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Feeling a Bit Lost? 4 Ways to Boost Productivity and Motivation on Your Blog

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!There are many times in the life of a blogger when you find yourself unsure of where to go or what to do next.

That can be for so many reasons – when it comes to where you spend your time you’re overwhelmed with choice, you don’t know where to start, you want to do a little of everything and sort of all at once, you’re burned out with decision making, you’re not getting any traction, you’re afraidbasically, you’re a bit stuck and you don’t know what to do next.

The problem is, most of us then just end up doing nothing. Or something that isn’t going to propel you in the direction of where you need to go. Maybe you respond to a few insignificant emails, maybe you check someone else’s Facebook feed to be inspired what they’re doing and get stuck there for half an hour, maybe you throw your laptop out the window and play Candy Crush.

You’re not alone. Well, you probably are if you threw your laptop out the window, but just about everyone I’ve talked to has felt this way at some point. The deeper you get into the quagmire of blogging (blogmire?), the harder it is to find all the hours in the day to do all the things you need to do be the Next Big Thing.

And with all the overwhelming choice, to-do lists, articles you need to read, articles you did read that told you 50 things you now need to do – you paddle about doing not much of anything at all.

The best thing I know to do when I don’t know what to do is: anything. Everything. Something.

Just get started

Like last week when I told you it’s ok to just be done and not perfect, you just have to make a start.

When I’m faced with a to-do list that is longer than a two-day hangover, and even after prioritising my list I still don’t know how I’m going to get through it all, I pick one thing and move one step in the direction toward getting it completed.

I open a new post and give it whatever headline I can think of at the time (I can always change it later!). When it comes to writing the post further down the track, at least a post has been created for it and that’s one less thing I have to do.

Sometimes I open a new post and just write whatever is in my head about what I want to say. And then come back to it the following week. I always get a spark of recognition, which reminds me of something else I wanted to say, and then suddenly I’m off.

Sometimes I look up just one article I think will be a useful resource and take a few notes.

I move one step in the direction towards getting it done [tweet that!] Then the next time I think about writing that post/updating that schedule/creating a social media strategy I feel much better knowing it’s already been started and I just have to swoop in and tie up the loose ends. Sometimes those “tying up loose ends” actually means “doing the whole thing” but it’s a relief knowing it’s begun. And “well begun is half done”, as they say (thanks Mary Poppins/Aristotle).

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!

Do a Brain Dump

This is the fastest way for me to lessen the anxiety that can come with a giant to-do list. It’s such a useful tool for getting everything out of your head and onto something permanent that you can keep adding to, and you can get an overview of everything that’s on your task list which gives you a better idea of where you are, what’s a priority, and what you should be spending your time on.

Use a white board, a piece of paper taped to the wall, lots of post-its, a google doc, an Evernote note, etc – whatever you have that’s big enough to contain all the bits floating around in your head that you need to tackle. Don’t be shy, put every little tiny thing on there and finally get it down once and for all.

Separate those tasks into “right now”, “in the next year”, and “long-term goals”. I often use a new sheet of paper for each of these lists and transfer everything across, but you can highlight them in different colours, or stick them on post-its, whatever works for you.

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game! Make a Cheat Sheet List

The next thing I like to do is check that master list of things to do, goals I want to achieve, and sundry tasks to be fulfilled and break them down into as many 10-minute tasks as I can. Then, when I’m feeling a bit lost at sea and haven’t got the motivation (or the time) to tackle one giant job, I pick one 10-minute task from my cheat sheet list (you can have one list for everything, or a list each for the short and long-term goals) and just do that one little task. I often then spend more than 10 minutes on it because I end up getting on a bit of a roll and can often get through quite a few of those small tasks – but it’s easier to sit down and do a small job when you’re feeling overwhelmed rather than be facing a massive job that you just can’t get your head around.

