. Daniel Kopp, MilitaryLifePlanning.com
Do quality SEO and you’ll not only avoid a Google nightmare but will see your traffic jump!
Your Blog’s Money-Maker Goes Bye-Bye
How do you make money on your blog? Is it through affiliates or sponsored posts? Do you make most of your money from display ads or printables?
What happens when that income source goes away…suddenly?
If you aren’t making money from at least three or four sources, you are setting yourself up for a huge blogging problem.
I make about a third of my money off affiliates. I’ve learned how to write a compelling review and point enough SEO power to a post that I make solid commissions off seven affiliates each month and another 19 that pay out between $25 to $100 a month.
But affiliates and affiliate networks are notorious for terminating partnerships. An affiliate decides the commissions aren’t worth the leads or just has enough business and drops its blogger relationships.
It happens outside of affiliates as well. If you’re relying on Pinterest to send hundreds of thousands of visitors to your site every month, visitors that buy your printables, then what happens when Pinterest changes its algorithm and your traffic drops? What happens when Amazon decides to delist or demote your self-published books?
For affiliates, there’s always the hope that the advertiser termination was a mistake. It happens frequently on affiliate networks and the affiliate is usually back up within a day.
If an important affiliate does decide to drop you from its program, there are two things you can do to protect your blogging income.
- Update the post with a related affiliate. This is hard to do with reviews on a specific affiliate but it can be done with a little rewriting.
- Redirect the blog post to another article with a 301 redirect. This tells Google to pass the search ranking power from one post to another. If your old post was highly ranked but isn’t making any money anymore, passing the search juice to another monetized post could be the answer. Redirects work best when the two posts are related closely by topic.
Of course, the best way to avoid taking a big hit on your blogging income is to diversify across as many sources as possible. I know few bloggers that make enough money from one income source to really be successful.
Here’s how much I make from each income source on a pageview basis per month:
- Display ads like Google Adsense and Amazon average $0.01 per page view
- Affiliates commissions average $0.07 per page view
- Self-publishing averages $200 per book per month or about $0.04 per page view
- Sponsored posts bring in another $0.016 per page view
Some of these pay a fixed fee and don’t necessarily depend on page views but I like to track everything in terms of traffic. It’s immediately obvious that none of these income sources will make you rich unless you have monstrous blog traffic.
Check out this cool infographic to see how your blog traffic compares against other bloggers.
Together though, these four income sources bring in a constant cash flow and one that is growing every year.
Don’t quit at just these four income sources. Check out the recently published Make Money Blogging and nine proven ways bloggers are making money every month.
Each chapter is a step-by-step on how to get started with the income source and how to grow your blogging revenue. The book starts with the easiest and most immediate sources before working up to the big money that will make you a six-figure blogger!
That Dependable Virtual Assistant isn’t so Dependable Anymore
I know bloggers that rely on virtual assistant services to do nearly everything. The blogger still writes content but their VA is then tasked with publishing, graphics, outreach and social media management.
What happens when that VA can’t or won’t work anymore?
It’s not just a what-if scenario for those using a virtual assistant. What happens if something happens and you aren’t able to manage your blog for months due to an illness or a new job?
Blog traffic is extremely resilient so you don’t have to worry about your readership falling off a cliff overnight. I know bloggers that have gone on two- or three-month vacations and their blog was doing just fine when they came back.
But letting your blog go quiet will start to affect your traffic and rankings eventually, especially on the competitive posts that make you the most money.
For this blogging problem, you need what’s called a ‘Business Continuity Plan’.
Every large corporation has a BCP, usually a very detailed one that covers several scenarios including natural disasters, terrorist attacks or departures of key personnel. It’s a guide that management and staff can use to keep the business going in those catastrophic what-if situations.
Your Business Continuity Plan should include:
- Freelancer contacts that can manage the tasks performed by your assistant either on a short-term or a long-term basis
- Tech experts that can handle a range of problems from complete site outage to quick design changes
- Email contacts for all your affiliate networks, publishing platforms, web hosting and a few blogger contacts for quick questions
- A spreadsheet with all your logins and passwords
- A contact list of bloggers that help manage websites and that you can trust to take care of your site for a few weeks or longer if you can’t do it
These aren’t the only blogging problems you’ll face as you build your internet empire but they are definitely the biggest blogging nightmares that can hit with no notice. Remember that blogging is a long-game so don’t freak out if you get hit by a challenge to your site but that doesn’t mean you have to take it easy either. Learn what you can do to minimize these blogging risks or to avoid them altogether.