Play While The Arena Is Empty

A common experience every new blogger goes through as they’re starting out is a writer is a lack of traffic. There’s a myriad of reasons for this quiet period — people don’t know your blog exists (at least in large quantities), you (likely) don’t have a ton of content already written, and search engines haven’t picked up on your posts in mass. While there are efforts that every blogger can make to improve their traffic, those actions are not the focus of today’s post. Rather, I’d like to focus on why it’s important for bloggers to use that quiet time before their blog gets big to hone their craft and ready your blog — and by extension yourself — for the time when you do have a large amount of traffic.

This post was inspired by 8 Practical motivations to blog when no one is reading it by Mark Schaefer over at businessesgrow.com. I’ve decided to provide my own take on the concept of blogging while no one else is watching, hopefully expanding on Mark’s reasons in an effort to make any aspiring bloggers who come across this site motivated to write.

Your Craft is What You Make It

Those of you who are long time readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of professional wrestling. When a wrestler is just starting out with a gimmick (their character), they’ll often work a series of live matches that occur prior to the television show that they’ll be appearing on. These matches, referred to as dark matches, are meant to help the new wrestler build chemistry with a crowd in anticipation for their television debut. Think of a quiet period early on in your writing as a dark match. You’ll spend time honing your writing skills all while learning what works and what doesn’t for a far smaller audience than when you hit the big time.

Your Success Is Dependent On Your Effort

Recently, I had a discussion with a coworker about how new hires at any job go about learning their new skills. Sure, there’s a traditional training designed to get a new hire up to speed quickly and smoothly, but at some point in time, the responsibility for succeeding at a position falls squarely on the shoulders of that new employee. People around you can certainly create the base for you to grow as a blogger, but it’s your responsibility to achieve your own dreams and forge your own path. Go to the blogs you read and look for inspiration, as it’s great inspiration. That said, when it comes down to it, your voice will be the one remembered when you write. Let your product be reflective of your work ethic.

An Empty Arena Is An Echo Chamber

Who’s your best friend when it comes to writing? Do you have a muse or a source of inspiration that you have to go to in order to be motivated to write? While having inspiration is a great thing (hell, I’d encourage it in most circumstances), it’s important to be your own ears when you write. As you gain more followers and readers, while many of them will be wonderful, helpful, welcoming individuals, you’ll likely have to wade through your fair share of bullshit along the way. Train your ear early on to determine what feedback is constructive criticism and what feedback is blatant dickery. Remember: just because someone’s trolling doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to help, and just because someone’s trying to help doesn’t mean they aren’t trolling you.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…The Right Amount of Time

So you want readers to come to your blog and comment? Good. That makes you one of 634 million websites who want the same thing. The difference between being memorable and being a statistic is knowing when to promote yourself. If you’re not writing while all is quiet and no one is reading, you won’t have the practice to post quality content when people actually care what you’re writing about. If you spend too much time promoting your coming site and don’t write great content, you run the risk of being here and gone quicker than a hiccup. Building a readership base is a process. Don’t neglect the most important part to any website — content. Your content will let you know when it’s time to promote.

Do you have any feedback you’d like to share to new bloggers? Feel free to post it in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Play While The Arena Is Empty

  1. I think another good one to remind people is that you’re not always going to get active commenters. Between the different venues I share my blog (Twitter, Facebook, formerly 20SB), I found out I had well over 200 people reading my blog avidly. But out of them, only a handful actually comment. It’s not necessarily that your work isn’t engaging enough, but rather that with social media, there are a lot more observers than there are participants.

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    1. I don’t think I’ve ever had close to 200 consistent readers on any of my blogs. I don’t use Facebook by choice, and I recognize that not doing so cuts into a potential reader stream. With that said, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever topped 30 readers at a time — independent of commenters. There are definitely times I feel like I’m writing to an empty room.

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      1. I often feel like that too – especially when my regular commenters aren’t there.

        I’m honestly not sure how many follow it that closely anymore. With my last blog, I cared who was following – now I’ve found, I write my blog because it’s things I’m passionate about and want to write about. Whether people are reading it or not doesn’t seem to be as big a deal to me anymore.

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        1. I want people to read my blog, if for no other reason than I enjoy the interaction with other bloggers. Of course, when the book does come out I’ll have a bit of a selfish reason for people wanting to read, as the blog will be a good way to advertise my book.

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