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The Blogger’s Guide to Cutting Your Losses

I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence, but as we near the end of the year, there seem to be a few bloggers talking about what you should do if a past passion no longer inspires you, or your next big idea’s already been done.

Making cuts

Image courtesy stock.xchng user mmagallan

Now is a good time to take stock—I know I’m not the only one who has a look back over the year in December, and makes new plans in January. So I thought it might be valuable to talk today about cutting your losses.

What are losses?

You might be tempted to think of losses in terms of passion (things you no longer have an interest in) or lost opportunities (ideas you want to pursue but can’t, because of other commitments).

But there are other losses. One is dollars. If you’ve monetized your blog, and you are making money from blogging, you might find it difficult to work out the monetary value of lost opportunities, or money you’ve left on the table through poor execution or planning.

The other big consideration is lost opportunities around and beyond your blog. These can play into the question of income—perhaps a project you’re busy working on caused you to forfeit another opportunity that could have stepped up your income this year.

The question we, as bloggers, need to ask ourselves is whether that other thing we were working on is worth that lost opportunity. Are the gains we’re making with that other project worth it?

If not, it might be time to consider cutting your losses.

What should we cut?

Only you will know the parts of your life as blogger that feel like chores, that are overwhelming, or that don’t seem to add to your life no matter what you try.

Importantly, as Yaro’s story points out, sometimes cutting your losses has to be done in advance. You have a great idea, but then you find out the competition is really very tough, or someone’s already done what you’d planned to. That may mean that developing the idea isn’t worth the effort.

But only you can tell if that’s true.

I tend to cut the things that don’t give me energy to keep doing what I’m doing. I always have a lot on the go, so that makes it pretty easy to tell what’s gaining momentum, and what’s not. It’s easy to look at reader stats, or income statements, or even just how I feel about tackling a project, and know if I think it’s worth doing.

But sometimes, ideas that have been very popular can actually be difficult to convert into money-makers. For a pro blogger who’s relying on income to keep a roof over her or his head, those ideas can be the hardest—and the most necessary—to let go of.

If you’ve given everything you have to making a project a success, yet you just can’t make that traffic convert, you might need to think of cutting that project from your schedule and focusing on the areas of your work that are helping to support you.

Is now the time?

It seems obvious that once you’ve worked out that you need to cut a project, you should just do it. But I don’t know that this is always the right approach.

Think about selling a house. You might decide you’d like to move somewhere else, but you might also know that houses in your area sell better in Spring. So perhaps you decide to wait until then before you list and sell your home.

The same goes for blogging. I was in touch with a blogger recently who’s decided to sell a blog, so he’s spending three months building it up to be the strongest he can make it, to maximize his sale price.

So the on-the-spot cut isn’t always the best idea.

That said, there are times when it will be. If it’s an ongoing project (rather than a bright idea you wanted to pursue), it’s important to work out an exit strategy for that project. Simply dropping it might not be the answer.

Abandoning projects you’ve been working on means writing off the time you’ve put into them. By carefully reviewing what you’ve developed, you might be able to find ways to reuse some of that work in a way that gives you the greatest possible benefit.

That might mean backing up a cool WordPress theme you had specially developed before you take a blog offline, or asking contacts you’ve met through an ultimately unproductive project to help you with something else you’re working on.

Whatever you do, try not to just cut something and run. The best endings are the ones where we learn and gain from our experiences.

Looking back over the year, have you got losses you need to cut from your blogging work? I’d love to hear what you’ve been thinking in the comments.

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. Now would be a perfect time for so many reasons.

    If you have went through plan A B C D E F G H I J K…

    ….and have lost count where you are but you’re still not seeing results it probably is a good idea to reset for the new year. Re-purpose your old content or start over from scratch you still know what you learned.

    I agree with you on this one Darren, cut the things that take energy from you and return you nothing.

  2. Hmm a good read. Great food for thought. So much of what we do is habit. And comfortable. I have to challenge myself constantly re what not to do (as opposed to what to do).

    Best
    Elspeth

  3. Emily says:

    Dan Miller talks about how he regularly gives up lucrative income streams in order to make room for his latest ideas and projects. I agree with this philosophy, because it keeps life more exciting and your business fresh.

  4. Roman Soluk says:

    I still remain optimistic and I do believe that I’ll gain success with my blog, though its progress is very slow.
    Thanks for the post Darren.

  5. Clara says:

    It seems that you have written the article keeping me in mind. This is what happen to me all the time; when i thought about starting a blog I had big plans and ideas in my mind but after launching it now it seems that I have done nothing at all. Even I lost my previous ideas and mostly find myself wandering and wasting my time here on internet. Before reading your words I was thinking about some other work to do but really grateful that you have boosted me again to work on my website enthusiastically. Looking forward to get more from you. Thanks!

  6. Hey Darren,

    This is only Year One for me, so realistically, I don’t really expect any of my blogs to be earning much yet at this point. Still, having learned more about blogging this year, I have come to realize that they won’t all be winners. One is in a highly competitive and saturated niche and has a horribly spammy URL. Then I just got bored with another one of them. A third one is interesting to me but I now realize it has no real profit potential. And then there’s that one that was just…a mistake LOL.

    Looking back on my first year of blogging, one thing I’ve learned is that there’s no way I can give enough attention to half a dozen brand new niche blogs to properly build and promote them al…I’m spreading myself too thin.

    So “cutting my losses” for me isn’t so much about cutting the ones that aren’t earning – cuz NONE of them are earning yet – instead it’s about getting realistic, recognizing which ones have potential, and focusing on those and letting go of the losers.

    Aloha!

  7. Wow, what a great and timely post. I recently had to count my losses on a couple of things, and I may be doing the same again in 2013. The primary reason for any future cuts would be low paying markets that have very little opportunity for growth. As a beginner, these opportunities were great because they allowed me to get my foot in the door, but if I want my career to grow, and to pay my bills, I’ll have to find higher paying gigs.

    Thanks for the sober thought.

  8. Dan Meyers says:

    Great timing as I’m actually in the middle of switching over to a new blog after 18 months on the old one. I know it’s going to take me a while to build the traffic back up, but I know it’s the right thing to do because I’ve finally found my focus. Time to the cut the losses!

  9. Eddy says:

    Interesting article, and definitely something to keep in mind. I have found myself second guess my work, and showing real doubt in the future of my sites. It might be important to discuss a timeline for which this would be a relevant discussion. For example, many beginners have trouble in the first 6 months, even as many as the first 12 months. But at what point does one deem it appropriate that they have given it a significant chance at success? Idk? I’m sticking with my site for at least another year.
    As always, thanks for the great advice!

  10. Sneha says:

    Great Post Darren,

    You stood up to what you have mentioned in the article. This is the right time to post this article – end of the year.

    I started blogging this year and am looking back to find out the mistakes I made so that I don’t repeat it again.

  11. Dan Erickson says:

    My blog is a dichotomy. I do traditional how-to and help-based advice articles on writing, blogging, and balancing life on one hand. On the other hand I am a fictional author and a singer/songwriter, so I also use the blog to showcase my own work and entertain. It keeps me fresh and busy and I don’t burnout on topics, but I wonder how it works for my audience. I’m going to ask them on New Year’s day @ http://www.danerickson.net

  12. Rick says:

    I really like the old line in the Kenny Rodgers Song. Know when to hold them and know when to fold them.

    I am folding up a few projects for the new year and just focusing on 150 others.

    Rick