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How to Solve the Blogging Puzzle

This post is by Kiesha of WeBlogBetter.

Have you solved the blogging puzzle? Or are you just puzzled?

As a kid, when winter break rolled around, I found myself with too much time on my hands. So I would occupy myself with 1000-piece puzzles. They kept me entertained for days.

But after several hours working on the puzzle, I always came to a point where I wanted to quit—a point where I became so frustrated that I just wanted to throw the whole box of madness up against the wall. I can remember feeling as if the makers of the puzzle were deliberately trying to trick me, like they’d left out some very important pieces to keep me from finishing the puzzle. I felt like there were some insider tips that I was not privileged to know.

I was so puzzled, I had no choice but to step away from the table for a while—to actually eat, use the restroom, and do other stuff I somehow forgot while in my frenzied quest.

While on my break, I would continue to think about the stupid puzzle. I’d think about where I’d gone wrong. Perhaps there were pieces that I thought should fit in one spot that actually belonged somewhere else entirely. The puzzle even occupied my mind while I was eating.

When I got back to the puzzle with fresh eyes, I’d start seeing many pieces that I’d overlooked before. I’d find the exact spot where those pieces I’d been trying to force into all the wrong places really belonged. I’d get my second wind and before I knew it, every piece would be firmly placed and the beautiful, big picture would emerge.

Fast forward a few decades. I still love puzzles, but I no longer have time for such frivolous time-wasting (okay, I admit it: I still partake occasionally). However, I’ve learned that there’s a lot to be learned about blogging from puzzles.

Build the frame first

This seems like the most common-sense thing to do, but it’s also very tempting to just dive in and start throwing things together. Yet, without the frame, it’s easy to lose sight of how all the other pieces fit together—the puzzle becomes a vague, nebulous thing that makes no sense. The frame sets the physical boundaries that enable an understanding of the puzzle’s dimensions and help you see the significance of each individual piece.

It’s the same with blogging. A blog requires the solid foundation of a good design that visually shows your readers how all of the pieces of your blog fit together, and makes it easy to navigate. In addition to visual design, your categories provide the framework that’s needed to understand the boundaries of your blog. By looking at those categories, a reader should instantly get an idea of what they might or might not find on your blog.

Look at the big picture

Honestly, I see blogging as my latest puzzle adventure. As I continue to dive deeper into the world of blogging, I discover new pieces of knowledge that I had missed before. As I digest each new piece of information that comes in the form of books and others’ blog posts, the big picture begins to develop.

Sometimes, I realize there are misplaced pieces. The good news is that I don’t have to know everything. With a little research, I can do just about anything. Sometimes, I just have to go back and keep digging through the same pieces I thought were useless before until I realize those are the very pieces I need. There were pieces of the blogging puzzle I rejected at first. I couldn’t see the point of SEO, for example. I had to go back and add that valuable piece to my knowledge bank later, once I saw its relevance to my blog.

It takes work and time

Blogging requires work and a commitment of time. Like a 1000-piece puzzle, it’s never finished in one day. You have to keep at it, piece by piece, until it finally starts looking more and more like the picture on the box—like the blog you sought out to create before the frustration hit.

I don’t care how bad a blog starts out. I believe that, if you continue to work at improving it, time becomes the best medicine—especially in the blogosphere, where new blogs come and old ones go every day. If your blog can stand the test of time, some level of success won’t be far off.

It requires focus

I learned the hard way that jumping all over the place from one area to the next really only sped up the frustration factor. Instead of focusing on one area until I had developed something I recognized, I would become fascinated by a new set of pieces and start working on a totally unrelated section of the puzzle.

When I first started blogging, I was so fascinated by affiliate marketing and making money online that I didn’t have time to develop the most important piece of all: content.

It’s no wonder so many people step away from the blogging table—there are so many different elements demanding our attention. These factors can leave you feeling frazzled, and pull you all over the place, robbing you of focus. Once I realized the importance of focusing on one area at a time (when in doubt, focus on content), I was able to accomplish so much more.

What I learned about puzzles so many years ago now informs my blogging. That’s the beauty of personal experience: there’s an important lesson to learn in everything we do—even something as seemingly useless as putting together a puzzle.

So what about you? Are you still trying to solve your blogging puzzle? Or are you so puzzled that you’re ready to give in? What tips can you add?

Kiesha blogs at WeBlogBetter, a blog devoted to offering blogging tips. Sheís a technical writer, writing instructor, and blog consultant for small business owners. Connect with her on Twitter @weblogbetter.

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Comments

  1. nice idea for your look about blogging
    nice article really blogging like puzzle

  2. I think the word ‘puzzle’ is in its self a challenge – one which requires continues attempts to get right. You must agree that each and every blog is different – since the authors are all different – baring this in mind each and everyone will have their own methods of dealing with the challenge.

    For me the hardest bit was to decide to have a blog – once this was achieved and my mind has been set – the rest was easy. A sub-challenge now is to maintain a constant flow of good content.

