How to Fail at Blogging

Monday, January 28, 2013

Epic Fail - Scenes from St. Stupid's Day Parade 2012
Image by Gary Stevens via Flickr/Creative Commons

I should be a blogging superstar.

I should have enough sponsors and unique monthly visitors to quit my day job if I wanted to. I should be speaking at blogging conferences across the country. I should have a book deal and a monthly column in my favorite magazine.

But I don't.

I'm not saying I should have these things because I think I'm so awesome that everyone in the blogosphere should love me. I'm saying I've been blogging, in some capacity or another, for over five years and I've read every piece of blogging advice I could get my eyes on along the way.

I'm also good at picking out blogs with great potential. For example, I wrote about Julie Zeilinger when she first started  The F-Bomb, a blog and online community created by and for teenage girls who care about women's rights. Her blog is wildly popular and landed her a book deal. Her book about the next generation of feminism,  “A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word,” was published by Seal Press in the spring of 2012. She's even been a guest on the show of one of my girl crushes Melissa Harris-Perry. Also last year I wrote about Around the Way Curls. They were recently featured Essence magazine and were recognized as one of  the Black Bloggers You Should Know for 2012 by The Root. 

So if I have a wealth of web wisdom stored away in notebooks and an eye for good blogs, why haven't I achieved the success I dream of? That's easy: I don't practice what I preach. Through the years, I haven't been following the very blogging advice I often offer on my own sites.

Here are the top five blogging tips I've failed to follow:

  • Find a niche. The biggest blogging mistake I've made in the past is trying to be everything to everybody. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the more focused your blog is the more likely you are to attract a large and loyal following. Thus, being Feb. 1 this blog will be focused on writing, wellness, and women's empowerment. 
  • Take risks. Along the same lines of trying to be everything to everybody, I've also wasted a lot of time trying to get people to like me. I've worried about writing things that would offend people or cause people to criticize me. This is stupid. Bill Cosby once said, “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Amen. Furthermore, I have found that my posts that are the most controversial are the ones that garner the most hits. So I'm putting my big girl panties on and I'm going to strive to really establish myself as a feminist blogger.
  • Be consistent. I am bad about going through phases of blogging like crazy and posting every day and then getting busy with life and abandoning my blog for a week or even longer. One of the things I appreciate most about one of my favorite writing blogs is the blogger's consistency. It's also important to be consistent regarding the type of content you publish and your writing voice. Beginning Feb. 1, I'll be posting new content each weekday. If this becomes too tough I'll let you know and begin to post three days a week -- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 
  • Don't be afraid to self-promote. While I, of course appreciate an occasional "atta-girl" I am utterly embarrassed by any grand gestures of recognition that come my way. Last year when I was recognized as one of the top 10 "Smart Women" of Birmingham for my work with See Jane Write I thought I was going to vomit when I went on stage to accept my award. Don't get me wrong; I certainly appreciated the recognition and it gave me the encouragement I needed to keep growing See Jane Write. But when someone at my school found out about it and emailed an announcement to the entire faculty I nearly peed my pants. But this has to end. The only way I'm going to get the word out about my blog and about See Jane Write is to promote, promote, promote. So in 2013 I plan to be a total media whore. You've been warned.
  • Keep pushing. I get bored easily. If I'm working on a project that isn't progressing as quickly as I had hoped, I drop it. The only way to grow a blog is to actually, well, grow it. It takes commitment and hard work and being mature enough not to run off for something shiny and new. It's time for this Writeous Babe to grow up.


  1. Same here! And I definitely need to find my Big Girl Panties too but I am so afraid!!! Because what if I'm wrong or what if I change my mind? I think we had this conversation before though. LOL I will be reading and supporting!!

  2. GREAT post and great advice. I am in the same boat, especially w/ the niche part..EVER after I wrote a mission statement. Looking forward to your journey!

  3. Love the advice and all that you offer on your blog! Hope to put these tips to work when I start blogging.

  4. I am with you. Feb. 1, let's do this.