So you have a blog. For a while, things were going great, and you were publishing all kinds of content without a hitch.
Somewhere along the way, life interrupted. You tried to keep up with your publishing schedule, but kept falling behind. You decided it was time to take a break from blogging.
But recently, you’ve gotten the itch to blog again. Yet every time you think about starting back, one question looms:
How can I relaunch successfully?
Whether it’s been weeks, months, or even years since your last blog post, it’s possible to relaunch and get back into a consistent blogging habit. All it takes is a bit of thought and planning.
Read on for a complete guide to bringing your blog out of hibernation.
Know Why Your Blog Went Dormant
While it may seem small, knowing why your blog went dormant in the first place is an incredibly important step in the relaunch process. Moving forward without knowing would be like rebuilding a collapsed house on the same crooked and cracked foundation.
Sometimes, the answer to your biggest blogging problem will come to you in an instant. If so, great. Write it down. You’ll want to keep it in mind to prevent and/or avoid it with your relaunch.
If you’re struggling to put your finger on it, consider the following potential reasons:
- You never had time to write
- You couldn’t come up with ideas you were excited about
- You burned out on producing articles
- You weren’t seeing traffic results and got discouraged
- Writing felt like a chore
If any of these issues sound familiar, you’re not the only one. They’re some top complaints of bloggers everywhere.
None of these issues are easy fixes, but recognizing them before restarting your blog can help prevent history from repeating itself. And following a relaunch plan will protect your blog from more common issues like burnout or falling behind on your publishing schedule.
Keep your primary issue in mind as you’re reading this guide and pay special attention to the steps that can help address your specific issue.
Your Niche: Change, Tweak or Double Down?
With your foundation shored up, it’s time to examine the framework of your blog: your niche. Since you’re reviving your blog, it’s the perfect time to decide whether to recommit to your original topic or explore a new one.
Remember, if you’re blogging for fun, you might as well enjoy it. If you’re blogging for business or marketing purposes, you need to make sure you don’t burn out.
So ask yourself: are you still really passionate about your chosen topic? Depending on your answer, you may choose to double down, change, or tweak your niche.
When to Double Down: If the subject is something you can talk about for hours without getting bored, even after the dormant period, you’ve likely found a solid niche. The topic is big enough to provide plenty of content ideas but specific enough to attract a target audience. No need to change what’s already working.
When to Move to Another Niche: If you’re ambivalent (or worse, dreading) starting to write about your topic again, it’s a sign to consider pivoting to a new niche. Remember, blogging is a long-term game. You need to have genuine passion for the topic to continue blogging about it for months or years.
When to Tweak Your Niche: Maybe when you started your blog, you were passionate about the topic, but you ran out of things to talk about. Your niche may not have been big enough. Instead of changing things up completely, consider broadening your blog’s horizons to a larger topic or expanding to include other related topics.
After settling on your niche, it’s time to move to content planning.
Determine Your Blog's Key Themes
Next, you’ll need to figure out what themes your blog will cover. These themes will be your guiding light for producing content. If you’re struggling to come up with content ideas, revisit your key themes.
For example, here at ProWritingAid, we’re all about helping writers. But writing is a huge topic, so we had to narrow things down a bit. Our main themes are: Blog Writing, Fiction Writing, Business Writing, Writing Apps, Writing and Education, and Editing. This guides all of our content decisions.
So consider your themes. What would you like to pursue? If you’re narrowing a very broad niche, choose three to seven topics you could focus on. If you’re broadening a narrow niche, what are three to seven related topics you could include in your blogging efforts?
For a bit more about how to use content themes in your planning efforts, see Gini Dietrich’s fantastic article, How to Create an Editorial Calendar from One Keyword, on SpinSucks.
Once you’ve found your primary blog themes, you can get to the nitty-gritty of content creation: idea generation.
Ah, the brainstorm. For some of us, it’s a joyful explosion of ideas and possibilities. For others, it’s an unconquerable mountain of frustration.
At its core, brainstorming is merely running through ideas and writing down anything that comes to mind. The art, however, lies in sorting the ideas.
Whether or not you’re a natural brainstormer, sifting through tens or hundreds of ideas for the best content can be daunting.
But it doesn’t have to be. Rank each idea on a scale of one to five for these three aspects:
- Your level of knowledge about the topic
- How well it fits your overarching content themes
- Your passion for the topic
Yes, there are other points you could take into account, like your potential to rank in search engines or the engagement that similar posts from other blogs in your niche receive. But, unless you have a large audience to survey or excellent knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization), these can be difficult to measure.
Focusing on the above three points will help you create cohesive content from a place of confidence. You’ll build an organized portfolio of work rather than a loose collection of random posts.
Now, if you want brainstorming techniques that are a touch more advanced, consider any of the following resources:
- CoSchedule’s 30-Minute Brainstorm
- Hubspot’s Content Brainstorming Key
- Moz’s Content Ideation Process
Plan Your Publishing Schedule
When it comes to blogging, we all know consistency is key. But how to hit that consistency is a different story altogether.