It stops me from floating around in that headspace where everything seems so overwhelming that I end up doing nothing (that overwhelm can often be what contributes to hoarding, as well as the pursuit of perfection, and I definitely hoard tasks instead of doing them!), and means I can actually cross a few things off my list because they only take 10 minutes, and that’s great for a feeling of productivity! And feeling productive then motivates you to be more productive and you feel like you’ve spent your time well instead of wasting it.

Feeling a bit lost? Here are 4 ways to boost productivity and motivation on your blog so you can get back in the game!

Be Creative

Get the brain working with less of the writing and logical bits of the task, and focus more on the creative parts that will spark thinking. Brainstorm the visuals for your post or social media, find an image to use or take your own, play around with fonts, give yourself 10 minutes to think of new ways you can promote the post, or devise a community challenge around it. Maybe think of an out-of-the-box way to create an affiliate post, or a different way to showcase a recipe. When you don’t sit down and stare at a blinking cursor trying to figure out what to write, but instead do some more imaginative, visual stuff, you often find that the task ends up in a natural state of flow and you complete more than you thought you would.

The extra bonus of this is that you find new ways to do things, it sparks ideas for more content, and can even motivate you to do the tasks you were dreading half an hour ago.

So remember: just start, even if you don’t finish. You’ll be thanking yourself next time you sit down to tackle that big to-do list!

What do you struggle the most with? Time? Overwhelm? Comparison? Let’s chat!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

Should You Use Timestamps on Your Blog? The Pros and Cons

Should You Use Timestamps on Your Blog? The Pros and Cons on ProBlogger.netA reader asked me recently about using timestamps on blogs, as she’s redesigning hers and wondered if she should use them or not in her new design. It’s a question I get asked fairly often so I’ve dedicated today’s ProBlogger podcast to sharing with you the pros and cons of blog timestamps and whether I think they should be included or left off.

Reader Bernadette also noted that I use timestamps here on ProBlogger.net, but not on my main blog, Digital Photography School. There are a few reasons for that: the blogging industry is moving fast, and I’ve had this blog for so many years now that I want to signal to readers when the posts were published so they can see whether the information is still relevant for today, and also that if the information isn’t quite relevant, they can see that I wrote it early in my blogging journey. It helps them see the context around the content.

For Digital Photography School, I’ve never used timestamps and that’s because the posts there aren’t newsy – they’re timeless, evergreen posts that will always be useful. Putting a date on these posts might cause readers to assume that because they weren’t written recently that they will be behind the times, which often isn’t the case. A date in this instance would be a distraction and because it’s not relevant to the post itself, I leave it off.

So in short, my theory is that date stamps either add to or take away from your blog. In this episode I discuss why you should and also why you shouldn’t include them on your content, and three options for what to do on your blog for when a black and white decision isn’t so easy.

You can listen below, or on iTunes, and find the show notes here.

Further Reading:

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Considering Local SEO and Your Blog

5 Things to Pay Attention to When Considering Local SEO and Your BlogThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.

People are always talking about how SEO affects the quantity and quality of traffic your blog receives, but you’ll rarely hear local SEO discussed in terms of blogging. Most people feel like local SEO is reserved for physical businesses, but your blog could also benefit from some strategic tweaks and adjustments.

Understanding Local SEO

Local SEO is essentially a sub-segment of search engine optimization that focuses on enhancing local visibility within a specific geographical market. By following certain tips and including specific data and information, pages can rank higher in these markets. While you may want to hire an SEO company that’s skilled at local search engine optimization, there are some important things worth knowing if you’re considering local SEO for your blog.

