Anyone can start their own blog, but it takes dedication and discipline to create and maintain a source of Web content that is popular, informative, and inspirational. A successful blogger is as good at writing as he or she is at marketing, networking, and brainstorming. It also means being comfortable with reaching out to other bloggers, dealing with the IT service desk, and accepting critiques with an open mind.

However, the hard truth is that not every blog is going to be a home run with readers. Following are some red flags that are commonly associated with failing blogs:

  1. Inconsistent posting. It’s not uncommon for bloggers to churn out a bunch of content in the first week or two, and then neglect to post anything for days (or weeks) at a time. If you were someone who regularly read your blog, wouldn’t you get annoyed quickly if each time you visited you kept seeing the same content? You won’t develop a following unless people have something new to read on a regular basis.
  1. The passion is gone (or was never there). By the same token, you have to produce quality, meaningful prose instead of just filler content to boost your blog entry count. This becomes much more difficult if you don’t care deeply about the topic of your blog (or are simply doing it in an attempt to make money). If you read over your recent posts and just can’t get excited about what you’ve written, how do you expect anyone else to?
  1. Content that is unhelpful or non-engaging. Simply regurgitating a news story, trendy idea, or popular point of view isn’t enough to connect with readers; after all, there are plenty of other sites where they can get that information. You need to put your own spin on the topic to give the readers something that they haven’t seen before; it’s that unique perspective that will separate your blog from others. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions and solicit comments about a particular viewpoint; you’ll make your readers feel engaged while uncovering other topics to write about.
  1. Wandering focus. You chose the subject matter for your blog based on the notion that you share a certain interest with other people. But if you keep writing entries about topics that are only tangentially related (or completely unrelated) to the blog’s theme, then your readers will likely look elsewhere for what they want. Occasional off-topic posts are okay, but they should be infrequent and brief.
  1. Inadequate promotion. You know that old saying about if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door? That doesn’t work with blogging. Cyberspace is so overloaded with content that readers won’t find you if you don’t promote your blog – no matter how good or impassioned your prose is. So promote yourself every day through social media, aggregators, and comments on similar blogs.
  1. Your traffic metrics are inconsistent. Like it or not, your blog will ultimately only be as good as its popularity with others. So if you’re not getting many comments (or a spike in comments one day and very few over the next several days), then you’re not reaching your readership adequately. Other signs of low traffic include short visitor times to your site (less than two to three minutes), a majority of traffic coming from random sources, or a low number (single-digits) of “Likes” on Facebook.
  1. You find that you are limiting yourself. While realistic expectations are important, they become counterproductive if they begin to morph into ceilings rather than simply being seen as benchmarks. So if you start tailoring your actions to adhere to certain preset goals (in terms of earnings, page views, entry totals, etc.), then you’ll be stifling the growth and potential of your blog. That’s one of the reasons blogging is so attractive: The sky’s the limit on your success. Don’t hold yourself back!

This post was written by Chris Martin, who is a freelance writer who writes about topics ranging from how to manage a service desk to consumer finance to home improvement.