Do you have the patience it takes to get a following? How long do you think you should have to wait before your blog goes big? A week? A month? A season? Think again, hair-trigger. It takes longer.
The Marshmallow Test
Decades ago, scientists conducted a now famous experiment in which they left young children alone with a marshmallow. The kids were promised a second marshmallow if only they could hold off on eating the first one. Lots of those poor tots crumbled, but a few got their two marshmallows. The moral of the story is as old Adam: Good things come to those who wait. So, can you pass the marshmallow test when it comes to your blog? Authority and loyalty are the rewards for those who can.
The Incubation Period
All blogs begin with an incubation period that’s longer than you might think—closer to a year than to a month in most cases. I suggest business owners regard at least their first dozen or two blogs as kindling. Write. Push through social media outlets. Share with mailing lists. Maybe pay for promoting posts. Wait, calibrate, rinse, and repeat. Don’t despair when nobody likes, shares, or comments on your early blog posts. At the very least, don’t assume it’s because the blogging is bad. Don’t despair when nobody likes, shares, or comments on your early blog posts. At the very least, don’t assume it’s because the blogging is bad. Yes, keep circling back to the quality of that content, but also recognize that there’s a multiplicity of factors involved in successful blogging. To master the game, everything from the timing of the post to the platforms on which it was pushed to the content-saturation of your particular industry must be scrutinized during incubation.
Building Up Your Archives
Blog posts written during the incubation period are not a waste. Far from it, they become your archives. Having a meaty archive shows a measure of relevance and authority. And it’s a reward for visitors, who typically will be hungry for more once they read a post they dig. Think about it: Have you ever read a blog post you really loved, clicked over to the blog’s archives, and found just a few entries? It practically screams flash in the pan. So, think of the incubation period as a time to build up your body of work. And remember that what doesn’t get noticed at first, can certainly enjoy popularity down the road.
A Lesson from the Greats
History is filled with the names of greats that were slow to gain recognition—from Lucille Ball, once considered a B-list actress, to The Great Gatsby, which flopped in its time. Consider every painting Van Gogh ever made, every poem Emily Dickinson ever wrote, every scientific discovery made by Galileo. All of these went unnoticed for decades. Did you know that Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it found a publisher? The upshot: Patience and persistence are key to creative endeavors, and blogging is no exception. If you’ve greatly reduced the frequency of your blogs or halted blogging altogether, it might be time to think again about whether you were realistic in your expectations. It might be time to get back in there with that marshmallow and try again.