  1. Domain authority. While there are a lot of different nuances to local SEO, one thing doesn’t change: the importance and significance of domain authority. The strength of your blog – in the eyes of the search engines – directly impacts local and organic rankings. Some of the factors that go into determining domain authority include the age of the website and the number/quality of links pointing to the website. Domain authority is constantly being updated to reflect changes and developments, so it’s important to keep an eye on this aspect of SEO.
  2. Accurate NAP info. The biggest issue for blogs – if they aren’t directly connected to a physical business – is the challenge of listing accurate contact information. Local SEO depends on this to verify location and geographically organize search results for users. NAP stands for “name, address, and place” and it’s an important factor for local searches. If at all possible, it’s helpful to secure a local phone number and mailing address for your blog.
  3. Local content. Google pays a lot of attention to the keywords and topics you discuss on your blog. While you should avoid keyword stuffing, it’s helpful to include valuable local content on your blog. By discussing topics that are rich in local keywords, you’ll naturally enhance your local SEO efforts.
  4. According to the 2015 Survey of Local Search Ranking Factors, the fourth most important localized organic factor is the click-through-rate of your search results. In other words, when users do click your SERPs, are they bouncing or sticking around for more? The only way to ensure users click through is to offer valuable content that answers questions and provides fresh insights.
  5. Domain wording. If you have a geographic keyword in your domain name, you have a much better chance of ranking for that location. This isn’t possible for every blog, but it is something worth considering when launching. If you can’t get the geographic keyword in the domain name itself, consider including it in as many titles and headers as you can.

While local SEO is designed for pointing users to local businesses and services in their area, bloggers should also be paying attention to these techniques. By studying some of the ranking factors and understanding what goes into local SEO, it’s possible that you can enhance your blog’s visibility.

The Inverse Relationship

On a related note, it’s pretty interesting to study the inverse relationship between blogging and local SEO. While up until this point we’ve discussed how local SEO tweaks can impact your blog, it’s important to note that blogging can also impact local SEO for physical businesses. We’re at a point where many local businesses are investing in blogging, but very few are doing it well. By mastering blogging and giving it the attention it needs to thrive, a business can really excel in this area.

The biggest thing blogging does for local SEO is attract relevant traffic. By writing timely, local content that pertains to a particular geographical market, you can encourage natural back linking and sharing. This is how you begin building organic traffic.

Looking at the Big Picture

Whichever angle you look at it from, blogging and local SEO are intertwined. Local SEO impacts a blog’s visibility and quality of traffic, and a company’s blog can directly impact local SEO efforts.

It’s a very real, tangible relationship that all bloggers and business owners need to be aware of. By looking at the big picture and understanding this connection, you can better understand the value behind what you’re doing.

Do you pay much attention to local SEO?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately?

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

It’s Saturday here in Oz, so that must mean reading roundup day (and Halloween)! Enjoy/Boo.

The Thumb is In Charge // Facebook

If you’ve ever doubted that mobile is the future (who would really, though?!), Facebook has undertaken some research that squarely places mobile in the “you better get on this and quickly!” box. You can download “The Thumb is In Charge” magazine that explains their findings, or follow along as they release three blog posts detailing it all. If you want to be where the future is going, this is pretty required reading.

The Social Media Metrics You are Forgetting // Hootsuite

Oy, the bounce rate. Indeed I am forgetting that. Couple of other ways of measuring traffic here too, if you’re interested.

Google AdWords Turns 15: A Look Back at the Origins of a $60 Billion Business // Search Engine Land

It’s come so far! What a great infographic too. Very handy if you advertise with AdWords, or you’re thinking you’d like to start.

YouTube Red Will Pay Video Makers During Free Trial, After Concerns // BBC

Did you know that YouTube is launching a subscription service so you can watch your favourite cat-playing-the-piano videos ad-free? It’s only for the US and it’s only a select trial. After vloggers worried they wouldn’t receive ad revenue during the trial, but YouTube Red has clarified they’ll get a cut of the subscription profits based on how long people watch their content for. I am interested to see how the subscription services would go… I often think I’d rather watch an ad than cough up cash but that could just be me.

Slack Finally Lets You Create Group Chats Easily // Mashable

As you know, we used Slack for team communications during the ProBlogger event earlier in the year and this group chat function would have been great. Until now you had to open a new channel if you wanted to reach everyone at the same time (or tag them individually). Get the update for the group chat availability.

