If you’re a blogger, writer or publisher… you will eventually be faced with the question – “What causes my site to attract or lose readers or followers?” It’s a fact, sites that once attracted large audiences can eventually dwindle and sometimes even die. The reasons for this and how you respond to them can ultimately determine whether or not you’re still relevant in your marketplace several years from now.
First, let’s consider a myth about writing and generating interest.
Myth: If you’re interesting, people will always coming back for more.
Fact: You can only hold an individual’s attention for so long, no matter how interesting you are.
Think about your own reading or web browsing habits over the years. There are many interesting voices out there with more being added to the mix all the time. Your interest level in a topic or subject ebbs and flows over time. Everyone’s does.
Here’s a quick example. If you’re teaching people how to build websites, eventually, they will graduate from your teachings and move on and do the actual work of building sites instead of investing that same time in learning process. Sure, there may be continuing education, but that’s not point. The level of intensity and need for prolonged, regular attention changes. The child becomes an adult and moves on. The student becomes a teacher.
That’s how the education process works. Even if you’re pursuing a doctorate in a specific area, you eventually leave the classroom behind and begin practicing in the real world.
So, if you’re a good teacher, you need to expect your students to graduate and move on.
Applying this to website traffic is no different. Whatever your topic, if you’re teaching, eventually your students need to move on to the next grade or into their own “practice” so to speak. Your readership will reflect this change over time.
The decline in traffic can be an indicator of two things.
- Some of your readers are moving on
- You’re not replacing your old readers with new ones
I remember when I first started listening to podcast interviews. At first, I couldn’t get enough of them. I found them entertaining and even inspiring at times. Eventually, however, it seemed as if all the interviews were basically the same, with different people all saying the same basic things about the topic.
And so, I moved on.
When you understand your own habits a little better, you’ll begin to understand others a little better as well.
DO YOU CHANGE WITH THE TIMES?
This brings up the topic, if interest in your particular message seems to wane, do you continue to march forward holding the line, or do you make adjustments and change?
In my opinion, this depends on a few factors. First, it doesn’t matter how hot or how popular you become. Sooner or later, people will look for something new. Some people, however, will become genuine fans and followers of your writing. If you deviate too much from your original formula, you run the risk of losing these core people. You’ll never please everyone. Trying to do please too many people is a recipe for disaster. Of course, if your original formula was tied directly to your income and it’s drying up, time (or waiting it out) isn’t always an option.
If the attention you once enjoyed has moved elsewhere, your option is to create addition sources of revenue/income or consider reinventing your message.
Entertainers are faced with this dilemma to an extreme. Consider Miley Cyrus. After her Hannah Montana days ended, her choice was to either reinvent herself or become irrelevant as far as the entertainment industry goes. She outgrew her original market – literally.
Sure, you can question how she went about reinventing herself, but that’s another topic all to itself.
The point I hope you take away from all this is – nothing stays the same. And because of that, you will have to make adjustments to one degree or another in perpetuity going forward. The sooner you’re okay with that, the better you’ll sleep at night. No one should have to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing in these areas. The insights of others aside, your ultimate decisions are something you have to make and be at peace with for yourself.
CONSIDER HAVING SOME “EVERGEEN” CONTENT IN YOUR MIX
Last year I heard an interview with a young woman who creates social media courses for small businesses. When the interviewer asked her if she would do anything different if she were starting over again, she hesitated and finally said, “I would pick an area that didn’t change so rapidly. It’s a lot of work keeping up with my industry.”
This is true of a lot of markets today. A software book becomes obsolete very quickly. Think about all the trees that died to produce books whose lifespan was that of a fruit fly. Some books you can’t even give away after several years, that’s how irrelevant the information becomes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to create a 200-300 page product that’s completely outdated and irrelevant in two to three years, do you?