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How To Ease the Pressure of Blogging

A Guest Post by David Turnbull of Adventures of a Barefoot Geek

After the initial excitement of launching a new blog fades most bloggers are a few steps away from being overwhelmed with the pressure of blogging to the point that they quit, losing the momentum they were building up and all the progress they’d made. This is an unfortunately common occurence.

Writing. Guest posting. Commenting. Responding to emails. Continuous learning. It’s a lot to take in and if you’re not adequately prepared to face challenges as they appear there’s a likelihood that one day you’ll choose not to publish another post and then you’re back to square one.

Recently, just a fornight ago in fact I became conscious of these feelings as my most recent blog was reaching the 6 month mark. I’d surpassed all the goals I’d set for myself but there was stilll that worry of being locked into my work instead of having control over it. I have no problem with hard work, but when it hits the point of dominating my life I prefer to step back and ask myself “How can I make this easier on myself?”

And that’s what I really want to share in this article. This is not about escaping the work of blogging (because I do honestly enjoy it, just not when it causes imbalance in my life) but to relieve yourself of the constant worry and uncertainty that blogging entails.

Set smaller goals

I’m an advocate of thinking big in most areas of life. If you’re dedicated and disciplined then ambition can often fuel creativity and drive. But blogging is different. There are so many interwoven components to blogging that a big goal often becomes an aimless goal, and an aimless goal is as bad as no goal.

Writing is the most important task for a blogger, so let’s use that as an example. One common belief held by many writers is that you should sit down in the morning at 9am and then not move until 5pm. The idea is that this forces you to write. Do this for 3 days in a row and you’ll lose whatever passion for blogging you ever had. The alternative is much more attractive.

When you sit down to write tell yourself this magical phrase: I’ll be satisified when I’ve written X words. Replace X with the smallest amount of words you can be realistically satisfied with. Once you’ve made this decision and are no longer constricted by outrageous word counts or time frames there’s no anxiety as you work and I expect you’ll find yourself greatly surpassing the “satisfactory metrics” you set for yourself.

Clarify and simplify

What do you want to get out of blogging? Answer that question at least once a month for as long as you own or write for a blog. I imagine most people will respond “to make money” and that’s fine, but there has to be a motivation higher than that, because blogging isn’t exactly the most effective approach to generating an income.

Once you understand with crystal clear clarity why you’re blogging you can eliminate a ton of the garbage that leads to blogging-based stress.

When I first started blogging I had the “make money” goal lodged in my brain, but over the past few weeks I’ve had a shift in my thinking, in that what I truly love is writing and making exciting (and sometimes weird) changes in my life. After I had clarified this I realized that my actions were inconsistent with what I wanted. Instead of writing I was spending most of my time leaving comments on blogs, posting in forums, and using other standard blog promotion tactics. Most of this was unfullfilling.

Now my approach to writing and building a readership is far simpler. These days I do 2 things:

  • Write (for my own blog and guest posts such as this).
  • Care (responding to tweets, emails, blog comments etc).

This has been enormous, so don’t underestimate it. Clarify exactly what you want out of blogging and shape your actions to accomodate for that. Sure, if I were to leave 20+ comments on blogs per day, or become an active member in lots of communities my readership would probably climb faster. But at the same time the very essence of what I love about blogging would be lost, and that’d be setting myself up for eventual failure. Classic example of short term sacrifice (a small boost in traffic) for long term gain (endless fulfillment).

Become a “what matters” blogger

Conventional blogging advice indicates that you should write 3-5 times per week without fail. Yes, in the early days of blogging (at least the first 5-6 months) consistency is crucial. You need to prove that you’ve got the chops and that you’re not going to abandon your readership. But, aside from news blogs and blogs that have multiple contributors, I’d suggest you lower the frequency significantly.

This is something I lifted from Tina of ThinkSimpleNow.com who is well known for taking multiple months away from her blog. I doubt everyone could be met with success using that approach, but the lesson still holds true: to ease the pressure of writing and heighten the respect from your readership only write and publish content that truly matters.

What “matters” is a subjective gauge of course, but at its core it’s your own highest inner standard that you must hold yourself too. Through this approach you will end up spending more time writing individual posts, but:

  • Each post will provide you and your readers with lasting fulfillment.
  • There’ll be less of a frantic rush to publish content.
  • Freeing yourself from a strict deadline and schedule is incredibly liberating.