Is Twitter the Next MySpace? // News.com.au

Now there’s a thought. Nobody wants to be the new MySpace, but flagging user growth and fewer people using it in general, we could very well see its demise. What are your thoughts? Is Twitter still useful for you?

5 Ways Google Analytics Finds You Relevant Topics for Your Social Media Campaigns // Entrepreneur

Have you finally hit that point where you’re struggling to come up with a constant stream of content ideas? This post shows you how to mine Google Analytics for all the info you need.

Why All SEOs Should Unblock JavaScript and CSS… and Why Google Cares // Moz

These terms make my head spin. But I care about what Google cares about.

Snapchat or Instagram? Deciding Which Platform is Best for Your Visual Content // Social Media Examiner

I always say go where your audience is, and also where you enjoy being. That’s where the magic is! But this post will also help you decide.

How Google Handles Search Queries it’s Never Seen Before // The Next Web

You know, I’ve never thought of this. But it made me think – what are my potential readers searching for that I’ve never thought of? And how can I create content for that?

So what have you learned recently? Do you think Twitter is on the decline? Snapchat or Instagram?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

9 Hurdles I’ve Faced as a Blogger and How I Got Over Them

9 hurdles I've faced as a blogger, and how I got over them :: problogger.netI was speaking at a small event here in Melbourne recently and I was asked about the common hurdles bloggers face when building profitable blogs. It’s a difficult question to answer, as everyone’s hurdles are different – as are their coping strategies.

In today’s podcast I thought going through the hurdles I’ve faced personally in blogging and the strategies I used to get over them might be useful. You might recognise some or all of them, or you might know someone struggling with one of these (in which case, feel free to share this post with them!). I’ve also included links in the show notes for you to get more information.

The obstacles in my journey I’ve faced to get to where I am today first started with technical know-how – or rather, lack thereof. As a result I made a huge amount of mistakes that meant it was a slow and painful beginning. I’ve learned so much over the years, and as I did I made better and better choices so there are six tips in the podcast that should ensure you avoid or at least minimise the hurdles along your own path.

I also talk about fear: fear of looking stupid, fear of being criticised and even personally attacked (and how I dealt with a particularly frightening encounter when it was happening to me). There’s a section on building readership, which is incredibly frustrating when you’re writing good content but nobody is reading it, and a section on finding the right monetization model, blogger’s block, blogger’s burnout, narrowing your niche, and getting your time management balance right. All things I’ve struggled with but eventually found a way out of.

You can listen to the podcast here, or over at the show notes of episode 57.

9 Hurdles I've Faced as a Blogger and How I Got Over Them - on ProBloggerWhat do you struggle with as a blogger? Have you found an effective strategy of getting around it?

Further Reading:

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pitches and Get More Freelance Writing Work

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pitches and Get More Freelance Writing Work - we've got all the tips on ProBlogger.net!This is a guest contribution from Jorden Roper.

You know you’re a good writer, so why aren’t you landing the gigs that you want?

Well, it’s probably because you aren’t pitching your ideas properly.

Because – let’s face it – even if you’re the best writer in the world, you’ll get rejected every single time if you can’t craft an effective pitch.

If you’ve ever pitched, you already know the drill. You email the editor at the website you want to write for. Then…

You wait.

Hours turn into days. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months, and by that point, you’ve probably given up.

But don’t let yourself give up on pitching completely. With a few simple tweaks to your pitching process, you can get more freelance writing work. Here’s how:

1.    Spend time researching and preparing.

Crafting a good pitch takes time.

It’s not as simple as sitting down at your computer, throwing together an email in five minutes, and crossing your fingers in hopes that you’ll get a response from the editor. I mean, you can do it that way, but you aren’t going to get the results you’re looking for.

Instead, you’ll need to prepare quite a bit. The idea here is to gather the information you need to write the best pitch email possible.

