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The Psychology of Blogging

Psychology-Of-BloggingToday Life Coach Tim Brownson from A Daring Adventure explores 6 tips to get your mindset right when approaching blogging.

  • 10 spare hours a week – Check
  • Niche market – Check
  • Basic understanding of SEO – Check
  • Google Adsense account – Check
  • Dummies’ guide to writing great content – Check
  • Burning desire to succeed – Check

There are a lot of great sites, this one included, that can help aspiring writers progress smoothly through the ranks of mere blogging wannabes to the heady heights of ‘A’ listers. To read some articles it would be easy to assume if you follow this A-Z of Blogging success you’ll be basking in the adulation of thousands of subscribers faster than you can say “Really Simple Syndication”.

The reality is that, like people in most industries, few bloggers make a successful transition to the very highest level. Even though they know at a mechanical level what’s needed, they don’t seem to be able to put everything in place. There are a number of obvious reasons such as a lack of focus and/or discipline, inability to write great content and a lack of understanding of the requirements of their target audience, and one less obvious one.

Few newbies take into consideration (or maybe just take for granted) the psychology behind becoming a successful blogger: the ability to roll with the punches and succeed come what may. It’s not enough to just know the technical side of things, you have to be able to stay on track, stay committed and hopefully stay sane. Otherwise you’re likely to burn out quicker than a magnesium candle.

Here are the six tips that, coupled with all the other great advice on offer, will, if not guarantee your success, certainly stack the odds more heavily in your favor.

1. Patience Is A Virtue

If you’re naturally an impatient person you’ll want to curb that tendency when you get into blogging. Otherwise you’re likely to end up very frustrated and very stressed. Wanting to get on with the job in hand is all well and good – but it doesn’t matter how far your veins bulge out of your neck, Alexa won’t be back to your site for a day or two and Google won’t be indexing you on a daily basis to begin with, so let it go.

Do what you need to do to meet your short-term goals and relax in the knowledge that all is good in the world. Be aware of what is within your circle of influence and what is outside it, and then stay focused on the former.

Unless you are very lucky, have lots of spare cash to advertise or have oodles of time on your hands to go on a commenting frenzy, it’s unlikely you’re going to see much of a return inside six months. It can be done, but don’t bank on it

2. Perfectionism Is Pointless

One of the biggest killers of projects is perfectionism in all its various guises. If you are to stand any chance of getting to the stage where all you have to do is switch your computer on to make money, you need to realize that some of your early stuff will be less than stellar.

I thought my early posts were insightful, thought provoking and witty. When I look at them now I roll my eyes and think they were pretentious, self indulgent and forced. It took me over a year to become happy with my writing style and find my niche. Writing is a practice and you’ll improve in the same way as you would if you took up playing the guitar, speaking a foreign lesson or public speaking.

Accept that some of your early stuff will not be perfect and publish it anyway. In fact publish it BECAUSE it’s not perfect. You’ll only really learn and develop as a writer by getting your stuff ‘out there’ and seeing what response you get, or even don’t get.

3. Embrace Failure

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “fail, fail often, and fail quickly”. It makes perfect sense to fail as quickly as you can so that you can learn from those errors and move forward. Ask any ‘A’ lister if they have screwed up at some stage and I’m confident somewhere in the region of 100% will say yes.

That’s life, that is how human beings are wired up to learn and you’re no exception. Of course you should learn as much as you can and avoid the really obvious pitfalls by reading books such as Darren and Chris’s ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. However there’ll plenty of non-obvious roadblocks specific to your area of expertise that you won’t be expecting and won’t foresee, no matter how much planning and research you do.

Embrace these roadblocks, kiss them and thank each and every one of them for turning up. Each one that you overcome is an opportunity to learn and grow. Not only that, but every one that you deal with successfully separates you from the also-rans that have bailed out at the first sign of trouble.

When (and not if) something goes wrong ask yourself one simple question: “What can I learn from this?” If you can take some valuable experience with you, and know that you won’t repeat the same mistake, then it’s been worth it.

Anybody that has failed spectacularly only to go on to bigger and better things will tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way. We need the agony of short-term failure to ensure delicious long-term and long lasting success.

4. Develop A Thick Skin

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Unfortunately Benny didn’t have a blog, because if he had the quote would have been “”In this world nothing is certain but death, taxes and if your blog becomes popular people will get jealous and want to see you fail.”

