I had to look through my older posts to be sure that I had not written this particular post before. It's just one which has been on my mind for such a long time and I'm surprised I'm only just getting to it. I'll skip the usual blogging is tough and challenging. Anyone who has attempted to run a blog doesn't need a soothsayer to figure that out. But what exactly are the challenges? And how can we get around them? How do some bloggers seemingly make it look do-able and effortless.
On one of the blogging Instagram pages I follow, the question came up recently and bloggers were asked to list their major challenges. And pretty much everyone had the same top 3-4 challenges. Unfortunately the group did not go on to proffer any solutions to this, and looking at the responses, I thought to myself in that moment that I should do a post on this. Not because I have all of the answers, but because I have some answers and tips. The one challenge I possibly had no response to was those who claimed a lack of photography / video equipment was a hindrance. Short of providing money for them to purchase those and giving the cliché 'start where you are; use what you have response', I'm not sure what else I could have done.
But in relation to these other top 4 blogging challenges, I've got a few answers.
1. Lack of Inspiration / Consistency
As at the time of writing this post, the hashtag #Blogger had 39,894,796 posts on Instagram. I won't be surprised if there are that many bloggers in the world. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating but we're many! It's amazing honestly. If I had a dime for every time I spotted the word 'blogger' in someone's bio, I'd probably have some cool cash by now.
But while it's easy to maintain the title blogger, it's harder to be consistent and continue to find inspiration. If wishes were horses, many bloggers would probably put out more content. Lack of consistency often happens as a result of poor planning and zero inspiration. So how do we tackle this?
First you have to be extremely passionate about what content you create. And there's no short cut for this. If you aren't, then the initial excitement will fizzle and the boredom and technical issues of blogging will get to you. So triple check that you're writing and doing what you absolutely love. Such that if you were paid to quit, it'd be a tough decision. With passion, you'd often be able to combat laziness, and you'd be eager to get that post published. Trust me, I can't believe how much I've had to cut back on sleep (my fave pastime!) simply to get posts published.
Ok, so sometimes you're passionate - but no inspiration. That's probably because you haven't been paying attention. Most good bloggers get inspiration from their everyday life - from what they read, listen to, places they go. (For a detailed example, you can read my recap post on Blogging in 2016, and see how daily life inspired most of my posts) Remember that at the very crux of it - (asides some really niche areas) blogging is often about sharing your thoughts and ideas. So if you were in a room with your friends what would you like to share with them?
Sometimes, we also fail to capture this inspiration when it strikes - and that's why you should write down your thoughts as soon as they hit. Have a really small note pad with you, or even just write it on your phone - with the general summary of what it's about and that can be fleshed up later.
Scheduling posts is also a good idea, albeit one I'm still working on. I like to write and publish immediately, but I appreciate that this won't always work. A lot of people recommend batch writing. So sit down for 3-4 hours, draft multiple posts and schedule them - you could do this weekly. Lots of You-Tubers do this and shoot content in batches.
What if your own everyday life provides zero inspiration sometimes? Don't fret. Simply look to other people's lives. Pick up a magazine; Look through online photo galleries; read other blogs. You obviously won't have to copy other people's content, but this is likely to spark an idea or twist of your own.
Finally for consistency, you just have to plan! Personally each month, I write out 15 posts that I could potentially publish that month, and the proposed days for publication - the idea being to have at least 12 posts monthly. I maintain some flexibility and nothing is cast in stone. As I also write on a wide variety of subjects - relationship, travel, blogging, career, and general lifestyle - I try to ensure that posts cut across these areas. But again I don't force it.
Ultimately though, being consistent doesn't mean writing every day or 12 posts month. But consistency is key to maintaining readership - and if your readers know when to expect a post, or how often that's fine. It could be once or twice a week - just find what works and stick to it.
2. Insufficient Time
If you're wondering what my challenges are, this is one of them! Blogging takes time. For me, not so much writing the post, but editing and promoting. But so many struggle with time to even just write. And that's understandable. Lots of bloggers have day jobs and other things but on the side. But with each passing day, I'm convinced that we can create ample time to do the things that matter (especially when we're much younger with fewer responsibilities, like without kids?). We just do not utilise this time. Think of how often you're just chilling. Install one of those apps that record your social media time and see just much you spend scrolling mindlessly through Instagram. How much time you spend watching TV? How much time in traffic simply daydreaming. Everyone has the same 24 hours and some people kill it with how organised they are. For content relating to videos and perhaps fashion blogging, maybe they need much more extra time. But if your blog is mostly about words, we can create the time!
In this post about 8 productive things to do on a slow day at work, I mentioned how I literally started this blog on a slow day at work. Creating blog content, brainstorming ideas or replying emails is one I continue to do at down times - and you should too.
