Successful websites are the ones with the most frequent updates – so why do people fail to update regularly?
There is consistent evidence from across a wide range of studies conducted by a variety of different organisations which show that the frequency of adding content to your website is related to the number of visitors you get, the ranking you get in Google and the amount of money you can make from it. Wherever you look for data, it points to the same conclusion – the more you blog, the more successful your website becomes.
Yet, consistently, you find that many bloggers or businesses adding content do so only on a sporadic basis. Their argument is usually that content is only “part of their strategy”. They are providing what seems like a logical argument for only blogging occasionally. But at the same time as giving this apparent logic, they ask “how do we get more visitors, how can we get higher up the search rankings and how can we make more money from our website?”
You can show them the data which shows quite conclusively that their online problems are down to lack of content and they just go back to their “logical” argument that they already do blog, but it is “only part of their strategy”.
When people do not wish to accept the obvious, there is usually something deeper happening inside their minds, so we need to explore the psychological reasons for refusing to do what’s necessary when it is so clear.
1. Fear of failure
One of the main reasons we don’t do all sorts of things is because we fear failing. We fear failing because have previous associations with failure which have led to emotional reactions such as disappointment, guilt, regret and impacts on our self-esteem due to the way other people have related to us following failure. Because we have a mental model of failure within our brain that links it to negative emotions we have an in-built defence against doing anything which could lead to failure. Only a relatively small number people have a natural tendency to block out the mental model and perceive failure as something positive. Psychologically that can be related back to the way we were brought up as children and our personality type. Some personality types appear to be better protected against the fear of failure than others. Ultimately, though, most of us dislike failing and so we avoid doing things which might not work. When people are considering writing new blog posts their subconscious brain is filling their mind with warning signals about failure, so people tend to blog less than they might, waiting until they are more certain that their post will attract interest.
2. Lack of empathy
Empathy is the emotion where you can see things from the other person’s perspective more than from your own point of view. Most content producers and bloggers are busy writing material from their own perspective. Indeed, blogging attracts people who want to express themselves. But expressing yourself and writing about your own world means you do not so easily see things from the visitor’s perspective. That means a blog can become completely self-indulgent, but it can also mean people put the brakes on their blogging and writing because they cannot see why anyone else would be interested. These people see things so much from their own viewpoint they are unable to tap into the thoughts and feelings of others and see how they might be interested in something. As a result, such bloggers write less because they are constantly waiting for the “right idea” to pop into their head which they are sure other people will be interested in.
3. External locus of control
The locus of control is a psychological concept which considers how people view their ability to self-determine what they do. People with an internal locus of control are those individuals who think they are responsible for everything that happens to them. However, people with an external locus of control believe they have little, if any, control over their lives and that everything that happens to them is determined by someone else. People with external locus of control fail to blog regularly because they blame other people for preventing them from doing so. “I couldn’t blog today because my boss asked me to do something else,” or “I couldn’t blog at all this week because my children were off school with a virus.” In other words, their ability to blog was hampered because of other people. It was nothing to do with themselves, at least as far as they see it.
4. Attachment problems
Attachment is an important concept in child development, yet it continues into our adult lives. Children can form a secure attachment to their parents or other care givers and develop in what you might call a well-balanced way. But they can also develop attachments which are problematic, leading to avoiding contact with adults, for instance. In adult life our childhood attachments can cause issues for our behaviour and a variety of styles of adult behaviour can be related to our childhood attachment patterns. So, adults who might avoid blogging could have a “dismissive personality”, which tends to distance themselves from issues and problems as a result of an “avoidant attachment” style in childhood. Such individuals might well logically accept they need to blog more, but avoid the issue because regular blogging could lead to some kind of conflict with others which they wish to prevent from happening. For instance, they are worried their boss will pop in and say “goodness me, you’re not blogging again are you?”
5. Grandiose delusions
Although delusional behaviour is strictly speaking a psychological disorder, you do see elements of this in many business people. They think they are more powerful and more important than is really the case. Online, this translates itself into a sense of identity which means blogging is “beneath them”. They think they should only blog when they have something really important to say and which the world needs to sit up and take notice of. In fact, the world is interested in much less important and grand “stuff”. People who think that their business blog should only be used for grand announcements are not only misunderstanding what web content is all about, they are also exhibiting grandiose tendencies which lay behind why they only want to blog “when it is important”.
If you can understand that blogging is merely about adding content to the web which other people find interesting and that you have the ability to be in charge of your own blogging schedule, then you will be able to gain the benefits of regular blogging. It really is simple – the more you blog, the more successful you are online. If anything is preventing you from blogging regularly it might not be those other business activities that get in the way – it might be your brain.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+