Today I want to talk about an issue may seem more suited to a ‘self help’ blog than a blog about blogging – but it’s something that I think is pretty important you want to be a successful blogger. It’s something that is so important that it can make or break you.
Image by *nathan
However – while it’s crucial to sustaining successful blogs for the long haul – it’s got very little to do with blogging itself.
It’s got nothing to do with writing good content, nothing to do with building readers to your blog, nothing to do with SEO, ad optimization, social media or anything like that.
It has nothing to do with any of that and everything to do with a very personal part of you.
Let me explore it with a question:
Where do you get your personal worth from?
OK – some of you have your cursors hovering over the ‘back’ button in your browser – “this is not going to help me make my blog better” you might be thinking…. but humor me for a moment or two because what I’m exploring here is the reason that I see many bloggers give up blogging.
Let me flesh out the question with a couple more:
- What makes you feel worthwhile – or not worthwhile?
- When do you feel like who you are and what you do matters (and doesn’t matter)?
Here’s the thing. When I talk to people about when they feel ‘worthwhile’ or when they feel that they ‘matter’ they generally answer with one of two things.
‘When I achieve something’ or ‘when someone tells me that I am good’.
If you want to put it as an equation:
Personal Worth = What You Achieve + What Others Think of You
ie – we feel like we’re worth something when we do good things and others praise us and we feel worthless when we fail and when others tell us we’re no good.
This is an equation that most of us live by. In fact it’s an equation that we’re bombarded with day in day out through our lives. We see those who achieve and who are praised glorified on TV and are taught from a young age to aspire to be like them. We’re also taught to avoid failure and the ridicule of others at all costs.
The equation of personal worth coming from our achievements and what others think of us is something most of us fall back on automatically in most areas of our lives. Education, Relationships, Socially, Career – and for us as bloggers it is how most of us automatically measure ourselves as bloggers.
Unpacking The Equation for Bloggers
Who are the successful bloggers?
Those who are linked to, those who get loads of great comments, those who get so many subscribers that they can’t fit all the numbers on their RSS feed buttons, those who are praised by others, those who make it to the top of all kinds of ranking lists and who win awards. As a result most of us strive for these types of things and when we have success in these areas we feel warm and fuzzy inside and somehow more worthwhile as a blogger – as a person.
The problem with the equation:
The problem with rating our worth in this way (whether it be in our blogging or any aspect of our life) is that it’s something that is virtually impossible to live up to – whether our blog is ‘successful’ or not. Lets look at the two areas of the equation again:
Achievement – The issue is that all of us at some point or another fail. We have days where we make a mistake, where the luck doesn’t fall our way, where the actions of someone else means we can’t perform, where things outside of anyone’s control mean that it all comes crashing down. There are times in all of our lives when we can’t achieve. As bloggers many of us are familiar with the ‘failures’. If our personal worth is tied to what we do or don’t achieve then we’re going to be set for a roller-coaster of a ride.
The Opinion of Others – Again, as bloggers, most of us know that the opinions of others are always going to be mixed. Other bloggers, readers, writers from other types of media and others don’t really hold back on their opinion of bloggers and while what they see can at times be incredibly positive and uplifting – they can be equally devastating and hurtful. Also for many bloggers the opinions of others are simply absent. As a blogger starting out seeing the ‘comments (0)’ at the bottom of every post can be debilitating. Once again, if our personal worth is tied to the words of others about us then we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of highs and lows.
When I chat to bloggers that tell me that they are finished with blogging they almost always quietly tell me that they are quitting because of a reason that fits with one of the above areas. Feelings of failure, hurt at the critique of others, disappointment at their abilities, the fact that no-one ever responded or that they felt ignored…..
It’s a familiar story for me also.
When I started blogging on a more serious level 3-4 years ago I began to notice that I had real mood swings that seemed to be tied to how my blogs were going. I remember in the lead up to Christmas 2004 when traffic to my biggest blog at the time almost completely disappeared as a result of Google reshuffling it’s index. The week that followed that event took me to a very low place and very close to quitting my blogging (I even went out and go myself a ‘real job’. Correspondingly when the traffic returned 6-7 weeks later the ‘high’ that I was on was higher than I’d felt in a long time.
I realized around this time that I was on a roller coaster ride and that it wasn’t really healthy or sustainable for me – either as a blogger of as a human being.
True Personal Worth
The lesson that I continually come back to (and I need to learn and relearn it) is to remember that my worth is not determined by what I do or what others think of me. This isn’t a good place to measure my worth as a blogger or as a human being. Self worth comes from something much deeper that those things and while we’re constantly tempted to judge ourselves this way the reality is that my worth as human beings goes beyond my RSS counter, comment numbers, number of appearances on Digg, Technorati ranking, number of links from A-listers etc.
For me my personal worth comes from a much deeper place (something that is tied to my spirituality). I’m not sure where it comes from for you (and I’m not about to push my views on anybody) but I think it’s an important area to ponder because the alternative is to find yourself on the roller coaster of the achievement/opinons of others equation.
Are your feelings of worth tied to how your blog is going? Do you struggle with this one as much as I have? I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with the issue.