It doesn’t matter how brilliant your blog is, how much you pour your heart and soul into it, how genuine you are and what the quality of the writing is like, some people will still want to see you knocked down a peg or two. In fact, the more successful you are, the more some people will want to see you fail. Twas ever thus I’m afraid.

You’ll probably receive abusive e-mails from time to time as well as commenters who want to make you look foolish and/or criticize you. That’s just life as an ‘A’ list blogger. You need to either deal with it or prepare yourself for the day when you’re asked to put on the jacket with the very long sleeves.

Understand your readers do not know you. Some will think they do and may even start to perceive you as a friend. This is cool as long as they don’t start hanging around outside your house and sending you rabbit paws through the mail, but they still don’t know you. Therefore, any criticism that is aimed at you reveals nothing about you. It says plenty about the person that administers it, but that’s about as far as it goes.

You should deal with criticism the same way as you should deal with compliments: with a pinch of salt. Of course we all prefer to receive compliments, but they’re two sides of the same coin. If you take the good stuff too seriously, you’ll not be able to deal with the bad stuff when it arrives.

Whatever somebody says, simply thank them for their feedback. Then decide whether that feedback is useful and can help you move forward. If it can, great, use it. If it can’t, drop it because you don’t need it.

5. Stay Focused

This leads on from growing a thick skin. If you’re too heavily influenced by what others say you’re going to lose focus. Why did you start the blog? What are your goals? Who are you writing for? Get back to basics and re-connect with your real objectives from time to time. Otherwise you’ll start trying to please everybody and end up pleasing nobody.

Readers will come and readers will go, that’s just how it is. It isn’t about you and it’s pointless to try and work out people’s motives. I have enough trouble trying to work out what is going on inside my own head without trying to second-guess what other people are thinking. Firstly, you’re going to waste a lot of time and emotional energy and secondly you’re probably going to get it wrong, if not horribly wrong. Let it go.

6. Know Your Identity

Your blog is not you; it’s not your identity. If it crashes and burns that doesn’t mean you do too. We all want a successful blog with people lining up to comment and pay us homage (I know I do anyway), but it’s really not life and death.

Keep some perspective. Go all out to achieve your goals (you have got written goals, right?), but don’t stay attached to the results. Not only will that mean you keep a sense of balance, but conversely it will make you more likely to achieve your aims anyway.

Read more from Today Life Coach at A Daring Adventure.

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. Staying focused is important otherwise you get off trck. It can be difficult to keep a blogging mindset. To be successful you have to do it.

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the boost. I was just beating myself up about my blogging when this came over the transom. Staying focused day in and day out can sometimes be a challenge. Keeping my vision long term is great advice.

  3. Young says:

    Know what you are looking for and what you can do, and then focus on them, you will be successful. Take John Chow for example, that guy is not good at tech even the web design was supported by UBD, so that he did not write tech posts but all about tech free posts which were easier to be controlled by him.

  4. Surender says:

    Hi Dareen,
    Absolutely correct.This is very-very useful article.
    Thanks

  5. Nikhil G. says:

    Hey pal…

    I am a new Reader of your blog. Added your feed to GReader. And, I must say a Blogger like you is a great helper for new Bloggers like me.. :P
    I have just started on with giving more time to my blog and presently I am writing about Adsense, with nearly 3 posts daily, till I am exhausted with Adsense :P (I have about three years of time for this, before I go with my Business Management degree.) Blogging proved to be a major stress-reliever for me, after I was detained from the best technical university in India – IIT Delhi..

    anyways will be a regular reader to your blog…
    just wanted to share all this with you…

    Take care
    Nikhil G.

  6. Debo Hobo says:

    Hey I need to get that book “Dummies’ guide to writing great content” LOL;)

  7. Alexander says:

    Incredible writing, I love your style, thank you for this inspiring post.

  8. Salwa says:

    Excellent article Darren. All very true points. Also not to loose interests is very important but I guess this falls down in the category of staying focused.

  9. Gala says:

    Well done Tim! :D Also your bit about rabbit paws made me laugh out loud… !

  10. Tracy says:

    Thanks for the great article, Tim. I’m finding that lack of feedback has been very frustrating for me and that I’ve had to step back and examine why I feel like I need constant reassurance that I’m doing a good job. It sounds cheesy but blogging has been something of a growth experience.

  11. Keral Patel says:

    Google adsense account – Check :D

    I see no adsense on most of the popular blogs.

  12. nice complete article,, all is true.

  13. --Deb says:

    But, but, but … I LOVE being a perfectionist! It’s so annoyingly off-putting, and such a useful, built-in obstacle for saying, “I can’t”….

