Hey guys, thank you so much for voting on which top blogging mistakes I should cover this week. In this post, I’m covering your top choice: “How I Built Up My Success and Killed It (Over and Over Again)” for day 1 of 5 of this Top 5 Blogging Mistakes blog series.
Btw, You can still vote until this Friday July 13, 2018. Click here to vote.
There are four main lessons you can learn from my mistakes. They are included throughout this post.
How I Built Up My Success
To be honest, in the early days my success came more by luck than strategy. Since I started in 2006, there wasn’t as much competition. Most people didn’t even know what a blog was. My growth naturally occurred with two main blogs:
- Shopaholics Anonymous: my fashion blog
- The Chic Life: my (mostly) food blog
I don’t really know how people found Shopaholics Anonymous. But The Chic Life really started gaining traction thanks to my blog friend Kath who wrote her blog, Kath Eats, full time. She encouraged me to branch out with my blogging and take it to the next level. And she told her readers about my little blog too. Thanks, Kath!
But back to the main topic. I think you’re more interested in where things went wrong, yeah?
How I Killed My Success (Over and Over Again)
There were four main ways I royally screwed up my success:
- Trying to Be Someone Else
- Giving Up
- Changing Topics
- Not Defining a Niche Up Front
Each of these could probably be its own mistake post. But let’s consider this a four-for-one, eh?
Success Killer #1: Trying to Be Someone Else
When I first started Shopaholics Anonymous, I was naturally authentic. There weren’t nearly as many fashion bloggers out there as there are now. So, there wasn’t as much competition. But as I started discovering other bloggers, I started noticing that many seemed to feature primarily high end clothing. Meanwhile, I was buying everyday clothes from the sales racks at J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor Loft.
I started to feel like my clothes weren’t good enough. That people wouldn’t take me seriously if I didn’t start incorporating designer clothes into my outfits. But how could I keep up?
I remembered that when I was a kid, I thought if I studied hard in school and got a good job I’d be able to buy any clothes I wanted. But even with what seemed like a good job to me, I still struggled to buy from my normal shops’ full price racks. Who were these people who could wear head-to-toe designer? It obviously wasn’t me. I was embarrassed to admit to my readers that I simply couldn’t afford designer clothes. Though I did make a couple splurges by saving up.
What I didn’t realize was that my readers liked me because I did not buy designer clothes. They liked that I bought clothes they could actually afford too.
Lesson #1: Be yourself. 100% authentically, beautifully you. While there’s nothing wrong with growth and wanting more, don’t let those things make you feel like you’re not good enough as you are right now. Here’s a quote I love: your vibe attracts your tribe. Okay, it’s a little cheesy. But true! Being yourself also helps you stand out from the crowd.
Success Killer #2: Giving Up
Shopaholics Anonymous ultimately failed because I simply…gave up. I literally just stopped blogging.
In addition to feeling like I wasn’t good enough (see previous section) at some point my shopping budget went down to basically $0. But I mean…my blog was about shopping. What would I blog about if not shopping? Shop-aholics Anonymous!
This was a defeatist attitude that I gave into. If I had examined my situation with an abundance mindset, I would have seen so much possibility. Things were going really well. I was one of the first bloggers in the Glam network, one of the best ad networks out there at the time. And I was already getting free gear from H&M, Reebok, and Madewell. Brands were reaching out to me!
My window shopping posts were fun. And I could have done more “shopping my closet” posts. What about consignment shopping? Or all kinds of other spins? Or I could have really opened up and written about how I was managing with no shopping budget? There were plenty of options.
I regret quitting my fashion blog. It was fun, and my readers really seemed to enjoy it. Sometimes a comment even pops up today (yes, in 2018!) from someone who used to read that blog back in the day. So cool! Side note: at the time, many bloggers were anonymous and didn’t show their face. I literally posted photos of just my outfit with my head out of the photo altogether. My older readers always mention that, which gives me a good giggle.
Lesson #2: Use your challenges as fuel. How can you show your readers how you’re dealing with a challenge and help them? If you have a challenge, there’s a good chance someone else will. And seeing you successfully tackle it may inspire them. And never give up.
Success Killer #3: Changing Topics
The Chic Life’s changing focus: domestic -> food diary/weight loss -> recipes -> lifestyle -> planner -> healthy living
The Chic Life has seen many lives. It started as sort of a random, domestic blog about cooking and crafting. Eventually, it changed into a food diary / weight loss blog. Next I started adding recipes. Then I drew back from talking about health and started adding planner-related posts. When I missed more daily blogging, it became a bit more lifestyle. And finally, I’ve settled on TCL being about healthy living.
Each time I changed, I lost any gained momentum. I’d build up a following who was interested in weight loss. And then I’d stop talking about weight loss, health, and diet. People who liked my posts about those topics no longer saw posts about those topics. In hindsight, it makes sense many left.
Changing topics is one of the easiest ways to lose readers.
Think about it. What if you loved Starbucks and then one day they weren’t really making coffee any more and now they were making mostly salads. Who even likes salads. Amirite!? Coffee forever! Anywho…You probably wouldn’t be very happy.
Changing your blog topic is like taking coffee away from Starbucks.
This is why I teach new bloggers to define their “overarching niche” up front. Which brings me to my next success killer – see #4.
Lesson #3: Stay on topic. This sounds easier than it is. Especially if you’re a person with many interests. It can be surprisingly easy to get bored blogging about the same thing over and over. But, resist the urge to stray too far. Changing topics is an easy way to lose momentum and readers. An easy way to do this is with Lesson #4.
Success Killer #4: Not Defining Your Niche Up Front
When you don’t have your niche defined, it’s easy to stray off-topic. You can blog about anything. But you shouldn’t. Sort of like how Starbucks should stick mostly with coffee. Sure, Starbucks offers a small selection of additional food and drink items. But those mostly complement the coffee. Right? Right!
But what if Starbucks didn’t know coffee was their forté? They could have offered a random assortment of items, and their customers would be confused. Lucky for us, they know coffee is their Bae.
For me, not only has The Chic Life covered many topics. Those topics have been pretty unrelated at times. If they were all under the same umbrella that would be one thing. But to jump from crocheting to weight loss to planning. I was all over the place!
While I do think multi-niche sites can be successful, there’s a key component that must be present.
It’s easier to follow a company or blogger when you understand what you can expect from them.
In my 7 Day Start Your Blog Email Course, I teach aspiring bloggers to define their niche. Which I call the “overarching theme”. This is the glue that keeps your blog together. As you work on future content, you can ask yourself, “Does this align with my overarching theme?” This helps keep you from doing Success Killer #3 and changing topics. But it also helps you with keeping pages, graphics, email newsletters, design, and everything else on topic.
Having an overarching theme also helps you be strong on branding. Plus, it helps you tell your readers up front what they can get from you. Which will translate to why they should follow you.
Lesson #4: Define your overarching theme up front and use it to guide the rest of your blog work. From posts to pages to branding and everything else.
And stay tuned for Day #2 coming at you tomorrow!
Share Your Success Killers
Are you a blogger? Have you experienced any of these challenges? How did you tackle them? Let’s share lots of tips to help fellow bloggers out there!
Thank you so much for reading. Hope you found this post helpful and you can use it to reach your blogging goals!