I’ll give you an example. The post you’re reading right now is obviously a guest post. Here are a few things I did to prepare before I pitched my ideas to ProBlogger’s editor:

  • Looked through lots of their existing blog posts to make sure I pitched a unique idea
  • Followed the Problogger Twitter feed and interacted with their tweets
  • Figured out ProBlogger’s target audience and started researching to pinpoint exactly what that audience would be interested in reading about

Make sure you take similar measures to prepare too. Doing so will help you get in the right mindset to create the most effective pitch.

And yes, the preparation process can be a bit time-consuming. But, preparing shows the editor that you aren’t just a random stranger looking for backlinks or any available writing job, which can make all of the difference!

2.    Optimize your subject line.

Your subject line could determine whether or not your email is ever opened, so you need to make it good. But maybe you’re wondering – what do editors want to see in a subject line?

Kelsey Libert, VP of Marketing at Frac.tl, surveyed over 500 digital publishers to find out their preferences. Her survey showed that 42% of editors (the majority) preferred to see the content title and type in the subject line over anything else.

That means you can simply use this format:

Title of Content [Content Type]

Here’s an example:

5 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Pitches and Getting More Freelance Writing Work [Blog Post]

Doing this helps the editor immediately understand what type of content and subject matter you plan to write about, saving them a lot of time and frustration when they’re digging through a full inbox to look for a worthwhile pitch.

But what if you’re simply pitching yourself for a recurring gig (as opposed to pitching an article idea)?

In my experience, this subject line formula works best:

Hi [Editor’s Name], I’m A [Niche] Blogger Interested In Writing For You

So, if you’re pitching your ideas to an editor named Bryan who is looking for a blogger to write about travel topics, your subject line would look like this:

Hi Bryan, I’m A Travel Blogger Interested In Writing For You

This works for three reasons:

Personalization

First of all, personalized subject lines have been proven to deliver higher open rates. One Experian study showed that personalized emails delivered 26 percent higher open rates, and a MailChimp study on personalized subject lines yielded these results:

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pitches and Get More Freelance Writing Work - on ProBlogger.net

So, it’s definitely worth your time to track down the editor’s name. Not only does personalization give your email a higher chance of being opened – it shows the editor that you’ve done some background research on their publication.

Capitalization

While capitalizing every word in a subject line may seem like an insignificant detail, it actually does boost the chances of your email being opened. Take a look at MailChimp’s results when they tested the effect of capitalization on open rates:

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Pitches and Get More Freelance Writing Work - on ProBlogger.net

Capitalizing every word might not affect open rates as much as personalization, but it’s still significant enough to matter. So, capitalize every word in your subject line next time you pitch, and see what happens!

Relevance

By adding your niche to the subject line instead of just calling yourself a writer or blogger, you immediately show the editor that you have the relevant experience they’re looking for. This immediately puts you at an advantage over applicants who force the editor to dig around in their email inbox to figure out which writers are a good fit.

3.    Put yourself in the editor’s shoes when you write your email content

Ready for some tough love?

No editor wants to know your entire life story in your pitch email. You don’t need to use multiple gigantic paragraphs to explain why you’re an ideal choice – be brief and get straight to the point. Here’s what you should include in your email content:

  • 1 or 2 short introductory paragraphs – These should quickly show that you’ve researched the publication and explain why you’re a great fit (focus on what you can offer the editor – not what they can offer you)
  • A few brief bullet points explaining the extra benefits of working with you – Customize these as much as possible. For example, if an editor’s job posting says that they want an SEO whiz who is reliable and communicative, show how you meet all of those qualifications in three bullet points. (Tip: Grouping things in threes provides a greater impact, so always aim for three bullet points.)
  • Some way you’re connected to the editor – Do you follow the publication on Twitter? Have you commented on their previous blog posts? Mention any connection to the publication/editor here to show that you’ve put effort into building a relationship.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need to follow any pitching instructions outlined in the publication’s guest post guidelines. If you don’t, you’re sure to frustrate the editor, which won’t exactly make a good first impression.

