Lessons I’ve Learned While Blogging – Overcoming Brick Walls

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If you ever want to start a blog, it can be LOTS of fun.  Blogging can be an outlet, it can be a venue for many different things.  It can even, in some rare cases, make you some money!  I’ve been actively running websites and blogs now for nearly 4 years and so I thought I’d write a 10 part series on what I’ve learned!!  This week, it’s all about overcoming brick walls.

Like it or not, blogging is like an obstacle course.  Some days it’s easy, just running the course, maybe jumping over a tire or two and other days you can run into a brick wall.  Sometimes when blogging you can’t get over the brick wall and day after day you just can’t get over it.  Days turn into weeks, months and sometimes even years.  How do you get over large seemingly insurmountable obstacles?

Well first let me go back and explain some of the large obstacles that can get in the way of bloggers.

  • Slow/No growth
  • Burn out
  • Low Interactions

Slow Growth.  I understand.  WeUseCoupons started with my wife, my aunt, my dad and mom and that’s it!  I still have a screen shot of it at the beginning.  It was SLOW.  There were much better more active competitors that seemed to have it all.  They had people, facebook and everything else imaginable.  We were VERY slow to grow.  It took over a year to even really hit 10,000 visitors.  Truthfully, the reason I didn’t quit is because I LOVE the site.  But it was hard to accept such slow growth.  So what did I do?  How did I overcome this obstacle?  Well that’s easy!!  I found creative ways to get my name out there.  I found unique and innovative ways to get noticed.  Blogging isn’t about blending in, it’s about providing something (a product) that people WANT to read and get involved with.  Something unique.  WUC is a great place!!  I reached out to the media, I published content no one else had, I worked hard and produced content that was amazing and relevant!  It took a long time.  No one said it was going to be easy.  I wasn’t the first site in my niche and I won’t be the last.  I understood something though, if you WANT to grow, you’ve got to make yourself stand out.

Burn out.  This is SO hard.  If I’m being honest I was burnt out for an entire YEAR.  Mid 2009 until mid 2010 was exhausting.  The only reason I didn’t quit was because I couldn’t.  15-17 hour days, constant drama, I was exhausted.  I was tired, I had a new born, my life was changing and I was ready to stop.  But I persisted because people LOVED the site and deep down, looking over all the outer issues I did too.  I continued to churn out good content and continued through the burnout.  It was hard to do that.  I was slightly depressed, our (real life) business had hit a rough patch, so money was even tighter than normal.  I didn’t know what I should do.  Then I got an email.  I will never forget it, because it is what made me love what I do again.  It was about two months after I was on ABC’s Nightline.  The site was busy and I was stressed out for lots of different reasons, and I got this email.  It was very short but said this,

“Nathan, I just want to send you a note of thanks.  I watched you on Nightline by chance two months ago and you changed my life.  My husband is sick and I was having to choose between his medications and buying food for my children.  Our food stamps just weren’t enough.  Two months after watching, I’m on your site daily and cupboards are overflowing.  I will never meet you, but I just wanted to know that you have forever changed my life and I am eternally grateful.” 

You know, I read that about ten times that day.  It made my eyes fill with tears and heart swell with pride, not because I was super human or special, but because WeUseCoupons empowered that woman to change her circumstances.  Burn out is hard, and it’s hard to come out of, but persistence is key.  If it’s meant to be you’ve got to give it time to come to be!

Low Interactions.  Bloggers live on comments.  Comments are one of the only REAL ways that we know readers are reading!  Of course you can look at the traffic numbers but if you have a million page views and no comments, something’s wrong.  Comments are vital, and often times we get into a funk when no one comments.  Whether it’s on our Facebook page, Twitter or the site itself comments and interaction are important.  When you spend hours writing a fantastic article (like this one ;) ), you want people to say, great job, awesome article.  You are so proud when you hit the submit button and then two days later not a single comment!  You naturally get down.  You start to think that no one is reading.

There are two possible issues here and so let’s quickly discuss them.  First if you have a mom blog that is about kiddos and babies, make sure you are posting about children and babies!  If you are suddenly posting non-relevant content it truly may be that people are ignoring your stuff.  This article is not really my niche.  I mainly talk about deals, so I won’t be offended if I don’t get a single comment! (Okay maybe just a little)  The second possible issue is that you have a lazy readership!!  I often will purposefully post something on Facebook just to see who comments.  I phrase the facebook post in the form of a question.  Sometimes I get LOTS of responses sometimes I get a few.  My suggestion, start talking to your fans/readers directly.   Write a blog post in the form of a question.  See if anyone responds.

Brick walls are no fun.  In deal blogging, my niche, some blogs only last 6-12 months.  They tend to die quickly because it’s just so much work.  Persistence is everything.  EVERYONE has to overcome some type of brick wall, it’s all in how you approach the challenge.

Lessons I’ve Learned While Blogging is a 10 Part series.  Next week’s article discusses why to Get Personal…

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  1. Carol's Critter Corner says:

    Thank you Nathan for your article, I can relate.  Still trying hard after 1 1/2 years but I know what to do, I just have to do it.  I just don’t want others to miss any pet deals so I’m busy blogging instead of revamping etc.  Keep up the great work.

  2. Theresa McGallicher says:

    Nathan, found you on Utube shortly after I started couponing 2 years ago and showed your video to my husband. He said if I could shop the way you do, he would be astounded. I spent over a year learning, asking questions, trying to figure out how others do it. When people started to ask me how I do it,  I decided to start my own blog, even though I had no idea how. Thus, this article is really relevant. And you are so right about he lack of comments, so I am leaving you a comment!

  3. Rgftbf says:

    Just happened upon your site (while hunting for a picture of the latest Jcpenney outlet ad for Kansas, which I still haven’t found!) I read this article, and will try to comment more often on blogs that I read. You guys work hard, and you DO help many people, whether they comment or not. THANKS!!!

  4. Jenna @ Bucktownbargains says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I am struggling right now with burnout. Your daughter is so cute, from the video with the bed.

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  6. That’s a well-thought-out answer to a challenging question

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