  14. Michael Fowke says:

    Blogging is so hard that you really need a ‘Death or Glory’ attitude to succeed.

  15. Dang it, Tim, why couldn’t you have written this when I started out blogging in January? Spot on (as with all your posts!) and I would definitely emphasise that “patience is a virtue”. So many bloggers (self included) go into blogging expecting to see quick results … but as Darren’s pointed out on ProBlogger before, the blogs in the Technorati Top 100 have mostly been around for years.

  16. Excellent, I especially like 1 and 6. It can be easy to get wrapped up in stats and popularity to the point where it consumes you. You have to have a lot of patience…very well said.

    Just remember, even if your blog crashes and fails, you can always make a comeback :)

  17. Pat with SPI says:

    Tim, great article.

    I have to reiterate about point #1. Patience is a virtue, and without it, I bet many of us would not be bloggers.

    Even to just to setup your blog, before you even get into writing posts, it takes a lot patience.

  18. Thinkmaya says:

    Interesting perspective. I think it is really important we have a thick skin and remain passionate. I love number 6. When we put so much of ourselves into a blog, it gets hard to remember that our blog is not our identity. Great reminder.

  19. Alex M. says:

    If one has patience, he has everything. Nice post.

  20. Developing a thick skin, and remembering that we have a separate identity from our blogs, are very important indeed. I’m still working on those, and as always, it’s good to read your words Tim and be inspired by them.

  21. Jon Symons says:

    Funny, the one that always seems to get missed, and I believe causes failure most of the time, which is having a plan to succeed.

    Starting blogs these days should be like getting a driver’s license, you should have to pass a test, and one of the questions would be to explain your plan to get compensated for all the time/effort involved.

    Imo, this is why most blogs fade out: at some point the blogger gets tired of working for free and doesn’t have clue how to get over the hump and begin to make “real” money.

  22. Mike King says:

    So true, I’ve learned a ton about patience in growing my blog. It has payed off and I can definitely say I am much more patient and understanding than when I started. Blogging is a great medium to learn from when you put this work outlined above into it.

  23. Lori says:

    Such an incredibly helpful post. It was perfect timing for me. So much of it was exactly what I needed to hear and reflect on. Thanks!

  24. I’m still very much in the process of learning to write.

    Learning well executed grammar and strategic structuring…

    I look back at some of my recent posts and find errors in comma placement and I also see where I could have made sentences more colorful.

    It is indeed a learning process. And I believe I get better every day.

  25. SEO UK says:

    An excellent article and one which is written perfectly.

    Thanks :)

  26. I fell into this blogosphere about 5 months ago and fell in love! and that keeps me sane through the sometimes rough parts, the technical difficulties, the reader challenge, etc. I know eventually all that I want will come!

  27. Sarah H. says:

    Really great advice here…thank you! I tend to be a perfectionist and also hate failing (who doesn’t?). But your points are right on…I need to approach blogging with all six of your tips in mind!

  28. VlogHog says:

    Another tips would be to love to write or be in love with writing.

    I mean love like you love a human because you’re going to be writing a lot. and perhaps spending more time writing than talking to some friends and loved ones.

    Be patience.

  29. Tressa says:

    Thank you so much for the perfectionism post. I just scrapped a video blog because I know it can be better. I guess I should just learn from it, and let go on the path to learning.

    The thick skin part is helpful too, when I get bad comments, I do feel bad. But you are right they don’t really know me.

    Tressa

  30. This is a great post. Just what I needed to hear, I am getting frustrated on all fronts–I can’t write, I have no focus, and nobody is visiting–but I’ve only been doing it for about 2 months! Thank-you for the reality check!

  31. Excellent post. You said exactly what I needed to hear.
    Thank you,
    Christy :)

  32. Failure is a great teacher. I’ve started 24 blogs in 3 years and currently 6 are still up and running. Learned quite a bit of info on what doesn’t work and what does work. Of course, a lot of ideas did come from Problogger and it’s a great place to learn about blogging.

  33. Mia says:

    Thanks for writing this. For me, it’s perfect timing. I find myself being sucked into my blog, being addicted by it. I’m wanting to grow it, perfect it, whatever it NOW. It’s not realistic and I know it, but to see it in writing helps. Especially since I’m not going to get any of that any time soon.

