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Make a Contract With Yourself

ContractIn BJ’s post on Developing a Blogging Schedule she finishes with a short section titled ‘A Contract with Myself’ which caught my eye.

It reminded me of a rough patch that I went through in my blogging a couple of years ago when I really struggled with bloggers block and motivating myself to blog to the level that I knew I needed to to grow my business.

I tried numerous strategies to get myself back on track – but one of the things that helped me pull through it was drawing up a contract with myself.

Being your own boss is great in many ways but one of the downsides is that you don’t have any one to be accountable to or to pull you into line when you lose focus.

My blog contract with myself stated a few basic daily goals that I needed to achieve including posting frequency, networking with other bloggers, responding to email/comments and numerous other tasks (actually quite a few were in the list I posted here.

As part of my contract with myself I decided that if I didn’t live up to it that I would have to suffer some consequences and penalties – going without a couple of small things in life that I enjoyed (I think coffee was one) – and that if I did reach my targets that there would be incentives (I think a weekend away at the beach was one of them).

I also made a deal with myself at that time that if I could meet the basic requirements of blogging for at least 2 months that it might be time to give it all away and find a ‘real job’. After all – if you can’t motivate yourself to go to work each day and do some basic tasks you’re wasting your time and might as well find a job that gives you a little more motivation.

I signed the contract and stuck it somewhere that I would see it every day.

The result was actually quite powerful. I told others about my goals (which helped to stay accountable to them) and even though I was feeling a little dejected about my blogging I began to work myself out of the hole that I’d been in. There were a few days that I had to go without my coffee – but in time I was not only achieving the basic requirements but I was working towards my bonuses.

This might not work for everyone – but if you’re feeling in a big of a blogging hole – why not draw up a contract with yourself to help you get out of it?

Related Reading25 Tips for Battling Bloggers Block (a compilation of a mini series)

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Chee Kui says:

    Signing a contract with myself sounds like a good idea. ;) I have been a ghost blogger and sign contract with others, but it never occur to me that I need to sign a contract with myself.

    Thanks for the tips Darren.

  2. TechZilo says:

    The first contract should probably be with oneself, to never give up blogging even if you don’t get expected results.

    Don’t you agree?

  3. KidBlogger says:

    I truly agree with this Darren, because a blog without a goal would be a tourist without a map. Going anywhere he likes but when time comes, he will realize that his lost.

    Oh well, don’t want to be that lost tourist ! need to sign contracts with my self more often coz I can’t finish things on time :D

    Carl

  4. Steve Olson says:

    Cool idea…

    But,

    Don’t forget to hire an attorrney to sue yourself for damages if you breach the contract. :-)

  5. ashok says:

    I also made a deal with myself at that time that if I could meet the basic requirements of blogging for at least 2 months that it might be time to give it all away and find a ‘real job’. After all – if you can’t motivate yourself to go to work each day and do some basic tasks you’re wasting your time and might as well find a job that gives you a little more motivation.

    For me, that is the wisest part of the contract, but also the reason why I don’t want to create a contract.

    My writing means a lot to me, even if it isn’t that good. I read and continually make notes and even have conversations so I have something more to share that could be nuanced and perhaps even make a lasting impression.

    Putting the requirement on myself that I have to quit at some point is sensible, if external circumstances prove intractable.

    But perhaps while that is great advice for the business side of blogging, it might cut against the writing side of it.

    I’ll teaching at community college pretty soon. Students that don’t want to be there taking requirements that have to be done are the scariest thing for me: yeah, there will be some who find the wavelength and will be a joy to teach. But the larger idea driving the whole thing, “I need the money, you need the credits,” is fundamentally awful.

    I’d rather have my blog with its writings, and keep trying here, until an audience emerges, or until I’m gone. Some things are too important to quit on, because the investment is too personal.

  6. Thank you for this one, Darren – even with the blogging schedule in place, I needed something a bit more. I actually felt rather overwhelmed after I set out my schedule. I’m glad you noticed that bit about the contract with myself, because I think I need to take it one step further and actually sit down and do a contract like you’ve written out.

    BTW the link to my post doesn’t actually go to my post, it goes to Flickr. Nice picture of a pen signing a contract, though :)

    Belle

  7. Jeff O'Hara says:

    Just had an Idea, take the contract, make a JPEG out of it and set it as your desktop background, you will see it everytime you look at your screen :)

    -Jeff
    http://blog.zemote.com

  8. Rhys says:

    Knowing me, I’d probably have contract negotiations with myself every year. I’d lose ;)

  9. We just started a parenting blog and kow exactly how it feel to have very few visitors. We will stick with it becasue we enjoy sharing and getting advice for other parents. In reality our blog is not ours;rather, it belongs to our readers.

    I think patience is the key.