Now that we’ve covered what you should include while writing your email, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do when trying to impress an editor and win more work:

  • Be impersonal – Don’t open your email with “Dear Editor” or “To Whom it May Concern.” Take the time to figure out the editor’s name, and use it.
  • Come off as arrogant/use meaningless jargon – Don’t say something off-putting like “I am a revolutionary writer who will write a life-changing post for you.” Instead, show how awesome a writer you are by including your best writing samples.
  • Talk negatively about yourself – Don’t advertise your lack of confidence and what you can’t do, your pitch should show what you can do for the editor and why you’re a good choice to do it.
  • Pitch a press release for your business disguised as a blog post – Do I really need to explain how tacky this is? Ugh… Just don’t do it.

4.    Pitch the right article ideas.

Remember, editors aren’t in the business of helping writers get published – they’re looking to provide their readers with useful content. Keep this in mind the entire time you’re writing your pitch, and show them what they’ll get from working with you by:

Including multiple pitches

Unless you’ve been specifically told otherwise, you’ll want to include several ideas for the editor to choose from. In fact, Frac.tl research shows that 70% of publishers would rather receive a set of ideas than a finished product on first contact.

And it’s easy to understand why – when you pitch several ideas, the editor has options and the ability to collaborate with you on the piece.

Keeping it relevant

Make sure that all of your ideas are relevant to the site, haven’t been done before on the publication you’re pitching to, and are likely to get results like social shares and traffic from the publication’s specific target audience.

Crafting compelling headlines

Your headlines have a huge effect on how your article will perform on social networks, so it’s important for you to make them good. You should pitch blog post ideas that solve a specific problem that the publication’s target audience is facing.

For example, 5 Tips for Freelance Writers wouldn’t be a good headline because it’s too vague and doesn’t solve a specific problem.

A better title would be Feeling Stuck? Here are 5 Productivity-boosting Secrets to Get You Writing Again because it addresses a common problem that the target audience (in this case, writers) faces. It also includes a number (list posts will always work) and an adjective (“productivity-boosting”) to entice the reader to click.

5.    Proofread your email several times.

Yes, even the best writers make mistakes, but your email is the editor’s first impression of you, so you want it to be perfect. Make sure you get your grammar/spelling right!

Even one simple error could send your email to the trash can. So, always use a tool like Grammarly or the Hemingway App to check over your email before you send it.

That being said, you shouldn’t rely solely on writing tools. We all know that spellcheck isn’t immune to error, so if you’re unsure about your spelling/grammar, have an editor look over your email or do some quick research online to make sure your email is correct.

In Conclusion

If you’re a strong writer, you should be able get a steady flow of work. Put the tips outlined here into practice to start sending out better pitches, and you’re sure to see your success rate improve.

That being said, keep in mind that not every publication will respond right away, even if your pitch looks great. Don’t be afraid to follow up with the editor if you know your pitch was solid but you haven’t received a response.

And, most importantly, avoid letting rejection discourage you. Remember – just because one publication isn’t interested in your work doesn’t mean that the countless other publications out there are going to feel the same way!

What strategies have you used to land more freelance writing work? Let me know in the comments section below!

Jorden Roper is a blogger/copywriter for hire and the founder of Writing Revolt, where she writes about finding success as a freelance writer. Stay in touch by connecting with Jorden on Twitter!

8 Effective Ways to End a Blog Post

So we know how to start a blog post, write a great headline, and hook the reader in, but what happens next? 8 Effective Ways to End a Blog Post: on ProBlogger.netBloggers talk a lot about how to start a blog post – how to craft the perfect title, how to hook the reader in from the first sentence – but equally important is how you end it.

How you leave the reader at the end of your post can have a huge effect on whether they will engage with you or not, how they feel about what they just read, what they will do next, or even if they will return. It’s a great time to deepen the relationship with your audience, be useful, and provide a lasting impression.

