The Deep, Dark Blog Hole and How to Avoid Getting Sucked In : Under30CEO The Deep, Dark Blog Hole and How to Avoid Getting Sucked In : Under30CEO
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The Deep, Dark Blog Hole and How to Avoid Getting Sucked In

| October 21, 2010 | 25 Comments

Not so long ago, we started a blog. The goal was simple: get the word out about our new business venture, and gain an audience before launching a product in the coming months. It all sounded so simple. Create good content. Work on SEO. Comment. Guest post. Build a community.

No one warned us of the vortex we would fall into — the anxiety over posting, the drenching sweat while watching Google Analytics, the endless brainstorms for the “perfect title.” Do I have enough traffic? Have I left enough comments? You can almost feel the tension on the back-end of WordPress as you surf the blogosphere. We too spent hours of otherwise-productive time scrutinizing the small things.

We call that vortex the “Blog Hole” — the place where you find yourself, detached from reality, focusing on all the wrong things that won’t get your business where it needs to be. If you’re starting to wonder, “What comes first? My business or my blog?” then keep reading.

Give Yourself a Reality Check

When you get dressed for the day you probably pay attention to what you’re wearing — you at least try to match. But once you leave the house, how often do you notice other people’s outfits? Your blog is no different. Sure, people are reading and watching, but not as closely as you think. The difference in “5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Blog” and “5 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Blog” is not going to make or break you (or your SEO, for that matter).

Realize that your blog should work for your business, not control it. If you’re tapping your fingers, waiting for the results from your last Feedburner campaign, then that’s a sure sign you’ve fallen into the Blog Hole. It’s a vast and addictive arena — there is a certain thrill from watching your subscriptions go up and checking to see who clicked open your email updates. But it’s also a danger zone — and in order to get out, you need to prioritize.

Prioritize by Income Stream

A lucky few make money blogging. The rest of us use blogs as a marketing tool for our main income source, which is our product or service. Ask yourself exactly why you’re blogging — define it. Then, focus on your reason for blogging, not blogging itself.

  • A blog is a marketing tactic. The effectiveness of marketing has been debated for years, because the truth is, you’re never going to know exactly how much or how often your marketing scheme is affecting your sales. Nevertheless, marketing is a critical aspect of all businesses.
  • Your product or service is king. You can market the hell out of your offer, but if your offer isn’t  good, then you can bet your customers won’t come back. After all, the most valuable aspect of a growing business is the repeat customer. Loyalty is gained through experienced trust, so make certain your product is stellar before you make certain your blog is the cat’s pajamas.

Get Regular

Every “how to blog” article on the ‘net will tell you the same thing: post regularly. Keeping a regular schedule is good for all aspects of your blog. Post on set days, and check your stats on set days. Things aren’t going to change much from one day to the next, and if by chance they do, you can always go back to your Analytics.

There is a definite ego-boost attached with blogging and realizing that others care about what you have to say. It takes a bit of determination at first, but quell your need to see what people think of you immediately. You’ll save time, save your ego, and break free of that Blog Hole addiction.

Realize that Perfection is Overrated

If blogging is your main source of income, then of course it makes sense for you to get sucked into the vortex every once in a while. But for the rest of us, realize that your blog is just one platform for communicating with potential buyers. We think it’s safe to say they would much rather spend money on a “perfect product” rather than reading a free “perfect blog.”

This is all a prime example of not sweating the small stuff. If the border around the photo on your About Me page isn’t perfectly spaced, take a deep breath and move on. You’re better off making sure your product shipment was delivered on time.

At the end of the day, great products sell, and great blogs help sell those products. How do you find your balance, and avoid the Blog Hole?

Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead are start-up entrepreneurs currently pursuing fair trade fashion in Central America. Their own ‘blog hole’ can be found at www.allofusrevolution.com.

