This week we’re looking at a variety of ways that bloggers let their blogs ‘slip’ over time. So far we’ve looked at mainly things that are pretty easy to identify – but today I want to look at something that creeps into the attitude of many bloggers over time without them realizing it.
This ‘poison’ comes into most of our lives at one point or another and it has the power to bring our blogs (and lives) to a grinding halt if we’re not careful – it’s the poison of ‘negativity’.
Bloggers have a bit of a reputation for being cynical and grumpy types – however I’m not talking about our occasional rants or critique posts – I’m talking about a condition that creeps into the lives of many bloggers from time to time – ‘Grumpy Old Blogger Syndrome‘.
Before I go on – let me give a small disclaimer. You see there are a number of very successful blogs going around that have a perpetually negative or snarky tone to them. These blogs have build this negativity into their brand and people actually read them because of the voice that they’re written in.
However in my opinion these blogs are the exception and are a rare breed.
Negativity can Kill a Blog for Numerous reasons:
1. It can kill your passion for your topic - If all you ever write about your niche has a negative flavor to it then it’s very easy to become overly cynical and to loose your passion for your topic. Blogs are long term ventures, you need to be able to write on a topic for years before you become established. I don’t know about you but if I was to write something negative every day for a year on any topic I’d be ready to throw that blog in at that point.
2. It creates a culture that readers pick up on – look at the comments section of any successful blog and you’ll learn something about the blogger/s behind the blog. You won’t learn it from the comments that the bloggers leave themselves, but the tone of the comments from readers. Readers pick up on the tone that bloggers write in and mirror it. If you write a negative, angry, snarky blog – expect to see your readers mimic this. Not only this – you’ll find other bloggers pick up the same tone when they write about you. Sure, you’ll get the occasional angry comment on a positively written blog but in the main YOU as the blogger will set the tone for your blog’s community.
3. It can hurt your reputation in your niche – if you are blogging to build your own profile and reputation in your chosen field of expertise then you need to seriously consider the voice that you write in. While the occasional rant can enhance your reputation as a someone who is not afraid to say things like it is – if your blog ‘turns’ and continually take a negative view of the world this can impact the way you’re viewed by others. Personally I look up to and admire those who are constructive with what they say and do more than those who just moan, tear down others and complain.
Tips for Overcoming Negative Blogger Syndrome:
Please don’t hear me as arguing for all bloggers to suddenly become cheesy, sweet, optimistic sorts who only view the world through rose colored glasses. I’m not. What I’m really arguing for is balance. Do write in your own voice, do say things as they are and do not be afraid to critique or rant when the time is right for it – however don’t let your blog become a cesspool of negativity. A few last tips:
Say Something Constructive – before you hit publish on your next post, ask yourself if you’ve said anything constructive that your readers can take away? It doesn’t have to be a happy optimistic post – but have you given your readers something that they can go away and apply? Have you give a solution? Have you added value to their lives in some way? I find that blogs that enhance the lives of their readers are the blogs people keep coming back to again and again.
Have an Accountability Buddy – I have a couple of bloggers that I’ve given permission to pull me up on my own bad behavior on my blogs. Occasionally they’ll email or IM me and ask me about a post that I’ve written on a comment that I’ve made which signaled to them that I’m exhibiting Grumpy Old Blogger Syndrome. More often than not they pick up that I’m in a rut before I do myself.
Take Breaks - My own grumpiness is cyclical and usually is in the inverse to the time off that I have as a blogger. Take vacations, take days off, don’t work all night – look after yourself.
Get it Out – Still feeling negative? Can’t hold it in? Why not have a post once in a while that gets it off your chest. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional negative Rant. In fact when done well they can actually stimulate some great discussion and buzz on your blog. The key is to not let your normally positive blog get all rant like in every post. Focus your negative energy into an occasional rant and then let the rest of your blogging be in your normal style.
Further Reading: For a few more thoughts on how NOT to be a grumpy old blogger.