Also, use the notes app on your phone to write - it almost makes it easier, as it seems like you're typing a text message rather than being sat on your desk or with a laptop making it more serious. The beauty of this is that you can write the post and expand on the post anywhere - waiting on a queue; in bed etc. If you have the luxury of time, such that you are driven to work - in a car, train or bus - use these fringe hours as well.
3. Promoting the blog & blog posts
Well, the ultimate challenge. I already shared some tips about growing your platform in this post on 4 Helpful Ways to Gain Followers, Build a Community & Increase Blog Traffic. But I thought I'll narrow in on a few tricks especially relating to social media sharing. Many people grow their following on Instagram, and for such a visual app, perfect photos and hashtags are great, if you can swing it.
However, my one recent helpful tip I recently stumbled upon for Instagram has to be the use of Linktree. And while I like it, some people may not. Essentially, we know how difficult it is having to change the link in your Instagram bio ever so often. With linktree you have just one link - mine being linktr.ee/kacheetee. If you click on it, you can see that I've got almost 10 posts on there. I'm able to include more posts and by clicking on the link in my bio, people see a number of posts that they can catch up on if missed. Sometimes, I'll switch it up entirely and share some old posts. So this is helpful. One thing to note though - it shows the owner how many people have clicked on a link. And we know how numbers can cripple bloggers. So you may see that no one has clicked the link and this may be de-moralising. On the flip side, you could be motivated by the number of people clicking. You could also see what sort of posts people are often more likely to click.
Sharing the posts and comments on Instagram stories, also seems to work by piquing curiosity of your followers. I know I'm often curious when I see the behind the scenes of other bloggers. Finally still on Instagram, there's the 'swipe up to read' feature which allows you to embed a link in a photo/story. I think it's brilliant - you can literally have loads of links in there and it's easier for people to swipe up than having to go through your bio. I know I swipe up ever so often. Sadly Instagram has only rolled this out to users with a certain number of followers. But hopefully fingers crossed, it gets to the rest of us soon.
I quite like Twitter for promotion, but I secretly wonder if anyone has muted me on there because there's the tendency to re-share posts ever so often, especially using a free service such as Buffer. So, at the beginning of the day I often just schedule posts on the page and these go off on at specific times that I may not be aware of. I recall once Tee thought I was happily tweeting and not reading his messages till I told him it was a pre-scheduled tweet. The problem with this, is many times, I tend to re-tweet the same posts with the same caption - which often can get monotonous. In recent times I've tried to switch this up by sharing older posts and coming up with different captions. I seem to have some improvement.
For bloggers who also tag blogging groups to retweet their posts, it's helpful to try to find new groups often, as after a while, some groups may get tired of tweeting the same links all the time! I laughed out loud (and was a little sad) when just at the time of writing this post, I saw someone tweet that if a person had 'blogger' on their bio, they would hardly click the follow button - as such person was likely to clog up their feed with their posts!
4. Poor engagement and little / no reader comments
Bloggers love comments! We love interactive posts and so it's sort of sad when even if people are reading, no one is commenting. But I think we'd be far reaching if we expected everyone to comment on every post. I mean as a blogger yourself, there are very many posts/ articles you read which you genuinely love but you just don't comment! So it's understandable.
That said, there are a few things that could boost reader engagement. If it's a relatable topic, people will often be inclined to share their experience. So in drafting the post, bear your readers in mind and ask 'what in this would make them willing to type a comment?'. I'll be honest and say if you've simply shared gorgeous photos of an outfit or say an interesting piece of fiction - I might absolutely enjoy it but have no words to add. Secondly, maybe ask a question or two at the end of the post and constantly invite them to share.
Finally, let your commenting platform be easy. This is often an issue on this blog as Disqus really does tend to act up sometimes and I wish I could cure it with a magic wand. (But if you check out the Blog FAQs, you'd see that commenting on Disqus isn't that hard, and the many advantages of it. So comment more!). Also where comments are moderated, I feel many are less likely to leave one. If I leave a comment, I'd prefer to see it immediately without having to come back and check if my comment was approved. And if it wasn't, then I prob wouldn't leave one again! Acknowledging and responding to comments is also a good way to make your readers feel like they add value, and know they're appreciated.
Finally, no captcha! I know people fear spam comments, but unless you're really a massive blogger, you're unlikely to have that many spam comments. The fact that I have to put in a few random blurry words before leaving a comment is a bit of a turn off.
So these are my tips and some work around. It's a bit lengthy, but I wanted to give practical personal advice without having to split the post into 4 different topics! If you're a blogger or ever attempted to blog how did that go? What are your top challenges - i'd love to hear and see if we can help. I might do a follow up post if there are more challenges I have not dealt with. And if you have other tips for more efficient blogging, please leave a comment. It'd be great to share with others.
ps: Oh, there's the challenge of monetising the blog & working with brands. Once I figure that out, or gain considerable knowledge, I'll be back to share!
ppS: For more blogging related posts / tips, check out the blogging section!, and please do share with a blogger, two or ten who may need it. You can use the share buttons below.