8 Practical motivations to blog when no one is reading it

motivations to blog

A friend of mine was pretty down about his blogging recently. He wrote me a note and told me that he was disheartened because he was putting a lot of effort into his writing but nobody was reading his blog. Let’s talk about this subject openly and honestly today.

Let’s face it. It’s HARD to attract an audience and it’s getting even harder every day.

I’m not going to give you a “rah-rah” motivational speech. I know it really hurts when you’re doing good work and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere — I was there for a long time, too. It’s frustrating, and it’s lonely listening to the crickets every day.

I’m not going to spin a tale of “10 ways to increase your readership or traffic.” There has been so much written about that already it could fill volumes.

Instead, I am going to talk about PRACTICAL reasons to persist, even in those moments when you’re feeling down.

I’m going to assume you are blogging to build a personal or business brand, not just for the joy of it, and you’d like somebody to eventually notice you. You need to keep going. Here are some reasons why:

1) Learning and growing. To blog about a subject, you have to learn about the subject, perhaps even master it. Blogging makes you smarter!

2) Clarity. The other day I had to take a tough position with a customer and I needed to get really clear on my position and why I was thinking that way. Blogging about the topic crystallized my view.

3) Personal improvement. My blog is much better, and much different, than it was a year ago. It will be much different in the future, too because through this practice, I am becoming more effective. You are improving through every blog post you write. You are taking one more step toward excellence.

4) Search engine benefits. This may be the most obvious business benefit of blogging. Search engines give preference to websites that have fresh, relevant content. Hubspot research shows that sites with blogs get 55% more traffic than sites without blogs — even if there are no readers!

5) Upgrading your skillset. Unless you are in a position of guaranteed lifetime employment, you need to keep sharpening your skills. Showing a potential employer a volume of work you’ve created through your blog provides insight into how you communicate and your thought process. Blogging is a valuable, marketable skill.

6) Infinite search. A few weeks ago I received a call from a potential new customer in the Middle East looking to me as a possible marketing consultant. I had to wonder how in the world they found me! Turns out they were looking for somebody who could help explain where the future of social media was going and when they entered this into Google, a blog post I wrote a year ago popped up!  Your content keeps working for you month after month!

7) Your content engine — Your investment in a consistent stream of quality content can be leveraged in many ways to support a content marketing strategy. I use links from blog posts to answer customer questions, as the basis for speeches, newsletter content, and as reading assignments for workshops.

8) Numbers versus impact. I saved this reason for last because it is the most important.

One of my favorite blogging stories comes from my friend Dr. Alice Ackerman. Much of her first blogging efforts were aimed at educating the community on the importance of childhood vaccinations. But she had some doubt as to whether she was making an impact. For more than a year, her posts limped along. In fact, she averaged 4.5 readers a day.

But one of her readers wrote her and told her that because of a blog post, she had changed her mind about childhood immunization and was taking action to immunize her children.

You see, Alice only had five readers, but she changed the life of one of them. Who are you touching with your blog? Are you sure you know?

Isn’t that a great reason to keep going?

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.
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  • Another great article Mark. I spent the first few years of blogging with less than 100 visitors per day. It’s easy to just give up I guess but such a rewarding experience both for personal growth and the growth of your site.

    I now see my site as a living entity and enjoy watching it grow and mature. Your right about 1 response or event making it all seem worth it too.

    Cheers 🙂

  • Fiona Stewart

    Great blog and right on the money as usual. Blogging really helps me play at my best – personally and professionally! You might want to check the spelling in the title of this post though…! Keep up the great work – love your insight

  • 100 readers a day is still pretty good if they are the right readers!! : ) I appreciate YOU being one of my readers Barry!

  • I screwed up the spelling. I corrected it but not before it went out in the RSS feed. This is a big problem for me. I write alone and sometimes am so close to the work that I don’t see obvious typos right in front of my face. Sorry about that!

  • MaureenMonte

    Ah Mark, as usual, your gift to the universe is well timed and much appreciated. Launched my new site/blog over the weekend – already judging myself critically for all kinds of things. 🙂 I am so excited to put what I’ve learned from you into practice – thank you for your constant support and encouragement. I’ll reach out to you privately about a few other things – wanted to swing by and re-engaged with you and your readers now that I have a few “distractions” behind me. 🙂

  • True, and thanks 🙂

  • Tim Bonner

    Hi Mark

    I’ve only been blogging for about 15 months and there’s been some highs and lows.

    Whatever I do though I don’t intend on giving up any time soon. I love the research aspect of blogging and learning and growing by reading other people’s work and engaging with them.

  • awesome. was missing you around here!!

  • If you have only been blogging 15 months and you’ve had some highs, you are ahead of the curve my friend! Good work.

