I can think of several new neuroscience blogs that started out with some really nice content, but then they disappeared after a few weeks or months. I’m sure the same must be true of other genres. This is a shame.
Thinking back over the early days of Neuroskeptic, my advice to new bloggers is: it gets better. The early days of any blog are psychologically tough because almost inevitably, your first posts are not going to get the recognition they deserve.
That’s because people tend to really pour their hearts into early posts – these are the ones that express thoughts you’ve been mulling over for ages and are finally writing about – and then inevitably, hardly anyone reads them, because it’s a new blog and no-one even knows it’s there yet. Certainly that was my experience.
Luckily, it doesn’t stay that way. Your first posts will flop, at least in relation to your own expectations, but remember that a) it’s nothing personal and b) no-one except you cares. Only you can see your traffic stats and whatever, but even if everyone knew them, they wouldn’t mind. You need to push on through that stage and once you do, you won’t care about it either.
To get past the first stage, you need to “sell” your blog. I think a lot of new bloggers forget this, or think it somehow won’t apply to them, which sets them up for disappointment. Of course, good content is essential – no matter how hard you try, you can’t sell crap. But great writing alone is not enough. No, not even yours.
Promotion is part of blogging, but once you get into the right mindset, you’ll realize that it’s not a chore so much as a natural extension of writing. You write something, and then you go and find people who’ll be interested in it, and who might have interesting comments about it, and try and get them involved. Or you get involved in conversations about the topics you’re interested in.
Sell, don’t beg. Outright asking more established people for links, retweets etc. rarely works and it looks bad. Get people interested in it. If that’s a chore, then it means you’re not really interested in your own stuff, in which case that’s a problem.
If you’ve done this for, say, a year, then I’d say you’ve given blogging a good shot and you can make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s for you. But if you quit after just a couple of months because “I tried blogging and it didn’t work out” or “I had a blog but no-one read it” then I’d say you’re probably making a mistake. You haven’t experienced all of blogging, only the start of it, which is the toughest and least rewarding part. It gets better.