  34. Vincent says:

    Great post by Tim Brownson. Patience is definitely a virtue. At the start of my blogging career, I always kept looking at my alexa ranking and subscription number for so many times in a day, and when the number doesn’t get better, I will get depressed and start to think think too much about it. What Tim said on the point of patience is a virtue is definitely a great reminder to us have patience.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  35. Thomas says:

    #4 is probably the best advice; any writer knows this. Ironically, as a writer myself, #4 is what I need to work on most.

  36. tyler says:

    i like how it has a positive note and it says that you are basically still a good person even if your blog sucks. I think people are loosing touch with themselves and are judging themselves based on their accomplishments. this is very sad

  37. couldn’t agree more especially ‘burning desire to succeed’ just a par for the course really :) lovely post!

  38. I agree about needing a thick skin, especially with a very personal blog. Some of the content on Vintage Mommy is emotional stuff (for me) and I have to be ready for difficult reactions from readers.

    I also agree with the person who mentioned having a plan for success. I think that the days of “falling into” successful blogging are over; you need a strategy if you hope to make money – hmmm, just like every other business!

  39. Indexmy says:

    i like your explanation for this post …. TQ

  40. Ernie says:

    Great post. I just started blogging and everyday I check my feedburner many times even though I know things aren’t going to change that much within a day. Patience definitely is a virtue… maybe I should chill out

    Thanks,
    Ernie H

  41. I agree with #5 Stay Focused. I have known some who jump into the blogging bandwagon and then stop at some point because they get tired or received a very bad criticism.

    This was a great read. Thanks!

  42. Eric Hamm says:

    I love #4: Develop A Thick Skin.

    This is all too true and very important to remember as you ‘rise in the ranks’. Thanks for sharing this as I will use it as a reminder to help keep my head on the important things, like creating great content. Eric.

  43. ITrush says:

    #’s 1 and 5 is very important, thanks for reminding us. :)

  44. Excellent advice! Staying focused is extremely important and having patience in developing the kind of content that people appreciate to read and find useful.

  45. Hey Tim,
    So happy to see you guest posting for Problogger because that you are! You know I am a huge fan and you give some very important tips here on how to succeed in blogging. I did opt out of having a google ad sense account but that was a personal decision based on some of the ads I saw coming up that went against what my site promotes. I guess if you write about limiting pharmaceuticals you will get those Big Pharma ads irregardless. So my new site is Ad-senseless but I do have many other more appropriate affiliates set up. Thanks for the good advice – the thick skin was the one I probably struggled with the most but now I am able to put my attention on all the positive comments and just ignore the rest. Awesome job Tim!
    Love, Jenny

  46. axel g says:

    Tim!

    That felt like really earnest advice – thanks +_+

    It’s a sound approach to life, being able to let go…

  47. Hi Tim,

    This is a wonderful post. It is actually one of the best written articles I have seen in awhile. I can tell you did multiple edits. And if you didn’t, kudos to you.
    I like the idea of developing a thick skin best. You can’t be afraid of people telling you that you are horrible. The key is, to take that and turn it around, and push to become better. Use it to lift you up instead of tear you down.

    That’s my 2 cents for today!

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  48. Angel Cuala says:

    I am glad to read blogging tips with different approach, and I think this is the best part – You should deal with criticism the same way as you should deal with compliments: with a pinch of salt.

    I truly believe that we cannot please everybody in any field we go, no matter how hard we try. I have read a lot of forum and blog posts that criticize a particular blogger, but still the blogger maintain his composure.

    By doing this, he made more challenging posts and eventually, the criticisms were converted to praises. This is not an easy task, but this is the way it should be.

  49. Thanks for an excellent post!

    I too am addicted to looking at my Feedburner numbers. They are going up steadily – which is good. But there are days when my numbers sag a little and I look at them gloomily…I’m sure others have the same experience!

    What has helped my blog surge ahead and gather subscribers is offering my Ebook “Overcome Anything: Finding the Light after Darkness” for free.

    As to writing content: for a while I tried hard to taylor each post to social media, in particular to StumbleUpon. But now I’ve decided to stick to writing what I really want to write about. That means that some posts hit high with social media, and others don’t. So be it.

    I found inspiration in observing Steve Pavlina. He’s always written what he really wants to write – and hasn’t he done well!

    I think it’s important that we stay true to who we are and write what we want to. Otherwise we’ll burn out.

  50. JB says:

    I think that developing “thick-skin” is an excellent tip for newbie bloggers. The reality of the situation is, is that many users in the online community take pride in berating someone behind a computer screen. It is most certain in the interest of you, to not take any negative comments given to you personally, and if there is any merit in the comment, strive to use that criticism to better your blog but take it with a grain of salt.