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Blogging Tips: Knowing When to Close a Blog

Updated on November 23, 2014
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self publishing expert, nonfiction book editor, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

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Confession: I'm a blogger and I've just closed two blogs. What? Why would I do that, especially since the one has been going for a number of years and has decent traffic?

Here's another confession: It was a difficult decision. But weighing the costs and future potential of these two sites helped make this action a no-brainer.

It's easy to become so engrossed in creating and running a blog that signs indicating a poor outlook for its future are ignored. In the discussion below are questions to help gain an objective perspective on one's blogging activities.

One of Best Books for Guidance on When to Quit or Stick

How I Made My Blog Closing Decision

In my case, I had two blogs on different niche marketing topics. The second was actually a spinoff from the more established blog.

Actually, I closed the spinoff blog first. New regulations applying to this marketing niche would have required a complete overhaul of the blog's existing material. Ugh! Even doing a few cursory changes took a full day or two of time. As well, the new landscape for this niche was bound to continue to change as the new regulations became standard practice, meaning more and more updating. That, coupled with the fact that the blog had failed to attract a decent amount of opt-in email subscribers (translation: potential customers) in about two years, even with a variety of incentives, the decision was quick in coming.

But what to do about the larger blog that had been going for about four years? The topic was still relevant and had a decent amount of fans for this niche. But like the spinoff blog, it didn't create a reliable sales funnel of customers. A significant percentage of traffic to one of my shopsites was generated by the blog. Unfortunately, that was not the site where online sales were coming from! Visitors to the established blog were usually reading the articles and bouncing out... but not bouncing to buy. The majority of traffic to the shopsites was from organic search results.

There were several reasons which could have accounted for this blog visitor behavior. It appeared that visitors were seeking the educational material I offered, but then buying elsewhere (online or off). Many of my friendly competitors were also visiting fans. I don't have a problem with that since I feel we need to share our knowledge. But the bottom line is that they are not going to buy from me.

Because I realized that my blog was an educational site, I tried to monetize it with Google AdSense, sales of self-published books and other services. Book sales were okay, though not paying the mortgage. But AdSense was generating next to nothing, sometimes literally nothing. Got a few leads for services, but most wanted me to guest blog for free.

Looking at receiving almost no income or leads over an extended period of time, coupled with the costs to maintain the site, I decided to close this blogging chapter, too.

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More about Internet Marketing, including Blogging

Weighing Blogging Costs and Benefits

Because a blog can be a very personal and emotional effort, bloggers can often become blind to the host of hard and soft costs that blogging can entail. What determines whether these costs are deal breakers is largely based on what are the objectives for pursuing this effort. Assessing the future market for the blog's topic and potential for generating sales is also critical. The following questions can help bring the issues into focus:

  • How much is it costing, in hard dollars, to maintain the blog? A couple dollars a month for services such as email subscriber collection, spam protection, backup services, image licensing, domain registration, hosting and helpful software plugins may not seem like a lot. But adding it up over the course of a year can run into the hundreds of dollars. Do a profit and loss analysis! Granted, many bloggers use free platforms such as WordPress.com and Blogger which do not have some of these hard costs. But the next question will show how it can be costing a lot!
  • How much is it costing in time to maintain the blog? This can be a difficult question to answer, especially for hobby bloggers who may not be blogging for bucks. But for those who are doing it as a business or to gain business, this can be a significant dollar outlay, especially if staff members are assigned to the task. Micro business and small business owners who blog could be forfeiting income that could be gained from simply upping their sales efforts instead of blogging. Figuring an hourly rate of income will be very revealing in determining the labor cost associated with a blog. And that cost could be very high!
  • Are those writing the blog suffering from burnout? Whether those writing a blog are staff members or the business owners, blogging can be a job in itself! Trying to squeeze in writing a blog post or two while serving customers, operating the business and pursuing sales can be exhausting. This multitasking can make the blogger less effective in their primary tasks. An alternative would be to hire outside writing help. But that will be trading a time cost for a dollars cost. Click here to learn more about seeking outside help for a small business.
  • Is the blog generating income? For hobby bloggers who are simply publishing to connect with like-minded individuals, income may be an afterthought. But for those who blog for business reasons—either as a separate profit center or to generate sales leads—income or leads generated is a critical factor in a continue/close decision process. Even if it is generating income, is it enough to cover the myriad of expenses?
  • Is the blog an effective sales funnel? Similar to the income question, is the blog funneling traffic and potential buyers to the business, either online or offline? If not, the blog can become a financial drain. Click here to learn more about a sales funnel.
  • Is the blog's topic lifespan limited? Blogs that center around a specific news topic, event or technology can have a limited lifespan. For example, writing a blog completely dedicated to a specific smartphone style or model will only be relevant as long as that model exists. It may have some historical value after the model is retired, but it will be unlikely to generate much news and blog post inspiration in the years ahead, giving it limited ROI (return on investment). Click here to read more about product life cycles (which can apply to blog topics, too!).
  • Is the blog topic trending steady or going upward? Similar to a blog's topic lifespan just discussed, the topic's trending should be considered. Even if the topic has a long potential lifespan or is an "evergreen" topic, it may drop off in terms of interest over time as public interest or attitudes change. If topic interest is slipping, pumping significant investment into it may be counterproductive.
  • Is the blog's topic scalable? Super niche topics might be able to be covered in a few blog posts. So is it worth launching and maintaining an entire blog to publish this information? Probably not. Might be better to publish as a subtopic of a larger, more general blog or even as guest posts on a related blog.