In today’s episode of the ProBlogger podcast, I talk about eight ways you can create this kind of environment for readers who stop by your blog, but recommend you only pick one per post! It’s easy to get carried away but less is more, in this case.

You can listen here below, over with the shownotes of episode 56 or on iTunes.

Listen out for:

  • how to effectively sum up your main points
  • tips to get more comments on each post
  • the one thing you can do that really works for shares
  • the value of related links
  • what to do after you’ve written a particularly helpful post
  • examples of incentives you can provide for people to subscribe

Further Reading:

The Five Words You Need to Hear When You Feel Like You’re Not Good Enough

You've got a project you'd love to do, but you're worried about not being good enough, right? We discuss a mantra you should keep in mind to finally kick butt! At ProBlogger.netWe’ve all been there.

You want to tackle that blog post on that one topic, but you’re not an expert.

You want to create that eBook but everyone else has already written an eBook and they’ve done it better than you.

You want to reach out to an influencer with the hopes of collaborating, but they’ve never heard of you.

You want to take a short course in a topic you know will be useful, but it looks overwhelming.

You want to create a course for your audience but where do you even start? And you’ve hardly got time for your work as it is, how would you ever fit this in?

We have so many dreams, and twice as many things holding us back.

Can you imagine, though, if everyone who ever created anything waited until they were an expert to do so? Half of the things we have today wouldn’t exist. This is why there’s so many iPhones. Steve Jobs didn’t just release this bad boy in 2007 then sit down and go “ok, that’s done” – Apple keeps revising, innovating, improving, but letting you still have earlier versions that plenty of people are plenty satisfied with.

You can do the same. You can get out a version that’s done but not perfect, and keep upgrading as you go. And that right there is the mantra you need to remember, the five words pasted on the wall of Facebook Headquarters, the battle cry of the young and the hungry: Done is Better than Perfect.

You've got a project you'd love to do, but you're worried about not being good enough, right? We discuss a mantra you should keep in mind to finally kick butt! At ProBlogger.net

We all know if you wait for perfection, you’ll never get finished. Or if you do ever finish, you’re too late and the trend has passed, your knowledge is obsolete, or there is no consumer demand for your product any more. Or worse – someone else did it and they were successful and theirs wasn’t even as good as yours.

Seth Godin is famous for a lot of things, but one thing comes up time and time again among you and me and the people in our industry is the catchcry: ship it. It’s his version of “done is better than perfect” – just get the thing out there. Just ship your product already, whether that’s a physical product, your eBook, your blog post, it doesn’t matter. Get your creation in the hands of the people.

The Five Words You Need to Hear When You Feel Like You're Not Good Enough on ProBlogger.net

The Roadblocks

So what is holding you back? Why are you waiting for perfection? Is it fear? Are you afraid of being criticised? Are you afraid of selling a sub-par item, or even one that is good but not your best work? What will people say? Will they be disappointed they spent their time or money on you? And tell you that?

Darren recently published a podcast about the three questions you can ask yourself when you’re afraid, if that’s your roadblock. Is it the quest for perfection that’s stalling your creativity? Is it the fear of getting into the big leagues? Is it what people might say about you? You really need to recognise the roadblocks so you can minimise or eliminate them.

One of the best things you can do is sit down and write out what it is that’s holding you back. Setting it all down on paper really helps you see what it is you’re afraid of (especially if you haven’t quite articulated it yet), and give you some perspective about how you can tackle these issues so you can just ship.

Start Small

Then there’s that whole thing about overwhelm, and how it holds us back from even starting on our project. Yes we want to write an eBook, but man, what a giant job! You can no longer bang out a few sentences in Word, put a cover on it, convert to PDF and chuck it up on your site (or can you?!) – there’s a multitude of things you have to consider. Huge things, things that will potentially decide whether you succeed or fail, things that need attention and decisions and actual work to bring to life.

