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Don’t Fall Into This Trap That Could Destroy Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of September 2013 Featured Posts, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 176

NewImageLast week I spent time with a young blogger who was completely stalled with her blog (for the purpose of this post I’ll call her Sally).

Sally’s blogging had started with a bang and had put together 3 great months of content and had started to build a readership but then it suddenly all came to a halt.

I arranged to catch up for coffee to see what had happened and see if there was a way to get her moving again and she told me a story that I’m sure many readers will find familiar.

Paralysed by Comparisons

The reason Sally started blogging was that she had been a reader of another reasonably well known blogger. She had been so inspired by this established blogger that she simply had to start her own blog – which she did.

The problem that brought Sally’s blog to a grinding halt started a few weeks after her blog began when Sally began to compare her fledgling blog with her hero’s blog.

It started innocently enough with her noticing that this others blogger’s design just seemed to flow much better than Sally’s. However in the coming days and weeks Sally started to compare other things too.

Her hero seemed to blog with more confidence, she got more comments, she had a larger Twitter following, she was more active on Pinterest, she was getting some great brands advertise on her blog, she was invited to cool events…

Once Sally started comparing she couldn’t stop. She told me that she would sit down to work on her blog and end up on her hero’s blog and social media accounts – for hours on end – comparing what they were doing.

On one hand Sally knew it wasn’t a fair comparison – she had only been blogging by this stage for a couple of months and her hero had been blogging for over 4 years… but logic was clouded out by jealousy and Sally found her blogging beginning to stall.

She started second guessing herself. She would work for days on blog posts – hoping to perfect them to the standard of her hero only to get to the point of publishing them and trashing them instead for fear of them not being up to scratch.

Days would go by between posts and then weeks. Sally’s blog began to stall… and then it died completely.

The Comparison Trap

Sally isn’t the only blogger to fall into the trap of comparing oneself with others – in fact I’ve heard this story (or variations of it) numerous times. If I’m honest, it’s something that at times I’ve struggled with too.

I remember in the early days of my own blogging comparing my style of writing with other bloggers that I admired who wrote in a much more academic, heavy style of writing. I tried to emulate this over and over again and never felt I hit the benchmark that they set.

The temptation was to give up – but luckily I found my more informal and conversational voice through experimentation and persistance.

Comparing Is Never Fair

As I chatted with Sally last week a theme emerged in our conversation – the comparisons were simply not fair.

Sally knew this on some levels but needed to hear it again.

Her hero had been blogging for years. Sally had been blogging for months.

Not only that – Sally was comparing herself to tiny snapshots of this other blogger.

She could see her hero’s Twitter follower numbers, how many comments she was getting, how many times she Pinned on Pinterest and the instagram photos of this blogger at glamorous events – but she didn’t really have the full picture of this other blogger.

She didn’t know how many hours that blogger worked, she didn’t know whether that other blogger had people working for her, she didn’t know if that other blogger was actually happy with her blog or life and she certainly didn’t see the instagrams of that other bloggers boring, dull or hard moments of life.

I’m not saying the other blogger is hiding anything or doing anything wrong – just that the comparisons Sally was making were of everything Sally knew about herself (and her insecurities) with tiny edited snapshots of the life and work another person.

Run You Own Race

Sally is a remarkable person. I’d love to tell you her real name and story because she’s overcome some amazing things in her life, has some unique perspectives to share and has an inspirational story to tell.

My encouragement to Sally (and to us all) is run her own race. Yes she’s running beside others that at times seem to be running faster or with more flare… but nobody else around her has her unique personality, set of experiences or skills.

Nobody else can blog like Sally – so the sooner she gets comfy in her own skin the better.

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.
  1. Darren,

    Thanks for the inspiring post. I often fall into the same trap as ‘Sally’: blogging in an industry as saturated as the fitness and nutrition field, it’s tough to not compare myself to other successful bloggers. But, you’re absolutely right, comparisons are never fair, and they never show the full picture.

    Again, thanks for sharing the story, and keep up the great work.

    Jake Johnson

  2. To plagiarize an old tune, “You’ve got to make your own kind of music, sing your own special song….”

    Thanks for this!

  3. What a inspirational tale, I hope Sally (whatever her real name is) has got passed her block and regained focus. I think there is a lesson here in life apart from “blogging” which is be you and learn to love who you are and you will become a magnet to others. Be comfortable in your own skin! Great post Darren, many thanks and keep it up Keith, South Wales UK.

  4. Good story and lesson for any blogger!

    The only way to become a better blogger is through hard work and perseverance. Blogging is a very complex thing and it takes a lot of time and effort to master.

    It’s okay to look at other bloggers for guidance, but comparisons between amateur and professional bloggers are just unfair.

    Put in the work, put in the time, and then let your patience take over.

  5. You’re my hero! I also feel stuck for days when I start comparing my site to others!
    My advice is to work hard & to dedicate some time to write and search for inspiration! As Mi Muba said, larger blogs are great for inspiration but following smaller, fresher blogs is also important!

  6. When I worked in higher education, I started at a regionally know school that wanted to be a nationally known school and then went to work at one of those schools and realized that they just compared themselves to somebody else. The point being you got to be you!