  • Kristine Allcroft

    Love this post – especially point #8! There’s so much “noise” out there in the blogosphere that it’s difficult to remember that it’s not always about the numbers. However, for most businesses I think the real $$ advantage to blogging is the increase in “Google juice” that it can provide – blogging assists in coming up in the organic searches on Google. Thanks again for your insights and expertise!

  • Bravo Mark!

    As usual, you are spot on and give great advice. It can be so hard to blog for the crickets. I loved Alice’s story – so true that if you touch even one person in a positive way through writing (or whatever medium it might be) you’ve made a difference.

    Have a great day 🙂

  • Thanks for this great post Mark. I often teach small business owners how to use their social media tools and get many questions. The result is a higher percentage of “how-to” posts on my blog. Not only are those some of my most read ones but I save a lot of time because I can answer questions by sending people to a post I’ve written in the past.

  • Mark, thanks for writing this. I appreciate your advice here on {grow} because you always take the long-term, sustainable approach to topics like blogging (an approach becoming increasingly rare in the online world).

    I have a Seth Godin quote front and center where I write to remind me why I keep going: “Effort is its own reward if you allow it to be.”

  • Patricia Haag

    Another insightful post, Mark. Your references to “crickets” makes me smile because blogging can feel like the most thankless task. That’s why I try to leave comments on posts I like and share posts across social media.

    Have a good day!

  • What I enjoyed most about this post, Mark is that it reminds me that the time we invest in our blogs is just that, an investment.
    It’s an investment in personal growth and professional outreach.
    I learn from the research I do for every blog post I write.
    Once I stopped obsessing about visitor traffic, I felt freer to write for people not SEO.
    As you say, even if we don’t have a large readership, we have accumulated a considerable content library that can be repurposed and distributed on other platforms that can eventually, drive more traffic to our blog.
    Thank you.

  • What I enjoyed most about this post, Mark is that it reminds me that the time we invest in our blogs is just that, an investment.
    It’s an investment in personal growth and professional outreach.
    I learn from the research I do for every blog post I write.
    Once I stopped obsessing about visitor traffic, I felt freer to write for people not SEO.
    As you say, even if we don’t have a large readership, we have accumulated a considerable content library that can be repurposed and distributed on other platforms that can eventually, drive more traffic to our blog.
    Thank you.

  • Agree. Creating relevant, quality, original material is so important!

  • That is a great story, isn’t it? She is an inspiration in many ways!

  • Well done. I have found the same thing. Good job!

  • I guess I am a long-term sustainable kind of guy. : ) Probably the way I grew up in business. You have to build it to last.

  • A very good strategy Patricia. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • You and I are certainly of the same mind here Ray. “Investment” is a good way to look at it.

  • Susan Burlingame

    Isn’t it a nice surprise when you hear from a reader how much they’ve enjoyed reading your blog posts, and yet they’ve never posted a comment or even subscribed to your blog? You may never know who you’re influencing. The personal development aspects mentioned here are a great reminder of why we invest our time and energy to blog. Excellent message! Thanks, Mark!

  • Thank you Mark for your reminder…

  • Hi Mark,

    Love this and I wrote a post on this very topic. Blogging helps in so many ways. Unlike you, I’ve never been a teacher, but blogging was helped hone my teaching skills with instructional posts. You develop thicker skin, it sharpens your networking skills (and network), you have an accountability platform, become better at sales, grammar, etc. It helps you break out of your shell, plus it becomes the starting gate for so many new and exciting things. I could go on 😉

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  • Amanda Dodge

    I’ve learned to take the small victories with blogging, getting really excited when someone comments or a post gets a ton of social shares keeps me going. There’s always the ounce of hope that the next post will be the one to get people talking — or change lives in your #8 example.

  • kcsaling

    Mark, this is a great reminder that we should be blogging for reasons other than playing the numbers game, no matter the size of our readership. Writing about things can bring a new depth of understanding to the one person who without fail reads your blog: you. And of course #8 – sometimes the things we never expected to be important can have an incredible impact on someone who reads it. Excellent post.

  • That is always a good day Susan, and it does happen!

  • Thanks for commenting.

  • Great Craig. It would be great if you could share the link to your post on this topic. Others might like to see it! Thanks!

  • Maybe you already have! It’s hard to know. real feedback can be rare around these parts.

  • Thanks very much for taking the time to comment today.

  • So needed this today. I seem like I’m starting to build traffic, then poof, its back down to a trickle, but yeah, in this for the long haul.

  • Great post, Mark: for sure a lot of bloggers out there are going to learn a lot reading this post!

  • MaureenMonte

    It feels good to be back and part of a “community.” 🙂 Thanks for posting on my blog, I was replying when my computer crashed (gotta love technology) and then was off to a client. Onward and thank you again, my friend.