As a poll here on Problogger indicated, lowering your frequency is not what causes people to unsubscribe from your blog, it’s posting too much that readers dislike. Here’s a quote from Darren himself:

I’ve lost count of the number of bloggers who tell me that scaling back their posting frequency a little brings a new life to their blog…scaling back a little means that they are able to develop better quality posts, that they get more comments per post (the posts remain on the front page of the blog longer) and readers say that they appreciate it.

People don’t unsubscribe from blogs when every piece of content provides them with genuine value.

Successful blogging requires sustained effort over a long period of time. I don’t want to make it seem like you can eliminate hard work and the anxiety that comes with the process. But you can make it easier on yourself. Take action to ease the pressure of blogging and refocus on what you truly care about.

What strategies do you use to ease the pressure of blogging?

David Turnbull is a life-long geek who loves to write about life hacking, simplicity and technology at his blog Adventures of a Barefoot Geek.

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. Raffy says:

    Nice article. I love what you wrote from “Clarify and Simplify”. Thanks for sharing.

  2. somepalli says:

    i think you wrote this article especially for me .it seems like that.

    thank you,

  3. Eric says:

    Having a great reason for bloggging and writing and having a good strategy is something that will truly help you in the long run.

    It’s good to have consistency with your blog and it’s also good to have useful content on that same level.

    Love the article…

    Re-Tweeting now! :)

  4. And as you say, my readership would grow faster, but at what price?

  5. Andy says:

    Every Sunday I write my plan of what I need to do on my site for the next week, which is purely the minimum I need to do to maintain the site as it is. I make sure that what I plan is not an overbearing amount that will make me feel like I have gone into automated mode and can be done without becoming overly boring. It allows me the freedom that on days when I am feeling good or inspired I can do extra stuff rather than becoming bogged down by an impossible list. The plus point of this is that most days I end up doing extra and because it is extra it never becomes a chore but actually encourages me.

  6. Ngcareers says:

    Thanks for this great post. I had once had a blog on marketing but I parked it after some months due to frustration. I have learnt my lessons since then

  7. David says:

    A really useful article David. I am relatively new to blogging and still finding my way. You have given me some interesting thoughts and points to bear in mind. I particularly liked the “Become a “what matters” blogger” section.

  8. Though I’m happy my blog is growing and I have proved to my readers that I am a good source for advice, the workload has risen significantly and I have to tell my readers that I’m taking a break for a few days and hopefully they understand it.

  9. ed hardy uk says:

    Conventional blogging advice indicates that you should write 3-5 times per week without fail. Yes, in the early days of blogging (at least the first 5-6 months) consistency is crucial.

  10. I agree with the principles listed here. Writing for the sake of writing doesn’t create quality content. Unless there is an urge to share something, I don’t even start about it. Writing should be fun and not compulsion. I feel most of the bloggers just get carried away and want to write about each and every news out there. I like to see at my content from reader’s perspective. If something doesn’t excite me as a reader, it is quite possible it will not excite my readers as well. Even though I am a new blogger, I don’t feel that writing 3-5 times a week should be followed as a rule of thumb. Write less, but write good, that should be the rule.

  11. Hi David, thanks so much for this post. As a new blogger, I’ve been happy with my growth and I think the key for me is just what you said: It ain’t about the money. For me, it’s about creation. It’s about helping. It’s about passion. When those qualities come together, monetization can be easily achieved. But no doubt, the ability for money to motivate is a shot-lived cycle, and if we, as bloggers, have no other impetus, we’ll eventually burn out and move on……Thanks again for your excellent work.

  12. This post completely captured my own thoughts on blogging. It does tend to consume you, knowing that you’ve set a schedule of x posts a week. I relieved the pressure when I recently understood my goal for blogging: that is, a portfolio of my work available for view by potential clients. I had the naive notion that I might drum up business from readers through inbound marketing and while that is still a possibility, I’m prospecting the old-fashioned way by reaching out to contacts I’ve met personally or through the web. And blogging, LinkedIn, etc., has added to my universe of targets, all to the good.

    I also want to remember that I love to write what I’m passionate about so forcing a blog doesn’t work. And I’m no longer afraid to write a blog that is not aligned with my brand if I feel the urge. Those I can tend to whip off in 5-10 minutes because I know exactly what I want to say. Again, a wonderful blog that captured all my own anxieties and clarified why I’m blogging.