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  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    I am definitely in the “Blog Vortex.” I don’t worry so much about the title of an article but getting the articles out. Making them original and unique. Providing ways for people to get in touch with me. Trying to add video and entertainment while maintaining professionalism…

    Oh yeah, and I’m a local insurance agent blogging about Insurance which the general public could care less about for the most part…

    So I’m obsessed with figuring out ways to make Insurance interesting. Trying to put articles together that non-insurance industry folk will find interesting and useful…

    It is hard to pull myself away some times… But unfortunately at this point Insurance doesn’t sell itself…

    I feel like Luke Skywalker standing over that big Pit-Monster Thing is Return of the Jedi…

    Thanks,

    Ryan H., http://www.RyanHanley.com

  • http://blog.clearrisk.com/ Paul Durdle

    I agree, Ryan, I feel the same way. Trying to make insurance interesting to the general public is a daunting task. There are some great tips in this post though, thanks!

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  • http://www.Entreprenant.us Entreprenant Us

    Good insight here Kristin/Shannon. I think one thing to keep in mind is that blogging in general is a learning experience. Every time you write original content you end up (perhaps subconsciously) learning something about your industry, business, customers, etc. If you can make money doing this than all the better. Thanks.

  • http://www.giftasmile.com Giftasmile

    I agree :-)

  • http://twitter.com/ZackShapiro Zack Shapiro

    Staying regular with your writing is great for your blog. You keep content going and the audience around. I try to write 5 days a week. It’s fun to push out a blog post.

    Good post.
    ZS

  • http://twitter.com/alissadale Alissa Dale

    Amen! I’ve totally been down that blog hole – and I’m not even marketing a product, just living my life and sharing experiences!

  • http://twitter.com/alissadale Alissa Dale

    Oh my, Ryan, can I just say that there should be more people out there writing about insurance and trying to make it understandable? I work in healthcare and our patients are young adults. ADULTS don’t understand health insurance and I’m supposed to help KIDS understand it? Huge kudos to you!

  • http://twitter.com/WritersKitchen Lorraine Thompson

    As a copywriter, I struggle to push the “publish” button on imperfect posts. But I force myself to do it. Otherwise I’d never post at all, let alone regularly—one of my key blogging goals.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have time to fine-comb blog posts as I do client marketing materials. And to your post’s point, it’s not necessary.

    There is ridiculously little difference between “5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Blog” and “5 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Blog.”

    What’s more—a painful truth: Literary standards are lower in the blogosphere than in publishing and advertising. On blogs, heartfelt, informed and useful communications are contents’ quality criteria, rather than clever hooks, tight structure or even perfectly proofread text.

    I feel the old copy editors shaking their heads sadly. And it is sad to see standards decline. But they are standards of a different medium.

  • http://www.allofusrevolution.com Kristin

    Entreprenant Us – You’re so right, even through the small mistakes blogging has been invaluable – not for the traffic, but for the learning experience. Getting the word out has just been an added bonus!

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Alissa, Thank you. At first I thought you were kidding… Most people don’t think its cool that I write about insurance.

    Health Insurance is a very complicated topic. A lot of people talk about it but very few have a firm grip especially with the Reform coming in 2014. I want to believe it will help but I just don’t see it working. I hope I’m wrong about that. Good luck, it sounds like you are doing fantastic work!

  • http://www.allofusrevolution.com Shannon

    Lorraine, lower literary standards are something that I’m constantly struggling with in the blogosphere too. I was a journalism major in college and after four years of having the most specific rules nailed into my brain, it’s been a battle to let go of the ‘grammar stuff’ when there are more important things to worry about.

    I agree that it’s sad to see the standards decline, but I think there should be a happy middle ground. No one wants to read a blog post full of spelling errors and run-on sentences, and more importantly, who would even take it seriously?