The secret? A reasonable publishing schedule.
Certain bloggers claim the only way to blogging success is through producing as much content as possible. It’s a “publish daily or die” mentality.
This is an absolute recipe for burnout. Plus, it produces low-grade, shallow content that clogs up the internet. It doesn’t do anyone any good.
So, ignore the content farmers calling for as much content as possible. Instead, look at the time you have available, the typical length of your articles and how long you take to write an article. Then select a schedule based on those points.
If you typically aim for articles under 500 words and can crank one out in fifteen minutes to an hour, daily posting might be a good choice for you. If you’re somewhere in the 500-1000 words per post range, two or three times a week might work. For those in the 1200-2000 club, weekly or twice a month could be a good rhythm. And the 2500+ mega-post club? Once or twice a month.
Now, not every article will be the same length. And you certainly don’t have to force your content to fit a specific range. Instead, you can stagger your content production by scheduling longer and shorter articles, posting shorter pieces more frequently and saving up for longer content.
But, err on the side of caution. At first, take the amount you think you can do and cut it in half. If you think you can post weekly, start with only posting twice a month. As the schedule becomes easier to stick to, you can increase your posting frequency. Gradually increase until you’ve found a solid rhythm that gets you results without making you feel like you’re scrambling to keep up with your workload.
Make Your Content Generation System
Up until now, our steps have focused on a general process to solidify your blog’s foundation. But, you’ll also need a system to keep your content production going.
Fortunately, you already have the first two parts of the system in place: your brainstorming process and your post frequency. There’s only three more pieces to add to the system to make sure your blog ideas will always flow:
- A place to keep incubating ideas
- A workflow and/or editorial calendar
- A writing schedule
The first building block is the simplest to implement. Most bloggers keep incubating ideas in a notes app or notebook.
With a notebook, make sure it’s small enough for you to always have on hand. There’s nothing worse than getting hit with a brilliant idea and not having a place to put it.
For apps, Drafts, Bear or Apple Notes will all do the trick. Just make sure you keep your ideas organized in one folder or under one tag. You don’t want to lose ideas because you misplaced them in the app.
If you’re solo-blogging, a publishing calendar or workflow tracker might seem like overkill, but it will make your process infinitely easier in the long run. At a glance, you’ll know exactly which articles are in the outline, writing, editing, and publishing phases. It can also help if you ever want to scale your content with a team.
Workflow and editorial calendar templates are everywhere. For individuals, templates under Trello’s marketing category can be a great start. For blogging partnerships or teams, CoSchedule has a fantastic selection of templates and workflows
Ultimately, you need a consistent writing schedule. Scheduling time in advance is the best way to ensure you’ll get your writing done. If your schedule is fairly stable week-to-week, then simply choosing a time and day and sticking to it should work. But if your schedule fluctuates a good bit, consider making writing appointments on a weekly basis.
When you schedule your writing sessions, treat them like you would any other appointment on your calendar. Don’t schedule over it unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. And if you do, be sure to reschedule to stay on track.
Write a Pre-Relaunch Backlog
Now, it’s time to put the system into practice. Before you relaunch your blog, it’s a good idea to have a backlog of articles ready so you’re not behind the eight ball on content production. It’s also a chance to test out your new content niche and content production system, allowing you to make tweaks without publication pressure.
Produce enough content to fill two to four weeks of your content calendar. More content is always welcome as it will give you a greater cushion, but try not to dip below the two week minimum, regardless of how often you’re publishing. This gives you plenty of time to continue writing new content while you’re still publishing articles from your backlog.
Don’t be afraid to make changes during this time either. This is especially true if you’re having trouble producing for a newly chosen niche or if parts of your system aren’t running smoothly. Even if you have to extend your pre-launch period by a week or so, work done up front will save you headaches in the long run.
Once you’ve gotten your backlog ready, it’s time to prepare for your relaunch.
Alert Readers to the Relaunch
If your blog is still gaining traffic in spite of its dormancy and/or you have an email list, you’ll want to alert your readers to the relaunch. This is simply a courtesy measure so your audience isn’t surprised when they see your new content and/or your new niche.
The notification doesn’t have to be a huge affair. If you have an email list, send out a short email a few days before the launch. If you don’t have an email list, consider writing a short relaunch article or including a mention of the relaunch in the intro of your first new post.
With your readers alerted, it’s on to the final step: the official relaunching.
Go Forth and Publish!
All that’s left is getting back to publishing posts! With your system firmly in place, set a date on your calendar for the first post. If you know exactly which days you’d like to post, you can queue your entire backlog of articles for publication in advance.
Finally, take some time to celebrate your official relaunch. Reviving a dormant blog is no easy task, but you’ve put in the work to keep yours going for a long time.
Ultimately, relaunching a dormant blog relies on having the right tools and workflows in place. Even after a relaunch, refining these systems can only help your blog on its way to success.
Enjoy your newly reawakened blog and don’t forget to have fun with it!