  • Alice Ackerman, MD,

    Thanks, friend for your continued efforts to encourage me! Its so helpful to remember those moments. We know they are there, yet we only are made aware of them so rarely. Someone I have never met recently wrote to me wondering why my blog was “hidden” from her. I told her I would investigate. It turned out she assumed she had missed a bunch of posts, but in fact she had missed nothing, as I have been on a bit of a hiatus awaiting some improvements to my blogging interface. She wrote back to tell me how she looked to the blog for inspiration on a daily basis. Isn’t it remarkable how we can be inspiring to others even when we are totally unaware of that? I feel inspired to get back into writing again, and have learned a lot about myself, my audience (they are there even if they are not vocal), and the reasons to keep pushing.

    I agree with all of your practical advice. If you blog about an important topic, keep doing it, even if it is only for yourself. The benefits to be derived in terms of clarity, and the ability to develop an IRL “expertise” derived from that experience are priceless. I have been getting invitations to speak and run workshops at various medical meetings, or lead task forces for organizations looking at whether or not they should play in the social media playground. All because of the blog, and my presence on Twitter. Even a blog that hasn’t seen a post in a couple of months.

    Not to worry. Tomorrow I am seeing a demonstration of the enhancements the “consultants” have made to my interface (Drupal) to see if it will work for me. At that point I will either jump back in to those waters, or set off on my own sea.

  • Good for you Pauline. Push the tutu. : )

  • Very kind of you to say Jorge. Many thanks for your comment.

  • Good for you Alice, Thanks for your support and inspiration to all of us!

  • brentmkelly

    Great points Mark. I started my blog in 2011 with no expectations other than I was going to give it a shot. Two years later after highs and lows it has become a vital part of who I am. I shared a similar post on my site a couple weeks ago. My audience is mainly insurance professionals and many feel it is a waste of time. I have been amazed at the non-monetary benefits more than the monetary ones. Thanks.

  • Great post Mark! Here’s reason #9: To help close sales. During the sales process, customers invariably ask questions or request information I’ve already answered in a blog post. I find the relevant posts and email them them the links. If I have not already answered the question, I find that blogging an answer helps give the prospect more clarity on my thinking than just a verbal answer. Incidentally, those consistently end up being my most popular posts too. Thanks to Marcus Sheridan for teaching us to answer customer questions in our blog.

  • The thing is we never really know who we are touching, at best we get a small glimpse. I have always believed that my words are producing results and that because it is a marathon and not a sprint I don’t always get instant feedback.

  • Hi Mark, thanks for kicking me squarely between the eyes!

    I have been following all of the above for the last 3 years on the social platforms, but for some reason since I started my blog, I’ve been obsessing over visitor numbers, comments and keywords!

    Sod it, I’m going back to writing about things I know can help and will positively impact my community. The search engines will just have to work a bit harder to find me! LOL!

    Why I was looking at my blog with different eyes than how I approach the social networks, I don’t know. It’s simply an extension and a place to give even more detail and help!

    Thanks Mark, I’m off to share this important message with anyone who’ll listen!!! 🙂

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  • Great points, Mark. I just completed my first month of blogging daily. That means I wrote more posts in 1 month than in the 3 years before combined. What I found is that a lot of who I am shows up in my writing, and improving my writing in turn changes who I am and how I look at things.

    Besides attracting an audience frequent blogging is also a good way to develop your topics, to find and flesh out your main talking points.

  • You made my heart sing. That is such an awesome story Brent! Keep up the good work!

  • Tremendous idea and contribution to the discussion Candyce. Thank you!

  • This is a really interesting point Jack. Comments do not equal feedback. We may get a lot of comments but we don’t necessarily get feedback. It was a real turning point for me when somebody actually wrote me an email telling me that my blog was changing their life. I had never even heard of that person before. That was quite a moment and that is something to keep the motivation fueled!

  • I’m probably the least-optimized blogger on earth. My view is that if I concentrate on excellence, the page views, the readers, the business and yes, Google, will come. I am a giant experiment … but I think I’m right. Over time, Google must reward quality. I’m really happy you found inspiration here today. You made my day! Thanks for taking the time to share your view.

  • Wow. that is a lot of blogging. I could not keep up that pace but I have heard the same observations from people who have tried to do a post a day. They all found it to be very rewarding and also helped move the needle. Thanks so much for sharing that Ralf!

  • D. Holcomb

    I’m a humor blogger and it seems that all I’m doing is entertaining my family. I often wonder if it’s worth the time. On the other hand, I’m still in diapers…blogging-wise. Your last point is the most relevant to me. The idea of lightening someone’s load through my wry take on anxiety just might be the motivation I need to carry on.

  • Tim

    Great post. You’ve inspired me to see if I can come up with a list of reasons to blog when no one is reading that you didn’t touch on. I’ve only come up with one so far, though I’m sure I’ll come up with more.