  10. JuliaxXx says:

    Why don’t you make contract with me :) put me as desktop background lol I am sure you will never thought of another contract again

  11. Wow Darren, you wrote this article from the future?

  12. mommy zabs says:

    i love the punishing yourself part because it works :)
    a friend of mine and I went through serious break-ups at the same time. We were often tempted to call the guys to talk to them. We committed to “punishing” each other if we did so… She chose that she would have to eat a whole batch of garlic cloves and mine was to eat a whole onion… yuck! Needless to say though, we each stopped calling our x and that made it much easier to move on. :)

  13. Great tips Darren, writing a contract with yourself is definitely a good way to stay commited and take the next steps on your “blogging journey”. We sign so many contracts with other people, that we often forget that the most important contract we can sign is with our own self :)

  14. Lisa says:

    This post comes at a very opportune time for me. I’m going through a little blog burnout right now myself. Thanks for the push.

  15. Hmmm… I would think that depriving yourself of coffee as a “punishment” for not meeting your contract would be counterproductive. :-) It certainly would be for me!

    Thanks for your consistently good posts Darren.

  16. Shane says:

    I’ve done this with myself, though I haven’t committed it to paper. The challenge I’m facing is that all the one-time supporters of the idea of me blogging (wife, parents, friends), now treat the meager time I have alotted to blogging as negotiable. They don’t understand when I say I have to commit an hour a day to writing that keeping a regular schedule is a part of keeping the blog (and the blogger) going. Maybe I should consider a contract with them…….

  17. Ali says:

    Great advice, I’ve gone down to checking my stats only 15 times a day from the 30 I used to do so.

    Need to bring it down to 3 times a day and close that gmail tab. Then I can blog more.

  18. Darren Rowse says:

    Brian – no not the future – from Australia :-)

  19. Australia is the future for blogging :-)

  20. theothereye says:

    More than a contract I think it’s about proving yourself that you can do it.

  21. I’ve been following your blog for a couple months now and really needed to see this one. Being self-employed takes a lot of discipline, that I don’t always have. I am not sure if I will actually make a contract with myself per se, but I need to get BACK in the habit of writing down my daily goals or “to do” lists. The actually “writing down” goals as opposed to just thinking about them- seems to be a stumbling point for a lot of small business owners and writers. I keep running into articles lately that point out- that people who write their goals or daily tasks down, actually get their goals and tasks done and tend to be more successful. Time for me to get with it again, instead of coasting along.

  22. Sue Olson says:

    This really hit home for me. I’ve been making a detailed calendar of things I need to accomplish. Then looking at my week (after the fact) wondering why I did not come even close to accomplishing the things listed. Its a case where I’ve been extremely organized yet the results are not acceptable. I will be contracting with myself on blogging and a few other areas of my life!

  23. macebobo says:

    What a great idea! I’ve just entered this world of blogging and I am overwhelmed, and sometimes discouraged, by the information that is out there about what it takes to “make it.” However, having this contract, right next to my goals on the fridge will remind me what my responsibilities are and why I need to persevere when I tell myself “I need to take a break tonight.”

  24. ganes says:

    interesting. You’re right that being a self employed need us to create a control tools for controlling us :)

  25. As a blogger myself I am also setting deadlines for my work to be accomplished. Good to know that there are many people like you who succeeded at working online.

  26. BDoc says:

    This is really great advice, especially for those still trying to get firmly established in the blogging world. It’s easier to see what direction you’re heading when you have goals set, and you take the time to write them down.

  27. Jason says:

    That sounds like a good idea. But what I’d really like to know about your beginning experiences is, how many posts did you have until you could make a living. In other words, how many posts does a Pro Blogger need to blog daily?

    I know you probably won’t get this question or have time to answer it, but I’d really like to know.

    I also struggle with posting frequency like you once did, but I get the urge too often to go chat it up on others’ blogs.

  28. Sara says:

    Great idea! You said that this might not work for everyone. I think that if something like this wouldn’t work for you, then maybe being your own boss isn’t a good idea. Being able to come up with ways to motivate yourself and continually be productive is key to being a blogger. If being held accountable to one’s self isn’t enough to get a person going, then maybe they’re just one of those people that need a boss and company rules to succeed.

    Personally, I write encouraging messages on my mirrors and hang “you can do it!” post-it’s on all my monitors so I think I’m going to adopt this contract idea right away.

    Thanks,
    Sara

  29. Ben says:

    This sounds like New Year’s Resolutions to me – i.e. made to be broken. If you really have blogger’s block, take a break. If you force something like this it just ends up being far more stressful. Read the Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour work week on ‘elimination’ instead of writing a contract to increase stress that is obviously already causing the block in the first place!

  30. Kamal says:

    lolzz not many people visite my blog, but still i love blogging stuck from the day i started…anywayz thanx for all the tips on ur blog…..i need to take ma blog out to da world :D

  31. Chef Jules says:

    I think this is sage advice for any area of your life in which you want to exercise self discipline. I think though it might be a great idea in theory, its practice will separate the hobbyist blogger from the more serious goal-oriented, means to an end type of blogger. I’m the former and perhaps it’s the very fact that I take a light hearted approach to blogging as opposed to treating it like a job (because it’s not my livelihood) that keeps me on track,not feeling like it’s one of the more mundane duties I have on my daily list to tackle.

  32. Razeen says:

    This is the article what i search. I’m very difficult motivate myself to blogging everyday. I need something improve my post frequency. Thanks for your tip, i will try it soon.