  13. BlogTech says:

    I have started blogging in last november only at this stage its a very usefull post to me.Thank you David

  14. Jen says:

    What a fantastic surprise to find you here David! I have really tryed to stay relaxed with my blogging and also not just post for the sake of it. I always post once a week and that really seems to suit me … Great advice as always David. :)

  15. POM says:

    Thank you for this enlightening post! I am newly pregnant and stressed out of my mind…blogging was adding so much pressure and stress that even up until this morning…I was thinking of quitting.

    This post has given me new perspective…I will try some of these strategies and different ways of viewing blogging.

    Thank you!!

    http://thepursuitofmommyness.com/

  16. I think a lot of people get into blogging because they think it’s going to a) make them a fortune and b) they can give up the day job.

    But the truth is for many, that they are working as hard (or harder) than they would in a ‘real job’. Consequently, they are working for the blog than on the blog.

    Having a sound business plan is a fundamental starting point.

    I sort of agree that you need small goals although those small goals need to be big goals broken down into small steps. ie, comment on 20 sites, write 2 articles etc….

  17. Madeleine says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. It is very timely for me, since I haven’t posted anything on my blog for weeks. It was largely due to the pressures and logistics of a big move across the U.S. (It’s hard enough to move from one city to another.) Then there was an unexpected death in my family.
    Now I’ve actually moved (although the furniture won’t be here for another 9 or 10 days), I want to start writing again.

    Sometimes the issue is not running out of things to say or spending too much time doing things like commenting on other blogs. Sometimes the demands of one’s life become over-whelming, and there’s no time or energy left for blogging.

  18. There are numerous articles out there that state that a person should blog on what we have made money on and a person doesn’t really have the wright to do so if they haven’t made money from the particular subject they are blogging about.

    Well my question is if I am for example new to the game of blogging and haven’t made money on any subject out there then does that mean I should keep out of blogging all together?

    I Invite your answers,

    Kenneth

  19. Harshathlete says:

    Great post. However, as within anything worthwhile, you need consistency and discipline to get the results.
    Although, my blog is only 4 months old, here are some of the tricks I have learnt that sort of echo what the author has to say.
    a) Setting smaller goals : Its better to write a smaller post with substance that a longer post that says nothing imporatant.
    b) I use google alerts to keep me notified of new trends and topics being written about. This gives me new ideas for posts when I cannot think of any.
    c) There are days when I am on a creative roll. On those days, I will often write for an hour or two non-stop. I will then break down a single article into a series of posts and schedule them to be released at future dates.
    d) I often save good ideas that come to me in my drafts folder. Just a subject line with the idea is enough for me. Or else the good ideas get lost.
    e) If you regularly review you drafts folder, you might reject some drafts that you have thought were good ideas while you might come up with newer ideas when reviewing older drafts.
    f) If your topics is relevant, using Yahoo Answers is a great way to repackage content of an older post you have already written based on how the question was framed by the asker. This becomes your new post while still adding value.

  20. Mokibobolink says:

    Great post and very relevant to what I’m dealing with right now. I launched my first blog late last summer with absolutely no idea what I was doing. Now I’m running two and still trying to figure out what I’m doing. LOL.

  21. Well, I’ve seen some people writing less often compared to others. Instead, they do guest blogging and comment marketing. They pull in more readers to their well-viewed and well-commented posts. This seems to be more fun than thinking about the next post and the next post and …

  22. Thabk you for the post! I DO believe that if the reason of your blogging is not only making money U will have success!

  23. Jacob Stoops says:

    I totally agree with you. Sometimes maintaining a blog is just too damned hard, and the motivation to write slips away fairly easily if you allow yourself to get overwhelmed.

    I agree with your assessment that reducing the total number of posts helps ensure that your post quality is better, while allowing you to not get overwhelmed. IMO – the important thing is quality and knowing what your blog is supposed to be doing (i.e. having a goal). Once you know that, the rest falls into line i think…

  24. CJ Spurr says:

    I’m not overwhelmed by the blogging part of blogging. I love to write, that isn’t the overwhelming thing for me. The overwhelming thing is the lack of readers which in turn means little income which leads, well you see the issue.

    There’s so much information out there that a new blogger is going to run into trouble long before the 6 month mark. If you don’t like to write, then maybe blogging isn’t for you. If you want a quick rich scheme then maybe blogging isn’t for you.

    While I believe setting realistic goals is a good idea, I think people miss the mark. It’s not the writing that’s the problem, it’s everything else a new blogger has to learn and do in order to get seen, find a following, and not worry about the next paycheck.

    There’s a saying I was told once, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

    No if they can give me advice on how to put the plan together, I’d appreciate it.