    • Hi Awakening Tempest,
      Ah, yes, maintaining a constant flow of content is one of my biggest challenges as well. I think it is for most bloggers. It helps to invite guest posters or to team up with a few other bloggers and have them post regularly on your site. You might want to try MyGuestBlog.com – it’s a free site that allows bloggers to hook up with guest posters.
      Best of luck to you!

  3. Mike Lopez says:

    Oh yeah, the blogging puzzle has kept me puzzled for years! I put my blog, write blog posts and end up tearing it down because I don’t think I’m doing it right. I start again and go into the same cycle all over again until I found out how to put the pieces together.

    Great blog post, I wish you have written this years ago as it would have saved me a lot of time. Hahaha.

  4. Stuart says:

    I think it’s so important to have a framework set up for your blog, and not just of what you want it to look like NOW, but what you want it to be in the FUTURE.

    We all have big dreams for our websites, but not many realise them, partly because they hadn’t planned how to get there. But if you plan beforehand, you’ll be able to see your route, then you can get anywhere you want to go :-)

    • Hi Stuart,
      I agree – as a blogger you always have to be looking ahead and make plans. But I think the most important step is to actually take action. So many great ideas go to waste because bloggers fails to take action.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Just started to fix my puzzle.
    Blogging required many mentors to show you the bigger picture of single piece of 1000 size puzzle.
    The blog readers are my mentors and has help me to be successful in blogging.

    Treat your reader like you would like other blogger to treat you.

  6. Figure out where you want to be and how to get there..this is what i call an smart marketer..just figure out this and you will see nice results when you get focus..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  7. Wasim Ismail says:

    Everyone has the puzzles, its how you build the puzzle that makes you different and stand out, and knowing how to do it perfectly is the key. Thanks for the Tips and guidelines.

    • Hi Wasim,
      Yeah, but unfortunately puzzles don’t come with instructions and neither does a blog, so knowing how doesn’t come natural for everyone. But for those who master it, success is limitless. Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. Dr. Mike says:

    Nice post!

    I’ve tried a few blog concepts over the years, and I’m feeling like I’ve arranged some of the puzzle pieces better in my current effort. In some ways, though, blogging is a dynamic puzzle. The ultimate image changes over time, as do the pieces. Even the tools that you possess for manipulating the pieces evolve.

    To me, that is simultaneously the challenge and the attraction of blogging. Even as time passes, blogging remains an interesting puzzle!

  9. Max says:

    Yes. The puzzle is very difficult to fit. I am not a native english speaker, and I am also not at idea expression. There are problems about ideas, grammar, or even writing and vocabulary.
    My original idea of building the blog is to generate some easy cash by ads and finally supporting another websites. But now I constantly asking myself should I quit the blog and just start an e-commerce website?
    When I felt something was improving, I will eventually knew that it was just an illusion.
    Although it is not good enough to write a decent product review, my writing is becoming better!

  10. Max says:

    I mean “not good at idea expressions.”

    • Hi Max,
      Glad to hear that you’re writing is improving. Generating easy cash is really not all that easy – especially by blogging. You’ve got to put in lots of hard work and build a social following to really start seeing results. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Nice Post. I’ve to agree with you many people start blogging to make money but in few months step away from the blogging game.

    Thanks for sharing this great post.

    • Thanks, Dev,
      You’re right, I’ve seen some great bloggers come and go. Honestly, if you’re blogging solely to make some quick money, quitting is only inevitable. You can generate an income, but it takes time – usually longer than most people are willing to wait and lots of effort.

  12. Wojo says:

    This was a brilliant analogy. I regularly go through all of the emotions you describe–elation, frustration, motivation, complete dejection. It seems like thinking about it in terms of a never-ending puzzle actually makes the whole thing MORE manageable, not less (completely counter-intuitive).

    • Thanks, Wojo,
      Glad you like the post! It can be like an never-ending puzzle because a blog just continues to grow and grow if you continue to work at it. I believe these emotional stages are a normal part of the blogging process, but only those who can make it past the dejection phase will make it.

  13. dear devesh
    really i started blogging to make money but now i blogging for blogging
    and if i have money from it i will not say no and if i have not i will not be sad.

  14. Vladimir says:

    I know exactly what you mean in the “Look at the Big picture” section…
    And pretty much this whole post is like talking about me…
    Thanks for the reminder :)

  15. Marie says:

    I love blogging, but get discouraged pretty easily. Thanks for the reminder that successful blogs take time AND require the ability to get some perspective on what we want to achieve. I love jigsaw puzzles – thank you for that image. Very helpful.

    • Hi Marie,
      See, who knew you could take what you love about jigsaw puzzles and apply it to blogging. Don’t give up, Marie, just keep chugging along and you’ll figure out how to bring all the pieces together :)

  16. Brandon Cox says:

    Have I figured it all out? Of course! Ha, no! It’s a constantly rolling experiment. I love your analogy. Strange how something so puzzling can be made so simple.