  • You had me at diapers.

    This is a tough business. A crowded business. Yet we all have the opportunity to create and publish something original from our heart. It’s an amazing time. Even if nobody reads it!

  • Do it!!!! Would love to see that.

  • Mark, thanks for another great thought provoking blog post. Three weeks ago I started a new blog on personal branding, job search and social media and I am faced with the same feelings and doubts as you describe here and that are likely experienced by my students when I require them to blog.

    This post reminded me that even if it is slow going in the beginning, in continuing I am developing and improving my own skills set (e.g., blog setup/technical, writing/creative, engagement, promotion, etc.) that will better prepare me to assist my e-marketing and social media marketing students in learning the same.

    As I said in my blog’s introductory post, you learn by doing and learn even more by teaching it to others. Thanks for continuing to teach me how to blog (and Tweet). By the way, I have read all three of your books. What will the next one be about?

  • I am really proud of you and here’s why Denny. I know you are a teacher and to really be able to teach this stuff, you have to immerse yourself in it. All these anxieties you will go through on the blog will make you a much stronger, credible authority because you have done it yourself. Keep working at it and be patient. It will get easier, it will get better!

    I am working on two different book projects but have been slowed up by the house move this summer and some other projects. I hope to have something out in the late fall.

  • I remember hearing that story from Dr. Alice Ackerman – great point. As for the rest of the points, they were the points I brought up as we replatformed our entire website AND included a corporate blog.

    I’m a believer…now time for the numbers and opportunities to prove it out!

  • Can’t wait to see your progress!!

  • Fiona Stewart

    I felt bit awkward pointing it out – I was completely doing it with the best professional intentions – I hope that came across in my comment. I think the content in your blogs is first class – they offer me insight at just the right level that I can’t get anywhere else in the online marketing community. So thank you 🙂

  • This wonderful Post struck a chord, as does most of your writing, @businessesgrow:disqus
    As a green behind the ears Blogger (around April 2012), I initially posted stuff which now embarrasses me! These posts, surprisingly, did get a fair response because of my Social Media presence.
    Gradually I discovered the topics I wrote most knowledgeably and fluently about- and stuck to that genre. Now, I began being genuinely appreciated and acknowledged by peers.
    Over a period after polishing my skills, I embarked on the Blog I was passionate about: http://www.bipolarindia.com/
    Since its launch in May 2013, this Community Blog garnered a fabulous readership. More importantly, as you rightly pointed in point 8):
    The impact outscored the numbers: Big time!
    I have received responses from far flung corners of India.
    Yes, the content has every possibility of being leveraged further.
    All my Blogging has made my immediate Goal, my Book, much more reachable.

  • What a great story Vijay. Thanks for including us on your journey!

  • It is I who need to thank you, @businessesgrow:disqus
    Your incisive writing provokes thought and ACTION.
    Thank you for your encouragement!

  • Well, the site is up – I think the entire site is so much more responsive and representative of what Mantis does. The blog will be pretty hefty technical pieces like data governance, reports/dashboards, big data (so if you like Hadoop and Hana…), and of course a few social analytics pieces. That’s a lot more software-related than my typical readership, so I have another profile where I’m building a tribe of techies.


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  • Holly McIlwain

    This is why you are the Lao Tzu of social networking. The impact of our efforts Vs numbers of respondents argument can be made for anything we invest in our companies and certainly personal edification is a huge part of social media, if we are approaching it genuinely.

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  • Tim

    As promised, my take on the subject (though I did go a bit different route than my original statement)


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  • I’m so excited that I had to come back to this post and share my experience. I received an inquiry via the contact form on my website. It was from a local business owner who expressed an interest in learning more about the services I offer. Of course I contacted him immediately.
    I did what every good business person should do and asked him how he found me. It turns out that he found two posts I had written over 6 months ago 🙂

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  • I love this post, specifically because I just experienced something similar to Alice’s situation. I have been blogging for the company that I’m currently with since October. I kind of felt like I wasn’t getting the traction I wanted on the blog posts because I wasn’t seeing any form fills or comments on the posts, and felt like I wasn’t doing our sales team a service. Upon announcing that I’m leaving for a new opportunity, many of them lamented the fact because they enjoy and use my blog posts to help them explain the product to potential customers. Some have even incorporated direct quotes from my posts into their selling conversations. It turned out I really was helping to close deals, just in an indirect way. That’s the way things work. You can’t judge your blog’s worth on just one or two factors, because there are so many more that you may not even be aware of. Simply put: If you still enjoy it, keep doing it. 🙂

  • Alexandra Osipova

    Thank you for this post! I still procrastinate writing my blog. I always ask what if my knowledge/experience is not enough for share info. I decided to do only for myself for the first time to make my ideas clean and sharp. If it will be ok, readers will come. Thanks

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