    I don’t think I’ll ever fully let go of my red ink :)

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I think a lot of building community/driving traffic and going to networking events needs to have a focus and a goal. My goal isn’t 20,000 Twitter followers–my goal is to help every young entrepreneur on the planet. But how does that make us money? It’s a delicate balance between going after your mission/curating community around that mission and bringing in revenue and moving your company in the right direction.

    A lot of small business owners don’t see the ROI in the social media because they view it as a big dark hole, but setting your goals around revenue, customer service and qualified leads is incredibly important.

    It’s also important to set limits on your time and make sure the rest of your time is focused on income producing activities!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Ryan, I think that it’s great that a small business owner can produce content that is truly helpful to your target market. Is your blog on your card? Do you interact on Facebook with potential clients? Do people get value out of what you put up there and do they see you as a source for information so it drives you more educated, qualified leads? You should use the leverage of your blog to start writing for local newspapers and magazines where you will be in front of the general public and drive you more business. Grow that credibility!

  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    I agree her Shannon, people are so busy that our standards start to decrease and we see a constant struggle between perfectionism and simply getting the word out to as many people as possible. It’s a tough balance that we struggle with here at Under30CEO all the time. We try to do our best with the limited resources we have!

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Matt,

    I went to a local copy shop and bought an Ink Stamp that says “Please Visit http://www.RyanHanley.com” and I stamp everything with it. My cards, policies, thank you letters, etc. I do use facebook as much as I can. I am trying to be more diligent. I use Twitter a lot for connecting with local businesses and news makers. I’ve found a lot of value in Twitter.

    I think your idea about the Newspapers is a great one. I’m working on that.

    Thanks again for all the content you guys produce. This site is a fantastic resource for people like me!

  • http://twitter.com/seobro Seo Bro

    Yeah, blogs can be a time sink and then some more. Frankly, we have to regulate resource use.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530630178 Christina Watkins

    I blog all the time and I am addicted to my analytics. I love checking them in the morning it’s like my cup of coffee. I love blogging! I don’t know whether the blog comes first or the business. I have them sorta working side by side (they itch each others back) My blogging is about my business, so it’s beneficial to keep everything closely linked.

  • http://www.samdiener.com Sam Diener

    hmm — coming from a guy who has been there, one GREAT way to get out of the vortex is to turn off your comments!

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  • http://www.TheMadtoLive.com Lauren Rains

    Kristin and Shannon,
    A friend of mine sent me your email and I must say, I think I read it at just the right time! I just launched my own blog recently and got sucked into the blog hole vortex even before I pressed GO! – aiming for perfection on every little detail of the site and trying so hard to do this and that it was almost becoming less fun and more work!
    Which is crazy! Because one of the most fun things about blogging is you get to connect with and talk with people that care about the same interests and passions and information that you’re talking about! Sometimes it can feel like a never-ending contest to get your name out there, but, you’re right, if we stick to the basics and remember WHY we are writing be to for money, fun, marketing a product or service, or just to rant every once in awhile, well, then avoiding that big blog hole will be a lot easier!

    Thanks for a great post and a nice reality check!
    Looking forward to checking out your fair trade stuff from CA after adding my comment!
    Congrats on the business startup! Entrepreneurs ROCK! Especially Fair Trade ones!!!!
    LAUREN :)

  • http://www.TheMadtoLive.com Lauren Rains

    Pushing the Publish button on a new blog post is one of my favorite accomplishments of the day!! :P

  • http://www.TheMadtoLive.com Lauren Rains

    Pushing the Publish button on a new blog post is one of my favorite accomplishments of the day!! :P

  • http://twitter.com/LivLunaNews LivLuna

    great article Shannon & Kristin!!! so feeling it, am in the LivLuna black hole vortex….

  • Arlene Marie Daniels

    Thanks for the insight. It applies not only to blogging I think, but to all tasks in general. It’s so easy to get sucked in and get lost in things. As mentioned in http://www.depressionatwork.com, it can even cause one to get stressed, even depressed. Which are both never good things. Thanks again for the post!