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The Case For and Against Dead Blogs

"Why not just leave the blog sit there? The information is still relevant and I might show up in a search."

Valid point! Indeed, the information presented on an inactive blog may be relevant for years. So there is a case to keep a blog open for that very reason, especially if some posts have had a lot of traffic and have been effective in the past. But the following need to be considered:

  • Cost. If not using one of the free blog platforms, there will be costs to maintain the domains, hosting, etc., even if no one continues to post. Is it worth a few hundred dollars a year to keep that blog active? Are the sales leads or advertising revenue from an inactive blog enough to cover the costs of continuing to host it?
  • Image. An old, never updated website or blog can send a negative "we don't care" message to visitors... and potential customers.

Disclaimer: The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2014 Heidi Thorne

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  • heidithorne profile image
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    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hello Suzanne Day! Yes, the shop vs. education blog experiment has been enlightening. We're all trying to figure out this new content marketing paradigm. Thanks for joining the conversation and have a terrific Tuesday!

  • Suzanne Day profile image

    Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    Good information and yes, keeping a blog depends on what message you want to show to your public (whether maintained or not). It's interesting that your blog attracted a different audience to the shoppers - worth noting for future reference.....maybe shops should have blog styles more like companies - what they are up to now etc, like a diary of events. Voted useful.

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Yes, FlourishAnyway, I do think I made the right choice. Sad to close that chapter. But it now allows me more bandwidth to concentrate on other efforts. Thanks for your kind comments and have a lovely day!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    Heidi, This is a solid analysis. Taking the costs and benefits into strong consideration is an excellent way to look at the issue. Sounds like your choice was a good one.

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hello AliciaC! Maintaining multiple blogs can be quite a costly job, even if they are "free" in the hard dollars sense. Hope that you can maintain a successful balance for your blogs. Thanks for adding to the conversation and have a wonderful day!

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Thanks, parwatisingari, for reading and commenting!

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hello Shawn McIntyre! Lucky for you (and my personal business coach, too!) the volume of wannabe bloggers and small biz folks is high enough to keep you busy for a career. :) Thanks for commenting and support!

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hello Careermommy/Tirralan! Sometimes working backwards with the end in mind (one of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits) can help make the best decisions at the beginning. Please keep us posted on the launch of the new blog. Thanks for your comments and support!

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Thanks so much, ologsinquito, for the kind comments and for pinning the post! Have a lovely day!

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This is a very useful hub for me, Heidi. I'm trying to maintain two blogs. They are free, but as you say they are costly in terms of time that could be spent on other, more valuable projects. Thanks for sharing your analysis.

  • parwatisingari profile image

    parwatisingari 3 years ago from India

    Hey thanks that was great information.

  • Shawn McIntyre profile image

    Shawn McIntyre 3 years ago from Orlando, FL.

    As a fellow Hubber, congrats on another amazing article. As a consultant however, I'm glad that most people don't share your ability to logically assess their business and make the necessary changes... 'cause then I'd be out of a job. =)

    Voted up, Useful, and Interesting!

  • Careermommy profile image

    Tirralan Watkins 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Heidi, I can imagine this would be a hard decision to do. You've given me wonderful insight. I'm launching my niche blog this quarter, and you've given me much food for thought. Very good article.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    It sounds as if you made the right decision, after carefully weighing the facts. This is a nicely done article and I'm pinning it to my Online Writing board.