  17. Kiesha,

    I love a solid metaphore in a blog post, and you nailed it this time. Congrats!

    I’m definitely still working on my puzzle. I’ve only been at it for a few months, but I’ve hit the wall a few times already. Like you mentioned about making money, I realize now that I stumbled into that trap by my second month and my content took a noticeable nosedive in quality.

    I’ve pulled myself out of that and I restructured my blog to conform more accurately to the goals I had originally set for it. Now I’m working hard to learn how to improve every post and especially headlines to draw people in.

    It’s a constant learning process.

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Justin!
      It is a constant learning process. But if you love to learn new things, blogging will always be a stimulating challenge. Glad to hear you’ve found your way out and are restructuring your blog for the better.

      I wish you the best!

  18. Sebz says:

    that’s a great way to put it; solving thousand-piece puzzles is a hobby of mine, too.

  19. I’m with Justin, nice metaphors.

    This is so right on. It is a puzzle. It’s easy to get distracted, and it does take a ton of time. What helps me tremendously is to continue to learn from other bloggers, explore new understandings daily, and pay specific attention to, and engage in altering mental states.. another way of saying activating my brain as frequently as possible.

  20. Lakshmi says:

    Hi Kiesha

    Great post once again from a great blogger. We have started writing blogs and do regularly read all post regarding blogs so that we can do better I am sure all the readers will accept this With reviews given by you we can do better and write great articles same as yours.

    Thanking you.
    Lakshmi

  21. Kiesha! Great post.

    I think it’s good you spend less time on puzzles these days. Not so much because it’s a waste I’d time, but because it sounds like you were seriously obsessed! :)

  22. Linda says:

    hello Kiesha,

    I love the whole ‘puzzle story. So true.
    I was starting to agree with you, that ‘blogs don’t come with instructions’ ,but then I thought, of course they do! There are so many sites like this to find the answers to our questions as we progress. All we have to do is, read, and then comes the hard bit of the whole puzzle…which pieces of advice will fit with our unique picture for our blog!
    Back to the reading for me…

    • Hi Linda!
      You’re right – it is this very blog and the book (I actually found the book first) that got me started. I guess you could say that was my “instruction manual” come to think of it :) You’re always so insightful!

  23. Kiesha, I love this imagery, and it’s such a kick because yesterday, I was just using the same analogy in a conversation with a friend about the affiliate marketing she’s doing. ;) I think the best part of this analogy is it reminds us that we don’t have to get every piece right NOW. I used to do those big 2000 piece jigsaw puzzles with my mom when I was a teenager, and we loved to poke at them over a period of days. In fact, we felt a big of a letdown when they were done. It was the process of discovery and creativity and focus that was the joy, not the finished product. And on the days when poking at the puzzle wasn’t any fun–when we looked and looked for a particular piece and couldn’t find it, we learned to stop looking for that particular piece and walk away or move to a different part of the puzzle.

    And the same is true about blogging. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that I need to focus on the parts of the puzzle that are fun for me now. When I first started, I tried to do every little thing that the pros teach about driving traffic, and I hated much of it. Now I’m focusing in on the strategies I actually enjoy and I’m making more progress.

    Thanks for sharing this great framework for a fun blogging experience!

    • Hi Ande,
      I’m glad you can relate to both of the processes that I’m speaking of here. That’s very intuitive of you to realize that it’s probably best if you focus on having fun as opposed to following the rules. When it comes to blogging, it’s really important to pay attention to your own mental cues – yes, integrate outside knowledge when necessary, but be confident in knowing that you already have a lot of your own techniques and knowledge to rely on – maybe you’ll be the breakthrough everyone needed and then one day, everyone will be following your traffic building methods.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  24. Tom Hedge says:

    So many people start a blog without any clear intentions of what they want their blog to be. I am a dentist, and I have found that blogging on my current website has really increased my traffic, and with a few simple plugins I am also seeing a boost in my search engine rankings.

    My advice would be to do “something” productive each and every day in order to improve your blog!

    • Hi Tom,
      That’s definitely good advice. Not taking action is a huge mistake a lot of bloggers make. I think it’s a little bit of fear and not really understanding how much of an impact even small progress can make. Glad to hear you’ve found something that works for you.

  25. Santosh says:

    Yes, I agree. Not everybody can build a super successful blog. But if you have the patience to work on your blog for at least one year, you will definitely see some level of success. And once you have tasted success, it doesn’t require a lot of efforts to keep blogging.

  26. I have always viewed my blogs as jigsaw puzzles – 1000 pieces put together 1 piece at a time. I try to break blog posts down into smaller, more manageable chunks – then interlink them to keep people on my site and moving around from one post to the next.

    It’s important to take a break from time to time and step back from the blog – what is its purpose, where is it going, what posts/subjects am I still missing.

    I stop blogging when it is no longer “fun” and return to it a few days later, a week, a month….

    Great post by the way.

  27. Ayush Chand says:

    We all agree with you guys! Thanks for the post :)