  7. This post was amazing sometimes I get discouraged when I see other blogs but I am very persistant. I read other blogs but I don’t compare (Thank God) mines with others because I may have a similar blog but I have a different message as wells as a different audience. Thank you because as the new kid on the block I could have fell into this comparison trap.

  8. Well, as the saying goes “Comparison is the death of joy”. More often than not, comparing yourself with others will lead to self destruction, as was the case with Sally. So, be true to who you are, keep learning always and remain inspired.

  9. As a newbie blogger, I find this article extremely useful for me. I always look up to established bloggers to learn new things. However, I don’t wish to go overboard with this and fall in the comparison trap. Thanks for the post.

  10. Hi Darren

    As a blogger for myself and my career, I do understand those moments that ‘Sally’ has been through – although I assume referring to her own personal blogging venture, I think the lessons learnt in this post can certainly be applied to blogging for your business too.

    With the rise of content marketing, naturally your competitors will be jumping on the band wagon too and it might just seem easier to give up on the blogging front rather than compete but you need to remember what makes your blog different to others, not how to make it the same.

  11. This is a great post. I’m sure “Sally” feels great after reading this! Good for you for taking the time to encourage a fellow blogger.

    I think the main lesson here is to use your admiration of others to push you to better and more creative work, however much time you have to devote. Use your hero’s achievements as inspiration instead of ugly comparison. It’s a fine line to walk, but if you can walk it, you’ll reap rewards.

  12. be confident in what you do in writing and everything will follow..

  13. well, New bloggers mostly fell in this trap. I think that new bloggers should ask from big experts before doing any thing.

  14. Thank you so much for this post. I really needed to be reminded of this simple truth right now lol.

  15. A successful blog cannot be achieved over time. When I started blogging, it was never easy and it took me some time to get to familiarize with different strategies to have a stable blog.

  16. Hi Darren, I always enjoy your posts. I think you could actually apply this not only to blogging, but to any job. When you pay too much attention to what other people are doing you lose your focus and become focused on things that aren’t important. And you become less productive as a result. As my mom used to say, jack of all trades is a master of none, so focus on one thing and do it well.

  17. I think it’s good to look at what people are doing that you admire but you can’t worry to the point that it prevents you from moving forward.

    Definitely like the run your own race part…I wrote a small post a while back about that…it’s a quick read. I hope it helps and motivates!

  18. Totally true, and it happened to me as well. When I first started blogging, I was motivated by my mentors. Tons of them. After a while, I was totally demotivated. I couldn’t find topics to write, I felt my posts weren’t good enough, etc … and my blog died off.

    It was only after a few years later when I decided to start all over again, focusing on niche sites. It was then I started to regain my confident.

    Anyway thanks for the tips!

  19. To have your own Unique content and strategy as a blogger has a big impact to your sucess, reading other blogger content or story on how they become succesful may helped you but dont ever copy their blogs, just get an idea.

  20. OMG I had those moments when I first started blogging. I loved so many other blogs and they had already been blogging for 3 to 5 years and when I first started blogging I almost gave in. I followed the top 100 list religiously and spent hours researching why they were so great.
    I seemed to be useless compared to them.
    3 years later I over took them all in that 100 list and became steady at 7th place.
    The moral I learned was I turned my attention to researching how to blog better and rather than sit and feel useless I learned from the professional bloggers. I used these techniques and now I have newbie bloggers saying oh wow I wish I had a blog like yours.
    I lost sight of why I was blogging, as soon as I got that back I excelled.
    Brilliant post x

  21. I like reading around other people’s blogs when I have time.
    I’ve no illusions about the standard of my efforts.
    So I’m not looking over my shoulder, but trying to find some good ideas and improve!

  22. Great Post! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  23. “Run you own race”

    Don’t forget to proofread.

    I’m stalling myself. But, I have been blogging over 4 years. I’m sure comparison is not helping me either. But, I also want to find something new to bring the blog back to life for me. I’ve got ideas which I’m working on. I don’t still mind taking a break from it all. It is nice to pause on the daily posting schedule – good for writing discipline but not so great for the life.

  24. A long time ago, in was maybe 2006 when I started my first blog you could say. This was me, this story was me, I would always look at another website, that I saw as something I wanted to reach and I would do everything I could to match it. This story inspired me and reminded me why you can only be yourself.

    Even to this day I can still find myself falling into this trap, I post my own style and while I do get inspired by others I do always try to bring the best I can with the content I have and can offer. Been a big fan of this blog for a while now.

    Maybe someday I can put in the hours and work and reach my own goals just like so many other people do.

  25. I’ve felt the same way for a long time. It’s why I stopped reading most blogs that are too similar. I would get too influenced in everything: type of content (much more visual), what they were writing about (“Ah crap, I wanted to write about that subject, now I can’t”), feel, their voice, products they were creating, etc. That has helped me a lot to not think about that and really do my own thing.

  26. Bloggers should be confident and definitely not shy away from giving a fair opinion . Thank you for your brilliant post .

  27. Comparison makes you loose the originality and creates lots of frustration as you are not like whom you are comparing with.