So just start. Before you can just ship, or just do, you have to just start [tweet that!]. Open a new document and type some title ideas, maybe your first sentence, a link to someone’s blog you want to interview, a colour scheme – anything that begins your journey. You may very well leave it untouched for the next six months, but you’ve made a small start. You’re well on your way to getting it done, and then you can think about making it perfect. Later.

Baby Steps

Every time you can, take the next step on the road to getting it done. Pick an image editing program you will use. Find or take a great cover photo. Decide on a font. Write a chapter. Send an email… just keep moving. Before you know it, all these baby steps will add up to a product that is done.

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, in his book The Start-up of You, sums this up perfectly:

‘Oh, I want to do it completely behind a cloak and then [remove] the cloak and everyone knows how wonderful and what a genius I am cause they think the product is so wonderful.’ That’s actually rarely the winning strategy. The actual winning strategy is ‘I’m moving, I’m getting out there and I’m adapting at a fast rate.’

You’re missing out

Hoffman also said this golden piece of advice that helps all of us remember everyone is in the same boat – or they were, before they were successful:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Don’t wait until it’s perfect. Just get it done. And when it embarrasses you, do it better.

What are you waiting to do? What is one step you can take to get it done?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.

Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately

Reading Roundup: What's new in blogging this week / ProBlogger.net

Greetings! Did you have a big week? I’ve had ideas falling out of my ears these last few days so I’ve spent a lot of time with my notebook, brainstorming them all before they run out. Weeks like this don’t come very often, so I’ve learned to really indulge when they do. I hope it’s been an inspirational one for you too! (and if not… there’s always next week ;-))

Could some WordPress Plugins Actually Be Harming Your Blog? // The Blog Tyrant

This. Was. Huge. And something I needed to pay attention to, because I once broke my site with a plugin. It’s freaky and horrible and something I don’t wish to do again! This post was also concerning when it came to Akismet – a plugin plenty of us have on our very precious sites.

SEO Tools: The Complete List (153 Tools Reviewed and Rated) // Backlinko

Who has the time to go through all the available SEO tools to find which is the best? Well, Brian Dean did so you don’t have to. Yay!

Facebook Search Now Includes Public Posts: So Hide Yours // Wired

Super handy if you’re looking for something/want your Facebook page found… not so handy if you want to keep your private life private. Wired gives you step-by-step instructions on how to keep it that way.

Need Marketing Inspiration? Here are 12 Places to Find Great Examples // HubSpot

You could get lost for hours, which is very useful if you’re stuck in a bit of a design rut. Everything from landing pages, emails, website design… something to spark some creativity, I’m sure!

The 10 Traits of Successful Online Marketers // Entrepreneur

Ummmm I am about a 7 out of 10. Lucky one of my traits is number three, so I can work on it!

8 Killer Photography Tips from Instagram Superstars // PopSugar

If writing is your game, and you know you need to brush up on your visuals, these tips are pretty solid.

Twitter Announces New “Tweet Grid” Embeddable Display Option – Here’s How to Use it // Social Media Today

Speaking of visual, do you like pictures better than words? Twitter has announced a new grid feature where you see a visual representation of the wall like this:

My eye doesn’t know where to look in this situation, I’m more of a linear gal. But if you’re into it, Social Media Today explains how to set it up.

How to Get More Instagram Followers – The Ultimate Guide // Hootsuite

That’s a big call, but this is a big list.

How to Safely Redesign your Website Without Destroying Your Business // Kissmetrics

It’s true, people hate change. I think these ideas are pretty solid.

The Taco is Here! Apple Launches Emoji-Filled iOS 9.1 Update // Mashable

You know how excited I am about this.

So what do you think? What have you learned this week?

Also – if you’re feeling a bit like everyone is better than you and you shouldn’t even try, I’ve got just the post for you on Monday. See you then!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama or be entertained on Facebook.