| David Gane

Our Blog was a Lemon (and Why We Kept it the Same)

Last week, I mentioned that I went through a process of rebuilding the blog. However, if you haven't noticed, not much changed.

So what happened?

Getting to Now

Over the summer, writing on the blog had slowed down, due to a combination of things:

  • The kids were home, and focus was off
  • Rewriting the book
  • Trips to the cabin

Also, there were a few no-good reasons like:

  • lazy
  • uninspired

More importantly, I fell into reveiwing the idea of the blog: Who was our audience? Who did we want them to be? What were their expectations? What was our goal?

That's when things went spiraling downhill.

Blog as Brand

The original idea for the blog was to develop Ang and I as a brand, so that when our books came out, we might be known.

We agreed to write about twice a week, one from me and one from Ang. A few people were reading but not big numbers.

We found the most significant jump was after we released our post How Ang Pissed Me Off—And What I Did About It!. Our guess was that the headline caught the audience's attention and lead to a bump in traffic.

So we tried it again with Ang Fills My Holes: The Shocking Truth of our Partnershipand again, there was a bump.

The trouble was that we were writing a book for teenagers (or so we thought), and we weren't sure if this was who we were aiming at with these posts. It became even more confusing when our audience seemed to be people our age (most likely our friends) with the scales tipping towards female readers.

Then summer hit, and like I said, our numbers dropped. I started thinking we needed to refocus the blog and quick.

Marketing with Content

I started drilling into lots of other blogs, trying to figure out how they worked. And not just writer's blogs, but also software company blogs, marketing blogs, artist blogs, and yes, even blogging blogs.

I came across the great work of Groove and their blog covering their journey to 500k in monthly revenue. It's CEO Alex Turnbull got me reading other blogs like Copyblogger and HubSpot, all of which had me thinking of the blog as a place to create content which would attract attention and draw people to our writing.

Through my research, I read about defining our audience before going to market, then telling our story and using search engine optimization (SEO) and keywords searches to focus on the wants and needs and desires of your market. I wrote long documents to explain all of this to Ang how we could change the blog but it left my head spinning. So then I tried to make slideshow presentations with drawings and charts and bullet points but it still overwhelmed me. In the end, I called Ang and talked for two hours, spitting out everything in a twisting, turning mess for her to look at and say, "Aha! I understand now."

But that didn't happen.

The problem of time and patience

After I finished talking and I stared at her and said, "This seems like too much work. Especially, when you are teaching and I might be teaching and I have the kids, and somewhere in all of this, we're supposed to be writing a bunch of books."

And I could see Ang's face and I knew she was thinking the same thing.

I also knew that Ang has a low tolerance for new apps and password logins that she has to use and all my ideas seemed only to add to that stress.

And none of it fit us. All the blogs pushed for selling content, yet we knew we were more a mish-mash of a writing partnership and personality blogging about stories and lessons learned.

The real solution

Moreover, the real reason I knew it was a no-go for us was that my favorite things on the internet, that I tune into regularily, seem to utilize very little of the rules to grow our blog.

These were, in no particular order:

They all bring me in because they are made of content and personality over and over and over.[1]

And they were built with time and patience, something I know I needed, even though I wanted to skip all of it.

The New Rules of the Blog

Still, after all of this long-drawn out process, we made changes.

We write more: I started last week. I'm trying to write every day.[2] Why? Because I'm supposed to be a writer and I'm not writing. I figure the only way I'm going to be good at it is by doing it (almost) everyday. Also, I'm trying to share with you, the audience. Also, maybe, we'll find our voice in this process.

We prettied it up: We've updated the theme, the tags, and the posts. We plan to add more images and quotes and headers to break up the long blocks of text. Lastly, we've added ways for readers to discover more content.

We axed the newsletter: I talked about this a little already and I may revisit again later.

Summary

Although we considered drastic changes that may focus and push more content, I worried it would veer us away from our natural voice.

Instead, we went the other way and doubled up. Immediately, we've noticed a bump in traffic, which is exciting.

More importantly though, I will practice patience while Counios and Gane grows, as people find us through our books and blog, instead of trying for shortcuts all the time.

Cover image by Ernest Porzi.


This Friday

Don't forget that Shepherd and Wolfe are coming this Friday to the Kindle.

Visit the blog Friday for details.


  1. There are many more but I just needed to draw the line somewhere. ↩︎

  2. Except Tuesdays, which are Ang's days. ↩︎

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