  28. It’s so easy to fall in this same loop of comparison. I hope it doesn’t happen. I’m sick of people measuring themselves against my blog.

  29. Thanks for sharing this. I think in all aspects of life we compare ourselves with others and forget that who we are is the most important…especially in blogging. Thanks for the reminder!

  30. I really needed to read this today, thank you Darren. I’m really hard on myself sometimes after just having started my blog earlier this year. Blogging is definitely a marathon, not a sprint and I’ve learned to just enjoy the process, even when the old green-eyed monster/comparison part of me kicks in.

    Great article- thank you!

  31. In fact,I am not sure to understant all the spirit in this post.

  32. Such a great story!! I can see myself in it when I started blogging, I’m so lucky that I didn’t quit my blog! The most important thing is to love what you do and be different that’s why I started posting my fashion illustrations and it helped me to find inspiration and unique ideas for new posts.

  33. I guess I’m thankful that several of the blogs I followed initially emphasized how success took months (or years) to achieve!

    As a result I’ve learned not to expect overnight success, but to work hard and to take things one step at a time to attain success.

  34. This is a very positive and uplifting article. I think what new bloggers should always remember is that those same super star bloggers were in the same shoes as you are today. People are not born successful they work hard to achieve their goals.
    You need to be patient and dedicated to whatever you are doing to make it a reality.

  35. When you start out blogging you can hit the ground running with ideas but sometimes feel like everything has been written about already. We just moved to Chiang Mai and it is proving difficult to come up with some article ideas that have nit been done already as hundreds of bloggers set up here for a few months at a time..

  36. Thanks for the support, Darren. God knows it can be painful to compare one’s blog to others with so many great blogs out there!

  37. This is a great post. It encourages me to follow my voice and not the one that others say I should have. I needed to be reminded of that. I’m more laid back, but my profession says I shouldn’t be. The problem is I feel that it is stifling and does not allow me to authentically connect with my audience if I am not allowed to be more free. This post supports what I already knew- it’s okay to be me.

  38. I agree with your post, we should not compare our blogs with others. Everyone has a different strategy to run their blog, for some it works and for some it fails. When you are new to blogging, the most important thing is that you should not loose hope. You should always be positive and motivated. Learn from your mistakes and yes take risks. Try different things that you think can help your blog. :)

  39. Webby Award maybe?

  40. It’s it hard to get inspired on one hand, and not compare at the same time. I see blog posts about a topic I’m just about to post on and get devastated. As I new blogger I’m starting to shape my blog into a vision, and narrow down my niche. I just have to let the self doubt go, and believe in the vision that I have. Thanks for this post. Nice to see I’m not the only one!

  41. Great post! I totally agree.

    This is definitely a story of many people’s lives. And not only in blogging but in many other areas of life.

    Comparing has always been one of our implemented programs of how to behave, live and act in the society.

    And we just forget about that real “me” behing all these comparisons. Sooner we find ourselves again, the better.

    It just takes some time, effort, courage, strenght and persistence, to name a few. But it’s very achievable and once you get on that road and gain some speed nothing can stop you :)

    I am sure that Sally will find her way and I hope that I’ll read her posts and learn from her unique experience as well :)

  42. This is not only about blogging, this is great lesson even for life.

    I like your that sentence that “Run Your Own Race”.

  43. This is a lesson I am quickly learning as well. I am lucky to be blogging about a topic I enjoy and that really keeps me focused. The more I learn the more I write.

  44. Hi Darren..
    These story also reflects you.Its very motivational and inspiring story.

  45. Hello Darren,

    I am totally agree with you because I am also a young blogger and afraid of these bad satuations. I hope that I never face any of these situations, although I am trying to work hard but I am not gaining much attention towards my blog.

    Blogging is not an easy task so, I am trying to collect courage and after wards I stop thinking about how I look in front of my readers.

  46. I too start and stall with my blog, though usually not because I am comparing it to others. I think it is natural for a writer to become eager and passionate one moment and distracted and uninterested the next. It can be hard to get back on track again.

  47. Aaaah, I seee… I’m GOOD ENOUGH!

    Well, this Quote “Run Your Own Race” is very inspiring. ^^

  48. Great post! I suffered through two failed blogs before starting my current blog a year ago. “Run Your Own Race” is the key line for me, because I’m basically comparing my new blog to the two others that failed, and I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. Having the blog has helped me to develop some serious skills in photography because I’m committed to using my own photos for reasons of copyright. As an author of YA fiction, I’ve seen the destructiveness of a competitive environment on my own creativity and that of others, and that is exactly what I want to escape from with my blog.

  49. Truly Agree, even i am in the same boat with sally,
    2 years finish jumping from one niche to another and every time comparison makes my project to halt,

    Finally i have decided to go with blogging niche just after few post again comparison started and my blog started to fade, but now i understand only one thing experience makes you perfect, keep on writing and the day will come when others will admire you…….

    This post has done the motivation work for me…..hope i just keep myself motivated and inspired, keeping comparison out of my mind specially with pro bloggers. as its not easy to catch the guru in just 1 month of blogging compare to their years of blogging experience.

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