  25. Nick says:

    Thanks so much! Great for people who feel that way. I’ve never felt that way because my site has proved to be pretty rewarding. Check it out http://thenewenglandweatherlife.ning.com

  26. Sorry, what does “fornight” mean?

    Thanks in advance.

  27. Wow!

    i SOO needed to hear this!

    You know sometimes you read something and you think “is the author talking to me or what!” – well i just had that moment!

    I thought I was the only one feeling pressure/getting stressed for reasons i can’t understand.

    I guess simplicity really is sublime…at times!

    Thanks David.

  28. Ed says:

    all very awesome tips. like always

  29. @Daniel Cajiga, a fortnight is 2 weeks.

    As far as the post goes, I enjoyed it, some good tips.

    I’ve always tried to keep my blogging casual, though I try to be consistent and make a good impression on any readers, I also don’t want it to turn into a day job that I hate. I’m already living with that now, if blogging turned into that I’d go crazy!

  30. @Randy @ Just Point and Shoot, thank you very much!

  31. Bibokz says:

    How To Ease the Pressure of Blogging? I agree, make it simple… make it as your hobby and love it. Don’t blog just because of money or fame… blog, because you love blogging.

  32. I like your idea of setting x words before writing a post, never think of it :) I’ll try to implement in next time I update my blog

  33. Marion says:

    We have a family motto: Say it with words. This post of yours makes you an honorary member of our family. We’ll be in touch to see what you’re bringing to Thanksgiving. Thanks.

  34. Aglo says:

    Do not ever think a blogs is source of the money, but a decent hobby you give to someone else. This will make us more valuable than our blog content.

  35. As to this last article I feel that not only can you have burnout from so much time working at blogging or working successful programs, the same can be said for the newbie working with programs that do not provide a good training for the particular internet opportunity and very little funds to work with.

    So this lonely soul tries to do it all his or herself and spend hours and hours trying to figure out how the bloody programs work just to end up in the sage of (Internet burnout.)

    Kenneth Young

  36. Thanks for the wisdom. As someone who doesn’t always find it easy to lay a new blog down, you have some good advice.

  37. Evan says:

    I remind myself that I am living in a space that is effectively infinite.

    I ask what I could say that is of most benefit to others.

    I ask myself what I really want to say.

    I ask myself what the most important thing is that I have to say.

  38. Would agree and say that accurately defining your goals helps with determining the post frequency.

    If you are sharing all your thoughts on a given topic then the frequency will be higher, or perhaps utilise twitter for the smaller ones.

    If it is an information blog based on regualar data or periodical topical news then the frequency will be less.

    Readers are lost I think when the objective of the blog becomes confusing and mixes both the above. Both are correct objectives but shouldn’t be intermixed.

  39. Starlitt says:

    One of my bog problem is find something to write on my blog, somtime it take time. Ihave learned how to blog myself from this post.

    Thank you.

  40. I’ve found a solution to less worry about content writing at my blog:

    I’ve invited guest bloggers who write on topics related to my blog, but I’m not directly specialized in those areas. In return, I build profiles for them to rank highly in Google for their keyphrases. It’s a win-win plan and I could do it as I’m specialized in SEO and know how to do this.

  41. Parth says:

    Thank You so much, David for this incredible post!

    Your suggestions and advice has relieved me since I used to strictly follow my schedule of writing once in every 2-3 days without giving due credit to quality.

    Thank You for opening my eyes.. From now on, whatever I write, shall definitely be high-quality stuff!

  42. Blogging shouldn’t be something stressful. Blogs are created for a much more personal approach to readers a reason why you shouldn’t be pressured about it. The more readers can relate to it and understand its content the more they will like it. To be able to attend to your blog, you must schedule when to write on it.

  43. Let the beauty you love be what you do – Rumi

    I like how you shifted your attitude from making money to the key of liking to write.

    Good time and life lesson this one will remember.

  44. My problem is finding time to write, running 3 blogs and guest posting on others it is very hard to find the time to keep up with 90 articles per month myself lately. If blogging was my only job wouldn’t be a big deal.

  45. As for me, my main problem is writing an article. Sometimes I don’t know about what to write, if the information i’ve given enough, is my grammar good and other stuff that bothers me. For that reason I sometimes will hired freelance article writer to write article for me but it quite costly. If any one got suggestion regarding my problem, feel free to share it.

  46. The main message is that content is king. As long as a blogger provides useful original content, people will continue to follow the blog and google will look kindly upon you.

  47. I never would have had the idea at things like that. This is going to make my day a whole lot easier.